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Showing posts from December, 2017

Microsoft Screwed Up In 2017

Microsoft didn't have a great year in 2017 - aside from delivering some drool worthy Surface hardware it managed to throw far too many no balls down the crease to forgive.
Personally there were three fails which showed Microsoft's lack of understanding of how to treat loyal customers.
First there was the final coup de grace for Windows 10 Mobile. Not an official comminique or formal statement, but a tweet from Joe Belfiore. Not professional and lacking in respect for users who had stuck with the platform. As a culmination of all of the self inflicted wounds Microsoft visited on its mobile platform it was appropriate though.
Doesn't matter what Microsoft does in mobile in future, I won't be joining the party. I'll be keeping my Lumia 950 around just to remind me of the painful experience of being a Windows Phone / Mobile customer.
Next there were the changes to OneDrive on Windows 10, specifically behaviour of synchronised folders. Like many users I have leveraged …

SoftBank Acquires Stake In Uber, A Good End To A Bad Year For Taxi Company

Uber has had a terrible year, with lots of bad and ugly and very little good. In fighting at board level, lawsuits, resignations and tales of misogyny. That's without even considering the multiple knockbacks it has had at licensing authorities or the ruling that confirmed that it was, in the EU's eyes, a taxi company.
So finally coming to an agreement with Japan's SoftBank to sell a 20% stake in the business comes down firmly on the side of good news - even if it wipes 30% of the company's previous valuation.
2018 needs to be a year of consolidation for Uber. End the scandals, close out its court battle with Google's Waymo and take the opportunity to wipe away the ugly reputation the company has gained over the last eighteen months.
On demand car services have a big place to take in the near future of city development. However that's a position that needs to be earned by playing by the rules rather than ignoring them. Uber has been very good at the latter - so…

Shenzhen Takes Global Lead In Electrified Bus And Taxi Usage

Shenzhen is a Chinese city with more than 11 million residents and a serious pollution problem. Its smog problem has been likened to a nuclear winter and it's now approaching the point where air quality is below that considered safe by WHO for weeks, if not months at a time.
Whilst manufacturing - major growth factor in the city over the last twenty-five years - is the main cause, a major contributing factor is vehicle pollution. The city is taking steps to combat that particular element and in doing so has placed itself at the head of EV utilisation for public transport globally.
The city's Head of Public Transportation, Zheng Jingyu, has announced that the city has completed a program to electrify over 16,000 buses, making the city the first in the world to completely move its bus service to electricity. 
It has also moved more than 60% of taxis to electricity - another 12,000 vehicles - and will continue its push to electrify the remainder by 2020.
In order to keep the fleet m…

Transparency, Not Planned Obsolesence Is Apple's Problem This Week

A breaking news story which paints a 'consumer-friendly' organisation in a bad light, a battery replcement offer designed to draw consumers ire away, numerous lawsuits seeking damages and a criminal investigation. It's been a bad Christmas for Apple.
The root cause of the issue is a lack of transparency. Had Apple come out several months ago and stated that battery wear was causing older iPhones to crash, and that it was implementing a fix which prevented high battery demands from components by limiting performance it would have been out ahead of the backlash. If it had also included the current $29 battery replacement offer there would have been little to no bad press.
Planned obsolescence added to the iPhone via updates, as has been widely rumoured in the past.

As the evidence piles up this doesn't look like it was Apple's intention. However it might just be masking an altogether more sinister issue, one which could be a major problem for Apple.
The iPhone 6 / 6…

Will A Smartwatch Ever Be Exciting?

Smartwatches, whether they be Apple's or Samsung's, running WatchOS or Android Wear; fitness focused or majoring in smart features; all are achieving little to no excitement from end users. 

Yes there's a tech crowd that wears a Smartwatch because one exists, there's the Apple crowd who bought a Watch because Apple told them to, and there are those users who picked one up as a freebie with a phone purchase. 

But really, the general public isn't interested.  The early adopters have come and bought, and bought again in some cases; but the fast followers haven't yet appeared. There's just nothing exciting about a Smartwatch.

The truth is, a Smartwatch is a pretty useless thing. Which is why there are so many morphing into fitness trackers. 

Aside from iPhone X users, who might legitimately require a Watch to resolve some of the Apple Pay issues that phone's design compromise introduces, there's no need for a Smartwatch.

Smartwatches fail by fulfilling none …

Android OEMs Distance Themselves From Apple's Planned Obsolescence

Three Android OEMs have confirmed that they do not slow down their handsets to accommodate battery aging, a practise which currently has Apple in hot water.

Motorola and HTC responded to queries from The Verge, whilst Samsung released a statement, presumably in response to numerous queries. As yet other big name Android brands have yet to make any comment, more importantly, neither has Google.

Gut feel would suggest this is probably not an Android thing though and only Apple has an issue with CPU performance and battery capacity causing problems within the usable life of a phone.

That's probably because only Apple routinely fits unnecessarily small batteries to its phones. For such pricey devices it's a form of cost cutting which leaves iPhones badly underspecified. 

iPhone Battery Replacements Down To $29 As Apple Looks To Defuse Slowdown Backlash

Apple customers in the US can get their iPhone battery replaced for a cut price $29 through 2018, a move designed to take the edge off the negative press created by the battery slowdown admission of last week.
The barrage of lawsuits, class action filings and in particuar the suit demanding $999bn in damages have probably focused Apple's thoughts on this matter. The real question though, is how has the scandal damaged its reputation with prospective customers?
Die-hard Apple fans will forgive anything and accept Apple's justification, but the wider customer community might not be quite so forgiving.
Hopefully the backlash will force Apple to concentrate on the things which made it great, rather than the things that just boosted its bottom line.

Apple Facing Criminal Charges In France

France has a law preventing companies from forcing obsolence on their products and preventing customers getting the full enjoyment of their purchases. The HOP law, backed up by the HOP group comes with a potential fine of €300,000 plus 5% of annual turnover.
That adds up to a significant amount of cash, even by Apple's standards. There's also a potential two-year jail sentence for whomever the French courts deem culpable.
Seems unlikely the French courts will hand down anything quite so severe, even for a company so unpopular with the EU authorities.
A warning shot across the bows might be in prospect though.

Huawei To Enter US On Road To Top Of Global Market

The Huawei Mate 10 will herald Huawei's entry into the US smartphone market next year, with the Chinese OEM and third largest smartphone manufacturer in the world, looking to surpass Apple and Samsung at the top of the smartphone sales charts.

Huawei is likely to get the phone into carrier stores at AT&T, verizon and T-Mobile, as it prepares to splurge over $100m to market the devices win market share.

It seems inevitable that Huawei will pass Apple for number two spot sometime during the early part of the year, the only question is whether it will be able to surpass Samsung too.

If it can achieve that by the end of the year it would be a remarkable achievement.

Samsung ends up in a difficult place. It needs to keep up it's assault on Apple, to retain its place as the anti-Apple, drawing those who can't stomach iOS or Apple into its fold.

For the first time however, it will also have to think about how it markets itself against a competitor using the same platform.

If…

F1: Top Ten Drivers 2017

At the end of a season which once more was seriously damaged by the current F1 rules, which suffered from another year of domination and which lacked much serious ontrack racing for far too much of the season, let's take a look back at who the star drivers of the year were.
10. Sergio Perez. Checo was Checo, determined, fast and aggressive. Yet up against the performance of Esteban Ocon, the shine was somewhat taken off an excellent season. Winner of the Class C Championship, behind the big three, but ultimately a disappointing season for the Mexican.
9. Carlos Sainz Jr. A string of good points finishes, outpacing his team mates and a late-season switch from Toro Rosso to Renault, Sainz's season had it all. Moving to Renault is a double-edged sword. The French team wants to join the big three, but seems a long way behind.
8.Felipe Massa. Postponed retirement now beckons for F1's favourite son. Massa was as impressive this year as at any time in his career, getting the bes…

LastPass Android App Has Broken Security

I've been warning about the risks of password generators for a while now. Whilst a good idea in principle, the risk of a single compromise giving a malicious actor access to all of your passwords is simply unacceptable.


Normally that would require a compromise of the service provider's cloud offering. However the most popular password service, LastPass, has its own particular weakness which exposes Android users to the very real risk of having their passwords for multiple services stolen. And the hack runs directly on the device.
Hackernoon published details of the hack on Christmas day, having sat on it for more then five months, in the forlorn hope that LastPass might do something to close the hole.
For now, I'd strongly suggest deleting LastPass - or any similar app - which you have on your device, then revise your use of passwords to manage them in your brain, where no hacker is (currently) able to unlock them.

HTC To Focus On Marketing, R&D In 2018

HTC is reported to be cutting the number of phones it launches next year, with a greater focus on R&D, and marketing for the phones it does sell.
That would be a good move. HTC rose to the top of the smartphone pile on the back of excellent marketing of its Hero and Desire phones, however over the last few years it has been unable to match the marketing spend of Apple, Samsung and lately the big Chinese OEMs, Huawei, Oppo and Vivo.
The end of year round up at many a tech site fetes the HTC U11 for its exceptional camera and features. It's been the hidden gem of the year.
HTC's main aim for 2018 must be to ensure that customers know about the U11+ and, when it's arrives, the U12. It can't afford to be producing hidden gems.
R&D hasn't really been a part of HTC's long term problem. Since the disappointing One X, it has released a bevy of competitive phones. Getting customers to recognise or consider them has been the issue.
Fixing that is going to be abo…

This Was The Year When Apple Made Gimmick Its Main Selling Point

Having introduced us to the completely ridiculous Touch Bar on the MacBook Pro last year, Apple went one stage further this year with the iPhone X. For the most part the iPhone X is fairly standard 2018 smartphone fare - a tall, narrow screen, small bezels and no controls on the front of the device.
In that respect it offers little that is new or innovative. So what did Apple bring to the party to make the iPhone X appeal to customers? Animojis. The ability to animate a cutesy emoji using the Face ID sensors. The Notch. A slice of missing screen which offers a sub-par viewing experience in landscape mode. Face ID, the reason for the notch, and a 'feature' which has had iPhone users battling to justify a retrograde step in usability.
None of these are particularly clever or sensible upgrades - and on a phone which is inexplicably expensive, they amount to set of gimmicks, which - like a cheap street magician - use sleight of hand to decieve the audience.
iOS has, at the moment…

A Little Christmas Gift From HTC

Less than a month ago HTC announced that the U11 would be the first phone to receive the Android Oreo update globally, with a phased deployment to all devices not locked to a carrier. 

Now for us here in the South Pacific announcements of updates to Android devices are generally followed by a lengthy delay as larger more important markets around the world get first dibs on the latest package.

However on Boxing Day HTC had a little surprise for us U11 owners - a timely upgrade to Oreo. 

That makes the U11 the first phone in New Zealand to get upgraded, even if it's because we're piggy backed off Australia. So, good work HTC.

Merry Christmas

Christmas day is all but done here, but I know many of you are just starting yours, so thanks for visiting the site in record numbers over the course of this year, hope to see you back in 2018.
In the meantime, here's a different take on Christmas from Air New Zealand.

Civilisation VI Tests The Appetite Of iPad Owners To Pay For Real Software

Civilisation VI becomes one of the first true desktop class pieces of software to make its way into the iTunes App Store for the iPad.  This is important for two main reasons. Firstly because it demonstrates the publishers are prepared to publish 'real' software on the iPad. As discussed yesterday, to merge iOS and Mac OS Apple needs to persuade developers to publish real software on iOS. 
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it will demonstrate the willingness of iPad owners to pay a real price for real software. Civ VI will cost $60 - putting it in the high end of iPad apps. Success for Civ VI at this price level will definitely encourage other developers to take the plunge. Right now though, iOS software is in a race to the bottom - with freemium being the model which most app developers are following.
That's not going to work for big name publishers who needs to be able to forecast and maintain a budget stream which allows them to develop major updates. So being as…

Microsoft Surface Pro 2017 - The Year's Best Computing Device

Microsoft has been on a winning streak from the point when it launched the Surface Pro 3. It has launched Surface 3, Surface Pro 4, Surface Book, Surface Studio and Surface Laptop; and each has been received positively by customers and critics alike.
It is 2017's updated Surface Pro which really tops the pile as the best device of the year. Here in one device we have tablet, laptop and desktop functionality; battery life which comfortably gets you through a full working day, class leading stylus and keyboard support, as well as a combination of standard ports to connect to the outside world.
The Surface Pro has been peerless this year. No single device has measured up to its multi-layered capabilities. 
There are few better laptops, there are few better tablets. But there are no better hybrids and the closest competitors are those devices which have completely ripped off the Microsoft design.
Expensive? For newcomers to the Surface Pro line, yes. For old hands who have had a prev…

Moto G5 - The Best Phone Of 2017

The Motorola G5 may not have made a big splash in terms of advertising or reviews - its absence from the US market kept it off most big tech review sites - but when viewed in the cold light of day, it offers all of the phone you need for a remarkable price.
Let's start with that price. The G5 currently sells for one sixth the price of the iPhone X. Nothing the iPhone X does - and I mean nothing - can justify that difference in price. The same is true of the latest Samsung and Huawei phones which have followed the iPhone upwards in price, meaning that they now cost three to four times the price of the G5.
The G5 has an excellent 1080p 5" screen, which is every bit as bright and as sharp as you need it to be. The 13mp camera is good where smartphone cameras get used, and its wide angle selfie cam gets you and your friends in the picture.
The Lenovo one-button Nav, which allows you to you use gestures on the fingerprint sensor are nothing short of brilliant. And of course the f…

Jaguar Electric Series To Support Formula E Next Season

Jaguar's incoming I-Pace Electric will get it's own one-make racing series from next year, when it joins the Formula E support card in Season 5.

Jaguar already has a team in the main event and this addition further strengthens the brand's racing heritage and recognition in the EV world. 

The eTrophy, as Jaguar has named it, will feature 20 identical cars, and the first team signed up is that of Indycar veteran Bobby Rahal.

Further signs of the strength of the Formula E concept.

Google's Chrome Feint Booted From Windows Store

Given its blatant contravention of Microsoft's rules for apps published into the Windows 10 Store, this was inevitable, but the speed with which Microsoft dropped the ban hammer on Google's Chrome Installer was impressive.

Shame other rogue apps don't get the same speedy treatment. Perhaps Chrome's high profile had something to do with that. 

First Signs Of Apple Merging Platforms Detected

Bloomberg is reporting that Apple is planning on merging development of iOS and Mac apps, allowing developers to create one app which can run anywhere. Sounds remarkably familiar, doesn't it? Microsoft Windows 10 Universal Apps, anyone? 
Aside from the obvious, this does raise some interesting questions. Like why is Apple doing this, and how will developers be prompted to develop apps that work with or without touch? 
For me the obvious answer is that they won't. It seems far more likely that this is a precursor to a future touchscreen Mac. But why does Apple suddenly want a touch screen Mac, after dissing the idea for years? 
As l see it Apple wants to bring iOS to the Mac, but it can't do so if the professional software Mac users rely on doesn't exist on iOS. The ability to use iOS apps on Mac is a side benefit of the process, not the main intent. That would be to get professional Mac software developers to make their programs work on iOS. 
The biggest carrot Apple …

Bad News For The Windows 10 Store, But Google May Have Just Scored An Own-goal

Microsoft's push to get developers to support the Windows 10 Store received two setbacks this week.

The first, and lesser, was news that Apple will not be releasing iTunes for Windows 10 Store until at least 2018. That's not a big loss, given how little compulsion there is for users to install iTunes, unless they enjoy punishing themselves. 

The bigger news was the appearance of Google Chrome in the Store. Not what it first appears though. 

Google's Chrome app is just a shortcut to the Chrome installation web page. Not something which is going to be useful to anybody at all. Clearly intended to be a poke at Microsoft and its requirement that third party browsers in the Store use the Edge rendering engine.

Microsoft might have the last laugh here though, because Windows 10 S users who try to install will find that Chrome's installer won't run. That's likely to be seen as a negative for Google rather than Windows 10.

And those users who stay on Windows 10 S are likely…

Is Amazon Going To Take On YouTube

The immense power Google wields over competitors thanks to the monopoly it enjoys with YouTube may be about to receive its most serious challenge, after Amazon registered some very suggestive trademarks. 

OpenTube and AmazonTube sound like nothing more or less than a direct challenge to Google's dominance in the video streaming market.

About time too.

If Google continues to use YouTube to stifle competition in the hardware market - as recent tiffs with Microsoft and Amazon itself demonstrates - it may find that the new service gets plenty of support from third parties and consumers.

Redo Face Recognition To Avoid Windows Hello Weakness

Windows Hello provides a straightforward, easy and robust biometric login to your Windows PC. 

Not that robust actually. Turns out that if you setup your face recognition on a version of Windows 10 earlier than the Creators Update it can be bypassed with a specially doctored photograph of your face. 

The fix is simple, update Windows 10 (if you haven't already) and the delete and recreate your face print. 

Biometrics aren't foolproof, but the chances of someone being able to hack your login are slim. 

On Windows 10 anyway.

Apple Is Deliberately Slowing Down iPhones

So, the cat is out of the bag. That old chestnut about Apple slowing down iPhones over time, in order to encourage users to upgrade, so often refuted by Apple fans and sites, turns out to be true. 

Apple is apparently doing it to preserve battery life, using the gradual degradation of battery capacity as a reason for slowing the iPhone's performance. This performance 'management' begins within the first year. 

That just doesn't seem to be a believable or acceptable compromise. Users are able to attach external battery packs to mitigate the loss of battery capacity. There's nothing they can do to mitigate the reduced performance.

Except buy a new phone. Which seems the most likely reason for this whole exercise. 

In days gone by it wasn't even a consideration. Replacing your battery with a new one was an entirely acceptable mitigation for battery deterioration. 

With Apple having led the charge to sealed in batteries (and almost everybody else following along blindly…

Montreal Crashes Out Of Formula E

Montreal, scene of last season's thrilling Championship decider, will not form part of the Formula E calendar, after the Canadian city ended its three year contract after just one race, citing financial losses incurred by the non-profit organisation setup to organise the event.
With no official word from the Formula E camp over a replacement venue, it may well be that Season Four will be somewhat smaller than planned - the finale being one of the planned double header races, it cuts two rounds from the championship.
The Championship's website now shows rounds 13 and 14 as venue TBA, which suggests there might be a venue out there willing to take on the big season finale double header.
Given the excellent racing and unpredictability which Formula E has given us thus far, it would be a real shame to end up with less racing in Season Four than we were promised. 

More Proof That Blackberry Fans Have Moved On

TCL, amongst other things, the manufacturer of smartphones wearing the Alcatel and Blackberry brands, has reported another quarter of declining sales, along with a sizeable operating loss.

That's entirely down to poor sales of its smartphone brands, and particularly Blackberry, on which it gambled a future as a premium smartphone manufacturer. 

Clearly the Blackberry brand was too far gone to retain any of the polish and desirability of its glory days. 

Users have moved on from their Crackberries and most of them to Apple, where they have no doubt found an even stronger drug to keep them locked in. 

Those Blackberry addicts who switched to Android have either returned to their preferred Android brands, or, more likely, were never that numerous anyway. 

The Blackberry brand is destined for the same boutique niche which is likely to encompass Sony, HTC and Nokia. Phones which appeal to existing owners and don't attempt to compete with the rest of the Android market. 

That's an oka…

AirPods Are Out Of Stock Till Next Year, The iPhone X You Can Have Tomorrow

Apple's immensely popular AirPods are now unavailable until next year, so if you were looking for one more stocking stuffer, wire free headphones aren't going to fit the bill. 

The iPhone X, however, you can have tomorrow, today if you're prepared to go to a stay and pick them off the shelf yourself. 

I'm not sure what that says about the iPhone, but those AirPods really are killing it for Apple.

Foldable Phones Need Samsung Screens To Work

Folding phones - really just clamshell phones with two screens - have one major problem just at the moment: that unsightly join between their screens. 
Fixing that is almost certainly going to require some screen magic, but possible not as you might imagine it. 

A screen which really folds - as in flexes in such a way to allow it to bend through 180 degrees on demand - is going to be difficult, expensive and hugely unreliable. 

On the other hand, two screens which fold on a hinge require no innovation or compromise at all. And need not have an unsightly border If we're talking about Samsung's Infinity screens that is.

Going right up to the edge of the device, in the way the Note 8 screens do, already eliminates most of the perceived border between the screens. But if Samsung were able to wrap their screen around a true 90 degree corner, as some leaks have suggested, that would allow the two screens to seamlessly become one bigger one.

That's the vision of a foldable smartphone…

Yep, Face ID Has Been Undone Once More

Twins, siblings, children and now unrelated coworkers from a particular racial group. These are all the relationships which can fool the iPhone X Face ID security system.
The latest failure comes from China, where local media is reporting on a woman who has had her iPhone X replaced twice after a colleague was able to bypass its security and access her device.
Initially the company's local representatives claimed the issue was caused by faulty Face ID hardware. Seems like that has been disproved by the second failure.
Apple continues to claim the Face ID solution has a 1 in 1,000,000 false positive rate; and also disputes claims that it reduced quality control on the subsystem in order to resolve production yield issues; the continued failures being reported around the world do rather give the lie to both claims.

Some Thoughts On The Xbox One X & Project Cars 2

Project Cars had been the best Xbox One driving game ever since it launched. In terms of realistic feeling and driving experience it made everything else look very arcade-y.

Imagine the anticipation that built up around Project Cars 2 then. I've already spoken about the awful install experience - a 12GB download before first install - including the ready to play notification which usually indicates enough of a game has loaded for you to play whilst the rest comes down the pipes. 

Not on the case of Project Cars 2 though. No, ready to play means ready to access the settings menu - and nothing else. That this was followed by another 12GB update just a comer of days later was infuriating.

That infuriation was nothing compared to the disappointment of playing the thing though.

A physics model, and hence driving experience, which is worse than the original in almost every way. Cars that pivot about their geometrical centre and giggle buggy rules and penalties implementation.

I definitely do…

Cortana Everywhere? More Like Cortana Nowhere Until Microsoft Recognises The Rest Of The World Exists

Microsoft is clearly going out of its way to annoy damage its brand outside of the US and UK. Cortana Everywhere? That's a particularly unfunny joke. Cortana practically nowhere is more accurate if you wnat the facts.
No phones, no smart speakers, not even officially on Windows Mobiles. In fact not even on Xbox anymore, now that new Xbox One versions S and X don't support Kinect and Microsoft isn't even selling the Kinect Adapter in most countries around the world.
So Cortana, basically tied to your PC, the place you are least likely to use it. 
The day that Microsoft wakes up to the world outside of the US and starts to engage with it will be the day it finds out it missed the boat.
Hey Cortana, can you quit with the patronising ads?

2017 Fiat Punto Gets A Record Zero Star In NCAP Rating Screw-up

Fiat's Punto is an old, old car, in fact the current generation was introduced as the Grande Punto way back in 2005. So even though its sold in 2017, its technology is ancient by modern car standards. So the above crash test result, in which the new model scored the first ever zero rating from NCAP, is hardly surprising.
It's a sign of how far cars have come in the last 12 years, rather a damning indictment of the Punto itself. Lest we forget, when tested in 2005, the Grande Punto managed a five star rating, the first ever small car to achieve this.
In 2017 though, things have changed, our expectations of vehicle crash performance and the NCAP testing not least.
However all is not as it seems.
The true score for the Punto should have been two or three stars based on its ratings in the three key categories, but because NCAP requires a minimum score for driver assistance - which the Punto lacks - it cannot be awarded any stars.
Which is patently nonsense. The Punto is not an in…

Spotify And Deezer Ask EU For Protection From Apple

Apple's ability to profit from subscription services sold through apps on iOS has never sat right with me. When that app competes with one of Apple's own services, that becomes more than just a concern. 
Seems like Spotify and Deezer agree, and they have taken their complaint to the European Commission. The letter alleged that Apple has been abusing its advantaged position. 
Now it's likely that the EU will side with European companies against the big American giant, especially one which has spent so much energy avoiding taxes to community members; but even if it does, justice moves slowly in the EU and Apple will undoubtedly use every avenue of appeal available to it. 
So any relief Spotify or Deezer gets from Apple's abuse is likely to be a long time coming.

Lack Of Upgradeability Is A Not Very Pro Feature Of The iMac Pro

Upgrades and Pros go together like Nutella and peanut butter, so the news that the iMac Pro won't be upgtadeable isn't a great start for Apple's attempt to pacify its professional customers upset with the company's consumer focus and neglect of Pro products.
This means what you order is what you're stuck with, paying Apple markups for components no different from off the shelf pieces. I guess those wedded to Apple will bite the bullet and be vociferous about how it doesn't matter.

For those more open minded or less tightly tied to Apple this will be another move which opens the door to alternative products from the likes of HP and Microsoft.

Is The Game Up For Uber Britannia

A third UK city has joined London and Sheffield in refusing Uber a licence to operate its service. York City Council took the decision based on both local and global issues. The company's recent data breach, which affected all of the country's three million Uber account holders; and a reportedly high number of complaints received about the service.
The latter is especially relevant, given the news today of a Uber rider charged $14,000 for a twenty minute trip.
Based on the decisions of other City Councils it's not hard to see Uber being driven out of other UK cities come licence renewal time. And if Uber can't license its service, it no longer has a service.
As with London, the expectation is that Uber will appeal the ruling and continue operating until the appeal has been heard and a decision made. Which means much will hinge on the appeal decision on the London Licence. A bad decision there might bring the Uber house of cards tumbling down on its UK operation.

Is Tidal On The Point Of Drowning?

Having already been exposed for apparently exaggerating subscriber numbers, massively changing the only measure of success a streaming service has, Tidal is now being reported as in danger of imminent financial collapse, with reports claiming the company has sufficient cash to survive just six more months at its current rate of loss.
Herein lies the problem for the streaming industry. Spotify is big. It has a brilliant model which brings subscribers onto the system by offering them free access and then converting them to paid users. At 150m users it dwarfs the rest of the market. It's sixty million paying subscribers dwarfs the rest of the market, if we're being brutally honest.
Spotify is a brilliantly engineered and popular music service and its cross platform availability only helps it hoover up more and more users.
Apple Music has 30m users - its a long way behind Spotify, but its far ahead of everybody else.
Right now if you're looking at a music streaming service, c…

Tesla's Semi Looks Like A Future Big Hitter In Road Haulage

Tesla has this week banked two large orders for its new electric truck, as the road haulage industry looks too reduce its carbon emissions.

The reduction in running costs is sure to form part of the decision for two of the US's largest companies to move to electric road haulage.

Anheuser-Busch and Pepsico are the two companies in the vanguard of this move to cleaner haulage.

Synaptics Hints At Fingerprint Sensor Embedded In Samsung Galaxy S9 Display

Earlier this year, when Samsung's Galaxy S8 was just a rumour, we heard many conflicting stories about whether it would embed a fingerprint sensor under its screen. The same conflicting stories also dogged the pre-announcement iPhone X hype.
A press release from Synaptics today suggests that the technology will actually make it into production on the upcoming Galaxy S9 - the press release for the Clear ID sensor mentions that it is already in mass production with a top five smartphone manufacturer; and seals the deal by name checking Samsung's Infinity display.
The Press Release also takes a less than subtle dig at the iPhone X and Face ID, pointing out that the Clear ID sensor  "allows users to securely unlock the device in situations including while it's sitting on the table, at any angle, or while in a car mount".
Whilst the GS9 might be the first to go-live with this technology, you can guarantee that it will spread like wildfire across Android OEMs before p…

Microsoft's Holiday Ad Is A Bit Different, A Bit Better

Microsoft's Christmas ads are a little different this year, powered by the excellent Paint 3D, they come together to show a different side of the holidays. 
I've often been critical of Microsoft's marketing, but this is actually quite good.

Janus Bug Shows The Danger Of Sideloading Apps

If you get your Android apps from the Play Store or the Amazon App Store, you can probably move on to something more exciting on the internet. However, if you are one of those who sideloads apps from dubious sources this should pique your interest.
A vulnerability discovered by Guardsquare which affects Android versions 5.0 and upwards, allows an attacker to modify the APK file for an Android deployable package and embed malicious code Whilst it's a change which will be picked up by Play Store policies, sideloaders are particularly vulnerable.
Christened Janus the vulnerbability has already been patched in Android's December security update. Shame that, statistically speaking, almost no Android users will ever see that particular update.

Here's Another Example Of Why You Should Be Fighting To Save The NHS

The NHS is the greatest thing about the UK, even now after decades of political dismantling of the service by successive governments - including the Labour government under Tony Blair. 
If you want an example of what it will be like if that dismantling is allowed to run to its conclusion, then have a read of this post on Vox. Does that sound any kind of way to run a health service. 
So why are UK governments trying to dismantle such a worthy and valuable service?
Fear of rising costs and a reluctance to increase taxes, that's why. At some point during the late eighties a government think tank somewhere told ministers that the growing population, extended life spans and the greater survival rate for certain chronic diseases was going to create a crippling tax burden. 
Privatisation was the desired answer. However public opinion would have crucified that government, its ministers and their party for all of history.

Instead a plan was devised to turn public opinion against the NHS and ove…

I Can't Believe They Put Senna's Name On This Monstrosity

This is the McLaren Senna, the British F1 team's road / track car for 2019. It's hideous, even when compared to other McLarens. Putting Ayrton Senna's name on it is a travesty.
If any car deserves to carry Senna's name and trademark double S it's the Honda NSX, a nameplate which Senna is inextricably linked with.
Senna may have win his three Championships with McLaren, but he never was and, on this evidence, never should be, linked to one of their road cars.

Android Go Is Google's Push Into India As A Growth Market

Google is already thinking about the next billion Android users and where they might come from. For most of them the answer is India.
Now India is already the second largest smartphone market in the world, with an estimated 400m smartphone users to date. However the expected growth of the population of the country, plus riding living standards suggests that number will not than double over the next decade.

Which is why Google launched Android Go in India on Tuesday, bringing its efforts there into these spotlight.

Android Go is designed to run on very low end hardware, retailing at as low as $25. This is a version of the platform which not only packs much lighter demands, but runs lighter versions of Google's apps and features a Play Store which highlights apps that will work well on those low end phones. 

It's a strategy which will play out well in India, where a smartphone is the only computer most users will ever get to see. 

And what works well in India will inevitably work wel…

Amazon Echo Heading South, Officially In Australia And NZ Next Year

Amazon will be bringing Alexa to Australia and New Zealand next year as part of its roll out of services to the Antipodes. With Google Home having just launched in Australia, customers will have a choice of home assistants fist the first time.
Amazon recently opened its Australian store for business and brought it's Prime Video service to both Australia and New Zealand last year.
There are a number of Echo devices which have found their way to New Zealand unofficially and these are already starting to see local skills appear. The official launch will only boost the utility of these devices.

Google doesn't officially sell the Home in NZ, however a number of grey imports have made their way across the ditch.

The absence of Apple's HomePod might give Amazon a slight head start here in NZ, however Apple's historically quicker roll-out of services internationally will almost certainly see it takes the lead in this market when it does launch.

Microsoft Edge Hits One Million Downloads On Android

Microsoft's Edge browser had taken a little over a week to hit one million downloads, as the appeal of a browser which syncs to user's PCs draws interest from Android users. 
For the moment, Edge has no access to extensions, do large behind Firefox in my view. For those users previously wedded to Chrome on their phones this may be an opportunity to try mobile to desktop syncing if they use Edge on the desktop, especially as Edge uses the same rendering technology as Chrome on Android.

For now, Firefox remains my choice and recommendation for a browser on Android.

Uber Licence Suspended In Sheffield

Uber has had its operating licence suspended in Sheffield, although this is a result of paperwork rather than any issues with the safety or security of the service. 
It appears that Uber is looking to change the details of its management on its current licence, whilst Sheffield City Council wants a whole new application. 
The result is that Uber will lose its licence on December 18th, an especially bad time for any taxi company to be offline. There's no question Uber won't appeal this decision and be able to run over the busy Christmas and New Year period whilst the Licensing department processes the application paperwork.

Broadcom Takeover Of Qualcomm Means Trouble For Google And Microsoft

Broadcom's hostile bid to acquire Qualcomm has serious long term issues for both Google and Microsoft, and the potential impact on the smartphone market is enormous. 
Broadcom's history is not one littered with innovation or investment in future products, which means that Qualcomm will be very much at odds with its new parent if this takeover goes ahead.
With Qualcomm chips powering almost the entire Android smartphone market, any slowdown in development and investment in the future potentially harms the competitiveness of Google's platform with IOS. 
Having just pushed ahead with a move to bring Windows to arm processor's, Microsoft is unlikely to be impressed with this news either. 

For Apple however, it promises to be a Golden Goose laying golden eggs all over the place. Broadcom wants to kill Qualcomm's litigation against Apple, it will stifle innovation in Android and kill any hope of Microsoft pushing Windows 10 ARM tablets into the iPad market space. 

Right now G…

Apple Purchase Of Shazam Isn't About Music Recognition

Apple is rumoured to be announcing the purchase of Shazam on Monday, at a price in the region of $400m. Whilst the company is best known for its music recognition technology, I think Apple's purchase is more likely to be driven by its AR technology.
Earlier this year Shazam announced that Shazam codes, along with the company's visual recognition technology, would power a new ar experience allowing brands to drop virtual products into the real world.

With Apple moving heavily into AR it's unsurprising that this piqued their interest.

Being able to hit vendors with proprietary visual clues which allow customers to power up their pre-purchase decision making process with AR tools on their iPhone or iPad, gives Apple a unique advantage in the retail space; as well as adding another selling point to the iOS armoury.

If Windows Runs On ARM, What About Mac OS?

Microsoft has built a version of Windows which runs on the Snapdragon 835 processor. Yesterday the first devices running this new architecture arrived and by all accounts, performance is more than acceptable.
Which makes me wonder what Apple can do with its allegedly more powerful A class processor's and Mac OS.

After all, the biggest problem for iPad users is not being able to run real software, whilst the biggest problem for Mac users is the absence of touch support.

Putting Mac OS into an iPad resolves both this issues in one fell swoop. If Mac OS isn't touch friendly at launch, Apple could launch a hybrid device with iOS for the times you need touch, Mac OS when you need power. 

And unlike Microsoft's first Surface, there would be sufficient apps on both platforms to make the experience great.

If Apple isn't already looking at the potential of such a device it is missing a massive opportunity.

For now Windows OEMs can offer a machine as thin and light as an iPad, with al…

Why Is Google Finding The Music Streaming Industry So Difficult?

Spotify has 140 million users, Apple Music had 30 million. Google Play Music? Not even close.
Just why is Google finding it so hard to compete in this field? It has access to an even bigger pool of users than Spotify or Apple, thanks to the ubiquity of Android. It has a lock on internet video services, with YouTube's near monopoly, and yet it seems inevitabk incapablele of persuading users to stream music however it means the service.
Maybe that's the problem. There's no strong association between the YouTube, Google, Android and music service brands. The latter has followed Google's usual failing service routine. Rename, rename, rename and then close.
So Google is rumoured to be planning another rebrand of its music streaming services. Out goes Google Play Music, out goes YouTube Red and in comes an as yet unnamed new combined service offering both.
Will this make any difference? I wouldn't think so. Apple Music users are seriously unlikely to switch to any Googl…

Dear Android OEMs: Fair Warning, I Am Never Embracing A Notch

Android OEMs who think it is acceptable to follow Apple's lead and add a notch to the top of their devices, this is a warning. I will never buy an Android phone which follows the iPhone X lead and adds this feature.
Give me a phone with a bezel and embedded sensors and I'll be fine. The moment you copy the notch I'm out of here. If I have to buy a phone with a notch I'll buy the iPhone.
I'm not greatly enamoured by the switch to 18:9 displays either. If I have to switch I'll accept the terrible ergonomics of a ridiculously over tall screen. Width is much more important than height for most smartphone use cases. So I'll stick with a traditional aspect ratio and bezels for add long as I can.

But a notch? No thanks. Never happening. There is no need and such a move would blatantly, slavishly copy Apple, to the point where I won't buy your phone.

Steam Abandons Bitcoin As Volatility Impacts Trading

Steam will no longer accept payment in Bitcoin, as the crypto currency continues to move massively against other currencies.
In the space of the last 24 hours Bitcoin had jumped to a $14,000 exchange rate, a movement of 18% in one day. That makes life incredibly difficult for anyone trading in it, given that a refund 24 hours after a purchase would cost a business significantly more than it originally received for the product in the first place. 
There's been such rapid growth in the value of Bitcoin that it becomes almost inevitable that the bubble will burst, leaving some investors seriously out of pocket. 
For now dabbling in Bitcoin send to be the best way to grow your money, with phenomenal returns on offer. Yet the base truth of investing remains. High reward implies high risk and vice versa. 
Tread carefully, if you tread at all.

PQI My Lockey Review: Windows Hello USB Fingerprint Scanner

Passwords are so passe. When Windows 10 introduced biometric authentication to the desktop PC, Microsoft Anna's partners were quick to build the functionality into new devices.
For those with older machines though, there's a gap left to fill, add built in biometrics were uncommon before Windows 10's release.

Enter PQI with its My Lockey fingerprint scanner. A USB device which protrudes about 1cm from your USB port and provides a fingerprint scanner which supports Windows Hello.

My laptop bag accommodates this, yours might not. At least the process for removing and re-installing it is as trivial as any other USB device.

There's very little to say about the My Lockey, other than to tell you that it works seamlessly. Plug it in, wait for Windows to recognise it and then go through the standard Windows Hello configuration.

Next time your PC presents a login screen, a green led illuminates on the top of the device, tap the scanner with your finger and you're in. It'…