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Showing posts from September 11, 2016

Microsoft Health Becomes Microsoft Band... Eh?

Yesterday Microsoft remained committed to its Health platform. Today Microsoft Health has gone, with the app renamed to Microsoft Band on Windows 10 and Android.
What gives?
There's no new Band hardware coming - unless Microsoft has blindsided everyone and will have a surprise announcement at its October Surface event - and the Band 2 hardware appears to be in constrained supply as a result of manufacturing ending.
So why lumber a platform that is allegedly fully supported with the name of a piece of hardware which is dead, even if it hasn't stopped moving yet. Makes no sense to me.
On this basis I'm expecting the next update to the Groove Music service to re-introduce the Zune branding.

Seriously Microsoft, Is This The Best You Can Do?

You really don't want to watch the video embedded above. Really.

It's the latest ad from Microsoft and it is execrable. For pity's sake Microsoft, fire your ad agency and go find someone who understands how to engage with potential customers. This is so bad it's making me want to stop using the Microsoft products I already have, never mind not buy any more.

Enough already.

Did The iPhone 7 Plus Leapfrog The Galaxy Note 7?

Setting aside the issues with faulty batteries which have subsequently come to light, Samsung's Galaxy Note was widely lauded as the best smartphone on the market when it launched - and for good reason. It packed the best screen, the best camera, waterproofing, expandable memory and an extremely usable stylus into a beautifully put together body no bigger than phones with much smaller screens. Even though it's price is (was) high, I felt that the sum of the Note 7's capabilities more than justified that outlay.
Apple's response was not long in coming. The iPhone 7 Plus - or have some have christened it, the iPhone 6S Plus S. Don't let the lack of a new design fool you though, Apple managed to squeeze much that is new into the same shell. True, this sort of technology upgrade usually arrives in an 'S' year but that shouldn't put you off unless (like me) you aren't a big fan of the iPhone 6 design.

On that point I found that the iPhone 7 Plus was a s…

The Strange Relationship Between Apple And Its Fans

The launch of the iPhone 7 and the reaction of commentators, users and bloggers got me thinking, just what is it about the relationship between Apple and its fans? You'll often hear the term iSheep bandied about anywhere that iPhone users are being derided (and Apple fans are just as negative about Fandroids to be fair) and much as I believe that your choice of smartphone doesn't define you as a person, some of the things that Apple fans say, write and do makes it very hard to defend them from this sort of attack.
Think about screen size. Apple consistently pushed the message that a screen should only be as big as the stretch of your hand, to allow it to be used in one hand and to make it more pocketable and portable. Apple blogs, fansites and fans commenting on the wider internet pushed this message religiously. Android phones were too big, unwieldy and impossible to use one-handed. It became a dogma.
And then Apple released the iPhone 6, the message changed and so did the d…

Tidal: No Apple Deal, Mounting Losses, Unpaid Bills

Rumours that Apple would be buying Tidal briefly flared earlier in the year, with some suggesting that the acquisition would be a valuable aid to Apple’s battle with Spotify. I was sceptical and so it appears was Apple, with Jimmy Iovine dismissing talk of a deal in an interview with Buzzfeed.On the back of news that Tidal’s losses are mounting it would appear that Jay-Z’s gamble to acquire, pump and then exit the service aren’t going to plan.Currently the service claims 4.2 million subscribers, from which it managed to make a net loss of $28m in 2015. That doesn’t suggest that Tidal is doing a great job of balancing payouts to artists for exclusive deals, streaming costs and operational costs against revenue that grew 30% year on year.There’s also the question of why the company hasn’t been paying its bills, as reported in the Norwegian press.Now that an exit to Apple appears to be firmly off the table what happens next? A streaming company owned by artists might sound like a good id…

You Can’t Change The World One Car At A Time

Tesla, GM, Nissan and other motor industry players want to get you out of your gas guzzling cars, with their nasty tailpipe emissions and into their EVs, whose absence of tailpipes mean less local emissions, even if the nastiness is only moved as far as the nearest non-renewable power station.You can’t change the world one car at a time because car ownership is as much of a problem as the emissions they produce. Owners invest significant chunks of their income in purchasing an asset that spends most of its time doing nothing.Uber, Lyft and Tesla (again) want to change things by expanding the use of on demand taxi services to reduce the need for consumers to own cars. The problem is that this still demands sufficient cars on the road to cope with peak demand – which benefits nobody, moving the problem to a different location. Municipalities may gain some advantage from reducing the amount of urban zoning set aside for parking, but that’s of limited value.An electric bus however offers …

HP’s Hardware Stack Looking Good For The Future

Traditional PC sales have been in freefall for a couple of years now and tablets, initially identified as the cause and ultimately replacement, aren’t doing any better. That’s not to say that the traditional big PC companies aren’t still making money, they are albeit less than they were in days gone by.The problem is that the real problems for PC hardware OEMs lie in the future, not the past. PC and tablet sales will continue to decline, commoditisation of the low end will bite deeper and the same Chinese and Indian companies that have risen up to take increasingly large chunks of the smartphone market will turn their focus to PCs.HP is reasonably well placed to weather the coming storm following its split from HPE and a refocus on the things that HP have always been good at. The purchase of Samsung’s printer division makes good business sense. Enterprise level printing contracts are hugely lucrative as I discussed earlier in the week, and HP now has capability and capacity to shake u…

Lumia 950 Continuum Supports Wired Ethernet Connections

Wi-Fi may be the most popular method of connecting devices in the home and, increasingly, on the move but in an office or enterprise setting cabled Ethernet is generally all-pervasive. As that's the target environment for Windows 10 Mobiles running in Continuum mode it's good to know that USB Ethernet adapters are supported by the Lumia 950 and the Microsoft Display Dock.
For HP Elite x3 users the Desktop Dock has an Ethernet port built-in, so its not in question, whilst the third phone currently supporting Continuum, the Acer Jade Primo should also support USB Ethernet adapters based on the results with the Lumia 950.
Unfortunately what's missing from Windows 10 Mobile at the moment is any kind of indication that Ethernet is in use, rather than a Wi-Fi or 4G connection. To be absolutely sure I had to put my Lumia 950 into flight mode and see whether a connection was still present. That doesn't necessarily guarantee that a Windows Mobile will prioritise wired over wir…

How Does Samsung Deal With Battery Fire Hysteria?

The Note 7 battery saga has played out badly for Samsung. Not especially with owners, as those I know are almost universally happy about the way that Samsung has handled the recall and made efforts to limit the impact it has had on their phone usage.However the Note 7 problems, added to recent stories claiming battery fires from a wide variety of other Samsung phones has to be hurting the company’s reputation. That these older phones don’t have faulty batteries and older Lithium Ion cells are naturally more likely to ignite – especially if they have suffered an impact – has been mostly been bypassed in the rush to hype the story in the media.Yes, any phone’s battery will ignite if mistreated or damaged. That’s a fact of life resulting from the need to pack as much energy density into a small package to satisfy the needs of modern smartphones. Search on Google and you can find stories of burning phones going back years and affecting all manufacturers.The Note 7 is different though. The…

iPhone 7 Battery Is 10% Bigger – That’s The Headphone Jack Message Apple Should Have Led With

Courage. It isn’t a virtue that should be lightly claimed by a major corporation. So Phil Schiller’s description of the removal of the iPhone’s headphone jack as courageous has been rightly ripped to shreds by the internet.I fear that this is a case of Apple getting carried away with its own hubris. The belief that any and every change, update or step forward is worthy of its own superlative. If I were feeling cynical I would suggest that this is a trait endemic to California and its residents, but that would be over generalising and mostly unfair.The truth is that by removing the headphone jack Apple achieved two things. Firstly it created more space for a larger battery (10% apparently) and secondly it gave the market for wireless haedphones a hefty kick. A useful side effect when you have recently paid out billions of dollars for a headphone company.If, in presenting the change, Schiller has stuck to the bigger battery as a benefit line I’d suggest that the removal of the headphone…

The Next iPhone Will Be Truly Wireless, And That Might Be A Problem

Wireless. It was a big talking point when the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus were announced last week. The thing is neither iPhone is really wireless. Every time you want to charge you’re going to be plugging in to that Lightning port, like it or not.Just how wireless can phones get though? Actually it’s entirely possible to use your phone without ever having to plug anything in to it. Wireless charging has been a thing for years. Wireless audio for even longer. There are limitations to what you can do in an aircraft, but In pretty much every other situation there’s no need to be tethering your phone to a cord..Which is why I’m expecting Apple to add wireless charging as a new feature of the next iPhone. The real question is will Apple use one of the two current standards – Qi or PMA – or will it instead introduce a new, Apple only wireless charging technology which offers limited benefits but restricts customers to Apple certified chargers only?Based on historical behaviour I’m pretty much cert…

GM’s Bolt Looks Like It Could Seriously Shake Up The EV Market

GM announced the Bolt to a positive reception last year, promising a vehicle with a 200 mile range that was within the reach of a wider group of buyers than Tesla’s offerings. Now it has confirmed pricing and estimated range for the Bolt and it promises to be a game changer for EVs – and cars in general.Whilst the Bolt doesn’t offer a significantly different package to Tesla’s Model 3, which will cost about the same and have a similar range, it does have one massive, palpable advantage that makes it the game change the Tesla won’t ever be.GM knows how to mass produce vehicles.So whilst Tesla boasts of hundreds of thousands of early deposits and pre-orders, its inability to scale its manufacturing capacity and capability means that some of those buyers will be still waiting for their cars when the next Bolt arrives.GM on the other hand is very good at scale. And that’s what makes the Bolt a bigger game changer than the current Tesla range. Until the rest of the automotive industry catc…

Microsoft Band Is No More, Further Signs Of Mobile Exit

Microsoft is reported to have disbanded its Band fitness tracker team, indicating that the Band 2 will not have a successor. Reporting on official and unofficial conversations with Microsoft Mary Jo Foley writes on her ZDNet blog that queries about the Band met only with a response that Microsoft remains committed to its Health platform.The Band hasn’t been a huge success for Microsoft, but owners seem to be extremely happy with the device’s capability. It hasn’t really sold well to Android and iPhone owners, but then that isn’t really its reason for existing.I believe that the Band was Microsoft’s response to the absence of quality fitness trackers that supported the Windows Mobile platform well… or even at all.The death of the Band has greater implications then. If Microsoft no longer feels the need to push a fitness tracker for its mobile platform it means the company is retrenching from the consumer market completely. That would explain the dearth of consumer friendly phones from …

Drug Resistant Bacteria, You Need To Read And Understand This

Drug resistant bacteria, like MRSA, have mean a disaster in the making for the last forty years. Lax attitudes to prescription and administration of antibiotics, their misuse in the food industry globally and now the reluctance of drugs companies to get involved in developing unprofitable replacements places humanity on the brink of a threat that makes zombie movies look tame by comparison.Reuters has published a series of stories about America’s lax attitude to drug resistant bacteria and it makes scary reading, but even then it fails to deliver the message in strong enough terms.Without antibiotics we run the risk of dropping back to those pre-penicillin Victorian times, when a scratch or a cut could result in amputation, where major surgery was more likely to be fatal than not and where prayer become a valid treatment for all kinds of infections that today we expect to treat successfully, even contemptuously.There are now no antibiotics which are guaranteed to treat any strain of i…

HP’s Buyout Of Samsung Printing Is All About Enterprise

The news that HP has bought out Samsung’s printer business has provoked two reactions almost globally. Firstly, who knew Samsung had a printer business and, secondly, does anyone actually print any more?Where you see these reactions you can be sure that your reading someone with a narrow view of the technology business. Samsung’s printer business was worth $1bn to HP. Not the biggest buyout ever but still a sizeable organization.More importantly, many people are getting their eyes opened to the world of enterprise MFP and the cut throat battles to win sizeable contracts that involve manufacturers, partners and elaborate tender processes designed to squeeze the lowest cost for all enterprise printing.MFPs (multi-function printers) have arrived in the enterprise in a big way over the last fifteen years. From a model which saw users PCs attached to individual printers, we now have network printing that is charged on a per copy basis, with secure print jobs, follow-me printing, scan to em…

Does Microsoft Really Believe The Lumia Brand Is The Problem?

Surface Phone. It’s probably the most talked about phone that doesn’t exist (yet). Sure the iPhone gets its headlines every year whilst we try to uncover its secrets early and even Samsung’s high-end Galaxy’s have a buzz. But for column inches per shipped device the Surface Phone has them all beaten.So far the rumour mill has given us a Intel Atom powered Surface Phone able to run x86 applications, until Intel canned the Atom mobile processor family. Then a high-end Snapdragon phone, advancing the capabilities of Windows Mobile beyond even the HP Elite x3. In fact the only option we haven’t seen is an Surface Phone that is actually a mobile Xbox gaming platform.I don’t believe the Surface announcement in October will include any of these devices.Competing with HP for those restricted premium enterprise sales would be ridiculous, not to mention the damage it would do to Microsoft’s relationship with HP. An alternative x86 processor from AMD, for example, would require significant compr…

Those iPhone Specs Don’t Look So Good In Context

Writing on The Verge today Vlad Savov postulates that competing with the iPhone specs is proving to be a difficult challenge for Android OEMs. That’s only really true when taken out of context.For example Savov points out that Android OEMs ave to fit bigger and bigger batteries to their phones. He is right in that this is indeed a trend, that has also resulted in Android phones almost unviersally having a better battery life than the iPhone.Let’s take a sanity check here. Despite having less memory, smaller and lower resolution screens than its peers the iPhone manages to be a disaster where battery life is concerned. And yes, there’s no question that the iPhone is a slick operator. With Apple having full control of the software and hardware, plus the ability to optimize for a limited number of devices, you’d expect that to be the case. However at least a part of that advantage is down to the way that Apple limits the iPhone. Lower resolution screens mean fewer pixels to push around, …

Accessory Manufacturers Already Tethering AirPods

When Apple announced the AirPod wireless headphones last week the initial humorous reaction on Twitter was to tie them together with a piece of string to prevent them getting lost.Seems like some third party accessory OEMs had the same idea, with at least two announcing straps to join the AirPods together into something resembling a more traditional Bluetooth stereo headset.Whether iPhone customers take the risk of losing an AirPod or defeat Apple’s wire-free mantrab by tethering them together, they’ll probably end up paying for what is a questionable design decision on Apple’s part.

So The Lumia Is Dead? Tell Me Something I Didn't Know

The bad news keeps coming, Microsoft will kill the Lumia in December, manufacturing of all Lumia services has already ended, Microsoft Stores are removing Lumias from display... okay, so I'm pretty sure anyone who hadn't got the memo is now quite clear: Lumia is dead.
To be honest if you didn't know already you've been living under a rock for the last eighteen months. Ever since Satya Nadella 'Osborned' his own smartphone line it's been a question of when, not if, the end would come.
Now, it seems, the time has come. But not for Windows Mobile, for which Microsoft still sees a future, powered by third party OEMs. Like HP, whose Elite x3 is the current Windows Mobile standard bearer. Here's a device that will bring Windows 10 Mobile to the masses.
It won't though will it? It's a super expensive flagship device aimed at enterprise which is going to be an incredibly niche product. Especially when you look at how quickly enterprise has adopted the …

This Might Have Been Apple’s Biggest Keynote Item And Nobody’s Talking About It

So amongst all the headphone jack, AirPod and Watch hullabaloo, Apple introduced some changes to iWork to make its Office suite much more than just a bundled application that arrives with your iPad or Mac and probably never gets used.The addition of collaboration features to iWork applications may seem like a small step, but it has been a feature which Google offers in Docs and of course is a mainstay of Office 365. The absence of this capability has been a notable gap in the iWork armoury.Does this mark a turning point for iWork, which doesn’t seem to have been a particularly valuable product for Apple thus far?Apple’s recent iPad Pro introductions suggest that it wants to move into the PC space in a larger way and it can’t really do that based on the cut down mobile versions of Office that Microsoft offers for iOS. To be taken seriously in the consumer and prosumer space the iPad needs a real office suite that offers feature compatibility with Microsoft Office and Google Docs.In the…