iOS7: Flattened all over

10 Jun

ImageImage

Well, as expected – say goodbye to skeuomorphism and hello to flat.

It’s been half an hour since the WWDC ended and all through the event I kept seeing parts of the new iOS that I did not like, to begin with I hated the icons, they looked like Apple had fired all their designers and used a free source icon set they found on Google. But when picking the photo to use for this blog post, my opinion had already changed. I like them.

Change is never good, except when it is. At first people don’t like change if it is too different, it puts people off when they have to sway away from what they are used to.

This is what will happen with iOS 7, people will see all these changes and their minds will go into overdrive trying to work out how this new system works. This in turn will make them want to hold onto something they are used to – iOS 6.

We all wanted change and that is exactly what we got. I imagine it will be a huge success and people will grow to like it. I can already feel myself liking the things I didn’t like to begin with, I’m sure this will continue.

Throughout the announcement I couldn’t help but think that if Steve Jobs and Scott Forstall were still at Apple then this (flat design akin to other phones) would not have happened, the move goes against everything that Apple used to stand for. A lot of people will argue that Apple has changed since Steve passed, we are still waiting to see if this will be a good thing.

Image

There are certainly some design elements that Apple could improve on in iOS 7, they could have done SO much better. The look of “Control Centre” for example, is atrocious, they could have made it look so much nicer. To me, its the most disgusting feature I have seen on a phone, and goes against everything Apple have ever said about “Simple, beautiful design”.

If you really think about it though, this is only the start of flat design at Infinity Loop. It has its flaws but I will still use it in hope I will grow to like the new designs or they will change. Thinking back to iOS 1, it was horrible compared to iOS 6. Here is to iOS 13.

- DC
Advertisements

Back to the future

22 May

ku-xlarge

I’d like to reiterate and adjust a point I made in my previous blog – XBOX THRE… ONE.

I previously noted that the biggest downfall of this device was the inability to play old XBOX 360 games on the console. After giving it some thought, I’d like to retract my point and replace it with “The lack of backward compatibility within the XBOX ONE is a brilliant move from Microsoft”. Why? Read on.

The XBOX 360 era is over saturated with games, some games such as the Call of Duty titles are repeated year after year without much difference between them, and by removing backwards compability, the XBOX 360 ERA is put behind us.

It was brilliant! We all loved and enjoyed it. But its an old era now, akin to the old era of the SEGA mega drive. The XBOX ONE is a new platform that allows a new era of games to be developed using the x84 architecture.

Many people (myself included) are annoyed that we need to use two separate consoles – but upon reflection I believe there needs to be a separation, a barrier, between the old generation and the new generation. It’s a completely new console that requires new IP’s and a new lease of life. The XBOX 360 and its games had lost a lot of their fire because the same similar games were being produced over and over again and it was becoming the same old. By not allowing all these games to be carried over Microsoft are wiping the slate clean, starting over, regaining interest and giving developers a chance to rethink and redesign their games for the new era.
Here’s to the future… not the past.

 

-DC

XBOX THRE… ONE

21 May

 Xbox-One-logo

Xbox-One-Console
Well. Microsoft, you surely know how to do a press conference don’t you? Instead of bothering with all the stats, the conference got straight to the point. Less than five minutes in and we had visuals on the console. Sony, take note – customers like to see the product you are trying to market.

Some may think that Sony’s choice not to release the design of their console was all a strategic plan to build up the hype. I do not agree, the design of the PS4 has not yet been revealed for one of two reasons:

  1. Sony have not yet finished the design of the PS4, they are either struggling with the design or taking their time to make sure it is perfect. Either way they are slacking behind.
  2. They have chosen to wait to see what Microsoft produced, and to try and produce something better.

Judging by the short teaser that Sony released on Monday (following confirmation that Microsoft would in fact show the look of their new console today), Sony panicked. Realizing that the attention would be drawn away from the PlayStation, and in an effort to bring the attention back, they released a teaser that still really doesn’t give much away about the design.

It is all a bit strange.

If you had read my previous blog The Next-Next Generation of Gaming I predicted that there would be no new major features to this console, and this has proven true. What Microsoft have done, is taken what they already have, and built it all into one unified polished system. We already had voice commands and hand gestures through Kinect on the 360, but this seemed to be a main focus of the event for the XBOX One. It is clear from the event that the Kinect integration is deeper than it was with the XBOX 360, with added features such as smart switching.

The added processing power also helps run more intensive commands through Kinect providing more accurate responses and more capabilities. The graphical processing power is going to make a huge difference between the consoles, from what they have shown it is set to look incredible, but so will the PS4’s graphics.

  • Biggest benefit to the XBOX ONE: Exclusivity. Microsoft seem to have very strong links with EA and Activition, and as a result they are getting content exclusively for XBOX. In a console war where both sets of consoles will have similar features. This is a huge benefit.
  • Biggest Downfall: No backwards compability. A truly unified system would allow you to play old games on the console, getting rid of the need for a second (old) console. They are totally going against their own marketing campaign in not offering this feature.

All in all a bery well polished presentation for a very (seemingly) polished system. Lots of nice new little features such as the smart swtiching (saves having to annoyingly switch between tv and xbox using input changes) and easy and fast swtiching between games, movies and music. We have also finally got ourselves a blue-ray player, this is a massive feature for me as I have no standalone blue-ray player. Hardware specs seem promising, a massive 8GB RAM, which is a huge jump from the 512MB in the XBOX 360.

This product has to be the only recent release that Microsoft has got right. The XBOX seems to be the only product in their catalouge that is of any success. Keep it up guys.I wonder how much this is all going to cost? Either way, take my money please Micrsoft.

- DC

That bittersweet fruit

1 May

If you continue reading my blogs, and I continue writing blogs you may start to see a trend. I like Apple products. Before I hear the screams of “Fan Boy”, I would like to clear things up, I try to be level headed about things, Apple are not the only company that make great products.

This year could be an interesting year, as for many years now Apple have dominated the mobile phone and tablet market, and they have also been doing pretty well in computer sales too. But, as the saying goes – all good things must come to an end. Apple are at the top, and as newton famously said whilst sitting under a tree of Apples, what goes up, must come down.

Samsung are hot on Apples tail in terms of mobile phone sales, the Samsung Galaxy S 4 has been a massive phone launch for the company, bigger than any iPhone launch in recent history. The last real redefining iPhone launch has to have been the iPhone 4, nothing much revolutionary since. Apple have become stale, they set their own bar too high and have struggled to match it since, as a result consumers have strived for something new and different, which is where the Samsung Galaxy hops into play.

In one of my earlier blog posts I discussed the evolution of mobile ecosystems, when iOS was first released alongside the original iPhone, it was a revolutionary, simple and beautiful operating system. Now it is boring and repetitive. We have had 6 generations of the same design with a few tweaks along the way. Don’t get me wrong, it does it’s job, it’s what makes an iPhone, an iPhone.

Days after I had posted my blog relating to iOS, reports came in of what could be a major change coming in iOS 7, according to sources, iOS 7 will feature a flat design, Flat design being akin to the type of operating system Windows 7 Phone chose to adopt. I strongly believe this change is imminent, I cannot see Apple sticking with the same iOS again, they need a shake up, something to bring the spark back into the company and make people want to buy their phones again, and I mean, really want to buy them.

Personally, I don’t like the idea of a flat structured operating system, I am not a fan of Windows phone, or of Metro UI. I guarantee, everyone will hate the new design at first, nobody likes change. There will be Apple’s simplicity and beauty built into it, so people will adjust and fall in love over again – at least, that’s what Apple need to ensure happens to get out of this dry spell they are in.

In terms of other products released by the company, expect some new fruit over the next few years. We wont just be getting refreshed lines of existing products. We will be getting new product lines. For Apple to remain at the top for a little while longer these products need to make us ask the question five years from now; “how did I ever live without that?”.

The big question is, do Samsung have what it takes to become as innovative as Apple once were? With their eye-tracking technology in the Galaxy S 4, they are showing that they are ready for the challenge.

 


-DC

The Next-Next Generation of Gaming

24 Apr

It has been a huge day for the console gaming community, in fact, a huge few months. First off we get a PlayStation 4 announcement, and now we get a cheeky invite from Microsoft for a new unveiling.

It was inevitable, the rumors of a new Xbox (lets hope to god its not actually named 720) have been circulating for years now and it has after all been almost 8 years since the Xbox 360 was released.

Why has it been so long since a new major console has been released? The simple answer to that question is that there has been no major reason to refresh the console. The PlayStation 3 and XBOX 360’s specs have been good enough to continue being the best on the market. There have been no groundbreaking new technologies that have warranted a complete relaunch of the console, and in my opinion, there still isn’t.

The 360 was released on the brim of a major breakthrough in online gaming, Xbox Live had not long taken off and it was becoming a massive hit. The 360 was truly a next generation console that provided groundbreaking graphical processing power which can be seen in the games we have today. Microsoft had released a console that was future proof, it was high-spec for its time, it allowed for online software updates so new features could be pushed to the Xbox without the need of an upgrade. What more could people want from a console? Very little. I admit, there are a few things missing from my Xbox such as a Blue Ray Player, maybe a built in rechargeable battery pack for controllers. These little features that the Xbox has been missing are minor and don’t warrant a new machine.

We are now, like it or not, getting new consoles. Even though there is no major technology breakthrough (3D I hear you say, it’s just not practical), we will be treated to a lot more graphical processing power, this will be noticeable when game developers begin to take advantage of the new architecture that the consoles will bring. This combined with Ultra-HD (4K) TV’s should bring along some stunning visuals.

Whatever Microsoft bring to the table come May 21st, I am pretty sure it will just be a new console and controller design, with a new GPU/CPU shoved in to keep it going for another 8 years, a blue ray player(!), built in Kinect, and increased integration into SmartGlass. No new major features here.

And we all know, we will have to buy it if we want to continue playing upcoming titles.

-DC

Facebook Home to pave the way to new mobile ecosystems?

18 Apr

Facebook Home was announced a few weeks ago and it has caused a stir within the online community, with a lot of mixed views on the idea. Whether it will be a success remains to be seen, but it shows clues to the eventual fate of our mobile operating systems.

When smart phones first launched (using the original iPhone as an example) the Application Store did not exist, we had several built in applications that without a jailbroken device we were forced to stick with. It wasn’t until a year later when the app store was launched, that we began to see the development of 3rd party applications that are now available in their hundreds of thousands (775,000 as of Jan 2013).

In recent years we have began to see some of these 3rd party applications being deeply implemented into the operating systems, on iOS it began with twitter, then Facebook joined the ranks. While not a complete integration it allowed you to tweet and post straight from the operating system, removing the need to open the application. This move in my personal opinion is good, it increases the compatibility between the operating system and 3rd party applications, but I still tend to open the app myself to make posts.

Facebook Home takes this a step further, instead of taking an operating system and building an application into it, Facebook have taken an application and built an operating system around it. Keeping Facebook as the primary focus of the OS.

By doing this, Facebook can control what a user primarily sees on the device, and push relevant content their way (they can also push advertisements if they please). This is great for people who’s lives primarily revolve around Facebook, but these days that is a decreasing amount of people. For people who don’t want their phone covered in Facebook related content, or who just want to be away from social media, Facebook Home wont be a welcome addition.

Following the announcement of Facebook there have been rumors that Facebook and Apple are in deep talks to bring this kind of integration to iPhones. The iOS operating system has not had a major update in some time, it’s signature application based layout has stuck with it since the beginning, and it is starting to get a bit stale, maybe we will see something new and fresh come WWDC this summer?

What is all this moving towards? I cannot see application driven devices being around for much longer, it’s only a matter of time before all the major applications will be built into the OS from factory install, eventually make installing applications completely redundant (or at least purging all those crap applications that are clogging up the app store). Having a deeply integrated system is better in terms of reliability, it cuts out the need for a third party so compatibility issues aren’t as much of an issue, but it might give too much power to mobile phone manufacturers. We all know that Apple are already power hungry, to remove third parties from the OS would be a dream come true for them.

Take a watch of the video below, if something like this was to be successful, deep integration of these applications into devices will be needed.

 

- DC

The Evolution of Technology

17 Apr

So I find myself in Costa, with an iPad Mini, whilst procrastinating from revision for my end of year exams.

Being an ICT student who is pushing to pursue a career within the industry, I often find myself having views and thoughts about the future of certain technologies, and how they will or will not succeed. Sometimes these views turn out to be right, sometimes they do not. However, I thought it was time I put it all into words.

I plan to making this a hosted blog sometime over the summer, but we will see how it goes.

Got anything you would like me to put my view across about? Let me know.

- DC

P.S – I’ve had to write this post out twice now as WordPress decided to delete my first published post for some unknown reason. Maybe WordPress are going to be one of the technologies I will be blogging about…