Posts Tagged With: Apple

A perplexing keynote

So Apple held there September Event on Wednesday and I’ve got to be honest; I’m a little perplexed. If you haven’t seen the keynote you can watch it here 

The rumours by en large proved true; the new Apple TV complete with SDK is definitely a welcome addition to the line up; and the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6SPlus isn’t exactly a revelation. I laughed when Tim played the iPhone video as I genuinely believe they could have used the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in place of the new devices on screen and no-one would have noticed.

There were 2 things in the keynote though that left me wondering why.

First off; MICROSOFT! What were they doing? I had visions of the Steve Balmer Developers, Developers, Developers moment being repeated – surely Microsoft don’t believe that if Mohammad won’t go to the Mountain then Microsoft must go to the developers?

Its more than that though – I can accept the argument of the two companies “burying the hatchet, and Microsoft not feeling the need to compete; but in allowing Microsoft to present Office on the iPad Apple in my eyes have effectively acknowledged that the Office suite is a superior product to iWork and in some ways have abandoned Pages, Numbers and Keynote.

The second why moment in my view relates to the new Apple Surface …. sorry iPad Pro. That thing is huge and well expensive! I may well come to eat my words, but why would you want to have a tablet that size? For me I’d have preferred them to keep the existing overall size of iPad but introduce a thinner bezel to maximise screen real estate.

Then, there is the Apple Pencil – need I say more than to quote Steve Jobs “If you see a stylus, they have got it wrong” – #notconvinced; that said I’m sure some artists and graphic designers may find it useful, I just don’t believe its right for the mass market.

So there you have it; Apple have gone mad – well maybe not mad, but it strikes me that they are once again struggling to innovate.

I believe they don’t really know what to do next with iPad and are floundering for its next big success. For me they just need to slow down a little; there isn’t a need to have a brand new iPhone every year, and certainly not a brand new iPad – I’m not saying never refresh the product again; just take some time out and then introduce something new and innovative to the market.

Its time for them to take a risk and I fear if they don’t perhaps we are going to see that they have already ridden the crest of the wave and are about to watch the wave break over cupertino and the apple campus.

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A Social Review of 2014

As we wave goodbye to 2014 and look forward to 2015 I find it fascinating to review how technology has changed and evolved society throughout the year and speculate what the future may hold. So heres 5 things to remember about 2014 and a few predictions for 2015.

5 things from 2014

1. 2014 was the year of the big social crazes! Who didn’t neck nominate? and I can’t believe anyone avoided the Ice Bucket Challenge? If you’re interested heres mine!

2. Data security and privacy has been right at the forefront of our newsfeed. The year started with 4.6 million snapchat accounts being compromised, followed in April by the target heart bleed fiasco which exposed the payment details of 40 million target customers. In September 5 million gmail passwords were released on a Russian bit coin forum. 145 million accounts were stolen from eBay in May; several celebrities learnt why they need to have good iCloud passwords and most recently Kim Jong Un and North Korea hacked Sony Pictures in an attempt to prevent the release of The Interview. if there’s one thing to be learnt by all of this it is that data is still not secure online and companies have a long way to go to ensure that our data is protected.

3. The CIA joined Twitter in June – but they can neither confirm or deny that this is the case.

4. In September Apple launched the latest iPhone(s). The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus are the most advanced handsets ever – in my view the most exciting feature is the introduction of Apple Pay which allows consumers to pay for goods using their phone instead of their credit card. This isn’t available in the UK yet but I really think it has the potential to change the way we pay for goods and services forever! They also launched Apple Watch – personally i’m not convinced about this one yet but i’ll let you know when I buy one in 2015.

5. Talking of Apple Watch wearable technology seems to have had some big hits this year! Google Glass was launched as a premium product in the uk; keeping fit with fit bit, Nike Fuel Band and other similar products seems to have suddenly become cool. I bought myself a Pebble smart watch (and so did at least two other people I know) – I know hardly makes it main stream but you had to at least consider that some of this stuff is catching on! Maybe 2015 is the year of the wearable.

So thats a brief look at what has caught my attention during 2014 – any thoughts on the 2015 trend?

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A View Worth Admiring

photo

I just couldn’t resist sharing this. This is my favourite photo of WWDC so far. You will also love this panorama 

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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?

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Is Design More Important than Functionality?

I have worked for several years with developers and designers; arguments often rage between the two groups about what’s more important design or functionality.

It’s also interesting to put clients into this mix. When demonstrating a new system it always fascinates me how end users react. Typically if the system “looks” visually stunning functional deficiencies will be overlooked by the end user – but presenting a system that is functionally perfect without a stunning design often leads to disappointment.

Steve Jobs was notorious for placing huge value on the aesthetics of a product, this is evident in products like the iPhone and the iPad – but does this mean that design is more important than function?

It seems apparent that users like to use systems that feel superior – the human race is notorious for being a little shallow at times and traditionally place a lot of emphasis on the first impression – I guess this is also true of products and product design. In this sense design isn’t necessarily “more” important than functionality but it is incredibly important to always give a good first impression.

To realise that this is true you only need to look at the shock reaction when Susan Boyle demonstrated she had an outstanding voice – or the day that Paul Potts aced his audition. An assumption had been made in both cases that because they didn’t look like traditional pop stars they were not going to be able to sing.

I wonder how many websites have suffered this fate – functionally brilliant but simply didn’t live up to design expectation. What’s you view? Can superior functionality ever live up to expectation without quality design?

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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 😉

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Technology Statistics

There are currently more than 500,000 apps available on the Apple App Store (Apple, 2011). I was recently researching a presentation and I came up with some interesting stats that I found interesting:

  • 1 in 3 adults in the UK now own a smart phone.
  • There are 75,750,000 active mobile phones in the UK today and 92% of adults in the UK are active mobile phone users.
  • Over 1 billion apps were downloaded in Christmas week 2011.
  • On christmas day 2011 4.5 million new smart phones were activated in the UK
  • 15% of adults now live in a home that has a mobile phone but no landline
  • 50% of UK adults now use social networking websites at home.

These statistics give an indication of how technology really is invading our world and how it is changing our everyday lives. The question I ask myself is if technology always changes life for the better? Is it healthy to spend so much time using technology?

These are questions that don’t have a simple answer if indeed they have any answer at all. What do you think?

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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/

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