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Apple’s March event: Nothing New Here

After Microsoft first showed off HoloLens in January last year buried amongst a three hour Windows 10 event, I remember reading the criticism of a rather biased Apple fan who suggested that the gang from Cupertino showed off more substance in a similar length event. I found his argument flawed than when he was speaking about a new MacBook and iPhone compared to something like HoloLens. I can’t help but remember it now as Apple again tries to pass off branding as innovation with their two latest product announcements in the iPad Pro 9.7″and the iPhone SE. Now before the devotees jump on my back and defend the quality of these products I am not arguing that both don’t represent improvements on existing lines and offer something to consumers rather offering a criticism of the portal of either as ‘new’ or ‘revolutionary’.

iPad Pro 9.7 inch

Apple’s latest iPad follows on closely from the release of its larger brother and that is exactly how the team at Cupertino has tried to sell the latest attempt to stop its sliding market share. The new 9.7-inch tablet has been represented as the iPad Pro in a smaller package due to the inclusion of similar specs led by the new processor and access to ‘Pro’ access. In reality the device is just the newest vision of the tablet which Apple released in 2010 and have continued to upgrade over the years with each generation bringing significant improvements in power and additionally features. The ‘Pro’ is no different from the iPad 2 or any other Apple periodic update as consumers expect the company to release the same product with new specs the only difference here is that Apple has taken the opportunity to rebrand the device to improve their ability to compete in the current market. Not only are they using trends set by their competitors but Apple are dipping in to their MacBook line of laptops to try and target more of an enterprise market like they did with the addition of the ‘Air’ moniker to the 5th generation of the tablet. The ‘Pro’ 9.7 inch therefore doesn’t represent anything remotely ‘new’ either in the features which are all in line with its larger sibling, the product line or even Apple’s approach to its consumers. This doesn’t mean that it is not still a significant improvement on the iPad Air 2 in terms of performance and an excellent

iPhone SE

Before the newest iPhone was official announced the rumour mill had it accurately described as the body of an iPhone 5 with the internal of a 6S. The only thing that is ‘new’ about the iPhone SE is the name which dumps the usual numbering scheme as Apple has previously released cheaper iPhones in the 5C and have started making different size handsets with the 6 and 6+. Personally, I’m actually really excited by the release of the iPhone SE as it bucks the current trend of phone makers producing larger handsets. A trend that is especially frustrating for anyone like myself who wants to keep their phone in a jeans pocket, I’m now only hoping some Android or Windows OEM’s follow suit. The only disappointing element of the iPhone SE is that it doesn’t include all of the latest features present in the 6S or offer anything ‘New’. If Apple is successful with the SE in influencing trends this unfortunate fact suggests that those of use that prefer smaller handsets will continue to be treated as second class citizens with the premium features reserved for 5.5 inch or larger devices.

Selective rhetoric and Stats

Besides the annoying and biased views of the devotees what frustrates me the most about an Apple event is their use of the same rhetoric or misrepresentation of stats which no one in the tech world seems willing to put under the microscope. Once again Apple took aim at Microsoft by mentioning the 600 million PC’s still using 5 year-old operating systems which in and of itself is a pointless stat and could be used equally well by Microsoft to suggest customer satisfaction and the longevity of its software. Regardless of this Apple repeating like to take such information out of context for example that most of those 600 PC’s are found in enterprise which resist updating their software because of the cost of retraining which is especially important considering the dramatic sifts in the last few visions of Windows. Additionally, the comparison with Apple’s own tactics regarding software updates is also left unexplored for instance their use of limited backwards compatibility of apps that force consumers to update to the newest versions of iOS and OSX. My own experience at work is evidence of this mentality when a student sent me a pages file after updating to iOS 8 required me to update my own Mac to Yosemite in order to open and correct the work. Apple are able to imply these tactics because people subscribe to the philosophy of the ‘world garden’ present in iOS and the don’t have a sizeable Mac presence in enterprise. Regardless it is a tactic which Microsoft cannot employ without losing customers so all new versions of Windows are purposefully made to be backwards compatibility eliminating this reason to upgrade. This has been recently highlighted in the debate over UWP with epic games’ Tim Sweeney critical of the platform as a threat to make Windows more like the closed sandbox of iOS. Thus the difference between Microsoft and Apple’s strategies and business model render the comparison utterly useless in judging the success of either company.

Alongside these pointless stats Apple has begun to sound a little like a broken record by continually suggesting that the iPad will replace the PC. A statement which is starting to seem increasingly contradictory to the facts as Windows tablet market share has increased by 11% largely at the expense of Apple’s iPad despite the release of the iPad Pro and the inclusion of multitasking in iOS 9. Maybe the iPad Pro 9.7-inch will finally make Apple’s statement true but the fact that it doesn’t offer anything ‘new’ suggests that it won’t stop the market share slide so maybe it will just end up being the same old story.  

I’m sure Apple fans will disregard everything I have said as ‘Apple Bashing’ but if you read and consider everything I hope you can see past my criticism. Both products are well thought out to fulfil needs with in the current consumer market place by offering high end performance in a smaller package which will suit a lot of people’s needs. As a result, both will likely see strong sales if not anything ground breaking with many existing or past customers looking to upgrade their ageing devices. My frustration, outside the Apple philosophy represented by the ‘walled garden’, as anyone who knows me will recognise remains the Apple marketing machine which I have always felt tries to insult our intelligence with branding and inspiring statements rather than substance. Perhaps this point is misplaced and should be directed at the fans who take up this rhetoric rather than engaging in rational argument whenever their favourite tech giant is criticised. Maybe I’m being an idealist but criticism is never anything to fear as it helps us grow so hopefully the more pressure we apply to Apple and other tech companies for that matter will end up leading to something inspiring that truly is ‘new’ and ‘innovating’.

CES wrap up

The consumer electronics show in Las Vegas is done for another year and the tech world is already turning its eyes towards MWC in a couple of weeks. However, I thought we should take a look at the major trends appearing this year and what it means practically for consumers in the real world.

Automotive
To nobody’s great surprise major car companies used CES to showcase everything to hydrogen powered cars to the latest in driverless car technical. New concepts from BMW and a new player in Faraday Future may have captured people’s attention but it was other announcements that are more likely to make a difference in the consumer market. Mainstream manufacturers Kia with is Drive Wise range of semi to fully autonomous vehicles, Toyota FCV hydrogen powered concept and Ford’s Smart mobility program which includes current road testing of experimental driverless cars all put forward an exciting vision of the future. In addition, Volkswagen unveiled the BUDD-e an electric powered van and Chevrolet showed off their own take on the electric car in the Bolt. It’s no wonder that CES is become the Car Electronics Show. As wonderful as all this sounds however it’s important to remember that a lot of these plans won’t start becoming a reality until 2020 not least of which because of the need for uninterrupted internet connectivity.

bmw-ces-las-vegas-i8-spyder3-1

BMW i8 Spyder3

 

Drones and Robotics
The CES floor was no doubt buzzing with new drones but the biggest announcement was the Yuneec’s Typhoon H. Using Intel’s Real Sense technology and Sonar senses the Typhoon H is able to avoid large obstacles in conjunction with the standard high end features it isn’t surprisingly that it captured a fair amount of attention. Most of the other announcements like the DJI Inspire Pro 1 and Phantom 4K offered upgrades to existing models. On the robotics side it was undoubtedly the Ninebot the collaboration between Segway, Intel and Xiaomi. No word yet on price but I suspect when it hits the market late this year that it will be out of reach for most consumers.

ces-2016-8

Internet of Things
Just in case you have been living under a rock the new age of computing connects all kinds of device to the internet in order to make our lives easier. The IoT is yet to really take off with consumers but with big announcements from Intel with the Curie and Samsung’s partnership with Microsoft might mean that this is the year that IoT starts building for the future. Intel’s plan with New Balance to print custom shoe inserts caught my interest as it might offer everyone with flat feet like myself an easier solution.

Virtual and Augmented reality
The biggest news in VR broke before the convention got started with Oculus Rift announcing their pricing for their long awaited headset. A $600 US price tag seemed to get a few people upset but considering the price of other products and the inclusion of an Xbox One controller this appears reasonable. Now if any US techies really want to get worked up they can think about the $920 plus postage for Australian preorders, now that’s ridiculous. In addition, the other major developers including HTC and Sony used CES to demo new virtual reality content and their latest builds. One thing is for certain 2016 is definitely going to be the year of VR.

oculus-rift-box

Oculus pre-order package

Mobile
MWC in February is when most phone and tablet makers except Apple announce their major product news but that doesn’t mean they didn’t bring anything to Vegas. Acer showed off their first Windows 10 handset the Liquid Jade Primo while the Huawei Honor 5X seemed like a premium Android handset. At the more affordable end LG’s K series and Alcatel’s Windows and Android phones got plenty of attention. PC makers seem to be following Microsoft’s lead making more hybrid Surface like devices that focus a little more on sleek design. Out of all these tablet convertibles my favourite was definitely the Samsung Galaxy TabPRO S, a high-end Windows 10 tablet with a full keyboard cover. Notably this marks the first time that the Galaxy brand has not been associated with Android suggesting that Samsung has recognised the benefits of Windows in the tablet market, we will just have to wait and see if this trend continues.

samsung-galaxy-tabpro-s

Samsung Galaxy TabPRO S

The Elite Experience

It took 2 months on pre-order after the offical release date before I finally got my hands on an Xbox One Elite Controller. Microsoft has admitted the obvious that they underestimated demand after the announcement at E3. As a result most stores didn’t get enough stock to cover the initial pre-orders and gamers like myself have been waiting for months. Unfortunately, this isn’t going to get better anytime soon with Microsoft confirming that shortages will continue into March. So considering this headache is the Elite worth the wait?

image

Anyone considering spending $200 ($150 USD) on a controller is going to be a bit more than a casual gamer. The Elite Controller fits the bill as it offers an enhanced console experience with superior build quality to other comparable 3rd party options. It is noticeably heavier than a standard controller thanks to the additional metal triggers but it is not enough to make it uncomfortable. The interchangeable sticks, D-pad and paddles are easy to swap mid-game and the hair-triggers help improve reaction time with the ability to set them individually just another way to personalise your experience. Using the paddles takes a little practice before you start to see the benefit as you have to train yourself to stop using the normal buttons but once you do the change noticeably improves speed and eliminates the need to take your fingers off the sticks.

All of these features would be useless without that Xbox Accessories app that allows players to map buttons and change sensitivity. The app works with standard controllers but is a must for anyone with an Elite so they can map different buttons to the paddles. An added bonus here is the additional slot to save multiple configurations. Even without this the app is easy enough to use that I find myself pausing and making a few twicks to get a layout I’m happy with for each game.

Overall I can say that the Elite Controller is definitely worth it and really enhances your gaming experience. I previously have never thought about changing button mapping or stick sensitivity but find myself thinking critically about how I can use my new hardware to improve my game. If your a serious player with a bit of cash it’s a wise investment otherwise it might be a good idea for a present.

Enjoy
Jono

Apple’s going Pro

August was definitely dominated by Microsoft with the increasing downloads of Windows 10 and GamesCom providing plenty of tech news to talk about. September has always been Apple’s time to shine and they did not disappoint their die hard loyal fans. The mid cycle update to the iPhone, a new iPad with some accessories and finally an improved version of Apple TV gives us a lot to cover.

iPhone 6s

It’s Apple’s long established custom to provide a one year update on thier current handset and keep the existing body. This year the iPhone 6 and 6+ get the S treatment with the addition of new features and upgraded spec. Most notably is the new 3D touch technology which reacts to the pressure being applied by the user. Internaly it comes with an A9 processor, 2GB of RAM and a 12 mega-pixal camera which should all give users an overall improved performance. On top of these updates to the existing specs is the introduction of a new rose gold handset. I doubt any of these changes will intice existing iPhone 6 users to upgrade prematually but I’m sure Apple will stiĺl experience good sales as more iPhone 5 user decide to take the plunge.

iPad Pro

A larger screen iPad has been rumoured for a while so Apple’s announcement suprised nobody. It’s clearly built to impress with a 12.9 inch screen, 2732 x 2048 resolution and four built in speakers. It also has a clear performance boost over the existing iPad Air with a A9X processor and 4GB of RAM in order to capatilise on iOS9’s new side by side multi-tasking. Beyond the tablet itself Apple have shown off a couple of key new accessories in the Apple Pencil and attachable keyboard. On paper it looks like a powerful device for those poeple who like using iOS but it is still unknown whether it’s the device that will reinvigurate Apple’s tablet sales.

Unusally it hasn’t been all positive media for Apple’s latest tablet as most tech analysts and arm chair enthusiasts like myself have been quick to recognise the similarities with Microsoft’s Surface Pro.  Many have even been bringing up Steve Jobs comment about inculding a stylus
which really has no relevence any more due to the developments of digitizers and the rest of the tech industry. In addition the promotion of Microsoft Office for iOS has got some attention, an inclusion that really shows both tech companies changing mentality. Firstly, Microsoft recognised that they can’t ignore iOS users and the value of tieing them to their services while Apple seems to have admited that thier own iWorks suite has trouble competing with Office in the professional market place.

So will the iPad Pro make an impact on the tablet landscape? Personally I’m not sure Apple have addressed the right aspects of the iPad to attract thier target audience. Since many of the drawbacks of iOS still remain as while it now allows multi-tasking it cannot run desktop applications. In addition the small 32GB internal storage on the base model will likely frustrate some users and may be a key limitation for those reluctant to invest more money. Finally, I think the iPad Pro could easily impact Apple’s other product lines as customers are unlikely to purchase a Pro and a smaller iPad, while others might decide to give up thier MacBook.  Obviously, this does not take into account new customers so we will just have to wait and see.

Apple TV

The much awaited update to Apple’s side project has delivered a few key developments and makes Apple competitive in the living room space. Most notably is the new TVos which has an easy to use interface and connects to the apps store to allow users to download anything from different streaming services or games. This new operating system also brings Siri into your living room and importantly she comes with the ability to search content across applications. Apple’s personal assistant can be accessed from the new remote which also includes a touch pad for navigation and a Wii like motion tracker that when combined with the improved internal specs makes the new set top box capable of breaking in as a low cost gaming option.

These improvement makes the Apple TV a legitimate option compared to competitors but it isn’t necessarily a game changer with similar features already available. Despite this the added functionality of AirPlay and Apple’s legion of devoted fans combined with a sensible price tag means that I believe sales will show strong growth.

Overall Apple didn’t really announce anything new but rather refreshed and reinvigorated existing products. Of course the iPhone 6S and 6S+ will the usual landslide but the others are a bit harder to predict so we’ll check back in the next couple of months.

Cheers
Jono

Intel’s Skylake is finally here

http://www.appy-geek.com/Web/ArticleWeb.aspx?regionid=3&articleid=47374788&source=wordpress

It’s taken some time but Skylake is finally a reality. Intel has been working towards this point since the development of the tablet market in and other chip makers started to muscle in on thier market. No one has ever question Intel’s ability to deliver the best processing power which is why Apple made the switch for its Mac computers. The problem has always been power consumption and heat which has limited there application in tablets.

Haswell released in 2013 after more then two years in development was the first step in Intel’s attempt to fix the status quo. It made it poosible to start putting Intel chips in convertable devices that were starting to become popular with Windows 8 it also brought a significant improvement to battery life as the Surface Pro 1 and 2 clearly demonstated. In the mobile market place Intel followed this up quickly with the release of the Broadwell Architecture and the Core M processor a lighter more power efficent CPU which achieved the same clock speeds on turbo boost as existing Haswell chips with a 4.5 W TDP ( Thermal Design Power) compared to the 15w TDP of a core i5. Suddenly, Intel had a CPU that could compete in the compact market and we saw an increase in hybrid devices in addition to a thinner MacBook.

It is this development that Skylake is set to continue. Firstly, by introducing sub-categries to the Core m line with m3, m5 and m7. Early test show the m7 can clock 3.1ghz at turbo compared to the broadwell core m at 2.9 and the old haswell i5 at 2, it also boast a better intergration of DDR3 memory. However that’s not all, Skylake promises to bring improved battery life with intel saying we’ll get 10 hours of 1080p playback on a charge and finally a 40% increase in graphics. This is definitely impressive progress since 2013.

This development means the next few months could be really interesting as we will likely be seeing a lot more Windows 10 tablets and hybrids, hopefully starting with a new Surface Pro. It’s also worth thinking about Apple’s expected release of an iPad Pro on the 9th and whether they have a skylake suprise or purhaps thier attempt to reinvigorate thier tablet sales may all ready be outdated. We may if rumours are true even see Microsoft announce a few flagship Windows Phones with an Intel chip to take advantage of Continuum in Windows 10. Maybe Skylake coupled with the successful launch of Microsoft newest OS might just return WinTel to the good old days.

Why 2015 is the Year of Xbox One (Op-Ed)

Why 2015 is the Year of Xbox One (Op-Ed)#xtor=RSS-980.

I think Mike from Tom’s guide is spot on with this one. He raises some of the same points I made about Microsoft’s out performance of Sony at E3 last week. Especially focusing on the potential growth of the Xbox One in the backend of 2015.

Mike’s article highlights the strength of Microsoft’s exclusive titles which includes franchise favourites Halo 5, Gears of War ultimate edition and Forza 6. Others have been raving about the offerings from Sony but Mike has recognised the long wait for these titles will likely lose Sony the momentum during the end of this year. Additionally, he points out the up coming software updates including backwards compatibility and Windows 10 that will make the Xbox One far superior come Spring/Fall. Finally he touches on the Elite Controller as an added extra but with a focus on this year Mike doesn’t discuss the future potential of HoloLens or VR for either system.

Click on these links to read my own take on the Xbox vs PS4 battle at E3 or to look more in detail at some of those Xbox titles.

Jono

E3: Tale of the tape

E3 2015 has unleashed a wave of surprises and exciting new games for Xbox One and PS4 fans alike but with all the announcements done, it’s time to reflect and see who won this heavy weight fight. To give a detailed comparison I thought I would break this down into three categories; System, Games and Peripheries.

System

Xbox One: Possibly the biggest surprise of E3 was the announcement of backwards compatibility coming to Xbox One this spring (Fall for my friends in the Northern Hemisphere) but currently only available to those lucky enough to be invited to the Xbox Preview. So far the list of Games is very short but it will grow quickly before the app goes live and personally I can’t wait to start playing Mass Effect on my Xbox One. Not only has this caught Sony by surprise but they have since disappointed fans by quickly killing any rumours that they might be doing the same any time soon. In addition Microsoft gave us a look at the new Xbox dashboard complete with Cortana that we will see later this year with the Windows 10 update.

MCV – Sony on backwards compatibility

PlayStation 4: Compared to the Xbox event Sony was much more game focused but they did talk about some exciting changers to PlayStation Vue. The live streaming TV service is being released in new regions and with a chose your own channel service. Notably this sees Sony move further towards the all in one entertainment system that was the original goal of the Xbox One.

Verdict: Got to give this one to the Xbox One as backwards compatibility has the potential to be a game changer as any one needing to replace their 360 can simply upgrade and still play all their old games. Some people like myself may have even put off the decision to upgrade because of this limitation. In contrast the upgrade to PlayStation Vue will benefit existing owners but probably won’t be that nudge to jump on board.

Games:

Before getting stuck into the exclusive titles it is important to recognise that comparing games is always going to be very subjective based on your past experience and your existing emotional attachment. This year that perhaps is more important than usual as most of the big titles from both our contenders have a touch of nostalgia and are the newest games to pre existing game series. Personally that means for me any new Halo is ultimately a kill all since I have been hocked from the very beginning but as always I will try to keep a critical mind.

Xbox One: The line up from Microsoft’s conference didn’t hold to many surprises as they emphasised the favourites; Halo 5 Guardians, Forza 6, Fable Legends, Rise of the Tomb Raider  the official conformation of Gears of War ultimate edition and the 4th instalment in the successful shooter. However, there are a few completely new titles like the action RPG Ashen, run and gun Cuphead, free to play Gigantic, adventurous Sea of Thieves and the action adventure ReCore. In addition to all these new titles the Rare Replay a collection of 30 classic Rare games for $30 including Banjo Kazooie and Prefect Dark is an absolute steal for a quick hit of nostalgia dating back 30 years.

PlayStation 4: Games was defiantly the focus of Sony’s conference and they had done well to keep the biggest announcements secret before the expo. Leading with the long awaited The Last Guardian was always going to be a hit with fans and that was only the beginning then came the remake of Final Fantasy VII and the kickstarter Shenmue 3 which completed fans wish list. New titles like the borderless No Man’s Sky and the stunning looking RPG Horizon Zero Dawn as well as other exclusives including Street Fighter 5 and Uncharted 4 helped demonstrated Sony’s focus on hard core gaming fans. The steal however was Call of Duty as the lucrative franchise departs from its recent partnership with Microsoft to release exclusive content

Verdict: Despite my preference for Xbox i’m going to give this one to the PS4 due to execution, since Sony had been able to keep things quite in the lead up to E3 and pulled off the steal of the year by getting Call of Duty to jump ship.

Finally … Peripherals 

Xbox One: Microsoft got the ball rolling here before the conference with the announcement of a partnership with Oculus Rift to take advantage of VR gaming. Extending this strategy Microsoft committed to a similar partnership with one of the other major developers in this exciting new avenue for gaming in Valve VR. The real star of the show was HoloLens as Microsoft showed off 3D Minecraft to a captivated audience but it doesn’t stop with the obvious applications as reviewers got the opportunity to test out the augmented reality headset with Halo 5’s new Warzone mode. If that wasn’t enough Microsoft have given us the Elite controller which is fully customisable with adjustable parts and settings to let users play their way.

GameSpot – Halo & HoloLens

PlayStation 4: Leading up to E3 every one was hoping for more information about Project Morpheus, Sony’s own VR headset. Unfortunately, I felt this was a bit of a let down since Sony spoke about the headset and showed an interesting trailer for RIGS a VR game that allows multiple players to enter the same virtual world the information and WOW factor was limited with only some vague assertions of a 2016 release. Thankfully reviews got to test drive the headset during the expo and it seems like it is going to offer a rich VR gaming experience.

Android Authority – project morpheus 

Verdict: This one was a clear win to Phil Spencer and his Xbox team, not only did they bring the mind blowing demo but they also made sure they didn’t forget hardcore gamers with the elite.

Overall:

It might not surprise anyone but i have to give 2015 to Microsoft as they seam to have finally learn’t and brought their A game. Overall Microsoft have taken more into account and listened to feedback with backwards compatibility, a real demonstration of HoloLens and a new controller. In addition the only category where Sony have out performed Microsoft this year is highly subjective as personally I’m looking foward to adding at least 6 of those exclusive Xbox titles to my collection ASAP. Meanwhile there are a couple of caveats to some of those surprises, firstly No Man’s Sky will release on PC at the same time as PS4 and most games will not be released until 2016 with Final Fantasy VII and Shenmue 3 without even that level of guidance.

But don’t take my opinion for it, check out the links and make up your own mind and leave your thoughts.

Cheers

Jono

Build Day 2: Hands on with Hololens

Day two of Microsoft Build conference didn’t have the some WOW factor as yesterday but we learned some important information about the release of Windows 10. We still don’t have an official date but it seems that the Desktop OS is on track for release in the June – July time frame that’s been thrown around for the last few months but it’s clear that it’s going to be a staggered release with Windows 10 for phones coming later. Personally I have never been a fan of Microsoft limited releases as it normally means that people like me in Australia generally have to wait or the launch loses momentum and sales steadily drop off. Maybe this will be different as a strong uptake for the desktop OS could lead to more developers jumping on board with universal apps and especially with yesterdays announcements make Windows 10 Phones more attractive to consumers. We will have to wait and see.

The main feature of the day was definitely the chance for developers to experience HoloLens and gives us their report on the technology away from the light show of the keynote address. So far the reviews I’ve read have been positive about the experience and real world application for HoloLens in the home and more importantly at work or school. The experience of reviewers was heavily controlled but sounds reasonably similar to what we saw in the demos and suggest that the technology might not be ready for market just yet but it should not be too long. Based on the three reviews below the main area that needs work is the initial setup process which required Microsoft staff to measure the distance between the eyes of the user. To get a more in depth look at where HoloLens is follow the links below:

TechRadar

Tom’s Hardware

TechCrunch

There are others out there but after reading a few they start to get a bit repetitive. Considering the similarity of these experiences I’m starting to get excited as both an everyday consumer and a History teacher I see endless possibilities for HoloLens to change the way we live. Stay tuned for tomorrow as I give a final look at Microsoft Build 2015.

Cheers

Jono

Making the Switch: Windows Phone to Android

It’s been a while but I thought my decision to upgrade phones and jump on the Samsung bandwagon would make for a good post. Now, first of all I would like to point out that I have been a happy Windows phone user since I got my HTC Mozart more than 4 years ago and it was with some regret that I found it was time to upgrade my Lumia 920. My decision instead was motivated by hardware and the annoying lack of a new Microsoft flagship with up to date specs. The choice going forward was easy since I have had experience using both iOS and Android, the latters static icons, closed hardware and obsession with adaptors made up my mind.  So lets get down to it my phone is a Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge running Android lollipop with the TouchWiz UI so my comments are not based on Google’s stock OS.

Lumia 920 Galaxy S6 Edge

The Good

One of the features that has made my transition easy are Widgets as they act similar to the live tiles available on  Windows Phone with both providing snippets of information for easy, quick consumption. The added bonus on Android is that not only do widgets show information but depending on the application have limited functionality. In conjunction with the improved ecosystem this has been a big win in making the change from Windows phone. Although I have never been obsessed with an endless supply of pointless applications that complete tasks that can already be done using the internet if it had a flash plug in the quality of official and major apps is a big improvement. The other area where I see a massive benefit in usability is Android’s ability to multitask, bring up open applications and close them all at once.

The Bad

My major criticism of Android and iOS has always been the layout of the homescreen into pages with a specific amount of real estate unlike the continuous scrolling Start Screen found on Windows phone. Now I realise that this is being a bit picky but I can’t deal with gaps on the homepage so I end up finding apps and widgets to fill up the left over real estate. Its not just all aesthetics however as I’m missing the inbuilt email client found in Windows phone as it was easy to use and allowed me to pin individual inboxes to the start screen. However, my main criticism is the insane amount of bloatware from Google’s range apps to Samsung’s own concoctions that manage to do the exact same thing. Now I’m not saying that Windows Phone doesn’t come with its own set of apps that can’t be uninstalled but its a much shorter list.

The Verdict

Overall I am content with my decision as I am quickly adapting to using Samsung’s version of Android and the larger range of apps has been good. However, I am not ruling out a return to Windows Phone in the future when Microsoft finally releases some top of the range hardware. I hope this opens some peoples eyes about being willing to change ecosystems in the future as most of the things ways we use our phones aren’t that different and making the jump doesn’t take long if you have an open mind.

Cheers

Jono

Apple Insider: Hypocisy at work

I Bet My Life: Microsoft HoloLens perfectly targets its core competency.

I never really wanted to just rant about Apple on this Blog as I feel like it just takes away from the intelligence of my analysis and makes people think I can’t be objective but after reading this editorial and some of the comments on Apple Insider I have to admit that my blood was up and I felt like tacking apart some of the more ridicules points.

Starting with the idea that Apple’s last 2 hour event actually presented people with more substance and innovation, “By way of comparison, Apple’s last event to exceed two hours introduced iOS 8, iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, Apple Pay, Apple Watch, a performance by U2 and another 15 minutes to spare.”  The first announcement was mobile OS which has been updated yearly for sometime and there fore was hardly news, while the next is the latest incarnation of a phone released in 2007 with the same level of minor changes that we have come to expect and of course the same phone with a bigger screen to combat the rising demand for Android Phablets. In fact Apple Pay and the Apple Watch were the only ‘new’ products announced the later being expected for the last few years was also hardly a surprise.

The editorial than continued to attack Microsoft over the features that they are including in Windows 10 “ostensibly free OS updates, a standards compliant web browser with Safari Reader, Office running on a mobile device, third party apps that run on a mobile device, AirPlay wireless distribution and Siri“. I think the first point here is a bit irrelevant because while Apple have released free updates their Operating Systems only run on their devices which people have to buy to begin with and considering the premium cost of these products the argument could be made that the cost of the Operating System is included. He then talks about Safari which is only every used on an iOS device partly because of restrictions on other web browsers, despite this the Reader that he is so proud of does not include the Note Taking mode which is by far the key feature of Project Spartan. Finally, he talks about Siri which we know does not have the same personalised capabilities that make Cortana different  and is restricted to iOS which means it is not available on the 8% of people who use Macs for their computing needs.

If this had not already got me started I would have his next attack on HoloLens would have done the job as it smacked of hypocrisy and someone who buys the coloured version of history that Apple has created. He argues that HoloLens is hardly a unique product with features “that PrimeSense showed off two years ago” this is no doubt true as it is very rare that anything in technology is truly new but is rather a refinement of already exciting products. Apple’s own success is a perfect example the first tablet was launched in 2001 running Windows but flopped because it did not have touch friendly UI and was not very portable along came the iPad and refined these problems. Even the iPhone was based on the existing capabilities of phones at the time which already had internet access, email, games and a range of utilities like calculators  but by boarding this experience and making some alterations to the form factor to make use of a touch screen Apple created smartphones. Finally we come to their latest product the Apple Watch which is following in the footsteps of hundreds of different devices including the Samsung Gear and Microsoft Band just to name a few.

His final attack was on Microsoft sketch record with hardware releases including Zune, Surface, Windows Phone and surprisingly Xbox. Now I would be the first to admit that Zune and Windows Phone continue to be a large stain on Microsoft’s history as they try to make themselves appear credible hardware developers but only in some kind of virtual reality could the Xbox be tarnished with the same brush. Especially considering the success of the 360 as the dominate console of the last generation and strong sales of Xbox One which is admittedly still only the second fasted selling console in history. Finally, we come to Surface whose first two versions have been marred by poor sales tied to the pointless creation which was Windows RT but leaving this behind and focusing on raw power and a full PC experience the Surface Pro 3 has become rather successful, inspiring a few knock offs including the rumoured iPad Pro.

I respect what Apple has done for technology and while I don’t personal use their products unless I’m forced to I understand their appeal however I don not appreciate blind fan boys attacking other companies especially with erroneous and hypocritical statements.