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More Nexus 5 Impression and Camera Comparison #nexus5

The boot animation.

I have been taking the Nexus 5 with me for the last couple of days, and here are my impression so far.

1. Build

Unlike the Nexus 4, the black Nexus 5 has a soft touch plastic on its back. This makes it feel less slippery than the Nexus 4 (the Nexus 4 can slide down from a desk on its own, that’s how slippery it is). People are saying the white one is more “plasticky” though. I like the soft touch back. It makes the phone feel more durable than the glass Nexus 4. Alas, the material that Google uses actually attracts dust fairly easily. The Nexus 4 does still feel a bit more premium thanks to the glass back. It has the iPhone 4 feel, while the Nexus 5 feels more like a Lumia, well built but not as premium.

Swiping my finger on the Nexus 4 is a joy thanks to its curved glass at the edge. Alas, the Nexus 5 has a sharper edge, making it feel less “luxurious” when swiping my finger over the edge. The buttons have been changed too. It feels more solid than the Nexus 4, but the sharp edges on the buttons, especially the power button, can be jarring on the fingers compared to the Nexus 4.

The Nexus 5 is as big as the HTC One, but it has a bigger screen (4.95″ vs 4.7″ on the HTC One). It is much lighter, even lighter than the Nexus 4. The soft touch back actually makes it feel smaller than the HTC One. It feels nice on the hand, while sometimes I feel the HTC One is too big.

One huge annoyance for me? The SIM slot. The Nexus 4 uses a non-standard pin hole for its SIM slot, requiring a tinier pin to open (vs the bigger hole on the iPhone and HTC One). Well, the Nexus 5 uses yet another different pin hole. The pin included with the Nexus 4 does not work anymore, as the Nexus 5 requires a longer pin. WTF LG? WTF Google? Seriously?

2. Screen

The Nexus 4 has a pretty conservative auto-brightness. The after effect is that people has poor impression of the screen. Coupled with the prevalence of AMOLED screens, the Nexus 4’s screen looks washed out.Β Google for some reason is aggressively pushing the brightness on the Nexus 5 to combat this first impression. However, we know that more brightness equals less battery life. The Nexus 5 screen is great. It’s sharp thanks to the 1080p resolution. I do still think the HTC One to be better, mainly due to more saturation in color that make images pop.

3. KitKat

The Nexus 5 is running the latest Android, version 4.4, dubbed KitKat. Main thing I notice is that the wallpaper takes over the whole screen, meaning that there is no more black bars on the status and navigation bars. The icons on the status bar are now white in color. In the past, the wifi and signal bar icon are grey in color when connected wirelessly, and blue when the phone is connected to Google services. A small indicator would also pop up whenever there are data transmissions occurring. Those are all gone in KitKat. The icons will be just white, and there are no indicators of data transmissions. You have to go to the control center (2 finger swipe down) to see those indicators (the wireless icons will be orange if the phone is connected wirelessly but not to Google, and there are small triangles indicating data transmissions). This makes it less intuitive to troubleshoot connectivity problems.

The home screens have been rearranged. The main home screen is not the “middle” screen anymore. It is the first screen instead. Swiping to the right will actually reveal Google Now screen on the left. It is similar to iOS 6 when swiping to the right will reveal spotlight search. By default, there are only two home screens. I don’t see a direct way to add more home screens, other than dragging a widget passing the last screen on the right, then KitKat will create a new home screen.

Google Now will now respond once you unlock your phone, meaning that you don’t have to have Google Now running. Unlock the phone, and you can say “Ok Google” right away. It is similar to Motorola’s touchless control, but with the Moto X, it can respond even when it’s locked. So the implementation on the Nexus 5 feels half-baked. Even Siri can be initiated right from the lock screen without unlocking the iPhone.

The lock screen has been redesigned too. In 4.2, there is no indication that you can swipe the lock screen to the left to run the camera app, other than a brief flash of outlines on the sides of the screen when you wake up the phone. In KitKat, Google followed iOS, by providing a camera icon on the lower right corner. Following the bottom of the screen, there is an arrow pointing up in the middle, This replaces the dotted circle on 4.2 to access Google Now. Thing is, at first that up arrow makes me think that I can swipe the lock screen up to start the camera, just like the iPhone. Well, to start the camera, you have to actually swipe to the left instead. I can see new users being confused at first.

Another change in KitKat UI is the icons. They are overly large. The App drawer now only contains 4 x 5 grid instead of 5 x 5 on the Nexus 4. The icon size is so large that it feels downright silly. This also makes folders in the home screen to cover up more space that it did before. Aesthetically annoying as it makes the screen feels cramped.

The regular messaging app is gone. Everything is handled under Hangouts. Like it or not, Google wants you to use Hangouts and join Google Plus. This consolidation of messaging apps is welcomed, but Google created another confusion. This is not exclusive to KitKat, but with the new push of Google Plus, now there are two apps to access your photos. The classic Gallery app, and the new Photos app that integrates the camera roll with Google Plus. Confusing? Yeah. I can see the classic Gallery app going away, although I really like it.

In terms of responsiveness, the Nexus 5 is fast. It is so fast that it actually make the Nexus 4 feels slow. Side by side, when opening apps and menus, there is a noticeable delay on the Nexus 4 compared to the Nexus 5. Now the Nexus 4 is by no means slow/laggy, but there is this noticeable hesitations on every screen transitions compared to the Nexus 5. Not sure if this is due to KitKat or just because of the beefier hardware of the Nexus 5, but hopefully KitKat can bring some smoothness to all Android devices.

4. Battery Life

Non-scientifically, it’s a meh. I took the Nexus 5 along with my iPhone 5 for a stroll. Both have everything on (wifi, cellular radio, GPS, etc), and same email accounts configured. I used both to take similar number of pictures. After a few hours, both are showing around 75% of battery life left. Thing is, I had the iPhone also running a location tracking app, while the Nexus 5 did not have this app running. Considering how the iPhone 5 battery is a lot smaller, this tells me that the Nexus 5 and/or Android is less efficient than the iPhone/iOS. Seems like Android does not behave well, especially when cellular signal is weak. I notice this also on the HTC One as the battery drains pretty quick when it is in low signal area. Heavy users might want to have an external battery pack handy just in case.

5. Camera

I did a comparison of the Nexus 5 camera with some other devices on the previous post. Here are some more pictures to enjoy. πŸ™‚

The HTC One is showing a weakness here. The Nexus 5 fares okay, while the iPhone 5 continues to provide the best balance. Throughout this post, you will see inconsistent white balance from all devices. It is also interesting to see the different FOV of each devices (the HTC One having the widest FOV).

Getting this image was an interesting experience. I actually had a hard time making the leaf in focus with the iPhone 5. I had to go very close before it focused properly. I’m guessing the iPhone has a minimum range where it initiates its macro mode focusing. The HTC One took the picture without much fuss. The Nexus 5 had trouble in its metering, resulting in a dark image although the leaf was in focus properly.

Wow, white balance all over the place. πŸ˜€ The HTC One doesn’t look good here. It seems that it had trouble in determining the white balance and overblowing the highlights. The Nexus 5 did an okay job though. I kinda like the warmer tones in this context. The Nexus 4 trailed behind, but you can probably do some post processing to make it look decent. The iPhone, again, gave the most balanced picture.

This was a tough picture to take. I wanted to focus on the lower right fruit. After numerous tries, I just couldn’t do it with the Nexus 5 and the stock camera app. Same thing with the Nexus 4, it was impossible. The iPhone also had a difficult time, but I finally got a focus, albeit resulting a dark picture due to the phone trying to compensate for the sky. The HTC One? Well, at first, I had trouble with it too. But a simple flip to macro mode, bam! It took the picture like a champ. πŸ™‚

On the Nexus 5 and Nexus 4, I tried using a camera app called Camera360. This app has multiple options, including macro mode. Although it was still a difficult process with multiple tries, I finally got something. Not great, but it’s something. The HTC One definitely took the cake this round.

These were another difficult shot, with dark and bright areas. The Nexus 5 did okay. It dropped down its shutter speed to 1/9 to help with light while keeping the ISO low. Problem is, it is susceptible to blurring due to shake (despite having optical image stabilization). Not bad, but not as sharp as the iPhone 5. The Nexus 4 had to resort to high ISO, giving noisy picture. The HTC One suffered overblown highlights, its achilles heel.

Throughout this experiment, I was really annoyed with Android stock camera app. The camera start-up on the Nexus 5 is slow. When switching from portrait to landscape or vice versa, there is a significant lag. Yes, lag, on a Β quad-core snapdragon 800 phone. There is really no excuse there. The focusing system is slow, and it wanted to keep focusing at the center. I observed it changing the focus to the center even while it was taking a picture, which can sometimes create out-of-focus picture. It’s ridiculous. The camera itself is capable on producing decent images. Google needs to really work on the software side.

The HTC One continues to be a joy to use. Startup is fast, focusing is fast, and it is the only one having a specific macro mode. Sometimes relying on auto everything is not necessarily the best way (e.g. the iPhone having issues with the leaf). Even better, its gorgeous screen makes you enjoy the pictures right away. Its weaknesses at this point are well known though, especially the overblown highlights.

In the end, the iPhone takes the best balanced pictures in most situations. Apple just know their stuff. Start up is fast, focusing is fast, and other than some issues in specific instances, it just works. However, during this experiment, I wish it had a larger screen. πŸ˜‰

If you are going to take a lot of pictures, get the iPhone. You have to have a lot of patience with the Nexus 5.

6. Conclusion

Well, there you go. My quick impression of the Nexus 5. It is Google’s latest, and the only way to enjoy KitKat out of the box right now. It feels great on the hand, but I would still invest in a case. It has top notch spec, yet Google is still skimping on certain things, like the stock camera app. Despite all the drawbacks, one has to remember that this is a $350-$400 phone. It’s cheaper than even the iPhone 4S! πŸ˜€ It’s an excellent phone for the money. Hopefully my impression can help your decision, or at least make you feel better about your purchase. πŸ˜€

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Posted by on November 11, 2013 in android, apple, comparison, google, impression

 

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Nexus 5 Camera Test and Comparison #Nexus5

A Nexus 5 just arrived and joined the family. πŸ™‚

IMG_0456

From left to right, Nexus 4, 5, and 7 (2012). All we need is a 6. πŸ˜€

Anyway, Nexus 5 is running the latest Android OS, 4.4, aka KitKat. The logo kinda shows the obvious brand connection. Yeah, no more flinging jelly beans around.

IMG_0457

The most controversial thing about the Nexus 5 among reviewers is the camera. Well known tech bloggers are disappointed with the camera. As an armchair analyst/critic, I did another non-scientific comparison, similar to what I did previouslyΒ for the HTC One. The contenders were the Nexus 5, Nexus 4, iPhone 5, HTC One, and the Sony RX100 as a reference. Settings were all auto, and JPEG were resized to lower res by iPhoto. Why not upload the full size? I don’t want to waste the free space I have on WordPress. πŸ˜› Also, let’s be realistic. Most of the pictures taken with smartphones are posted on social networks that will resize them anyway. Normal people don’t pixel peep their digital photos.

Okay, let’s cut to the chase. First was indoor fluorescent lighting, featuring Momotaros and Urataros.

The Nexus 4 did okay. I did have a hard time tying to get proper focus for some reason. Android’s stock camera app just sucks. The Nexus 5 is a definite improvement over the Nexus 4. White balance is better, and thanks to optical image stabilization, it can take the picture with slower shutter speed and lower ISO, resulting in lower noise compared to the Nexus 4. Image is sharper too, but it’s the same camera app. Yes, the one that has an ADHD focusing system. It loses the area you want to focus easily, and always wants to go back to the center focus. The iPhone 5 is a bit in between, being definitely better than the Nexus 4, but since it lacks optical IS, it has to find a balance between shutter speed and higher ISO. The result is still great, with decent white balance. What makes the iPhone 5 much better is the shooting experience. It focuses quickly without fuss and I was done in a snap, while I had to take time composing and focusing using either Nexus phones. The HTC One fares okay too. The taller picture is because the HTC One captures in 16:9 ratio natively. Switching to other aspect ratio will result in less resolution. Image is sharp and white balance is good. As long as you don’t pixel peep, you won’t notice that it’s only 4MP, smaller than the rest. And lastly, the RX100 obviously took the cake, with a definite blurring of the background, sharp picture, and low noise. It performed even better when I manually adjusted the white balance.

Okay, so within indoor lighting, everybody did fine, although you can already see the limitation of the Nexus 4. Next, I turned off the light, leaving ambient light coming from an adjacent room.

Okay, Nexus 4 is toast. πŸ˜€ It’s useless, period. The Nexus 5 is a huge improvement over the Nexus 4. However, again, you are dealing with the sucky stock camera app, and focus hunting is often. Noise creeps in due to higher ISO. Same thing with the iPhone 5. The Nexus 5 does have an advantage of optical image stabilization, thus using a slower shutter speed to get more light, while the iPhone 5 has to find a balance between shutter speed and ISO. In the end, the Nexus 5 still used a higher ISO than the iPhone 5, 1624 vs 1600, but you can see the image itself is a tad brighter. Again, what makes the iPhone 5 better is the shooting experience. Even at low light, it still managed to get focus quickly, and I was done in a snap. Apple just nailed the user experience down. The HTC One continues to surprise me, as it managed to get such bright image. Sure, details were lost and whatnot, but once you post that into Facebook or whatnot, your friends would prefer being able to see a less detailed something than a dark blob of darkness. Its camera app is not as snappy as the iPhone’s, but it’s more usable than Android’s stock camera app. The RX100 produced a dark image, but its noise reduction is better than the smartphones, and considering it can shoot in RAW, you can probably extract and post process a better picture in the end.

How about flash? I don’t like using flash as straight on flash just does not work in most situations. Let’s take a look.

LOL, the Nexus 4 is just useless. The Nexus 5 is much better, but again, the problem with straight on flash is the major overblown highlights. The iPhone 5 offers similar image. Okay but overblown. The HTC One, surprisingly, is very good! I don’t know if it’s due to its wider lens, but the resulting picture is not as overexposed as the others. The RX100 also has overblown highlights, but not that bad and seems like you can get a good image after some post processing. Note its depth of field advantage too. πŸ™‚

When you read/watch/listen to reviews from the tech bloggers, you probably heard about the Nexus 5 not being able to focus properly, or that it took blurry pictures. Alas, I can confirm that it is an issue. Take a look at this.

Nexus 5 out of focus

Yes, a blurry mess. The Nexus 5 thought that Momotaros’ head was in focus. Seems like this happened when I set it to either use flash or auto-flash, ie. it fired the LED flash while trying to get a focus lock, but while it seemed that it got proper focus when the flash is on, its focus was off afterwards. Worse, once it got this out-of-focus lock, it didn’t seem to want to refocus. I tried to touch different areas and move the composition to reset the auto-focus, but it seemed that it’s locked. Very annoying. If I disabled the flash, it didn’t seem to have this issue. I could be wrong though. Google has said that it’s a software issue, and I think that is correct. Yes Google, your Android stock camera app is trash. Can’t you just ask HTC or Samsung to help you? Seriously.

There you go, my personal non-scientific and completely subjective impression of the Nexus 5 camera. Is it better than the Nexus 4? Hell yeah. I can argue that it can rival the iPhone 5’s image quality. However, the shooting experience is not great. This is where the iPhone just wins. Apple just nailed everything down. It may not have fancy things like optical image stabilization, nor the super best image quality, but Apple managed to find that balance where things just work and the result is fine, so people like to shoot with their iPhones more. Meanwhile, the HTC One continues to surprise me. It performs very well, despite the naysayers bashing its 4MP camera. Sure, it has its quirks, but I find shooting with the HTC One to be more enjoyable than the Nexus 4. A high end compact like the Sony RX100 still offers more, especially when you want more control of depth of field. But then again it costs as much as an iPhone 5s. πŸ˜€

Speaking of cost, it is important to remember that the Nexus 5 costs US $349 for the 16GB model, which is less expensive than anything else here, other than the Nexus 4. Still, it’s no excuse for Google to not bother with the crappy camera app. Hopefully the promised update from Google can improve the Nexus 5. If you are buying or have bought the Nexus 5, don’t be disheartened. If you are upgrading from a Nexus 4, you are getting a much better camera. If you are already on an iPhone 5 and up or higher end Android phones, you are not missing much though, other than having the latest Android OS.

So, in short, the Nexus 5 camera can produce images that may rival the iPhone 5, but it is hindered by the crappy Android stock camera app and usability.

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2013 in android, apple, impression

 

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OS X Mavericks Impression Addendum: Time Machine

On my previous post, I mentioned how Time Machine in my new installation of Mavericks is reset to start over. After spending a lot of time cleaning up my Time Machine drive to make room for another full backup, I turned Time Machine on, and surprisingly, it re-detected the old backups and thus did not require as much space as originally thought.

Note how it knows again when the oldest backup is, back from Lion. Phew. I wished this was indicated from the get go though so I didn’t have to spend so much time doing clean up. Oh well, all is good now. πŸ™‚

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2013 in apple, impression

 

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Upgraded to Mavericks

An Apple event has come and gone. In the aftermath, we have a free OS X upgrade. Guess what my main machine is running… OS X Lion. πŸ˜€

Why did I not upgrade to Mountain Lion? Well, first and foremost, I was lazy. I mean I upgraded my laptop to Mountain Lion, but my iMac is my main machine, and I don’t really want to mess with it unless I have to. Besides, Lion was fine. From using my laptop with Mountain Lion, I don’t see much difference when going back to Lion on my iMac.

Mavericks gives me several incentive to upgrade. First, is tabs in Finders. OS X has this spring-loaded folders that makes it pretty easy to copy files form a drive/folder to a different one. However, if you have a pretty deep folder structure that you want to go to, it’s pretty tedious. Windows 7 has Aero snap, where you can quickly snap two Windows side by side just by dragging each window to the opposite side of the desktop. It makes copying files easy as I can easily set a source folder in one Explorer window, set the destination on another Explorer window, and just use Aero snap to put them side by side.

In OS X, there’s no Aero snap. Unless you opted for 3rd party apps, there’s no way to quickly re-arrange windows. In the olden days, I used the expose feature a lot, which is useful in this scenario. I usually open two Finder windows, one showing the source and one showing the destination, and use expose to copy files between them easily. Well, things have changed. Apple made Expose to cluster windows from the same app together. This actually makes things more difficult in my usage scenario as I cannot pick the destination window quickly from the pile of windows. Mission Control doesn’t improve this, and makes the experience more jarring as now everything moves back, including the different desktops. Copying files becomes a chore (yeah, first world problem). Oh, another annoying thing is that if you have a Finder window open, clicking the Finder icon on the dock only put that window in focus. To open a new window, you have to go to the menu bar and select New Finder Window. In contrast on Windows 7, I can put a shortcut of Explorer on the task bar and clicking that will automatically open up a new window. Yeah yeah, I’m sure there’s a better way, like memorizing keyboard shortcuts, but I just find things more tedious on OS X.

Enter Mavericks with Finders tab. Instead of opening a new window, now I can simply open one tab for the source, open a new tab for the destination, and I can copy files between those tabs by drag-n-dropping the files to the tabs. It makes things more convenient. Plus with Finder being able to go full screen in Mavericks, I no longer have to wrestle with OS X’s windows resizing, especially in columns view.Β One tiny thing like this can make using an OS a night and day difference, at least for me.

Mavericks have a bunch of other goodies, mainly power efficiency, which is useful if you have Mac laptops. Another point of interest is its better RAM management and memory compression, which should be helpful when I run Lightroom or Final Cut Pro X.

So, I decided to jump on the Mavericks bandwagon, setting loose my old cat to brave the new wave.

Installing Mavericks is just like Lion or Mountain Lion, a simple download from the Mac App Store (MAS). There is a big catch though. In the past, after downloading the OS upgrade, you can drill down into the application package to extract the dmg file of the actual OS installation, and make a USB disk/DVD out of it easily to get a full OS X installation disk. It is very useful for doing clean installs. Not the case anymore with Mavericks. You can still see the installESD.dmg file inside the Mavericks installation package, but inside it is just a bunch of .pkg files. Luckily, there are utilities showing up almost right away to help you create a Mavericks installation disk. Ars Technica has a great tidbit about this and a how to, even a manual way to do it.

In the past, whenever I upgraded OS X (from Tiger to Leopard to Snow Leopard), I always do a clean install and do a restore from Time Machine afterwards (which is another reason I have been delaying upgrading my iMac from Lion). This time, I’m going to put the faith on Apple’s programmers for a smooth upgrade from the App store.

The overall process is very easy. Once you download Mavericks from the App store, it shows an installation screen, asks you to accept the license agreement and select your main drive, and then it will reboot your Mac and does it thing. Probably after about half an hour to 45 minutes, it should be done. A plain non-linen log-in screen greeted me, and voila. Mavericks is installed. Upon logging in, I noticed the new 2D dock, where it is in lighter gray. I don’t actually like this as it makes certain icons harder to see. I prefer the old darker dock that provided more contrast.

Well, things didn’t go as smoothly as I wanted it to be. First thing I noticed, my external Firewire drobo is no longer listed in Finder. I panicked, as this is not only my Time Machine drive, it also contains many of my media files. I ran Disk Utility, and it still listed the drobo in there. It’s just that for some reason, Finder is not showing them. Apps that access it directly could still see it too, as Drobo dashboard could see it. Just not me via Finder. So all hope was not lost. Going to drobo support proved unhelpful as they just started their knowledge base page for Mavericks without any info in it other than links to the latest firmwares (which I already had).

I tried a simple reboot, no go. Worse, even Drobo dashboard started acting up, saying something is not loaded properly. Uh oh. Also, Disk Utility now said something is wrong with the Time Machine partition. Double uh oh. It seems like when booting Mavericks, it does not load everything right away, so when you log in to the desktop right away after a reboot, things can get weird. I rebooted my iMac, let it sit on the log-in screen for a moment (just like Windows), logged in, and everything seemed fine. The drobo was still invincible in Finder, but at least there were no weird errors.

So, what’s the solution? I turned off my iMac, turned off my drobo, turned it back on, turned my iMac on, still no go. *sigh. I turned off everything again, unplugged the drobo, booted my iMac without the drobo, and then hot-plugged the Firewire cable. Voila, Finder was showing my drobo. Huge relief! Right now, apparently this is the only solution as this issue popped back up again, and I had to unplug and replug the drobo back to bring it back from invincibility. Hopefully a more permanent solution would be provided by drobo.

Okay, problem one solved. Oh wait, there’s more! Take a look at this.

Yes, Time Machine had reset itself back to zero. All those hundreds of gigabytes of backups I have accumulated over the previous years are just sitting there ignored. This creates another problem, as now I have to make sure my Time Machine partition has enough space for the new backup from Mavericks (with the way drobo works, the OS can show that it has more free space that what is actually available on the drobo itself). Boo! 😦 So I have been busy cleaning up things. Oh and of course, this initial backup will be huge and take a looooong time.

Well, at least there’s an upside. Apple announced that iWork will be free, but with a new purchase of a new Mac. Well, I didn’t really care as I don’t use iWork, and I’m sure I’m not qualified anyway. Checking the MAS showed that iWork would still cost me $20 each.

However, when I logged in to the MAS from my Macbook Air, I was treated with a confirmation to get all the iWork apps for free. Sweet! Funny thing was, my Macbook Air was not even running Mavericks, it was still on Mountain Lion. I don’t know how, but my Macbook Air was the Haswell one, refurbished. Apple posted an information on their site that those that purchased Macs from October 1st can get iWork for free. I purchased my Macbook Air I think in September. Maybe Apple had some leeway in giving these apps for free. Or maybe all 2013 models are eligible. Nonetheless, it’s icing on the cake. πŸ™‚

Using Mavericks on a desktop is, well, not much different than previous versions of OS X. Sure, skeumorphism is gone, but base functionalities of things are still practically the same, which is great. Oh, the new Maps app? It requires wifi (obviously, for triangulation) to find my location. But I don’t want to use wifi on my iMac. I have gigabit ethernet for a reason. I guess I have to enter my location manually. First world problem, again. πŸ˜€

Activity Monitor has new more detailed graphs, more likely to show off Mavericks memory management and power saving features. Game Center is still covered with skeumorphism, unlike the iOS7 version. Notifications are now displayed automatically on your Mac’s lock screen. This is no good. You have to go into Settings and disable this on per app basis. Annoying. Keychain syncing is back as iCloud keychain. You have to set up a couple verification steps to use it. A phone number is optional, but can be a good 2-step verification via SMS. Note that I tried my Google Voice number, it did not work. It failed to receive any SMS from iCloud.

On the desktop, I think that’s about it. I have not noticed major application issues so far. Lightroom still runs fine, so I’m good. πŸ™‚

On my Macbook Air, there are other things I noticed. The power button behavior has changed in Mavericks. Previously, pressing the power button will trigger a prompt asking what you want to do, ie. shut down, restart, etc. Now, it just makes the laptop sleeps. To trigger the same dialog, you have to press and hold the power button a little bit. I don’t see any way to change this behavior. In Windows, you can customize what Windows should do when you press the power button or close the lid of the laptop. The new iTunes seems unstable. Crashing quite a bit, requiring a force quit.

Well, that’s about it for now. Overall, Mavericks is a welcomed update. One, it’s free. Second, even the new iLife updates require it. Third, the power savings and memory management will be appreciated, especially if you have a Mac laptop. If you have a Firewire drobo, take note of the issues. iCloud integration will be useful to those that rely on it.Β I am quite pleased that Apple can still squeeze things out of OS X, considering how mature it is at this point. There are annoying things here and there, but it’s Apple, so the glossy rainbow usually makes up for them. πŸ˜€

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2013 in apple, impression

 

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Apple 2013 September Media Event

Apple has the keynote up and streaming.

And as usual, my 2 cents. πŸ˜€

Just like any Apple keynotes, it started with Tim Cook talking about stuff. iTunes Festival, more Apple stores, “absolutely stunning.” Then Craig went on stage, rehashing iOS7’s features. “Precise typography.” Yeah yeah. New ringtones, new tones, “remastered”… err… whatever.

Did Craig just say iMail? πŸ˜€

iTunes Radio… Yeah, whatever. I’m sure J-Pop and Eurobeat are not in the listed genres. And did they blackout the screen when Craig showed the NBC app? LOL. And I think Craig also showed the new iPad (or maybe it’s the iPad mini). September 18. Meanwhile, my HTC One still has not gotten 4.2 update.

Pages, Numbers, Keynote, iPhoto, and iMovie for iOS are made free. Not sure how it would work as it still shows as paid apps on my iDevices. Apple said they are free with new iOS devices, and the offer is shown when you first set up the iDevice. I’ll just wait till iOS7 is out.

iPhone 5, replaced. Yup, instead of just reducing the price, Apple replaced the iPhone 5 with the iPhone 5C. Yes, that supposedly “cheap” iPhone is not cheap, it’s on the middle spot. Sounds like Apple couldn’t justify the manufacturing cost of the iPhone 5 to lower its price while maintaining a healthy margin, so comes the cheaper polycarbonate iPhone 5C. And, only Apple can make a fancy video glorifying polycarbonate plastic and some silicone cases, featuring Jason Statham… I meant Jony Ive..

So, what’s the iPhone 5C? It’s the iPhone 5 with a slightly larger battery inside the cheaper (for Apple) plastic. Phil didn’t say it would have the sapphire lens like the 5 though. LTE bands, but no 802.11ac. Maybe it’s too early to judge until I can touch it, but glossy plastic just don’t go on a device that is going to hand held most of its life. Fingerprint magnets.

What hurts more? The price. It’s $99 with 2 year contract for the 16GB model, and $199 for the 32GB model. The 16GB model is $549 unlocked. Err, yeah. So much for the “cheap” iPhone huh. Meanwhile, 16GB Nexus 4 is $249. You can bash the Nexus 4 however you want, no LTE, Android, but in the end, it’s less than half the price of the iPhone 5C, while retaining its glass built instead of going to plastic. Whoever though that Apple would actually release a “cheap” iPhone is silly to begin with as Apple is all about margins. September 13th, pre-order starts. Shipping on September 20th in major markets, including China.

Next is the iPhone 5S. All the rumors are true. Gold color and fingerprint scanner. The surprise, A7 going 64bit. And now the “black” color becomes “Space Gray.” LOL. I guess Apple couldn’t solve the chipping problems that the black iPhone 5 is suffering from, they are just going less black and call it a gray iPhone now. πŸ˜€

The big news is the 64bit part. Yes, remember the transition between 32bit to 64bit in PCs? It’s now happening. Phil implied that this transition is quick, unlike the years involved on PCs. What does this mean? This mean don’t buy that iPhone 5C. Yes, this kinda hints that Apple will transition iOS to 64bit fairly quickly, and Apple is well known to drop support off their older devices whenever. I can see that once all their lineup is 64bit, they will abandon anything with A6 (32bit) or older very quickly. So a fair warning, if you really want to buy an iPhone today, help yourself and get the 5S. If it’s too expensive, save up or wait next year for it to be cheaper.

To demo the A7, Apple showed Infinity Blade 3. I’ll wait for the A7X on the new iPad. πŸ™‚

The A7 apparently has a motion co-processor called the M7, specifically to measure motion data. I sense more things to come with this M7, and also another way to make the A6 and older devices obsolete, a good excuse to stop supporting them. Yes, just a reminder again, do not buy the 5C.

The camera has f2.2 aperture now. Phil said larger sensor and bigger pixel. I don’t know, I think HTC and Nokia have something to say on that. The benefits will be in software, where Phil said the camera app have 15 focus points and will take multiple pictures and automatically select the best one. Also, the dual flash with a warmer flash aside the regular one. Digital image stabilization by selecting a sharper picture form the multiple ones the iPhone took. I don’t see this feature works good on any cameras/phones. Besides, we want optical image stabilization, and Nokia and HTC have delivered that. Burst mode. My HTC One can do that already, so nothing too exciting here and I bet most people won’t even know about it. 720p 120fps, resulting in HD slo-mo video, and the neat part is that you can select certain part of the scenes for the slo-mo. I’m intrigued as most of the time, high fps means much lower resolution. If Apple can put this on the next iPod Touch, I’m tempted as I don’t want to spend $$$ for the 5S just for this feature.

The fingerprint scanner rumor is true, called Touch ID, on the home button. Looks like Apple did integrate it into iOS7, thus improving its usefulness other than just a gimmick. You can use it for iTunes purchases. And of course, Jason Statham had another video just for it, I meant Jony Ive. With the recent “concerns” about privacy, Apple intentionally stated that that the fingerprint won’t be stored on Apple servers nor iCloud. We’ll see if Apple’s implementation is seamless, because if not, nobody will use it, like Android’s face unlock.

16GB at $199 with 2 year contract, $649 unsubsidized. No change than before, no 128GB model. Leather cases for $39, and a red one for $49. Yeah, Apple is not going cheap people. And surprise surprise, the 4S remains, neutered to 8GB for free with contract ($450 unsubsidized). Seriously, $450? Again, 16GB Nexus 4 is $249. Heck, even the 32GB LTE Nexus 7 is cheaper than that.

September 20th shipping, including on NTT docomo in Japan.

Apple is playing a video how people are using the iPhone 5C, as if they all can afford one… πŸ™„ Seriously, $249 Nexus 4, nuff said.

Oh, no more one more thing, but I do have one more thing. Apple is bragging how these new iPhones have the most LTE bands. Well, in reality, it will be even more segregated. If you think you can buy one iPhone 5C/5S and use LTE all over the world, think again. Apple’s own website shows at least four different models with different LTE carriers support on each. So yeah, no fun.

How’s my prediction? Well, I missed everything. πŸ˜€ The 4S remains while I thought Apple would ditch it. The prices are not cheaper, and Apple is not giving extra storage either. The iPhone 5 is discontinued. And no new iPads nor iPods. I guess we have to wait till October.

There you go. So, will you buy one? Are you happy/disappointed? Me, I’m waiting for the new Nexus instead. πŸ˜‰

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2013 in apple, impression, iPhone, Keynote

 

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Apple September Event 2013 Prediction

It’s September again, and it’s time for new Apple stuff. In less than 24 hours, Apple is holding its September Media event. Although Tim Cook said he would double down on secrecy, plenty of rumors are around lately.

The first rumor is the iPhone 5C, a supposedly cheaper plastic iPhone. In the beginning, I thought it would be unlikely for Apple to go this route. Apple is known for higher margin products. Even if they would introduce a “cheaper” iPhone, it would be cheaper only by Apple’s standard. Right now Apple’s cheapest iPhone is the 3-year-old iPhone 4, 8GB for $450 unlocked. Not really “cheap” considering plenty of Android phones with more up-to-date hardware being sold less than that. And don’t forget the recently discounted, $250 16GB Nexus 4.

However, we are seeing more and more photos of it. From the colorful plastic backs, the plastic packaging it would come with, to fully assembled ones in their boxes, the manual, and videos of one being used. The rumor is that it would be the same hardware as the current iPhone 5 (ie. running the A6), but with the colorful plastic back instead of the more premium aluminum/glass back.

My previous prediction was that Apple was going to simply repackage the iPhone 4S into something using the lightning connector and 4″ taller screen, thus homogenizing the lineup. In other words, the 5th gen iPod Touch with a phone in it, and Apple would just call it the iPhone. However, the over abundance leaks of the colored iPhone 5C made me think that Apple is really going to do the iPhone 5C, using the same iPhone 5 internals in the cheaper plastic housing. The question remains, how much Apple is going to charge for it. Clearly it would go into the “free with contract” slot. My guess is it would be $399 for 16GB. Some rumors are saying that it would hit the $200 price point, especially with the recent price cut of the Nexus 4. I doubt it would be in the $200 price range. It makes no sense as Apple is selling the iPod Touch for more than that. Apple is not going to just jump into the bottom barrel. $399 might be expensive compared to the Nexus 4, but it is very cheap for Apple’s standard, especially considering the iPhone 5-level hardware, a year old, instead of having a 2-year-old hardware.

The next rumor that doesn’t have as much leaks is the iPhone 5S. The rumors are double LED flash and fingerprint sensor on its home button, while maintaining the same design and form as the current iPhone 5. It is also predicted that it would have an A7 processor. Other than those, not much else. I have doubts on the fingerprint sensor. I mean unless Apple can really pull a foolproof one and integrate it into a lot of things (app store, passbook, etc), it sounds too much of a gimmick.

And, that’s about it. So there will be the iPhone 5C at the low end, free with contract, $399 without. Then the current iPhone 5 will be at the current 4S’ price point, $99 with contract, $499 without. And then the iPhone 5S, $199 with contract, $599 without. I assume we will see a $50 price drop across the board for the unsubsidized pricing, just to make them round. πŸ˜€ As for capacity, It’s safe to assume the 5C and middle 5 will be 16GB. There are rumors that the 5S will have 128GB model, which makes some sense. If there’s not much “wow” factor, putting 32GB as the starting model will be a good attractor. Looking at the 32GB GPE HTC One price, it seems in line. So presumably the iPhone 5S will come in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB.

So, to recap my prediction:

  • iPhone 5C, 16GB, in colors, free on contract, $399 unsubsidized.
  • iPhone 5, 16GB, $99 on contract, $499 unsubsidized.
  • iPhone 5S, 32GB starting at $199 on contract, $599 unsubsidized. Add $100 for double the storage up to 128GB.

That’s for the iPhone. Now the iPad. Not much rumors as it is predictable. The regular iPad will carry the design language of the iPad mini, making it slimmer and more compact. Everything else should be predictable too, A7X, and same price points as current lineup. The question is whether Apple would start at 32GB. Currently, Apple does have a 128GB iPad, but it’s $799 for the wifi only model. You can get a laptop for that price, and the LTE model is priced at $929, only a few bucks less than a Macbook Air! I can see Apple pushing the price down just to create a better gap. I do wish the LTE versions would be priced less.

What will happen to the iPad 2? The iPad 2 is in a weird position, being two models behind, yet it’s still on sale, with the iPad 3 being discontinued. It’s definitely on its way out as it still has the old dock connector. I’m going to guess the current iPad filling in that spot, 16GB wifi for $399. Now the regular iPads are all retina and have lightning connector.

The wild card is the iPad mini, and whether Apple can put a retina display on it. This was the big disappointment I had with the original iPad mini, which was basically a smaller iPad 2, carrying the same A5 processor and 1024×768 resolution screen. It has lower ppi than even the original Nexus 7. Now Google already released the new Nexus 7 with an even higher resolution screen, and Google just released the 32GB LTE model for $349. Although Apple still has the huge advantage of the iPad brand, it just won’t look great if the next iPad mini doesn’t have a retina display. There are arguments against it as the retina display will require more battery, and Apple does not usually make the newer product thicker than the older one. But I think Appe might be able to pull it off. I hope we will see a retina iPad mini with the A6X in it, starting at 16GB wifi at $299. The current iPad mini starts at $329, and I think it was intentional so Apple can then put the $299 price and spin it as a great price drop.

Another theory is, considering the retina screen yield, Apple might keep the current iPad mini (just like the iPad 2), drop its price to $249 or something, and then replace the next price up at $349 with the retina mini, thus keeping a good margin on the retina version. This might be a more likelihood scenario. Apple did this also with the iPod Touch.

So, my prediction on the iPad/iPad mini:

  • iPad 5: 32GB wifi, $499. Add $130 for LTE, and $100 for double the storage.
  • Current iPad 4: 16GB wifi, $399. Add $130 for LTE.
  • Current iPad mini, 16GB wifi, $249. Add $130 for LTE
  • Retina iPad mini, 32GB wifi, $349. Add $130 for LTE, and $100 for double the storage.

On September events, Apple usually announce new iPods too. There is literally zero rumors on the iPods as the hot stuff is the iPhone. I doubt Apple would do anything either. They are pretty much the only player left in the portable music player market. All I can see is a price drop on the no-camera iPod Touch to $199, thus Apple spinning it as the most affordable iOS device ever. And maybe also a $50 price drop on the 32GB and 64GB model, allowing a greater distinction in price with the iPhone 5C. On the other hand, if Apple could make the iPhone 5C, maybe they would put the A6 into the new iPod Touch, thus justifying the price as it has the same internals as the iPhone.

My prediction on iPods:

  • Current camera-less 16GB iPod Touch: $199.
  • New iPod Touch with A6 and better camera, starting at 32GB at $299, and 64GB at $399.
  • All other iPods remain the same, and the iPod Classic remains.

Of course, we will see more regurgitation about iOS7, how it is the greatest thing since the original iPhone OS, again. πŸ˜€ Apple TV? The rumor is just a software update. I mean what else do people expect from an Apple TV? It can already play 1080p video. We probably won’t see a real update until we have 4K videos. And the recent PS Vita TV by Sony? Well, Apple already have Airplay mirroring so iOS games can already be played on the big screen.

Due to the rumors, seems like it won’t be an exciting event. I hope Apple has something under their sleeve, Tim Cook’s double down on secrecy.

We’ll find out in less than 24 hours. I’ll be following Engadget’s live blogging of the event.

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2013 in apple, Keynote

 

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Apple WWDC 2013 Impression

The streaming keynote is up at Apple.

The keynote started with a video about design and feeling, emphasizing that unlike other companies, Apple doesn’t just churn out products after products, that each Apple products involved something more. Pretty cool message, considering how people and the tech “journalists” are whining about Apple not innovating anymore because they don’t ship products every other month like Samsung. Also, looks like each Apple videos now will end with “Designed by Apple in California,” a PR spin, considering that most of Apple products are made in China.

Just with any Apple keynotes, it started with Apple stores’ experience, how great the app store, etc. Tim Cook looked more comfortable, but it’s hard to match the Steve Jobs’ energy on past keynotes.

First is demo of anki drive, a car toy using robotics technology and controlled by iOS. There was an almost demo fail. Neat idea showing what kind of uses iDevices can be, but this is probably going to be just an expensive toy. I want to see more medical devices powered by iOS as promised a while back.

Next, the Mac. As expected, new OS X. Running out of cat names? OS X Sea Lion? Well, Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2013 in apple, impression, Keynote

 

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