Tag Archives: smartphone

2014: What to watch – the wearable era.

25 Mar

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2014 is set to be a big year in the technology industry. Since the beginning of the tablet era in 2010 we haven’t had a revolutionary new product category that has really hit it off. 4 years later, we are getting a glimpse of how technology will continue to integrate into our lives.

Smart watches are by no means a new category, they’ve been around for some years now in the form of the Pebble Smart watch or the Galaxy Gear. But neither of these have been big successes, in fact, they’ve been seen as a massive failure. I guess the biggest question is why haven’t they taken off yet, and whats to say that they ever will?

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There are two fundamental issues with the current portfolio of smart watches:

  1. They do not integrate as efficiently as they could do
  2. They really don’t look great

For a Smart Watch to be successful, it firstly has to integrate into our lives without any fuss. We want it to be easy to use and have all the information we need readily available for when we need it. Such as todays meetings, the weather, our contacts and our messages. All in a format that is easily readable on the fly.

Secondly, it needs to look good. But at the same time satisfy a varied number of consumers. Watches, more often than not are fashion accessories (when not being used to tell the time). So if they look bulky, clunky and ugly they aren’t going to sell. But making a generic look that appeals to the mass is a difficult hurdle to overcome. Customisation is key, both physically and digitally.

The Android Wear announcement last week brings a completely new competitor to the table, the first serious player in the smart watch market. The videos shared of the Moto 360 have set a high bar for what could be a game changer for wearables. The previews show a beautiful and elegant interface that shows off everything that a smart watch should be.

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The Moto 360 also demonstrated another important variable for the wearable era: health monitoring. Personally, this will be a massive selling point for me. I currently use the Nike + app on my phone for running and I have always had an interest in getting a Nike Fuelband. With leaked screenshots of Apple’s iOS 8 health book app, it seems that this year’s technology announcements will be very health orientated.

I think that this is a fantastic opportunity for encouraging a healthier lifestyle. Smart phone manufacturers can harness the power of a device that millions of its customers already have, and couple it with a new peripheral that can change the way people live their lives.

The same way the iPhone revolutionised the mobile phone market back in 2007, the Smart Watch era will change the way we access our most important data on the fly, whilst at the same time keeping tabs on our body to improve our fitness without us even realising.

Watch this space.

 

 

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Post PC era, reality or marketing ploy?

5 Jan

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First of all it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything – I think life may have just gotten in the way. But as I sit here feeling those January blues on this dreadful Sunday evening, I thought to myself I would make my Sunday even worse by using my brain for something productive.

Now that I’ve got the happy introduction out the way, let’s move on!

Post-PC Era is a term used to describe the decreased PC sales in favour of mobile devices (tablets and smart phones). With the rise of tablets over the past years the Post-PC Era is a phrase that has been thrown around a lot, and every time it is mentioned I still feel as uncomfortable as the first time I heard it.

When I think of Post-PC, I envision a world where tablets replace PC’s. This scares me. To an average consumer, it’s great, their device does everything they need it to using a simplified operating system. But to a more advanced power user it’s a nightmare. As much as device manufactures want to promote their device and applications with user productivity in mind, I strongly believe that you can not get the same amount of productivity out of a tablet.

At the start of the tablet era, just before Apple announced the first iPad, I was hoping (more than anything) that it would come with a feature rich, fully functional operating system. Alas, it didn’t, and productivity in the early days of tablets wasn’t to be seen. I will give it some credit through,  with the addition of better suited apps it is much better than it was.

But even to this day I couldn’t use my iPad as a device for website programming, it is just not practical. I need a fully functional operating system will full versions of applications. There is still so much that a tablet restricts you to.

I have been through various iPads – I’ve had the iPad 2, iPad mini and iPad mini retina. Each time I have purchased one I have questioned over and over how it will fit into my life. I have a phone that does everything I need on the go, and my laptop that I use for all my more advanced tasks. I could never replace my laptop with a tablet so why do I need a one when my current devices do everything the tablet would?

I don’t think the full sized iPad is the way to go. After my iPad 2 I was very much ‘anti-tablet’, it was too big and bulky and I hardly used it. I could have just carried around my laptop instead. It was too big to play games, read books, or watch movies on. So when Apple released the iPad Mini, my interest in tablets resurfaced, and eventually I purchased one.

The iPad mini is fantastic for reading books, it’s about the same size as a book so it just feels natural. The screen on the retina makes the text look crystal clear too. It’s also brilliant for playing games as it’s lightweight and easy to hold, and watching TV no longer requires a gym membership to hold the device up for long periods of time.

Even after being happy with my iPad mini, there was still doubt in my mind. How will this fit into my life? Will I stop using my phone or laptop? I don’t want any of my devices to be redundant!

Now I think it’s key to really think how tablets have emerged and become so popular, so quickly. It’s provided easier accessibility to the internet for people who were reluctant to use a big scary computer. Any idiot can pickup a tablet and use it, they are intuitive devices, and this is where the majority of their market share comes from. However, for the more ‘techy’ folk, this isn’t a replacement device, it’s a new device completely.

I still use my laptop for the more advance tasks and I use my phone for simple tasks (like making phone calls!!!). My iPad seems to have flown right in and settled as a new device in its own right.

At work I now use my iPad for listening to music, my phone doesn’t hold all my music but with the extra 16GB I have on my ipad I can store all my music. The free Deezer app that I get with my contract is great on the iPad for streaming music too. It’s great for quickly replyin

It’s that interim device that I can use when I am not on foot, such as at work or on a train commute. It doesn’t replace my existing devices – it extends them. It may mean that I use my phone and laptop less, but, thats all for good reason.

Yes – It has taken me 4 years to finally fit a tablet into my lifestyle.
No – The Post PC-Era is not reality, its a marketing ploy. A Post-PC Era indicates a time after PC’s.  Mobile devices will not replace PC’s (completely), they will work alongside them for a long time to come.

iPhone 5C… Crayola?

10 Aug

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No, of course not. It isn’t going to be called Crayola, but i’m not far off as iPhone 5 Colour seems like a very safe bet.

I haven’t blogged for a long time due to my lack of time to do so, despite spending the majority of my life sitting at a computer desk I do not have the time to allow my thoughts to be put into blog form. However, it’s getting to a very popular time of year in terms of technology, and this is a subject that I cannot pass up writing about.

It’s become no secret to the world that Apple are releasing a budget iPhone in the fall, no official announcement of the sort but an abundance of panel leaks have proven that we will be on the receiving end of a budget iPhone in an assortment of colours.

Why?

Well that is a good question. Many people might think that the iPhone is already a mass produced product, so why release a less powerful, plastic version when you can just get the latest high-spec one with diamond cut “chamfered” aluminum housing? To win over the cheap budget Android phone users is why.

Although a budget iPhone may not sway existing iPhone users to a new phone, it is certainly going to bring in a new wave of iPhone customers. Presently, people who have an iPhone can not only afford one, they generally want to have one. People that don’t have one are sitting on the fence of being unsure of owning one, and eying up that cheaper Android alternative.

There is a perfect gap in this market for Apple, they know they already have their existing high-end customers with the standard iPhone. The people who are caught on the fence, and ultimately end up going for a cheap Android handset on a £15/month contract will now have the option of a better quality iPhone alternative for roughly the same sort of money.

Maybe I am being bias here by saying the cheap Android aren’t good quality, but it is true. I have nothing against Android phones and the Galaxy S 4 is a fantastic phone, but it is up there with the same price range as the iPhone. The cheaper phones are rubbish, and if someone releases a high quality low spec phone it will be a massive goldmine for the first past the post.

The only mistake I see Apple are making with this launch is timing. As part of their yearly refresh of phones they have a major launch one year followed by a spec bump launch the following year, usually giving the iPhone a trailing “S” on the spec bumped model. By releasing the low budget coloured phones alongside the “S” model, may be enough to pull away the people who are sitting on an iPhone 5 and unsure of whether to upgrade to a 5S.

If you are one of these people, and are not satisfied with the difference between the iPhone 5 and the iPhone 5S, you may find yourself considering going for the C. As it’s something different and something new. Apple will have to be very careful not to pull away their current customers onto the cheaper model, they must market it perfectly for it to work and provide a clear gap between the two markets they are now targeting.

Apple may have lost some of its innovation since Steve Jobs, but they still have a huge team at their disposal, and if they market the iPhone 5C right it will be a huge success for them. I just hope that it’s followed closely by something new and innovative.

- 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