Thursday, March 25, 2021

Twitter Should Charge Users If They Don't Want To Be Targeted, But Not Through Super Follower Feature

 Source:  ZDNet.

Twitters offers an indispensable service, much more so than Facebook.  Sure, Twitter has its issues with hate, sexism, fake news, and a source for foreign interference into US elections.  Facebook does as well only much worse.  And during its worst days, it maximizes these dark elements in order to maximize profit.  I use Twitter on a daily basis as a source for information and following tweets more reputable sources and none of them are political in nature.

Now, Twitter is looking allow users to be charged for following certain tweets or other users. The "Super Follower" tool is what will allow that to happen.  

We'll have to see how it goes once it is implemented and how it will be utilized after Twitter modifies it over time.  

I will still be daily Twitter users but I do not see myself follow someone and paying for tweets.  

I think it is better for Twitter to monetize users by offering added features and promising privacy.  I certain can see myself paying for that instead of paying for tweets from certain accounts.

Friday, March 12, 2021

What Are The Killer Features for 2021?

 2020 is about two and a half months past now.  But time is time and no amount of artificial partitions we put on our time here on earth matters much in the grand galactic scheme.  Still, we are little transient creatures with incredibly limited time as individuals and as a species.  Having said all that, what is in the offering for 2021 as far as killer features for 2021? Because I did not get any killer feature in 2020.  My guess is we probably will not get much in the way of killer features for almost anything.

It has been a while since anyone has used the term "killer feature".  And it has been a while since I read or heard "iPhone killer" or "Tesla killer".  Maybe that is because both the iPhone and Telsa are doing quite well and previous killers of these products amounted to nothing.  

Personally, I do not see anything on the horizon that would be considered killer features for the tech market in general.  Most of the products slated to be released this year are likely incremental improvements on existing products or features.  

iPhone 12 will go to iPhone 13.  Tesla's killer feature may be lower prices for the Model 3 and Y as it battles new electric vehicles coming to the market.  Facebook will be Facebook - it will continue to suck the soul out of society and copy features that someone else comes up with.  If there is a killer here, it's Facebook stealing and trying to kill off the competition.  

There are a couple that could be considered killer features but I went ahead and googled the words "killer feature" and I found some.  Some might be close to being killer features but I think the rest are mostly an attempt at click baiting. 

In no particular order,

  • Spotify getting lossless audio.  Meh.  I listen to most of my music on my Apple earbuds, AirPods Pro, and on the phone speaker.  I don't know how others do it but I imagine a vast major of music lovers are more like me than not - higher audio quality will not matter too much.  Have you tried to listen to music through Alexa?  Right.
  • Quick sharing in Windows - In the Apple world, it's called AirDrop.  The new feature will allow Windows and Android to share files and links with each other.  Unfortunately, that's likely limited to Windows 10 and people who use Samsung's Galaxy devices.  No go for others.  I'm surprised Google or even Microsoft, you know, the people who brought us Windows, has not developed an AirDrop like feature yet.
  • Google Pixel phones will offer some biometric features - reading heart rates and breathing.  This is being done not through new hardware but what is already on the devices - the camera.  I've used this before on the iPhone a few years ago.  I don't know how accurate it is but I was amazed at how well it worked as I timed my heart beats the old fashion way. It was close enough.  
  • Google Maps will allow users to pay for parking through the maps app.  I hardly call this a killer anything and more of a convenience feature.  The maps app itself is a killer app, back in 2007.
  • Windows Edge will get vertical tabs.  I think this is close to being a "killer" anything but not a deal break.  Essentially, instead of having the tabs accord horizontally like all browsers now, Edge will display them horizontally on the left.  Maybe you can move them to the right if that is your preference.  As it is now I've got two columns of white spaces on both sides, wasted space.  More information will be displayed as a result.  
  • Android Auto to get shortcuts.  I know what shortcuts are.  Control-C.  Control-V.  But the shortcuts for iOS and Android are more complicated and helpful if you know how to use them.  I barely do as I think most people are.  So, it's good for folks who are well versed with shortcuts and creating them.  Nice to have but not a killer feature.  In general, mobile warriors should use shortcuts more often or start to learn how to use and create them.
  • Samsung Internet to gain new privacy features.  People do not give Samsung enough credit but it is a large developer of apps.  And this shows that Samsung continues to invest a lot of time and effort in making the Android experience better, Samsung style.  Privacy will be front and center for Internet 14.  I am sure Google and Samsung takes privacy seriously and not allow Apple to hog all the attention when it comes to privacy and tracking.  But between Apple, Google, Microsoft, Samung, or another company, I put my trust with my privacy with Apple until someone else proves to me that they will take privacy as seriously as Apple or more. 
Any of those look like killer features to you?

Look, coming up with real killer features or apps is not easy.  I just think the phrase as been over used to the point that any new upgrade is being advertised as a killer feature.  As sad as this is, the ability to maintain a customer's privacy is a killer feature.  The rampant and reckless tracking all over the Internet and apps has created disaster after disaster with user data being misused or leaked.  Apple clamping down on that with the upcoming iOS 14.5 has had seismic effort across social media and the advertising industry with Facebook crying foul.  

Half way through March already, we are getting into the new releases season for many tech companies.  If there are killer features or apps, we should see them soon.  All the low hanging fruits on the killer feature trees have been plucked.  Where are the killer features going to come from?

To my mind, Apple has not released a killer anything since the Apple Watch which itself is doing a number on the traditional watch market.  Speaking of the Apple Watch, health technology may be where we see a lot of killer features in the months and years ahead.  

Privacy and health.  If what I think the trend is going, wellness and peace of mind is going to be important for users and tech companies should do well to consider this when they develop new products.  I would not mind a plethora of killer features, devices, and apps to keep me and my family healthier and feel safer.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Looking For the Mac to Follow the iPhone and iPad - Trickle-Down Effect - Powerful and Cheaper

  Source:  Apple.

In November, Apple released new Macs based on its own chip, a move way from Intel forever, that has long-term disruption to the Mac market for years to come.  Essentially, the M1 is based on the design that has been powering the iPhone and iPad for years now.  The difference is that the M1 was designed for the Mac.  The late 2020 MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and the Mac mini is just a taste of what is to come.  And judging by media coverage, reviews, and general excitement, people are loving what they see. 

 Overlooked is what it means for the Mac market in the long term.   These new Macs were barely on sale before fans are talking about the M1X, presumably the next M1 upgrade that may power MacBooks with bigger screens and the iMac.  Oh, and you have to throw M2 into the mix of what Mac fans are excited about.  

M1, M2, or M5.  Consider this.  Whenever new iPhone comes out, Apple has kept around some of the previous year's models around to take up lower price points while the newest models take up the current price points (or higher).  That is the same with the iPad.  The iPhone has a price range from $399 to $1299. And when the iPad came out, it was priced at $499.  Today, the cheapest iPad is $329 and the iPad Pro topping off at $1499.  

The cheapest M1 Mac is the MacBook Air at $999.  The most expensive Mac with a M1 chip is almost $2000 while the Intel MacBook Pro is even higher.  What will happen when the newer M-series chip come out to power the Mac?  Will Apple stop making M1 Macs and only sell the M1X or M2 ones instead?

It could. The PC market is different from smartphone or tablet markets.  However, Apple may be interested in capture a larger share of the PC market if it can lower the prices of the Mac, to say around $600.  In a few years, Apple may be able to sell a $599 MacBook with a 10" screen that can complete more effective with PCs in that range.  Right now, Apple is giving up a lot of sales to underpowered and cheap Windows and Chrome laptops.  By spending just a little more, users can buy MacBooks that are powerful running the latest OS X.  

This would represent a seismic shift in the PC market - tens of millions of users will suddenly be able to afford Macs that were previously priced out of the range they were willing to spend.  And as years pass, features and speed of the Mac that was previously available to only to the higher end Mac would begin to trickle down these more consumer and school friendly Macs.  

If Apple takes up this strategy, do not be surprised if it sucks an even larger share of the dollar spent in the PC hardware market but also increase sizably in the number of units sold as well.  

Monday, March 1, 2021

A Year of Pandemic - Social network, Mobile Warriors, and What Will Be (New) Normal

 It has been a almost year since the start of the pandemic for Americans.  There really is no anniversary.  For California, the stay-at-home order came on March 19.  For New York, its first case was March 1, 2020.  And for Washington state, its first case was in January and the a statewide lockdownissued on March 23rd.  However, you looked at it, the first official COVID-19 case was recorded on January 19th (Source: History), so maybe that is the start of the pandemic.  No matter how you look at it, it has been a year like nothing we have seen in the past.  We lived it, witnessed it, and there will be a large amount of tweets, photos, videos, and books about it.  

Having said all that, the question is that we are still in a pandemic but we are wonder just how long before we return to life as we knew it.  Or will we ever?  Or will be there be a new normal from now one - masks for a number of us who want to play it safe (

Here are some questions I have:

  1. We lived online during much of the pandemic - will more people spend less time on the timeline and begin to spend time with each other in person (provided we get the virus under control).
  2. We learned that Facebook was instrumental in spreading fake news - about COVID-19, potential cures, and other social issues associated with the pandemic.  Setting politics aside, will the government finally address it?  
  3. When will we no longer be required to wear masks when we go to the market or a business?
  4. When will companies begin to require or allow their employees to return to their offices?
  5. Will we need booster shots annual like we do now for the flu?  
  6. Will COVID testing continue?  
  7. Will there be ever be more stay-at-home orders?  We had another one during the winter months in California.  I can tell you that it was not as much people were following it as we did with the March order.  Governments can require restaurants to ban indoor and outdoor dining but even now, people are flocking to malls, beaches, and parks as if things are fine.  It's unlikely future stay-at-home orders will having any effect like the first unless things become worse.
  8. When will indoor dining be allowed again?  Will outdoor dining go away.  
  9. Will social distancing go away?  During the first lockdown, I often go for walks and we would cross from the sidewalks into the streets whenever we pass someone else coming in the other direction.  We are still doing that but it appear more people are fine walking by or past each other at less than six feet.
  10. Are we ready for the next pandemic?  SARS was in 2002.  The Swine Flu was in 2009.  COVID-19 in 2020.  We could be looking at another pandemic within the next decade. 
In 18 to 24 months, we may conceivable return to pre-COVID norms.  That is what we al hope.  Or we could continue to be living with masks on as cases rise and fall as new COVID strains gain footholds.  A lot can and will happen that chart which path we take.  

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...