Posts Tagged ‘ Apple ’

Android, Jellybean and What we can expect next from Google

These past three weeks have been jam-packed with OS news. First Mountain Lion reared its face back mid february then Microsoft released the highly anticipated Windows 8 consumer preview to the public. These new softwares from the tech titans of silicon valley show us not only what’s coming later this year but the direction they’re taking computing. For once Apple is the less interesting of the two, presenting an OS that’s just more of an incremental step closer to bridging the iOS/OSX gap. Windows on the other hand is coming in packing a completely new OS with Windows 8. The desktop we’ve all come to know and love has taken a backseat to a more Windows Phone 7-eque metro tile screen. This new interface makes windows more walled, adds an app store and, most importantly, finally makes Windows finger-friendly.

                                

But in all this buzz, one major player is still left out. Google has for over a year now been trying to sell us on the idea of a Chrome OS without any success. Sure, they’ve come down in price but at the end of the day they still leave people asking, “why don’t I just install Chrome?” But, Google has seen nothing but good results when it comes to their Android mobile OS. In light of the major plays by both Cupertino and Redmond, Google may just have just had their hands forced. Putting Android on a laptop would make for a lightweight OS that, with the inclusion of the Android market, would be more than capable of performing most common tasks such as writing documents, browsing the web, playing music and light gaming. And because Google licenses Android for free, a mobile version could be priced competitively against Microsoft’s offerings and still keep all the revenue from searches and Android Market purchases.

So what’s the hold up? Well, Google still has a lot of work to do before they’re ready to enter the laptop market. First of all, Android on tablets is a hot mess. Samsung, by far the largest seller of Android tablets, had to admit during Mobile World Congress that their tablet  sales were less than steller. The biggest reason is most likely because Android isn’t micromanaged enough. It’s closing in on half a year since Ice Cream Sandwich was released and we’re still only seeing it on select devices. While this is a nuisance for smartphone owners, it’s a deal breaker in the high-end market. If Google wants to be a respected player on the laptop front, they’re going to need to be able to give people the peace of mind that their $400+ investment will be supported for 2-3 years at least.

This may just be speculation but with the way the market is going I don’t think Google has a choice unless they want to kill off the Chromebook experiment. For now, we just have to hold our breath and wait to see what’s coming down the road with Jellybean.

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In Defense of Windows Phone 7

 

tl;dr

For the time being, WP7 is underpowered, lacks developer support and is still behind in features we’ve come to expect as standard. But if you don’t care about apps (besides Angry Bird) or having the fastest phone money can buy and just want a gorgeous interface to stay connected, take occasional photos and just keep things simple, you’re in for a treat. If you have a smartphone (or if you’re on a computer) and want to try out the WP7 experience, just click here.

 

The phone space has become a battleground between Android and iOS. Android owns over half of the industry and iOS is raking dough and dominating mindshare like nobody’s business. This isn’t exactly the most fertile ground to sow your seeds but you’ve gotta plant something if you ever wanted to grow. Playing the part of the little Charlie Brown tree in between two mighty evergreens is little Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7. But it could be worse for Microsoft, just ask Nokia and RIM. So, what chance does Microsoft stand to enter this mature (by tech standards) industry? Quite a bit actually. Windows Phone 7 came like a breath of fresh air to the smartphone OS space. As much as people like to fight over Android vs. iOS, they’re actually very similar operating systems when you look at the side by side. They have the same app layout, marginally different page layouts and besides widgets and more customization on the Android front, the differences pretty much end there. But you’re not gonna see Microsoft in court defending its OS any time soon. The Metro UI tile layout is a first and it accomplishes three things very well; It’s simple, eloquent and informative all at once. The hubs are also unique (although ICS is cozying up to the design) and they provide full information in a weird but interesting partial page layout. Microsoft has really created something from the ground up that they can claim to be 100% their own. You really have to give it a chance. But enough with the flattery, WP7 has quite a few knocks against it as well. First of all, it’s the new kid on the block. The phones coming out on the Windows front aren’t the highest end models the OEMs churn out and carriers don’t exactly place them front and center. WP7 also lacks any mentionable developer community. If Microsoft want to ever get this thing off the ground, it definitely needs the right stuff. Hoping to mend these issues, Microsoft has partnered with Nokia to be the sole software provider of future Nokia phones. This might sound strange seeing as neither companies have strong marketshare but it’s actually quite a brilliant strategy… although not immune to failure. Nokia used to be the premier phone maker until the smartphone era came. Since then they’ve floundered through OS’s (Symbian, Maemo, back to Symbian, then MeeGo) without finding anything that stuck. But even through this tumultuous time they’ve been praised for their hardware design, exactly what WP7 has to bring to the table.  Nokia also retains a strong market presence in Europe that will undoubtedly help propel WP7 into the hearts and minds of developers. This is only the hope though, and things aren’t coming to a solid start. The first phone to come out of the alliance, the Lumia 800, left reviewers both astonished and appalled. The design is a beautiful unibody structure that looks great and feels great in the hand but that’s where the flattery ends. The screen is a tiny 3.7 inches and a lowly 480 x 800 pixels, it’s running on a measly 1.4 Ghz single core processor, it has just 512 megs of ram and the camera is an outdated 5MP Carl Zeiss lens. These feature  read like a dream a year ago when they were introduced with the N9 but in a market where two moths is midlife crisis there isn’t a good excuse for releasing rebranded internals. Of course, there was a push to get something out the door by holidays 2011 so there’s still hopes that Nokia will wow us early next year. For the time being, WP7 is underpowered, lacks developer support and is still behind in features we’ve come to expect as standard. But if you don’t care about apps (besides Angry Bird) or having the fastest phone money can buy and just want a gorgeous interface to stay connected, take occasional photos and just keep things simple, you’re in for a treat. If you wanna give it a shot for free, just click here (preferably on a handheld).


Are you getting Ice Cream Sandwich?

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Ice Cream sandwich is out and Google’s fragmentation problem is rearing itself to everyone’s chagrin. Imagine being at the beach with your family and your parents choose to give only a few of you Ice Cream and you just have to sit there and watch. Oh, might I remind you that you’re paying these parents monthly…this is terrible! With my iPad, I got iOS 5 in a timely manner and my single complaint – not having multitouch – was cleared up within a few weeks and I’m completely up to date. My Motorola Triumph that came out this summer, the Motorola Atrix that was the darling of the smartphone world BACK IN FEBRUARY and that HTC EVO that ushered in the 4G era less than a year and a half ago are all out of the question. I understand why my phone was off the list, it’s a Virgin Mobile phone, but I can’t understand how you can leave behind the Goliaths of the Android space less than two years after their release? And even those phones that are getting upgraded aren’t getting it until “first half of 2012″… in what world is that acceptable? Remember that Open Handset Alliance that EVERY ANDROID OEM SIGNED UP FOR? What happened to the 18 months of support? This is a huge problem when you’re tied to a two year contract and the person you’re paying nearly a hundred bucks to (or more) each month doesn’t care enough to keep you supported after your device is out of the spotlight but you’re still stuck in a contract. This definitely isn’t the best way to build up customer appreciation and this shows why Apple is still #1 in customer satisfaction and brand quality in general. Enough of my ranting, here’s the list of supported phones (from Engadget) so check it out and prepare to be dissapointed.

Note: If you don’t see your device listed, don’t fret… yet. If it hasn’t been confirmed or denied, the OEM’s likely still deciding which products will get the upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich. Keep checking back here from time to time, as we’ll continue to update the list.

ASUS

Official statement:

Google recently announced the latest update for Android, Ice Cream Sandwich, which brings some exciting new features and capabilities. At ASUS, we pride ourselves on delivering a great experience with our products, thanks to frequent updates that further enhance our products’ capabilities. We’re delighted to confirm support for Ice Cream Sandwich on the ASUS Eee Pad Family – our aim is to bring the latest Android update to the Eee Pad Series, but at this time we are unable to set a date for its release. Please stay tuned for more news on our Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade plans.

Confirmed:

Denied:

  • None specified
AT&T

Official statement:

We plan for both the Vivid and Galaxy S II Skyrocket to be upgraded to Ice Cream Sandwich.

Confirmed:

  • HTC Vivid
  • Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket

Denied:

  • None specified
HTC

Official statement:

HTC knows how excited our fans are to get their hands on Google’s latest version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich, so we’re thrilled today to announce the first wave of HTC phones that will receive upgrades: We can confirm the brand new HTC Vivid is upgradeable to Ice Cream Sandwich. In addition, Ice Cream Sandwich is coming in early 2012 to a variety of devices including the HTC Sensation, HTC Sensation XL and HTC Sensation XE, as well as the HTC Rezound, HTC EVO 3D, HTC EVO Design 4G and HTC Amaze 4G through close integration with our carrier partners. We’re continuing to assess our product portfolio, so stay tuned for more updates on device upgrades, timing and other details about HTC and Ice Cream Sandwich.

Confirmed:

  • Rezound
  • Vivid (AT&T)
  • Sensation (OG, XL and XE)
  • EVO 3D (Sprint)
  • EVO Design 4G (Sprint)
  • Amaze 4G (T-Mobile)
  • Sensation 4G (T-Mobile)

Denied:

LG

Official statement:

LG confirms today that the Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) OS will be initially available for the following high-end LG smartphones which were introduced this year: the Optimus 2X, the Optimus Black, the Optimus 3D and the Optimus LTE. We are also continuing to evaluate the ICS OS to determine whether it is compatible with the functionality, features and performance of other LG smartphones to make the ICS OS available on as many LG smartphones as possible. In December this year, the forthcoming upgrade schedule and additional specific models for the ICS OS upgrade will be posted on our LG Mobile Global Facebook page (www.facebook.com/LGMobile) and on our local LG websites. Please stay tuned for more updates from LG.

Confirmed:

Denied:

  • None specified
Meizu

Official statement:

MX market remains unchanged. However, MX and M9 we will soon upgrade to 4.0 (Jack Wong, CEO).

Confirmed:

Denied:

  • None specified
Motorola

Official statement:

We’ve confirmed that DROID RAZR/ Motorola RAZR, DROID BIONIC, and Motorola XOOM (all editions) will get an upgrade to ICS… we have not confirmed any devices will not get ICS.

Confirmed:

Denied:

  • None specified
Pantech

Official statement:

We’re currently evaluating our plans and will provide an update soon. Our customers are our top priority and we intend to upgrade technically eligible products.

Confirmed:

  • None specified

Denied:

  • None specified
Samsung

Official statements:

Samsung Mobile U.S. has not made any official announcement plans for Ice Cream Sandwich software updates to any of our US products. We will let our customers know as soon as we have more information to share.

From Samsung UK’s Twitter account: “The Galaxy S II will be receiving ICS, but there are no dates confirmed as yet. We’ll keep you posted.”

From AT&T: We plan for both the [HTC] Vivid and [Samsung] Galaxy S II Skyrocket to be upgraded to Ice Cream Sandwich.

Confirmed:

Denied:

  • None specified
Sony Ericsson

Official statement:

Sony Ericsson is currently rolling out the upgrade to Gingerbread 2.3.4 across its entire 2011 Xperia smartphone portfolio. This software upgrade will be available through a phased roll out in select markets. Beyond Gingerbread 2.3.4, we plan to upgrade our 2011 Xperia smartphone portfolio to the next Android platform made available to us.

Confirmed:

Denied:

  • None specified
Sprint

Official statement:

Sprint will begin to rollout Google’s latest version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich, to our customers in early 2012. Ice Cream Sandwich will be available via an over-the-air update to a variety of devices including HTC EVO 3D, HTC EVO Design 4G and other key products in our line-up. Stay tuned for more details and exact timing.

Confirmed:

  • HTC EVO 3D
  • HTC EVO Design 4G

Denied:

  • None specified
T-Mobile

Official statement:

T-Mobile is committed to enhancing customers’ experience with our devices, including providing upgrades to the latest Android operating system — Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). We are actively working with our OEM partners to ensure that a number of eligible T-Mobile devices are upgraded to Android 4.0 in the coming months and will communicate updates as we have additional details to share. Today, we can confirm that Android 4.0 is expected to come in early 2012 to the HTC Amaze 4G and HTC Sensation 4G.

Confirmed:

  • HTC Amaze 4G
  • HTC Sensation 4G

Denied:

  • None specified
ViewSonic

Official statement:

Google’s latest update for Android Ice Cream Sandwich brings advanced features and functionality to users. ViewSonic will support Ice Cream Sandwich with our award-winning ViewPad tablet line and are currently evaluating the operating system. Once the BSP is formally released from Google, we’ll have more details, as at this time we can’t set an exact release date. Stay tuned for more updates, as our team will bring you the exciting announcements as we’re able.

Confirmed:

  • ViewPad series

Denied:

  • None specified
ZTE

Official statement:

ZTE hasn’t issued an official statement about Ice Cream Sandwich or when we will introduce new products using the upgraded OS. However, we continue to work very closely with Google to ensure we deliver the best possible Android user experience across all of our devices and with all of our partners.

Confirmed:

  • None specified

Denied:

  • None specified

Tech Deals

Whenever people see my collection of technology, they either get the impression that I’m rich or I squander away my fortunes. But having technology isn’t as expensive as you may think and I’ll show you in this new segment. Let’s start with basics that even grandma can get in on. You may be bumming out on that missed chance over black Friday and maybe cyber Monday didn’t rack in the treasure trove you expected to but don’t fret, it’s not over yet. This season is ripe with deals from online retailers; Chiefly Amazon.com. Just watch the hourly deals ticker and you’ll be sure to find yourself a steal. Last year during this post black Friday/pre Christmas sale I was able to snag a pair Monster Turbines for $54.99, these things retail for 129+ regularly so that’s a pretty steep mark down. If you’re looking for a phone, get a new line of service and you’ve got yourself a free high-end smartphone (I’m talking Galaxy, Droid and all of HTC’s offerings, not the cheap stuff) for a penny shipped! Also, if you got that great deal on the TV or Monitor or speaker system, don’t buy the cables in-store! Store often mark up these products to make up for the lowered price on the real tech. And no matter how many BestBuy employees tell you that you need gold plated connections, don’t buy it. If you go to Amazon you can have a brand new pair shipped the next day for 5 bucks or less (assuming that you have Prime, which you should). Newegg, TigerDirect and other retailers also blow out their inventories around this time so if you’re at a desk job or have access to the internet otherwise, it can’t hurt to check out these and other top sites once every hour or two. That’s it for now but there’s definitely more to come!

 

Kindle Fire Reviewed

Hey folks, good news! Reviews for the highly anticipated Kindle Fire are finally out and they’ve kinda been what I expected at first but didn’t want to accept. When it was announced, the price and visual appeal were enough to make me think of it as the ultimate tablet. I completely overlooked the smartphone level specs and small screen size and how they would inhibit the device’s operations but that becomes apparent the moment you try to load websites, pinch to zoom or view magazines. But, thanks to Amazon’s Silk browser, this tablet is actually still competing with the new 7-inch Galaxy Tab. The fact that a $200 tablet was able to beat a tablet twice it’s price at all deserves huge praise. So, if you go in expecting something on par with the iPad, of course you’re gonna be disappointed and that’s not Amazon’s fault. But if you’re looking at other sub $300 tablets, Amazon’s offering is sleeker, faster and has a much better UI and app selection. There just isn’t any competition here. A solid 3.5 out of 5 (or 4 if you’re going in with the right expectations) is very well deserved.

Google VS. Apple

Google’s been on a tear lately with its Android operating system. It has become the most popular phone operating system, commanding 40% of the smart phone market, and still expanding at an incredible rate. It’s hard to imagine that the adorable little green android’s humble beginnings on the bulky, sluggish, and unpromising T-Mobile G1. From there came a torrential downpour of phones, each better than the last until finally we had a true iPhone competitor with the HTC Incredible (Verizon’s rendition of the first Google Nexus phone). From then on it has been a chase, every year Apple would announce a new phone that would blow all the current Android phones out of the water and the enclave of Android would continue to push back until a clear competitor would arise and the cycle continues. But, while this trend is what makes Android profitable, it is also a huge crutch moving forward. Android is the bestselling OS by far but three major aspects of its growth keep it far behind Apple’s throne:

  1. In all its growth, the Android OS has managed to completely avoid Apple’s market share. Apple has been growing steadily and untouched since the first iPhone came out. Every year they break records (4 million in the first weekend this year) and every year they mint more and more income. Android has actually planted itself in the lush soil left behind by decaying giants Nokia, Windows Mobile, and BlackBerry.                     
  2. Android also isn’t that profitable once you break it down. Google actually makes little or no money on the operating system itself, it just gives it away and profits on the tail end with the search engine, baked in services and (mainly) Android Market… That’s how it’s supposed to work at least. In reality the Android Appstore isn’t even as profitable as Blackberry App World even though it commands more than twice the market share. The companies are also not touching Apple’s numbers individually.      
  3. And the biggest reason, like it or not, is that they’re just not Apple. Before you light your torches, let me explain myself. An Apple product just has an air of prestige and class that no Android phone has matched to date. Even six months after the iPhone 4 was announced, it was still outselling the latest and greatest of the Androids even with their dual-core, LTE, massive screen and all that. No Android has ever been a heavy hitter after more than three months of shelf life.
               

And I shouldn’t forget to mention Apple’s earnings on the iPhone. No phone comes close to having the same market dominance as the iPhone. In fact, carriers pay top dollar just to have the iPhone in their line up just because it brings that many customers. Sprint’s deal to get the iPhone on their shelves is losing them money and they won’t start making returns on profit until 2015! That just shows you how strong a presence the iPhone has. Add to that the amount of capital Apple has to put towards R&D for new devices and their complete control of hardware and software and it doesn’t look like they’re being dethroned any time soon.

iOS vs. Android: Why Geeks Should Go Apple

*Before we proceed, I need to add a disclaimer: this whole post would be completely useless if you make your decisions predominantly on image (if you want an iPhone to look cool or you want an Android for geek cred, I can’t help you). *

Choosing a mobile operating system has become one of the most pivotal options for consumers everywhere. To make the choice easier, a rule of thumb has been that if you’re nerdy, you should own an Android and if you’re a technophobe (or the vast majority of people) you should just stay with iOS. But maybe it’s time to change that rule of thumb. As both companies have matured, they have shown tendencies that support an opposite measure. Before you go blasting, hear me out for a bit and I think I could change your mind.

The original line of thought was that Android, while less user friendly, allowed those looking to tinker with their devices to tinker away to their hearts content. iOS, on the other hand, was much more user friendly but was far more locked down. But thanks to Jailbreaking, iOS has become a much more the nerd’s tool. One big problem with Android is that there are so many different phones and versions of Android that no single device can build up a hacker community, and those that do are outshone within months. But iOS devices are updated in a timely manner so they all get the love and support they need from third party developers. iOS devices can be jailbroken in as little as a website visit and click of a button and once they’re jailbroken you can use Cydia to do everything from change the skin to downloading third party apps and even dual booting Android. In fact, some features (such as wireless syncing) became available on Cydia before getting baked into iOS. And if a new device, say an iPhone 4s, get exclusive apps that should be available across the board (*cough* Siri), then you can count on the developer community to make a port within a few weeks to a couple months.

That’s all fine and well, but if you’re an average Joe who doesn’t want to deal with jailbreaks and Cydia then all this means absolutely nothing to you. An Apple device is nothing but a waste of money in your hands; a beautiful waste of money but a waste nonetheless. With Android though, you can get a device that’s just as responsive for free. Plus, Android phones offer features that are more useful on a day-to-day basis such as full QWERTY keyboards. As for usability, Android has become more and more user-friendly with each and every iteration, and that’s about to ramp up with the upcoming release of Ice Cream Sandwich, Google’s OS. Sure, rooting isn’t as easy as jailbreaking and the hacker community is abysmal on a per-phone basis but what does that matter to the average person? Some of you might point out that Android’s appstore collection isn’t comparable to iOS’s and I would have to whole-heartedly agree with you there. But the average person doesn’t venture that far with Apps. Give them basic apps (Facebook, twitter, mail, maps) some games (Diner Dash, Angry Birds, Doodle Jump, etc.) and some camera apps and they’re more than perfectly content. Not everyone is jumping for the greatest VNC client or Plex app on his or her phone. Most people just want a phone that lets them check services and maybe waste time in the subway/bus or wherever.

Again, if you’re a die-hard Android or Apple fan then this doesn’t apply to you since your mind is already made your mind up and nothing I can say is likely to change that. And, of course, there are going to be exception to this basic rule since not everyone fits nicely into a little mold. But, for the vast majority of phone users, this is a good guideline for choosing a mobile OS. I know not everyone will agree so I would like to hear your opinions in the comments section. Whether you think I’m brilliant or I’m spewing shit, just