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Showing posts from September 20, 2017

Levi's And Google's Commuter Jacket Answers The Wrong Question

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Google in partnership with Levis, has introduced a version of the latter's Commuter Jacket called the Jacquard. It ships with smartphone controls embedded. Sounds interesting but it actually misses the target quite badly.

The only smartphone interaction allowed by the jacket is media player control. Given that the headphones you're wearing will presumably have the same functionality the jacket's smarts seem to be entirely redundant.

And unlike a pair of headphones, you're not really going to be wearing your Commuter jacket on every occasion you need to control your media.

It's not as big a problem as Google faced with Glass. But it does question the validity of labelling something smart when it's actually a worse solution than what's already available.

F1: Pierre Gasly Replaces Daniil Kvyat At Toro Rosso

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Toro Rosso have decided to bench Daniil Kvyat for the next Grand Prix in Malaysia, with a clumsily worded statement suggesting the Russian driver may be out for more than one race if Gasly proves to be competent.
Having been dumped out of the Red Bull team last season Kvyat has endured a torrid time back in the Toro Rosso. Generally outpaced by new teammate Carlos Sainz, Kvyat has been short on confidence and luck.
The news that Sainz would be departing for Renault next season had been seen as an indication that Kvyat was likely to retain his seat in 2018. It's a brave team that starts with an all new line-up, especially with the looming Honda engine deal to consider.
Gasly looks to be a promising newcomer. The reigning GP2 Champion and current 2017 Super Formula Championship contender certainly seems to have the speed and skill to make an impression over the next few races. I'm certainly expecting him to be partnering Sainz through to the end of the season.
Giving Gasly race…

How Has Your iOS 11 Experience Been?

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Two of my three iOS devices were day one recipients of iOS 11. Thus far I've been underwhelmed by the changes on the iPad - much less of a game changer than I was hoping or expecting it to be. However I've also been spared the battery rundown issues which are apparently plaguing some other users of iDevices which have been upgraded to the latest version of the platform.
iOS 11 on the iPad might just be the first step in making the iPad more of a desktop computer contender, but it's a tiny baby step. The new control centre appals me visually- although that's much less of a problem here than on the iPhone. I mean we're talking one ugly looking set of controls aren't we? Or is just me?
The new dock is nice, although I'd like to be able to choose the split between pinned apps and recent apps myself. One of the things I have found most difficult when moving between platforms, is finding apps on iOS devices. Those app icons all blend into one contiguous gloop wh…

Missing Third Platform Vision Is The Reason Why Microsoft Threw Windows Mobile Users Under The Bus

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Satya Nadella's book apparently tells us that his reason for abandoning Windows Mobile was his inability to see a future for a third mobile ecosystem. The death of Microsoft's mobile ambitions were inevitable from the moment its  board selected Nadella over Stephen Elop to replace Steve Balmer as CEO.
The idea that the market couldn't support a third mobile ecosystem seems sensible, until you look at the progress Microsoft was making in key markets. Double digit market snares in Europe and South America, beating out Apple in some of them. Even the fact that Microsoft could potentially offer the guaranteed updates of iOS tied with some of the flexibility and choice of Android, promised further improvements in sales.
The problem really stems from Microsoft's inability to look outside the borders of the US. It has consistently failed to delivered new features - like Cortana - to global audiences. The performance of Windows Phone was very much driven by some great Nokia h…

Uber's Actions Don't Match Words In London Licence Spat

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Uber lost London licence has resulted in two conflicting reactions from the company. The first, conciliatory words from its CEO, recognition that its actions and responses have fallen below the acceptable standard and at the same time sponsoring a petition to have its licence reinstated. 

This has generally been Uber's modus operandi, add in some greasing of political palms and you have the standard Uber play.

Now the failings called out in Uber's London operations haven't gone away in the last week and nor has the company's local operation demonstrated a plan for putting things right. There's no reason for TfL to reverse its decision.

Also there's no shortage of alternative means of traversing London. We're talking about the city with the most varied and capable public transport system in the world, tied to both black cabs and a pervasive minicab culture.

Unfortunately Uber's past record of success in running around regulators suggests TfL is going to end …

Hopes For A November Bounce In iPhone 8 Sales Seem Optimistic

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A couple of sites have been suggesting that poor sales of the iPhone 8 - as evidenced by poor turnout at Apple Retail locations on launch day - will be boosted by the launch of the iPhone X. The logic being, presumably, that being unable to get an iPhone X in November will prompt panic buying of the unwanted 8 in order to fill Christmas stockings.

Seems something of a long shot to me.

The desirable iPhone this time around is the iPhone X. The iPhone 8 has limited kerbside appeal because it is the lesser of the new iPhone range.  Buying an iPhone 8 is going to be the runners up prize - and who wants their loved ones to unwrap something not quite special on that special day? Certainly not the sort of people who give a new iPhone as a Christmas present.

What I suspect will happen is that iPhone X black market prices will be through the roof in the run up to Christmas, because giving one as a gift will say something about the largesse of the gifter.

The iPhone 8 will maintain steady sales, bu…

Lenovo's Twenty-fifth Anniversary Thinkpad Breaks Cover

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IBM's Thinkpad was the iconic PC laptop brand, able to stand toe to toe with any competitor in the marketplace. After all these years Thinkpad keyboards remain in the top two for mobile keyboards, with only early PowerBooks being truly comparable.
My first Thinkpad was powered by a 286 processor running at 10MHz (yes indeed kids!) but it was an incredibly useful and usable machine. Since then I've owned a number of IBM Thinkpads and a much smaller number of Lenovo ones, the rebranding following the sale of IBM's laptop brand to its OEM partner.
Now the Thinkpad is 25 years old and to celebrate Lenovo is releasing an anniversary edition. Which looks fantastic. Whether it will feel like an original Thinkpad will have to wait for a some hands on time. But the return of the iconic blue enter key is certainly a nostalgia filled moment for long-term Thinkpad owners.
I'm very much looking forward to getting some hands on time with one of these.

The iPhone 8 Camera Looks Awesome, But It Won't Persuade Me To Upgrade

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One of the fallouts from Microsoft's cull of the business it acquired from Nokia was that key members of the imaging team were able to join Apple. In the iPhone 8 we are seeing the results of that team's efforts in a greatly improved camera experience and new software driven photo features.

The reviews thus far have pegged the iPhone 8 as having the best camera experience available. In fact some of the photos I've seen so far have been nothing short of amazing.

At the same time I'm not convinced this is a good reason for upgrading.

A lot of the photos which are published aren't pure iPhone photos. The better ones rely on a whole host of accessories to get the image right. That includes tripods, lenses and editing software. It would be good to see what these images looked like straight off the sensor for a true comparison.

For me though, if you're going to carry all this additional hardware around to get great shots on your phone,  you're really defeating the ob…

If It Looks The Same How Will People Know I Upgraded?

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It's a question which raises its head every iPhone S year. Samsung captured the sentiment exactly with its early next BIG thing commercials. Part of the rush to get a new iPhone is to be seen with the new handset first.
Which I think, at least in part, explains the slow sales of the iPhone 8. It is by any measure a pretty good phone and certainly has enough advantages over the iPhone X to make choosing it over the delayed flagship worthy of consideration.
Where Apple failed was in not differentiating the 8 from the 7 sufficiently. As I said pre-launch, the danger for Apple was that the iPhone 8 became the iPhone for those who couldn't afford an iPhone X. Which was always going to be a barrier to sales on what is still an expensive device. 
And let's be clear here, failure in Apple's books is akin to wild success for almost every other phone manufacturer. The iPhone 8 will still sell in tens of millions. But it is, in many ways, always doomed to go down in history as t…

iPhone 8 Launch Day At Apple Stores Demonstrates Unpopularity

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So one of the things that have characterised the modern smartphone era has been epic queues outside Apple Stores on the days when a new iPhone launches. The iPhone 8 completely changed that. Stores around the world saw little or no queuing and as a result Apple employees and photographers far outnumbered shoppers.

Here in Auckland its possible to walk into a retail store and pick any iPhone model off the shelf so long as you aren't too choosy about which colour you prefer.

It seems like the same is true in most, if not all, countries around the world.

Everyone is waiting for the iPhone X. That's got the stock market spooked, with Apple's stock down since last week. This despite the knowledge that the iPhone X is going to sell by the bucketload when it arrives.

The problem for the iPhone 8 is that it looks and feels like an old phone. I just don't see it as a compelling upgrade even for iPhone 6 users. That's going to keep iPhone 8 sales low and make the rumoured delays…

TfL Boots Uber Out Of London

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The Guardian is reporting that Transport for London has declined to renew Uber's license to operate in the Capital and with only a short period of appeal the company could theoretically be prevented from operating before the end of the year.
Uber has previously demonstrated an ability to operate on the very limits of the law, especially when fighting this sort of ban. Using the long drawn out appeal process to give it time to continue operating whilst manoeuvring for political advantage.
Whether Uber is able to make the same play in London remains to be seen. It's been a pretty bad year for the company, this could be one of its biggest blows yet.

Mac Users Waking Up To Locked Devices And Ransom Demands

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Don't reuse passwords, if you do you'll eventually come to regret it. Like the many Mac users who are finding that their computers have been locked by a Find My Device attack and a demand for $50 to be paid in Bitcoin.

The theory is that a reused password has been used to access iCloud and lock the device. It isn’t the first time this has happened and it won’t be the last.

If you aren’t affected and there’s even a small chance your iCloud password has been compromised, change it. Now.

A Microsoft Store On Oxford St Would Be The First Small Step On A Long Journey

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Apple's retail stores are the company's most important product. More than the iPhone, iPad or any service offering. Steve Jobs vision in turning a significant negative - terrible selling of Apple products in third-party stores - into a positive with the Apple Store is the biggest factor in Apple's incredible two decade long recovery since he returned to the company.
Without the Apple Store there would be no iPhone, no iPad and no Android either.
The Apple Store created a place which is about much more than shopping. It was about socialising the Apple experience. Providing fast, friendly service, about helping users get over the hurdles which Mac OS presented to lifelong Windows users as they migrated.
The Apple Store is pretty much everywhere. In fact I'd guess that if Apple shared numbers we'd see definite correlation between retail's presence in a territory and Apple's sales performance.
So Microsoft decided to embrace the idea and has opened its own Sto…

If You Think iPhone X Is Expensive, You're Going To Flip Over The Pixelbook

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Droid Life has uncovered evidence of a new version of Google's Chromebook, to be called Pixelbook - presumably to avoid confusion with its Pixel phones.
Chromebooks are cheap web based products aimed at schools. Google's Pixel wasn't and the replacement Pixelbook seems even less so. Entry point will be $1,199, with the range topping 512GB version hitting an eye watering $1,749.
What madness is this? You can get a top end iPhone X and still have change. For a web browser. Wrapped in some fancy packaging - and with what promises to be  decent pen support (but for an extra $99 though) - but still just a browser.
I mean any one of Apple or Microsoft's offerings completely blow this thing away. It terms of capability it even lags behind the iPad Pro.
Chromebooks are succeeding because they are cheap and robust; and reasonably maintenance free. The Pixelbook promises to be none of these things when it arrives. It will be about the most obscure product you'll never see t…

What Did Google And HTC Achieve Today?

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So what did Google achieve by sort of buying, not buying HTC today? As expected the company picked up HTC's smartphone division, or rather it acquired the team responsible for designing the products, and access to HTC's intellectual property.
HTC certainly has a design team of some quality, releasing more top rated products than most of its peers. Its problems have been about selling the phones not designing them. So picking up the team makes sense for Google, especially if it means the Google name helps to move more phones.
I'm not convinced that it will though. Google has been just as bad at getting its products to customers as HTC. The current Pixel is expensive and not widely available. Not the sort of combination which promises big sales numbers.
In the past the explanation has always been that Google hasn't wanted or needed to compete with its licensees. Dropping more than $1bn on a design team probably renders that argument invalid.
So Google is getting serious…

The Verge Review Uncovers Major Apple Flaw

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If you're updating to the latest Apple Watch with LTE, it's probably fair to say that you are doing so in order to benefit from the ability to untether it from your iPhone and remain connected without it.However The Verge's Lauren Goode found that not one but two review units were unable to maintain a stable network connection.Given that's the main reason for upgrading that seems like a pretty major screw up on Apple's part. Especially considering the ease with which it should have been able to disguise the new version for real world testing.Apple has confirmed the problem and will release a software patch to resolve. Even so, there has to be questions raised about the thoroughness of Apple’s test program to allow this one to slip through.

HTC Sale To Google To Be Confirmed Tomorrow

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Trading in HTC shares has been suspended pending a major announcement and HTC employees are getting invited to company-wide meetings, pointers to the recently rumoured sale of the company to Google.
One question remains: which company? Will it be the HTC smartphone manufacturing company or the Vive VR company?
Recent speculation has been all about the purchase of HTC's smartphone division, assets and patents. Which seems entirely reasonable given that HTC manufactured Google's Pixel phones and will continue to manufacturer the smaller of this year's offerings.
However there's still no real reason why Google should want to acquire another smartphone manufacturer, especially after the debacle which surrounded its purchase of Motorola.
So is Google actually looking to acquire the Vive VR unit in order to boost its Daydream offering? The company has already 'acquired' former Vive chief designer Claude Zellweger, why not follow that with the VR vision he helped cre…

Lenovo Moto G5 Review - Unbeatable Budget Smartphone

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Let's get straight to the bottom line here, the Moto G5 might just be the best budget smartphone you can buy today. Coming in at rather less than NZ$300 and packing a Full HD screen which would not be out of place on many more flagship devices this is a phone that makes a good first impression.
As you use the G5 and get to know it, that first impression is only reinforced. Lenovo absolutely hit this one out of the park. Irrespective of price this is hands down one of the best devices of 2017.
As well as that impressive screen, the G5 packs a lightning fast fingerprint sensor, which also does double duty as a touch sensitive controller. Swipe left and right to go back or launch the task window, tap to go home, short press to power down and long press for Google Now. The net result being that you can disable the on-screen controls and use the whole of that 5" beauty for viewing.
In the hand the G5 feels more than a budget phone too. Its removable rear cover has a metal centre …

Proterra Sets Electric Vehicle Endurance Record - With A Bus

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Californian Electric Bus company Proterra has announced that one of its Catalyst E2 Max vehicles recently completed a certified 1,102 miles on a single charge, setting a new world record for EV range in the process.
Now the result is a little skewed because it was achieved with the vehicle unloaded. Packing in thirty of forty passengers would certainly bring real world endurance crashing down to something around half that.
However for every city based bus company - i.e. most of them - and most rural bus companies that sort of range is more than enough to meet daily service duties for their vehicles.
In fact given the way that bus companies operate, it's likely to be far more range than will ever be required.
According to TfL figures, the average London Bus covers around 100 miles per day. Even if the E2 Max were charged only a couple of times a week this would be plenty to keep it running.
There's a smaller Proterra which packs a 62-mile range and a thirteen minute recharge t…

Windows 10 Mobile's Excellent Parental Controls Will Be Missed

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For quite a while now I have been cautioning against the purchase of a Windows 10 Mobile for any user, with Microsoft abandoning the platform and developers following suit it's just not viable as a mobile phone platform in just about every use case.
There is one group of users for whom I have maintained Windows 10 Mobile is the best choice of mobile platform and that's parents giving phones to their kids.
Yes I know you trust your kids and wouldn't dream of monitoring their smartphone usage, but if you haven't experienced a incident where this has gone completely pear-shaped (for the child and their family) amongst your peers, a few seconds of web searching should be enough to change your mind.
Kids, young ones and older ones, make bad decisions. And the internet never forgets. 
So my view remains that until they have reached adulthood and are, at the very least, paying for the phone and service themselves, you can and should be monitoring their activity.
Microsoft Fa…