Pick Your Poison: OS Fragmentation or Feature Fragmentation?

One of the most impressive aspects of owning an Apple phone or tablet is how good Apple is at rolling out OS updates. With very few meltdowns, MILLIONS of devices are updated on launch day, and the entire ecosystem moves forward very quickly. Early estimates point to almost 30% of iOS users are now on iOS7. By controlling the hardware and software environment, Apple has created a process Google will probably never be able to approximate.

TheAppleLounge iOS-7-Comparison-ChartWhile even older devices will get these OS updates, iDevices like the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 wont be getting all of the new features of the OS. This makes sense as it’s older, under-powered hardware, and Apple is ruthless about protecting the user experience. However, as what we get excited about during an OS update are new features, claiming the iPhone 4 “also gets iOS7” is a very small touch disingenuous. It does get iOS7, just not ALL of it.

The Apple Lounge built this great graphic detailing which devices would be getting new features, and which would be left out. On the whole Apple has done a terrific job of moving things like Control Center and Multi-tasking forward, but some lost features might be a touch frustrating.Things like panorama photos and in-camera filters might be kind of a bummer for folks who prized the iPhone’s camera. Also, for as frustrating as it can be to transfer files on and off iDevices, the lack of AirDrop on older hardware might be frustrating for some.

This also brings up weird splits in product lines. The iPad Mini is largely the same internal hardware as the iPad 2, but the iPad 2 will not be receiving Air Drop support while the iPad Mini will. Ditto the “iPad with Retina Display”. If you have the iPad 3, no Air Drop for you, but the iPad 4 is good to go. Definitely a bummer as we would imagine the hardware in the iPad 3 is probably more robust than in the iPad Mini.

Contrast that with the scattered OS update path on Android, and Apple still has the cleaner process, but Google is taking steps to improve the Android ecosystem. They wont be able to corral all of the various manufacturers, they’ve been trying to do that for a while now, but they can go around them to a degree. Over the last several months we’ve been watching Google slice pieces off of Android and putting those pieces up as stand alone apps. While it might seem like a small thing, it shouldn’t require a full new OS update to install a small improvement to something like the keyboard, and now Android users can install the stock Nexus keyboard as a separate app.

google settings app screenshot somegadgetguyTaking that idea a step further, the new Google Settings app shows up in your app drawer now and gives you a lot of control over gaming, Google+, and remote device management (like tracking your phone if it gets stolen). Google Play Services is also updated through the Google Play app store. Rather than waiting out full OS updates, all of the peripheral services and controls, things that developers interact with for instance, can all be updated independently of the OS.

While most services like G+, Play Music, and Maps have always been this way, and people are somewhat used to them being one part hardware and one part cloud, I hope this idea extends soon to other features on our phones like the camera. Taking a cue from the Nexus Keyboard app, it would be a nice way to unify the camera experience on Android handsets, that there would be one simple Android camera experience if people want something simple and familiar. Ditto the photo Gallery, as it can be jarring moving to a new phone and having a completely different experience for organizing and sharing photos and videos.

This solution isn’t perfect either, as some improvements will still require that full OS iteration, and things like hardware controls have to be buttoned down (hello Bluetooth funkiness), but as Google implements more individual component updates, fewer and fewer Android users will be left out in the cold as app developers and services move forward.

I’ve come to the opinion that there really isn’t a “best” phone, tablet, or ecosystem anymore. For a couple years now, the question you have to ask yourself is: What compromises are you willing to live with? As even low end phones now can be surprisingly capable, I think service and support will become even more meaningful to the end user.

So pick your poison. What kinds of updates work better for you?

TLD gives us a sneak peek of the iPad 5 casing!

This is actually a pretty decent scoop. TLD has gotten their hands on an iPad 5 shell, and they spend some time comparing it to the current iPad 4. The design will be very similar to the iPad Mini, thinner and slimmer with more rectangular edges. I still want to see a “pick it up off of a flat surface” test, as the Mini can be incredibly difficult to pick up off a tablet without sliding it around, potentially scratching it.

iPad 5 looks like it will feature much smaller bezels, but this means it’ll be an even tighter fit for all of the guts inside. Hopefully battery life doesn’t take a hit, and fingers crossed it doesn’t run any hotter than the current iPads do.

Apple extends older app support for legacy iOS users

itunes app store legacyFragmentation is a fact of life. As new gear arrives, older gear will stop receiving support. As developers move on to newer operating systems users can become frustrated when some devices get updates and others don’t.

Apple weathers this storm better than most of their competition, but even they aren’t completely immune. They are taking a savvy step towards improving the experience for people using older iOS devices. The iTunes store now allows you to install older versions of apps. That way, if developers are supporting newer version of iOS than what’s on your phone or tablet, you’ll be able to backtrack to versions which do support your iDevice.

This kind of legacy support really improves the experience for people who hold on to their tech for as long as possible. If you’ve got an older phone, tablet, or iPod Touch give it a whirl.

(pic via Reddit)

Review: The Kingston Digital MobileLite Wireless Flash Reader

kingson mobilelite wireless flash reader SD card somegadgetguySometimes the cloud isn’t enough.

While I find it fantastically helpful to have a couple gigs up in the cloud, there are still times I need to have access to files locally. I might need files which are too large to wait for a download, or I might need to easily share files with a couple users around me. I might just be in poor coverage without access to WiFi. For as good as our cloud solutions have gotten, I find I often still resort to “sneaker-net” to move files back and forth between different computers.

This gets even more complicated when I want to interact with a file on a mobile device, especially those pesky iOS devices which lack proper file managers. You can’t just load up a movie file on an iPhone while out and about for example. Plugging your iPhone or iPad into a proper computer and dragging a file over without iTunes means that file wont show up in any of the apps on your iDevice. Sure, there are other workarounds, funnily enough using iCloud for instance, but none have the simplicity of a point to point transfer.

kingson mobilelite wireless flash reader next to HTC One somegadgetguyKingston was kind enough to send over a MobileLite Wireless Flash Reader for me to play with. The dream of the MobileLite is to create a local wireless storage solution for multiple devices to utilize. Specifically up to three devices can log in and share the info on either an SDXC Memory Card or USB Flash Memory Drive.

MobileLite is a small grey/black brick about the size of two iPhone 5’s stacked on top of each other. It’s fairly light at 98 grams, and it comes with a USB cable to charge MobileLite using a computer or AC Adapter. Kingston also includes a MicroSD card adapter for those of you which pull Micro cards out of your phones, cameras, tablets, etc…

Continue reading “Review: The Kingston Digital MobileLite Wireless Flash Reader”

Microsoft will give you at least $200 to trade in your iPad for a Surface

microsoft promo store trade in your ipad somegadgetguyIf you’ve been wanting to make the jump from iOS to Windows 8 for your tablet usage, Microsoft is more than happy to help you make the transition by cutting you a check.

Yup, on the Microsoft store, they’re currently running a promotion that will pay out a minimum of $200 for you iPad 2,3, or 4. Sorry first gen iPad owners, but no one really wants anything to do with tech that old…

Now, this might be a good, convenient solution for people who just want to buy a Surface or Surface Pro and don’t want to hassle with offloading their old Apple gear, but if your iPad 2 is in good condition, and if you’ve kept the box, it’s likely you could score around $250 for that tablet on eBay.

Microsoft Surface “Trade in your iPad” Promo.

AT&T posts iPhone pre-order page for September 20th release

170455-mrq-iPhone5C-bg-972x460If you’re on Big Blue and looking to shop one of those shiny new iPhones we’ve been hearing all about over the last day or so, AT&T has helpfully created an email alert page just for you. Of course they’ll be carrying the new iPhones, so if you want to make sure a little box has your name on it on September 20th, you will want to be alerted when pre-orders go live on September 13th.

Jump over to www.apple.com/iphone to make sure you’re all signed up.

Target Ticket has iTunes and Amazon in their video streaming sights (not really Netflix though)

target ticket online movie store beta somegadgetguySo, a lot headlines talking about the Target Ticket beta keep comparing it to Netflix. Netflix is an all-you-can eat subscription service. You pay monthly to watch all you want. iTunes and Amazon built services which allow customers to rent or own digital copies of individual movies and TV shows (though Amazon now also has an all-you-can eat component with Prime, but I digress).

Now which of those to services do you think Target Ticket more closely resembles?

Target will be launching with 15,000 titles, and we’re expecting pricing similar to Amazon and iTunes. Movies can be rented for around $3-4 per title or owned for around $13-15, and Target is promising compatibility with Android, iOS, Mac, and PC. Content providers including ABC, AMC, CBS, CW, Fox, FX, HBO, The WB, NBC, Showtime, Starz, and USA are already on board.

Target Ticket is currently only available to Target employees with no official word on when it’ll open it’s digital doors for business.

So what do you think? Is this a service you’ll try out when it leaves BETA? Is there room for another movie “store”? Drop a comment below.

Apple Officially unveils iPhone 5S & 5C. Available September 20th.

iPhone5c_34L_AllColors_PRINT“In the past, when we’ve launched a new iPhone, we lowered the cost of the old iPhone, making it more accessible to new people. But this year, we’re not going to do that.” – Tim Cook

Yes, they’re officially official! The iPhone 5S will reign as the new premier handset and the iPhone 5C will replace the iPhone 5 as a mid range offering. The iPhone 4S will remain as a “free on contract” option for frugal buyers.

The iPhone 5C is largely an iPhone 5 in a candy colored polycarb plastic shell. Inspired by phones like the Nokia Lumia, Apple is releasing the iPhone 5C in green, white, blue, pink, and yellow. Pricing will be very reasonable, coming in at $99 for a 16GB version and $199 for the 32GB model. This is a smart play by Apple, as it provides a much needed mid-range which wont be as expensive as the uni-body aluminum iPhone to produce. This should also help open up some Asian and African developing markets where consumers might not be interested in paying the Apple premium for the 5S.

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The iPhone 5S will retain the aluminium shell of its predecessor, meaning in the wild it will be difficult to see whether someone is carrying the latest and greatest. In part to address that, the color options for the 5S have changed. Silver remains, but instead of Black, the 5S  will come in “Space Grey”. This may also be a response to complaints that the black iPhone was easily scratched. Also, for those wanting a bit more bling, a Gold version will also be available. I would expect this to be the top seller for this generation of iPhone, as even I can be guilty of wanting other people around me to know I have a bleeding edge phone. And yes. I did just say “bling”.

iphone 5s camera rear goldWhile the 5S wont be visually much different than the iPhone 5, it is packing new equipment under the hood to improve the iOS experience. A new camera is on board, marking the first improvement in two generations of iPhone. The resolution remains the same at 8 megapixels, but the new sensor is larger allowing more light to hit individual photo sites. When paired with a new f2.2 aperture lens, this should improve low light capabilities. The new camera app will also be capable of shooting continuous 10 frame per second stills. A new slow-motion video mode is also included which can shoot at 120 frames per second to catch all those great sports and pet moments in delicious slow motion detail.

A new processor is on board. The Apple claims the A7 is up to twice as powerful as the A6, though details regarding actual performance are thin. Interestingly enough, the new A7 is a 64-bit chip. I can’t really understand why Apple made this jump now, as the move to 64-bit on desktops was to facilitate more than 4GB of RAM (which the iPhone does not have). This could perhaps be a preemptive move towards unifying OSX on the desktop and iOS on mobile devices? We’ll just have to wait and see…

The new chipset does feature improved graphics processing thanks to OpenGL ES 3.0. Apple showed off a preview of Infinity Blade 3 which demonstrated dynamic lighting, improved texture mapping, and larger playable areas.

For those active smartphone users, the 5S packs a new sensor co-processor dubbed the M7. It’s a small mini-brain responsible for driving and collecting all of the data from the various sensors, gyros, accelerometers, and the compass. This is a cool piece of tech, as all that info can be collected and sorted by apps without the new A7 processor turning on. This should help battery life, and open new doors for tracking and location apps with the new M7 API.

Speaking of power, Apple claims 10 hours of LTE browsing, 40 hours of music listening, and 250 hours of standby time. No word yet on whether the battery can sustain real world use through dinner time…

iphone 5s touch id home button fingerprint sensor somegadgetguyLastly, for those a bit more security conscious, Touch ID was introduced, which builds a capacitive fingerprint scanner into the Home button on the 5S. Apple demo’ed the feature, which should make unlocking an iPhone near invisible to the person who owns the iPhone, just by tapping the Home Button. This should be of interest to corporate and government IT departments which have to force smartphone users into using alphanumeric passwords which can sometimes be difficult to enter on a touchscreen display.

iPhone 5s will follow in the footsteps of previous iPhones launching at $199 for 16GB, $299 for 32GB, and $399 for a 64GB version. The iOS7 update goes live September 18, and iPhone pre-orders start September 13. The phones will be available for purchase September 20 in the US, Australia, Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore, and China. That last is very important for Cupertino, as this will be the first time an iPhone will include the Chinese market at launch, and offering that mid-range iPhone 5C could help open up Asian markets which haven’t warmed to Apple’s mobile offerings in the past.

Watch the keynote at Apple.com. Full Press Releases after the jump! Continue reading “Apple Officially unveils iPhone 5S & 5C. Available September 20th.”