Apple

Traveling with Tech

This weekend I’m visiting Dublin – a city that I’ve never been to before. I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the technology that I’ve used to get me here and how I’ve relied on technology to enhance my visit.

My journey to Dublin actually started when I booked my flights. In this day and age everything can obviously be done online – my booking confirmation was e-mailed to me and the day before flying I simply checked in and printed my boarding pass from the comfort of my sofa. (Everything going good so far).

Once at the airport my boarding pass is scanned, again everything seems to be working although it’s a little disconcerting to think that I’m now entirely reliant upon the Ryan air booking system to recognise that I have a flight that I’ve paid for.

We could obviously spend a lot of time discussing the technology of the plane and computer systems in the airport …..

So now I’m in Dublin does my reliance on technology stop? Well I guess it could ….. But I have been rather lazy using my iPhone to help me navigate, booking tickets for the Guinness Storehouse online to receive my 10% discount and even writing this blog post while grabbing a coffee.

So lets take stock for a moment. Is technology taking the fun out of traveling? Obviously there is technology that is now essential to travel, the booking of the flights and the systems that actually get me here ….. But now I’m here wouldn’t it be more interesting to see the city without my technology leading the way? To navigate using a traditional map, or by speaking to people and asking directions …..

If that we’re the case its’s unlikely I’d have found the costa coffee shop that I’m now sat in …. And I wouldn’t have been able to check reviews of restaurants before choosing one for lunch. But is that actually important? If the restaurant had been dreadful it would have made for an interesting story to tell when I get home.

Maybe i should try traveling the old fashioned way and see how i get on ….. not on this trip (obviously) Maybe that’s an experiment for another time. Or maybe it’s something you’ve done, or do? Does traveling without tech create more adventure?

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Categories: Apple, Invention, Social, Technology | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Technology and Customer Service

I had cause to visit my local Audi Dealership today at Cheshire Oaks earlier today. I’ve been considering a new car for some time and thought that today might just be the day.

During my visit the customer service I received wasn’t what I would consider up to scratch – I was made to feel like I was there for the their benefit and they didn’t seem to care about me as an individual. At the point I was told that I could either wait 45 minutes while the salesman finished the other quotes he had to do (and then do mine) or could have my quote e-mailed to me really annoyed me ….. so I left.

This experience made me start to question how important is customer service when accessing technology. If you want technology badly enough would you put up with poor customer service.

Take Apple as a casing point. I’m always been blown away by the level of service that I receive whenever I have cause to speak to Apple – but would I still want that new iPad, iPhone 5 or accessory if the company didn’t make me feel special?

I return to Audi, the reality is I probably still do want to get an Audi – but i’d be unlikely to purchase it at Audi Cheshire Oaks. My instinct as a customer is to shop at an outlet where I get the best customer service. I guess this is fine for a large company, but what about smaller organisations – if they are they only vendors of a product not shopping with them could be cutting your nose to spite your face.

Would you buy something from an organisation that had annoyed you or didn’t value you as a customer?

Categories: Apple, Customer Service, Technology | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

two Android’s and an iPhone

I’m in the process of developing a couple of apps for the Android platform. To anyone who knows me this is almost unthinkable as i’m the biggest Apple Nerd you will ever meet ….. well apart from my mate Andy Davies who I actually think wants to BE Apple!

As i’m releasing apps for Android it makes sense that I need to test them. I’ve looked into different ways of purchasing Android devices and finally settled on taking out a business contract which allows me to get two phones at a very reasonable price.

I spent a very enjoyable couple of hours in the O2 store in Chester this morning where a girl called Alex provided me with excellent customer service. I walked out of the store with a new Samsung Galaxy 3 and a new HTC one.

Now other than a fleeting glance at an Android phone i’ve never used the platform …… so I was quite excited to get back to the office to really see for myself which device I believe is the best.

So now in front of me on my desk I have two Android’s and an iPhone….. sounds like some weird movie title ….. I now decree that i will give you my opinion!

At this point you’re probably thinking this can go one of two ways …… he’s either going to slate Android and big up iOS because Apple has the superior product or alternatively he’s going to have a revelation and announce that iPhone is dead and that up until now he has clearly been going down the wrong path in life – time for a change?

Packaging

In his biography of Steve Jobs, Isaacson discusses how Jobs was fascinated by the user experience. It is well documented that Jobs believed that the user experience begins the moment you open the box. I remember when I got my iPhone 4s, the product was a pleasure from the very moment I started to open the packaging.

I decided that the first test of my new Android devices would be how pleasurable it is to open the boxes.

Samsung Galaxy 3

I liked the box, it looks elegant and in honesty reminded me of the box my iPhone came in (No wonder the legal disputes continue). Once out of the box though I started to get frustrated – the battery wasn’t charged so I needed to plug it in, but before I could plug it in I had to assemble the charger ….. not just a case of plugging in the USB cord, I had to attach the plugs pins – sounds easy but it wasn’t very intuitive. Therefore I give the Samsung Galaxy 3 6 out of 10.

HTC One

Unlike the Galaxy I don’t like the HTC packaging. It feels cheap almost as if its made out of Polystyrene. I also nearly dropped the phone because when I opened the box the upper layer got stuck in the lid as I removed it from the box. The phone did have a little charge on the battery which was a bonus and there was no issues building the charger ….. but then I noticed the smell …. most products have a nice new smell ….. the HTC one smells like wet cardboard. 3 out of 10 and I think that’s generous.

Look and Feel

This is a very basic test ….. what does the device look like and does it feel good to use.

Samsung Galaxy 3

There’s no denying it, the Galaxy 3 looks sexy. The phone I bought is in white and it’s gorgeous. That said to my mind its a bit thin and light – it’s got no weight to it at all which makes me a little scared i’m going to snap it. Also the on button is on the side which doesn’t feel intuitive – I guess if they’d put it on the top they would be facing another law suit from Apple … I give the galaxy a respectable 8 out 10.

HTC One

The packaging feels like cheap cardboard, and being honest the phone does as well. It’s not shiny (I know that must sound very superficial) and as a result it feels cheap. The connector for the charger is in a bizarre place (left hand side toward the top) – and the phone has too many buttons (no risk of an Apple law suit for that). As is said to the uk each year in Eurovision “nil point”. That may sound very unfair but at least i’m being truthful.

Initial Set – Up

It’s important even though you only do it once ….

Samsung Galaxy 3

It was fairly simple – quite a straight forward process. The keyboard has some quirks that I don’t like, and I find myself hitting the wrong letters but I think that’s just because i’m used to the iPhone ….. I guess with time I can get good on the Galaxy keyboard? I also quite like the vibrate feedback when you press a button. My only difficulty was that the phone didn’t like connecting to my wireless network and as a result I had to create some the suggested accounts after i’d made a couple of tweaks in settings. Not a deal breaker through – 7 out of 10.

HTC One

Finally, something to write home about! All I can say is that it worked! There was no setup requirement ….. I switched the phone on and immediately it was ready to make a phone call. I couldn’t fault the process – 10 out of 10 – the iPhone wouldn’t have achieved that …..

So, scores so far ….. Samsung Galaxy 3 21 out of 30, HTC One 13 out of 30 ….. and where do I believe Apple sits? I would be lying if at this stage I said that in my opinion Apple didn’t have a much superior product – aesthetically it beats both the Galaxy and HTC by a country mile …. although the aesthetic gap between Samsung and HTC is also in my opinion HUGE.

My gut instinct is that the Galaxy is working toward what Apple have ….. and that’s the problem ….. Apple already have what I view as best smart phone, therefore to get something that works as well as the iPhone Galaxy need to copy Apple or their product in my eyes will never be quite as good – another court case anyone?

The other option is for Samsung to take a risk and come out with something completely different – a game changer ….. you need a visionary like Steve Jobs to do that though and I don’t think Samsung have one …..

Now that I have my new phones i’m going to play with Android and decide if I do like it ….. my instinct at this stage is that it’s not as simple and streamlined as iOS ….. but I have an open mind – i’m going to use the phones and then make an informed decision which i’ll feed onto the blog in due course.

In terms of the devices themselves, as it currently stands …..

HTC = *Aldi
Samsung = *Tesco or *Morrisons
iPhone = *Waitrose or *Sainsbury

Anyone else got any views? The can of worms is unleashed 😉

*No offence intended to any supermarket chains mentioned in this article 😉

Categories: Apple, HTC, Mobile Phones, Samsung | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

APP REVIEW: Chirp

Chirp Screen ShotChirp is a brand new app, developed by University College London (UCL) explores the concept of using sound to transmit data between phones. In many ways it seems ludicrous that this is such a new innovation given that humans have been communicating via sound for millenia.

Chirp works by associating a short high pitched noise with every photo, url or note which is to be shared. When the app hear’s a chirp it looks up the noise in its database and returns the item that the user wants to share.

So what’s all the excitement about? We love it because of the possibilities of sharing information with a wide range of people at the same time. Imagine a conference speaker playing a “chirp” as part of his talk in order to allow everyone in the room to access some exclusive content simultaneously – or what about the possibilities of using it as part of interactive TV.

It’s important not to get bogged down by the fact that currently you can only send certain data types. It doesn’t take much to imagine a whole host of data being sent including audio files, video and documents.

For more information check out this article on the BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-18927928

Chirp is a free app and is available in the Apple App Store.

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Great Devices

Over the past few days i’ve been giving a lot of consideration to what makes a device a “great device”.

Take the concept of a mobile phone; I got my first mobile in 1998, to be blunt, it was a BT cellnet brick. At the time I thought it was the best thing in the world and that I would never need another phone ….. less than a year later I was back in the phone shop looking for a better device.

This trend continued until 2007 when I got my first iPhone. Now don’t get me wrong i’ve upgraded my device every 12 to 18 months since then, but this time something has changed. I’m no-longer looking for a “new” mobile phone, instead i’m looking for a new “iPhone”.

It would therefore be reasonable to assume that I consider the iPhone a “great device”. Over the last 15 years not many devices have had that same effect on me – the iPad being the other notable exception.

So what is it about these devices that make them great? Why is it that I no-longer feel I need to be constantly searching for a better mobile phone or a better tablet device?

If i’m honest i’m not sure I have the answer ….. at least not the full and complete answer. Just as I was pondering this earlier in the week a friend of mine visited me with her two year old daughter. I’d left my iPad on the sofa and as we were talking I noticed the inquisitive child pick up the device and after a couple of minutes work out how to switch it on. The child didn’t know what she was doing, but she did manage to “swipe to unlock” and a few minutes later had managed to launch the app angry birds.

Now I don’t believe that Leila is an unusual 2 year old, she may well grow up to be a genius but right now she is just an ordinary child. Something about the “i” range of are intuitive and easy to use. It occurs to me that with these devices Apple haven’t developed some technology that they want to bring to the masses, instead they have started with what people want from a device and then made the device insanely intuitive. So intuitive that a 2 year old can work out how to use the technology.

This is the clever bit ….. they haven’t “dumbed it down” – the devices can do extremely complex things, they just do those complex things in such a way that anyone feels comfortable “giving it a go”.

To my mind it is therefore the fact the the “i” devices do everything that a user wants in a “friendly” and “intuitive” way that encourages users to want to use them and as a result makes these devices great!

Other views on “i” device greatness can be found at these links:
http://www.phonebuff.com/2011/10/what-makes-iphone-great/
http://www.ipadfb.com/ipad-why-people-love-it/

Categories: Apple, Technology | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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