Friday, October 28, 2011

iPhone... a history of hate and love. And hate again, soon...

If you think you know me, you'd say I'm an iPhone lover. Or an Apple fanboy. If you do know me, you'll now I try (and am very fortunate to be able to) use the best possible device(s) to suit my needs.

So when I first used an iPhone (the original), without MMS, 3G, copy/paste and whatever else it was missing as a phone, my verdict was simple. This is not a phone, even less a smartphone, it's an iPod touch that can send/receive calls, sms and some mail... And I really couldn't be bothered with it.

Then the 3G came along with iOS 3.0 and it was... meh. Better but uglier.

Time went by... and the 3Gs came. That was about when it became more than a decent smartphone or a simple matter of preference. It was the best UX (user experience) and the most complete device for me. And I did adopted it. But barely... the only things that had me using it were the UX, and especially the audio quality. The excellent and loud iPod was, is, and probably will always be a winner for the iPhone. No one has done it better in my opinion. And even if on par, not by using as little power, and not as 100% reliable without hiccups as an iPod/iPhone does. So this, and only this, made me use my awesome and beloved Nokia N900 less and less. Even got a dock to connect to my wi-fi and a car radio with iPod/iPhone support. And that is pretty awesome. iPod high quality music, transported in one device inside the phone, connectable "anywhere". It actually made me start using the "iPod" with a phone.

Then the 4. Well... New hardware, more capacity and new OS with even more improvements or, granted, more "corrections". It was just a "no brainer". Best thing out there. Period. Still is, for me and my needs. Despite still uglier than the original, slippery, uneven and uncomfortable around the edges and with one of the worst radio performances (especially moving) I've ever seen on a mobile phone.

However, there is a thorn, a pet hate, an asinine stupid emasculating frustrating piece of the puzzle that still bugs me and ultimately will see me dropping the use of an iPhone, or any Apple device even. i-freakin-Tunes.

I've written before on the subject and... well, it's just that it still sucks! It has not improved one bit in the way I'd like it to. Worst even, with iOS5 I can now live without iTunes. Except for music and video. For that, I still have to sync with a computer. And that's the problem right there. A computer. Seriously... still? Stuck with one machine, user and operating system? Not acceptable. I run multi OS machines and VM's across different locations and machines. Work, home, laptop, netbook and for that I store my music on an external drive. Which is a useless solution with iTunes.

Fortunately I've been lucky to be able to start using the awesome Google Music Service. Not only I could load all my stuff into it, it also provides me with new stuff to satisfy my constant need to discover new music. And I can access it from ANYWHERE and ANYTHING.

This has started to shift my needs. More specifically, my need to have my music "with me". I mean, it's still valid when "on the move". But I don't do buses or other means of mass transportation, and my car radio has a neat hidden USB port that plays music with very high quality as well. From a USB thumb drive I can manage ANYWHERE. And add files. And delete. And no software needed. And create my "mixes", and playlists, and don't see them disappear on yet another software upgrade. Gaaaah.....!


So, since I seriously expect Music Match not to have any sort of free "basic" subscription to allow me to synch without iTunes and without paying for my own music(!), I believe that this moment - when I do not need and won't miss the iPhone - is very close.

Because if I stop needing an iPhone for "musical" reasons, then I'm only left with the (now) superior UX. Which won't be the best for long... And I do not mean the Android 4,0 crap stuff that's coming.

I'll go back to a Nokia. If not the N900 now, then the new N9 MeeGo with the best UI (user interface) out there. Or the Lumia 800 with WP7 and fantastic Office and windows (home and work) network integration, and the most complete and therefor best UX for me. And you can play Angry Birds as well.

They even have a shiny new free music service...

And free GPS Navigation...

And the ability to hold a call from work to home, without dropping the connection 4 or 5 times. Also included, for free...

And the Ipad may soon follow... if "someone" and Microsoft get the Win8 tablet thing right.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

So... Tablets!

Where to start? Well, actually the tablet (PC) was created quite a while back. It was however rather limited by hardware, and also by software not being thought for that kind of use. So it just plain sucked.

Then, the "modern age" Tablet came along. Revolutionary as you'd expect from Apple, it took every negative aspect of the tablet and turned it around.

High battery life time. Because stand-by uses almost no energy, which lead to the lack of need to shut it down.
No boot time. Because you don't need to shut it down, it's always ready.
Simple, effective design. Not the clumsiness of clunky folding contraptions and peripherals.
Magical and fast - usability. No "login", no profiles, no delays.

That was possible due to (new) hardware availability (flash storage, capacitive touch and more) and to the genius of one (now departed) man, Steve Jobs.

So this is the iPad. The reinvention of tablets, so revolutionary people commonly say it was the first.

Phase III, was the copycats. And I really mean that. I'm not using the word competition simply because there is none.

I don't mean: "the industry reacted", I mean "everyone wanted a piece of the action, so they copied it as best they could". And... they failed. Quite miserably in my opinion.

Everyone joined what seamed the most promising, but also the easiest path. Android. "It's linux based, it's open, it's free, it's backed by Google, there is no limit, we can do anything." Ironically it was (and still is) true, but they didn't. They didn't try do "make" anything, only to catch-up by copying.

Maemo and MeeGo, a true open platform with the potential to actually build something new, was discarded. Everyone believed in the Android miracle. And the believers become haters (of Apple, the iPad, the iPhone and iOS in general) kept trying to do "almost" the same as the iPad, and a few "allegedly" new things. But eventually in every argument, Android real innovations and advantages fall back to the Google services being as awesome as they are.

Now, there will be a new player in town soon. And it will not go for the high end, trendy, not so tech savvy Apple fanboy. And it can't care less about the cheapskate geek wannabees that are now the majority of the Android user base. They are going for the big bucks.

Microsoft is entering the tablet business by readdressing the old Tablet-PC project. Minimizing it's faults, while delivering PC like functionality. This is not the post-PC world. Tablets will be the new-PC world and Microsoft can kick some serious ass in that department.

Many laughed a couple of days when I plugged a mouse into a Win8 tablet, like: "ha ha, you need a mouse!?!?". No, I don't need one, but I can use one. And any old mouse will do. Can you do that with your iPads and Galaxy tabs? No.

So yes. Many, attached to old tablet-PC concept, will make fun of a "normal" Windows with a pretty touch skin on top. Minimizing the fact that you have:
 - full access to your file system behind that screen, no rooting or jailbreak needed
 - full access to you network, behind that pretty skin, no DLNA or AirPlay bs or app needed
 - a terminal window and access to basically any internet connected device over any protocol you choose, no pretty little lame app needed

All that, without having to painfully go through a million crap apps on Android Market, or having to pay for one on the App Store. It's right there, if you can and know how to use it. If you don't, stick to the pretty skin bit. So "many" will be wrong in discarding it.

But no. A Win8 tablet it will never be as pretty and simple as an iPad. Or magically fast. But it comes just as close as "anything else" ever did or will be. Accompanied by the immense immediate power of having a full windows machine in your hands. What can Android offer? Oh, right. Google services...

The (fragmented and almost, but less than) perfect Google services integration. Well, if I were a manufacturer, I wouldn't get to comfortable with that. Google services tend to be standardized, very web browser friendly and meant to be accessed anywhere. You do not need very specific hardware for that. You can even use an iPad, or say a Win8.

In terms of sales, considering the markets as they are divided into MAC and Windows with a side of Linux, Windows users will adopt Win8 tablets as effortlessly and willingly as MAC users do iPads. And no, you can't compare tablets with phones because tablets are a lot closer to work and to computers than phones are. So Android tablets? I honestly don't know what they could be good for in the near future, and Chrome OS is... well, little more than nothing, on a cloud. Android tablets survive as the only "alternative" (if you can use that word) to the iPad. I fear MS competition will blow them out of the water.

A while ago everyone said Elop was mad going with WP7. I said he was right. Then everyone started to come to their senses. But now they are starting to think he was wrong again. Well, despite the MS pachyderm taking forever to do anything with WP7, I still think he was and is right (that doesn't mean I think he was right about killing MeeGo too, or that I believe he actually did/wants to). Win8 will not take as long. Tablets will be coming out and selling more and faster than any Android tablet ever did.

The Windows network compatibly, SharePoint support and absolutely excellent Office integration will make WP7 and Win8 tablets a real win (pun intended) in the corporate market, and in the working man world. That is what I meant by going for the big bucks.

Oh and RIM as a hardware manufacturer is dead. Either they just don't know it yet, or they do and this new path of integrating blackberry services in other platforms is their - very wise - escape route.

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