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Showing posts from May 19, 2017

Surface Pro Instant On Throws Down Gauntlet To Apple For iPad Refresh

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One of the less heralded, but incredibly important updates Microsoft made to the Surface Pro yesterday was creating an instant on capability. It's one area where Windows 10 has obviously lagged behind the iPad. That short delay before a Windows tablet resumes from hibernation is enough to have anybody reaching for their iPad to do something where speed is a factor.
Together with the improved battery life of the new Surface Pro, Microsoft has really laid a challenge down to Apple. The Surface Pro was always a better computer than the iPad. Now its a better tablet than the iPad too.
Which puts Apple into an interesting positon. If the rumoured iPad Pro device at WWDC next month is to be anything more than a disappointment it needs to come out of its corner swinging. It doesn't need to make the journey between tablet and hybrid computer in one jump, but it does need to make a least the first step.
The new Surface Pro is more expensive than the iPad. Which tells me that every sal…

F1: Monaco 1982 - Patrese Takes The Race Nobody Wanted To Win

It's Monaco Grand Prix time again, the most glamorous, prestigious race of the season.  For me it will always have a special place, being the first Grand Prix I ever watched and the first race I attended in person. There have been many amazing Monaco Grand Prix but the one that sticks in the memory is the 1982 race for all sorts of reasons, including the craziest finish in F1 history.
The Monaco Grand Prix was the race that followed Zolder, where the legendary and universally popular Gilles Villeneuve had lost his life in a terrible qualifying accident. The F1 world was still in deep shock but, as ever, the show must go on.
Rene Arnoux would start the race from pole position, an important result for Renault, for whom this was effectively a second home race. Since dragging F1 into the Turbo era in 1977, Monaco had always been a bogey track for the French team, its twisty, point and squirt nature ill-suited to the laggy power delivery of a turbo engine. So Ferrari's victory at Mon…

The iPhone SE Really Satisfies

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Which smartphone sits on top of the pile for customer satisfaction? Somewhat surprisingly it's the iPhone SE. Apple's most entry level phone, with design language which stretches back to the iPhone 4, outdoes them all.
That's the take of an American consumer group called the ACSI, who surveyed more then 36,000 smartphone owners to get their results.

I've been saying for a while now that the SE represents the best of the iPhone range. It's a much nicer device to hold in the hand than other iPhones. It represents astonishing value too. Here in NZ the 32GB SE sells for less than half the price of the entry level iPhone 7, yet performs just as well.

In fact it's probably fair to say that the SE is really the smartphone distilled down to its purest form. Everything you need is there. Nothing extraneous.

This is the reason why customer satisfaction is so high. The SE is priced like mid range Android phone and supported like any other iPhone. In this price bracket…

Roger Moore, Iconic 70s Bond

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Roger Moore has died, aged 89, after a 'short battle with cancer' his family have announced. He will be remembered for his portrayal of James Bond, the longest serving Bond of all time, but let's not forget his success in both The Saint and The Persuaders before he landed the big one.

For me Moore was under-rated for his performances as Bond. He brought a new direction to the role, reaching a peak with 1977's The Spy Who Loved Me.

Iconic opening scene, iconic car and Bond played the way Fleming originally wrote him, as a very smooth, very English, gentleman.

Microsoft To Introduce New Dongle From Surface Connector To USB-C

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In an interview with The Verge Panos Panay has clarified the availability of USB-C for the Microsoft Surface Pro. The new port will be available via a Surface Dock to USB-C dongle which will support both charging and data transfer.
Interesting decision to retain existing ports and then ship a dongle - especially after the flak Apple took for dongle-life after the MacBook Pro announcement.
Panay is probably right that this is the right way to provide access to the new ports though. Retaining the ports users know and love; and are likely to be already setup to use just makes more sense than ditching them and forcing customers into additional purchases.
This way only those keen to leverage the capability of the new port types get inconvenienced. And it seems its great news for other Surface owners too, as the Surface Dock connector exists on Surface Pro 3 and 4, Surface Book and the new Surface Laptop.
One thing I would argue with is Panay's reports of poor reception of the micro-US…

Microsoft Announces New Surface Pro

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As leaked last week, Microsoft announced an updated Surface Pro this evening in Beijing. With a new name, new hinge, new pen and support for the Surface Dial as the headline updates. The decision to remove the version number from the Surface Pro name gives Microsoft some consistency across its hardware line.
Unsurprisingly there are new Kaby Lake processors, with both m3 and i5 versions able to run without fans this time around.
It's the Surface Pen which got most of the attention. Microsoft clearly took aim at the Apple Pencil with this update, adding tilt support and improving the response time so as to create a truly lag free experience.
There is support for USB-C, well sort of anyway. It's on the Surface Dock. Even if Panos Panay got hopes up by accidentally suggesting the Surface Pro has USB-C onboard, before correcting himself and confirming it had USB-A only.
The Surface Pro is the first of its line to support LTE. That was a big gap in the Surface Pro armoury. Avai…

Why Your Next Phone Will Be An iPhone

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Android has a comfortable lead on the smartphone sales race, with between 80 and 90% of new sales going to Android OEMs. However when you come to buy your next phone it is increasingly likely that it will be an iPhone and that's as it should be.
Right now if you buy a premium Android phone there's a good chance that you won't be getting any security updates after it's six months old. You may get a platform upgrade, assuming your phone's manufacturer feels that it is worth doing, but there are few guarantees. By the time it's eighteen months old you'll have something which is out of date, probably insecure and almost certainly without value
Buy an iPhone and you're covered for the next four years for updates and upgrades; and you'll have a device which is worth substantially more as a result. 
Sure there's plenty of things an Android phone might be able to do that an iPhone can't but chances are you won't ever want to do them anyway.

Wh…

Apple Now Making iPhones In India

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Last week Apple confirmed that it had begun manufacturing the iPhone SE in India, marking a key step in its plan to continue the iPhone's domination of the smartphone market.
India is currently vying with the US for the second largest smartphone market in the world, behind China. Unlike the Chinese or US markets however, India's is growing rapidly. And not just in volume, the average selling price of smartphones in India is growing too.
Apple is a small player in the Indian market but by beginning to build locally it opens the door to a much more favourable reception from the Indian Government. Especially when it comes to things like remanufacturing and selling iPhones coming from the rest of the world.
Its the scale of the Indian smartphone market which has really driven this move though. In a country with a population approaching that of China's one quarter the number of smartphones were sold last year. However, whilst the Chinese market has stalled, India's sees si…

Why Is Google So Bad At Hardware?

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Microsoft might well be winning the battle to be exciting, but the flipside of the coin is that Google is incredibly bad at hardware and as a result is losing the 'exciting' race by miles. How bad, well just take a look at all the skeletons in Google's hardware closet... Glass, Nexus Player, Nexus 10, Pixel C and, very probably, the Pixel.

That's not to say the hardware itself is any worse than the competition, far from it. However Google just doesn't seem to be able to bring together the three legs of any product strategy - building a great product, marketing it well and then distributing it to customers.

For any given Google product, whether its good or bad, Google splits the world in two: the smaller portion is deemed worthy of receiving the latest Google toy, whilst the latter is left wanting. Nobody ever built a successful hardware business by excluding the majority of potential customers from that product.

Then, irony of ironies, when Google has delivered pr…

Microsoft Is Winning The Race To Be Exciting

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Microsoft is having a hardware event in Beijing tomorrow, where it is expected to reveal a lightly upgraded Surface Pro 4. It will be the most disappointing Microsoft event in years. Not because the product is bad or the upgrade is weak, but because it is an iterative upgrade of an existing product which doesn't move the game on significantly.
If Microsoft doesn't sneak in something which hasn't been previously leaked then the buzz around this event will be small. And that's become unusual for Microsoft as it has continued to deliver suprising new products which garner column inches in both the tech and non-tech press, has people talking about Microsoft more and more often and has raised the profile of the company significantly.
In fact if you review Microsoft's releases over the last few years - Surface 3, Surface Pro 3, Surface Pro 4, Surface Book, Surface Studio, Hololens and Windows 10 in all its versions - you'll find that Microsoft has leapt over both Ap…

Indy 500: Sebastien Bourdais' Accident Shows The Amazing Advances In Safety

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Indycar doesn't have a great track record in recent years, with more driver's killed or seriously injured than most, if not all, other top level motor racing series. That's an inherent danger of cars going very, very quickly around an oval circuit in the company of lots of other cars.
Today's qualifying accident involving Sebastien Bourdais does demonstrate the incredible strides in safety Indycar has made over the years.
Bourdais accident was terrifying to watch for anyone who has been around motor sport for many years, specifically because of the way it so closely mirrors the accident of Gordon Smiley, thirty-five years ago.
In both cases an over correction of a tail slide sent the drivers into the Brickyard's outside retaining wall at unabated speed. For Smiley the mistake was fatal, the accident destroyed the unfortunate driver's body and was described at the time as being of the same severity of an aircraft accident. Smiley was obviously killed instantly.

The Biggest Problem With Android

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Google has been promising to fix the major failing of Android for far too long. That's of course the completely haphazard way Android phones get updates.
Recently we've had promises of new commitments to delivering from OEMs around security updates. Google says it will deliver them on a monthly basis, premium OEMs promise to get them on to devices quickly.
So how are they doing? Well I have two devices from premium Android OEMs and their current state is illuminating. My Xperia XZ has Android Nougat 7.0, however it's security firmware update is dated November 2016. Seriously out of date.
My Galaxy Tab S2 tablet is even worse though. This is rocking Android 6 Marshmallow. It's security update is from June 2016. Almost a year out of date.
Now I'm not talking about version upgrades and fragmentation here, we're talking security updates released to reduce the risk of exploitation of known vulnerabilities on these devices. That's an incredibly shoddy state of…

This Is The Future Of Electric Cars

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The Renault Kangoo may be the lest exciting car of all time, but the one you see above is possibly the most important car ever built. That's because its running on a special road which is charging it as it drives at speeds of up to 100kph.
The technology is Qualcomm's and the track is Vedecom's. Between them they have built a solution which can charge multiple vehicles, at speed, at a charge rate of up to 20 kw/h.
Part of a European Union project to investigate the feasibility of dynamic wireless charging (DEVC) this promises to deliver a killer blow for EVs. With no range anxiety and constantly recharged batteries, why would you ever consider something that burns fossil fuel?
It would be good to see this technology embedded in Formula E cars at some stage in the future - even built into a slightly longer track loop which challenges drivers to either top off their battery at the cost of a time penalty or try to eke out a charge with the benefit of the shorter run.
In any …

Those Stories About Android - iPhone Usage Share Are All Wrong

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More than a few websites are getting excited about an article published by Forbes, claiming the iPhone's share of usage is higher than previously thought. That article references a blog post by Google employee Dave Burke, which reveals that two billion Android devices are in use right now.
The argument runs that as Apple released news that iOS runs on one billion devices recently, one third of phones in use today are iPhones, rather than the one fifth previously accepted.
All good as far as it goes, however there's a rather large hole in the theory. Google only measures active Android phones running Google Play Services - and given that no phones sold in China have these services they can't be counted by Google, so aren't included in those usage numbers.
China has been the biggest smartphone market since 2012, so failing to count these Android devices rather skewers any theory about relative usage in the market. In 2016 almost half a billion smartphones were sold in C…

Air New Zealand Trialling Hololens In The Sky

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Air New Zealand is not only the world's favourite airline, it's also one of the most innovative. From completely changing the way in-flight safety briefings are completed (creating a number of viral hits along the way) to this trial of Microsoft's Hololens.
Probably not the most attractive proposition in its current version but if and when Microsoft shrinks it down to a more discrete size this could be the sort of thing that becomes common place in the service industry.

Surface Pro Update Leaks

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Reliable technology leaker Evan Blass is at it again, this time outing the updated Surface Pro, which Microsoft is expected to announce in Beijing next week.
The pictures show very limited changes to the hybrid's exterior, with the biggest change likely to be the inclusion of new Kaby Lake processors.
That won't be the only change though, Blass reveals Microsoft will rechristen the SP4 to plain old Surface Pro, giving a line up of Surface Laptop, Surface Book and Surface Pro.
Microsoft's Surface accessories (keyboard, mouse and pens) are also up for an upgrade – although this might just be a touch of color to match the Surface Laptop.