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Showing posts from April, 2018

I Exclusively Used An iPad For A Week, And It Wasn't Horrible

For the last week I used only three pieces of technology, none of which ran Windows, with the 2018 iPad  as the centrepiece, and the experience was actually pretty good.
To put this into context, it's school holidays here in New Zealand, so I was able to take time off and as a result my need to make use of technology was less than normal. When I'm having time off with my children, gadget usage is restricted and we enjoy family time.
There are some things you still need to do though - and taking pictures of your children is one of them. But also taking pictures with them. As my daughter is creating a portfolio for a photo competition she was using my Panasonic Lumix camera. She was able to review and then tweak photos on the iPad thanks to the Lumix's Wifi sharing interface and the variety and quality of photo editing apps available for iOS.
The iPad served as my eBook reader for bedtime stories with the kids, for sending YouTube video to my TV (via Chromecast) and my tool…

Will They Or Won't They? New MacBook Air Reportedly Delayed

Apple was strongly rumoured to be introducing a new entry-level laptop to replace the aging MacBook Air this year. First it was expected to appear at the education event which birthed the 2018 iPad, then it was suggested it would launch in June and now that appearance is being pushed back to sometime in Q3.
At the same time there are reports that Apple has ceased production of the current MBA, presumably in order to prepare for the new machine.
The MacBook Air has come to define laptops in the post-PC era. The prospect of an update will certainly have those on the point of replacing an existing model on tenterhooks. Especially in the education market, where the MBA has traditionally been one of Apple's bigger successes.
With Europe and the USA returning to colleges and universities in the Fall a Q3 launch makes sense, so long as availability is good and the launch is early enough.
Hopefully that entry-level price will mean that the new MBA - or whatever Apple decides to call it -…

Formula E: Vergne's Paris Win Sets Up Two Horse Race For The Championship

Jean-Eric Vergne was the class of the Formula E field at his home race in Paris and a comfortable victory extends his Championship lead to 31 points from Sam Bird, the Englishman salvaging third place after completing his race on three wheels.
It was the usual Formula E fare in France, with lots of well judged overtaking, particularly from Daniel Abt, and a some controversy to boot - Lotterer running low on charge at the end of the race and appearing to block Bird, causing the collision which left Bird driving a tricycle across the finishing line.
Another fine drive from Lucas Di Grassi saw him grab another podium, but even with the bonus points for fastest lap, hopes of retaining his title are all but over - 89 points behind Vergne with only four races remaining. A bad race for Felix Rosenqvist saw his title aspirations up in smoke too, leaving just Vergne and Bird as realistic contenders for the series four crown.

Lotterer emerged from the final corner mayhem in sixth place, howeve…

F1: Red Bull's Baku Meltdown

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix ended in disaster for the Red Bull team, with its drivers eliminating each other, costing the team a large haul of points and covering themselves in embarassment. 
Whilst the team will no doubt handle the incident behind closed doors; and the race stewards have apportioned blame equally, there will still be questions asked about the way the team handled the situation and the controversial changes of direction by Max Verstappen directly before the collision.
Max Verstappen has been called out on his changes of direction in the braking zone before - there was briefly a 'Max Verstappen rule' which prohibited more than one change of direction in the braking zone by a defending car. That got binned with the desire for more excitement in races.
Although he did change direction twice before Ricciardo hit him, Verstappen never crossed to the right hand side of the track. I suspect he saw the dummy the Australian was selling him and had it covered.
For Riccia…

F1: Safety Car Decides Another Grand Prix

Baku is a crazy circuit, the very definition of what we used to call a Mickey Mouse circuit. No surprises then that the Safety Car decided the race yesterday, with four races completed in 2018, we have now had 75% where the outcome has been affected by Bernd Maylander and Mercedes.In Baku it was Sebastian Vettel who suffered, losing a race which had been his from the start. On this occasion it was Lewis Hamilton who benefited, taking the Championship lead in the process. A reverse of what happened in Australia.

If the Championship is not to descend into a farce the FIA need to find a better way of reducing the impact of safety cars. In the early laps a safety car has a lesser impact, but once teams’ strategies start playing out and certainly once pit stops have started, the penalty to those in front is unbalanced.

One option would be to stop the race and resume once the mess has been cleaned up. It wasn’t unusual to have race results become the aggregate of two parts in this way in the …

Tesla Driver Banned For 18 Months After Passenger Seat Jaunt

The BBC is reporting that a Tesla driver who switched to the passenger seat of his car whilst driving down the M1 motorway, has been banned from driving for eighteen months. The driver was found guilty of dangerous driving after he was filmed by another driver relying on the car’s Auto Pilot feature to guide the car.This kind of stupidity is exactly what is getting Tesla drivers killed, and whilst Tesla is taking measures to ensure drivers are fully engaged whilst driving, they clearly aren’t going far enough.The need to ensure drivers are in control and attentive whilst the car is being controlled by what is, currently, a glorified cruise control system is critical, because self driving car adoption and acceptance are going to be governed by public confidence in the reliability and safety of the systems. Clowns like this are inevitably going to be involved in accident which kills someone apart from themselves and the uproar will damage the progress of self driving cars for the forese…

Apple To Launch Updated iPhone SE Into Crucial Mid-range Market

The updated iPhone SE is coming, with multiple reports pegging a release in late May or early June. There are competing reports of the new iPhone’s components and capabilities, but it does look like Apple will stay true to the tried and tested iPhone 5 design.With the iPhone X reportedly doing so-so business at the high end, Apple is more and more reliant on its mid-range iPhones for volume. That isn’t a criticism of the X, the truth is that every newly introduced iPhone is always the big seller in its first quarter on sale, but for the remainder of the year the older, cheaper iPhones make up a larger and larger proportion of iPhone sales.

So the SE is a pretty important part of Apple’s iPhone range, and has always been a big seller in every market. The combination of high quality (if not leading edge) processing power, the smaller display and iOS has big appeal for buyers.

So how far Apple goes in updating the SE matters. The processor is likely to be upgraded to match the A10 Fusion i…

Computer Recycler To Serve Time For Replicating Restore Disks

Microsoft has some difficult questions to answer about its Windows licensing and the impact of the same on computer recycling after Eric Lundgren was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment for copying Windows restore disks to share with US recyclers so that they can restore Windows onto PCs once refurbished.

The US Government successfully argued that by supplying the disks Lundgren was preventing Microsoft from charging the $25 fee it demands of recyclers who need to install Windows.

That fee in itself is in question. Microsoft ties the Windows licence to a new PC when sold, however when that PC is recycled seeks to charge another fee and apply another license to that same PC. It’s a double dip that seems unsupportable, whatever the licensing agreement actually says.

For Lundgren, the whole episode is a result of Microsoft leveraging the US Government to protect millions of dollars of income, for Microsoft it’s a case of counterfeiting. Certainly the disks provided were not capable of doing…

Microsoft Not Competing With Google, Apple? Tell Me Something New

Microsoft isn’t competing with Apple or Google, according to Chris Capossela, Chief Marketing Officer. Speaking to Cheddar he explaining that Microsoft is all about cooperation, not competition..

It’s no surprise, Microsoft has been throwing in the towel in just about every area where it competes with Apple or Google for two years. Which means consumer products.

And it hasn’t reached this decision out of a spirit of cooperation, rather thanks to an inherent lack of ability to execute a consumer facing product. Xbox has been the exception for a while now, but even that’s been shaky at times.

What Microsoft should be saying is that it has taken such a pounding from Apple and Google that it has had to narrow its competitive focus to its core strengths, Cloud services driven by Office and Cloud computing driven by Windows Server.

With even Windows now considered non-core, its clear that new Microsoft is a very different company from the one that strode across computing and technology a decade…

Taiwan Cuts Off ZTE, No MediaTek Processors For Now

The Taiwanese Government has put restrictions on companies doing business with ZTE, as a result Mediatek will no longer be able to supply processors to the Chinese OEM. On the back of the US trading ban, this leaves ZTE without a supplier for processors and modems and facing an end to its business.

Not only is ZTE facing a future with no silicon, but it may have no platform either. Hopes of using AOSP - the open version of Android - may be dashed by the US governed GPL under which it is licensed, which also means it can’t be supplied to ZTE.

Right now ZTE’s hopes rely on an intervention by the Chinese government to allow it access to some form of Android and possibly broker a deal with Huawei to allow it to use the latter’s Kirin silicon.

Failing that the future looks decidedly bleak for ZTE.

Is Apple About To Flip The AR Market On Its Head... Again

C|Net has a story which suggests Apple is preparing to release a combined VR and AR headset which will flip the whole market on its head. If the story is to be believed it will feature two 8K displays, new direct Wifi connectivity and new Apple designed processors. The wirefree headset will also pack cameras to enable AR as well as VR experiences.

This clearly sounds like a consumer device, aimed at the HTC Vive Pro or PS4 market. It doesn’t sound like it will attempt an experience similar to Microsoft’s HoloLens or Google Glass.

With the iPhone and iPad AR solution already giving Apple both the largest AR user and developer community, a step into a standalone headset seems logical and inevitable. When it does it will inevitably change the market for everybody else once more.

F1: Red Bull Is Max Verstappen’s Team, Ricciardo To Move On In 2019

Daniel Ricciardo said after his China GP victory that one victory won’t be enough to persuade him to stay with Red Bull at the end of the season. That’s probably an understatement. Knowing that Max Verstappen is the team’s favoured driver - and the one it would prefer to be associated with - should be enough to have the Aussie knocking on Mercedes and Ferrari’s door.That’s going to make for an interesting driver merry go round over the course of this year. With neither Raikkonen nor Bottas expected to retain their drives for 2019 there are two prime seats up for grabs. In the mix for those places will be not only Ricciardo but Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon and possibly Charles Leclerc too.As a team manager it isn’t going to about finding the right driver, rather about team chemistry.Max Verstappen’s close relationship with Helmut Marko and Christian Horner make him a clear favourite at Red Bull, and in their time together the Dutchman has been faster, more exciting and grabbed more he…

F1: Red Bull Victory In China Exposes Safety Car Problems

Valtierri Bottas drove a perfect race in China, it was a near perfect weekend, yet when he tallies up his score at the end of his career it will show no victory in China 2018. And that isn’t right.

Bottas had grabbed the race thanks to blistering pace around pitstop time, overhauling Vettel’s Ferrari and setting himself up for a well-earned win. Until the two Toro Rossos collided, spreading carbon fibre across the hairpin and bringing out the safety car.

Having passed the pitlane entrance neither Bottas nor Vettel could pit, whilst both Red Bulls were straight in for new tyres. An advantage which would decide the race. For all the plaudits Daniel Ricciardo took for his win, the truth is that on new tyres he was in a car different league to those ahead of him.

The essential problem of safety cars turning races and even Championships, has been well known since Singapore 2008, when Nelson Piquet Jr’s deliberate crash brought out the safety car for the benefit of team mate Fernando Alonso a…

Apple Releases iTunes For Windows Store, But It’s Too Late For Windows 10 S

Apple finally made good on its promise to release iTunes for the Windows Store, allowing customers locked into Windows 10 S to connect their iOS devices to their computers. That will be a bonus for any students whose faculties or parents have locked them down to the Store only version of Windows.In truth though, the brief lift that Windows 10 S gave to Microsoft’s OS has died away. Yes, a handful of important apps arrived as publishers worried about being locked out of the Windows market, but in general the Store restricted Windows version has already been written off.

The Windows Store is just too devoid of apps to make a Windows 10 S configuration viable. Microsoft has admitted this and now S is just a mode which can be applied to other versions of Windows 10. I think the idea is still very fresh in the minds at Microsoft who seek to boost earnings from the platform, it’s just that this implementation has flopped badly.

LG Mobile In The Red Once More

LG posted a $1bn profit for the last quarter, however its mobile division had another disastrous quarter, managing to lose close to $130m, or close to $1.5m per day. Sales continue to slide and LG’s new, and muddled, strategy isn’t likely to help.

LG is pinning its hopes on a positive reception for the incoming G7 ThinQ, which is an enormous ask, given that premium smartphone sales are declining.

LG’s best hope is that the problems being faced by ZTE and Huawei opens up some slack in the market which it can then pick up.

Samsung Profits Up 50%, But Predicts Tougher Times Ahead

Samsung has reported a massive 50% jump in net profits for the quarter ended March 31st. This was on the back of a jump of 20% in revenue compared to the previous year. The big increase comes from the chip business, which found a ready market for processors and memory at the start of 2018.

Things might not be so great for the rest of the year though, with smartphones sales predicted to slow as higher prices lead to longer upgrade cycles, especially in the premium sector.

Samsung also warned that demand for its SAMOLED screens was likely to be down for the rest of the year, something which is as much down to expected declining demand for the Galaxy S9 as it is the underperformance of the iPhone X.

Nintendo Profits Rocket On The Back Of Switch Sales

Nintendo has now sold just shy of eighteen million Switch consoles and its business is booming as a result. The turn around from just over twelve months ago has been immense - sales are up by 115% and profits by 40%.

Nintendo is expecting to have another good year this year, with sales expectations for the Switch set at 20 million, which would put it at around 50% of PS4 lifetime sales in just two years.

To say Nintendo’s recovery has come out of nowhere would be understating the case, just eighteen months ago it was being suggested that the company’s only hope of survival would be to stop selling hardware and focus on bringing its titles to smartphones.

Apple Preparing To Ditch Qualcomm For Intel

As a consequence of Broadcom’s failed takeover of Qualcomm, the legal battle between the latter and Apple is going ahead. Which means Apple is going to be reviewing its current supply chain agreement for modems with Qualcomm.

Having started to use Intel modems in GSM iPhones in 2016, Apple has gradually increased the proportion of Intel modems to around 50%. Qualcomm providing the rest. Now that Intel is able to provide CDMA modems as well as GSM, it’s being reported that Apple will target 70% of modems from Intel this year and 100% next year.

Whilst that’s good for Apple’s corporate battle with Qualcomm, in the past iPhones with Intel modems have performed worse than those with Qualcomm modems. Whether Apple and Intel manage to address this shortcoming this time around or not is probably academic as there’ll be no Qualcomm version to compare it to.

Ford America Is Done With Cars

Ford is killing all but two of the cars it sells in the US and will move to focus on selling trucks from here on. The cars retained will be the Mustang and the Chinese built Focus Active. If you want a car and it isn’t one of these then move on, Ford has nothing for you.

America has always been big on trucks, yet the decision to vacate almost every other market segment shows that Ford is doubling down on its speciality Stateside. When most of its cars are European designed and sourced anyway, its not going to make a great deal of difference to costs or engineering.

With 90% of Ford’s US sales coming from trucks you can understand this decision. It intends to save $20bn by making this change. Why America is sold on the truck to such a degree is a completely different matter.

Huawei Under Investigation For Breaking Iranian Sanctions

Huawei’s dream of surpassing Apple and being the new number two in the smartphone market are already on the floor in pieces and now news that the company is under investigation by the US Government for breaking sanctions on trading with Iran looks likely to damage the company further.It’s the very same crime which has brought ZTE to the brink of collapse, with the company being restricted from doing business with US suppliers.Without Google’s services - and possibly no access to Android at all - Huawei’s smartphone business is sunk.Huawei will be looking over its shoulder nervously and, along with ZTE, may require the intervention of the Chinese Government to survive this challenge.

Xiaomi Sets Future Profit Margins At 5%

Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun has just announced that Xiaomi will charge cost plus 5% on all of its future hardware, effectively capping the company’s ability to make money from smartphones. It’s an interesting insight into how the company sees its business model and what it will mean for Xiaomi’s growing market presence.

Xiaomi has been big on accessories in the past, and presumably won’t be applying this cap to these items. These sales and any software profits the company can make are going to be enough to keep the company profitable as long as it isn’t forced to drop prices to clear stock as it ages.

That’s going to be the tricky part for the company now. Following the stack ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap model means higher volumes are required to drive profits both directly and through add on sales. The potential losses from overstocking and subsequent price cuts could wipe all of those profits away on just one handset.

A brave move then, but one which could be quietly reversed if things prove too t…

Amazon’s Echo Dot And Fire TV Had A Baby, And It Will Be Called Fire TV Cube

Amazon has slipped some teaser pages into its website for the curious to uncover, they coyly introduce a product called the Amazon Fire TV Cube. Leaked pictures of the device show what looks like a tall Echo Dot, but materials leaked alongside the images suggest a HDMI connection will be present on the device.

That set of features can only add up to one thing - Alexa available from a Fire TV device. An Echo Dot with video streaming capabilities.

This would be a significant win for Amazon, which has seen its other successful Alexa devices cloned by Google. The integration of the two devices makes them far more capable than one alone and it seems likely that the new device would enable Echo Show capabilities on your TV screen. It would also send engineers at Google scrambling to build Chromecast into a Google Home Mini in order to keep up.

US Supreme Court Upholds Inter Partes Review System, Offers Escape From NPE Patents

The US Supreme Court has issued a judgement on the validity of the inter partes review system, which allows companies being sued for patent infringement to have the patent in question reviewed at the US PTO Appeals Board, and ultimately rendered invalid if appropriate.

The change will allow the bigger tech companies like Apple, Google and Facebook to better deal with the huge number of patent trolls operating across the US today. These Non Practising Entities buy up patent portfolios with even a fleeting resemblance to any current system or procedure; and then leverage them to attack those bigger tech giants in the hope that they will extract a settlement pre-trial, or a big judgement in the courtroom.

The new process would render many of those frivolous suits pointless, reducing the costs to defendants and freeing them from the shackles of litigation. If it sends some of those NPEs to the bottom of the ocean at the same time, it will have achieved a great deal.

Apple iPad 2018 Review

The sixth generation iPad changed very little from its predecessor, adding a handful of small updates, a refreshed CPU and one major change, whilst retaining the same price and appeal of the older model. It is once again the iPad for the masses, those who want the simple straightforward benefits of the iPad, without any of the unnecessary frivolities of the Pro models.

In terms of build, this is the third iPad to use the original iPad Air chassis. It’s thin, light and familiar, housing the ‘standard’ iPad screen at 9.7”. Beneath the sceen sits the familiar Touch ID sensor, whilst at the bottom are stereo speakers and a Lightning charging port. Up top you’ll find the power switch and the headphone port - something of a rarity these days. At the side the volume keys. It is in all things quintissentially iPad.

Battery life remains excellent, with ten hours of use easily achieved. The cameras are okay for a tablet, where they are fit for capturing whiteboards, business cards or receipts at …

Apple Replacing Batteries In 13” MacBook Pros

The MacBook Pro 13 without Touch Bar has an issue with batteries swelling and as a result Apple is recalling them for a replacement.

Whilst Apple is making good the issue, the bigger question remains about Apple’s continuing problems with quality control. Generally that doesn’t manifest itself as a hardware problem, but the overall issue is still real. Dodgy software updates and poor design decisions aside, Apple users far too often find themselves on the wrong side of mistakes like this.

Take the issues with Apple’s new keyboard design for the MacBook and MacBook Pro. The smallest particle intruding into the mechanism causes the affected key to jam, preventing the device from being used properly and requiring a major repair at an Apple service centre to rectify.

Apple needs to double down on quality to ensure it doesn’t lose the reputation it has gained for premium quality devices, because more and more frequently it is letting that halo slip.

China Adds A London Transport Sized Fleet Of Electric Buses Every Five Weeks

The growth in the number of electric buses in China is profoundly changing not just travel in the country, but impacting the oil industry as well. The scale of China’s adoption of the electric bus is staggering, with more than 9,500 vehicles added to the fleet every five weeks. China is already home to 99% of the world’s electric bus fleet and at the rest of the world is falling further behind.
The impact on the oil industry is immense. Estimates peg the reduced demand for oil as a result of the current fleet at more than the  annual demand from Greece. That’s only going to increase if China continues to grow its fleet at its current rate.
China’s adoption of the electric bus is being driven by its historic pollution problems, but the rest of the world needs to start following its lead. Buses produce significantly more emissions than cars, even if just for the fact that they do significantly higher mileage, so enforcing this change has a much higher impact on air quality than moving the…

Spotify Adds Features For Free Users

Spotify's free streaming tier is the largest music streaming service in the world. It's larger than Spotify's subscriber Premium tier and twice the size of Apple Music. Whilst Spotify converts large numbers of free users to subscribers, that free tier is a large potential source of income which Spotify needs to grow in order to keep its newly public business viable.
The changes amount to giving free users more control over what they listen to. Previously free users could listen to their own playlists on shuffle only, with limited ability to skip tracks. The new offering allows users to play music on demand from a set of Spotify created playlists, curated based on machine learning of the user's tastes.
The service will continue to be funded by advertising, with the intrusiveness of the ads being a driver to persuade users to upgrade.

Internet Explorer Flaw Exposes Users To PC Malware

A bug affecting Internet Explorer allows hackers to take control of PCs using malicious Office documents. If a PC is infected hackers are able to use this flaw to install other malware and compromise user data and network security.
With NetMarketShare's latest user numbers for March showing 12% of PC users still browsing with Internet Explorer that's a significant risk. With many, if not most, of those users in enterprise and government this goes beyond just an inconvenience to a handful of users and becomes something Microsoft needs to address quickly.
Microsoft's response was firstly to plug its Edge browser - pointless given that most of these users will be on Windows 7 - and secondly to say that it will investigate this and release a fix through its regular Patch Tuesday process.
With up to 200 million users exposed, it would be good to see Microsoft put some priority on this, even if it doesn't impact its primary OS version, Windows 10.

Windows 10 Will Have Calling Capabilities - But Would You Make One Your Phone

Redstone 5 - expected to be the second update to Windows 10 in 2018 - has picked up new telephony APIs, which would effectively allow a Windows 10 device with a cellular modem to make calls, send texts and do all the other things you might do with your phone.
Putting things together, this is being seen by many as proof that the rumoured Surface Phone - a folding Windows 10 tablet similar to the above Courier concept - might actually be incoming.
That's great news for those desperate for a Surface Phone, but what appeal will such a device have to the average smartphone buyer? There will be few, if any, apps in the Windows Store designed to take advantage of the telephony connection, there's a smaller pool of desktop versions of popular mobile apps and it will be still be tied to Microsoft's failure to deliver on Windows phones in the past.
I suggest that if the Surface Phone exists today, there are no guarantees Microsoft will bring it to market. And even if they do most c…

Laptop Mag Crowns Lenovo King Of Portables

Lenovo tops the list of Laptop Magazines best Laptop brands once more, with the company seeing  off strong competition from HP to top the chart based on a number of factors, including design, support, features and choice.
Dell, Acer and Asus were closely bunched behind the big two, with Microsoft and Apple a little further back.
Microsoft's position is improving, with the range of portables increasing and the quality of the options ensuring customer satisfaction. But what of Apple? It has continued to slide down the Laptop Mag ladder as a result of poor decisions in the design of its newer MacBook offerings. It isn't so long since this particular award was an Apple surety.
Apple hasn't really had its eye on the ball with the MacBook range for a while - unless you must have a Mac, none of its current range holds a candle to the competition. With no touchscreen, a divisive keyboard and the semi pointless Touch Bar, Apple has much to correct.
Whether it does anything right n…

New iPad Ads Highlight Pencil Support

Apple has introduced a slew of new videos promoting the newly introduced iPad Sixth Generation - to give it the full official title. The four spots all highlight the Pencil and the different capabilities it brings to the new iPad when used for note taking, markup and photo editing.
The iPad's Pencil support gives users of older (non-Pro) iPads the biggest reason to upgrade ever and I'm confident that iPad sales will continue to increase now that Apple has managed to hit the sweet spot in balancing features, capability and price.

Apple's Shazam Acquisition Comes Under EU Scrutiny

When Apple announced it was acquiring Shazam much of the focus was on the use of Shazam's AR technology. The EU, prompted by requests from several member states, has opened an investigation into the acquisition and its focus is very much on the impact on the streaming music industry.

Shazam's music recognition service directs users to streaming services to either purchase or stream, and the concern for the EU is that Apple could choose to restrict the service to Apple Music subscribers and cut Spotify off.

There are a number of potential outcomes here. The EU could decide that the impact is such that the deal cannot proceed. That's pretty unlikely though. Secondly, Apple could be required to make certain guarantees which will ensure it doesn't gain an unfair advantage over Spotify. Lastly, Apple could acquire the AR technology which prompted the purchase and then sell off the music recognition service.

With Shazam running a loss making business and running out of c…

Microsoft Starts Killing Windows Mobile For Its Enterprise Customers

Windows Mobile is dead, of that there is no doubt. Microsoft has done nothing over the last two years to support anything but enterprise customers of the platform, but now it's even cutting those users adrift.
In this case its messaging apps on the platform which are getting the chop. The big one is the death of Skype for Business, although both Teams and Yammer are also leaving Microsoft's mobile platform behind.
Whilst its not unexpected, it does call in to question Microsoft's long-term commitment to Windows, even for enterprise customers.

New Switch To iPhone Ad Goes Heavy On App Store Safety

Apple is continuing its push to persuade Android users to choose an iPhone next time out. The latest set of ads include this one, pushing the relative confidence levels in apps on the App Store compared to the Play Store.

It's a definite strong point for the Apple ecosystem and Apple's ad makes its point well. I'm looking forward to a follow-up which talks about system updates.

For Windows Mobile Users, Wileyfox Is Now The Only Game In Town

For the few remaining enterprise buyers still wedded to the Windows 10 Mobile platform time is running out to switch platforms. Windows phones from HP, Acer and Microsoft themselves appear to have gone out of stock. Permanently this time.
Which leaves administration ridden Wileyfox as the only source of handsets for those who need them.
To be perfectly honest, anyone still running a technology shop which requires Windows phones has been asleep at the wheel for the past two years. The platform is dead, defunct and completely abandoned.
Now should not be the time to be realising a platform migration is required.
If you must, you can get hold of the Wileyfox Pro from its website here.

Tesla Goes To Three Shift Production On Model 3

With car output from its Model 3 line turning out to be worryingly low,  CEO Elon Musk has taken direct control of manufacturing at Tesla's Fremont production facility,  with the intention of turning things around. The first product of that move was a halt in the production line in order to rework the assembly process. The second is to switch to round the clock manufacturing in order to increase the plants output.Musk is preparing the rest of the Tesla business to start receiving 6,000 cars a week from June, more than doubling the current production rate. Car manufacturing at scale is difficult, as I've said all along,  and Tesla's challenges will continue into the foreseeable future,  because not only does it have to build these cars,  but it needs to build them well. Well enough to protect its brand and reputation. Perhaps the company would see more success in licensing it's platform,  software and charging network to more established motor manufacturers and let them…

Would An LG screen Affect Your Next iPhone Purchase

Apple exclusively uses Samsung SAMOLED screens in the iPhone X and at least one source flags those displays as the single most expensive component of the phone.So it's no surprise that Apple is looking at alternative suppliers and that LG is one of those alternatives. However things might not be completely straightforward for either Apple and LG.The first problem relates to LG's ability to produce OLED displays at scale. Even a 20% of iPhone volume - which is the allocation suggested to LG - that's a lot of displays and Apple will be looking for a guarantee on numbers,  given the issues it had as a result of delays on the iPhone X  release. The second problem is quality. The OLED screen used in the LG manufactured Google Pixel 2 XL has been widely panned and would absolutely not pass muster on a high end iPhone. Apple will want to see a quality equal that of displays made by Samsung if only to avoid the issues it has with one batch of iPhones being seen as less desirable t…

Stop Comparing The 2018 iPad With An iPad Pro

A number of reviewers, YouTubers and even Apple sites have been making complete fools of themselves in the last couple of weeks by comparing the 2018 iPad and the 10.5" iPad Pro. It's a ridiculous comparison and shouldn't even be considered.
The iPad Pro is twice the price of the new iPad. The two co-exist in no way on any individuals buying list. So calling the iPad out for its lack of ProMotion, or True Tone is disingenuous. It sets a potential buyer up for disappointment, with criticism unwarranted unless they were downgrading from an iPad Pro for some unknown reason.
The 2018 iPad needs to be compared with other tablets at similar price points. In that respect it's clear to see that there is no competition - if you have the money for an iPad, buy an iPad. Against the small discounts retailers are offering on the 2017 iPad the upgraded 2018 version still makes sense. If you want or need a stylus, Apple Pencil support is a sure-fire winner.
The 2017 iPad rejuvenate…

Google And Samsung Amongst Bidders For Nokia Health, Née Withings

Nokia's acquisition of Withings for €170m never looked like going well, so when Nokia discontinued all of its newly christened Nokia Health products, that seemed to have been the end for the French division of the company.
That may not be the case though. With news that Google - via Nest - and Samsung are looking to scoop up Nokia's reject.
Given the number and range of health products Withings brought to market, you can see why both would be involved. It's hard to look past the genuinely attractive health tracking watches which Withings brought to market to see the main reason for the interest. Android Wear is tanking and Samsung's Gear bands and watches are losing the battle with Apple and Fitbit.
Bringing either range into the buyer's health packages immediately makes for a more competitive and complete health and body tracking package. But for me its the future of watches like the Activité which is of most interest.
There are also rumoured to be two 'local…

Apple Shares Tumble Amid Market Manipulation

How many times has this happened now? On May 1st Apple is due to reveal its sales numbers for the quarter which closed at the end of March, and suddenly every man and his dog has started to talk down Apple's performance and, in particular, iPhone sales.
Headlines have claimed that iPhone sales will be down 5%, 10% and even 17%; whilst others suggest the future might be even worse, with orders scaled backed by as much as a third.
The share price has tanked as a result, with the headline price down 7% and $60bn wiped off the company's value. It happens every single time and the markets just seem to keep falling for it.
When Apple announces its results, there's a chance that iPhone sales numbers will be down - maybe even significantly, but the higher average selling price and per handset profit will mean that the bottom line of the iPhone division still looks pretty healthy. Last quarter Apple brought in more revenue and profit than the previous corresponding quarter, I woul…

F1: Haas Boss Irks Indycar Community With Dumbing Down Warning

Haas boss Guenther Steiner has raised the hackles of some in the Indycar community after warning those in charge of F1 to beware of dumbing down like the Indycar series. This follows the adoption of a standard aerodynamics package, which the Italian warned created a 'spec series'.
Of course the problem with that accusation is twofold.
Firstly, Indycar's new aero package is designed to remove the focus from aeordynamic downforce and allow cars to follow each other more closely, thus helping with the problem of limited overtaking. Based on the first races of the 2018 season, the Indycar teams managed to achieve that goal.
And of course secondly, there's the 2018 Haas VF18, which borrows large elements from Ferrari in its make up. Including the engine, gearbox and suspension parts. F1 rules currently preclude aerodynamic part sharing, but I suspect if they didn't Haas would be using as much of the Ferrari as technically possible. Not to mention the chassis, sourced f…

F1: Felipe Massa Lightly Toasts Williams Over Pay Drivers

Felipe Massa is one of the nice guys of motor racing - perhaps the nicest. Nonetheless, I'm he felt a burning desire to exact some form of revenge on fellow Brazilian Nelson Piquet Jr. at last weekend's Rome ePrix. Piquet's deliberate and planned crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix costing the Massa the race and that season's Driver's World Championship.
Instead, Massa reserved his burn for Williams and its decision to go with pay drivers for the 2018 season. A decision which is already looking decidedly dodgy just three races in.
Of course Felipe being Felipe, the burn level was turned down to lightly toasted and ultimately lessened by his hopes that they turn the season around. Barring a host of fluke results, that's not looking highly likely and a battle with Sauber for the wooden spoon may be the best the storied team can hope for this year.
Massa rather more predictably had kind words for his former team mates at Ferrari, who have started the season we…

Microsoft Is Done With OneNote 2016, Cloud Only From Now On

A post on the Office 365 signals the death of OneNote 2016, it will no longer receive updates and when the next versions of Office 2019 and Office 365 roll around it won't even get installed by default.
From now on OneNote for Windows 10 is the future. A future which unfortunately excludes local notebooks and also foists the mobile interface on users. It's less than ideal.
Still Microsoft promises it will bring all the missing OneNote 2016 features to the Modern app. Although there's no timeline for that happening.
At least OneNote 2016 is pretty much feature complete as far as a note taking tool can be. Which is a good thing, because unlike much of the software available today OneNote really doesn't have anything like an alternative which you might consider switching to.
So although you can continue using OneNote 2016, it's probably for the best if you start learning how OneNote for Windows 10 works and what the major differences are, because it seems highly like…

Least Satisfying Part Of The iPhone Experience? No Surprise - It's Siri

A study by Creative Strategies on iPhone X user satisfaction, by feature received the usual number of very high ratings. Something we've come to expect from an Apple product. Customers like what they get in the main.
The exception? Siri. In fact it seems that Siri user satisfaction is so poor, Apple would be better off shutting down the feature and allowing other voice assistants to take centre stage on the iPhone.
Of course that's never going to happen and the one saving grace is that most users would never consider using Siri in normal everyday activity. However there is one key area where Siri's failings make an iPhone a positive nuisance for users - in car.
Whereas Google, Alexa and even Cortana users are able to carry perfectly reasonable conversations with their phones whilst driving, Siri is unable to deal with the most basic of commands.
For now, iPhone owners can take solace in the fact that Apple is recruiting key people to fix Siri, and by the time iOS 12 arriv…

Axel Springer Loses Ad Blocking Lawsuit In Germany

German publisher Axel Springer has lost its long running German court case, which sought to have ad blocking ruled illegal. Germany's Supreme Court affirmed the decision of Cologne's lower courts that Eyeo's business Ad Block Plus, and its whitelisting feature were legal.
The only part of the ruling the publisher prevailed in - that it should have free whitelisting - was even overturned in this judgement, meaning that Eyeo is free to continue charging sites to allow adverts through.
The ruling leaves Axel Springer nowhere to go, in Germany anyway. It may yet be able to take its case to the EU, although it may find little comfort there either.
The publisher of some of Germany's largest titles, including Bild and Die Welt, already prevents ad blocking users from accessing its content so there's nothing further it can do to protest its interests in that respect. Restricting access to its content seems to be working though, as the company's AGM recently approved a…

SmugMug Buys Flickr, What Now?

SmugMug's purchase of Flickr adds another name to the list of owners of the photo service, and after the terrible job that Yahoo did as custodian of the service, it can only get better. There's still plenty to consider though, for example the discrepancy in size between SmugMug and Flickr,  and how the smaller service manages the huge influx of users it now has to manage. Given the poor job which Yahoo did managing security in its services it's amazing that Flickr's service hasn't been implicated in any data leaks. Whether that's because they haven't been uncovered yet or don't exist is anyone's guess. Which must make SmugMug at least a little bit anxious about the technology it has inherited. Let's hope the company has a plan for managing that risk.

Arsene Wenger Leaves Arsenal - The End Of An Era

The news that Arsene Wenger is to leave Arsenal after twenty-two years in charge is the biggest news to hit the Premier League since Sir Alex Ferguson left Manchester United after what seemed like a lifetime in charge.
Wenger was virtually unknown when he arrived at Arsenal, but leaves the club as its most successful manager, having won the double twice, along the way to three league titles and seven FA Cups. Not to mention the incredible and unprecedented 2003-4 season when his team of Invincibles went the whole season unbeaten.
Wenger's last home game will be against West Ham, I hope the Arsenal faithful turn out to give thanks for all that Wenger has achieved for the club. 
Perhaps the most symbolic game of Wenger's time at Arsenal is this bizarre League Cup tie against Readimg. For 44 minutes The Gunners were woeful, trailing 4-0. The rest was stunning, and the final result typical of the highs and lows Wenger took Arsenal fans through during his tenure.

Don't Be Fooled By Tim Cook's Denial Of iOS And macOS Merging

Tim Cook told the Sydney Morning Herald that he doesn't like the idea of a merged iOS and macOS, claiming that users want devices which provide the best tools to do a particular job. That may well be true, but Apple (and Cook himself) has made these sort of pronouncements in the past, before turning a full 180° and doing exactly what they said was nonsense.
The deciding factor will definitely be one of user demand. If Apple customers continue to buy the iPad and MacBook in sufficient numbers to keep both products viable then Apple will continue to produce and sell both. 
At the point when volumes have fallen for either product, to the point where merging the two into one product makes more sense, Apple will certainly do it. In fact I would suggest that if Apple aren't already planning for this to happen they are guilty of a lack of foresight.
The alleged Project Marzipan, which allows iOS and macOS versions of the same app to be delivered from a single tool looks like a first…

Lenovo Reveals Moto G6 And G6 Plus

Motorola's G5 was one of my favourite phones of 2017, so news of the new G6 is of interest, especially for those looking for a budget phone which punches above its weight.
This year the G6 and G6 Plus have similar specs to last year's G5 equivalents, with the smaller phone getting an upgrade to the the SD430 processor and the larger to the SD630. The larger phone gets a memory upgrade to 4GB on the standard.
Other upgrades include a new 18:9 screen in FHD+ in either 5.7" or 5.9" sizes; dual cameras and an upgrade to USB-C for charging and connectivity.
There's very little that G6 buyers will be giving up compared to more expensive phones - there's no NFC and, despite the introduction of a new glass back design, no wireless charging. Even with the larger screen Motorola has managed to retain the front fingerprint sensor and added a LED flash for the front camera.
Of the two, it's the G6 Plus which looks the most appealing of Motorola's new phones. I&#…

Google's Project Zero Exposes Windows 10 S Flaw

Google has released details of a privileged execution weakness in Windows 10 S, after Microsoft failed to resolve the flaw within its 90-day grace period.
The notice, published here, claims that a weakness in the .Net COM implementation allows a hacker to gain control of the system.
There's an ongoing battle between Microsoft and Google, which seems to be intent on exposing every weakness in Windows. That's a good thing, however with it's focus now very much off Windows, I wonder how many of these problems Microsoft will be able to fix within the 90 day period Google allows before disclosure?

Another New Messaging Tool From Google Hurts Android

If you've been an Android user for any length of time you'll probably to struggle to name all of the different messaging apps Google has foisted on the platform. Even now there are three official Google messaging apps, Android Messages, Allo and Duo.
Google just can't seem to get it right, nor is it able to stand behind one solution for any length of time.
The main reason for this is Apple's iMessage, which remains the most compelling reason for remaining on, or switching to iOS. Google is desperate to have an Android equivalent and to this end it has been pushing the new RCS standard. It is this which will underpin the new Chat app.

RCS is supported by Microsoft and around fifty carriers around the world. That latter partnership is important, because RCS requires carriers to enable it on their networks.

I guess the problem remains one of following through. Google abandons its Messaging choices faster than other platforms change their underwear. Right not there are al…

ZTE Faces US Partner Ban

The latest shots in the US China trade war have been fired this week and it is ZTE which is the firing line this time. After being found guilty of breaching sanctions on the supply of technology to Iran, the company was fined, and now US companies have been barred from doing business with ZTE.
That ban covers software and components; is lasts for seven years. Which means no Qualcomm processors and no Google Android.
Now neither of those items are insurmountable, however they do rather restrict ZTE's options for sales into markets like Europe and the US. AOSP is commonly used in ZTE's home market of China, whilst Mediatek has been making strides with it's processors. Neither of these options are going to allow ZTE to continue its planned push into US and European markets.
And with the US looking to implement legislation to prevent government organisations buying from ZTE or Huawei, that trade war is only going to get more brutal over the coming months.

By Abandoning Smart Glasses Intel Flags The (Lack Of) Future For AR

According to reports on several sites, Intel is shutting down its smart glasses project Vaunt. The prototype of the solution got very positive reviews from The Verge when they were given a sneak glimpse of what could be achieved, and Intel had lined up partnerships with a number of big name brands.
It suggests that there is currently no market for glasses which provide you with contextual information, in the way that Vaunt and Google Glass did. Maybe in the future that may prove to be the case, but at the moment smartwatches are struggling to gain a foothold, so the days when smart glasses are an accepted part of everyday life are a long way off.
So for enterprise applications there's Microsoft's Hololens and for AR gaming there's Apple's ARKit (and to a lesser extent Google's ARCore) and in between there's a void with no customers.

Will The Updated iPhone SE Target India

An upgrade to the iPhone SE seems almost inevitable now, with news that a whole host of new iPhone model numbers have received regulatory approval in Europe. Unfortunately there's no more information that model numbers, but based on Apple's strategy with the first SE and the recent updates to the iPad line, it should be possible to make an educated guess on what's next for the smallest iPhone.
The first question is form factor. Will the SE retain the iPhone 5 chassis? It seems to me that it will. Part of the reason that Apple can price the SE so well is that its production tooling costs have been completely amortised. At this stage continuing to churn out the iPhone 5 chassis cost Apple nothing over the actual maufacture costs.
This suggests that the new SE will retain the 4" screen too. Which also makes sense. Part of the reason for the release of the SE was to placate early iPhone users unhappy with the move to bigger phones with bigger screens.
Internally the new …