iOS7 available today – install it now or wait?

Today’s Slaw post. Apple’s latest and greatest operating system is launching today.  There will no doubt be a rush for iPhone and iPad owners to install the update. Apple fans may scoff at this advice, but if you are updating anything other than a current model, it might be prudent to wait a few days before upgrading.

The odds are that all will go well, but sometimes issues appear in the real world that don’t show up in testing.  Typically those issues are more annoyances than anything – such as sluggish performance, or incompatibility with some apps. And typically they are resolved quickly.

I’m going to wait a few days and make sure no problems turn up in the tech press before doing the upgrade on my iPad.  After all, waiting a few days to get an OS update is not the end of the world.  At least Apple updates come quickly once released.  Unlike updates to Google phones that take months to get after they are released, if you get them at all.

Is Apple losing its mojo?

Todays Slaw post:

Apple revealed its latest iphone yesterday.  Or to be more precise, two new iphones – the 5C and the 5S.

The 5C is similar to the current 5, and will be cheaper to buy than the 5S (hence some references to the iPhone Cheap – although cheap is a relative term).  The iPhone 5S is the latest and greatest.  It is the first phone with a 64 bit processor, has a much better camera (Apple has suggested it is as good as a DSLR), and a capacitive fingerprint sensor to authenticate the owner.

So it is the latest and greatest, and includes some unique features.  The stock market was not impressed.

Perhaps we expect too much from Apple.  But lately Android phones are matching and in some cases exceeding iPhone features.  And many of the new features Apple has included in its new phone operating software, iOS7, are catching up to features that Android and Microsoft phones already have.

I’m not suggesting that Apple doesn’t make cutting edge products, or that they are not going to continue to sell well, or that they are going anywhere, but they just don’t seem to be knocking us over any more with innovative products.

Gadget Nirvana

My latest Slaw post:

Apple announced a new iPad mini yesterday as expected, along with upgrades to several other products. Surprisingly, an iPad 4 is now available, just a few short months after the iPad 3 was introduced. Apple is a master of innovation and marketing, and somehow manages to make evolutionary changes to its products seem revolutionary.

But they are not the only game in town.

Microsoft has an event on Oct 25 to launch its Surface tablet, on Oct 26 to launch Windows 8, and on Oct 29 to launch Windows Phone 8. Early reviews show they are solid products. I find these new Microsoft products interesting. The Surface tablet has a lot of features that will make it easier and more seamless to use than an iPad. Corporate IT departments will love them. But iPad users may be slow to switch, as many of the apps we use with the iPad are not yet available. For example, iPad users using apps like pressreader, newsstand or flipboard won’t switch until those are available for Microsoft products.

Not to be outdone, Google also has an event on Oct 29 where it is expected to launch its next generation Nexus smartphone, new tablets, and an update to its latest Jelly Bean software.

For the record, I use Microsoft PC’s, an iPad, and a Google Nexus phone. They are all good products, even though each one has subtle advantages and disadvantages. Each one also has its fans and detractors to the extent that it is sometimes difficult to know how realistic either positive or negative reviews are. For example, there has been some criticism that the Windows 8 surface RT tablet operating system won’t run full office software – just pared down versions. But that is the nature of the tablet beast – and is the same approach taken by Apple and Google.

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Apple announces iPhone5

Today’s Slaw post:

Apple just announced the new iPhone 5. Some of the features Apple is touting:

Thinner and lighter – apparently the world’s thinnest smartphone. A bit taller than before, which give a bigger screen (close to 16:9)and better colour. Apps designed for the current screen size will be letterboxed like a TV.

It includes LTE for most major US and Canadian telcos. (Apparently no NFC, though.)

It has a new, faster, more energy efficient CPU (the A6), and longer battery life.

Of course an improved camera.

Enhanced audio.

A new, smaller “Lightning” connecter replaces the current Apple connector. (It’s about time. They will no doubt make a lot of money selling adapters.)

New iOS6 operating system, including updated Siri voice command.

Comes in black and white.

Price the same as for the 4s.

Pre-orders start Friday. Shipping on Sept 21 in US, Canada, and several other countries.

On Sept 19, iOS6 available for iPad and iPhone 4

For more detail and commentary, check out the tech press, including www.cnet.com and www.engadget.com

No doubt Apple will sell the iPhone 5 in huge numbers. But the competition is fierce, particularly with the latest Android Jelly Bean OS phones, and the new Windows 8 phones.

Just for the record, I’m sticking with my Samsung Galaxy Nexus for now – even though it is extremely frustrating that the Jelly Bean OS has not been pushed out to it it. (Apparently that is a Samsung issue, not a carrier issue.) Apple has set the expectation that new OSs will be available for existing devices at the same time they are released to new devices. That’s something that Apple’s competitors have not yet got right.

Phone & tablet wars continue

My latest Slaw post:

Apple fans will already know that Apple has scheduled an event for next Wednesday. While Apple did not specifically mention the iPhone 5, it is rather obvious from the invitation.

Rumour has it that the iPhone 5 will be available September 21.

This comes on the heels of the jury decision in the US that awarded Apple a billion (yes, that’s a “b”) dollars in damages against Samsung for violating Apple patents. No word yet on whether it will be appealed, but given the amount of the damage award, and what the decision could mean for the future of Android phones, it would be surprising if it is not.

No matter how that shakes out, though, Android phones will survive and thrive.

The phone and tablet market is not just an Apple v Android race. Microsoft’s new Surface / Windows 8 products will be a compelling choice, especially for business use. Windows 8 hardware will blur the line between tablets and notebooks. Microsoft’s goal is to bring a similar look, feel, and experience accross all devices, whether it be a phone, tablet, notebook, or desktop. Windows 8 products are coming to market in late October.

The good news for consumers and business is that competition in this market is alive and well, and the technology keeps improving. Each has its fans and detractors, and each has pros and cons for different situations – but none of these are bad choices.

Apple unveils “the new iPad”

Today’s Slaw post:

Yes, “The new iPad”, not the iPad 3, or the iPad HD, and no doubt millions of people will rush to buy one. In Q4, Apple sold 15.4 million ipads – which is more than any PC manufacturer sold of theirPC lines.

I upgraded to a Google Galaxy Nexus phone a few weeks ago – and for a short time actually had cutting edge tech for both smartphones and tablets. That is always going to be a short-lived experience.

The new iPad features a higher resolution display, quad-core processor, better camera and HD 1080P video recording (like the iPhone 4s). Has 4G LTE – including on Rogers, Bell and Telus – and apparently retains the same battery life. It has some voice support, but not Siri (not Siri??).

They have upgraded and added features to apps like Garageband, iMovie, and iPhoto.

So improved – but not such an improvement that people will be compelled to upgrade (other than fanboys). Pre-orders start today, with shipping March 16.

They will continue to sell the iPad 2 at a lower price.

For now there is no doubt that Apple is the market leader that dominates and defines the tablet space. But don’t count the competition out yet, particularly Android and Microsoft Windows 8 based tablets. These might cure the most frustrating thing in my view about the iPad, which is its insistence on controlling file management in its own way.

 

iPhone 4s unveiled

That’s the title of my Slaw post for today.  It reads as follows.

One thing guaranteed to get attention and create buzz is any new Apple product unveiling – whether or not one is an Apple fanboy / fangirl. Yesterday’s was no exception. It was noteworthy in part because of the absence of Steve Jobs. But Tim Cook and other Apple executives did not disappoint.

Various products were updated, but the new iPhone 4s gets the most attention. Here is a summary from the Canoe Tech blog about the 4s and its introduction in Canada. Here is a link from the Apple site that has more detail and a couple of videos.

One thing I am mystified about is that Apple stock apparently dropped a bit after the announcement based on disappointment that they unveiled the iPhone 4s, not the iPhone 5. I get that stocks are priced on anticipation, but as far as I can tell, the only thing Apple may have done wrong was to call it 4S instead of 5.

It may look like the 4, but inside it has a faster processor, better graphics, better camera with features such as image stabilization, a world phone compatible with several cell systems, better call quality, and more. It also includes Siri, an intelligent assistant that responds to natural language voice commands. For example, if you say to the phone, “do I need an umbrella today”, it will bring up the weather forecast for your location.

The improvements are enough that anyone with earlier models, especially 3 or 3G models, will feel the “need” to upgrade.

Tablet Wars

That’s the title of my Slaw post for today.  It reads as follows. 

Simon’s post earlier today mentioned the Apple vs Samsung patent lawsuits over tablets and smartphones. The reference to 2001 as prior art is amusing – lets not forget the Star Trek PADD as well. There is actually a Star Trek PADD app for the iPad.

Simon linked to a list of the various lawsuits between Apple and Samsung in various countries. Here is a graphic produced by Reuters that shows patent related suits between mobile manufacturers.

There is market share and a lot of money at stake here. A big reason behind the Google aquisition of Motorola was for its patents. The recent purchase of Nortel patents by a consortium including Apple, Microsoft and RIM for billions of dollars also attests to that.

Many (myself included) believe that smartphones and tablets are causing and will continue to cause revolutionary change in the way we work and go about our lives. Consider the following examples:

United Airlines and Apple announced that the airline will deploy 11,000 iPads for its pilots to replace paper flight manuals with electronic flight bags, or EFBs. This is expected to save 16 million sheets of paper and 326,000 gallons of jet fuel a year.

This CNET video lists the top 5 things that the smartphone replaces. MP3 player, personal planner, digital point and shoot camera, portable GPS, alarm clocks. Also video cameras, newspapers, landlines, books.

This All Things D article talks about how iPads are replacing cash registers.

 

Vintage Gadget Collection – Failure is an option

That’s the title of my Slaw post for today.  It reads as follows.

We use a lot of technology today that is – to borrow a term from Steve Jobs – magical. Consider tablet computing, cars that respond to voice commands or even drive themselves. Calling an ipad2 or an Android Tablet or a Playbook magic is not a huge exaggeration in historical terms. An iPad2 would have been on a list of supercomputers rivalling a Cray as recent as 1996.

But we don’t get to this level of technology without experimentation and failures along the way. The important thing is to use those failures to lead to new insight and better products. Failure may be a result of many factors, including: flawed design, being ahead of its time, our tendency to stick to “good enough” solutions we are comfortable with rather than the possibility of something better, solutions in search of a problem, being too expensive, poor execution of a good idea, poor marketing, being user unfriendly, and simply not as good as other solutions to name a few.

Slashdot points to a vintage gadget collection just published by a Microsoft researcher. From the site:

Over the past 30 years, designer, writer, and researcher Bill Buxton has been collecting input and interactive devices whose design struck him as interesting, useful, or important. In the process, he has assembled a good collection of the history of pen computing, pointing devices, touch technologies, as well as an illustration of the nature of how new technologies emerge.

Part of the collection was first shown publicly at the Vancouver Art Gallery as part of the Massive Change Exhibition, curated by Bruce Mau, in 2004. Since then the collection has grown significantly, largely through the generous support of Microsoft Research.

The point of the site is not to focus on failures – it includes many successful products – but the history is interesting. Try the PivotViewer version – its a great way to navigate through the images.

ipad2 or Motorola Xoom?

That’s the title of my Slaw post for today.  It reads as follows:

I’m wondering what readers think about ipad2 vs Android tablet.

Lets assume for the sake of argument that one wants a tablet now, rather than waiting for another year to see how the market shakes out. And assume that the choice is between the iPad2 and the Motorola Xoom.

Lets also assume that the intended use is a combination of work and personal.

While this is not an exhaustive list, some things to consider are:

ipad2 pros:

existing user base of 15,000,000 units for ipad1.

huge number of apps

thinner and lighter

ipad2 cons:

no flash support

must use itunes to get content

Motorola Xoom pros:

flash support

direct usb connection instead of itunes

potential sd card slot for additional memory

widescreen format

Motorola Xoom cons:

fewer apps

possibly higher price

Android phones are holding their own against iPhones in the marketplace, so will the same happen with Android tablets?

Will the app advantage close over time? Is the app advantage overblown given the proportion of apps that are mere novelties or variations?

Will apps that matter always be developed first and perhaps only for the ipad given its cachet in the market?

In the long run are the relative advantages / disadvantages distinctions without a difference?