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Showing posts from March 8, 2015

MacBook Shows Off Amazing Internal Packaging

If you don't make a habit of pulling your computers apart you've probably never realised how much gets packed into them - especially small, light portable machines like the new MacBook. So this photo should be quite illuminating, showing that Apple's new lightweight is as beautiful on the inside on the outside.

Believe me it wasn't always this way.

I'm left wondering how much smaller the the logic board on the iPad is, because theoretically Apple could stuff this little beauty into a tablet if they so desired (which they probably don't to be fair).

So How's The Swiss Watch Industry Looking Now?

Before the Apple Watch was announced Jony Ive was (in)famously quoted as suggesting the Swiss Watch Industry was dead in the water - although he was a lot more colloquial about it.
Given the impact that Apple has had on the phone industry - and Nokia and Finland in particular - there must have been some very real concerns in the quiet boardrooms of the Swiss cantons.
So, now that we know about the Watch versions, pricing and availability how are things looking for other watchmakers, Swiss or otherwise?
For the mid-price brands there are going to be some tough times ahead. Gucci, Swatch and Rado in particular seem likely to lose customers to Apple. Other brands like Hamilton, Tissot and TAG-Heuer might see some challenges at the lower end of their market, but frankly I'm struggling to see a customer who chooses between two such different products as the Apple Watch and, for example, the Hamilton Khaki, even if they sit in the same price bracket.
For the real boutique watch compani…

Apple Will Kill Headphone Sockets Next

When Apple introduced the iMac in 1998 it did something amazing. It took all those ports that were commonly found on the back of computers - including its own proprietary connections - and binned them for a new, emerging industry standard.
For anyone who wasn't around at the time its hard to describe the effect that this had. Apple was dead in the water, nobody produced accessories that could be used with it, barring a few very expensive Apple specialists. 
Overnight Apple changed that. USB was not platform dependent and accessory makers gobbled it up. It was a double win for Apple too, as Windows had no baked in support for USB until Windows 98 Second Edition was released, and even then it was hit and miss up until the release of Windows XP.
Nearly two decades on Apple did the same thing with the MacBook this week. MagSafe? Thunderbolt? USB? All gone. And all on their way to becoming history, in the same way that parallel and serial ports have disappeared.
USB-C is here and it d…

Google Commits To USB-C Support On Android Phones

Not only did Google launch a new Chromebook Pixel with USB-C ports yesterday, but it also confirmed that the connector will be making its way onto Android phones.
That's pretty big news, if it complies to the full standard, as the USB-C host requirements demand support for some pretty hefty power draw and device compatibility.
This could, in effect, update the Android platform from smartphone with limited connectivity to a smartphone with full desktop capability from one plug. Video, power, keyboard and mouse; storage? Just dock your USB-C Android phone through to them all.
With Apple and Google both supporting the new standard its beginning to look like USB-C was the most important thing we 'discovered' on Monday.

RIP Sir Terry Pratchett, Imaginer Of Worlds

“The whole of life is just like watching a film. Only it's as though you always get in ten minutes after the big picture has started, and no-one will tell you the plot, so you have to work it out all yourself from the clues.” 
Authors are amazing people, we don't know them but from their work we learn about them and of them without ever getting the chance to meet them. Terry Pratchett gave us the Discworld series of books which managed to take fantasy, humour and social commentary and turn them into a fascinating place where I could happily have spent many more hours.

That no new Discworld books will be coming makes the future just a little bleaker, makes me a little angrier about the short time we get on this planet. Terry Pratchett made a huge indelible mark on the world and generations not yet even a twinkle in an eye will get to enjoy his remarkable stories.

It says something that with Pratchett's passing I feel a sense of loss similar to losing a good friend that you …

Apple Watch Edition Marks A Sea Change In The Apple Brand

Since the arrival of the iPhone in 2007 Apple has become the byword for the best in technology, the original iPhone was dubbed the Jesus Phone by many. Each product that has followed has been, rightly or wrongly, seen as the class leader for whatever niche it has occupied: the MacBook, the iPad, the MacBook Air, iMacs and Mac Pro.
The upshot of this is that if you want the best product, and to be seen with the best product, the bar to entry has been set at a reasonable level. Not cheap, but not unachievable. More so with the iPhone because of carrier contracts, but true of each product line.
Its been a democratisation of excellence. And now the Apple Watch changes that.
Take a look at the rich and the famous, the powerful, the movers and shakers. In amongst their luxury apartments, over-priced cars, jewellery and other accoutrements of a lifestyle with no financial limits there is a constant theme: an iPhone, an iPad, a MacBook... it doesn't matter how much money you have you can…

Galaxy S6 Has The Best Smartphone Display

DisplayMate has been quick off the mark in performing its incredibly through and fact based tested of the Galaxy S6 QuadHD displays and the results are in. Samsung has topped its previous best, the Galaxy Note 4, and the GS6 scores even higher across almost all the tests that DisplayMate undertook.
The result is that Samsung now holds a clean sweep of the top rated displays in smartphones, with the GS6 getting that coveted number one spot.
To be truthful, anyone with a decent set of eyes in their head will agree that Samsung's SAMOLED displays are peerless, and this just confirms that with the backing of scientific investigation. 
The industry progress in pixel density has to be mentioned as well. Just five years on from the introduction of the iPhone 4 and its 300ppi Retina Display the GS6 sports an eye-popping 577ppi.

Flipboard Sets The Early Pace For Most Pointless Apple Watch App

If there's one app that really doesn't belong on your wrist it's Flipboard. Here's a news reader which cries out for screen inches and the more you give it the better it works. On an Apple Watch it makes no sense at all.
Don't get me wrong, an app that allows you to set alerts for certain types of breaking news could prove to be useful, but that isn't what most people use Flipboard for. In fact its own pivot to user collated magazines suggests it knows that very well. 
Flipboard is the sort of app that you sit down with a coffee and half an hour to spare and read articles of greater length and depth than the bitesize pieces you would grab from a news site. That's not a good fit with alerts on the Apple Watch.
This looks like an early indicator for developer fear. If the Apple Watch changes the way that we consume their products and make the smartphone secondary developers, run the risk of finding themselves irrelevant. The answer to that is not to try and …

Carriers Like The Galaxy S6: Samsung Claims 20 Million Pre-Orders

Samsung's change of direction for its flagship Galaxy S model has certainly hit a chord with the big buyers out the: the carriers.
According to several reports Samsung Mobile chief JK Shin has been talking about combined pre-orders of 20m for the two GS6 models.
This obviously reflects optimism on the part of the carriers, who must feel that the GS6 will meet with high levels of demand when it becomes available on the streets. If the numbers turn out to be true Samsung may be able to reclaim its number one position in the smartphone market next quarter.

Asus Disses The Apple Watch, Might Not Understand How Smart Watches Work

Asus' Twitter account sent out some tough love to potential Apple buyers, using a flowchart to ask them if they were out of their minds, and suggesting they buy the Asus ZenWatch instead.
Worthy though the ZenWatch might be, it's probably the Asus employee who posted this image that needs his or her head examined. Or maybe an explanation of how smart watches work. The ZenWatch is an Android Wear product and is only compatible with the Google mobile platform. Were an iPhone buyer to choose to buy it they'd be over paying for a none-too good looking piece of jewellery.
Similarly, the Apple Watch works with an iPhone and does nothing for Android owners.
So, unless Asus is outing Android Wear iOS compatibility, nobody is going to be making a buying decision between the ZenWatch and the Apple Watch. Ever.

Google's New Chromebook Pixel Using USB-C

Well that was quick. Just a day after Apple's announcement of the MacBook, Google has refreshed its Chromebook Pixel and it too is sporting the new USB-C connector, two of them in fact. If you had any doubts that this new USB standard is going to be a success that should quell them completely, industry adoption is just a product refresh away.
Google also announced its USB-C dongles and because the connection is an industry standard it means they are interchangeable with Apple's, promising a like for like saving of around 50% on each dongle type. Presumably once the manufacturing might of China gets its collective heads around the the new standard we'll see dongle prices drop even lower.
Google has bumped the specs of the Pixel without significantly changing the styling, but it's the comparison in price that is most telling. The base model is an eye-watering $999, not great value against a MacBook Air even allowing for the difference in screens. The higher spec LS mode…

F1: Sauber's Driver Troubles Might Be More Exciting Than The Racing This Week

Giedo van der Garde has the right to race for Sauber in Australia after an Australian court agreed with a Swiss court in ruling that he had a valid contract for the 2015 season. Sauber's decision to dump him for currently rostered drivers Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr was an act of bad faith which has come back to haunt the Swiss team.
Things could get quite lively at Melbourne over the next couple of days, in the run up to Friday's first free practice session.
Sauber's team manager Monica Kaltenborn had claimed in the hearing that putting van der Garde in the car would be dangerous for the driver, the other competitors and team members themselves. Seems like complete nonsense to me, given that every mid-season driver change now involves putting a driver into a car he hasn't driven before.
The problem for Kaltenborn is that she has accepted generous payments from a consortium of Swedish companies and Banco do Brazil to put Ericsson and Nasr into their race cars, so …

Why I Won't Be Buying An Apple Watch

Having seen what Apple has to offer, and already having looked at competing smart watches from Samsung, Sony, LG and Motorola; I can safely say that the one thing I won't be doing is buying a smart watch. For now.
The idea of the smart watch that we are being sold is somewhat unimaginative. A device that helps you use another device less, but still requires that redundant device to work.
There are two use cases being pushed for all smart watches: notifications and actions. The former might just be valuable, but only for some people and even that for some of the time. Realistically how many notifications do you need to action immediately? Personally I only allow a limited set of applications to access the notification centre on whichever device I'm using: Messaging/Email and Calendar/Reminders. There is nothing else so urgent that it can't wait until the next time that I need to access the phone.

Is This The End For Glowing Apple Logos?

Presumably motivated by the desire to be able to say that the new MacBook is the thinnest ever Apple has removed the glowing logo from the side of its new portable.
That's a little bit sad. The glowing logo was an iconic part of the MacBook experience and losing it makes the new machine a little less special.
Now its gone from the MacBook, will future Apple portables lose it too?

F1: What Will 2015 Bring?

The cars are on the ground in Melbourne and the drivers are arriving, which can mean only one thing: another F1 season is about to start. What can we expect to see this season, will the racing get better, can it get worse?

Once again I can see no further than Lewis Hamilton for the World Championship. If anything Mercedes have stretched the gap to the chasing pack and as a result Hamilton only has one man to beat to secure his third world title: Nico Rosberg. Given the relative difference in performance between the two drivers Hamilton can only lose the title if either the Mercedes team step in and force a Rosberg victory or Hamilton suffers unprecedented reliability issues.

I'm expecting to see Mercedes get even closer to a clean sweep this year, so expect to see silver cars running away from the field all summer. The big question is can Hamilton set a record for race wins in a season, because he certainly has the equipment to do it.

Bernie Ecclestone has been forthright about c…

Will The iPad Drop Lightning For USB-C?

One thing that's immediately striking about the new USB port on the MacBook announced today was its similarity to the Lightning port that graces Apple's iOS devices. Given the rumours that Apple were considering adding a USB port to the rumoured iPad Pro it got me thinking.

It would certainly make sense for Apple to replace the Lightning port with USB-C on all its iPads.

The iPad is seeing falling sales and Apple has struggled to make big leaps forward with each generation of the tablet. For the next revision a new port, with new host capabilities would give the iPad additional firepower to compete with high end Android tablets and Windows hybrids that play on their additional flexibility and capability against the iPad.

USB-C would allow the iPad to become a grown up computer, with desktop capabilities (keyboard and video) plus unlimited connectivity options. Its the sort of add-on that would make the iPad more attractive in all sorts of environments - hospitals, labs and sc…

A New MacBook: What Does USB-C Mean In An Ultraportable

Apple's new MacBook conformed exactly to leaked specifications when it was launched today, 12" screen in a body the same size as the MacBook Air 11" and a single USB-C connector for all connections. That means power, video and device connections.

For mobile professionals that's going to make for an interesting choice, because at the very least you'll need to be toting around adapters and possibly a hub to make full use of this machine.

For road warriors looking to travel light its an ideal machine, offering a Retina display in a package no bigger than the smallest MBA. Those who go desk to desk and currently plug in all their peripherals individually will also see an improvement in usability - a single plug can now carry power, video, network, keyboard and mouse - as well as any other peripherals - making the docking process a single plug with the new MacBook.

Whilst there are likely to be some short term pain points as the accessory world pivots to the new USB …

Apple Watch: Does It Offer Anything New

Apple took the wraps off the Apple Watch today and offered a view of the future where our wrists, not out phones, are the primary means of interacting with the wider world. Its a bold vision, but not a new one, replicating much of the work that Samsung and Google have been doing on their smart watch platforms.

So has the Apple Watch got enough to create a new market where one has barely existed before, in the same way that the iPad did five years ago?

Ordinarily I'd say no, it doesn't offer anything over and above the existing smart watch devices to really make it a must have device, in the way that the iPod wiped out the frustrations of its peer MP3 players.

But this is Apple, and we know its conversion rate is always high because its customers are used to having good experiences with its products and buy more as a result.

And with around 200m compatible iPhones out there Apple doesn't need many early movers to blow away the smart watch market. First day sales alone will…

Sony Shoots Down Lollipop Dreams Of Xperia Owners

If ever there was an indication that Sony plans no future anywhere but the premium end of the smartphone market this is it. Starting earlier today the official Sony Xperia Twitter channel started responding to requests about Lollipop for Xperia phones with a canned response stating that Z-series phones only will be getting the new version of Android. Xperia Blog has the details here.

Given that Sony has been launching mid-rangers running Kitkat up to a few months ago that's not particularly great news. Abandoning these customers might seem like a logical cost saving move by Sony, however one has to ask to whom they think their next generation of devices are going to sell? After all if you've cut your loyalest customers dead in this way its unlikely that they'll be back for more punishment. Other Android customers will be wary and Apple customers will see this as prove of the rule of the jungle on the Android side of the divide.

Whilst those phones abandoned by Sony won…

Why Has Apple Been So Chatty About Its New Watch?

Apple's new products exist in a separate, parallel universe right up until the moment the CEO pulls spirits them out of nowhere at just the right point of the event at which they're being launched. Sure we've seen more leaks in recent years but Apple never talks about new products. Ever.

So why are its executive team running all over the world to leak little snippets of information about things that haven't been officially disclosed?

If its not Tim Cook letting slip that he uses his in the shower (hey, it must be waterproof then!) its Eddy Cue using his to pay for things, openly demonstrating the process or Jony Ive letting slip that Apple will be using a new technique to composite the gold in the Edition version with a ceramic material to make it four times harder than regular gold.

Why are all these loose lips talking? I can only assume because Apple has a barnstormer of a secret that its going to tell us about the Apple Watch and by comparison these snippets are un…

Morgan Aero 8, Yes Please!

This car looks like someone took the beautiful front end of the classic Morgan sportswear, the back end of a beautiful 90s TVR and slammed them into each other at high speed, passing the critical mass point of British sportscar and releasing this exquisite thing as a result.
We'll ignore the perfectly Teutonic BMW V8 for the moment and concentrate on the looks and performance. But try not to dribble on yourself whilst doing it...

Samsung To Back Off Smartwatch Strategy

I recently saw somebody wearing a Samsung Gear smart watch in real life. By that I mean they weren't a technophile sporting the latest must-have thing but an actual real life user of the device for a purpose.
I didn't ask her what that purpose was though, because it seemed to me that there didn't seem to be one. Her phone never left her hand and she never looked at her watch once. In fact the only thing it served to do was to distract me by switching itself on and off in response to her arm movements and a flawed logic pathway that told it she might actually want the watch display lit.

Flawed logic seems to be a big thing in the smart watch market right now and Samsung acknowledged that in amongst the hubris of the Galaxy S6 launch at MWC. It will stay its strategy of rapidly releasing smart watches in order to review the reception they have had and improve future devices.

Of course some would say the imminent arrival of the Apple Watch will require Samsung to undertake s…

Apple iPhone 6 v Sony Xperia Z3 Compact: Battle Of The Minis

If you want a high spec smartphone in all areas but size you don't have much choice. Most OEMs have gone big - literally - with their flagships, to the point that Samsung's decision to keep the GS6 at a 5.1"screen size was met with some surprise. Most smaller phones are packed with cheaper internals or weaker cameras, or worse still Windows Phone. That involves compromise.

So if you want a smaller phone but don't want to compromise on ability these two are the only choices on the block.

In the Android corner we have the Xperia Z3 Compact. A 4.6" screen, glass front and rear panels and a plastic sandwich over a waterproof frame. In the iOS corner we have the iPhone 6, which sports a 4.7" screen and an aluminium body.

Now obviously if you have a foot in one of these camps the decision is easy, but if you're more open minded then you'll have an interesting choice.

Samsung Built An iPhone, A Decision That Could Come Back To Haunt It

Samsung's new Galaxy S6 doesn't look like an iPhone any more than one rectangular blob with rounded corners looks like another. However it's quite clear that Samsung's goals when designing the GS6 were to take as much of Apple's successful design and replicate it in its own device.

Big mistake.

As I've said before, people looking for premium devices don't buy Samsung. They buy Apple. If they must have an Android device then they'll buy a HTC or a Sony. Samsung's ubiquitous low- and mid-range devices do far too much damage to its credibility for anything else to be the case. Truth is that Android buyers place a higher value on features than form, build quality is only a deciding factor in a very small number of Android purchases.

People buy Samsung's high end phones because it loads them with features. If they want a stylus or a big screen they buy a Note, otherwise they'll be the Galaxy S. The flexibility and leading edge capabilities are a…