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Showing posts from August 6, 2017

HP's Elite X3 Pricing Is Suffering From Bipolar Disorder

Whoever is currently setting UK pricing for the Elite X3 needs to be approached by HP's human resources department and gently removed from the controls. It really does sound like the stress of trying to find buyers for the Windows 10 Mobile has somewhat overwhelmed them.
Just a few weeks after effectively dropping the price of the handset and dock bundle to £400 after a £150 cashback, removing the cashback offer and then the 'sale' banners - suggesting that £549 would be the standard pricing going forward, HP is now asking £673 for the bundle.
Does anyone think this kind of hacking of pricing is going to promote sales?
So what's next in the saga of Elite X3 pricing? £400? £500? £700? A pineapple and three Liquorice Allsorts? Nothing would surprise me right now. (Well, maybe the pineapple and Liquorice Allsorts).
The Elite X3 has been on sale for just one year and in that time the UK price has been up and down more than a dozen times, with an all-time high of over £750…

Snap Shares Tank After Poor Quarter - Windows Phone Users Luxuriate In Schadenfreude

Snap's only been public for one trading quarter and what a disappointment that's turned out to be. Half a billion dollars lost and less than $200m in revenue. The share price has been tanking - now sitting around half of it's post IPO high of $27.
For Windows Phone users who remember Evan Spiegel and his efforts to ensure no Snapchat client came to Windows Phone - not even Rudy Huyn's excellent 6snap - there's some black pleasure in seeing the company run into some rough water.
Windows phones may be dead and buried, but the distaste for Snap's snub will linger on.

Consumer Reports Hammers Microsoft For Surface Reliability

Consumer Reports recommended the Microsoft Surface to laptop and tablet buyers, or at least they did until earlier today. That was the point where they dropped the bombshell that in their survey of laptop customers one in four Microsoft Surface customers reported seeing problems with their device in the second year of ownership.
Pretty damning statistics.
Now personally I've owned three Surfaces of different vintage, going back as far as the original Surface Pro, and I've never had a problem with any of them. However its important not to confuse anecdotal and statistical information, especially in a high profile announcement like this.
Microsoft strongly disputed the figures in a diplomatically worded response and suggested its own data shows that the Surface was one of the most reliable devices on the market over the last few years.
Who to believe?
This is a high profile piece of news and if Microsoft has faith in its own statistics it needs to demand Consumer Reports produc…

Microsoft Doesn't Want Or Value Consumers

What is it about Microsoft that makes its relationship with consumers so difficult to manage? It has been guilty of woeful mismanagement of that relationship, almost as if it seeks to be the anti-Apple, punishing customers for their loyalty.

Take Groove Music for example. Here is a visually and functionally appealing service which despite plenty of upgrades manage to lag behind the competition because Microsoft has not shown any inclination to compete with Spotify or Apple in the way the service is sold.

Enough has been said about Windows phones to not have to drag it all up again. However a more concerted effort to damage a customer relationship it would be hard to imagine.

And now we have Microsoft Band, the hardware Band was discontinued last year but the service remained active and worked well with sensors in Lumia phones.

Up until last week, when the service went down. And hasn't cone up again since. That's not exactly the sort of responsiveness you'd expect of a company…

EENA Calls On Apple To Stop Killing Its Customers

Advanced Mobile Location is a lifesaver. If you live in parts of the EU (UK, Belgium and Austria being the biggest) or New Zealand your phone will send its location to the emergency services when you  call the emergency services. Its accuracy is within a few meters, rather than the much coarser tower based location used with carrier support.
Not all phones though. Whilst Google has implemented AML on Android, Apple has refused to do so on the iPhone. Now EENA, the pan-European body for emergency number administration, is calling for Apple to comply.
In a statement released today EENA has called out Apple on its failure to support the technology, something that puts Apple's owners at greater risk than Android owners. Apparently Apple has rebuffed all attempts to get it to support AML.
There doesn't seem to be a good reason for Apple not to do this, which makes the delay even more incomprehensible.

Lenovo Won't Update Android Phones From 2016 - No Nougat For You

Lenovo's Phab 2, Phab 2 Plus and Phab 2 Pro are, respectively ten, ten and nine months old. The company has just announced they won't be getting upgrades to Android Nougat. Now this may be acceptable for China market only phones, where the power of the home grown brand can overcome the negative publicity this move generates.
However the Phab 2 Android phones were Lenovo's push into Western markets and the decision to abandon them is going to severely damage Lenovo's ability to sell phones under its own brand in future.
Of course ownership of Motorola means that won't be too much of a problem. Even if some consumers see the link between the two companies, the majority of smartphone buyers aren't going to equate the failures of one smartphone brand with another.
Still, you have to wonder why Lenovo would look to break out of China under its own brand when it has the instantly more recognisable and Western friendly Motorola and (especially in mainland Europe) Med…

Formula E Montreal Shennanigans Not Settled Yet - Buemi And Abt Face Off On Twitter

Formula E's Montreal season finale ended up being something of a firecracker for outgoing champion Sebastien Buemi, who destroyed one of his race cars in free practice, started with a grid penalty, endured a scrappy race one, at the end of which he verbally attacked three other drivers before first being penalised for an unsafe pit release and then being disqualified for an underweight car.
His championship challenge was undone on a crazy Saturday - although missing the previous race weekend in New York was what really cost him the title.
Buemi's post-race rant was caught on film and spread like wildfire (which I'm sure please the Formula E organisers) with the general feeling being that Buemi had let his passion and frustration at the accident cloud his judgement.
Today Buemi took to Twitter to apologise to his team, Robin Frijns and Anthony Felix Da Costa for his outburst. Pointedly not apologising to Daniel Abt.
Now Buemi may have had more of a valid case to be cross w…

Disney's Netflix Separation Is Bad For Everyone

Yesterday it was announced that Disney will be ending its relationship with Netflix and creating its own streaming service. As of 2019 Netflix subscribers will no longer have access to the Disney catalogue.

That's bad news for everyone involved because it removes value from streaming services - Disney and Netflix - fragmenting access to content for subscribers and encouraging piracy.

Music streaming has been a success because every song you want is available across all services (the odd exclusive or hold out notwithstanding).

There are already too many services offering access to chunks of available video content. If content creators ringfence their own products on their own services the whole model falls apart.

Some competition is good but the success of the streaming music business model should give Disney pause for thought around ths consequences of this decision.

Twitter Has A Dark Mode For Desktops... But

A number of sites are reporting that Twitter is rolling out dark mode for desktop users. That's the case, but only for platforms which lag behind the curve. Windows 10 users have had dark mode for the official Twitter app for nearly a year and a half.

EA Kills FIFA Mobile For Windows Phones

The ongoing withering of Microsoft's mobile platform has claimed its latest victim. This time it's an app that's unlikely to be a deal breaker for anyone already on the platform, but it demonstrates further that software developers have no reason to support Windows Mobile.

FIFA Mobile is a popular handheld version of EA's football game. At least on other mobile platforms. On Windows it looks like user numbers have dropped so far that ceasing development isn't a big enough withdrawal, so EA has announced that the game won't run after the beginning of November.

Windows phone users should get their last fix while they can.

2018 Nissan Leaf Images Leak

The Nissan Leaf has proven to be a popular EV, however the arrival of newer and more premium rivals like the BMW i3 and Tesla Model 3 have dated the original somewhat. So the 2018 Leaf is awaited with some expectations, that it will be both technically and visually stunning.
So the first images of the new Leaf are something to get excited about, even if they are pretty grainy.
What they reveal is a car that shares visual clues with the 2017 Micro whilst retaining some of the heritage of the older Leaf.
The most important thing about the new Leaf will be the range though. With a rumoured 200 mile endurance, the Leaf may be behind other EVs, but more importantly it clears the bar for what an average commuter would demand in terms of range. In truth the old Leaf did that too, but 200 miles would certainly be a psychologically reassuring number for those concerned about range anxiety after making the switch from petrol or diesel powered cars.
With an official launch due in September we d…

Sony's New Xperias Leak On Chinese Website

Sony's smartphone division is turning a profit - albeit a small one compared to Apple or Samsung - and Sony intends to keep its turnaround on track, with three new Xperias details of which have leaked on Chinese site digit-wo.
The three devices are likely to be replacements for the XZ, X Compact and XA and it's clear from the images that Sony isn't going to be moving too far away from the design language it has followed for the last five years.
The power button mounted fingerprint sensor might be toast though. At least one of the phones pictured on the site has a rear mounted fingerprint scanner.
That will be something of a disappointment for Xperia users like me who have enjoyed the benefits of the fingerprint scanner in the power button. A rear mounted sensor seems like a retrograde step, introducing the problem of how you use it when it's on your desk.
There's probably a good reason for the change though: America.
Sony hasn't been able to sell Xperias with …

Apple Arrives On Instagram, But Why Now?

Apple opened a corporate Instagram account yesterday and although the content is pretty tedious - shot on iPhone images and an exhortation for iPhone users to join in the fun - the timing is interesting. 
Apple's 'Shot on iPhone' campaign is old as is the iPhone 7 Plus, Apple's most recent push in smartphone photography. 
Which makes me wonder whether Apple is going to do something new with its cameras on one or more of the new iPhones. Something which would require bigger exposure than just the occasional Apple billboard.
Something which needs exposure on a big social network with a photographic focus. Like Instagram.

New iPhone Name Might Not Be What You Think

I think we can be pretty confident that Apple will launch three new iPhones next month. However none of them might be iPhone 7S models.

Why? Because it looks like all the new iPhones will get wireless charging, which the iPhone 7 won't support given its metal unibody.

A change of shell implies a new model name if Apple sticks to past convention. The opposite is not necessarily true of course.

So what name might be used for each new model? I'd say there are two likely conventions.

Follow the iPad and do away with model numbers. Thus iPhone, iPhone Plus and iPhone X.

Or stick with names and have iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone 8 X.

The X might turn out to be Pro or Anniversary but I think the names will follow one of these conventions when Apple shows us what it has been working on, next month.

Face Recognition To Mitigate Rear Touch ID Sensor Shortcomings On New iPhone

Apple's new iPhone will probably sport both face recognition and a Touch ID sensor when it launches later this year.

It seems increasingly unlikely Apple will have succeeded in mounting a fingerprint sensor under the new iPhone's screen, especially as Samsung has not managed to achieve this on the Note 8.

With the new tall screen and reduced bezels that leaves only the back panel available to mount the sensor. Given the shortcomings of this location and in particular its problems when laid flat on a desk Apple appears to have come up with a second unlocking option to supplement the sensor, face unlock.

The leaked HomePod firmware references face unlock for the iPhone, in lay flat orientation.

Now the angle at which a face sensor works is quite narrow, certainly on versions used by Microsoft and Samsung. If Apple's face unlock uses the same technology and it is designed to work flat it's unlikely to work as the primary unlocking mechanism for the iPhone.

That means Touch ID …

The Samsung Galaxy S8 Active Is Probably The Best Android Phone On The Market Today

Take the ridiculously fragile Samsung Galaxy S8, replace the curved screen with a flat one and wrap it up in a rugged shell and you get this, the Galaxy S8 Active. Having been previously leaked in a number of places there are few surprises about the S8 Active, however I'm sure that when reviewers get their hands on one there will be general agreement that this is the best Android phone you can buy.
The same might be said of the regular S8, except Samsung ditched the flat screen version this time around and the resulting all curve, all screen design is proving remarkable difficult to encase elegantly and remarkable easy to drop and destroy that beautiful screen.
The S8 Active promises to be every bit as good. And it promises to stay that way through the life of the phone.
The one sour point is that the S8 Active has only been announced for the US and AT&T at the moment. Everyone else will have to wait.

GM / SAIC Have A World Changing EV - But You Can Only Buy It In China

This is the e100, an electric city car produced by Baojun which is produced in China by a GM / SAIC joint venture. The little two seater packs a 155km range and a top speed of 100km/h. The recharge time from a standard power socket is just 7.5 hours.

All in a perfect solution for commuting, reducing emissions and congestion (it's so short each traffic jam will be half as long). It's even phenomenally cheap. With subsidies Chinese buyers can get hold of one for less than $6,000. A bargain and, given the issues with air quality in Chinese cities, something that Baojun needs to get into large scale production.

As it is just 200 cars have been sold - not because demand was low (5,000 buyers registered to try and get one) but because Baojun seems to building in small quantities only. Another batch is planned, but this will only be another 500 cars.

Forget the Tesla and its grandiose plans to be the self-driving pleasure palace that panders to the well-heeled. This is the sort of c…

America Could Save 20,000 Lives A Year By Following The Dutch

The numbers of road deaths in the US are incredible and despite efforts to reduce them each year a football stadium full of people die in car accidents.
Holland has changed the way that it treats the car, pedestrians and cycles in ways that prevent the conflicts, mistakes and tragedies that plague the US.
Definitely some lessons to be learned here and not just for the US.

Don't Rush To Get That Wireless Charger For Your Next iPhone

Some Apple websites are starting to push wireless charging pads to their readers, on the basis that the new iPhone will support wireless charging. 
Don't be too quick on the draw, wait until the iPhone is announced before buying up any chargers. 
There's a good reason for this, although Apple is a member of the Qi group, that doesn't mean it will be supporting Qi charging in the new iPhone. 
The Apple Watch set exactly this precedent. Despite using Qi charging it will only work with MFi certified chargers. 
So any investment in chargers made before Apple reveals its iPhone charging technology could end up being wasted.

Controlling Your PC With Your Eyes Looks Completely Awesome

Windows Central's demo of Windows 10's incoming eye control feature is hands down the most amazing technology video you'll see this year. Kudos to Zac for mastering the technology - and doubly so to Microsoft for delivering something straight out of science fiction in the platform we all use everyday.

Spotify For Xbox Now Listed In Microsoft Store

After last week's slip which unveiled Spotify for Xbox, Microsoft has now listed the app in the Microsoft Store. 
The app will support background play as well as allowing remote control from any other device running Spotify - PC, smartphone or tablet. 

Spotify now has three different apps for the Windows 10 platform: Mobile, PC and Xbox. Logic would dictate that the company would want to build a UWP app which can run in all three places. 
It seems likely that the Xbox app is that app, replacing the Centennial desktop app and the mobile app sometime in the near future.

Italian Tesla Drivers Set New Distance Record And Its Still The Wrong Message

After Elon Musk claimed that a Tesla Model S should be able to break through the 1,000km barrier on a single charge, owners in Italy took up the challenge and proved him right. 
It's a notable achievement, for the drivers anyway. Any effort which involves running a car in the Southern Italian heat without air conditioning is some kind of super human effort. To do it in the middle of a European heatwave goes beyond that. 
For the car though it's nothing special. In fact I'd argue that it further draws focus to range anxiety and the weakness of the EV argument. After all most comparable petrol and all diesel cars will easily blast through 1,000km of range.
That shouldn't matter though because a Tesla (and indeed any EV) can be used in the same way as a combustion engine vehicle, irrespective of range. Drive to the safe range of your battery and then stop and recharge. It's the same process as any other car and that's the point.
A journey of 1,000km is something …