Posts

Showing posts from December 14, 2016

In 2017 Can We Please Stop Focusing On Thin?

Image
Dear Apple, Samsung and other device manufacturers, thin is over. Please stop sacrificing reliability, functionality and capability for thin. I don't need a smartphone that is thin enough to carve the Christmas turkey, my laptop doesn't need to shave off a few more millimetres when its going into a laptop bag anyway and my tablet needs to have sufficient depth that my fingers aren't sliced to ribbons each time I use it. The two high profile failures this year that proved that this obsession with thin has run its course were the Galaxy Note 7 and the MacBook Pro.
In a bid to squeeze as much capacity into the thinnest volume Samsung made risky decisions with the Note 7 battery design. That desire to shave a millimetre from the devices girth cost Samsung dear. Ironically the edge design of the Note 7 meant that it was impossible to tell just how thin it was from holding one, so the only place this effort was registered was on the spec sheet.
The MacBook Pro gave up ports, ba…

Does TCL Have A Big Play Coming In The Smartphone Space

Image
You may have heard a little about TCL recently after it acquired an exclusive license to  build and sell phones under the Blackberry brand. Interesting decision, to take a failed mobile brand and hope to rejuvenate it.
This isn't its first such move though and I'm wondering whether TCL is lining itself up for a much bigger push into the smartphone space in 2017.
Blackberry is obviously a hugely important name in smartphone history, however it failed to react quickly enough to the iPhone and Android and its final phones were interesting rather than desirable.
Tellingly, the best smartphones wearing the Balckberry brand have been the DTEK devices launched in the last few months. Phones that are rebadged versions of Alcatel devices, manufactured by TCL.
TCL has the rights to manufacture phones under the Alcatel brand as a result of its buyout of Alcatel from its original joint venture. Whilst Alcatel isn't the biggest name in smartphones, its recent Windows 10 Mobile Idol 4S…

Coship Windows 10 Mobile Concerns Validated By Crowdfunding Failure

Image
Earlier this year Coship raised concerns about the future of Windows 10 Mobile, suggesting that its Moly phone line was at risk following the collapse of Windows 10 Mobile sales worldwide.
The crowdfunding campaign is now over and the results back up the concerns raised about the future of Windows Mobile. Only thirty backers and a long, long way fromn the $100k goal the company set.
It seems that Microsoft has reached a point where it has driven all but the dangerously adventurous away from its mobile platform.
This isn't a completely accurate picture of the demand for Windows 10 phones, given the risks associated with crowdfunding and the limited name recognition of the Coship Moly device.
Nevertheless, it should give any OEM looking at developing a future Windows 10 phone a serious pause for consideration.

Tesla Will Ding You If You Hog That Supercharger

Image
Tesla's worldwide Supercharger network is one of its big advantages compared to its EV competition. Roll-up, take a quick charge and then roll-off again, having taken not much more time than an average IC vehicle takes to fill a tank of diesel or petrol.
Except that inconsiderate users are being accused of hogging the supercharging network by leaving cars on the charge station even after charging has completed. That's frustrating for drivers pulling up to a Supercharger station and having to wait for a charging slot.
As the number of vehicles begins to rise with Tesla's production ramp up, the likely hood of being charge blocked is getting greater. That's not the sort of friction-free experience Tesla owners will be expecting and have enjoyed, for the most part anyway, since the launch of the Supercharger network.
In order to prevent this sort of thing from happening in the future, Tesla has announced that it will be charging users who over stay their charge time at a…

Uber, Self-Driving And The Law Of Unintended Consequences

Image
Uber announced that it begun passenger trials with self-driving Volvos in San Francisco. Within hours California's DMV had demanded that Uber desist, something which Uber vocally declined to do.
Which raises some interesting questions.
Firstly, to what extent do the San Francisco authorities have control over what happens on the streets of San Francisco? Presumably, having declined to halt its trials, Uber's self-driving vehicles have been collecting passengers for the best part of a week now without any form of sanction. Does the DMV have any teeth?
Secondly, what defines a self-driving vehicle? Uber claims its technology is of the same level as that being used by Tesla and requires that a human be sat in the driver's seat at all times. Which may indeed be the case, but having the vehicle filmed ignoring a red signal wasn't helpful to the companies case.
Nor will the knowledge that the only sticking point is the application for an appropriate self-driving license, wh…

Blackberry Android Failure Should Give Pause To Nokia Hype

Image
A decade ago the two biggest names in smartphones were Nokia and RIM. After failing to react to the iPhone and compounding that error by failing to react to Android both sunk slowly into the mire. Nokia belatedly abandoned the woeful Symbian platform for Windows Phone - and we all know how that ended up - whilst RIM changed names to Blackberry, jumped to Android and finally abandoned its ambitions as a smartphone manufacturer when it signed the rights to hardware and software over to TCL, who will keep the flame alive.
Parallels with Nokia's HMD deal are easy to see.
Many have speculated that Nokia's downfall came as the result of a switch to Windows Phone rather than Android. That's far from the truth, which is that Nokia delayed switching from Symbian far too long, even when it had a ready made replacement more than capable of taking the game to Apple and Google.
So HMD will soon be releasing its first non-Microsoft Android phones carrying the Nokia nameplate. I'm e…

The Best Of 2016

Image
2016 has been a strange year, with unprecedented success for outsiders in the polls. In the world of technology things have been better than could be expected. Where it would be reasonable to expect mature markets to have lost their ability to surprise, we found that even the big guys could still produce the odd curveball.

Best Overall / Best Desktop: Microsoft Surface Studio The most exciting and innovative device of 2016 was easily the Microsoft Surface Studio. Here was a desktop with a whole new focus. The Surface Studio, together with the Surface Dial, introduced a whole new way of being creative and first indications are that al of the promise of the launch has been delivered in production devices. Unsurprisingly this is my best desktop PC of 2016 as well.

Best Laptop: HP Spectre x360 HP has been undergoing something of a recovery since its separation from HPE. Its Spectre x360 convertible laptop has been a universal favourite winning many awards in its first two iterations. The l…

Flickr Data Suggests Apple Owns It For Smartphone Photography

Image
Last week Flickr published its review of 2016 in terms of camera usage - and the results are eye-opening.
Apple was responsible for 47% of all photos uploaded to the Flickr site. Demonstrating just how far we have moved away from point and click and DSLRs? Not really, because those devices were responsible for 49% of uploaded photgraphs. 
What it demonstrates is Apple's total domination of smartphone photography. 48% of photos were uploaded from smartphones. From that information we can calculate 3% of photos came from tablets. If every single one of those tablets was an iPad, that leaves the iPhone responsible for 44 out of every 48 photos taken with smartphones.
That's effectively a better than 90% market share for the iPhone camera!
For all that Nokia / Microsoft, Samsung, Google and Sony have laid claims to having the best camera on a smartphone, it's clear from the data that actually the camera that gets the most use is almost certainly going to be on the back of an …

Why The Disappointing MacBook Pro Will Succeed

Image
Windows 10 is the best Windows ever, its available on some of the coolest hardware you can buy and, as a value proposition, Windows 10 devices trump Apple's Macs in just about every department and by every metric.
For all that the MacBook Pro has been a disappointment, with dubious design decisions; and battery life and heat issues; it is almost certainly going to prove to be a success for Apple.
The problem for Microsoft isn't that Windows 10 isn't better than MacOS (it is in many, many ways) or that Windows hardware partners (as well as Microsoft) aren't out-innovating Apple (they are); it is very much that Microsoft has an extremely tough sell to a specific group of customers and nothing it does on PCs can help.
That group? iPhone owners.
Right now the combination of Windows 10 and iPhone is so much less useful than a Mac and an iPhone. Continuity, Handoff and a smattering of high-quality Apple only apps are a major barrier to swapping PC platforms.
So those custom…

Just How Seriously Has Yahoo Been Taking Security? One Billion User Accounts Exposed

Image
Yahoo continues to lurch from one car crash to another, each managing to top the last in scale. Having previously confirmed that half a billion user details had been exposed in a leak (although failing to do so as part of its sales negotiations with Verizon) Yahoo has taken to its corporate Tumblr blog to announce another leak this time affecting one billion users.
I mean has the company actually been implementing any kind of security at all?
If you haven't already done so, backup then delete all your personal data from Yahoo, close your account and never, ever got back again.

Will Apple Update The iPhone SE In The New Year?

Image
Despite the release of a number of high end flagship devices, bigger screens, fancier cameras and lots of gimmicks, for my money the most significant phone of the year was the iPhone SE. Here was a device that levereged a classic design, packed with modern hardware. When it launched I tagged the SE as the best iPhone you could buy. Post iPhone 7 launch I believe that is mostly still the case.
The sales succes that Apple enjoyed with the iPhone SE was significant. Whether it was because of the cheaper price, smaller size or better ergonomics, the SE has been a fantastic piece of business for Apple - being the best selling phone across a number of territories for much of its nine months on sale.
The iPhone SE works because it just works. Pocketable, lightweight, comfortable in the hand and gimmick free, it is everything that later iPhones aren't.
So does Apple need to upgrade the SE ahead of its birthday in March? It would certainly be nice to see optical image stabilisation adopte…

Microsoft Bullish On Surface, Talks Down MacBook Pro

Image
Microsoft seems to be lining up a big year sales for its Surface hardware division. In fact according to Brian Hall, head of Device Marketing, things are going from good to better for all things Surface. Following the announcement of the Surface Studio Microsoft received much critical acclaim. Well-earned too. Surprisingly though, there's been a knock on effect on Surface Pro and Book sales, with record sales to consumers recorded in November.In the US it would seem many of those buyers are switching from a Mac, at least that's what numbers from Microsoft’s Mac trade in program would suggestThen there’s the Surface Hub. The giant – and hugely expensive – enterprise wall mount PC has racked up big sales and would appear to be another billion dollar revenue stream for Microsoft.Whilst Surfaces have been going great guns, it seems Microsoft can’t get over its fixation with Apple, in the post Hall calls out ‘disappointment’ with the new MacBook Pro. It’s an interesting strategy be…

Apple Answers MacBook Pro Battery Issues... Kind Of

Image
Multiple (mostly Apple friendly) reviewers have been reaising questions of the new MacBook Pro's battery performance. In short it is significantly reduced from the older model and is a long way from meeting Apple's claimed 10 hour duty cycle.
Had it been one reviewer experiencing problems it could be dismissed as an unusual usage pattern. With multiple users reporting a measurable shortfall in cable free usage the more likely scenario is that Apple has misjudged battery performance.
Never mind, Apple has a response. When MacOS X 10.12.2 arrives on your MacBook (and I'm of the understanding is that this is true for any MacBook) you will no longer be presented with an estimate of remaining battery, only a percentage remaining.
I never said it was a useful response.
Now I think we are all grown up enough to understand that the remaining time indication on both Macs and PCs is an estimate, but removing it to reduce complaints about a new product's battery performance does…