Showing posts from October, 2016

Tablet Market Down 10%. Hybrids Up 25% – Tell Me Again Why The MacBook Pro Has No Touchscreen

Strategy Analytics has given us its view of tablet sales in the last quarter and they make pretty grim reading – sales are down by 10% overall and nearly a third of the market is taken by white box vendors, the low-end devices that rebadged by various retailers around the world.At the same time we’re being told that the 2-in-1 hybrid market is booming, with sales up by 25%. Those PC vendors who caught on to the trend early are seeing rewards as the devices get into second or even third generation iterations. When Samsung dropped the. previously Android exclusive. ‘Galaxy’ name onto the TabPro S – a Windows 2-in-1 – it marked out a sea change in OEM thinking.For everyone except Apple, for whom the touchscreen laptop is the wrong tool. After the launch of the MacBook Pro Apple’s senior executives went full-press on the media to explain why the, frankly ridiculous, Touch Bar was better than a touch screen. It isn’t. It never will be. And Apple full well knows it. Otherwise it wouldn’t be…

Is The MacBook Air Apple's Best Portable Right Now?

Following the launch of the MacBook Pro last week it's tempting to discount the older Apple portables as run out specials, kept in the range to clear down old stocks. However for most users the entry-level MacBook Air actually looks like Apple's best offering.
For its (Apple) entry-level price you'll get a machine that is more portable than the MacBook Pro and more powerful than the MacBook, whilst getting better battery life than either of them.
Then there's expansion. The MBA is loaded with ports - two USB, Mini DisplayPort, an SDXC card slot and a MagSafe power connector - a genuine Apple innovation that seems to have been dumped on newer machines. The MacBook and entry-level MBP are both severely restricted in the port department.
The MBA looks like the best machine in Apple's current portable range, even though its fair and away the oldest. So if your performance needs don't demand the slightly faster i5 CPUs, you can get the MBA over the MBP and pocket N…

When Tim Cook Says Apple Will Kill Cash Bankers Should Start Worrying

Apple Pay recently rolled out to a handful of new countries and with Watch, Web and iPhone integration there are plenty of opportunites for Apple to grow the payments side of its business.
However Tim Cook revealed more aggressive ambitions for the service in an interview with Nikkei: Apple wants to kill off cash.
That's a ridiculous statement to make, taken at face value. Apple Pay is available to hardly anyone and even for those  who can get it, merchants who accepted contactless payments are far from ubiquitous.
Here in Auckland cash is almost never used. The banks, the low tariff EFTPOS system for merchants and easy peer to peer payments, are all amongst the methods that local banks use to reduce friction and remove the need to carry cash. 
Right now the only time I handle cash is when the tooth fairy needs to pay one of my kids a visit.
This is the cashless future I think Tim Cook is talking about. Financial transactions exclusively handled by smartphone. Apple Pay does paym…

Sharp President Suggests US Built OLED Screens For Next iPhones

Quoted in the Nikkei Asian Review, Tai-Jeng Wu, President of Sharp, has claimed that Apple will use the company's OLED displays for the next iPhone. Speaking during the presentation of an honorary degree at Tatung University in Japan, Wu apparently blew the cover on Apple's plans for next year.
Logic would dictate that the Foxconn purchase of Sharp was designed to give Apple more control over display manufacture and the recent unveiling of the curved corner Sharp display showed us a product which has written all over it.
Wu also hinted that Apple was pressuring for the manufacture of OLED screens to happen in the US.
Whilst it doesn't tell us anything we hadn't guessed, I'm pretty sure that Wu will face some censure for his comments. Apple veil of secrecy may be a little more leaky than before but I'm sure it won't be happy by partners discussing future products it would like to keep secret.
On the next iPhone front, I'm guessing that there might just …

Microsoft Store Cleansing Process Is Happening

Microsoft has been promising to cleanse the Windows Store of apps for a while now, with the company making noises about age ratings and their absence from a number of apps.
That process has now begun, with large numbers of apps being removed from the Windows Mobile Store - half of apps in the German store, a third of Italian apps.
App quality has been a concern for the Windows Store - in the rush to get numbers app Microsoft hasn't been overly fussy about what it allowed to be published in the past - hopefully this marks the start of a review which will raise the overall standard of apps, even if it's at the expense of the headline numbers in the store.
Those publishers having apps removed at the moment have ignored several warnings from Microsoft over what would happen if an age rating wasn't added, so it's fair to assume that these have effectively been abandoned.
That's not to say that there won't be some good apps culled here, but ultimately the wider good…

Tesla's Solar Power And Powerwall Battery Concept Could Change House Building

As if shaking up the auto industry wasn't enough, Tesla's unveiling of a solar panel which can directly replace standard roofing materials promises to completely change the house building industry whilst completely re-working the way that we generate and consume electricity.
The Powerwall battery is a product that we've been shown before and the concept is good: store electricity generated from the sun locally in order to consume it when the sun isn't shining.
What has been missing has been a solution for micro generation of solar power that scales to the large number of homes which could benefit from doing this. PV panels have traditionally been large and clumsy to install.

Enter Tesla's new solar roof tile. As you can see it's all but indistinguishable from a standard roofing material but manages to embed a solar cell for generation.
Now at the moment performance and cost are unknown. Assuming they are at least as good as current solutions (and based on Tesl…

Microsoft Sells All Initial Surface Studio Stock

Now without knowing how many of its new desktop were available to buy it's probably not worth getting two excited about this news, but it's still  noteworthy that all Surface Studio stock for 2016 has sold out on pre-order in the Microsoft Store.Currently the pre-order page only offers delivery dates in early 2017 - for those who are remarkably patient only I'd imagine.A good start for Microsoft's new desktop.

A Week Without Windows: Final Thoughts

I made it through a week without Windows and discovered that, with some compromise, it would be possible to use an Android tablet as my solo device. There were some good parts to the experience and I wasn't coming new to the platform. Even so I don't believe that Android, either with or without Chromebook integration, is ready to challenge Windows in any serious Challenge.In the four years since the Asus Transformer Prime arrived on the market sporting a laptop form factor and rocking Android Honeycomb optimised for the large screen, Android has failed to embrace any form factor beyond the smartphone. Both Google and Android OEMs have struggled to build devices that are competent tablets or laptops. Smaller form factor tablets disguise this shortcoming by masquerading as big phones but they sell mainly on price and are outmanoeuvred by the iPad for those who want a great tablet experience and Windows hybrids for those who want a fuller PC experience.Samsung, in particular, has…

Apple Doesn't Feel The Need To Compete On Value Anymore

Apple has never competed on price, that would be something that could stain its reputation as a premium label. That doesn't mean that it hasn't offered value for money though. The longevity of its machines, the high specification of its components and the quality of its backup services all went someway to offset the initial pain of the sticker price.In the PC market I believe Apple has decided that it no longer needs to compete on value for money any more and I think I can explain why.With the MacBook Air abandoned or discontinued Apple has two models of portable to sell: the lightweight MacBook and the unremarkable MacBook Pro. Here in New Zealand that's either a $2,199 or $2,499 entry point. Neither is anything close to competitive. You can pick up a similarly light and powerful Asus Ultrabook for close to $1,000 less than the MacBook and similarly powerful HP Envy for over $500 less than the entry-level MacBook Pro. Both offer the same premium build and component qualit…

A Phone Version of Paint 3D Could Mean Something New Is Coming To Windows Mobile

3D was very much on Microsoft's collective mind during its hardware event this week. As well as the game changing Surface Studio we saw more signs of how holographic computing and VR are part of Microsoft's view of the future.
New software too, including the aptly named and completely on point Paint 3D.
The way that Paint has transformed from a throwaway piece of software included with Windows to what looks an exciting new way to generate 3D content was pleasing.
More interesting though, was the news that Microsoft will be bringing Paint 3D to Mobile as a UWP.
Now I might be getting ahead of myself here, but Paint demands the use of a stylus to deliver its goodness effectively.  Which suggests that Microsoft is planning on a future where Windows Mobile devices have access to stylii.
As that's been a key part of the Surface PC experience it seems logical that any prospective Surface Phone would have one too. HP's Elite x3 does – although we've yet to see it in…

Alfa Romeo Retakes Nurburgring Record From Porsche

The Alfa Romeo Giulia QV was the fastest four door saloon around the Nurburgring, with a lap-time of 7 minutes 39 seconds set in September 2015. Then Porsche managed to hustle the Panamera Turbo around the 14-mile circuit a hair's breadth faster.
The Giulia is one of the most beautiful cars to set rubber to the road, whilst the Panamera is a visually offensive beast which makes you want to put your eye out rather than let your gaze fall upon it. So naturally Alfa Romeo was not going to allow this sort of nonsense to stand.
The Giulia returned to the 'Ring and wiped seven seconds off its previous time, annihilating the Porsche in the process.
That's faster than the Ferrari 458, Mclaren 650S Spider and the Lamborghini Gallardo; not to mention a whole host of Porsche GT2s and GT3s. And a country mile quicker than the Panamera.

Apple Ran Out Of Courage With The New MacBook Pro

What's wrong with this picture? If you study it carefully you'll notice a terrible error on the part of the Apple employee who mocked up this image.
Yes, he's left the headphone jack in.
Apple already told us that the headphone jack was finished. It made the courageous move of deleting it from the iPhone. Apparently deleting it from a MacBook requires more courage than Apple had left

Tesla: More Cars, More Products And A Profit

Tesla faces more than a few challenges as it scales to meet demand for its EVs and future energy storage products. In particular the Consumer Reports panning of reliability will hurt.

However, customers love its products and those wealthy enough to afford them are choosing them over established premium brands like Mercedes, Lexus and BMW in increasing numbers.
The net result was a landmark quarter for the comany. Its Q3 earnings call was full of good news. The company made a profit, each vehicle it sold was more profitable to the business and it ramped up volumes and deliveries.
With both Model 3 and Gigafactory progressing to plan this looks like a key moment for the company. 
Flush with orders and proving that it can now fulfill them Tesla is starting to look like a serious force for the future.

iPhone Owners Will Need An Adapter To Tether The New MacBook Pro

Apple went all-in on USB-C for the MacBook Pro - a good move in my view as the new standard starts to gain momentum. New devices and accessories with USB-C connectivity are becoming more and more common.
For iPhone owners plugging into the MBP could prove to be an exercise in frustration though. For the moment there is now Lightning to USB-C cable, which means a USB-C to full-size USB adapter is going to be required.
Now I know that the requirement to tether any smartphone has become less important, but given the flakiness of iCloud and the iPhone's still marginal battery life, it isn't inconcievable that you'll need to do this.
My work iPhone spends as much time as possible tethered to my laptop to minimise the risk of it running out of battery just at the wrong time.
Neither buying nor carrying a USB-C adapter is going to be too much of a problem, but still I can't help thinking Apple has been missing a trick here. A Lightning to USB-C accessory cable would be very …

Apple's Touch Bar Is Not An Improvement

Apple replaced the function keys on its new MacBook Pro with a small touchscreen which can change depending on the applications in use on your Mac at anyone time.

The Touch Bar is an okay idea, but really it's just the laptop version of the LG V10's secondary screen. My concern is that the transitive nature of the items on the dislay mean that every time you want to use them you're required to take your eyes from the screen and look down at the keyboard.
As anybody interested in human computer interaction will tell you that is less than ideal. Health care professionals will tell you that when we're already creating a generation of hunchbacks by virtue of incessant smartphone usage, further damage to spines at the desk isn't something that should be necessary.
Interestingly, several commenters have suggested that the mechanical action of taking a hand from the keyboard to touch the main screen to perform such tasks is sub-optimal when compared to the Touch Bar. In …

Has Apple Given Up On OS X And The Desktop?

As predicted, Apple gave a debut to new MacBook hardware this morning, with a refresh of internals, new ports and the new Touch Bar, all as expected. The 11" MacBook Air got culled today, whilst the 13" version remains unchanged.
It was without doubt the very definition of 'ho-hum'. This wasn't a refresh of a currently competitive product, like the MacBook refresh earlier in the year (or Microsoft's make over for the top end of the Surface Book line yesterday). The MacBook Pro is so old Queen Victoria was on the throne when it launched and Britain still had an empire when it was last refreshed.
Still, at least the MacBook is still a capable, if uncompetitive offering. The iMac and Mac Pro look positively prehistoric in light of the advances being made elsewhere.

So an uninteresting set of portable updates, cancelled products and nothing for aging desktop lines. Has Apple decided that OS X is done? Is the plan now to move to a single platform based on iOS?


Samsung And Apple Had Troubled Third Quarter Sales

IDC published its smartphone sales figures for Q3 and both Apple and Samsung had a weak showing, for different reasons.Samsung sales were down by over 11m units when compared to the same period last year, almost exactly the number of Note 7 sales it would have expected to score in the quarter. Given that large numbers of the 2.5m customers who received Note 7s chose to replace it with another Samsung device, the news is rather worse than it looks on paper. Its unlikely that things will improve much in Q4 either.Apple’s sales slowdown either reflects a shortage of iPhone 7 hardware in the short period it was on sale in the quarter, or a much harder stop for iPhone 6S sales ahead of the new device launch.On the winners side of the card, Huawei took another large step to displacing Apple as number two in the market, almost halving the gap in unit sales. The next couple of quarters should be relatively safe for Apple, given its traditional strong sales in the holiday season. Next year cou…

Samsung Mobile Profits All But Wiped Out On The Back Of Note 7 Troubles

Samsung reported a sharp fall in profits in the quarter to the end of September, with overall profits down by $1.8bn - a fall of around 25% and the smartphone division's profitability reduced to $87m - a fall of 96% on the same period last year. Given the costs of the Note 7 recalls, as well as the lost sales on approximately 12m devices, the performance was actually better than the stock market was expecting and as a result the company's stock recovered some of its recent falls.
Whilst the figures were less than impressive, it remains to be seen whether they represent the bottom for Samsung or are just a step on the way down. If depression in sales in the key fourth quarter are also affected Samsung may yet have stormy weather to navigate.
In a bizarre twist, Samsung retained more of its profits compared to 2015 than Apple did. In the third quarter the latter saw a fall in profit of $2.1bn, although Apple's fall amounted to less than a 20% reduction in profitability.


Surface Studio And Surface Dial Riff On An Idea That's Nearly A Decade Old

The launch of the Surface Studio and Surface Dial has certainly caught the media's attention but the two working together reminded me of something I'd seen before. With the benefit of hindsight the promises made of what used to be the Surface, a 30" tabletop computer, were a little ambitious and foretold a future that didn't make sense even back then.
Nevertheless, in this 2008 presentation of the original Surface you can see the germ of the idea from which the Studio and Dial must inherit some DNA. The colour wheel, interaction with physical objects and of course the concept of a horizontal display are all here.
Cloud synchronisation has mostly replaced the idea of sharing photos from devices, but even here Microsoft was ahead of the game. You'll see photo sharing from the cloud via the Windows Live Spaces service used in a couple of places through he demo.

A Week Without Windows: Day Three, Week One

Having created a usable portable setup and an acceptable desktop replacement from my Galaxy Tab S2 over the last couple of days and proven that, in the short term at least, you can live in the Google / Samsung environment today I've set out to see what the advantages of such a setup might be.
Portability would certainly be an expected benefit. In theory my Tab S2 and portable keyboard are a lot lighter than my laptop, but that's only a benefit brought on by the hardware I've selected. Whilst 8" Windows tablets are rare they do still exist. And if you accept that 10" is the smallest screen you should be using for any kind of work then the choice of Windows tablets increases immeasurably.
Cost might have one been a perceived benefit of picking Android over Windows but that's no longer the case. A usable Windows tablet costs no more than the equivalent Android and Microsoft will definitely keep it more up to date than Google will.
Realistically the only major a…

Can Hololens Really Be The Next Smartphone?

Microsoft's focus on creativity at this morning's hardware unveil appeared to be driven by a desire to make AR and VR the centre of the next revolution. With good reason. In the same week that Satya Nadella said that Microsoft missed the smartphone boat he expressed a belief that being in on the ground floor of AR with the Hololens puts Microsoft in a good place for the next revloution.
Setting aside the idea that Microsoft missed the boat on smartphones, how likely is it that the Hololens can be the next big thing?
Hololens as it stands has a real future in certain fields of application - maintenance, healthcare, indeed anything where overlaying computer graphics into the real world would be of benefit.
In the real world though? That might take some time. The hardware needs to get a lot more discrete and the experience a lot less geeky to remove the sort of friction that killed Google's Glass for the masses.
The smartphone couldn't really happen until the point when …

Surface Studio Just Hammered On Apple's Weak Spot

The new Surface Studio Microsoft announced today is more than just an extension of Microsoft's hardware line, it's a direct challenge to Apple's iMac and for a first attempt at a machine aimed at the creatives who make up Apple's key desktop market, it looks like a winner to me.
The Surface Studio manages to look better at every single task or use case, with the iMac left looking outdated, clunky and limited. For a company which has led from the front for so long that is a dangerous thing to have to face.
At tomorrow's Apple launch event there is likely to be new hardware. But does any of it even promise a hint of the kind of capability that the Surface Studio offers? The iMac might get a new screen, it may get a processor boost, but is it likely to get the flexibility of the Studio Zero Gravity Hinge? The control of the Surface Dial or the total integration of touch that Windows 10 offers?
I very much doubt it.
For anyone running any kind of creative studio…

Microsoft's New Hardware Targets High End Users

This morning Microsoft revealed its new hardware for 2017. That included the much leaked Surface Studio, a tilting desktop / tablet hybrid that stays on your desk, a new rotational controller, the Dial, which can be used as a physical control for onscreen UI elements or placed on the screen of new Surface hardware to create and manipulate on screen elements directly. 
There was a new Surface Book, well sort of, anyway. The longer lasting, faster Surface Book i7 maintains the current Surface Book form factor.
Also looking remarkably familiar were Surface badged versions of Microsoft's Designer Keyboard and Mouse, as well as the ergonomic keyboard.
Third party hardware announcements included Microsoft's new VR headset standard for Windows, with all the major PC hardware players likely to support what looks to be a halfway house between the Gear VR and the HTC Vive. 
The Holographic VR headsets will require the next version of Windows 10 to use. This has been christened the Crea…

A Week Without Windows – Day Two, Week One

Day two of my Windows-free week and the first serious challenge to the idea of using Android away from the office. The challenge of using an 8” screen as your interface for a day I’ll put to one side for the moment, because the challenges would be the same on a larger screen.Whilst I have access to my business applications through a Citrix VDI session and the Citrix Receiver client is pretty good on Android, there were come serious challenges to using Android as my only tool, which certainly reduced my productivity.Mainly this meant having to use web based versions of some applications that I take for granted on Windows. This felt awkward and clumsy at first and jumping on and out of browser tabs seemed rather more difficult than it should be. However with some re-arrangement of how I do what I do I was able to find a way of working that allowed me to get things done almost as efficiently as when using Windows.There were some bonuses too. For example, rather than having to open a brow…

iMessage For Android? I'll Believe It When It Happens

What's Apple's most important product? I'd say that iMessage has a good shout for that title. As I've said in the past it is a key weapon in preventing curious iPhone users from jumping ship to Android.
With rumours re-surfacing of an Android client for iMessage I have to ask: who at Apple thinks this might be a good idea?
The potential upside for Apple is that users get to message their Android owning friends. Doesn't seem like a particularly attractive one if you ask me. That Android interlopers in an iPhone clan automatically become second class citizens by virtue of SMS-only communication is a strong driver for those users to move to an iOS product.
The downsides? You mean aside from opening a hole in the Apple walled garden as an escape route for hard won customers?
If competition from WhatsApp, Snapchat and Facebook Messenger hasn't persuaded Apple to go cross-platform with iMessage (or Facetime) I really doubt that another Google messaging platform is g…

Apple's Last Quarter Wasn't Great: Revenue Down, Profits Down, Hardware Down

Now its hard to say a company that turned in $9bn in profit had a bad quarter, but by Apple's ridiculously high standards, this was a bad quarter. The company generated less revenue, created less profit and saw falling hardware sales in a perfect storm that saw Apple have a 'down' financial year for the first time since 2001.
Revenue fell by 9% globally, with China being a stand out, year on year Apple was off  by 30% there.

Hardware sales were down across the board too, off between 5% (iPhone) and 14% (Mac). The imminent announcement of new MacBook hardware probably exacerbated the decline in Mac sales, however the iPhone drop off in sales should be more of a concern, reflecting as it does the same transition period between models of the previous year.

It's inevitable that the next iPhone will offer a bigger update than the disappointing iPhone 7.

iPad volume continues to fall, although the introduction of the more expensive Pro models meant that revenue stayed the s…

New MacBook Pro Leaked... By Apple

Well this is awkward. Somebody at Apple jumped the gun on the MacBook Pro in an Apple Pay support document, including a picture of tomorrow's new laptop that gives away most, if not all of its secrets.
So here then is the Magic Toolbar - as previously suggested its an OLED touch screen with an embedded fingerprint sensor which will mimic keys and display relevant information to the application or service in use.
The embedded fingerprint sensor will allow Apple Pay on the web, as  well as system and application log in.
Presumably this technology will make its way to other Apple laptops too, given that the presence of a Touch ID sensor on the Mac opens all sorts of opportunities for Apple in the financial sector.

Galaxy Note 7 Owners Mostly Choosing Galaxy S7 As Replacements

Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure has told reporters that most Note 7 owners were choosing to switch to another Samsung phone, apparently the S7, although perhaps that's a generic statement including the Edge too, given that the larger phone seems like the more direct replacement.
At the same time Samsung has begun to push its battery limiting update into Europe, in a bid to persuade the remaining 25% of Note 7 owners to replace their devices. 
It really does seem that the Note 7 is such a good phone that customers are reluctant to give it up. Claure suggested this too, saying that most customers only begrudgingly hand back their Note 7.
This all sounds like good news for Samsung, who could have been staring down the barrel of lost consumer confidence. Instead it is finding loyalty amongst its users, which had previously been suggested in surveys, but now is being proven in the wild, so to speak.
I suspect that the greater damage to Samsung will be amongst those who aren't currently …

Ouch, Tesla's Shocking Slide In Reliability

The LA Times is reporting that Consumer Reports has dinged Tesla for the unreliability of its EVs. Having once been the darling of the service, achieving record scores along the way, Tesla has slid to the bottom of the reliability charts.
Unfortunately the problems that Tesla has experienced with advanced features of its cars, like the Model X gull wing doors, have damaged the companies reputation for reliability. Something that it can ill-afford, with the number of other issues, auto pilot in particular, it currently faces.
These kind of problems are inevitable when scaling up manufacture of a complicated vehicle, even the most storied companies go through these going pains when a glittering reputation gets tarnished as it tries to go from small and popular to large and profitable.
Ask Alfa Romeo or Mercedes, two of the oldest car companies, who both experienced issues when trying to grow their manufacturing capacity.
For Tesla, with no real background in large scale manufacturing, …

Don't Believe Everything You Read, The Smartwatch Market Was Stable Last Quarter

Read the headlines today and you'd probably believe that customers are deserting the smartwatch and nobody actually wants the things. That's the take that most sites are taking from a sales report released by IDC today.
Now I'm no fan of smartwatches, but even the most basic reading of the numbers will tell you that all is not as it seems.
Year on year the market shrank from 5.6m sales to 2.7m - about a 50% fall. Sounds pretty horrendous doesn't it? However if you remove Apple from the equation you find that smartwatch sales fell from 2.8m to 2.7m - well within the confidence level of a report like this.
So let's take a look at Apple then. Year on year sales fell from 3.9m to 1.1m, accounting for all of the headline sales contraction. So does nobody want an Apple Watch any more?
Far from it. What actually happened was the release of a new Apple Watch, something that was leaked well in advance and was picked up by more tech savvy smartwatch buyers as a sign to hold…

Microsoft Surface Studio, Dial Incoming On October 26?

Eagle-eyed trademark watcher The Trademark Ninja may have unmasked two or even three new Microsoft products, at least one of which is a shoe in for a announcement this week. 
Trademarks lodged by a Slovenian company (a trick used by a number of large companies looking to obscure new products ahead of release) detail two Surface devices, the Surface Studio and the Surface Dial.
Now the first one sounds like an appropriate name for the promised Surface AIO device expected this week, especially given the way that Microsoft has been leaking information that suggests this will be a machine for creatives. The Paint 3D trademark (already secured by Microsoft), supported by the leaked product demo last week, indicates that the target audience for the Surface Studio will be those creating content for the Hololens.
So what of the Dial? It would be easy to link this name to a smartphone, indeed one major website has done just that, but other alternatives include a replacement for the Microsoft …

For Now At Least, Samsung Still Planning A Galaxy Note 8

A report on Samsung's Newsroom for Korea appears to confirm that there will be a Note 8 next year, although until such time as Samsung has established why the Note 7's battery spotaneously combusted with such unusual regularity any new phone from Samsung arrives with a cloud over its head.
At least the content of the report is good news for Note 7 owners who switched to another Samsung smartphone after returning the Note 7. When the Galaxy S8 and Note 8 arrives they'll be able to claim a 50% discount on the purchase price.
They deal does seem to relate to some form of coupon payment offering - presumably a Korea-only Samsung service - but more importantly it does mention the Note 8 by name and a launch date of next year.
Whilst some will feel that the Note name is poisoned by association with the Note 7 - and certainly those customers who have had a poor experience with the recall are unlikely to come back for more - the general feeling amongst Samsung customers I speak t…

Batteries Overheat And Catch Fire, Phones Have Batteries, Therefore...

Over the weekend we learned of two more smartphones catching fire as a result of overheating batteries. In the first incident an Australian surfer had his possessions and camper van torched after his iPhone 7 Plus caught fire while he was away surfing. In the second a Galaxy S7 Edge burnt out in Canada.
You'll notice that neither of these devices is the problematic Note 7.
The thing is Li-ion batteries catch fire. They are tightly packed into sealed devices with a source of some significant heat energy just a few centimetres away. Inevitably some are going to get heated to the point where the chemicals within the battery ignite, resulting in a burnt out phone and damage to items or people around it.
Batteries that have suffered an impact are more likely to flare up. The sort of impacts that occur in everyday phone usage.
Whilst we continue to demand that phones get slimmer and slimmer, perform better and run for longer OEMs will continue to increase the energy density of batterie…

A Week Without Windows - Day One, Week One

With Windows Mobile grinding its way to a painful death its time to start investigating other platforms  to see how difficult it would be to make the transition away from my preferred mobile platform. The close integration of mobile and desktop platforms could also mean moving away from Windows Mobile prompts a move away from Windows desktop too.
To find out how difficult or easy it is to make the transition I'm going to spend a week using just Android products and a week with Apple only, As I'm expecting the week using Apple products to be straighforward I'll do that last.
So for this week I'm going to be using my Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 with a portable USB keyboard and mouse as my main computer, with a Galaxy S6 as my phone. As I have DisplayLink docks on my home and office desks I won't be squinting at the 8" screen when working. Also I'll be running a Citrix session for certain business related applications - which seems like a bit of a fudge on the &qu…

Are There Any Reasons To Cling To The Windows Mobile Wreckage

Hope is a terrible thing, for Windows phone users the death of the mobile platform has been long and painful, not helped in any way by the improved capability of the OS and its first-party software. Death it is though, with the corpse just occasionally twitching. Each twitch brings the merest glimmer of false hope. The HP Elite X3 flattered to deceive - an impressive device with no market. Figures from Ad Duplex suggest that outside of review units, customer test units and any in house use in HP, there haven't been many actual sales.So is there anybody who should still be considering a Windows 10 Mobile? Yes, but not barely.If you are a family with young children who need to have mobile phones for any reason, Microsoft's Family usage controls work very well on Windows Mobile. You can go some way to preventing and monitoring a child's (mis)use of their device.Otherwise, I'm afraid the time has come to consider something new and different. Maybe an iPhone, probably an An…

Samsung's First Post-Note Change Will Be A Blue S7

One of the things that the Note 7 disaster robbed us of was the delightful powder blue version of that flagship handset. Now in a bid to refocus customers minds on the positive, as well as flip its marketing dollars to a handset it can sell, Samsung is going to offer the S7 and S7 Edge in the new colour.No word on whilst territories will be getting this new handset or whether there will be exclusive deals with carriers to come, but for now Samsung can at least focus on a positive piece of news, rather than endless stories about its disastrous handling of the whole Note 7 affair.Expect formal confirmation of the Blue S7 early November.

Hi Microsoft, Would Now Be A Good Time To Ask For An 8" Surface?

We know that Microsoft once had designs on a smaller Surface tablet - with prototype versions of an 8" version having made brief appearances in leaks. The thing is, since Windows 10 arrived, OEMs have stopped introducing smaller Windows tablets and there's now a gap in the market for something small and light and preferably packing a stylus. An update version of the Vivotab Note 8 for example.
We're pretty sure that Microsoft is looking to extend its range of Surface tablets up into desktop territory, but how about something for those of us who set a premium on portability? A repackaging of the Surface 3 into a smaller form factor shouldn't be too onerous and the pay off could be handsome.
Remember what the iPad Mini did to Apple's sales?
With a new Type Cover and the Surface Pen, a 1080p screen and Windows Hello embedded, this could be a pretty exciting product for Microsoft to bring to market. So how about it Microsoft, do you have something really daring up yo…

Asus Your Products Are Great, But You Need To Work On Reliability

A request for a product recommendation earlier this week got me thinking. Could I possibly recommend a product from a company who seems to be unable to deliver a solid whole of ownership experience? The product in question was one of Asus' very attractive thin and light ultra books. There's no question that this is a solid machine, but based on my own experience would I recommend an Asus product?In the last few years I have bought four Asus products. Each has proven to be problematic, for different reasons.First off the block, the Asus Transformer Prime. A magnificent beast at launch and way ahead of the curve in terms of portability and utility. Here was an Android tablet that proved Android could do tablets. Until Google started releasing updates and Asus started passing them on apparently without taking the time or care to optimise them. The Prime became a lag-laden disaster area.I next ventured into the Asus world for the Vivotab Smart Windows 8 tablet. A pretty good machi…

Review: SurfacePad For iPad

I've somewhat neglected my iPad since Windows devices with touchscreens became part of my technology toolkit. For good reason, across a range of use cases the iPad loses out to a real computer. However that doesn't mean that there aren't times when the iPad isn't the best tool for the job, so I'll still grab it for occasional use.When I bought the iPad Air 2 the choice of cases were either Apple's Smart Cover - something I'd never really liked on previous iPads - or a range of well know and not so well known names selling variations of more enclosing cases. I picked a case from a reasonably well known brand, who I won't identify here, but which proved to be less than solid, gradually breaking down into its constituent pieces.So when I happened across one of Twelve South's SurfacePad skins for the iPad in the bargain bin at a local Apple dealer I had to grab it. Previous experience with the SurfacePad for iPhone led me to expect a well designed, pro…

IBM Claims Macs Are Cheaper Than PCs Using Self Interest As A Metric

IBM may be one of the industries biggest names but it has been in a decades long slide as it tries to transform its business into something with a future. At Jamf's User Conference this week IBM reported that Mac enterprise support costs less than a third of that of a PC.
So, just to be clear, at a conference for a company that creates enterprise management software for Apple devices, a company that recently signed a major partnership with Apple to promote Apple devices in enterprise said that Apple was cheaper for enterprise customers. I never saw that one coming.
I'd like to see how IBM backs that claim up when challenged.
For example, IBM started placing Macs with user just over a year ago. Has it normalised its cost figures for the comparitive ages of the machines, given that around 40% of its fleet would be greater than three years old in the same time frame? Or perhaps it has reflected like for like usage patterns to demonstrate the comparitive costs for users undertaki…

Hey Microsoft, It's Time To Fork Google By Forking Android

The Google Pixel represents a golden opportunity... for Microsoft. By putting itself into direct competition with its own OEM partners and reducing the level of support it offers in stock Android, Google has created an Android phone with an experience that Samsung, LG, Sony and Huawei won't be able to replicate.
Microsoft has an extensive Android offering, in fact its Android software stack is at least as good as Google's. Meaning that a forked version of AOSP fully populated with Microsoft's applications and services would be a much more pallateable offering for those Android OEMs. Better than Google Play Services. Better than Windows 10 Mobile.
Perhaps the only sticking point might be the absence of the Google Play Store. To remedy that Microsoft could either approach publishers and sweet talk them into the Microsoft Android Store, or partner with Amazon, which has already done the spade work, and have a ready made solution.
For some of these OEMs Microsoft already has …

Tesla's Ride-Sharing Restriction Brings Software Style Licensing To Cars

Thinking of buying a self-driving car sometime in the future? Excited about the prospect of improving you return on investment by getting it to work for a living as part of a ride hailing taxi service? Best scratch Tesla from your shortlist of candidates then.
As part of its delayed news event earlier, Elon Musk announced a new Level 5 (that is, truly autonomous) mode available across the Tesla range.
Aside from very serious questions about how Tesla is overstating the capabilities of its system (something Germany, at least, is taking very seriously) it sounds like the perfect tool. Personal use when you need it. Ride sharing when you don't. The car pays for itself.
Unless you choose to use the, as yet, non-existent but now confirmed Tesla ride sharing offering you will be prevented from doing this. Uber? Lyft? Don't bother applying. Tesla's EULA will forbid it. No doubt its software will prevent it too, just in case you get any funny ideas.
This is automotive engineering…