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Showing posts from February, 2017

Apple Looking At USB-C For The iPhone - Probably Not What You Think Though

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Apple is going to implement USB-Con its new iPhones - and it could be right, but not in the way you might be thinking.
I'd say there is zero percent chance that the iPhone will move away from Lightning in its next iteration. Apple has too much invested in the control of accessories to allow this to happen.
Nevertheless your iPhone will come with a USB-C connector. Only it will be on the other end of its cable and partnered with new chargers that implement a USB-C female connector.
Why? Well one look at Apple's current laptop line-up will tell you why. Other than obsolete models there isn't a USB Type A connector in sight.
And one of the big criticisms of the new MacBook Pro was that you couldn't plug your brand new iPhone into it.
Give the iPhone a charging cable with Lightning at one end and USB-C at the other and all Apple's problems are over.
For users buying their first iPhone and using an older Mac with USB-C there ar…

It's Time For Twitter To Charge Subscriptions

I've often said in the past that Twitter's problems with revenue generation can't be solved like other social networks because Twitter is a completely different proposition to services like Facebook and Instagram.
Attempts to become a broadcaster or content generation engine are doomed to failure. Monetising in this manner isn't going to pay the bills.
Previously I've suggested Twitter needs to develop a subscription model for businesses on the service. The value of Twitter as a marketing, support and customer engagement tool pretty much guarantee these subscriptions will be taken up.
To further drive income and also to address its numerous problems around bigotry, misogyny and other forms of bullying, I believe the time is right for Twitter to charge a subscription for every user. 
In fact if you consider Twitter as the unofficial portal to news services - and I know many do - then it is a strong position to become the aggregator of news sources and effectively f…

Porsche Design Teams Up With Microsoft To Do Its Own Book

This rather handsome looking beast is the Porsche Design Book - a hybrid Ultrabook that packs a lot of Microsoft Surface Book DNA.
That's not surprising as Microsoft (and Intel) worked with Porsche to create a machine that sits very close to Microsoft's own premium device in terms of specs and pricing.
Highlight of the device is the geared hinge mechanism, that looks like a fine piece of engineering pulled off a performance car. Which I guess is the very reason its on there, looking all technical and (probably) unnecessarily exposed to the world.
This is about being more than a laptop. This is about giving Microsoft Windows 10 another arrow in its quiver to bring down the MacBook Pro. In terms of brand strength Porsche is up there with the best of them and I imagine that 911 owners are likely to be sending their existing laptops to the scrapheap as they race to get one of these parked on the boardroom table.
So the specs of the Porsche Book matter only in that they are mostly…

Samsung Galaxy S8: How Are You Planning On Holding That Thing Without Bezels?

Screen bezels. To some people their absence is the most important human achievement since Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Samsung's latest trail for the Galaxy S8 seems to suggest that the curve of the new 'Edge' screen will form the totality of the sides of the device, no doubt making these people very happy indeed.
Great. So where am I supposed to hold this thing?
Other phones have been notable for slimming bezels down to almost nothing. On a phone that's manageable - the footprint of your finger's contact area doesn't need to be great to manage a reasonably light phone. Do away with the bezel entirely though and your fingers are gripping the screen.
What's the impact of semi-permanently pressing on the sides of an AMOLED screen just at the point where it has been curved and is presumably already weakened compared to a flat screen? Doesn't sound like it would end at all well.
Then there's the protection of the screen sides themselves. Drop a S…

It Took Apple Just Three Years To Halve iPad Sales

The iPad was introduced as the next paradigm shift in personal computing when Steve Jobs sprung it on an eager crowd back in 2010. Here was the antidote to Windows, a device that married portability and capability with Apple's usual slick engineering and design.
What happened next has been well documented. Apple fixed the iPad's major shortcomings and introduced a new smaller version and then ran out of ideas. Sales initially rocketed, before hitting a peak in 2014.
Sales have been tanking ever since, despite a heavy advertising spend and the introduction of the Surface-aping iPad Pro the rot has truly set in. 
To such an extent that iPad sales have fallen 50% in the three years to Q1 2017. Revenue is down by more than 50%, so the remaining iPad buyers are spending less per device.
Apple has failed the iPad, rather than vice versa. Failed to spot the change in the market that has pushed Windows tablets to the fore. Failed to grasp the nettle and merge the Mac and the iPad to…

Sony Goes All In On Niche, Premium With Xperia Touch

There is nothing like Sony's Xperia Touch, which has taken a little while to make it from prototype to product, but which finally had its day in the sun as Sony submerged MWC 2017 in high end, low volume products.
The Touch is half tablet on steroids, half Minority Report. It is a product whose only real competition is the Microsoft Pixelsense table PC. In that respect the price - £1269 - looks reasonable, by every other measure it is quite insane. Yet in terms of what it can achieve the Xperia Touch is worth every penny, for the few who can both afford it and appreciate its capabilities.
The Touch embeds one of Sony's amazing short throw projectors into a device running Android and packing enough sensors and cameras to track your hands across the flat surface where the image is being projected.
It really is a product that needs to fit your environment. Unlike the family in the video I find clear flat spaces at a premium in my household. Any that miraculously appear are soon …

Xperia XZ Premium As Much About Selling Sony As Selling Phones

Sony went wild with new smartphones at MWC today, announcing four of the five devices that had been rumoured in various pre-show leaks. Most notable was the new Xperia XZ Premium, which managed to put itself at the front of the smartphone race on specs, even if Sony's sometimes haphazard execution may mean it falls short of the top of the pile when it actually arrives around June.
The XZ Premium packs perhaps the most impressive screen ever to find its way onto a smartphone. Matching the Z5 Premium in resolution - that is, a full 4K hit - and adding HDR to the mix as well. This technology is relatively new in the living room, so to find it on a smartphone already, well that's impressive.

The big hits don't end there. Sony's Motion Eye camera makes its official debut on the XZ Premium and its stablemate, the XZs. The camera is revolutionary as it packs fast DRAM onto the sensor itself, allowing the phone to shoot video at a theoretical 960fps. Theoretical, because the …

Two Months On, How's Life Without Windows 10 Mobile?

Two months ago I caved in and abandoned Windows 10 as my smartphone platform. The stream of disappearing apps was becoming a flood and buyers were disappearing which was only going to worsen the situation. Meanwhile Microsoft was doing the minimum possible to keep the platform running - presumably in deference to close partner HP's newly launched Elite X3.
So after two months on the Xperia XZ what conclusions have I reached? Well as a core platform Windows 10 Mobile is still a top notch contender. The core platform is far from being enough and the failure to court developers has been a massive failure on Microsoft's part for so long now it's part of IT folklore.
There's something to be said about being able to go to the Play Store and access any application you could possibly want. 
The list of apps I have access to now is illuminating: my bank, my children's school, Air New Zealand, Qatar Airways, Emirates, the remote control app for my camera, IFTTT, NZ's ci…

LG G6 Goes Big On Multitasking In Tepid Offering

LG's MWC 2017 unveiling of its new G6 was mostly a so-so affair. After the flop that was the G5 the company had to get back to normality and the G6 is mostly the normal phone it needed.

The company has ticked most of the standard requirements boxes with its new flagship: waterproofing, expandable memory, wireless charging (but not on all devices or territories), QuadHD display and dual rear cameras.

However it misses out on the newest Qualcomm CPU, running the year-old 82x class processor instead of the new 835 (allegedly Samsung has tied all of these up).

In compensation LG is offering a unique screen setup. The AMOLED display is in 18:9 - or more accurately, 2:1 - format, meaning it's a pure rectangle. As a result users will be able to run two applications side by side in full width (albeit square) windows.

It's probably a better selling point than last years 'Friends' modules - but it's still a very weak hook to hang your hat on. Its a feature that just doe…

In A Struggling Wearables Market Can Nokia Make A Go Of It?

Nokia - the real Nokia, rather than the smartphone branding which attaches to HMD Global handsets - has announced it will be re-branding Withings health and fitness devices under its own name from later this year. Not entirely surprising as the purchase was part of a broader plan to position itself as a key consumer health partner and also to edge its way into the market for bridging the consumer / medical professional data silos that currently exist.
The concept is sound. Healthcare organisations provide better, safer care when the data used to make clinical decisions is accurate and up to date. The broader the information, the better the patient pathway. Microsoft, Apple, Google and IBM all have interests in this area, not to mention the specialist health system providers, who would like a piece of this particular pie.
However the recent consolidation of activity tracker OEMs has called into question the size of the consumer market for these devices.
Withings was always about more …

Google Is Going To Fix Voice Search Fragmentation

When Google launched the Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones it created a yawning chasm across Android search - its own phones sporting the new, friendly and improved Google Assistant, everyone else tied to the old Google Search and OK Google.
Given that Search is Google's bread and butter and, incidentally, the whole reason why Android exists, this doesn't seem like an ideal state of affairs.
Seems that Google has realised this and in the coming weeks will be releasing a new version of Google Search with Assistant providing the smarts. OEMs will also get access to the Assistant too, so OEMs like Sony, who have integrated Google's Search into their Android skins, can update the experience across current and future devices.
Fragmentation still remains a problems, as this update will support Marshmallow and Nougat phones only - or about 30% of Android devices in use today.
Still its better than the 0.01% who previously had access to it.

Samsung Makes Interesting Choices With New Galaxy Tablets

The tablet market is in  something of a state of flux at the moment. After years of boom, smartphone based tablets like the iPad and Android offerings are in full scale retreat. At the same time, Windows, previously on death row as the prospect of iOS and Android and the paradigm shift they promised, is now the growth area and OEMs, consumers and enterprises just can't get enough of them.
Right now the Microsoft Surface has become the thing to have if you're projecting an image of success, corporate tech-savviness and having your finger on the pulse.
Into to this changing marketplace Samsung has released its new 2017 tablet range and signaled it can see the way the wind is blowing. Last year its flagship tablets consisted of two Android powered Tab S2s and a single TabPro S running Windows 10.
In 2017 that ratio has flipped. Just one Tab S3 - the larger 9.7" version and two new Galaxy Books, in 10" and 12" varieties.
All three tablets come with keyboard covers …

Nokia And Blackberry Hoping Old Is The New Black

The Nokia 3310 and Blackberry KeyOne are two phones that arrive in 2017 with an unhealthy dose of 2007 coursing through their veins. Popular as the originals may have been neither device has a place in the modern Parthenon of mobile devices.
Let's start with the 3310, which is a shameless play for the nostalgia vote in emerging markets. It promises few of the virtues of the original - to wit, never ending battery life and virtual indestructibility, lacks smartphone features that even the most basic of users might demand and those it does offer are just too low end.
This is a mobile phone for people who just want to make calls. In pretty much every other respect it offers little. Symbian Series 30 in 2017? That's just ridiculous. 
Customers in emerging markets need value for money devices, not cheap tat. HMD's best potential market for this is hipsters looking for something to add an element of ironic cool to their grab bag.
The Blackberry KeyOne potentially fails for a di…

Microsoft's Continuum Clone Increases Impact of Windows Phone Failure

Remember when Continuum was first trailed by Microsoft? Joe Belfiore gave a sneak preview in an early developers meeting and for a while Windows on phones seemed like something that was going to happen.
That was when Windows Phone was flying high, having passed iOS for second place in the mobile market in some territories and was delivering pretty good growth elsewhere, especially in Europe.
Since then Microsoft has knifed its own platform in the back, written off, sold off or sacked off its whole investment in Nokia. All that remains is the straggling rump, waiting to die.
The failure in mobile has the potential to damage much more than mobile market though. The focus on Continuum proves Microsoft knows it.
Samsung has had the ability to mimic a desktop for a while now. The Note 2 had a desktop dock specifically designed to give it access to a keyboard, mouse and external display. It didn't push the boundaries but it was surprisingly capable.

DisplayLink has subsequently added …

To Recover Its Position In Mobile, Microsoft Needs To Do The Fosbury Flop

Yesterday news broke that Panasonic was releasing a new Windows 10 Mobile phone. That's interesting only because the generally accepted position is that Windows Mobile is a dead platform and if / when Microsoft releases the Surface Phone it will be running a version of Windows 10.
Windows Mobile sales have all but disappeared and with it any reason for developers to continue to support the platform. Other than the Panasonic the only other reasonably up to date phones are other niche devices from Alcatel and HP.
Microsoft's defeat in mobile has been comprehensive and expensive. Yet it cannot afford to lie bloodied on the battlefield. Mobile is where the world is at today. A lack of a mobile platform puts Microsoft's future in the hands of Apple and Google.
That represents a significant long-term risk.
So Microsoft needs to get back into the mobile game and it can't do it by incrementally improving what it has done before, nor by refining what is already available from …

Netflix Needs Apple, The Reverse Isn't Necessarily True

Talk of Apple buying Netflix is in vogue once more. The general consensus being Apple desperately needs to turn Apple TV into something that boosts both its hardware and services income.

I believe Apple will make significant moves in the media / entertainment arena this year but not necessarily mean by acquisition and probably not by purchasing Netflix.
Netflix has a bigger problem right now and as a result the company needs the backing of a company of the scale and integration of Apple. 
Apple has made big money applications in the past, most obviously Beats.  The acquisition of Netflix would be a whole magnitude larger and not obviously better than growing Apple Music into film and TV.

So why do I think Netflix has a problem that can only be resolved by selling out to a big player? Amazon. Amazon Prime in particular.

Amazon is playing a really long game with its Prime service. The ultimate goal is to get customers signed up to the service to gain the benefit of free delivery. Free …

Newspapers And Journalism In A Disrupted Market

It has been interesting to watch the increasingly desperate attempts by newspaper publishers to save their industry. Different methods have been employed - from asking readers to disable ad blockers through pay-walls and even pleading for donations.
Thing is, nobody seems to have it worked out. Not if they want to report actual news rather than chase viral page views with garbage articles like the Daily Mail or Buzz Feed.

The only model that seemed to briefly work for publishers was ad-supported, where they were able to convert large numbers of page views into an income stream.

As we all know, the quality and intrusion of advertising was not kept in check, giving rise to the ad-blocking Godzilla, which has stomped all over Fleet Street's online city.
The inability to derive revenue has destroyed the hoped for migration of the newspaper empires to the web. News sources are everywhere and in the main they don't have the weight of a legacy organisation to support.

As a result th…

Apple Playing Identification Catch-up, Buys RealFace

Having been ahead of the game with the launch of TouchID on the iPhone 5S, Apple has been somewhat guilty of resting on its laurels. Others have caught and surpassed the fingerprint sensor on the iPhone and biometric authentication is available on just one Mac - the MBP with TouchBar.
In contrast Microsoft and its partners have been making all sorts of leaps ahead with biometric authentication. Windows laptops support fingerprint and facial recognition technology, Windows Mobiles use retinal scanning for authentication and Samsung and HP have both released devices with both fingerprint and retinal scanners.
The recent legal judgements that a defendant can be compelled to give up their fingerprint in order to unlock a device has raised the profile of the risks inherent in the technology. It may be more convenient and more likely to be used than a pass code, but the possibility of being forced to unlock a device (by law enforcement officers or worse) does reduce the inherent security o…

My iPad Is An Ornament

Yes, the industrial design of the iPad Air 2 is really very good, however nerdy-geeky as I am even I wouldn't suggest using technology for purely decorative purposes in the home. Nevertheless, that is the only role that my iPad plays right now.
My iPad usage has never been great, in fact having tried and failed to get on with the iPad 2 a few years back, buying a replacement in the shape of the iPad Air 2 was a a mistake in retrospect. 
After a brief honeymoon period I found that all the shortcomings that frustrated me with my previous iPad still existed.  In essence the iPad is only as good as the apps you use and my experience of iPad versions of the things I use has been poor.
That's not to say that great iPad apps don't exist, they do in abundance, but generally they are edge use case items - things that you don't normally do unless you are a) appearing in an Apple iPad advert or b) trying to show off your iPad to your friends.
Safari on the iPad doesn't deliv…

McDonalds Dings Apple's Hubris With Ad For New Straw

It's true that Apple has given us a slew of groundbreaking products over the twenty years. More recently however it has been delivering rather more humdrum new products and incremental upgrades and marketing them as the most incredible achievements ever.
The main medium for this self-congratulatory message has been the Jony Ive talking head video, in which even the most basic, re-hashed feature gets the full 'greatest feature ever' treatment.

This McDonalds parody is far from the best, but its very existence points to the fact that Apple's reality distortion self-promotion has become a mainstream figure of fun.

Kiwis Get First Run At 10GBps Home Fibre

As Chorus continues its roll out of Gigabit fibre to homes around New Zealand (my own connection upgrade is just a matter of days away) Northland based broadband wholesaler Northpower has completed the world's first live demonstration of 10GBps networking to retail and residential premises.
The technology, which uses multiwavelength signals to connect different customers on the same fibre, is technically compatible with the GPON standard used for Gigabit fibre currently rolling out as part of New Zealand's UFB programme. So a relatively straightforward upgrade path is on the cards when the NZ government decides to implement the next round of connectivity upgrades.
So much of Kiwi's business, large and small, is dependent on high quality, high speed networking that keeping the country near the top of the connection speed pack is vital. With new trunk connections to Australia due online soon New Zealand's geographic separation will continue to pose no barrier to Kiwi bu…

Windows Phone and Blackberry Hit 2003 Sales Levels

Gartner reported on the continuing slow, painful death of Windows Phone and Blackberry yesterday, with its view of 2016 Q4 sales. With Android and iOS together holding 99.6% of smartphone sales over the Christmas period we have really reached the point where there are only three categories to consider: Android, iOS and Other.
Nonetheless, Gartner estimated sales numbers for both Windows Phone and Blackberry. With Blackberry falling to just 200, 000 sales and Windows just breaking the million barrier.
These numbers all but match those for the same quarter in 2003, showing just how far things have wound back for the two companies. The difference being that in 2003 the total market in Q4 was 7m devices, in 2016 it was more than 350m.
Market leader in 2003 was Symbian, with Nokia selling more devices than anyone else. Second place was Palm. In fact of the top five vendors in 2003 only one (HP) has survived the arrival of the modern smartphone in anything resembling its original form.
Wit…

GPD Pocket Makes The Same Mistakes Of The Past

Small PCs of the past all followed a very similar lifecycle: breathless receptions from the specialist press, enthusiastic receptions from... well, enthusiasts who purchase launch units in sufficient numbers to briefly give the manufacturer hope and usually (but not always) deliver a follow up. And then things go rapidly south.
OQO, Libretto, Flipstart, Omnibook, VAIO, companies large and small have all fallen into the same trap.
Now GPD is following the same road with its Pocket computer. This 7" screened device roughly follows the path that Toshiba took with the Libretto. And if Toshiba couldn't make a viable business out of the Libretto in a time before smartphones and tablets, exactly how much of a chance does GPD have?
Perhaps the biggest warning flag is that the company is looking to fund development of this new machine on a popular crowd-funding website. Always a good sign that you'll get what you ordered. Or not.
Still GPD made a reasonable job of its Win gamin…

How I Roll: Intermediate Travel Version

This is part two of three on my travel bags, you can find part one here.

This is my go to carry bag, the one that used most often. It's light enough to carry day to day (except those days when I'm looking to travel with the bare minimum) and powerful enough to get things done. I'll take this bag whether I'm on the ferry, in the car or flying. It fits all three scenarios, remaining light enough to wear across the shoulder and compact enough to qualify as a laptop bag on a flight (thus allowing me to include a carry-on for longer trips away).

The bag itself is a leather briefcase style by Rocha.John Rocha, bought about six years ago from Debenhams it is only now starting to gain the patina of use. This one robust bag. I'm confident of carrying it in any weather and it can hold all of the things that I might need when travelling.

Inside the case has two compartments. The slimmer rear compartment holds my Spectre x360 and a tablet (usually my Galaxy Tab S2 ) and my ca…

VR Is Not Going To Save HTC

HTC's financial results for the fourth quarter of 2016 look as bad as they can be for the one time darling of the smartphone world. Revenue was down 13% year on year, whilst drastic cost-cutting (wiping 34% off the cost of doing business) helped to ease losses slightly.
Nevertheless, looking at 2016 as a whole the company managed to run a near half billion dollar deficit.
To add to the company's woes it failed to make more sales in the Q4 holiday season than it did in the traditionally quiet Q3 quarter. In itself a large red flag.
It would be interesting to speculate how these numbers would look without the contract to manufacture Google's Pixel. And with VR in questionable space, having already lost its place as the next big thing to AR, it seems unlikely that the Vive is going to be the big hit that helps turn the business around.
It really does seem as if HTC is in a battle to avoid drowning and it's on its way down for the third time. It doesn't have a product…

Kickstarter Failure Kills Triggertrap

Triggertrap seemed to be a successful business. It identified a valuable market niche - interfacing smartphones to semi-professional cameras and providing access to advance photography capabilities that software control allows. Yet the company has announced that it will be closing down.
The Triggertrap Mobile device sold in hundreds of thousands and the company seemed to have a bright future.
Then it launched a Kickstarter project for a second product line: Ada. A multi-output camera control utilising interchangeable trigger mechanisms to bring even more advanced photography to the masses. A product that turned out to be too difficult to bring to market (with the company admitting to some fairly basic project and product management errors).
One of the reasons for cancelling the Ada was that continuing with its manufacture and distribution would bankrupt the company within months. Turns out that the costs of getting to the point of failure were enough to bring the company down anyway …

With The Next iPhone Will Apple Break Wireless Charging Standards Again?

Wireless charging is great. The Wireless Charging Consortium ensures interoperability between devices running the Qi inductive charging standard. Meaning that devices with built in Qi charging can share bases irrespective of who made what.
Up to a point. And that point is the Apple Watch. Apple implemented the Qi standard in the Watch and charging station, however it also embedded software controls to prevent the Watch working with charging base stations that haven't been through the MFI certification program.
For Apple Watch owners that's unlikely to prove to be a problem - the Watch is generally going to live on your wrist and not be deposited on handy chargers located around the environment. Although a colleague of mine recently traveled to Auckland for a working week without his charger and endured four and a half days of wearing a non-functional and not hugely attractive lump on his wrist.
iPhone users, on the other hand, would be exactly the sort of users who would bene…

New Spark Formula E Cars Put The Dramatic Back In Racing, No More Car Swaps Required

This is the new Spark SRT05e, the car that will underpin Formula E from 2018 onwards. No question that those running the show understand that the cars need to be as dramatic as the racing. This thing looks like it time-traveled back from the 22nd Century.
Spark won the tender to build the second version of the Formula E chassis and the new car will run from Season Five on.
As well as looking great the cars will be able to go further on a single charge, promising an end to in-race car changes. 
That's generally a great idea, however let's not forget that Season Two's dramatic climax was very much enabled by the availability of a second car for the two Championship protagonists, who were involved in a first corner accident at the season finale in London. After dragging their damaged mounts back to the pits and switching to their second cars, the championship came down to a lap by lap race off for fastest lap and the bonus points that would be enough to seal the title.
Still…

Kiwis Get Limited Edition 384GB Black Pearl Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

Actually that's a bit of a half-truth, but it it the way Samsung is advertising the new Black Pearl edition of S7 Edge on giant billboards across Auckland.
The special edition of the S7 Edge comes with 128GB of internal storage and a bundled 256GB micro SD card - hence the 384GB claim. As that's as big as you can go on micro SD card at the moment its not too much of  a fib.
The S7 Edge comes in at a whopping $1599 - although Spark will give you a handy $160 credit against that, making the S7 Edge extremely good value when compared to its nearest competitor, the iPhone 7+, which costs the same but gives you a mere 32GB of storage.
With the S8 rumoured to be just weeks away it may benefit you to wait before slamming down your credit card. However if storage is the most important feature when selecting a new smartphone this offer is going to be hard to beat.

Did Nikon Just Make Itself An Apple Acquisition Target?

Looks like Nikon had a particularly bad time of it in 2016 and yesterday it broke news of its plans to adapt its business for 2017. Out go employees - around 1,000 of them and into the bin go its plans for a new range of premium compacts.
Financially the year ending in March looks to be a pretty poor one for the company's shareholders. Its P/E ratio is close to its 12 month low suggesting this might be a good time for someone looking to acquire optical and image processing know how and patents. Someone sitting on a large pile of cash and being criticised by shareholders for failing to work it hard enough.
Someone like Apple for example.
The iPhone has almost single-handedly demolished the compact camera market and seriously impacted businesses like Nikon. It is the most popular camera on a whole range of social media websites. It is the ultimate expression of the old adage 'the best camera is the one you have with you' and with the iPhone 7 and 7+ Apple has shown that it …

Are Mac Software Developers Working For Themselves Or Just Serving Apple?

I must admit to never having been a Piezo user, given that there are open source methods around to achieve a similar outcome. Nonetheless the app has proved popular among Mac users because of the simplicity it brings to the task of recording application audio.
Rogue Amoeba, the publishers of Piezo, removed their app from the App Store thanks to the restrictive T&Cs. The app has been sold only from the Rogue Amoeba website for the last year. 
Counter-intuitively it turns out to have been a financially sound move. Whilst sales have fallen off slightly revenue has actually increased, the reduction in sales being more than compensated for by the removal of Apple's 30% cut of the selling price.
It's interesting to note that users are still able to seek out the software they want, without the nannying of Apple's regulators. Also that users are happy to pay a fair price for a piece of software even without the 'security'conferred by purchasing from the App Store.
By s…

How I Roll: Lightweight Travel Version

I've covered my technology bag a few times in the past, so for 2017 I'm going to do things a little differently and talk about how I make my daily carry match my changing daily requirements. First off, my lightest bag.
I commute by three different methods - primarily by ferry across Auckland Harbour into the CBD. It's a fifteen minute journey during which I can catch up with email, read an eBook or catch up on the news.

Occasionally I'll make the journey by car, meaning that I get to the office(s) a little more quickly and can be a little more relaxed about the amount of technology I carry.
Finally I regularly fly between Auckland and Wellington or Melbourne. Usually these are overnight visits at a minimum.
For the days when I'm on the ferry I tend to pack the lightest bag I can carry. The bag I'll usually take will be an old HP netbook neoprene sleeve case. Unlike most neoprene sleeves this has a handle and a front pocket.
The main pocket carries my Surface 3…

Robo-Bees Are Not The Answer

Bee population are being decimated, undoubtedly through human action, and things have reached a point where whole species of bee are likely to be added to the endangered list. How could this be happening? The most likely cause of mass bee deaths are a class of pesticides called neonicitinoids. The correlation is strong enough that the EU banned their use three years ago.
The ban isn't popular with farmers (nor the pesticide manufacturers I should imagine) and hasn't even been maintained across Europe - in the UK the government lifted it in 2015.
So the announcement that a team in Japan have successfully developed a drone which can pollinate flowers is of great concern. If the drone gives big business the leverage it needs to negate the ban then we can wave goodbye to whole species of bee and, in time, bees altogether.
Technology is great. But not all of the time. This is a clear case of technology being a force for evil.

Apple In India: New Market, But Old Challenges

The news that Apple is to start manufacturing iPhones in India was 'announced' by the Karnataka state government and looks to be the next step in Tim Cook's 'success without innovation' plan for Apple.
Globally the expectation is that India will be the next big growth market. Doing to China in the next ten years what China has been doing to Japan over the last ten years. Growing prosperity is creating more Indian consumers with more disposable income. In the same way that they raced to grab a slice of the pie when China was growing, so Western companies will race to profit from Indian growth.
For Apple that's going to be important. After years of growth in China, iPhone sales have started contracting. There's a limited market for premium smartphones in China and even though Apple owns all of it, the opportunity for further growth is passing.
India is right at the start of its smartphone cycle. A limited number of phones sell, mainly from manufacturers wit…

What Is Windows 10 Cloud?

Based on a number of reports and a leaked installer, we can be fairly certain that Microsoft has a new version of Windows 10 in the pipeline. Windows Cloud is claimed to be another attempt to take on Google's Chromebook, however the information we have so far gives the lie to that suggestion.Microsoft's partner Acer has already produced a line of Windows-powered Cloudbooks, which pack entry-level pricing and specs to match. These machines already compete on price with Google's offerings, so why a new Windows to do the same thing? No, Windows Cloud seems like an updated take on Windows RT. The intention being to tie more users to the Microsoft Store and give developers an incentive to publish their apps there. Ultimately I imagine Microsoft would like to remove support for stand alone installers across the whole of Windows 10. In doing so it gains technical and financial control over what gets deployed onto user's machines and can begin pushing a more iOS-like user expe…

Android Wear 2.0 Released To Massive Indifference

Want to know the true state of smartwatches? Have a look at Android Wear sales. Or lack of sales,  to be more accurate.
Right now Apple has 60% of smartwatch sales, Samsung has 10% and everybody else, including Android Wear OEMs, share the remaining 30% - around two million units all told.
Apple has a hard core of users who will buy,  and evangelise anything it produces. The Apple Watch seems to me to be one of those products that sells only to those dedicated Apple customers who determinedly purchase everything the company produces.
With sales hitting 5m last quarter Apple sold one Watch for every fifteen iPhones. That a pretty poor take up of a product that has been heavily trailed. Which is why I think the market is all about those big Apple fans.
Samsung leverages its popularity as the anti-Apple to be the second biggest smartwatch vendor - but at significantly less than a million units sold, it's hardly the most lucrative market for the company. Bizarrely there's a goo…