Tag Archives: Apple

So an Amazon Tablet huh

Thought I’d take a minute to weigh in on the whole Amazon Kindle tablet thing now the buzz and punditry has kinda died down.

I’m interested, but still skeptical. I DO however LOVE my kindle 3 lest someone immediately jump to “Hater”

The touch model is uninteresting, I don’t see value in an e-ink touch screen. Even with improved refresh rate and such, I just don’t see a long term usability there. Add on the whole, “touch in the middle for menu, touch on the sides to change pages” thing, i just don’t see the use. in the long run. Typing might not suck completely but I’m guessing it’s not awesome.

The one with the D-pad but no keyboard. Ok but i think it’ll be only slightly useful. If nothing else entering wifi credentials is gonna suck, and I assume it still has note making capability, which will get old fast hunting and pecking across an on-screen keyboard. I do like the look of it, very clean. While I love my keyboard when I need it, it’s a definite space waste 90% of the time I’m using my Kindle. That 10% however is huge. I don’t surf the web or tweet (who are these people that bitch about the browser ON THEIR E-READER. YOu guys are doing it wrong) but I make lots of notes. Sometimes I share those notes out, most of the time I don’t. But I take lots of notes when I’m reading non-fiction. Since getting my K3 and seeing the shared highlights of others, it’s clear I’m not the only one. Tapping out a lengthy note to myself or observation on an on-screen keyboard that refreshes like e-ink… no thanks.

I hate typing my passwords on my AppleTV using the stupid remote, and dread when I need to do it on the PS3, all for the same reason. hunting and pecking via a direction pad is a terrible way to use a keyboard. So yeah the keyboard less one and the touch one likely will be huge to readers of fiction or those who see no value in adding any type of annotation. That’s not a criticism just an observation of usage.

Now the Nook color… oops the Kindle Fire I mean.

I don’t read on backlit things. I read way too much, and just can’t do it. I might read a page on my Xoom (kindle app) from time to time, but when it’s sit down and enjoy a book time, it’s not on a reflective backlit screen.

I love the size. The only thing RIM did right in the playbook in my opinion was the size. The OS was nice and had they executed in a way that in any way resembled a real world view of the market I have little doubt the playbook coulda been a real player. But that’s a different post. The size was great. It fit in my shorts pocket. My coat pocket, and the small outside pocket of my laptop bag(s). No I probably wouldn’t use it as an every day tablet for catching up on news feeds, or things like that. but for quickly reviewing email or twitter, for a quick (who am I kidding right) game of Angry Birds and such it’s perfect. The playbook had an incredible screen, I hope the Fire does too.

Watching things. My other big use case for any tablet is watching stuff. I’ll be leaving for Adobe MAX tomorrow and my Xoom is loaded with a movie or two and some episodes of TV I haven’t watched yet. Prior to the iPad and Xoom I watched stuff on my iPhone. The larger tablets are great, but my eyesight is fine, so a smaller screen is also cool. And the Playbook size screen i found to be just right. Not so heavy I get bored/tired of holding it up, and not so small I’m squinting to see the show. So I think the size of the Fire is a good choice and keeps it on my “I’m watching you” list. Had it been 10″ I probably wouldn’t care since I have the xoom. It does just fine.

Content is king. This applies over and over and you see things fail for this simple reason (cough RIM, HP, most android devices). Amazon unlike HP and android and RIM has content. It’s got amazon prime and cloud drive music. Remember why we all love our iDevices? The content and the ease of managing that content, and the ease of using that content. Amazon has a shot here. I thought HP did too, but frankly HP is clearly run by people who don’t get that it’s 2011 not 1992.

As Amazon adds more content to Prime, it gets more and more interesting to me. Since Netflix as a company is beginning to annoy me, I might just redirect my $ and attention to Amazon if they can get a bit more content. I know they compete but it’d be awesome if Amazon Prime VOD was added to AppleTV, that’d be a Netflix killer for me at least.

What wasn’t talked about and what I’ve said over and over in regards to Android vs. Apple user experience is the content management. Android is catching up a little with Google Music, etc but has a LONG way to go, and if your media isn’t in their cloud, it’s a PITA to get it on your Android device. Lock in… gotta love it. But if Amazon makes managing my on device content easy and seamless (even if it means a simple upload from iTunes to Amazon to download to device) way to manage the stuff on my tablet, well they may be the alternative to Apple that Android promised to be. Of course the Kindle aspect of the device much like the Nook aspect of the Nook Color, not at all interesting, but the device itself… hmm

Of course nothing at all was shown in relation to that type of thing which doesn’t fill me with warm fuzzies, BUT the Fire doesn’t even ship for 2 more months so…

So my haven’t-even-seen-or-touched-it-yet opinion. I’m cautiously optimistic. I didn’t pre-order anything and I’ll wait for some hands on reviews before I make an moves.

Did you pre-order? What’d you get?

Can i get streaming media? Pretty please?

Turns out, with the Motorola Xoom, the answer is no.

Hulu. No.

Lots of devices including the Nexus one. Really? the Nexus One has the hardware but the xoom doesn’t?

Ok not lots. Far from lots. Hundreds of handsets and tablets on the market now, and 6 can run hulu. I retract “lots”

I like my Xoom  a lot, i’ve invested good sizes bits of my $ to buying apps to make the device my go to tablet. I like the size, I like the form factor, I like the OS. But traveling with the Xoom (as I did to WWDC this year) is kind of the pits, unless I make sure to pre-load the device with downloaded content.

Netflix. No.

My understanding is that it’s largely to do with the encryption/DRM capabilities of the device. OK that makes sense.

 

What doesn’t make sense to me, as a prosumer techy with a $600 device on my desk… How did Motorola not build the Xoom with these two apps in mind?

 

Better yet, how was Moto (for that matter, Google too) NOT working with both companies from the get go, to ensure that the Flagship tablet of the Android Army, the first device to ship with Honeycomb, wasn’t at the top of the compatible devices list?

 

It was one thing when neither service had an app for android, it made using the Xoom, not a “This or that” decision with my iPad. But now, now two of the main use cases for my iPad (other than games and Omnifocus) are available for android… just not my android.

Gruber sums it up pretty well in “Fragmentation, I don’t see any fragmentation

It’s funny, there’s plenty I don’t  like about the way apple does things, but for the most part they don’t seem as determined as Google and Motorola do, to drive me away from their platform. :(

What I hope to see at WWDC

Blah blah, i know it’s that season (I think I said this last year too) but I was thinking about Devin’s post about possible retail store products for their 10th anniversary and figured I’d throw out my best guesses for the WWDC keynote. Not retail store product options, Devin covered those as well as I could. But really honest to goodness possible products.

The rumor mills are going nuts over the iPhone 4s-5-superDuper, so who knows, and I’m not gonna bother speculating there.

But what about Apps for AppleTV? We know it’s running some type of iOS, why not a subset of the full app catalog for media apps? Hulu? CBS? HBO GO, etc. How awesome to integrate an app store model into the AppleTV. Heck, with a magic trackpad paired, even iOS games could be viable.

 

Or maybe iPod Nano Touch 2nd Gen? I love my iWatch, and I’d love even more for it to do more, though I hope a camera is not one of those things. Cameras are like netflix apps, every device has 2 or 3.

Maybe take a queue from the metawatch movement? If anyone could make it a clean user experience it’s Apple. Why not have my watch show me the SMS that just came in, or my most recent push notifications? I’d love to glance down and see where certain friends are without pulling my phone out of my pocket.

Maybe even an SDK for basic apps? watch faces? etc. That’d be awesome.

This is a bit out there, at least this year. But, SSD only laptops. No optical drive, either 2 drives used separately, boot to the SSD, store data on the HDD, or 2 SSD’s in a RAID array. I’m running the former configuration right now in my Macbook and love it. Booting into Lion…erp Rawrdacted sorry, is cake. Certain features in that OS really really benefit from having an SSD as boot drive, and with the Mac App Store, who needs DVD drives anymore? Even OS X is distributed through it, and new machines can have the OS recovery on a USB drive like the Macbook Air. So why not use that space for something else? Something better.

 

That’s it, pretty simple, nothing too pie int he sky. Ok maybe the iWatch part, but I can hope, everything is in the realm of the possible, maybe not this year but next or the one after.

What do you think we’ll see at WWDC in a few weeks?

My Xoom review

I’ve been meaning to write this for a few days, and decided I just need to sit down and do it. Be aware, this review has no pics. There’s so many pics of the Xoom and the iPad out there, there’s just no need for them now. We all know what a tablet looks like now.

 

OK here’s my thoughts on the Xoom…

The short: I like it, I like it a lot. I’ve been using it almost exclusively since my friend and colleague Jeffy Houser gave it to me for my work on The Flex Show. It’s no iPad but it’s nice.

The Long version:

OS: Honeycomb seems like a great OS. Google shoulda been working on it sooner, and needs to stop dicking around trying to port it to a phone. Rock tablets, and let Honeycomb’s successor be the 1 OS for both.

It’s got some rough spots, but overall I’ve found it to be a great Tablet OS. I had a Viewsonic gTablet and tried 2.2 and 2.3 on it. Clearly neither OS was made for Tablets, so the experience sucked! But the Xoom, feels and works like a tablet should.

The widgets rock, the transitions between screens are very nice, and clean.

 

Apps (marketplace): Point, Apple. I admit, most of the apps on my iPhone and iPad, I can live without, some I never even open after installing or using once. However, right now, there are like 62 apps made for honeycomb. Not 1 is a twitter app!!

Many of the apps for the Xoom, are stupid, so being available doesn’t really do much. Thankfully google does a better job at upscaling than Apple does, so phone apps, mostly don’t look like ass on the Xoom, assuming they work

Say what you will about Apple and the iOS Store, the Google marketplace is pretty much like Dave Chappelle predicted. Amazon has cleaned up the mess a bit, but they’re not there yet.

I’ve been pretty happy with the Xoom app wise, not really missing most iOS apps. Here’s the ones I miss and why.

  • OmniFocus – I’ve invested in their offering. It’s on my iPhone, iPad, and mac. Making todo lists, etc is nice when they’re shared across devices.
  • Flipboard – I’ve got Pulse, and Newsr but Flipboard and Reeder were my goto apps and I do miss them. NetNewsWire too for that matter. My iPad was mainly remote desktop, and news reading.

That’s really it. There’s a few others I’d like to have on the Xoom for sure, but if any combo of those three apps made it to the Xoom I’d be cool.

 

Ecosystem: Win, Apple. Obviously lock in is a big part of this picture, and Apple certainly gains nothing by cooperating, but not having a viable iTunes replacement is a huge loss for the Xoom, and android in general. There’s DoubleTwist which is ok, but nothing remotely close to the awesome experience Apple offers. I will give Double Twist props for the over the Air syncing. Apple, really you shoulda figured this out already.

But yeah I STILL haven’t gotten any of my pics onto the Xoom. There’s not USB host support yet (fail) and Double Twist does music and sorta, video only. Even the Dropbox app doesn’t support saving an image from dropbox to the local storage. I could do some wifi FTP stuff, but that’s just too much work as far as I’m concerned.

Other Tablets: Apple needs competition, so does Motorola. But more importantly, if Google hopes to make some headway against Apple, with Tablets, they need to have more devices out there. Motorola did a good job with the Xoom, but I think someone can do better.

Plus if they (Motorola and Google, etc) hope to get developers interested in building apps for Tablets, there needs to be more devices out there to run them. I suspect part of the reason there’s only 63 apps is that many developers don’t want to waste their time, if there’s a chance the OS could change or google could scrap it entirely (GoogleTV anyone?)

 

So verdict? If you’re ok not having many apps right now (the main ones are there. Evernote, a nice VNC app, tweetdeck sorta works, Firefox, dropbox, etc), and can survive without iTunes-like desktop love. The Xoom might be a fun device for you. The OS is certainly more computer-y which I like, but it’s definitely an easy device to use. Easy as an iPad, no. Easy enough for a non moron? Yes.

Like I said, i’ve been leaving my iPad at home the last two weeks, and am surviving quite well. I haven’t gifted my ipad to Nicole yet, so I have the option to go back, but honestly, with an iPhone, not sure I will.

Dear Google and Motorola, you’re doing it wrong

My friend Justin tweeted this and it really called out something I had noticed the first time I saw the Moto Xoom commercial. Motorola (and by extension Google) are doing advertising WRONG.

Below are the commercials for the Xoom, and the iPad. Notice anything? Motorola spends their time with spaceships, and flashy weirdness, some dude looking around the cockpit of a space pod, talking about technology specs (as a geek this appeals to me, but I’m the minority. I don’t need an ad to decide to buy something) and showing perhaps, 10 seconds of actual device screen, and most of that is a game. I get that the commercial is aimed at showing the game playability of the Xoom. Great, that commercial should be 3-4 down the line. Establish the device as usable first, then highlight game play (if you have to)

Now look at the iPad commercial.

Notice anything? It spends the entire time with nothing but the device. The hands belong to someone, but we don’t need to see him, nor do we need to see him approach the chair, look bewildered about the iPad just sitting on the chair unattended and then sit down, look around some more, be amazed at the quality of the chair’s leather, appreciate the stitching, etc, etc. We see hands using the iPad to do a number of things. Not one thing, many. Sure IMO they’re mostly stupid things I almost never do on my iPad, but the point is, they show how to use the iPad.

Motorola, fire your ad firm. Hire someone who’s at least used an iPad, and hopefully someone who’s used a Xoom. I know there isn’t a lot of apps made just for the xoom, that’s fine, the iPad commercial focuses on all built in apps. Sure later ones have focused on third party apps, but launch commercials are just the apps Apple shipped it with. Surely there’re enough built in honeycomb apps to make a 30 second commercial. Heck look at Apple. Photo viewer, video player, maps, calendar, etc. Nothing crazy, nothing flashy or “OMG THAT APP IS ON A TABLET!!!!” just everyday use apps.

 

I almost wonder if Motorola hired the same firm HP did with the pre commercials? I’m sure some ad wonk Don Draper wannabe will explain the ad is less about the device and more about the futuristic feel of it, or some ad wonk bullshit. That’s not what sells things in 2011. Maybe it did in the 70s and 80s when consumers (no offense mom and dad) were a bit more stupid and easily confused, but that’s not how it works now. LEARN OR DIE.

 

The Wrist, Valuable Realestate

I was reading this article the other day, and it pretty much jived with my review(one and two) of the ‘iWatch’

There’s plenty of “I just use my iPhone, why would i want a watch?” people, and that’s fine, as with all things, it takes all kinds. I have a nice large watch box, full of nice analog and digital watches, and now my iWatch. I’ll probably wear watches forever, or I should say, something on my wrist.

 

I’ve joked with friends, but from the moment i got my first iPod Touch, I’ve been on the look out for something that would make it wearable on a wrist. iOS doesn’t really lend itself (sadly!) to landscape orientation, but android (mostly) does. I wouldn’t care that I’d invite being beaten up.

I hate talking on my phone, I dread it. I’ve thought, and still do about ditching my iPhone, getting an iPod Touch, and just having a blackberry or android phone. I really want a multi purpose computer, that’s easily accessible, always on me, etc.

A watch, or watch like device is the perfect thing. Easy to type on (though obviously not a replacement for a phone if you’re a lotsa email, texting type of person, but for firing off a quick “Im here” sms, etc.

I think the first step will be a connected watch type thing. As mentioned in the article, a watch that lets you accept/decline phone calls, shows your calendar, etc. Either from a connected device from Bluetooth, or with it’s own connection to the internet.

But I do think eventually we’ll have a device, the size of an iPhone or so, that fits comfortably on a wrist, has a camera for facetiming/skyping, etc. I’ll be glad when that time comes. I’d love to not worry about where I sat my phone down? Did I leave it at the bar, or at home? etc.

A device like this, if it’s where my watch would be, becomes less a gadget and more a part of my life, something I grab when I’m getting dressed.

 

Can’t wait!

The Mobile playground is shrinking, buh bye Nokia

it’s been an interesting few days for those who obsess over mobile stuff, myself included.

First HP announced their new WebOS line up. In a word, “sexy”. In another, “too late to market” Ok that’s four words, but still.

The current time frame for us to play with a TouchPad or Pre 3. “Summer” not even a hard date, just the season. Here’s why that’s a big ball of fail for a company that should have the resources to push ahead faster than most.

The TouchPad will weigh 1.6lbs. The iPad weighs 1.5lbs. The iPad 2 is rumored to weigh a bit less, My guess 1lb or close to it. So the TouchPad will launch weighing MORE than the PREVIOUS MODEL iPad. If it launched now. a .1lb difference wouldn’t be a thing, but a half pound difference in weight? That’s gonna be noticed. I want a TouchPad like a crackhead needs a fix, but will I wait 6 months? maybe, maybe not. Most won’t.

Gruber speculates that we’ll see an iPad 3 or 2.5around September, so the TouchPad will likely be outmoded twice over within months of launch. Wonder how long it’ll take for the TouchPad 2? a year?

I have no clue what else HP has cooking, but clearly they still think like it’s the 80’s and 90’s and you can take 6 months to a year to roll something out. It’s gonna be a hard lesson to learn.

That brings us to Nokia. I’ve had a few Nokia devices, and liked most of them. Well the earlier ones, at least. The last two, were a confusing mess. I’m not a dummy, and can figure out most OS’s etc, and mobile OS’s shouldn’t require “figuring out” in the first place. I could barely get apps installed on my N97, and Gave up completely on my whatever it was that followed. And really Nokia, stylii? in 2009 when I got my last Nokia device, it still required a stylus. Come on guys!

Now they’ve announced they’re partnering with Microsoft. Bad move. Why? It’s becoming more and more clear to me, that the mobile platforms that will win, are the ones where it’s a hardware and software play. Apple, HP (if they can start thinking like a modern company) and RIM. All control their hardware and OS. There’s no AT&T branded crap. Sure there might be AT&T apps, and that sucks, but the UI is the same. There’s no blackberry curve with Motorola sense, etc. The experience is the same across networks (other than carrier specific apps that preload of course, which suck, but whatever, they’re not changing the UI/UX). Google and Microsoft don’t have that control. Well we know Google doesn’t, it’s TBD whether Microsoft does. I’ve seen exactly two WP7 devices in the wild, and both were developer phones. Microsoft has shown that it can’t stay competitive with Mobile OS. They dominated when there wasn’t any serious smartphone competition, but times have changed. Maybe they’ll surprise me, but I doubt it. My play had i somehow found myself in charge of Microsoft. Forget phones. Re-tool Win7 to be touch only tablet OS. Not a bastard “use a stylus” tablet OS, a complete re-tooling, like Apple did with iOS. It’s OS X underneath after all. Focus on tablets, it’s a strong market now thanks to Apple, but it’s gonna get stronger, and there’s a dirth of quality OS’s for tablet devices. Phones are consumer electronics, lost and tossed in a time span that measures months more than years. Tablets, while heading towards commodity, will be everywhere. Households will have as many or more of them than phones.

Apple leads, that doesn’t mean you have to follow.

What do you think? Will Microsoft pull Nokia out of the fires? Will Nokia and M$ fall together? Will HP miss the mark, and slide out of mobile quietly when only 3 TouchPads sell? Will we all be rolling in iCars to our iHouses, wearing iKicks?