Friday, 31 October 2008
Nevertheless lets plunge on and cover what I've been able to discover thus far.
The hardware of the G1 is a bit of a mishmash. It feels like HTC had an agenda which said 'make this different from the Touch Pro'. In places it feels like design decisions were made for no other reason than this. A good example is the slide mechanism, which describes a short arc. It adds nothing to the usability of the phone, feels considerably less 'solid' than a good straight slider and I suspect will be much more prone to wear.
Again with the trackball, why a perfectly good five-way pad hasn't been used is beyond me - HTC have made some of the best examples. A trackball has no real advantages, is less useful for gaming, requires more maintenance and again is likely to wear out faster. The pronounced 'chin' at the bottom of the G1 also serves no purpose and makes access to the right hand keys more difficult. I could go on...
The keyboard itself is very good. Five full rows, good key separation and a nice tactile feel when pressed make this one of the best keyboard HTC have put into a phone. Which is just as well, as its the sole means of input into the G1. Soft inputs are promised via the marketplace, good thing too, as things stand one handed texting or email whilst walking down the street are impossible.
The screen is bright and clear, sharp as a button too, with such a high pixel density. Unfortunately its too small. Another inch or so would make the world of difference...
On the software side this our first chance to try Android on real hardware and again its a disappointing experience. iPhone lovers will be pleased to know it still reigns supreme, almost to the point where I'd say Google haven't even tried to compete.
No, its clear this OS is targetting Windows Mobile and surprisingly I'd say that Google have even missed this mark with its first attempt. While I'm sure that many of you are now looking at your screens slack-jawed in horror, I think I can explain.
Windows Mobile benefits from its use of desktop metaphors and icons from Windows to make for a relatively easy first experience. Google have started from scratch and clearly haven't benefitted from the years of UI experience that made the iPhone such an instant hit.
The G1's home screen is a clock and some icons. And a little tab icon which can be dragged across the screen to access other applications. Not intuitive. I would guess that one of the early Android applications will be one to allow the home key to map a long press to the apps drawer.
The web browser beats Pocket IE, but doesn't really compare to Opera Mobile 9.5 never mind Safari mobile. One of the strange UI quirks manifests itself here: there are no zoom icons until you tap the screen and when they do appear they don't have any intelligence about how they zoom with regard to content onscreen, unlike Safari and to a lesser extent Opera.
Email supports push through Gmail - the absence of Exchange support will hurt corporate sales here - which I'm guessing is based around IMAP-idle, recently added to Gmail. POP accounts can also be accessed directly through the phone, although a more sensible approach would be to auto-forward to your Gmail account and benefit from push across the board.
The marketplace shows some lag behind the app store, less than a tenth of those available for the iPhone at launch. There's no doubt that there'll be a surge of applications, but for the moment the choice is a touch limited.
Overall I'd say that although the Android OS beats Windows Mobile hands down for speed, things like Exchange support, the Today screen and the more familiar interface, give the latter a small head start for the moment.
In fact that's true of the G1 as a whole. Its fast and full of features yet its hardware is basically the same as its Windows Mobile competition; its OS is incomplete and the range of available software is dwarfed by what can be found for Windows Mobile.
Personally the G1 isn't for me. I think many will feel the same. Android will be rather more of a success though, especially as the range of licensees improves over the next twelve to eighteen months.
On the surface a pretty exciting new device, with a large screen and keyboard and Sony's customisations to the base OS. For those more involved in the industry the first non-UIQ smartphone from the Swedish/Japanese combo and the completion of Sony's migration from Palm to Windows Mobile were of most interest.
Underneath though I believe that the X1 offers little hope for WM 6.1 as a viable platform. Despite the presence of Sony's panels interface it only takes a small scratch of the surface to reach the clumsiness that is underneath. The same problem affects HTC's touch enabled devices, as well as Samsung's Omnia.
Until the major rewrite of WM7 its unlikely that there'll be a fix for these issues and attendant performance problems, giving Apple and Google plenty of time to move the game out of Microsoft's reach.
Technorati Tags: Windows mobile, iphone, android, problems, xperia, x1
Thursday, 30 October 2008
Amongst the many reasonably useless updates (Google Street View, Emoji icons) and possibly useful ones (line-in recording, direct podcast downloads, location sharing) there's a huge hole - the absolute must-have fixes for the shortcomings which make life with the iPhone more frustrating than it should be.
So it looks like we'll still be missing background notifications, SMS forwarding, copy-paste and no sign of turn by turn sat nav either.
That's not to say Apple aren't working on these things but let's be honest the delays in producing the goods suggest either they are so difficult to deliver as to be a long way off or that Apple don't see them as a priority. Either way that's a big pain in the backside for iPhone users hanging on for features which are taken for granted in even the most basic feature phone.
Wednesday, 29 October 2008
For iPhone users the Earth application amounts to little more than an alternative view of the maps data, at least until more plugins are supported.
Technorati Tags: Google earth, iphone, applications
There's also the change of direction from RIM, the promise of a more competitive Windows Mobile and direct competition from the far-east, LG, Samsung and a host of other new names with big plans.
Whilst Symbian is something of a lame duck, having gained a touch interface only recently, Nokia does have a potentialy greater product which could rewrite the rules.
Like Android its open source, like iPhone touch based with a good onscreen keyboard. However whilst Android struggles for apps (50 at launch after all that pre-launch hype and hysteria?) Maemo has apps and devs to spare, especially when you look at the quality of the apps on offer. And whilst iPhone users bemoan the lack of copy-paste and turn by turn navigation the N810 is replete with these particular functions, as well as robust multi-tasking.
The next Internet Tablet will sport 3G conectivity. i challenge Nokia to voice enable it too and take the fight back to the newcomers, if it has the balls.
Technorati Tags: Maemo, iphone, android, n810, smartphone, challenges
Docs-to-go has been a mainstay of the Palm OS world for many years now and given the astonishing success of the App Store its no surprise to see Dataviz making the jump to Apple's top selling platform.
One obvious question is how they plan to handle copy-paste functionality, notoriously absent on the iPhone. Especially now that the forthcoming 2.2 update looks less likely to address this failing. Its entirely possible that Dataviz could choose to provide a clipboard between its own applications, which should keep it well within the terms of Apple's licensing agreement.
However its done, I for one am looking forward to benefiting from Docs-to-go's fabulous roundtrip support for documents sent from PC to handheld and back again.
Let's hope the wait isn't too great.
Technorati Tags: iPhone, Office, Dataviz, documents-to-go, docs-to-go, copy-paste
Saturday, 25 October 2008
Only the former has support for Garnet applications, which should give ALP a head start over Android (in theory anyway) thanks to it's greater application pool.
The theory is great of course but whilst there aren't any ALP powered phones available Google, Windows Mobile, Blackberry and iPhone platforms are racing off into the distance.
Which beggars the question, where will that leave Palm and it's terminally delayed Nova platform?
Thursday, 23 October 2008
I'm not entirely sure what the ratio of paid to free apps is, but going on my ratio of about 1 to 4 that would suggest application sales (as opposed to downloads) of around 40 million. Probably accounting for more sales than all other mobile platforms have achieved in the whole lifetime of the mobile market.
Google, Blackberry, Nokia and Microsoft are all planning on copying the App Store model for software distribution. Somehow I doubt they'll do quite so well...
Wednesday, 22 October 2008
For a computer company that's a remarkable achievement. Especially given the lukewarm welcome its competitors gave it on launch. Many non-iPhone websites are still unable to get away from their anti-iPhone fixation.
Its likely that sales will tail off this quarter, especially given the global uncertainty around finance. But with the iPhone available in more countries and the holiday season on its way, I'm guessing the next quarter's figures will turn out to be a pleasant surprise for Apple investors as well...
Sunday, 19 October 2008
Its as if these guys still think that it's a badge of importance. It's not. It's a sign of utter stupidity and disrespect for the other attendees of your meeting.
Palm users can do it, Windows Mobile users can do it and even iPhone users can do it.
So if you have a Blackberry learn how to mute it when you're in a meeting. Because no-one else is impressed. Get it?
Saturday, 18 October 2008
It's fair to say that initial impressions have been a little mixed. The hardware appears to be the weak point of this handheld, although the software seems to offer hope that Android can become a competitive challenger in the mobile space.
We'll probably have to wait until someone else ships an Android phone to be sure, but in the meantime the G1 should be available for fondling in your local T-Mobile store from the end of this month.
Friday, 10 October 2008
Currently used through roadworks on the motorway network Specs works by measuring time taken to travel between points monitored by number plate recognition cameras. The new systems will network much larger areas of cameras and monitor speeds on a much broader range of roads.
Carried through to it's logical conclusion (nationwide rollout) this is a truly game changing development for the motorist.
The new cameras can be much more widely deployed as they use digital imaging and wireless technology to break the limits of the older cameras, which had to be cabled together and used film.
I'd say that snortin' road racer you were looking at for your next car is probably a bit pointless now. A small diesel with cruise control looks a better bet to me now...
“Following reports of software issues with the BlackBerry Bold handset across a variety of mobile operators, Orange has decided to act in the interest of its customers by suspending shipments of the device in the UK,”
RIM also confirmed that the original design for the forthcoming Storm was rejected by Vodafone for not being cutting edge enough. Although the company thinks that it now has the design right it stopped short of pitching the Storm as an iphone competitor claiming instead that there is room in the market for both devices. Which suggests that RIM don't believe it has the tools to take on Apple's star.
Motion's new Clinical Assistant looks to keep the company at the forefront of the market by adding a Smartcard Reader - an absolute necessity considering the National Programme for IT's more to two-factor authentication by Smartcards. With Fujitsu's forthcoming Clinical Assistant also supporting Smartcards (when it arrives in December) there's likely to be at least some competition in the MCA market.
After a brief toy with the new machine I can say that there are only minor differences in the old and new - the pen seems a little more accurate and the colour has changed from predominantly white to grey and white. The lack of significant change means that all the Mc5's accessories are compatible with the new machine - a bonus for cash strapped hospital trusts!
I'm expecting an extended test of the new machine shortly, as well as an early sight of the Fujitsu machine ahead of its official launch. I'll post more on both machines as I get them.
Wednesday, 8 October 2008
various lab groups to deliver impressive yet unsung applications like
Writing Pad is a replacement notepad application which does away with
the iPhone's standard soft keyboard and replaces it with a completely
new concept in text entry. The new keyboard is used by sliding your
finger from letter to letter and lifting your finger at the end of
each word. Sounds complex? Believe it or not it's unbelievably simple
and ridiculously quick to use. Helped by a comprehensive dictionary of
words and a simple method of adding your own, Writing Pad will soon
have you bashing, sorry sliding, out notes you wouldn't even dream of
attempting on another handheld.
After about half an hour of using Writing Pad I have no doubts that
you'll be questioning why anybody would use any other input method on
a small device. I'm even sure that after a short period of practice
you'll find it faster than a desktop keyboard.
Other than the new input method there's a reasonably capable notepad
which can convert your notes into the body of an email ready for
sending. Its not quite cut and paste but its a usable alternative.
In summary then, a free application which should be on every single
iPhone out there.
Monday, 6 October 2008
If you don't know RealDVD is a product that allows the ripping of a DVD movie to a hard disk, albeit with content protection to ensure it isn't easily re-distributed. Given the rather fragile nature of DVD disks it doesn't seem entirely inconceivable that a person spending a tenner on a movie might want to protect their investment by separating the content from the delivery medium. Its not like there aren't a million and one pieces of DVD-ripping software out there which completely circumvent copy protection, so anybody paying for the Real product is probably going to be the sort of person who will use it exactly to the letter.
Strange then that the MPAA should choose this particularly non-harmful piece of software to haul in front of the US courts as a villaineous breach of America's woeful DMCA. Stranger still that a US court should grant a restraining order barring its sale, even if temporary.
There's a real (sorry, no pun intended) imbalance between the rights of the copyright holder and the rights of the customer. As if you'd go out and buy this piece of software if you were intending to share movies around the web.
If you decide to take a backup of your movies before the disks they came on deteriorate beyond use can I suggest a copy of Fair Use Wizard, a completely free tool which rips your movie to disk free of any DRM. But get it quick before the movie industry finds a way of locking DVDs to individual eyeballs...
Sunday, 5 October 2008
Whilst IE's market share fell from 77% to 71% over the last ten months, Firefox (19.5% up from 6%) and Safari (6.7% up from 5.1%) being the main beneficiary.
Google's Chrome managed to capture market share to the tune of 0.78% from a standing start and I'd wager next time we see a similar report that will sit somewhere between 5% and 10%, probably leapfrogging Safari in the process.
Of course these figures are based on the information of one company, so without digging deep into the hows and whys of the survey undertaken, its probable that they vary from the true picture.
Still the trend information should be consistent, which suggests that having oulled IE from the Mac platform a few years ago, Microsoft could be looking at making a similar decision on the Windows platform in a few years time.
Nokia, as the big daddy in both the phone and smartphone market, was naturally one of those companies to react quickest. Or were they? The Nokia Tube first surfaced as a concept from Nokia some twenty months ago, not long after the iPhone changed the playing field.
From what I've seen of the handset that the Tube became - the 5800 Xpress Music - Nokia have managed to cobble together a pretty average product which is exceptional only in its slavish following of the iPhone. Which isn't good enough from Nokia and shouldn't be allowed to pass without comment.
What has become abundantly clear is that Nokia haven't got any new ideas to put onto the table, despite having invested heavily in the Maemo and touchscreen based Internet Tablet N770/N800 series. The N810 wouldn't need too much of a make-over to start looking like a 'gotta have one' product. (Addition of phone hardware notwithdstanding...) Where it falls down is the ever-so poor user experience on the Maemo platform - a user interface designed by engineers if ever there was one.
With Sony-Ericsson apparently abandoning UIQ, Palm going niche-product and Windows Mobile likely to flail around for the next twelve to eighteen months, Nokia had a real opportunity to go back to the drawing board and come up with a really innovative, ground-breaking product. One which does to the iPhone what the iPhone did to everybody else when launched. And because of the lack of other competition it could have been a so-so product and still cleaned up amongst those who refuse to join the Apple bandwagon.
Instead Google have slipped them by and become the protaganist of choice in that particular battle.
Friday, 3 October 2008
It'll be interesting to contrast iPhone and Omnia sales inside and outside the capital over a three month period, to see if Samsung's huge marketing budget has done anything to derail the iPhone bandwagon.
Whilst I can see Apple's side of the argument, it does make me wonder that of the 70 or so cents that Apple pays to the labels for the sale of a track less than 15% reaches the creator of the original work. I guess the answer is for musicians to break away from the yoke of the music labels and start self-publishing tracks. If they're brave enough of course...
Wednesday, 1 October 2008
Apple argues that the success of its music store relies on the standard pricing of 99 cents per track and it neither intends to increase the price of its tracks nor sell them at a loss. If the Copyright Royalty Board, who will meet to rule on the change tomorrow, decide to agree the raise and the music labels pass the cost on to Apple then Apple has indicated that it will close the iTunes Music Store. Drastic threats indeed.
Can Apple follow through on this threat? Absolutely no question of that - the tight integration of iTunes and iPod wouldn't be affected if the tracks were bought elsewhere and imported to iTunes, however I suspect that users won't actually switch to other services, if you're going to go through the pain of downloading, importing and then transferring music why not just revert to illegal downloads? Part of the beauty of iTunes is that its actually 99 cents/79p easier than downloading illegally so promotes sales. If the publishers and artists can't see this and find some compromise that accomodates Apple then they'll be shooting themselves in their collective foot. If they're kidding themselves that people will switch to another download service or go back to buying CDs then they really are living in cloud cuckooland.