Tuesday, March 25, 2014

HTC's M8 Camera Features - Worth The Upgrade

Here is a good explanation from Slashgear about HTC's new flagship device's camera features, the M8.  It's still stuck on the 4MP UltraPixel marketing.  I know folks will argue that pixels aren't everything.  For the most part, I'd have to agree but I would have like to see some kind of an increase.

The depth-of-field, DOF, and bokeh features are specifically what I'm referring to.  Between the two, I'm more excited about DOF.  It allows amateurs like me produce better looking photos - more professional and less sucky I guess.  It's something that I've had to fake with the iPhone and on other Android devices. 

It'll be interesting to see how well it works in regular mobile warrior hands. 

Say what you will, maybe HTC is on to something by taking the camera into a different direction.  Having said that, it would have been nice to see an 8MP upgrade instead of just the four.  For many of its competitors, they've been increasing the pixel count further and further ahead and at some point, that is going to matter.  Having said that, Apple has been staying with the 8MP count for three years ago and may continue to stick with it for the next iPhone.

We know what Galaxy S 5 camera can do.  We know where HTC stands.  I'm excited to see what Apple and Nokia will take us next. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Wearable From Apple Might Not Be A Watch But Simple Is Going To Be Key

Here is an interesting post speculating on what form factor Apple's possible wearable device will take shape.  I'm not big on rings (oops, I just gave it away - but read through the link to understand the writer's thinking) so I hope that's not what it'll be.  And while, I have worn watches (even now) and used various fitness bands like the Fuelband and Fitbit Force, at times, I find it a bit intrusive. 

I'm hoping Apple will offer something that is easier to wear and not necessarily in the form of a watch.  We'll see.  But that's not why I'm bring this up now.  I'm bring this up because after examining all the various smartwatch options and fitness bands out there, I have come to one conclusion about Apple's entry to the wearable tech arena.

Simple.

That's just it.  It'll be simple.  Unassuming, unobstructive, and unexpected.  More importantly, it will have few functions to start.  It will not be front-loaded like others on the market in trying to do too much.  But over time with each generation, incremental improvements and features will be added. 

After all, isn't this how Apple have always done?  And while perhaps its competitors have devices with more features, buttons, and other complications, it has not diminished Apple's vision and, just as importantly, profit (at last count, Apple owned more than 60% of the mobile profit). 

Consider this.  The original iPhone had nothing more than the few native apps from Apple.  All interactions on the iPhone was through the mobile Safari browser.  In time, we gained an app store, ability to copy and paste, and added features specific to iOS.

Again, simple.  Simple useful features.  Pedometer that focus on accuracy.  Notifications.  Maybe another health feature or two.  Music control app.  Oh, it'll be able to tell time.  Maybe give you the date and current weather condition.  Nothing more.  No apps.

At least not in the beginning.  This will help Apple focus on function and design and balance all that with the battery life.  After all, what good is a wearable device if you have to constantly take it off to charge it?

This device will be an extension of your iPhone or whatever else iOS devices you fancy.  It won't replace it.  Not in the beginning.  Maybe some day when the technology is right.  So don't expect Apple to include Siri, a camera, or too much jazz right away.  It'll depend on the market and how users interact with it. 

Simple.  That'll be Apple's focus. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

SDK and iOS betas Will Clue Us In On Bigger iPhones and iPad Features

In the past, future updates from Apple has always helped provide clues on what will be coming as far as new features for iOS and newer hardware as well.  This time around, 2014 updates for iPhones and iPads could also be hidden in future iOS updates as well.  This will be particular true for beta versions of iOS 8 that will presumably be released and be made available to developers at this year's Apple Worldwide Developer Conference.  And as someone who could never wait, I've been signing up as a developer (you have to be a paying developer) to get my hands on these early releases. 

This year, we'll be watching out for information that might provide us to what possible screen resolutions Apple could be working on and wanting developers to focus on.  An increase in resolution would always be a tell-tale sign that Apple has a bigger screen iPhone on the works for release later this fall.  It will not clue us in on the size.  Apple is very unlikely to just leave that out there.

On top of that, we'll have to see what the SDK for the iPad will provide.  There has been talk about a bigger screen iPad, one possibly as big as 13".  Yeah, I'll want one of course.  But would good is a bigger screen if it does not offer specific features for it, like the ability to display more than one apps at the same time.  I would not mind watching Netflix on one portion of the screen while working or gaming on the rest of the real estate.

Of course, folks, I have to warn you.  Be mindful of what is fact and rumor as we approach WWDC and through summer and fall before Apple actually release new iOS devices.  In between, wild rumors and speculations (you'll get plenty of speculations here, but no rumors) and it could confuse things somewhat.  One thing is for sure.  Apple will not be release new iPads or iPhones until fall.  So any talk that Apple could be working to move up from its annual iPhone and iPad release would be false. 

So, if you're the industrious sort, feel free to sign up for Apple's developer program and take a peak into the future iOS betas.  Maybe you'll be the one to find the little breadcrumbs that Apple leaves behind.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Tim Cook's 2014 Promise of Lots of New Products And 69 Days In

We're sixty-nine days into the new year, 2014.  I can still call it a "new year", right?

I ask that because that new year smell is wearing off if it not not already for some folks and we are still waiting to see what exciting new products Apple has in-stored for us going forward.  After all, Tim Cook promised us that.  And that promise had been going on for a better part of a year stretching back into 2013. 

All I'm saying is this, it's unlikely that Apple will back load the second half of 2014 with a bunch of new stuff because that would just to too much even for Apple to handle.  On top of that, new iOS gears like the iPhone 6, even if it has a 5" or 6" screen or refreshed iPads, or new Mac updates are not really new products in my book.

Some Apple fans will argue that point.  For me, new products means a spanking new Apple TV that isn't just a hardware improvement but allows me to watch a plethora of new video services or play games either with my iPhone or controller. 

A new product would be a new take on wearable devices that will obliterate the iPods. 

I'm sure many people out there will agree with what I've written so far.  Apple should not be held to innovate on a regular product schedule but the assertion Tim made about the new products, it stands to believe that we are going to get blown away once again.  No just evolutionarily improved products but a new disruption of some sort.

Personally, I'm happy to take just about anything from Apple.  Their track record is good with me.  But I cannot speak for others in the media or blog world.  They'll twist and turn things to make Apple look less than what it or its products are.  It's the nature of the business but, at some  point, they could well have a point.

Take Samsung's newly introduced Galaxy S5.  A very good phone by any measure even against the iPhone 5S.  But its improvement is pretty benign compared to the jump from the S3 to the S4.  And certainly far less than the iPhone 5 to the 5S.  Still, the new Galaxy will make billions for Samsung.

From Apple, however, we're all expecting more.  I'm looking not only for updated 2014 iOS devices and Macs to make tens of billions for Apple but a new source of revenue that will not only enrich its stockholders but provide mobile warriors, health nuts, or couch potatoes with new innovative tools. 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Social: Apple May Go Counter to Original iTunes Singles Mandate

Source:  Appleinsider.

What made iTunes great in the early years and still is that you can buy single songs.  However, that could change some what.  Not by much but you can be sure there are going to be those who will be very critical about what Apple may be pushing with the music labels.  Apple is looking for exclusive content to prop up sagging album sales.  One culprit seems to be the growing streaming services.  

Asking for exclusive content is one thing but Apple is also looking at windowing - a period of time between the release of a new album and individual singles for sale.  This would allow for more album sales.  Furthermore, if this deal is accepted by the studios, we can also see less free content on Youtube and streaming services during this window of time for which Apple wants to promote album sales.

The thing is that Apple may actually get what it wants.  In what was probably a trial run, Beyonce released a surprised album exclusively on iTunes and went to sale generate 800,000 album sales in three days with iTunes.  Furthermore, there were additional content as well as keeping single sales and free video content off the market until the second week.  

Will it work?  It depends on how far Apple and the labels take this.  If it is only for a few major releases, it could work but it will certainly upset a lot of folks.  As someone who isn't into the latest and coolest musical hip-pop sensations, it does not bother me the least.  For some, it could be the principle of it all.

I'm not big on windowing singles but I do understand why they are considering it.  Furthermore, it is only a week.  Meanwhile, I understand file-sharing…ahem…networks are still up and running should people choose to go that route to get their singles fill.

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...