Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Cloud: Dropbox Adds Security Features After Accounts Hacked

Source:  MacdailyNewsTechcrunch.

One of the things I find interesting about cloud security and companies that ask us to entrust them with our data is that they only act after something bad has happened.  As in this case with Dropbox where a number of accounts were hijacked.  And only after they were hijacked did they institute some additional security features.

My question is where were these security features before the hacking and why only after?  Why not before?  My Google accounts has double authentications and while it's a pain, I feel better about having it.  

I think it doesn't matter if you're an Apple, Google, Microsoft, or RIM fan.  Or if you're another cloud customer.  Wouldn't it be better to have more security than not?

In the case of dropbox, it appears that one of their employee account was hacked and then that's where the problem started.

So, this is what Dropbox will be doing:
  • Two-factor authentication, a way to optionally require two proofs of identity (such as your password and a temporary code sent to your phone) when signing in. (Coming in a few weeks)
  • New automated mechanisms to help identify suspicious activity. We’ll continue to add more of these over time.
  • A new page that lets you examine all active logins to your account.
  • In some cases, we may require you to change your password. (For example, if it’s commonly used or hasn’t been changed in a long time)
More info on their website.  

Let's hope more companies follow Google's example.  I'm an iCloud user, Amazon, and of a dozen or more other online/cloud user.  I sure would like additional security for my accounts.  What happened to Dropbox is only the beginning.  Frankly, I'm not surprised this has not happened even more.  

Last year, we had companies with breaches with a number of credit cards.  Millions.  Be it a stolen laptop, employee password stolen from a third party site, or a server that was not properly protected, hackers will find a way in.  

So, hopefully, others will follow Dropbox's example and not have to put its users needlessly through pain.  

Cord-Cutting: Hulu Plus Makes Pointless Appearance On Apple TV

Source:  Macworld.
Yeah (unenthusiastic).  This morning, reports are popping up all over the pace that Hulu Plus is finally on Apple TV.  Hey, that’s great.  Except the only way to access it is if you pay for shows you can watch for free on the Hulu website.

And then even if you decide to fork over $8 a month (that’s about three venti coffee at Starbucks there right), there’s no promise that the show you wanna watch will be available on Apple TV due to licensing terms.  Some shows are "web only".

I would not even call the addition of Hulu Plus under such conditions a step forward in cord-cutting.  Let’s see what happens this fall when Apple unveils its Christmas products and hope there will be some changes or additional options to accessing videos in iTunes like renting TV series that you can already do with movies.

For now, I’ll stick with my Macbook connecting via HDMI to the HDTV.  More about this uneventful event at Hulu blog.

Speculation: If the iPad mini and the iPod touch Both Cost $200, Which Will You Get?

iPod touch Versus iPad mini – If Both Comes In At $200, What Will You Get?

I love speculating and I hope you like it too because this particular one rocks.  If Apple refreshes the iPod touch like we expect, since they didn’t do it last year, and keep it at $199, and they also released the unicornesque iPad mini and price it at $199 to compete with the Fire and Nexus 7, as an Apple fan, what will you buy?

On face value, one might simply consider the iPad mini with its 7 or 8” screen to be a better value.  On face value, I’d have to agree with you.  But I’m not sure it’ll be so simple and Apple will make the choice a difficult to make.

iPod touch.  To call the iPod touch a phoneless iPhone is really disrespecting what the iPhone represents as a mobile platform that upended the mobile market and really put a lot of innovative juice into a number of markets that had grown stagnant.  The touch was released in the same year as the original iPhone in 2007 but much later.

I went out and instantly bought one and gave my iPhone to my mom.  I thought the iPhone would be a decent replacement for the iPhone.  It wasn't.  And when the current touch gained the cameras in the 4th gen touch, I was happy but disappointed that the rear camer was pretty lame.

However, as a mobile device perfect for gaming and entertainment, it was a perfect device and there has been zero competition.  And folks justified the rear-camera only being having 1MP because the kids who will be buying it don't need anything more sophisticated than that.  Bull.  Apple had its reasons and I'll leave it at that.

I'm hoping the next touch will gain at least the A5 chip that powered the iPhone 4S but with a smaller package so the CPU would be more efficient and fast with generating too much heat and requiring a lot of power.  That's likely to happen.

The screen should mirror anything the next iPhone should have.  When the iPhone 4 shipped with Retina Display, so did the touch.  There's talk that the iPhone screen will be bigger.  If that is the case, the touch will gain the same aspect screen as well.

The next main feature is the rear camera.  It's very possible that Apple could upgrade the camera this time around.  Frankly, I'm surprised last year's touch did not get an upgrade.  It made very little sense.  Even a slight improvement to 3MP or all the way up to 5MP would make sense since the iPhone 4S got an 8MP upgrade.  I'm going to believe the 2012 touch will definitely come a camera upgrade.  After two years of no change, it would be nice to see a 5MP camera.  Whatever the upgrade will be, we should see the see 1080p video recording come to the touch this year.

Also, the white touch last year, was a nice touch.  Could we see a new color?  Don't put it past Apple to introduce a new color or two.

iPad mini. Keep in mind that there is no iPad mini or iPod 7 or 8.  Steve Jobs was not in favor of this.  But then again, Steve Jobs and Apple has a history of saying one thing and doing another.  So, let's assume there is a smaller iPad coming.  What can we expect Apple to release?

The screen is likely going to sport a 1024x768 resolution, the same as the original iPad and the iPad 2.  We're not likely going to see a Retina display resolution of 2048x1536 found in the new iPad.  It'll be expensive.

We'll probably see the same A5 chip found in the iPhone 4S and the iPad 2.

The mini will be light and thin.

We'll have a Facetime camera.  For the rear-camera, it'll be hard to know for sure.  Just like Apple will keep the resolution at 1024x768, which is not that bad at all, Apple could try to keep the cost down so don't expect a great camera.  It would be nice to have a 5MP camera.  My mom recently took her new iPad to Japan and it was her "camcorder".

I reckon it looked awkward shooting pics with a 10" tablet but it should look less conspicuous with a smaller form tablet.

I guess the picture I'm painting you is the mini will be a smaller iPad 2.  And it could be enough for Apple to keep the cost low enough to compete with the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire priced at $200 each.  Neither the Nexus or the Fire have rear cameras.  The Fire has no camera at all (when I searched to confirm about the Fire lacking camera, there were many users who asked how to operate the camera.  I feel bad for them.  And I wonder how many Nexus users will realize there is no rear camera).

Cost.  By now, Apple knows just how much they will charge for the 2012 touch and the iPad mini.  I think they're gonna try to keep it around the $200 price point to keep the competition at bay.  This is why I don't think we should expect too much in terms of hardware specs.

There has been a lot of debate about this and whether Apple will go for margin or will not "leave a price umbrella for competitors".  I'm gonna go with the latter.

And with two key products, the touch and mini both at $200, it'll be hard for some folks to decide.  With the touch, we get a newer screen along with a potentially better camera.  And you can put the touch inside your pockets.

On the other hand, the iPad is already very portable and, with the mini, you have an even more portable device.  The Galaxy Tab 7 weighs in at 345 grams or 12.2 oz, the 7.7 version weighs 340 grams or 12 oz.  Those are two sizes that the mini will closely resembles.  Compared to the iPad, the mini could weigh about 50% less.

The mini will be vastly more portable but not by no means will it fit inside anyone's pockets.  If you're lying down and you doze off, the mini will still hurt your face when you drop it on yourself.

Outside of portability, there is also productivity.  When it comes to productivity, I would have said the mini would be more productive before iOS 6. With both devices sporting iOS 6, Siri and dictation could have a huge difference in equalizing how productive an user can be on either devices.

It's something that you have to get used to. However, once you start using dictation on a regular basis, you don't really want to go back to anything else.  In fact, much of this post was done via dictation.  It has saved me a lot of time, allow me to think, and visualize ahead of time what I want to convey.

Over all, the mini with its larger screen would be ideal.

So what portability, the touch has an advantage. However when it comes to productivity, the mini has the edge.

And the touch will have a Retina Display while the mini will have a pretty good screen but it won't be Retina at all.

So, what will it be for you?  I'm leaning towards the mini at the moment.  Who knows?  Maybe Apple will blow us away with a new innovative iPod touch.  Anyway, this is all just fun speculation now.  We'll know this fall exactly what Apple mean to grace us with.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Apple, Google Makes Cord-Cutting Easier - More Needs To Be Done

I’ve cut the cord a long time ago.  The only paid service I’ve got is Netflix streaming )and at times, I don’t even know why I have it given the limited content).  Netflix, Hulu, and an assortment of other online video content that is available, maybe you should take a long hard look at your entertainment needs and consider cutting your cord if you haven’t already.

Consider this: Google’s Nexus Q has sold out even at the high price of $300.  And the Q is really nothing more than a very expensive device for Android users to stream videos and images onto your HDTV from an Android devices.  Again, at $300 per unit, which is more than Apple’s hobby, Xbox 360, and PS3, the Nexus Q managed to sell out.

And speaking of Apple’s hobby, the Apple TV, does a bit more and while it costs only $100, it does have a new function when Apple released the latest OS X.  Rather, newer Macs gained a new function:  Airplay ability – allows users to mirror whatever it is on the screen of their Macbook through the Apple TV and onto the HDTV.

Folks, right about now, content owners should be quivering and panicking right about now.  Instead of being respected by the Hulu app, Mac owners can how use the Web-based Hulu site to stream content.  The same goes for shows on ABC, NBC, FOX, and anyone else that had previously respected viewing access on mobile.

Obviously, users with devices that support HDMI has been doing this for a while now but the ability to do this without making sure your device is sitting next to your TV does take this to another level.

The question comes back to cutting your cable or SAT TV cord.  There are still definitely more desktop-based contents than for mobile.  But content owners will have to realize that the living dynamics has changed.

Soon, everyone will be streaming content.  Artificial restrictions like this placed on Hulu will go away.  Makes zero sense that content you can watch freely on the Hulu site is not available on the Hulu app.  And to top it off, not all paid content are available for the mobile apps.  

Soon these barriers will have to come down.  And the sooner more of us cut off the $100 a month bill to the cable guys, the faster these walls will crumble and force newer consumer friendly business models.

And as competition between Apple, Google, and Microsoft heat up in the living room, I think whatever innovations and new features that will be coming out will also hasten this cord-cutting phenomenon.

iPhone 4/4S: Buy Now or Hold?

It’s practically August now.  Well, we’re about 48 hours from August 1st and for mobile watchers trying to decide when Apple will release new iOS devices this fall, it is going to be a feeding frenzy of rumors in the next four to six weeks.  Obviously, the choice is clear for those who are considering switching, buying, or upgrading to a new iPhone:  don’t buy anything for the next couple of months until Apple finally releases the 2012 iPhone, iPhone 5, or whatever they want to call it.

That’s for people in the United States and maybe Canada.  The decision could be a little obviously for European customers and definitely harder for Asian mobile warriors because of the way Apple staggers their iPhone launches.

It comes down to a couple of factors.  For instance, I needed a new iPhone last summer, 10 weeks before the new iPhone 4S came out and I went ahead and got the iPhone 4.

No regrets.  Because I needed it.  I did get the 4S three weeks after it was released, used it for a while and gave that to my mom.  Right now, the iPhone 4 is one of my main mobile devices.

Today, there’s specific talk about when Apple will be unveiling and releasing the next iPhone and juicy details about other products.  So, it’s that time of the year and while we’re still in July, it is already beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Bottom line:  if you can wait, please do so.  If you need something now, buy it, enjoy it, and don’t look back.  Even at 9 months and 21 months old, the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 are two of the best mobile devices on the market respectively.

Note:  I love reading rumors but won't traffic in them so you'll have to look through the pipes that is the Internet and find them for yourself.  Today's rumors are quite specific so you won't have any trouble.  My recommendation above is based on what I know at this particular time and based on Apple's history.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Social: Apple Needs To Add Google+ To iOS and OS X

I know I am going to get some pushback for this but I think Apple should include Google+ as part of its wider integration with social media and networks. The other day, I talked about the values of "networklets" like Foursquare and Yelp that offer values to users beyond anything that Facebook and even Twitter can hope to achieve at this time (even Twitter has had better success than Facebook).

Well, despite Google claiming Google+ having a couple of hundred million users, not many uses it on a consistent basis as Facebook, Twitter, and networklets. However, Google+ works more like a networklets because it is composed of a variety of subgroups of audience and users that geared towards specific interests. Writers, sports fans, tech pundits who following one another, etc.  Artists often share their latest work. This is why I even use Google+ on a regular basis.

And this reason alone is why Apple needs to include Google+. These subgroups have strong passions for their causes or work. And this fits right into what Apple's users are like. Talented, motivated mobile users that has a lot to share.

I know that what I am suggesting is highly unlikely to come to fruition. There is just too much animosity between Apple and Google at this point over mobile patents. A deal of this kind ole old benefit both companies immensely.

Apple gets another network and a new set of data about its users. A strong Google+ contingent in Apple's work gives a strong counterweight to Facebook.

For Google, well, Google+ will get millions of new users, talented, motivated, and a willingness to open up their pocketbooks.

Could this happen?  Yes.  Not for a while.  For Apple, Google is the main threat than Facebook, Microsoft, or anyone else poses right now. Until the patent war is over and the result is one that Apple can live with, we won't see this happen. Even now, Apple is purging one Google app or service after another from iOS.

We already know what Twitter interface in Android, iOS, and OS X looks like and how it works. It's likely Facebook integration will work in a similar manner.  Should Google+ be added, just imagine being able to update all three or more social networks with just one clip.  Right now, you have to go through different apps and that just is a pain.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Apple Needs To Add Google+ To iOS and OS X

I know I am going to get some pushback for this but I think Apple should include Google+ as part of its wider integration with social media and networks. The other day, I talked about the values of "networklets" like Foursquare and Yelp that offer values to users beyond anything that Facebook and even Twitter can hope to achieve at this time (even Twitter has had better success than Facebook).

Well, despite Google claiming Google+ having a couple of hundred million users, not many uses it on a consistent basis as Facebook, Twitter, and networklets. However, Google+ works more like a networklets because it is composed of a variety of subgroups of audience and users that geared towards specific interests. Writers, sports fans, tech pundits who following one another, etc. Artists often share their latest work. This is why I even use Google+ on a regular basis.

And this reason alone is why Apple needs to include Google+. These subgroups have strong passions for their causes or work. And this fits right into what Apple's users are like. Talented, motivated mobile users that has a lot to share.

I know that what I am suggesting is highly unlikely to come to fruition. There is just too much animosity between Apple and Google at this point over mobile patents. A deal of this kind ole old benefit both companies immensely.

Apple gets another network and a new set of data about its users. A strong Google+ contingent in Apple's work gives a strong counterweight to Facebook.

For Google, well, Google+ will get millions of new users, talented, motivated, and a willingness to open up their pocketbooks.

Could this happen? Yes. Not for a while. For Apple, Google is the main threat than Facebook, Microsoft, or anyone else poses right now. Until the patent war is over and the result is one that Apple can live with, we won't see this happen. Even now, Apple is purging one Google app or service after another from iOS.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Firday Movie: 6 Min of Cloud Atlas Trailer

Source:  Blastr.

It's been a while since I've explained about our Friday Movie post.  See, back when I was still a TA and a research assistant at UCLA, we used to sneak out on Fridays for after movies.  With premiums happening at the time there and like with about ten or so theaters, you get a wide range of selections of movies.

Awesome time.  Obviously, can't do that no more.  However, I've decided to bring this tradition via Friday trailer or shorts.  And this, it's from Cloud Atlas (wiki) starring all time favorite actor, Tom Hank, based on a book by the same title.

It's a series of stories that are intertwined and about how it affects. According to Wikipedia, the plot for the novel "...consists of six nested stories that take the reader from the remote South Pacific in the nineteenth century to a distant, post-apocalyptic future. Each tale is revealed to be a story that is read (or observed) by the main character in the next. All stories but the last are interrupted at some moment, and after the sixth story concludes at the center of the book, the novel "goes back" in time, "closing" each story as the book progresses in terms of pages but regresses in terms of the historical period in which the action takes place. Eventually, readers end where they started, with Adam Ewing in the Pacific Ocean, circa 1850."

I think it's one of things where you have to read the book too, which I am considering doing this weekend.  Well, enjoy the movie below!

Looking forward to the movie in October!

Social: "Networklets" Purposes and Recommendations Are Better Than Ads

When Facebook bought Instagram for like a gazillion dollars, you have to ask why.  I know all the talks out there about how it was a threat to Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg just kinda bought them out because he somehow knew that it would be a huge benefit to Facebook in the long run.  I don't buy it.

Instragram was a threat but it's other social networklets (a term I should trademark me thinks) like Foursquare, Yelp, and others that have their own social networks, albeit not as big as Facebook but big enough to be a threat.  And, furthermore, these networklets are much more useful than Facebook alone.

Clearly, Foursquare has figured out just how it wants to monetize the network of eighty or so million users via businesses paying to show up as recommendations.  Its intrusiveness is the key to winning users over and provides a more measurable tool for Foursquare and its partners on the effectiveness of the campaign.

More about Yelp and Path and what they bring to mobile users.

Apple Buys Fingerprint Company - Question is Why

Source:  Marketwatch.

Woke up this morning to this incredible surprise:  Apple bought a company that specializes in making sensors for fingerprint authentication.  You're like what?  I'm still "like what?".

The company is called unsexily Authentec and was acquired for $356 million in cash.  

And yeah, after reading a couple of posts in this, I know this is related to security obviously.  For mobile?  Definitely.  It'll be interesting to see how Apple plans in integrating this with the iPhone and iPad which both have a wide enterprise adoption.

AllThingsD speculated that there could be something in the works that Apple wants exclusively for itself. This would be my guess as well.  Otherwise, there would not be a need for Apple to also acquire rights to certain patents and such.

Reuters goes one step further and figures this could have something to do with mobile payment.  It figures that even with a year or so lead in mobile payment, Google has not been able to get users to adopt its payment system en mass.  By providing additional security measures in its iOS devices, Apple could leap ahead by providing users with a peace of mind that their payment information is less likely to be intercepted.

Whatever the reason, security is the biggest threat going forward in any new mobile features or devices and the one company that can provide the greatest amount of it for its users would likely have an edge in the market - be it for real or for bragging rights.

It'll be interesting to see what Apple does as far as AuthenTec's other deals and if they'll continue to supply Apple's competitors with chips and software.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Movie: Dark Knight Rises And It’ll Be Fans Who Makes Sure It Stays There

Source: Blastr.

The “last” of the Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, has been opened just a week ago (amidst the Colorado shooting tragedy) and fans are clamoring for more (I haven’t seen the movie yet but looking forward to it this Saturday!).  And it could be a while before Warner Brothers and its partners get their act together and figure out where they wanna go.

Hopefully, gone are those bat-nipples and may they never made a return.  Having said that, don’t worry.  I’m sure WB will continue to feed our insatiable appetite for all things Batman.  And if that’s not enough, maybe fans will get in on the act.

Take for instance, this Nightwing take by a fan.

How fraking cool is this?!  I love what’s happening and what’s sure to happen.  Technology, a few clips here and there, some ingenious costumers and how-budget effects, and you have more materials for Batverse.

Okay, you creative fans out there, give me more of this!

Mobile: Upcoming Apple-Samsung Court Case Will Be Felt Beyond the Mobile Market, Could Have Far Reaching Effects On Other Industries As Well

Big news in the mobile struggle this week between Google and Samsung versus Apple isn’t which company sold what or release new products – although Nexus Q selling out at $300 is awesomely impressive (one has to wonder how many Google actually stocked initially).  It’s what happened in the courts and this could have far reaching ramifications in the next year or two.

First, a judge ordered a really prejudicial jury instruction in an Apple versus Samsung court case going to trial.  It stated that Samsung destroyed some e-mail (evidence) and that the jury has to assume the destruction of this evidence that could have helped Apple prove its case against Samsung. Oh, and Apple is asking for $2.5 billion in damages.  Not a big deal for Samsung's money printing machine but still, it's about pride, you know? (WSJTheDroidGuy)

Second, in a brief filed by Apple, which is very damning, it stated that even Google thought Samsung’s products were too close in resembling Apple products like the iPhone. The thing is that Samsung's counterclaims against Apple kinda don't have relevance in the case.  Essentially, Samsung was saying that if not for its technology, the iPhone would not exist.  The same can be said of anything that Samsung makes too. If not for other tech, it would not be able to make chips, HDTV, frigs, etc.  (CNetAllThingsD)

Obviously, we’ll have to see how it plays out in the courts, not the court of public opinion.  One has to wonder just where this leads.  Already, tech pundits and bloggers that favor one camp or another have jokingly (or not) stated that the design of the Galaxy S III was designed by lawyers.

Obviously, Samsung denied it.  Personally, I was underwhelmed by the design (but I do consider the Galaxy S III is the best mobile device on the market right now, iPhone 4S is dated by now).  As far as design on the Android side, the Galaxy Nexus is second to none.

Having said that, sales of the GS3 hasn’t suffered at all.  The ball really in Apple’s court next.  It’s next iPhone has not blow people away and it has to prove its case convincingly.

No matter who wins or loses, the trial and the eventual verdict will have wide-reaching effects on not just mobile but also other industries where patents and designs play a big part.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Retina Macbook Pro: Display Yield Improving Or Sales Stalling?

I've wondered when the supply and demand for Apple's new Retina Display Macbook Pro will equalize.  And it's happening quicker than I expected.  Others have wondered about the same thing and as Apple shorten the time to get the Retina Display Macbook Pro to about a week, you have to wonder what's going on.

Has supply and demand getting closer to equalizing or something more ominous ahead for Apple?  I started on this post over the weekend and there has been some new developments.

So, which is it?  Well, Apple reported earnings and, well, things are good but not "Wall Street good".  First, Apple did beat its own estimates.  Second, Mac sales did increase 2% from a year ago.  Together, that's great.

And on top of that, Apple only refreshed the Macbook line after the last financial quarter ended.  I reckon that the coming quarter could be huge.  And in the Christmas quarter, it'll be even bigger.

However, we cannot dismiss the fact that Retina Display Macbook Pro requires only a 1-2 weeks wait now.  China's economic engine is slowing while Europe is a mess.  Meanwhile, the US economy is barely hanging in there.

My guess is that the above as well as the higher price of the Retina Display Macbook Pro that is kinda dampening enthusiasm for the revolutionary new computer.  After all, what is there not to like about it?

Aside from the Retina Display, Apple managed to fit a powerful CPU, GPU, SSD, and huge battery into 0.71" unibody and weighing less than 4.5 lbs.  It's crazy!  No one else comes even close.

We'll have to see where this is headed as far as Mac sales goes.  We are in the middle of the back-to-school season so the refreshed Macbook line could help quite a bit.  And in the just ended quarter, Apple told a very telling tale:  one million iPads were sold directly into the education system while Macs account for half that. Keep in mind that if an user wants retina displayed device, they have the option of the new iPad that sports its own Retina display, which can be had for as low as $500.

So, pricing and global economic concerns might have dampened demand for the new Retina Display Macbook Pro.  However, as a mobile fan (who is waiting for the Retina Display to come to the 11" Macbook Air in 2013, I applaud Apple's drive to innovate and push the bounds of mobile tech.

Social: Foursquare Goes After Mobile Users With Sponsored

Source:  MacworldTheDroidGuy.

Looks like Foursquare is finally making a move to monetize all the data from the check-ins I've helped them amass.  Well, actually, not just me but twenty million mobile users who use the Foursquare app for the Android devices and iPhones over the years.  And this is a winning strategy that is more potent than anyone, even Twitter, has been able to come up with.

Exactly because of two things:  location and user willingness to share with Foursquare.

See below from my Facebook app.  This what what Facebook lamely came up with.

That's right, sponsored likes that I am never going to click on.  It's just awfully lame.

On the other hand, Foursquare's more social and mobile network offers a more targeted and potentially fruitful sponsor integration that gear towards mobile users who will actually be able to see value in the recommendations and ads - exactly because mobile users are "mobile" and will go places.

Twitter has had some success with its revenue model and Facebook is slowly down but it looks like Foursquare could be on to something there.  This is something not even Google can duplicate at this time.

I'm sure all will be watching Foursquare to see how successful local businesses find this opportunity to be.  One thing I like to see from Foursquare is the ability for sponsors and businesses to gauge the successes or failures of its targeted campaigns.

And Foursquare's link to Facebook as well as Twitter would help as well.  It'll be interesting to see where this is headed.  I've already used Foursquare check-ins to help me to some 15% off at Souplantation each time I visit.

Foursquare's new feature will benefit users because of its relevancy and proximity to a business.  Say I like Mexican food.  I would to see opportunties and deals based on where I go from Foursquare and its partners.  However, I wouldn't want to see salons and other businesses bombard me with things that I care nothing about.  And Foursquare will ensure this.

I definitely check in from time to time and am willing to give up a small part of my privacy if I get deals out of it.  This is definitely more beneficial to mobile users than Facebook's lame "sponsored likes".

When I first started using check-in apps likeFoursquare, I envision opportunities for users to explore and benefit through deals while helping businesses connect with them.  And it looks like it's happening.

- Posted using BlogPress

Apple Failed To Meet Unrealistic Wall Street Numbers: That's A Good Thing

As some of you may know by now, Apple failed to meet Wall Street's unrealistic expectation for the last financial quarter.  And you know what?  It's a great thing.  Here's why it's great for the company and mobile warriors in the long run.

Apple doesn't do things quarter by quarter but more of on an annual basis.  iOS devices are updated on an annual basis.  Macs now has a longer shelf-life than ever before.  Just as the folks waiting for new updated Mac Pro units how long they've been waiting and still are waiting.

iOS is updated on an annual basis as it OS X.

Oh, even Apple's hobby, the Apple TV, is updated on such a schedule.

So, it's clear that there will be quarters where numbers get blown out out of water and quarters where numbers are more muted.  However, by any measuring stick, Apple's disappointing quarters are the envy of its peers on exchanges and competitors.  Wouldn't HP, Dell, RIM, or Samsung want Apple's $7 billion or so in profit?

Wall Street will have to learn to deal with the new Apple under Tim Cook who will provide more realistic numbers.

What's the benefit of Apple beating its own expectations but not meeting insane Wall Street predictions?  The focus will be on products that Apple will release throughout the year and less on rumors that mostly don't pan out.  Apple will force more responsible reporting and, hopefully, more soul searching by bloggers and pundits and highly paid analysts who are often wrong anyway.  It'll force investors to stop listening to these guys.

And it'll force everyone to focus on what's at hand, that Apple makes insanely great products.  Stop focusing on rumors that are often made up what's available today.

As an investor who owns a few Apple shares, I want a steady rise in share prices and not the insane Wall Street numbers.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Apple Should Consider Enterprise Needs In Its iPhone Designs

Appleinsider has a post that Apple has widen its lead over Android in enterprise.  That’s great and all.  However, I wonder if Apple could do even better if it offers an enterprise version of the iPhone.  The reason is that it’s so pretty. And while the iPhone has a first rate design that not even Samsung dare copy, I wonder if it’s too nice.

What do you think?  Can Apple make a form factor that some in enterprise can use and perhaps more durable?

I think it can be done without Apple having to compromise over design.  Perhaps this is why many rumors in the Web being circulated are about Apple abandoning the glass back in favor of an unibody design.

Or if Apple doesn't go this route, it should at least consider enterprise users when designing future iPhones and other iOS devices.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Blastr: Bootleg Trailer for Man of Steel

According to Blastr, this is the full length trailer of Man of Steel.  So, watching it before it's gone.  It might be gone by now...unless it's not.


Can't wait!

Gartner (Microsoft Ally) Has One Word On Window 8: "BAD" (Not In The Good Way)

Source: The Register.


That's how Gartner, a Microsoft friendly analyst firm, described Windows 8.  It looks like more and more people will be opting for Windows 7 and wait it out to see what Windows 9 will offer.

There's more.  Gartner tried to make the best of it.  Windows 8 could be good on a tablet but definitely horrible as a desktop experience.

This will give competitors, well, Apple, a very good opportunity to capture a larger segment of the PC market with its upcoming Mountain Lion which has many new features that both home and enterprise users will really like.  And Apple has retained the familiar look and feel of the Mac OS X even as it lightly peppered a few iOS features as not to annoy users - more like beta testing them to see how well they do.

To be fair, Gartner has been more wrong than right.  Only DigiTimes is worse.

Should Apple’s Patents That Have Become Standards Be FRAND Patents?

Google argues that the valuable mobile patents that Apple owns which makes the iPhone an “iPhone” should be fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory and subject to standard essential patent rules. I can’t say that I agree or disagree because of the patent system, which essentially lets anyone’s grandmother patent just about anything without really looking into the background of these so-called patents and whether they really are worth patenting.

I do know that companies that patent just about everything and everywhere do spend billions upon billions to patent them.  So, who is to say what patent, hence, which features should be licensable by the patent holder’s competitors.  Furthermore, what if a patent holder simply says its ball can only played on its court and nowhere else, it is no one’s rights, a corporation or government, to come and force the patent holder to open up.

I don’t know Google’s strategy in this.  Intellectual properties are essential for innovation.  Apple suing folks is within its rights to do that just as Google, Microsoft, or anyone else should be allowed to do the same.  I’ve always contend that if anyone finds Apple ripping them off, sue them.  And if one company runs into a patent roadblock, innovate around it.

On the other hand, Apple is very stingy about its patents and it has thrown its weight around the world in various legal jurisdictions on mundane things like product designs.  I’m not a patent or trademark attorney so I don’t know how firm a legal footing Apple has had.  Judging by its win-loss record, not very.

At the same time, one has to wonder if patents, trademarks, or other intellectual property rights mean anything to Google at all.  Sure, its competitors have used patents to try and stifle Android advances (not very successful) in the mobile market but Google continue to disregard them through its partners.  On top of that, Google bought Motorola largely for its patents and it realized much of what Motorola owns are essential standard patents, not like those that Apple owns that makes the iOS devices singularly unique from the rest of the market.

Hence, Google now wants Apple’s patents invalidated if possible but barring that, it wants the government to force Apple and others to label their patents as FRAND.

Why this now?  Well, Google is very late to the patent game regardless of whether it’s the video or mobile market.  And it has tried to use its own technology to build its own standards, albeit with much success.

Having said that, Google does have a point but I don’t think they’re arguing it correctly.  They need to attack the issue at its core which is the broken patent system.  Until then, everyone should play by the same rules regardless of which end they’re on.

Google’s argument is a very big danger to innovation.  My guess is that if the shoe was on the other foot, Google would not be making this argument.  If that’s the case, since Google owns a large portion of the search market, it should be forced to open up its search patents as well? Bottom line is this:  innovate, innovate, innovate regardless of the state of the patent system.  Learn to change the rules of the game all you want but you still have to bring your best to the market.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Mobile: Billions In Charity From Gates & Google, Should We Buy Them Over Others?

I happened to venture onto this Reuters post via Huffington Post about how the super-rich amassed as much as $32 trillion in offshore havens to avoid taxation.  That's quite a lot of money. If you consider just how much taxes various government entities missed because of this over more than four decades.  But this is an issue that will never get resolved but I that's not why I mentioned it.

It got me started thinking about the hundreds of millions in Google's case and billions in Microsoft's Bill Gates' case that were spent to help better the human condition, I kinda asked myself if we should do more to support their goods and services.

Should consumers ally themselves with a company's products and services that does more to better the world than those of competing companies that doesn't?

More at Clouding Around.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

iPod touch Will Still Be Around Even With iPad mini Is Released

I love my iPod touch and do so millions of touch fans.  So, there is no reason to think that Apple will abandon it in favor of the iPhone and/or the iPad mini that is supposed to have about an eight inch screen.  Here's why:  millions upon millions of users opt for it who either don't want to buy the iPhone or cannot afford it and Apple needs it more than ever to fight the mobile market war and the coming living war.

I started thinking about this long before I read this iMore post about it.  I guess now is as good as any other time to consider it.  And the iMore post made many points with the writer concluding that the iPod touch will in deed stick around.  

For those reasons, I think not only will the iPod touch be around for a long, long time and likely won't go anywhere, it probably will continue to occupy the $200 price point, even experience a slight price drop while the iPad mini will likely start around $250.  There, no $200 iPad mini, at least not this year to start.  Maybe in 2013 if Apple follows its iPhone and iPad practice and drop the price of the previous year model.

As for the iPod touch, I love mine.  It's been with me almost as much as the iPhone has been.  And it's decent battery life give me an additional life line that the iPhone along cannot.  I end up using both in tandem - this was made easier with iCloud especially when I work with apps with iCloud support.

One other consideration also in support of the likelihood of Apple keeping the touch around is it can serve as a low cost remote for Apple's television aspirations.  Right now, I use the touch as a remote for the Apple TV when I cannot find the remote or when I want better control over media apps in Apple TV.  

With a growing Apple TV market and quite possibly more functions and apps with each upgrade, Apple may require and iOS enabled device like the iPod touch to control them.  Right now, the remote app for iOS is very basic.  

On top of that, I also believe the iPod touch will be upgraded this year if only for this one reason alone:  Airplay.  The current iPod touch only supports Airplay in limited Apple specific apps.  Third party apps with Airplay support only works on the iPhone 4S, iPad 2, and the 2012 iPad (certain newer model Macs with Mountain Lion will also support Airplay mirroring - the potential of this will be left for another post on another day).  

It makes sense that Apple will modernize its iPod line to support Airplay.  The iPod touch with an upgraded A5 chip or better from the current A4 chip should do the trick.  On top of that, I'll go even a step further and say that future iPod nano updates may also gain Airplay support as well.

I'll conclude the post by bottom-lining this:  before the iPad, it was just the iPhone and the iPod touch as the sole iOS devices.  The iPod touch expanded the iOS ecosystem beyond what the iPhone could do on its own.  The touch spread Apple's influence into the schools, hospitals, gyms, and even enterprises.

The touch also helped decimated incumbent competitors, Nintendo and Sony, in the portable gaming market and gave notice to game developers that Apple was for real this time around.

The mobile war isn't over yet.  Apple still needs the iPod touch at its $200 price point, maybe could be lower, to fight its war against Android and a potentially revitalized Microsoft.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Reconciling Science Fiction And Reality In Mobile And Social: Siri, AI, and Search

Our devices are already smaller and easier to use than a lot of what Captain Kirk or the guys on Star Wars had.  Sure, our "communicators" are not able to communicate with a starship but we could link up with the ISS.  And certainly, with its communication devices or tablets, our devices definitely look sleeker.

At first, I could have steered this post towards how we have come science fiction tech here already today but I would like to examine just we are we are from technology that have not been realized yet today that exists only on TV or movies.

Let's start with voice commands.  Google voice search is very enticing as is Siri but neither is anything close to Hal or the Enterprise's computer (but Siri does have a better personality than the computer or Hal).  And while Apple likes to talk about the artificial intelligence behind Siri, I really don't know if we are really that close to Hal, the Enterprise computer, or even the computer in War Games as far as the sophistication and intelligence.

I'm not expecting Siri to be like Data in Star Trek or the droids in Star Wars that has even the most rudimentary level of awareness but as far as true learning, we are far, far away still.  However, given our ingenuity, we can disguise it so well that end users could potentially be fooled into thinking that future voice interactive systems are actually conscious and capable of learning.  In reality, it's still human engineers upgrading hardware and tweaking codes.

In this instance, we can quite possibly come close in the next four to five years as competition between Apple, Google, Microsoft, and even IBM heats up.  Today's Siri and Google Now will look like the idiot children in the realm of AI compared to what's to come.  As a matter of fact, I really think IBM has a huge role to play in all this - its Deep Blue that was followed by Watson.  And work on the sucessor to Watson has continued.

Enough about Siri.  What about Google and Microsoft's answers and will they also have awesome apps like Siri?  I've mentioned this in the past:  Google isn't likely to have an app that works like Siri because of the nature of its business model.  Siri could potentially put a big dent in Google's ad search revenue and coming out with a Siri competitor will only exacerbate the situation.

That really leave Microsoft.  I think it really has the ability to copy, improve, and even innovate a bit on works on top of its Bing search engine with a bit of Siri-like features.

So, the march towards true AI-like abilities looks rosy, I still wouldn't call anything we'll be using a few years from now having real awareness but enough that it can fool us into thinking that a little person truly lives in our  mobile devices.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Google's Voice Recognition Advantage Over Siri

Source:  MacDailyNews.

Here's an interesting post from NYT regarding voice commands and recognition and Apple's Siri.  As we well know, Apple's Siri is a significant addition to the mobile experience even if it's not ready for prime time.  I've used it often and it's good enough for the most part.

However, many have suggested that Google, which doesn't have a direct competitor to Siri (yet), offers a better voice recognition advantage.

The reason is simple:  Google offered a free Google-411 service and voice search that essentially allowed Google to capture tons of voice requests years before Siri came onto the scene, even before Apple bought Siri.

It'll be interesting to see if we'll see Siri evolve with better artificial intelligence that what we have now and what we saw at Apple's WWDC demo when iOS is released.  Right now, there is a lot of apps in both Google Play and iOS app store that compete with Siri that delivered results that is just as good as Siri (in some cases, better).

Mobile Gaming: Dark Knight Rises

Source:  9to5Mac.

For a number of us mobile warriors who are also scifi and comic fans, we’re looking at a weekend of bats – as in Batman, the Dark Knight, Bane of Gotham’s underworld.  This week is when Dark Knight Rises will be released, the final saga to the current arc of Batman story.

And you can get that Warner Brothers is going all out to make sure DKR has Avengers like numbers at the box office.  But before we get to that, part of any superhero movie release will be games.  And while traditionally, the consoles and PC get all the fun, today, it’s vastly different as mobile gaming has taken the video game realm by storm.

Hence, the Dark Knight Rises game, by Gameloft, is here.  Look for it in your respective app stores. By that, I mean Android and iPhone users only.

Here’s a video teaser for the game.

What do you think?  For $7 for the movie of the summer, yeah, definitely worth it.  It's unlikely we're gonna get the full movie experience or the console. It is $7 but hey, this is Batman we're talking about.  

I eagerly await its availability in the US app store. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Mobile: Is E-Mail Still Relevant? Probably Not Anymore

For the rest of the month and, maybe through August, I'm gonna get rid of e-mails on my mobile devices - phones, tablets.  Every device that I've got and only check e-mail at work via webmail for iCloud and Gmail and on the Macbook Air at home.  I think I can save myself quite a bit of space this way.

More and more communications are taking place via texts, group messaging apps like Whatsapp, and social networks like Twitter and Google+.  Once in a while, I will get an important e-mail but they are usually not something that requires my immediate attention.  A lot of the more interesting ones that I get daily are from Groupon and Livingsocial.

I get notifications about monthly bills and what new comics are out and like the Groupon/Livingsocial e-mails, they can wait.

I do occasionally get a mass e-mail for birthdays and evites. These group of mails, too, do not need me to deal with them right there and then.

In doing so, I avoid a lot of needless distractions while save battery life when no mail is being pushed to me.  Also, I'm saving memory space allocated for e-mails and attachments that I don't need right away.  And speaking of attachments, there are ways for me to send them without having to use e-mails.

All in all, I don't think I will miss e-mails all that much when I'm on the move.  I think for a lot of mobile warriors who do not use their e-mails for work or business, you likely won't miss them much either.  I, two to six weeks, I should know if e-mails play the big roles it once did.  

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Why Wireless Carriers Are Evil: AT&T Looking To Charge For FaceTime Over Cellular Data

Source:  Macrumors.

I think I can safely say that 99% of the mobile warriors who read this blog would agree with me that wireless carriers are evil.  For that 1 out of 100 readers still doesn't think so, get this:  AT&T is looking to see if they can profit off Apple's FaceTime communication over cellular data.

For Android, Windows, or Blackberry users, you might think what this has to do with you.  This is an issue that may not pertain to just Apple's FaceTime.  It could eventually affect Skype, Google Hangout, or any other video communication apps. 

I've been using Skype over 3G for a while now and I love it.  Quality varies by a wide spectrum for video calls but certainly VOIP works very well most of the time.  

So, yeah, if Apple, Google, or Microsoft allows the carriers to reassert control in this matter, we could be in for some very expensive times ahead.

Wireless carriers need to know their place in the mobile market.  Namely, as dumb pipelines that they are.  Zero innovation from these guys and are only operated by greedy execs looking for short-term gains.

Friday, July 13, 2012

I Wanna External Battery Case But With the New iPhone Around The Corner...

Source:  TUAW.

I want this battery case.  It has plenty of juice and best of all, it looks like something that Batman would use. Again, it's all about the battery life or lack there of in the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S has me considering getting this.

This Mophie Juice Pack Pro for $129 packs a punch that is unlike most other more anemic battery cases.  I've help off getting them because they just didn't give me what I wanted given how I think mobile devices, particularly the iPhone, ought to be used.

For some comparison to the awesomely long battery life that the RAZR MAXX from Motorola has, the iPhone 4/4S really doesn't measure up.  The RAZR has 3,300 mAh battery while the iPhone 4 has 1420 mAh and the 4S has 1432 mAh.  A huge diff.

With this juice pack, the iPhone will have its battery life augmented by the pack's 2500 Ahm.  That'll give the iPhone roughly 3900 Ahm.

Right now, we ration power when we know we're going to be away from the power plug for any length of time.  I had an older battery case that I used with the iPhone 4 over July 4th and with some regular use and videos and photo captures, I ran out of power just half way through the firework display in Long Beach.

It didn't matter since we got back to the car 15 minutes later and I had a car charger that was able to get me back up and running in no time.  Still, had the time gone on longer, I would have been out of luck.

This Mophie pack is the answer. So, why not get it?  It's not the $129 because you are getting quite a bit of juice for this.  rather, it's that the next iPhone is 3 months away.  I can probably get quite a bit of mileage out of this for the next three months but I really hate to spend this kind of money and know be able to use the case with the iPhone that is likely to have a radically different form factor.

I hope that Apple is able to significantly increase the battery life for the next iPhone but I am not all that hopeful.  With speculations about the 2012 iPhone sporting a bigger 4" screen and, quite possibly, thinner, any extra battery capacity Apple adds will go towards powering the bigger screen, a better CPU, and new iOS 6 features.  It's unlikely Apple will be able to match what Motorola gave to the Max.

Apple will attempt to squeeze as much juice out of this bigger battery to at the very least maintain parity with the iPhone 4S usage.

Maybe, just maybe, I should hold off until Apple unveils the next iPhone and Mophie come out with a Juice Pack Pro for the new iPhone.

Toys with iPhones And Macs

Source:  Cult of Mac.

Here some light-hearted pics of assorted action figure toys from Woody to Star Wars to even Steve Jobs.  Each with an iPhone and sometimes with an iMac or iPad.

If Toys Used Instagram On Their iPhones, It Would Look Like This [Gallery]

Those are just a couple of the ones I like.  More at the link above.  The one below is the best of the lot.  And very fitting...Buzz and Steve together.

If Toys Used Instagram On Their iPhones, It Would Look Like This [Gallery]

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Green: Make Cities Green, Solar, And WiFi

Source:  Yahoo News, Treehugger, My Modern.

Always love talking about solar and mobile and there is another opportunity with my bit of twist.  

Remember the above pic?  It was Toyota's solar flowers to promote the Prius.  And it was awesome!  I don't know if they're around still but Toyota could have and should have build more of them all over.  It was absolutely brilliant and I am somewhat disappointed that we haven't seen or heard more about this or similar concept.

Now, New York City is kinda doing something similar.  So far, it has converted 10 payphones into WiFi hotspots for the public to use.  And more will come.  

No word on whether this is powered by solar but since it wasn't mentioned, I highly doubt it.  Still, I reckon as more and more of these free WiFi hotspots come online and this pilot program works as planned, I'm hoping other cities will follow.  And there is absolutely no reason to think that this won't work at all.  

In fact, I like to see cash rich tech companies jump on the bandwagon.  I mean this is right up Google's alley.  And there was also a time when Steve Jobs thought about establishing his own wireless network powered by WiFi hotspots.  

This really is something we see coming.  Right now, ubiquitous wireless connection is only possible through 3G or 4G networks operated by gatekeepers that really don't have the public's interests in mind.  WiFi will be the key first step to wrestle control away from them.

When those super WiFi you might have heard about, those using White Spaces, that have wireless ranges that are not measured in feet but in miles (I'll be honest:  I'm excited by opportunities that White Spaces networks represent but finding out the exact range has been hard to pin down.  Probably because the tech is so new.)

So, just imagine this: a city like LA, SF, or NY (for you international readers, here's a shout-out to London, Paris, Vancouver, Tokyo, Beijing, Shanghai, Dubai, Berlin, HK, Singapore, New Delhi, Cairo, Rome, etc) blanketed in White Spaces networks powered by solar.

That is a mobile  future worth working towards.  Maybe also then, I can get a mobile device that doesn't require me to subscribe to those evil wireless carriers.

Hacker Alert: Yahoo Lost 400K Passwords

Source:  Reuters.

First, I didn’t know there was such a thing as Yahoo Voice but apparently, if you use it, you could be a victim of Yahoo’s negligence which has resulted the lost of 400,000 passwords.

So, if you think you could be one of these victims, best to do something about it really quickly. This comes on the heat of Sony’s PS network blunder last year and last month’s LinkedIn loss of more than 6 million passwords.

Truly, Yahoo doesn’t need this right now and it makes somewhat suspect just whether these companies really have their acts together or know what they are doing.  You’d think after Sony, LinkedIn, and others, companies would be scrambling to do audits on their security.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Forbes Post About Apple And T-Mobile Makes Sense

Source:  Forbes.

It used to be that any mention of Apple, the iPhone, and another carrier other than AT&T would have sparked a click frenzy.  It's like gallon of blood dropped into a pool filled with sharks and piranhas.  And this was especially true if the carrier was T-Mobile because it was the only other major GSM carrier in the United States other than AT&T.  As history would show, both T-Mobile's CDMA competitors, Verizon Wireless and Sprint, got the iPhones and T-Mobile is still on the outside looking in.

So, let's see if this Apple, iPhone, T-Mobile post will generate interest on par with what it was like a couple of years ago, before AT&T lost the iPhone exclusivity.

So, this Forbes post suggested the obvious: Apple should deal with T-Mobile.  I admit I haven't thought about T-Mobile for a long time since the merger with AT&T failed. And I had gained a bad taste for T-Mobile as its customer service quality waned.  Still, I thought Apple should deal with everyone.

However, I do think that Apple can pretty much dictate any terms to T-Mobile and it would have to accept it.  And with an added competitor with the iPhone, any thoughts of cutting iPhone subsidies by AT&T, Verizon, or Sprint be would met with pause.

I would like to go a step further in any Apple-T-Mobile deal.  Not only should Apple give T-Mobile iPhones for its post-paid customers, it should off customers the option for prepaying for the iPhone and favorable rates to go along with it.

The favorable rates would be a discount from post-paid rates since T-Mobile would not be subsidizing the purchases of iPhones for prepaid customers.

If this happens, it would not only be an important development but a historic shift from post-paid to pre-paid markets.  It would for the other major carriers to answer with their own options.  And with T-Mobile's 3G now faster and not much slower than LTE, AT&T and Verizon would have to think twice about simply relying on LTE as a marketing vehicle to gain/retain subscribers.

I would even suggest that Apple could flood the market with prepaid iPhones with a cheaper price and make it back with a cut of the monthly plans.

The mere fact that I can think of going down this route suggests that Apple has as well and more than likely have better plans to pad the huge pile of cash it already has.  And this all could start with a T-Mobile deal.

As an iPhone fan, I think it's time that Carly has an iPhone to go with her skin tight biker outfit.

Monday, July 9, 2012

iOS Mapping Has Great Chance Of Coming To the Mac - But As App Or Web or Both?

Source:  Appleinsider.

Looks like Apple is going to hit Google on the desktop too.  At least, on OS X. The weapon of choice could be Maps, Apple's newest app that could only be found on the forthcoming iOS 6.  What interest about this discovery by Technically Personal is that Apple could be sending the market a message.  It means to own more of the mobile and computing experiences.  The evidence is in the coding.  

Seriously, after Maps, what else?

What we don't know is if Maps will be just an app or can it be access online via a browser like other mapping services like Mapquest or Google's own map.  It is also entirely possible that Maps service will only go as far as iMovie and iPhoto where geo-tagging is used prevalently.  If that's the case, there may be no Maps app, either as a standalone app and/or browser-based, for OS X.  

Personally, I love to have Maps come to the Mac.  We've seen many iOS apps making the migration and Apple is looking to hurt Google and Microsoft by denying critical geo data from them.  

And another thing.  Siri.  You can bet that it's going to make the same jump from the iPhone to the Mac just as it has done to the iPad.  So, having Maps at least as a service on OS X makes a lot of sense.  

7" Tablet From Apple Like a 7" iPod touch

7" iPad Is Likely 7" iPod touch

There is talk over the weekend that the speculated 7" display tablet from Apple could have a similar form factor as the iPod touch.  And if you look at the iPad touch, not much has changed since the beginning.  And frankly, I find this form factor to be idea.

It'll be interesting to see just how Apple is able to get it work as an iPad because many folks will try to use it in that manner.  It's likely that Apple will market the device purely as a media tablet even if it can do everything the iPad can.

Though it's just a naming in terms of marketing, it could have an effect on some people.  Aside from likely being called an iPod, who will buy this?  I mean a lot of folks will.  It will have a devastating effort on the Kindle Fire and the Nexus 7 sales but I'm talking about the demographics and how it will be used.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Friday Movie: Dinosaurs Versus Aliens

Source:  Blastr.

Sometimes, you wonder if Hollywood (or anyone else) is running out of ideas.  There's a lot of "been there, done that" movies and TV shows.  I think it's why superhero movies are so popular because they're one element of the media (comics) that has not been properly explored and only recently has technology enabled such awesome special effects and 3D.  And if you want original stuff, well, sometimes, you cringe a bit at the idea.

Check out this Dinosaurs versus Aliens project that could result in both a comic and a movie.  I don't know...what do you think?

The idea behind this project is that what if dinosaurs had more brains than we expected and could stand up against an alien invasion.  So, yeah, they somehow fought off aliens but forgot that big rock in the sky that ultimately wiped them out sixty-five million years or so ago.

So, if you're a comic book writer and artist and has come 3D or video kung fu, you could be in high demand should something like this take off.

Jobsian Exceptionalism Slipping at Apple

We talk about American exceptionalism all the time.  I happen to think America is pretty special but not in an arrogant way.  Well, in mobile and computing, I think Apple is also very exceptional.  The iOS devices like the iPhone and Macbooks – not just the design.  Not just the software.  And not just the corporate culture.  You have to take in all of that and look at it as a whole.

And it is very special.

Yes, there is a “however”.  While Apple remains impressive compared to its peers and competitors, I don’t know if Apple done much in the last year to make itself much more distinguished.  Don’t get me wrong.  Apple is still number one when it comes to getting a smartphone that is greatly designed, easy to use, and provides an over all awesome user experience.

However, in the smartphone market, I see a lot of companies do things that I wish the iPhone could do.  While iOS has been ridiculously easy to use, it has gotten a bit boring.  I’ve heard it from other people, both on- and off-line. In the tablet market, well, there is no one that is really pushing Apple forward.  We’ll have to see if Microsoft’s Surface really can light a fire under Apple’s feet.

Obviously, Apple has it’s way of doing things and I think any UI change would have to be in such a way that doesn’t compromise the experience while jazzing up the look and feel.  It’s the same for the hardware and software.

Frankly, I have no suggestion for Apple what it can do.  Right now, I think it looks fine.  Microsoft’s Metro is definitely different and the jury is still out on whether this is what the market wants.  Still, love competition and maybe we’ll see something spectacular from Apple.

We know that Apple has patented some 3D UI.  So we’ll see.

Apple remains exceptional.  No doubt.  But its competitors like Samsung are also looking pretty good too.  Having said that, it’s time for Apple to do something to remind folks just what an innovator the company is by putting more innovative and insanely great tech between its products and wannabes.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Trojan Horse In Apple’s App Store? You Betcha – Also In Google Play Too

Source:  Macworld.

This is the first time where a Trojan Horse has slipped into Apple’s walled-garden iOS app store.  Apparently, this app uploads your contact list, with your permission of course, and then processes to text your friends with a malicious link.

According the Macworld, the app is still up but I wasn’t able to find it so I think it’s probably not there anymore in Apple’s iTunes store.  Nor is it in Google Play.

However, I am not sure how many folks are really affected. It’s seems to be a Russian developer and I don’t know how many folks out there really download that many apps from an unknown Russian developer.

This is why app discovery is cool and all but I generally recommend that folks stick with better known developers rather than obscure ones.  That isn’t to say that you should go looking around for cool apps that fit your needs.  Just do a bit of research before you download, install, and use it.

BTW, Find And Call had only one star from Google Play reviewers.  So like I said, I doubt many folks were using it.  Still, I’m surprised Apple’s reviewers allowed it in their store.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Apple's 7" (or 8") iPad Could Be Priced Competitively But Will Performance And User Experience Suffer?

I think it's safe to say that a sub-9.7" iPad is on the way. Those who take Steve Jobs' words as mobile gospel will be in utter disbelief but they'll just have to life with this. This is now Tim Cook's Apple and Steve Jobs did say that the execs should not try to ask themselves "what would Steve do" when making a call.

Apparently, with or without Steve's blessings, Apple has decided to release 7" to 8" iPad with a target day for fall of 2012 – just in time for the Holiday seasons. The reason is obviously as I believed Bloomberg was leaked information about it. My culprit is Apple.

I started on this post Tuesday morning but the fact that WSJ came out with their own piece suggests not only is a sub-9.7" iPad or bigger screen iPod touch coming, Apple could be worried about an improved Kindle Fire and the Nexus 7 but it also wants to avoid giving anyone else momentum like Amazon got with the Fire. Just as Google mean to stamp out any Fire" with the Nexus 7, Apple wants to put a stop to any encroachment to its tablet market with a smaller screen iPad.

Obviously, there is a chance that one of its competitors is spreading rumors to freeze iPad sales and when the rumored $250-$300 iPad is a no-show, the disappointed tablet buyer would look to $150 to $200 Kindle Fire or Nexus 7. As improbably as that is, it's not impossible.

Money is still on Apple releasing such an iPad. However, pricing issue aside, we have to focus on the user experience. And we have to ask ourselves if Apple will see this as a 7" iPad or 7" iPod touch.

And then there is performance. How well will Apple's iOS and apps work compared it its larger iPad siblings. For kids, there is no need to file their fingers down because their fingers are pretty small already. And we know that adults already navigate pretty well on 3.5" iPhones and iPod touches so that won't be an issue. What would be an issue is whether the apps will have the looks and feel of a tablet app or iPhone app.

Remember that before iPad apps were plentiful, users were told that they can maximize the iPhone apps to fill the screen of the iPad. Workable at the time because users knew that it would only be a matter of time before developers optimize apps for the iPad or completely develop new ones.

And what about the hardware. Specs, design, and feel of the 7" iPad (or touch). Will Apple have to make compromises to maintain margin and cut some corners. For instance, will Apple go back to the VGA cameras like the iPod touch and the iPad 2 in lieu of the 5MP camera in the new iPad? This will save millions but it would also degrade the experience. It's like that people will use their 7" iPad to capture pictures and videos than the regular iPad. If Apple does give the 7" iPad a subpar camera, it would degrade the experience entirely.

If Apple manages to solve all of the above concerns thorough to level of mobile experience it has achieved with the iPhone and iPad, there is also the issue of how mobile it is. I'm not talking about the weight but something more important and dear to me: the battery life. Also, how about battery life?

I like the 10-12 hours of battery life that I get from the iPads. I only wish the iPhone battery life would be longer. So, for these devices to be considered iPads, Apple would have to make sure it can optimize the system to give a 7" tablet sufficiently long battery life as well. I settle for 8-9 hours but keeping up with the iPad would be ideal. Such expectation isn't out of the question. Apple will likely be using smaller and more power efficient parts than what they are currently using for the new iPad. The newer iPad 2 actually has a chip that is smaller and more efficient than last year's iPad 2 – delivering battery life closer to 12 hours.

However, if Apple is only able to give users something closer to what its competitors are delivering, 6-7 hours, than I reckon we'll see this 7" tablet be called an iPod more than an iPad.

All of the concerns I have are very legitimate and I reckon Apple will deal with them with innovation or through clever marketing to address potential shortcomings.

Now about how much a smaller screen iPad will cost. At $250 for a 7-8" iPad, it's a steal and a no-brainer for anyone looking for a tablet but are put off by the $399 iPad 2. At $300, the choice becomes more confusing because $100, more you can get the iPad 2. However, one can say why would anyone wanna buy the iPad 2 when the new iPad cost $100 and you get a Retina Display, better camera, and Siri.

Ideally, I am looking for a 7" iPad with 1024x768 screen (nope, I am neither greedy or unrealistic), 8 GB, 5MP camera, and 10 hours of battery life. I hope there are options for 16 as well but 32 GB models are likely out of the question. However, such a model isn't likely to cost just $250.

What do you think? Will Apple make compromises to a 7" or 8" iPad and cost closer to $250 or will you be willing to play more to get better specs?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Movie Clip For July 4th: Fan-Made Superman Cartoon

Source:  Blastr.

We missed Friday's movie clip so we're making it up today with this week's July 4th movie clip.  If you don't already know, we used to go watch a movie on a Friday afternoon during work.  It was okay with my professor and it became a tradition.

Well, we can't do that no more so we'll do it on the Web.  And this week's July 4th video clip is an excellent and well-made fan video of Superman!  

Enjoy: Bizzaro Classic.  There is the video in the beginning and some behind the scene looks.

If you thought that was good, check out Superman Classic also from Blastr.

Have a safe and wonderful July 4th!  And Happy Birthday, America!!!

Why the next iPhone Probably Won’t Have NFC

The next iPhone, the “new” iPhone or iPhone 5, will be one of the most high-anticipated launch of Apple’s mobile history (but isn’t that always the case with each passing year?), and bloggers, analysts, and tech pundits will be spewing out rumors, innuendos, and speculations about what we can expect.  Well, I’m going to chime in at this time:  no NFC.

So, if you’re going to expect your next iPhone to be your digital wallet so that you can leave the wallet at home, like I have been wishing for since I found out commuters in Japan can use their phones to pay for fares, then we are heck out of luck.

Here’s my reasoning.

If the next iPhone’s supposedly bigger screen and new form factor augmented by iOS 6 and a more robust Siri (hoping there could be more than Apple let on during the WWDC keynote) isn’t going to sell the next iPhone, I doubt having NFC will make much of a hay at the launch event.  At most, Passbook will get a mention and a demo but that’ll be about it.

And all of the above mentioned (possible) improvements will be enough to form lines at Apple stores again.

Furthermore, I doubt NFC is going to be a major selling point in the next couple of years.  Just as the various Android manufacturers that shipped NFC-capable handsets.  There just aren’t enough places out there that supports NFC-based commerce today.  And by some reports, they don’t always work or the store clerks have no idea what they are for.

Simply put, the infrastructure just isn’t there yet.  And as huge as mobile payment will be for Apple’s race to becoming the first trillion-dollar company and convenient as it’ll be for consumers, it just isn’t all that sexy for users this year.  Plus, Apple isn't going to put out a feature like NFC that consumers won't be able to use.

If you’re an average mobile warrior, and Apple asks you what do you want this year from the new iPhone, what would you want: better Siri, bigger screen with LTE or NFC.

Here are the main points again:

  • Siri still a selling point and it will only get better
  • Bigger screen
  • LTE
  • iOS 6

We might see NFC in the iPhone next year after Apple has sorta beta bested Passbook this year.  For now, we’ll just have to settle for just about everything else we’ve been asking for from Apple.  Poo-hoo!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Dish Network Dropped AMC Channels: Great Opportunity For Amazon, Apple, or Google To Disrupt

Source:  LA Times.

This is it.  As viewing patterns change and new technologies to distribute media comes online an become more popular, media companies and traditional distributors grapple with this reality.  And they know that if they don't adapt, they're going the way of, well, you can pick the analogy yourself.  LA Times is reporting that Dish Network has dropped AMC channels just as a couple new shows were about to be broadcast.

Regardless of the politics, greed, or whatever makes media execs tick, this is an opportunity for someone to come in and disrupt things and change just how we viewers can get our favorite channels or shows without having to subscribe to a package of channels and shows we're never going to watch.

I put the onus on Apple, Amazon, and Google but I'm not sure they're going to go about this as we would like it. Honestly, I think the shows and movies on iTunes and Amazon are still too expensive for me to buy in bulk except for a few shows I really like.

Perhaps, it should be the providers like AMC that should look distributing shows to viewers without the traditional cable and sat companies.

This is an incredible opportunity for these tech giants to encourage more cutting of the cord.  There is an assortment of business models the tech companies and content providers can work out to make this happen. As it is now, it isn't working given the increasing number of cord cutters.  Millions probably.  

iPad and WWDC Prediction: Apple Will Upgrade Siri And Users Will Not Be Able to Choose Between ChatGPT or Gemini

At this year's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple is set to unveil major upgrades to its virtual assistant Siri. These enhanc...