Saturday, December 31, 2011

Mobile Becomes A Part Of You In 2012

Year 2011 was an exciting year for mobile technology as far as consumers are concerned but 2012 promises to be the first step towards a mobile future that may well put 2011 to shame.  

Android put on quite a show and I'm not just talking about the sheer volume of activations but also how far it has come from 2010.  Unfortunately, we did not see Android 4, Ice Cream Sandwich until December when Google put the Galaxy Nexus on sale.  So 2012 will be about ICS and what it can do for smartphones but more importantly, what ISC can do for tablets.  After all, Android tablets was a no-show in 2011.

For RIM, it's disappointment time after time in 2011 but you have to remember that while its products failed catch on in North America, Blackberries remain popular in much of the world. That along could be what saves RIM and give it one final shot at making sure its next generation Blackberries, the superphones, a shot at a comeback.

Windows Phone continues to gain steam but with babysteps.  We haven't a top WP phone in the US.  Sure, we'll get Nokia's Lumia 700 via T-Mobile but still nothing on the 800 or 900 phone.  However, Microsoft is never a company you want to rule out of any race.  It has incredible patience and not to mention very deep pockets.  

And Apple is Apple.  But 2012 may not be about iPhone 5 or even iPad 3 but more about what iOS 6 is going to be like.  On top of that, look for Siri to really put on a show when it leaves beta - I reckon that should be around the summer or fall time, in time for iOS 6.  And look for Siri to almost work like a platform - its quirky personality is a nice touch but wait until she really puts on a show - in Macs, iOS devices, and possible on TV too.

All of that are to be expected for 2012.  It's all of intangibles that will wow us.  Again, I'll bring up Siri but I anticipate Google and Microsoft to answer in kind.  On top of that, the tablet war will really take a toll on the PC market once Ice Cream Sandwich and Windows 8 tablets make their way onto the market.  

But it's also mobile with social media that could really change the world and how we mobile warriors conduct our lives.  Look at how this lethal combo changed the Middle East, mobilized the Occupy movement, and blur the line between news and tweet updates.  Figure it'll be huge in the US Presidential election in 2012?  That's right.  If you think the Obama campaign of 2008 was effective with social media, it'll be even bigger in 2012.  

I'll sign off here for now but I'll be back with my other mobile predictions (or wishful thinkings).  

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Verizon Backs Off On $2 Fee For Payments

What does Verizon Wireless and Bank of America have in common?

Verizon Wireless logo
Bank of America.svg

Verizon Wireless is wisely backing away from the $2 fee set to be imposed on its subscribers, those who can least afford it, after foolishly thinking it could get away with this.  We are after all in the "Occupy Whatever" era with social media becoming a weapon of choice for consumers, vigilante hackers, and those who would seek to overthrown their governments.

And what's interesting is that VZW learnt nothing from Bank of America's own bone-headed adventure to raise debt card fees on its customers.

I think most readers, my fellow mobile warriors, will agree with me when I say that while the banks are getting a lot of hate from the general American public (or people of the world for that matter), wireless carriers come in  a pretty close second on this "dislike" list.

It's time that Google admit that Chrome OS has failed thus far and go with plan B. While I'm not sure they've got a plan B, I'm gonna provide them one. Replace Chrome OS and use Android as its featured OS. And there are a few reasons why doing this would help Google's search business and even put its competitors on the defensive. The question is whether Larry Page, Google CEO, is Steve Jobs enough to do it.

It's time that Google admit that Chrome OS has failed thus far and go with plan B.  While I'm not sure they've got a plan B, I'm gonna provide them one.  Replace Chrome OS and use Android as its featured OS.  And there are a few reasons why doing this would help Google's search business and even put its competitors on the defensive.

The question is whether Larry Page, Google CEO, is Steve Jobs enough to do it.

More at On Android.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Galaxy Note: The Notepad You Want In A Post-PC World

According to Droid-Life, Samsung has already shipped one million Notes (wiki), an Android device with a 5+" screen that is more a tablet than a smartphone.  And while shipping one million isn't the same as selling one million, you gotta believe there a market for such a form factor.

Samsung Galaxy Note.jpg

And Samsung's pledge to bring the Note over to the US market is another vote of confidence that even the 5.3" screen has a market.  On top of that, Samsung is showing us that, yeah, a stylus isn't something you really want to abandon as pre-iPhone.

Now, for those of us in the US waiting for a Note, when will this happen?  2012.  That's the only confirmed bit I can dish out.  There is talk about which carrier may carry it based on FCC filings but that's too early to tell at this time.

Now, here is what's interesting about the Note that reminds us that it's a smartphone rather than a tablet.  Battery life.  In this test here, it shows that it can hang with the best of them when it comes to talk time but Samsung has not been able to outdo the iPhone or come close to the Galaxy Tab with respect to the battery life.  If you're going to use this as your post-PC device, you really need your device to be able to handle the load, be it medium or heavy load.

It has to be an all-day device.  The Note is close which is why I think it's sold well and will rock the US market when it makes it here.

More at Droid-Life.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Tablet: Apple Will Make a Sub-9.7” iPad

Would you get a $400 (if we’re lucky, $350) iPad with about an 8” screen?  I would in a heart beat if we’re talking about having at least 16 GB of storage.  And I think Apple will make it so.  So, that means I am disagreeing with Steve Jobs on this point.

Let’s refresh a bit.  Steve Jobs, a year and a half ago, blasted the 7” tablets that were just beginning to go on sale, in particular, the 7” Galaxy Tab from Samsung.  I would have to agree with Steve that that particular tablet sucked.  It was just a smartphone OS in a tablet.  And even today’s Honeycomb, Android 3, doesn’t measure up to what iPad’s iOS can do and, in terms of usability, doesn’t come close.

However, we have to examine what Android 4 means.  So far, we haven’t really seen a tablet with Android installed.  I think it’ll be awesome compared to what we’ve seen from the Android camp so far.  And iOS 6 should look about the same as iOS 5 on the iPad.  But my point is this.  While the iPad with its 10” screen is definitely better as far as viewing media, productivity, and general computing use goes, I’ve seen enough proof that a 7”, 8”, or even a 9” tablet can come close as far as allowing the user to be satisfied with them.

I spent a lot of time with the Galaxy Tab 8.9 and I was blown away.  As far as the OS is concerned, Android 3 doesn’t have it and it’s too complicated compared to iOS and even Web OS.  But as far as tapping on icons and general typing goes, it’s doable.  It’s even doable on a 7” tablet like the Kindle Fire.  Yeah, I spent time with the Fire as well.  With the 7” tablet, you definitely cannot type with both hands like you can with the iPad but you might be able to get away with it if you don’t have gigantic hands on an 9” screen.

So, giant fingers and filing them down aside, here are five reasons why I think Apple has found a way to make it work with a sub-10” tablet.

First, split keyboards.  Apple has instituted split keyboards on the iPad.  You can now type and hold they iPad in portrait mode and not worry about overreaching with your thumbs.  It’s very reasonable to expect that when (no longer if) Apple releases a smaller iPad, the split keyboard will be featured prominently.

Second, reading on the iPad is something folks do a lot of.  I’m not talking about ebooks but reading pages on the browser.  With the Reader function, the user can now access text on the Webpage without having to double tapp or try to zoom in.  I mean, if you can read a Webpage, tap the links, and multitouch your way on an iPhone, why not a 7” or 8” iPad?  And with the reader function, it becomes massively easier.

Thirdly, if typing is an issue, there is Siri.  Well, not Siri but the dictation function.  I find the dictation on the iPhone 4S very good, even superior to Dragon Dictate on the iOS and it’ll get better over time as well.

Fourth reason is that Apple is meticulous.  Painstakingly so.  It will not release a half-baked product.  It did release Siri as a beta because it had no choice:  Apple needed public participatioin to help make Siri better.  However, with its other products, Apple doesn’t release them until perfection is achieved.

I don’t find carrying about the iPad difficult.  It’s light.  Lighter than my Macbook Air and at times, with the wonderful battery life, it’s my choice of mobile weapon when I venture out.  I see a lot of mobile warriors carry around an iPad instead of their laptops.  I reckon a smaller iPad could help expand the tablet market further.

So, I’ll hold off a bit and continue to use my original iPad (we do have an iPad 2 but the original iPad has a special place in my heart) and see what Apple offers as far as a smaller iPad goes.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Light Versus Moderate Versus Heavy Use

When I read reviews, good and bad ones, of mobile devices, one think I like to concentrate on is the battery life.  And with battery lives, it's very subjective.   There is no universal standard for this.  It is probably easier to do this on the iPhone and other iOS devices but not so with other mobile platforms that have more than one handset.  I'm talking about Android, Windows Phone, and whatever other platforms that are still left competing in the mobile market.

So, I find it a bit irritating when reviewers talk about their moderate or heavy use.  I know that I've discussed this in passing on other posts regarding batteries and battery technologies, however, I feel these reviews are a disservice to the end-users of there is no concrete description by the reviews on what these subjective definitions of battery uses are.

What has started me on this has been the reviews for Galaxy Prime and, before this, the battery issues that some iPhone 4S users have reported.  So, I'm gonna lay down some ground work on what light, moderate, and heavy mobile uses are and you let me know what you think.

Light.  That mean you hardly use your device at all.  You take a couple of calls at a minute or two and, perhaps, you check your voicemail.  Then you get a couple of texts or e-mails and you answer them throughout the day. You'll also check the weather and stock prices through the day.  Maybe dabble with Google+ instead of stocks.  Also, you scan your Google Reader on the latest mobile news.  That's your day.  And on days you do go out, you check-in on Foursquare.  That's light.  Maybe there is some gaming going on but no more than five to ten minutes.  You also use your device to listen to about two hours of music.  Catch up New Girl on Hulu Plus.

With this kind of use, you'll have no problem knowing your iPhone or Galaxy S II will take you through the day with plenty of juice left on that battery indicator.

Moderate.  You do all of the above in light except do you it more often  A lot more often. You take pics and maybe two minutes or so of video.  You also school Alec Baldiwn in Words with Friends and about thirty minutes of gaming.  You also chat for about a thirty minutes by voice.  And you also IM a bit or send message on Groupme or Whatsapp here and there.  Maybe a friend will e-mail you a Youtube video and you watch it or you watch a drama episode on Netflix.  Or instead of watching a video, you FaceTime or video Skype about 10 minutes.  Of if you're like me, you also take your mobile device with you on a run as you play some music or podcast with you as you use the GPS to track you.

By the end of the work day, you should could end up with anywhere from 25-30% left on your device.

Heavy.  You're a moderate user except you do a lot of gaming and watch a bunch of video.  You somehow found time to watch a two hour movie on Netflix while still managed to get in an hour of gaming.  You still chat for about 30 minutes (who talks for more than that anymore on the phone?) and you also do a lot of writing and some productive work on your device.  You also use a lot of social apps updating your peeps on what you're up to or thinking.  

By end of lunch, you're probably down to about 40% or less and you're getting nervous if that'll last you through an hour's run with GPS on and music playing.  

I would say I'm a light user on most weekdays and a moderate user on weekends.  Note that I've not mentioned if the uses above is on a 3G or Wi-Fi network.  I'm assuming about 50-50 on this.  And you can forget about LTE – you'll need to take whatever numbers above and reduce your battery usability by 2-3 times because from my weekend of researching about battery life on the Galaxy Nexus and other LTE devices, that is just how bad they are right now.

So, I've laid some groundwork on what each category of mobile activity to measure the battery life.  Right now, there seems to be some consensus that the iPhone's battery life lasts longer than Android.  Maybe.  To me, it might be just a tad better compared to some of the high-end 3G Android phones.  And we can forget about comparing the 3G Androids and iPhones to the LTE devices when it comes to battery life.  There is just no comparison.

If anything, these reviews on mobile devices need to be more clear about what their uses are when they are trying to convey to us what their subjective views are on the battery life.

Apple Should Prepare to Leave China (There Is Still Time To Execute Such A Plan)

At first glance, you might think that the title of this article is a clickbait considering that China is the second biggest economy in the w...