Apple’s September 9th Event – a summary


I didn’t manage to watch the live stream for numerous reasons, so there won’t be my typical comments on the idiosyncrasies of the presenters.

There were countless leaks prior to the keynote, including iPhone shells and diagrams of the watch, so not much was an actual surprise. One thing I’d like to the tell journalists and media outlets is – don’t guess or try to coin the name of an upcoming Apple product, as you will be wrong. It happened with the Apple TV (guessed to be iTV), the iPad (guessed to be iSlate etc.), and now the Apple Watch (assumed to be called iWatch). Whether Apple runs with a different name just to toy with you, or you really just do have a spate of bad luck with guessing, simply don’t bother. If people had run with “the rumored Apple watch”, it would have been faultless. But no, mass media insists on claiming they have some scoop that nobody else does, so misinformation and rumors are spread. Rant over, now on to what was actually announced.

Not much. I’m not some spoiled Apple fanboy, particularly since I have no interest in iPhones because of the limitations of iOS, but Apple really didn’t announce much yesterday, particularly considering the hype they tried to create for the event. No iMac, Apple TV, or iPod refreshes, no Thunderbolt Display redesign to match the current iMac design, nothing. In fact, Apple even quietly killed the iPod Classic.

iPhone 6

Larger than the iPhone 5s, a 4.7″ display, has a landscape view similar to that of the iPad, is the thinnest iPhone to date, slightly longer battery life, burst mode with the front facing camera, A8 64-bit processor with M8 motion coprocessor, NFC, supports Apple Pay, continuous autofocus video, and the sports design we’ve all seen leaked for a couple of months now. Which may I just say has aspects rather reminiscent of a certain competing handset:

comparison

iPhone 6 Plus

Everything the iPhone 6 has, except a bigger screen (5.5″, with a ppi of 401 vs the iPhone 6’s 326ppi), is undeniably a phablet, slightly thicker than the iPhone 6, has a significantly longer battery life, and optical image stabilization.

Apple Watch

Undeniably the smartest smartwatch that’s been announced so far. However, it may be too smart. Features an incredibly cluttered UI, an overload of gimmicky features, and a variety of editions paired with a fairly smart interchangeable strap mechanism. Android smartwatches are more in the realm of a basic unobtrusive companion device, whereas the Apple Watch, despite requiring an iPhone (5c through to 6 Plus), offers the ability to do far far too much. So much that I don’t have the energy to list everything it’s capable of, so you can simply check the list yourself here – I predict that most people that buy Apple Watches will not use them to their full potential. Tim Cook said that development of the Apple Watch started after Steve Jobs passed away. It shows. The square iPod Nano was incredibly simplistic by contrast.

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An idea for how apps should be purchased


Just spit-balling here, but it’s an idea nonetheless.

Yes, I acknowledge that there is a vast amount of people who own a smartphone because the phone store sales rep persuaded them to get one instead of a ‘dumbphone’ so don’t really use the ‘smart’ feature of the phones much, but, there is also a large proportion of people who use their phones to their fullest extent.

My idea started off with the frustrations of switching mobile platforms. Admittedly I change my phone significantly more frequently than most people, but the majority do still change their phone, say, when their 24 month contract has ended. They won’t necessarily stay with the same platform. Yet they’ve invested potentially hundreds of dollars into apps. And now they have to buy them all again on a different platform.

Before you point out what you think is a flaw, yes, if you buy a PS3 game you shouldn’t then get the Xbox 360 version for free. But I think mobile apps are different. For starters, they’re at a much lower price point.

Here’s the idea:

  • All apps are free. As in, on the app store/ marketplace/Play store etc, all the apps are listed as free to download. In fact, while I’m thinking about it, let’s also throw in a Windows Phone style incorporated trial version into the apps if the developer so pleases so that you can try basic functionality before unlocking the entire app.
  • The user pays for access to the app by using an account – this is the only flaw, a universal account would be needed (or you’d have an account with every single developer – not so manageable if you have a lot of apps)
  • To appease the platform providers (Apple, Google etc.), the yearly subscription is bought via an in-app purchase, so the platform provider still gets their 30% or so.

As I said, just an idea, but it’s an interesting one. Many companies are trying to push for ‘universal’ accounts, such as Facebook commenting on many websites, Google account commenting on some websites, using your Apple ID to purchase Macs, iPhones, iBooks, movies, TV, music etc. so perhaps this idea could be even more realistic once the battle of universal accounts has been won. I may have confused myself with the account explanation and therefore you as well, so let me clarify: You would pay for the in-app purchase subscription using your Apple ID or Google wallet etc., the current payment system on the platform in question. But to authenticate that you already have a subscription, you would need to prove that somehow on the second platform, thus needing a cross-platform account of some sort. Unless Apple and Google played nice of course… but that’s never going to happen.

Personally, I think I’d be happier with this system of payment. If you like an app, you get to reward the developer on a yearly basis rather than a one-off (of course the subscription price wouldn’t be as high as the current prices to buy apps are so as to be more appealing). Personally, I don’t see any flaws with this purchase model, but do you? If so, please feel free to offer “your two cents” in the comments below.

What I miss about Windows Phone 7


So, as those of you who may follow me on Twitter, you might have gathered that I now have the HTC One S, a month or two earlier than I said I’d move on from the Trophy. So, I’ve now been using the One S with Android 4.0.3 and Sense 4 for nearly a week, and am certainly missing several WP7 elements.
When I moved on from WinMo to WP7, I was missing a lot. No multitasking, no IRC app that worked properly, hardly any customizability. However, I adapted. I learnt to live with the closed ecosystem and the pitiful amount of non-expandable storage. In fact, I must take a minute here to thank Microsoft for preparing me for the One S’s limited amount of storage space, which, when using the same syncing ethos as I used with the Trophy, has made me think that there is ample storage space.
So, after that slight diversion, what do I miss about Windows Phone 7, or, what do I find annoying about Android?

1) Awful smiley keyboard. Look, I use smileys a lot, and I much prefer, for example, colon P, rather than colon dash P. On the Trophy, straight from the alphabetical keyboard screen, I could tap a smiley button and instantly add any of two pages of very diverse smiley choices that pandered to anybody’s tastes.

image

The first page of smileys on WP7. The button to the left of Space is there on the alphabetical keyboard to instantly get to smileys.

To type colon P on the One S with the Sense keyboard, I can do one of two things. 1, tap and hold the period key, then shift then P. Or 2, hit 12#, 1/2, 😛, ABC. Either way is long winded and rather stressful. Stressful in that typing a smiley should be a thoughtless task, a break from the mental exertion of typing and trying to get autocorrect to stay away from words it isn’t welcome to touch.

2) It isn’t friendly. WP7 was a very apologetic operating system, all the errors seemed sincere and as if they were to blame rather than the user. But that isn’t my main point here. When I got a text message, the Trophy would buzz and the screen would stay off. Then, when I took it out of my jacket’s top pocket, the screen would warmly turn on within a certain time frame and I could see the text. With the One S, as far as I have tried, it doesn’t do that. I liked that feature, it meant I could just lift the phone briefly out of my pocket, see the text, and let it drop back down into my pocket, without pressing a single button. Coincidentally, once again, WP7 providing a way of doing things with as little exertion as possible.

3) Live tiles. Now, I don’t miss this as much as some people may if they made the transition, but it was nice having tiles on the home screen automatically update. I had and have an unlimited data plan, so I am not at all bothered by the system fetching new data. The HTC people hub doesn’t seem to automatically update, which just adds.waiting time for the user.

There are other such minor things as the lack of a hardware shutter button, the space bar being far too keen to insert a . between words (the double tap space timing on iOS is perfect, the Sense one waits no time at all before inserting a period, and I’m a pretty fast typer). Also, the Sense app drawer is unbelievably unintuitive. I know I can order it by install date etc., but on iOS you customize the entire layout, and on WP7 you can jump to the letter in the alphabet. All in all, the shortcomings are bearable, though the lack of a fast smiley keyboard is infuriating. Congratulations Microsoft, in hindsight, you created a very friendly and usable OS. The dictionary may have got in the way all the time, but all in all, it was how a smartphone should be. Smart.

HTC website refusing to publish my review, claiming “inappropriate language”


I have just spent a fair amount of time painstakingly spilling my views on my current phone to the HTC form-based review system. However, when it came to clicking “Preview”, it rejects my review, citing “We’re sorry, but we have encountered the following issue(s): Your review text contains inappropriate language.” Does it tell me where? Well, it does to the extent of ‘which box on the form the offending text is in’, but any further than that is anybody’s guess amongst the 722 word-long review.

Please feel free therefore to read what I wrote, copied below, and please do point out to me where the “inappropriate language” is. Was it because I ticked the “no” box for “Do you recommend this product?” ???

Features? WP7 rather limits that, but with Mango it’s a bit more bearable (though don’t expect any proper multitasking, and do expect it to get slow).

Ease of use? Well, WP7 is seemingly designed for kids, which doesn’t help. Also, If you have a reading age above that of a two-year-old, you’ll constantly be frustrated by it changing real, legitimate words that you type, with ones that are irrelevant and simple. The so-called ‘dictionary’ and keyboard fill up about 80% of the screen, and if you want to type in say, IM+, say goodbye to being able to see anything other than the keyboard and word ‘suggestions’ in landscape view. The auto ‘correct’ is a complete nightmare for even the slowest typer, especially with the form OVER function keyboard design. Always tapping space, backspace, enter… always when you aren’t trying to.

Battery life? Appalling. Doesn’t last me through the day, its usually turned on power saver by midday. I bought a 3500mAh battery for it, which makes it last a whole day, but ruins the entire form-factor of the device, which brings me on to…

Design. Beautiful. The actual design of this phone is, in my opinion, the best looking of ANY Windows Phone out there, 7.0 or 7.5. If you don’t mind your battery dying after some usage, you’ll really appreciate the elegant stealthy design of this phone. It is rather prone to scratches all over, including the screen, and I’d buy a second battery cover if I were you, y’know, one to pop on when showing it off to people rather than showing them the smudged, scratched, and soon-to-be-incomplete “HTC” lettering, as it will inevitably fall off. Not that I personally show my Trophy off of course, I don’t find it anything to boast about, as it’s not just the cover…

It’s the rest of the book. The OS can become ridiculously sluggish. I’ve been using Windows Mobile since WinMo 2003 and this is my fourth Microsoft-powered pocket device, so I’m no stranger to the inevitable slowness. However, WP7 removes all the power-user functionality of WinMo, and replaces it with an undeniably smooth and original UI. However, it still slows down. Just try having internet sharing turned on and three devices linked, see your battery vanish and the tiles on the Start screen take time to jitteringly load. I know that would slow it down, but even when you don’t do that it can just get really slow.

Also, syncing with the Zune software can welcome you to a new hell you thought was only possible with iTunes. It’s not awful, but it can be incredibly restrictive.

Now onto the pros… the speakers, so long as you have the right setting in the HTC sound enhancer on (personally I find Dolby Mobile for phone speakers and SRS enhancement for headphones provides the fullest, clearest sound), they are superb. The entire design looks fantastic, and I genuinely do find this phone to be the perfect size, the screen is ample enough for videos, but doesn’t even come close to bordering on the tablet-size phones that are becoming increasingly common nowadays. You will probably find yourself accidentally brushing your hand on one of the capacitive buttons though, pulling you right out of whatever app you were in. My Trophy’s screen is pretty scratched, but unlike my iPod it isn’t at all noticeable when the screen is on.

The bottom line is, if you aren’t a power user but are a “social fiend” with a good sense of taste, this IS the phone for you. It looks really nice, it’s fast if all you do is social stuff (the “what’s new” area on the people hub can keep you in the know with everything on twitter and facebook all in one fluid feed).

if you do:

-Facebook updating (text or photos)

-Facebook liking and commenting (as well as viewing text and photos)

-Tweeting (posting and replying/retweeting)

-Quickly emailing people

-Snapping a quick photo of a passable quality

-Like listening to music with the opportunity to use great inbuilt speakers

-Like getting to everything quickly

-Group people’s social streams, e.g. twitter and Facebook view of just your closest friends,…

…then you will love this phone. If you are looking for a business phone or a device to heavily consume media on, look somewhere else.”

It’s not about what you make, it’s about what you do.


Once again, Apple is in the process of announcing some new products, in this case the new Apple TV and the new iPad. As usual, they are using facts and figures to rubbish their so called ‘competition’. I’m being flippant with the competition in inverted commas, obviously. But Apple does have a knack for bending the statistics to their advantage. For a company that has for so many years provided for a niche, they do like to try and go all-out these days. It would be fairly hard to argue against the typical statement that “Apple don’t invent, they merely innovate through providing a better solution to a problem created by those who didn’t get it right the first time”. So the new iPad has a better graphics chip in the form of the A5X processor. I can imagine that the first real game to utilise the new retina display and graphics capabilities will be Real Racing by Firemint… Other companies may make better graphics chips, or provide devices with higher specifications, but as this post is titled,

“it’s not about what you make, it’s about how you do it”

Apple is good at making things work well with the lowest specifications possible. My 3rd generation iPod Touch can play Real Racing 2 just fine, with better visuals than my HTC Trophy. The iPod has a processor clocked at 600MHz and 256MB of RAM. The Trophy has a 1GHz processor and 576MB RAM. No, my iPod doesn’t have retina display, so I can still see the pixels, whereas I can’t on the Trophy, but the games just look better. The games on WP7 and for that matter, Android, just aren’t as visually appealing. I’m fairly sure many die-hard Android users would claim otherwise, even after they’ve used an iOS device, but they are usually being just a bit short sighted. If i showed them two identical screens, and all they could see was the screens,   and I showed them NfS Hot Pursuit on an iPod with retina display, versus, I guess, NfS Hot Pursuit on an Android device, they’d say the iOS one was better. You have to hand it to Apple, they really do know how to do it right.

Please HTC, I’m begging you.


First off, happy new year. Secondly, long time no see. Sorry about that, but there hasn’t been much happening in the world of Apple. Next, apologies for the following post not being Apple-related, I just find it stress relieving to air views like these.

As you may have read before, my main mobile phone at the moment is an HTC 7 Trophy. Before that, I had an HTC Touch Pro2, and before that, a Qtek 9100 (effectively an HTC Wizard). I also have a 3rd generation iPod Touch running iOS 5.0.1.

Windows Mobile always did what I needed. Well, it did what I needed in its hey-day, but when the web became more social, I became more restricted. The Qtek was fine for IRC and the odd tweet from Opera Mini, but I wanted something a little less brick-like. After having several years of productive joy with a physical landscape keyboard, I knew there was no alternate. So, I went for the latest Windows Mobile phone by HTC that had a landscape keyboard. Now I was able to have a fair amount of storage (the Wizard’s miniSD card slot never seemed to work) and less of a brick in my pocket. I missed the presence of a tab key, but a five row keyboard and tilting springing screen was worth the sacrifice. Now, firstly, who at HTC thought this phone had adequate specs?? I know I’ve gone on about this before at great length, but SERIOUSLY?? If you can’t run TouchFlo 3D smoothly all the time, the phone doesn’t have good specs. Being one of the few who actually utilises WinMo to its full potential, I had to disable TouchFlo. I am not alone when I say that on boot, 48%+ of the RAM was in use; and it NEVER drops below that. So, it was a painfully sluggish device and for a 2009 phone, really didn’t cut it on the twitter etc. front.

Some of you may remember my initial hatred for Windows Phone 7 when Microsoft announced it. Well, there was no way in hell I was sailing over to the Android ship, and there was no better WinMo device. Well, the HD2 isn’t bad and I do really want one, but it wouldn’t be a large enough step forward. I decided to go a little different and go for a phone with no physical keyboard. I still regret that choice on a daily basis when, for example, I’m busy pressing enter rather than backspace or send. I have an unwritten list of about five things I would really like to see in WP7, which I doubt I’ll be seeing any time soon. I loved the openness and flexibility of Windows Mobile, and after years and years with WinMo (even before the Qtek) and a year of jail broken iOS, I didn’t quite feel like stepping into a world arguably more locked-down than iOS. However, I made the leap and I don’t fully regret it.
The Trophy is undeniably a lovely looking phone. It doesn’t have any naff silver stick-on grille or buttons where the icons get rubbed off. What it does have is a perfect hand-held size (and I mean PERFECT), nice weight to it, classy slim silver outline around the screen (not quite the bezel?) and a simple-yet-elegant feel to it, but beneath the battery cover conceals its bit of orange flair. Unfortunately, mine does have rather a bit of cosmetic damage as it was second hand, but nothing to stop functionality. Whoever it was at HTC who designed this phone deserves a huge reward, as this phone beats all the typical HTC mode of plastic/rubber/metal/easily-damaged.
I can’t take a good photo (typically blurred from slight motion) and does holding the focus button make a difference when recording a video, or is that just me thinking it does to pass the time while it automatically tries (and fails) to re-focus. So, the camera isn’t great (true, but the shutter button is perfect). As everyone else, I too keep accidentally touching the capacitive buttons, especially the search button. I don’t like being trapped in an operating system. Yes, it makes you feel like there’s less chance of it going wrong, but I like freedom. I liked being able to transfer a file onto the microSD card of the TP2 with any computer instantly. And then I’d be able to open the file, in whatever I like. On WP7? No. It would be nice if there was an expansion slot, as it’s a real pleasure to watch, say, a TV episode on the Trophy’s screen rather than the iPod, but 8GB vs 64GB? iPod wins hands down. Well, TCPMP never worked smoothly on the TP2 and putting videos on the Trophy makes iTunes seem like a breeze. WP7 is great at keeping me in touch, mostly, and is incredibly fluid at performing social sharing tasks. Exceedingly slick. When the Titan was announced, I thought “imagine TV shows on a screen that size…”. And I still held that longing desire for the Titan… until I used one. It’s beyond big. I knew it was big, but it’s not big, it’s huge.

Look, my sincerest apologies Microsoft, we’ve had a really good run for goodness knows how long, but you just didn’t quite keep up when Android appeared. You thought you had, but all you did was create a better version of iOS. I remember your USP for WP7, and how I loathed the adverts. Then I owned a WP7 device, and accepted just how slick it was. Then I updated to Mango, and saw that you had abandoned the unique slickness and were trying to head down the other path and catch up with iOS and Android. Fair enough,

“the public gets what the public wants.”

“But I want nothing this society’s got”

The phone I want doesn’t exist. The mobile OS I want has been murdered. And it was a homicide, not a suicide. I don’t want to ditch the Trophy, as while it doesn’t do all the job, what it does do it does perfectly. The iPod fills my media needs just about. But I do think that Android is on the horizon for me… I would say “okay, if not the Titan, then the Sensation XL”. Umm, it’s white. And slow. And a complete copy of the Titan. The Titan looks good in black, just like the Trophy. I really don’t want a white phone. You know what was a factor of me being put off the Titan? The phone right next to it was the XL. Same price, same physical features. I had known for a long time about how much of a copy it was, but seriously? I’m fairly sure HTC will have lost more than one potential Titan customer due to “well, the Android version is exactly the same, and Android can do more”. But HTC didn’t let the XL do more on the hardware side. On that front, the XL sucks, so that’s no contender either. And whilst I would be lost without my iPod, I really don’t see myself being able to cope with an iPhone. So, until July, I shall be sticking with the Trophy. Please HTC, have a GOOD Android phone out then. One that is genuinely good. Better than the Droid 4 (doesn’t take much effort beating), better than the Galaxy S II. Something genuinely brilliant. I want a good camera, a physical shutter button (two-stage like the Trophy), microUSB, a microSD slot, 1GB+ RAM, 1.5GHz+ single core/1GHz+ dual core (per-core clock speed, not total), lovely design (same colour scheme as the Trophy would be nice), and a large-but-not-as-large-as-the-Titan screen. I suppose a device that looks like the Trophy, perhaps a teeny bit bigger screen, 0.1/0.2 inches bigger perhaps? Do what you want with the four OS control buttons, as I can’t decide, but please make them look nice if they’re physical. Oh, and a directional pad of some sort would be fantastic 😀 Look, if you bring out a device like that, I’m fairly sure you’ll gain a LOT of fans. Everyone who cares about mobile phones has a phone like this on their mind, but to them and I it’s just a wild dream. Please make it a reality.

7 days of Windows Phone 7


(yes, I know I’m late posting this for it to have been 7 days, but I got a bit delayed)

After using Windows Phone 7 for 7 days (so far it’s actually 11 days), I have found it to be a speedy and efficient mobile OS. Whilst it is missing many key features that made be long to return to Windows Mobile or even leap to Android, I made do.

  • It’s great for communication. The speed I can now send a text message or manage emails is amazing. The on-screen keyboard is rather annoyingly small and it is very easy to tap the wrong button , but it’s still bearable (and I can imagine it’s a lot more comfortable to type on the HTC Titan)
  • It’s great for media. Yes, videos (seemingly) need to be converted, but let’s put it this way. The Zune software is a LOT more bearable than iTunes. The limited amount of storage space on WP7 devices can get annoying but isn’t too bad to be a major annoyance. To get a video onto the phone, just plug it into the computer, the Zune software starts, drag and drop the file from the Zune library onto the phone icon in the Zune software and then wait. Simple.
  • The multitasking is rather annoying in WP 7.5. It’s like the iOS 3 to iOS 4 update, where app developers slowly and NOT surely release multitasking capable updates. I’m not quite sure why Microsoft would have wanted to follow this path, especially after seeing how it worked out for Apple.
On the whole, it seems to be the most efficient mobile OS for communication by far. However, it does have many drawbacks and I do have to frequently turn back to Windows Mobile when I really need to get something done properly.

The white iPhone is even more imminent…


Need I even bother saying? It’s been going round the internet faster than any other Apple rumor I’ve seen before. Anyhow, the (well, ‘a’) white iPhone is going to be coming out on Wednesday. With it being this soon, I’m guessing it’s just going to be a white iPhone 4 and not the next generation, but some suspicious photos of it have been circulating that don’t look like just a black iPhone 4 but in white. Intriguing…

Windows Phone 7 launched


The Dell Venue Pro

It was only a matter of time until Microsoft actually launched Windows Phone 7, but we were all hoping that day would never come. Or were we? Maybe we were all hoping it would come as soon as possible so that we could wave bye bye to Microsoft at long last. Anyway, hopeful end of MS in a later post, onto Windows Phone 7 now. Microsoft has announced 6 phones that will run it, half being HTC devices. They are; the HTC 7 Mozart, the HTC Trophy and the HTC HD7. Other manufacturers have bravely put together the Samsung Omnia 7, the LG Optimus 7 and the Dell Venue Pro. Am I right in saying that we haven’t seen anything pocket based by Dell since the Axim x51v? (we’ll ignore the Streak, that can count as ‘the one mistake they get to get away with’). Also ‘odd’ that 4/6 of these devices have a ‘7’ in their names. How imaginative. All these devices have one feature that puts them above the rest, in the typical way of ‘you want both these features? Tough, you should have got an iPhone, then you get all the features in one model!’ fancy screens, media streaming and a physical keyboard. Sounds good, but Dell’s keyboard (pictured) seems rather awkward and Palm-Pre-esque. I have always seen Phone-OSes in this way: iOS – for people who need to get simple tasks done fast, Android – for people who want to look cool and get nothing done, Blackberry’s OS – for people who think they like emails and Windows Mobile – For people who want(ed) business related things done quickly, with a ridiculously customizable interface. Does the average ‘suit’ need to check twitter and their xbox live account on the go? No, because they don’t use either. Do they need huge phones with fancy visuals? No. They want to hold conference calls, check their calendar with a simple layout and maybe check their emails, no fancy stuff. This means that ‘the suits’ will move from their beloved PPCs and HTC devices to iPhones, because they may have the features they don’t want, but they aren’t compulsory.

 

Or maybe the Apple September 2010 event wasn’t so great…


I just installed iTunes 10 and I hate it. Sure, Ping is cool, but that is just about it’s only redeeming feature. Apple has sucked all the colour out of it and changed the logo. Please Apple, I want iTunes 10, but with the old theme and logo.
Also, I have heard that the stills camera on the iPod Touch fourth generation isn’t that great. 0.7 megapixels apparently, which is worse than my four year old HTC Wizard. Of course the iPod thing is just what I have heard, but if Apple was proud of the camera they would have put the amount of mega pixels in the specs sheet.

Also, the new Apple TV. Streaming only? Well, the cloud does seem to be the future (may God help those with dialup) so I’ll leave Apple TV alone, as it is basically awesome.