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Showing posts from October 15, 2017

Delta Airlines Ditches Microsoft And Windows For Pilots, Cabin Crew

Delta Airlines decision to ditch Microsoft and migrate its large fleet of pilot and cabin crew devices to iOS clearly paints a picture of a future without Microsoft Windows. The root cause being the failure of Windows on phones, at least in this case.

Delta equipped all of its pilots with Surface 2 devices to create an electronic flight bag. Its cabin crew were given Lumias. All told this deal put Microsoft's devices and platforms in front of more than 30,000 users.

In future Delta will distribute iPads and iPhones and Microsoft will be down one major corporate deal. Could Microsoft have made this deal work by offering Windows tablets and iPhones together? Absolutely not. Its going to be more and more of a concern for the company as it seeks to sell Windows in future.

Apple has a better overall offering with iOS, even if individual items within the stack aren't the best available.

Windows 10 runs a very real risk of becoming the next Internet Explorer - something customers shy awa…

Google And Microsoft At Odds Over Security Patching

Google's Security Team have raised the ire of Microsoft on more than one occasion in recent years, with Microsoft objecting to releases of vulnerability information before Microsoft has been given the opportunity to close the gap.
Now Microsoft has hit back, with its Technet Security Blog reporting that the way Google releases information about patches for Chrome could result in users being exposed to vulnerabilities before patches actually arrive. 
Google's 'holier than thou' attitude to security looks awfully misplaced when you look at the inherent weakness fundamental to the Android platform. It is virtually impossible for any Android customer to own a device with up to date security. 
Microsoft may have had issues in the past, but Windows is becoming a significantly better product in security terms. Desktop updates are delivered monthly and universally across all devices. No user intervention required. 
When news broke of the WPA encryption vulnerability this week…

No More Windows Mobile Upgrades For Lumia 640

Microsoft's Lumia 640 and 640 XL have reached the end of the road for operating system upgrades, with the company removing the handsets from the Fall Creators Update list this week. Given that the 640 was launched more than two years ago and was a decidedly mid-range device that's a pretty good innings, I'd say.

With Microsoft announcing that it is no longer developing new features for Windows Mobile, this is probably the least important platform news in two years.

Two years is about as good a run as you'll get on a premium Android phone - and even then not all of them. For a mid-ranger that's unheard of. You can't accuse Microsoft of selling customers short on this occasion.

F1: Alonso To Stay At McLaren

After what seems like a whole year of threats and complaints, Fernando Alonso has finally put his signature on a new contract with McLaren. The double World Champion will stay for at least one more year before once more offering his services around better performing teams.
Whether Alonso believes the McLaren-Renault combination is a potentially race winning one or wasn't able to find another formula where his substantial pay demands would be met isn't clear. Certainly his happiest times in F1 were those championship winning years at Renault.
Let's hope for Fernando (and all at McLaren) that the new Renault powered car is quicker than the Toro Rosso-Honda one. Otherwise I dread to think what kind of radio messages we'll be treated to.

Samsung Bixby 2.0 Arrives, Coming To More Devices

Samsung introduced Bixby 2.0 today and with the additional capability and intelligence, connectivity to the smart home, Samsung will be bringing its digital assistant to more and more Samsung products, replacing its previous smart home initiatives.

A dishwasher or washing machine you can program with your voice? A fridge or freezer that can suggest recipes based on their contents? Maybe not with this release, but definitely a future Samsung is planning for.

More importantly Bixby will be breaking out of Samsung's devices and make the voice assistant available on other Android smartphones. It's a play straight out of Microsoft's book and it's a strong response to the release of the Pixel 2 and acquisition of HTC's phone business by Google.

Samsung may not have the full intelligence of Google Assistant in Bixby, but for now it can leverage Google's offering to fill the gaps. Evidence that what it is planning for is the day Google starts to ringfence new Android feat…

Samsung Brings Linux To DeX - A Game Changing Move

Samsung will be bringing Linux to its Galaxy smartphones, with its Linux on Galaxy initiative. The environment will be available on the Galaxy S8 and S8+; and Note 8 smartphones, where it will run  as a mobile app; as well as the DeX docking solution, where it will expand the dock's ability to replace a desktop.
It's not likely to be a particularly large selling point - as Microsoft and HP have been finding out, but as a feature of an already amazing set of devices, the ability to throw up a real desktop operating system (rather than a close facsimile) adds another dimension to an already capable device. The Linux on Galaxy app isn't tied down to one distribution and it's being targeted at developers for starters.
If you have a DeX dock and fancy giving it a go you can sign up for the beta here.

Windows On ARM Devices Getting Days Of Battery Life?

Qualcomm has claimed that Windows on ARM devices are getting 'days' of battery life in testing. No details of what sort of devices these are, but the assumption is that these are laptops powered by the Snapdragon 835 processor.
It seems a wild claim at first, but if you consider the components in play, its probably something that we should have been expecting.
A Snapdragon 835 phone, with reasonable battery management policies in place can easily run for one and a half or maybe two days in some cases. That's with a much smaller battery than you would find in your average laptop.
Of course your average laptop has a much larger screen too. Plus a keyboard and ports to power as well.
Nevertheless, given that Microsoft believes that it can squeeze 17 hours out of the Surface Book 2 battery combo, two days of battery life from a low power Snapdragon version should be more than achievable, even allowing for the need to emulate an x86 processor.
The wait to see what Microsoft, Q…

Pixel 2 XL Screen Woes Should Be A Concern For Apple, iPhone Fans Too

You'll read elsewhere on the web about problems with the screen on the new Pixel 2 XL, how its colours, consistency and viewing angles are all way off what we expect from a 2017 flagship phone. That's not good news for customers who have ordered the new handset, sight unseen, but it's also a problem for Apple and iPhone fans too.
The Pixel 2 XL is made by LG rather than HTC, as is the case with other Pixels. It packs an OLED screen from LG and it this which is the cause of all the problems. LG just doesn't seem to be able to get close to the quality and consistency of a SAMOLED panel from Samsung and at the moment its OLED packing smartphones are receiving less than stellar reviews for screen quality.
Why should this concern Apple? That would be down to the large investment it has made in LG being able to service its future OLED screen requirements. Unwilling to be tied down to its biggest competitor, Samsung, for such   key component of future iPhones, Apple is clear…

HP Introduces The Most Powerful Hybrid You Can Buy Today

I'd hesitate to call HP's ZBook X2 a true tablet when detached, it's 14" screen is encased in a serious  piece of hardware, which is also what hides beneath the screen.
With a 4K display, quad core i7 CPUs, an Nvidia Quadro GPU and up to 32GB of RAM backed with 2TB of storage I think we can be sure this is not the sort of machine designed at consumers or even prosumers.
What's impressive is that HP have managed to fit all of this power into the tablet section itself. Although a chunky stand is built into the device, suggesting this isn't going to be something you'll want to use on your knee for very long.
HP is making a big play around the suitability of this machine for Adobe CC users. An interesting play given the problems I anticipate Microsoft having in selling its Surface Book 2 to MacBook customers, because of the lack of pro apps for Windows. 
Adobe is one area where Windows has feature parity with Mac OS and its a wise move on HP's part, to fo…

ZTE's Foldable Phone Is Actually A Simple Clamshell, Still Looks An Attractive Offering

Don't get me wrong, the ZTE Axon M is something different for 2017, even if it is neither truly foldable nor the first clamshell phone. Having a phone which becomes a mini-tablet on demand could well prove to be a compelling selling point in a market which craves screen real estate.
The phone is close to twicd as thick as the most anorexic offerings on the market today, however its 5.2" 16:9 display becomes a significantly larger, near square, screen when both displays are open.
That's enough screen real estate to run in Android's tablet mode - allowing apps to run in the larger interface mode. However you'll need to consider the impact of the central join between the two screens if you're doing this. I imagine for some use cases this would just turn out to be frustrating.
Those will be hopefully rare and the centre join will melt away as Apple is hoping the iPhone X notch does.
You don't have to run in tablet mode though. ZTE has added some options to al…

Microsoft Surface Book 2: New Size, Refined Design, MacBook Beware

Microsoft would really like you consider switching to the Surface Book when you next look to replace your MacBook Pro. To persuade you to do so it has tweaked the design of its most expensive laptop tablet hybrid to make it more attractive to Mac users who might be tempted to try Windows 10. It has also introduced a larger screen size to compete directly with Apple's MacBook Pro offerings.
The Surface Book 2 remains a niche device though - at least in PC terms. 
The improved internal hardware - eighth gen Intel silicon  and new Nvidia GPUs - should see even stronger performance and the Surface Book 2 is the first Microsoft PC to ship with a USB-C port - although it lacks Thunderbolt for some unexplained reason. 
A new 15" model, USB-C, a new locking mechanism for the clipboard screen and claims of much enhanced battery life - 5 hours for the tablet section or 17 hours when connected to the keyboard dock; these are all positive upgrades.
However, for all the good work Microso…

iPhone 8 And 7 Reach Price Parity

For Kiwis, the decision on which iPhone to upgrade to has never been easier. The discounts on the newer handset have effectively made the price of the 7 and 8 models identical.

Are we not buying the 8 because as a nation we're holding out for the X, or are we just fed up with the constant pressure to upgrade our phones?

In other countries we are hearing about the iPhone 7 outselling the 8. That's not unusual in itself, in fact after the Christmas and Lunar New Year gifting seasons, it is usually the older iPhones which make up the bulk of sales.

This year the Spectre of the iPhone X is hanging over the iPhone market, causing anomalies in sales figures. Whether things sort themselves out after the X arrives on the market remains to be seen.

For now, the iPhone 8 seems to have stolen the crown of the best phone that nobody will buy.

First iPhone X Batch Contains Only 46,500 Units? Seems Unlikely

Digitimes is reporting on the first shipment of completed iPhone X handsets, claiming that just 46,500 were shipped to UAE and the Netherlands. That seems remarkably low, so low in fact as to cast serious doubts on the validity of the report.

We know that iPhone X yields have been low, but the reported numbers have been in the order of 100,000 units per week. It seems implausible that just a couple of weeks before pre-orders are due to start arriving with customers, Apple has only has less than one weeks production output to hand. That would suggest that Apple has not managed to increase yields above this worst case scenario number.

If Apple is only able to manufacture 100,000 devices per week that would suggest only a quarter of a million iPhones will get to customers at launch in November and less than a million will get to customers ahead of Christmas. Added to the weak sales of the iPhone 8 Apple would be heading to a disastrous 2017 Q4.

The thing that makes me doubt those numbers is…

WPA2 Vulnerability Unlocks Wi-Fi To Hackers

If you aren't already careful about what you do on public wireless hotspots take this as a warning that you really should be. A team at KU Leuven University in Belgium have demonstrated a hack which allows Wi-Fi security to be breached thanks to a weakness in WPA2, the standard which is used to encrypt device to router connections. 

The weakness has deeper implications than just wireless hotspot access though.

For individuals this vulnerability has limited impact so long as you are using an encrypted underlying connection - https security to your mail server or websites for example - which will protect your information on those public connections. Most mail services and key websites do this by default.

For Android and Linux users there's a potential follow on weakness which results from The use of this weakness to allow other vulnerabilities - malicious code insertion for example - to be exploited on the device. Being on a build of Android which has up to date security patches is…

Huawei Intro Mate 10, Big Screens, AI And A Desktop Solution

Huawei introduced the new Mate 10 today and set out its stall to cement its position as the second placed vendor in the global smartphone market.
The Mate 10 marks the point where Huawei has a flagship device which, on paper at least, competes directly with Apple and Samsung without having to play the value card. The new phone packs the best features of the current flagship offerings into a device topped off with some Huawei specific advances in AI.
There are actually three new Mate 10 models, standard, Pro and Posrche Design. The former uses an edge to edge 16:9 LCD display, which means you have a wider chassis (and thus a wider keyboard if input is your thing) whilst the Pro and Pro Porsche have an 18:9 OLED display, for those who really want tall and thin. The Porsche Design is effectively a shiny Pro for those who like premium badges.
There are differences in way the standard and Pro models work too. The former has a memory card slot and headphone jack, which the latter gives up …

Is This Tesla's Sputnik Moment?

Sputnik. The Soviet satellite that turned America's self belief upside down. It's become a byword for disruption when the incumbent realises its whole business model is no longer valid and drastic action is required to survive the threat of the newcomer.

Tesla's role in the auto industry has, thus far, been the one of disruptor, changing the way EVs have been perceived by customers and competitors alike.

In it's short time producing cars Tesla has become the newest premium brand. One of the incumbents if you like and now it is itself at risk of disruption.

This week may just have been the company's Sputnik Moment. Its failure to hit manufacturing targets for the Model 3, together with stagnant manufacturing numbers for the Model S and X show that it has failed to rise to the challenge of manufacturing a product at scale. 

Even worse, stories of fundemental problems with its production lines appearing in mainstream media suggest it has not even managed to build a functi…

Samsung's Bixby Is Not Competing With Apple And Siri

Samsung's Bixby will be reaching version 2.0 in the next week and based on the speed with which it has grown from its launch six months ago it's probably going to be an impressive update.

When it does arrive there will be many videos comparing Bixby to Siri. However I don't believe that Samsung is bothered about competing with Apple at all. 

Bixby is just one of Samsung's defensive moves against Google. 

When Google launched the Pixel last year it included a new voice assistant, Google Assistant, and it kept it exclusive to the Pixel for quite a while. 

That kind of forking of Android,  into a Google version with additional features and a regular version for everyone else, is almost certainly going to be the lever Google uses to bring Made by Google devices to the fore.

Samsung needs to ensure that it is competing with Google in every area where the search giant might decide to attack it be developing Pixel only features in future. 

So that means Bixby, it means the Galaxy A…

Is The V30 LG"s Breakout Device?

LG has produced a run of impressive phones, without managing to score the kind of sales or financial success you would expect from such highly rated devices.

The G6 arrived early enough to produce some column inches in the tech press and gain some notoriety for its camera, up until the point the Galaxy S8 arrived from Samsung. The newer processor and slicker design overshadowed the G6 completely. 

LG hasn't given up and the V30 is its late 2017 flagship device. It's currently being talked about as one of the leading smartphones on the market today. 

Whether another batch of positive publicity is going to help LG get itself a reputation amongst consumers remains to be seen. I still think LG's problem is not around the quality of its devices.

The problem is that LG is seen as a producer of white goods. Not a technology powerhouse like Apple or Samsung. Its reputation is so bad that it's getting outsold be unknown Chinese brands.

So once again the problem for the V30 is going…

F1: Ditching Honda May Not Be Enough For McLaren To Retain Alonso

Fernando Alonso has not been confirmed at McLaren for the 2018 season and it may be that the team's public divorce of Honda may not be enough to persuade him to do so.

Alonso had repeatedly demanded a car which will allow him to fight for race victories and, despite the successes of the Red Bull - Renault partnership, it may be that the double World Champion does not see a McLaren Renault partnership providing him with that opportunity.

Having stated his intention of adding the Indy 500 and Le Mans titles to his F1 titles, it may be that Alonso feels he is done with F1 and take a shot at Indy and / or Le Mans in 2018.