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Showing posts from November 1, 2015

Samsung Gear S2 Quick Review

Samsung were first to market with what we might consider a true smartwatch,  the Galaxy Gear, which lumped everything together to great an enormous, feature-laden piece of wristwear that didn't really deliver a good user experience.
The original range of Gear smartwatches prompted Google to develop Android Wear, which itself opened the door to a range of competitors. And of course the Apple Watch followed too.
The thing is, none of the smartwatches on the market have really delivered a compelling reason to wear one, being little more than a gimmicky, geeky way of demonstrating your allegience to a smartphone manufacturer.
The Gear S2 is the first Samsung smartwatch to sport a round face. Which allows it to offer a uniquely usable control interface and a great user experience. It runs Tizen, rather than Android Wear, which is a plus and a minus. It fluid and fast in use. However app support is limited.
The main control interface is the Gear S2's bezel - machined on the Classic…

HTC Digs At Apple In One A9 Ad

HTC's marketing has been garbage for years. In fact it's reasonable to say that most of HTC's current problems are a result of its inability to deliver a good marketing message in support of its products. From the company responsible for one of the most iconic smartphone marketing  campaigns ever, that's been a major failing.
The new One A9 is being launched with a new commercial which, whilst not perfect, better explains the device and why HTC thinks you should buy it.
Primarily the message is that the iPhone is for your parents or dummies, whilst HTC has a phone which is young and dangerous, setting you free. As a bonus it riffs on parts of the all-time classic Apple 1984 commercial that launched the Macintosh.
The message is a good one and the commercial is visually and musically well done.
A part of me can't help but feel that HTC has hit the wrong target here though. Firstly the iPhone is clearly not just in the hands of the elderly or uneducated. There are a…

Boxwave Fixes iPhone Dumb Interface Problem

This is the Boxwave ClearTouch SmartButtons screen protector. It magically moves taps at the bottom of the iPhone screen to the top, giving you a back button you might actually be able to reach with your finger.
The logic of putting menu items and screen controls at the top of the screen defeats me. Especially as screens have got bigger. It's particularly bad on the iPhone because, unlike Android and Windows Phone, there are no controls at the bottom of the phone other than the home button.
Apple introduced Reachability with the iPhone 6, in what turns out to be a pretty ineffective attempt to mitigate the problem. Its only acceptable because its a relatively rarely used scenario.
Boxwave has a better answer, so long as you're happy with a screen protector on your iPhone. And the knowledge that your very expensive smartphone only works properly if you apply an ungainly kludge. Adding capacitive back and menu buttons either side of the iPhone's home button would not be dif…

Microsoft Drops OneDrive Storage Tiers, Punishes The Innocent

In an ample demonstration of why we can't have nice things, Microsoft has used the abuse of its unlimited OneDrive storage offer for Office 365 subscribers, to kill that deal and downgrade its other storage tiers. Whilst some users were using the storage for system backups and movie collections which generated storage lockers up to 75TB in size, unless they were breaking terms and conditions of the Office 365 / OneDrive bundle offer Microsoft should taken the pain and accepted it. Then updated its terms and conditions to prohibit the misuse. However, there is something fundamentally wrong with offering users unlimited storage and then removing it when they avail themselves of the offer. Its a betrayal of Microsoft's 'Cloud first' strategy and entirely self-inflicted. Personally I don't have a problem with 'just' 1TB of storage for my Office 365 subscription. But I imagine there are plenty of legitimate users who have crossed that threshold, without abusing…

How Do You Differentiate In The Android Commodity Market

HTC posted another grim set of results last week, so bad that the company says that it will no longer be offering financial guidance for future performance. Sony also struggled this quarter, once again dipping heavily into the red as its sales fell - a result of chasing profit not volume according to the company. Samsung may have posted a healthy $2bn profit last quarter, but there's no guarantee that this is anything more than a dead cat bounce in a run of progressively worse quarters. The problem for each of these companies is the need to sell premium smartphones in an Android market where anybody can (and  does) start pitching pretty good handsets. Huawei, One+, Asus, ZTE and many, many others are pushing out phones that are good enough. Pairing Google's standard Android platform with hardware reference designs and a little bit of customization makes it easy to build a device that meets a customer's needs at a reasonable price. So where's the motivation to buy pre…

All Your iPhones Belong To Us

Zerodium has announced that it will pay out the $1m bounty it has offered for working zero-day hack against iOS. The prize, for a working exploit which requires no more than a text message to be received or a website to be visited, offers an attack vector which may be used to defeat the security measures Apple uses to keep iOS private. Whilst the normal outlet for this sort of thing would be the iOS jailbreaking community, the recent problems that governments have had gaining access to secured iPhones will almost certainly mean Zerodium is able to sell this exploit to various governments around the world, who would no doubt pay highly to have a backdoor into a previously untouchable device. Zerodium says it will not tell Apple what the exploit consists of, reasonable given that it has paid out a chunk of cash to acquire what is a very marketable product. Whilst governments gaining the ability to compromise iOS devices doesn't sound like the sort of thing that would worry most peo…

Samsung Patch Process For Android Is Working

Last night my Galaxy S6 received a security update, fixing known vulnerabilities in its Android Lollipop build. Seems like Samsung is holding good on its promise to make sure its phones receive fixes in a timely manner. This is the second update I've had in the two weeks that I've owned the phone.
Google has committed to providing OEMs with updates on a monthly basis and so far the process seems to be working.