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Apple 2013 September Media Event

Apple has the keynote up and streaming.

And as usual, my 2 cents. ๐Ÿ˜€

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? ๐Ÿ˜€

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. ๐Ÿ˜€

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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… ๐Ÿ™„ 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. ๐Ÿ˜€ 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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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

 

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Nexus 4 vs iPhone 5 Quick Impression

When Google released the Nexus 4 16GB for $349, it’s a no-brainer for a gadget geek like me. I have blogged my rant about Apple’s iPhone 5 pricing. Getting the Nexus 4 seems a perfect follow up.

I have had the Nexus 4 for a couple of weeks now. The device is made by LG a glass back (reminds me of the iPhone 4/4S). It makes the device feel substantial, even luxurious. It makes the Galaxy Nexus feel cheap. Of course, having a glass back has its own downfalls, mainly fragility. Some online reviewers have theirs cracked. I would think it’s similar to the iPhone 4/4S, and since my iPhone 4 is still pristine, I think I can handle the Nexus 4.

Unlike the Galaxy Nexus, the Nexus 4 has a built-in battery and an external tray for the micro SIM. Yes, it uses a micro SIM. Not a big deal nowadays as plenty of phones use micro SIM now (eg. Nokia Lumia phones). The tray design is vaguely familiar, like the ones on iPhones. Except, the hole is a lot smaller, so you cannot use the iPhone’s SIM eject tool, nor a paper clip. YES, LG DECIDED TO MAKE A SUPER TINY HOLE TO EJECT THE SIM, SO YOU HAVE TO CARRY ANOTHER TINY SIM EJECT TOOL. Yes. this is incredibly frustrating. Seriously, why? The hole is so tiny that when you use the included SIM eject tool, you feel that you might bent/break it. I mean come on Google, you didn’t do this on the Nexus 7 (made by Asus). Stupid LG. This is by far my biggest problem with the Nexus 4. It doesn’t have a microSD slot either, but this is nothing new as Google has eliminated SD card slot since the Nexus S. Your option will be 8GB or 16GB on-board.

Okay, setting that tiny hole aside, the phone feels really nice, again thanks to the materials used. The form factor is wider than the Galaxy Nexus. While the Galaxy Nexus has 720p screen resolution, the Nexus 4 extended the width to 1280 x 768. Google took advantage of this, cramming more apps in the app drawer, 5 apps per row. It feels very tight though. Another thing to consider with the wider resolution is the wallpaper. If you have Google restore your phone, you might find your old wallpaper cropped to fit the wider resolution.

Physical buttons follow the Galaxy Nexus design. Power button on the right side, volume on the left. Micro USB on the bottom and headphone jack on the top. The power button seems a bit recessed though, and coupled with the wider body, sometimes it’s not easy to press the button with one hand. Having a case that covers the power button may worsen the condition.

The Nexus 4 runs Android 4.2. The lock screen allows widgets, and I am seeing more and more apps supporting this. Careful though, having your emails right on the lock screen means anybody can read them too. Swiping the screen to the left turns on the camera. This is a very useful feature, giving Android a similar capability to iOS and Windows Phone. Speaking about the camera, 4.2 gives you 360-degree panorama feature, called Photo Sphere. So far, I find it to be so so, with resulting picture having plenty of stitching errors and distortions. Can’t comment enough about the camera quality, but so far, it seems so so too (not something you would brag against an iPhone 5 or Lumia 920 users).

Usability wise, the Nexus 4 is smooth. If you think the Galaxy Nexus is smooth, well, this is better. The wider screen may take time to get used to, but it makes typing a bit more comfortable. The Nexus 4 really is the benchmark of Android experience as intended by Google. If you have a Galaxy Nexus or a Nexus 7, you are probably already familiar with the 4.2 features. The Nexus 4 doesn’t really bring any extras on 4.2 that you won’t get on the Galaxy Nexus, other than maybe HDR photo. What you get from the Nexus 4 is a better processor and GPU (running the latest Krait CPU and Adreno 320 GPU). Oh, and it has better support of 5GHz Wifi n. The Galaxy Nexus supports this, but only on a very narrow group of channels. The Nexus 4 fares better. In addition to penta-band HSDPA, the Nexus 4 also supports dual-carrier HSDPA. No official LTE support, although the tinkerers online found out that it supports one LTE band with a hack (not going to be useful for practical purposes).

I am a fan of the Nexus lineup, owning the Nexus One, Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 7, and now the Nexus 4. I am a fan of phones that are unlocked and not carrier controlled. At its price, the Nexus 4 is right. I do have to say though, skip the 8GB version. 8GB is not enough with modern usage, unless you don’t have any content on your phone. 16GB is the bare minimum.

Now, let’s move to the iPhone 5, Apple’s latest and greatest money maker. I had the chance to observe the new iPhone 5 unboxing, and using it long enough to have an impression. I will make comparison with the Nexus 4 along the way.

First of all, build quality. Yes, the scuffgate you read online is real. The white iPhone 5 I observed had a big scratch/dent on its side out of the box. This is ridiculous, especially if you are paying $$$ for it. I have owned many Apple and other consumer electronic products, and I have yet to have one that have a physical damage out of the box. Good thing Apple knows this and having it replaced with a new one is easy, but still, it’s ridiculous, considering a company like Apple. One thing though, the iPhone 5 feels very light, which is kinda amazing considering what Apple packs in it. My iPhone 4 feels like a brick compared to the 5.

Other than that, the iPhone 5 is, well, an iPhone. I have the iPhone 4, and although it remains smooth enough under iOS6, the iPhone 5 feels a lot snappier thanks to its A6 processor. Apps launch almost immediately compared to the iPhone 4. The smoothness feels so great that even my Nexus 4 feels “laggy.” This is what I like about iOS. Android is trying to catch up with Project Butter, but it has quite a bit way to go (not helped by 4.2 that seems to make my Nexus 7, the poster child for smoothness, laggy). While the Nexus 4 is wider than the Galaxy Nexus, the iPhone 5 is taller than the iPhone 4. So adjust your wallpapers. The extra height gives you an extra row on the home screen for apps. Compared to my Nexus 4, however, the keyboard on the iPhone 5 feels cramped. Yes, it has the same width as the iPhone 4, but the taller screen adds the cramped feeling as the body looks narrower now.

As for iOS6, my iPhone 4 does not get many of its new features. Apple introduced its own Maps app in iOS6, but since the iPhone 4 doesn’t have Siri, it doesn’t have turn-by-turn navigation either (thank goodness for Google Maps app). Another feature that my iPhone 4 doesn’t get is panorama. Just like previous iPhones, tethering on the iPhone 5 is carrier controlled, even if you buy an unlocked version. Hardware wise, the iPhone 5 supports LTE, dual-carrier HSDPA, and 5GHz wifi n, a clear advantage over my iPhone 4. However, I’ll take my Nexus 4’s penta-band HSDPA anytime. I was ranting about the new lightning connector, but I kinda like it now. It’s very compact, and the design makes it much easier to plug the connector in and out, without worrying about whether you do it right or upside down. The only problem is for people that have invested a lot of money in the 30-pin dock connector accessories (including me).

In the end, the iPhone 5 is an iPhone. If you managed to get one that didn’t self-scuff in its box, it’s a very nice phone. It is very light and snappy to use. After looking at the Nexus 4, however, the unlocked iPhone 5’s price is a jaw-dropper.

Both phones represent the latest and greatest form the perspective of the platform, pure Android vs iOS. The Nexus 4 is definitely the best bang for the buck. At $349, the 16GB model is still cheaper than even the iPhone 4. The only challenge is trying to get one. However, the iPhone 5 does carry the strength of iOS. Apple’s ecosystem and walled-garden is a very nice place, if you can afford it.

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2012 in android, apple, google, impression, iPhone

 

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My Annoyance with Apple

I love Apple. I love Apple products. They have great design, beautiful, functional, and have details and aesthetics that are commonly absent on other consumer electronics products. However, I am getting more and more frustrated with Apple’s recent products and their decisions to take control from the user. The main product I am going to talk about is the iPhone, mainly the iPhone 5.

Let’s start with pricing. Apple has been pricing their flagship iPhone to start at $649 unlocked since the iPhone 4. Same thing today with the iPhone 5 16GB, $649. Now this would be okay if the market remained static for the last 2 years. But fact is the market is not static, and the way technology progresses is to be better and cheaper. Let’s focus on the iPhone 5, 16GB, priced at $649. Now you would think “Oh come on, it’s an iPhone. Don’t compare it to the iPad.” Yeah, I AM going to compare it to the iPad, where the 16GB LTE iPad 4 with the large retina display is CHEAPER ($629) than the 16GB iPhone 5. You can argue about miniaturization, but let’s face it, $649 price point of the iPhone 5 is overly inflated at this point. Why does this annoy me? Because Apple actually provides good value for the money on their other products. The Macbook Air is a great example, where it is better quality than most Windows ultrabooks, yet without too much premium. I can say the same thing for the iMac and the Mac mini. If you look at the margins of the iPhone, it’s huge. The iPhone is now Apple’s main cash cow.

Now, I can tolerate that if everything else is fine with the product. Heck, I bought my iPhone 4 unsubsidized. But look around various forums, even the ones on Mac-focused sites, and you will find that the iPhone 5 has a serious build quality issue out of the box. Scratches, scuffs, even now bendgate (where some users finding that their iPhone 5 are bent) stories are continually shared by people. Some fans are spinning this as wear and tear. Sorry, but I’m not going to accept that a $649 device can be scuffed so easily. I have the Nexus One, well used, but it still looks pristine. Same thing with my other phones, Xperia Arc, the Galaxy Nexus, and even the iPhone 4, which is my daily driver. All still look great. I’m not going to pay $649 for a phone that can get scuffs right before I even open the box. That’s ridiculous.

Next major annoyance is the way Apple restrict the cellular wireless settings on iOS. On any other phones (eg. Android), when you switch carriers, you can simply update the APN settings on the phone to get going. Not on the iPhone. The APN settings for certain carriers (eg. AT&T) are locked out from the user, EVEN ON AN UNLOCKED IPHONE!! Why? For example, I use my factory unlocked iPhone 4 on straight Talk. On Android, I can simply add Straight Talk’s APN settings myself to get data to work. Not on the iPhone. By default, data won’t work, and since the Straight Talk SIM I have is for AT&T tower, the settings are not accessible. WHY? This is supremely stupid. It is basically Apple bowing down to AT&T, and screwing users on AT&T MVNOs. There are workarounds. Somebody made a website specifically to change the iPhone’s APN. Yeah, isn’t it ridiculous? You have to rely on a third party website to set-up your phone, something that is not an issue on ANY OTHER phones out there. Oh, and you think by going to that website, everything’s fine, right? NO! You still don’t have access to MMS. Yeah, Apple is BLOCKING you from enabling the feature of their own product. Makes no sense at all. To actually enable MMS, you have to either jailbreak your iPhone, or do a SIM swap. I did the later and finally got MMS working on my iPhone 4. Again, if you have an Android phone, all you need to do is update the settings straight, and you’re done without having to deal with these ridiculous workarounds.

Oh, and Apple doesn’t stop there. To make it even more difficult, the iPhone 5 uses a nano SIM. Yeah, the micro SIM is not small enough, and just when other manufactures start using micro SIM (ie. Nexus 4, Nokia Lumias), Apple just went ahead making their phone “special” by using the nano SIM. You may not think it’s a big deal, but considering only the major carriers carry nano SIM (the only MVNO that carries a nano SIM is Red Pocket at this time), it just makes your life more difficult to simple use your own freaking expensive phone. Yeah, cut your own SIM? Good luck. This is basically Apple telling you to stick with its partner carriers, where Apple themselves are getting a percentage of your monthly payments. The fact that the nano SIM is still fairly rare makes the SIM swap trick above even more difficult. Why of why Apple. Why do you make it so hard for people to use your own products?

To add an even more confusion, that LTE iPhone 5 you buy may not work with LTE where you are. Yeah, Apple makes two versions of the iPhone 5. Based on Apple’s own website, the two versions of the iPhone 5 are one for AT&T/Canadian LTE, and one for CDMA/international LTE. In the past, to get a universal “world” phone, you get a GSM (most of the time it means AT&T) version of the phone. Not with the iPhone 5. The CDMA version actually supports more LTE bands that many carriers outside the US uses. The GSM/AT&T version only supports LTE on AT&T and Canadian carriers. So much for choice! Worse, if you buy the unlocked iPhone 5 in the US, it’s highly likely that you will get the AT&T version instead of the international version that everybody else around the world got, limiting your choice if you travel (ironically, none of the so-called tech “journalists” tried to verify this with Apple). Luckily Verizon is selling their iPhone 5 unlocked (unlike AT&T). This is a reason why I hate LTE. I’ll take penta-band HSDPA anytime.

So, let’s recap. For $649, you get a 16GB iPhone 5 that can get scuffs before you even open the box, that uses the uncommon nano SIM, and Apple makes you do workarounds to simply access the APN settings on your own phone. Meanwhile, Google is selling a 16GB unlocked penta-band HSDPA Nexus 4 for $349. Seems like an easy choice. The only thing is I have invested heavily in the iOS ecosystem and accessories. In the end, I would still be sticking with iOS. My iPhone 4 is still doing its best. At this rate though, I would be more likely to get the iPhone 4S instead of the 5. Sure, the A6 processor is fast, but the 4S still uses a micro SIM and still has the 30-pin dock connector (instead of the lightning connector used on the iPhone 5).

Or, I would just get the iPhone 5 anyway in the end. It’s futile. I am so dependent on the ecosystem that I cannot just use Android as my main phone. >_<

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2012 in apple, iPhone, rant

 

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iPhone 4 in Kamen Rider OOO!

Well, I guess it has to happen sooner or later. Apple has invaded various J-dorama, and I guess tokusatsu is next. Get that brand recognition as soon as you can while they’re still young. LOL.
Anyway, the setup for the product placement is amazing. You have an emotional music, followed by an emotional scene, then BAM! iPhone 4! LOL. Awesome Apple.

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2010 in apple, iPhone

 

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Nexus One

I guess I haven’t updated my blog for quite some time. Too lazy as it’s easier to rant on twitter. LOL. Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

I’m a Mac and iPhone user, mainly. Apple’s ecosystem has been great and working for me. However, I’m thinking, what if sometime in the future, the iPhone is no more? I mean Steve Jobs is not going to man the company forever. Although I’m sure the rest of Apple will do fine, keeping the same Apple philosophy, but what if? So here I am, thinking the what if scenario. I love my iPhone, and I think it’s the best phone. Looking outside Apple ecosystem, what are the alternatives? Let’s see:
-Symbian: Yeah, right.
-WebOS: It’s great, but obviously it’s on life support.
-Windows Phone 7: This would be a great alternative, but it’s not out yet.
So, that leaves Android. Android seems to be the next best thing in terms of smartphone OS/platform. It has the same idea and UI concept as iOS. The downside is, at least in the US, all Android phones are carrier-controlled. This is in contrast of iOS where Apple is the one in control, not AT&T nor any of the carrier partners all over the world. There was one pure unadulterated Android phone, the Nexus One (N1). Yeah, was, because Google doesn’t sell the Nexus One openly anymore. Now, it’s only available as part of the dev program, and only the T-Mobile model (no 850 3G support). Luckily, I managed to get the AT&T 3G supporting Nexus One before it was too late. I was hoping Google would drop the price, but then decided to just get it. Lucky me, as now this phone is extinct.

Let’s go straight to the experience. While the iPhone is obviously designed around Apple’s ecosystem, the Nexus One is obviously designed around Google’s ecosystem. The first thing it asked was a Google account. If you don’t have one, you have to create one. Now, if you already use Google services for your contacts, calendar, and email, once you put in your Google account credential, the Nexus One is ready to go with all your contacts, email, and calendar all setup. It’s awesome! No need to “activate” the phone first, unlike the iPhone which needs to be activated with iTunes. Now, there’s something that’s even more awesome. Google Voice. I’m a Google Voice user since before it was bought by Google (it was called GrandCentral). Using Google Voice on the iPhone is very clunky as there is not a native app. You pretty much rely on the Google Voice website to make phone calls. Not intuitive. On the Nexus One, Google Voice is fully integrated. All you need to do is tell it to use Google Voice, and everything is transparent. You still use the phone’s dialer and contacts, and it will automatically route your call via Voice. Pure awesomeness!

The beauty of iOS is the app ecosystem. Android is not too far off. Most apps that I use on the iPhone are available for my Nexus One. Facebook, Twitter, epocrates (albeit beta and not updateable), Foursquare, Gowalla, etc. Unless you’re into games, you won’t find much problems finding the apps you want on Android. The only problem I see is the market app itself. Apple has designed its App store fairly well in terms of layout. The market app on the Nexus One is very basic, and it feels very difficult browsing the store. A lot of the apps don’t have much useful descriptions. Even worse, many don’t even include any screenshots, leaving you guessing what the app can do. The reviews are not helping either. Apple’s app store seems to have more helpful reviews, while the Android market reviews seem to be mostly people complaining about the app FC. FC this, FC that, one star. Not really helpful. Oh, and what’s FC? Yeah, at first I was like WTF? FC is a short for force close. Meaning the OS have to quit the app forcefully (aka, the app crashes). And these 1 star FC “reviews” are all over the place. Trying to get the gist of how good the app is becomes futile. Why? Because who knows whether these people having issues are using which Android phone/custom ROM/rooted phone/task killers, etc. But at least if you stick with the well known apps, you should be fine. I myself never experience a force close on my Nexus One.

Okay, most of the apps I would use are available. Great. I also use my iPhone as a calendar. The Nexus One sync its calendar with Google calendar. Pretty neat, but the calendar app itself doesn’t look great. It feels like a Winmo app for whatever reason. I do like the agenda view. One thing I was looking for on my Nexus One main screen and failed to find was anything that shows the day’s date. I was baffled at first. Why? Well, iOS made it simple, by making the calendar’s app icon to show the day’s date, just like in OS X 10.5 onward. Sounds simple, but it’s intuitive. Not the case on my Nexus One. The calendar icon is only a generic non-interactive icon. Well, that’s useless. On the bright side, there are widgets.

Ah, widgets. The Nexus One already come with various widgets, like weather, music playback shortcut, etc. Going through the Android market, and you’ll find even more widgets. So many that it’s ridiculously confusing. Just search for a weather widgets and you’ll find gajillions of them, although most of them are the same widget with different skins. I finally found a simple date widget that simply shows the day’s date.

One extremely under-rated feature on the iPhone is the silent hardware slider. Sliding this switch automatically silences the iPhone. There’s no such switch on the Nexus One. On the bright side, there are widgets that provide shortcut on the home screen to quickly toggle between silent/vibrate/normal mode. The downside is, since this is a software solution, you have to do it with the screen is accessible. Meaning if the phone is on stand-by, you have to push the power button, unlocked the screen, find the widget, and toggle it. On the iPhone, I simply switch the hardware slider. Much simpler huh, especially if you have your phone inside your pocket.

Another annoyance on the N1 is that the only way to activate the phone out of stand-by is with the thin power button at the top. This is annoying. The trackball button does nothing. The 4 “buttons” on the face of the phone are touch buttons, not physical buttons, thus won’t bring the phone out from stand-by. On the iPhone, I can simply press the home screen to activate the phone from stand-by, which usually is where my thumb is. Tiny details like this is what makes me appreciate Apple products.

One the the apps I use often on my iPhone is maps. The Nexus One obviously has Google maps built-in. One thing I immediately noticed is that even though the maps app on the N1 supports multi-touch, instead of being able to zoom-in/out smoothly, it seems that there are only several pre-set zoom levels. Although the zooming effect is smooth during pinching, after I lift my finger, the map snaps to the nearest pre-set zoom level. I find this very annoying as I’m used to the maps app in iOS where it simply stays to whatever zoom level I did after pinching. On the bright side, the navigation mode is better than iOS. The N1’s maps app allows showing directions as a list of text, something that sometimes is easier to read than tiny letters on a map screen. To top it off, the N1 has a its own navigation app, which providers GPS navigation, for free! There are nav apps for iOS too, but it’s hard to beat free. The nav app on the N1 pretty much turn the phone’s UI into a “car mode.” It replaces the home screen with several big icons, typical of a GPS navigation device. Also, using this mode is one way to quickly keep the phone’s screen from turning off without specifically changing the settings.

Android has a slightly different paradigm on showing apps on the home screen. In iOS, all the apps you have is on the home screen. That’s it. Pre iOS4, you can kinda pre-set specific home screens to contain specific apps for a bit of organization. iOS4 introduces folders to make organization more manageable, but the idea is straight forward, all you apps are all directly accessible from the home screen. Android took a more traditional desktop OS paradigm. The home screen is your desktop. You can put shortcuts, widgets, etc on it. Your apps are accessible through the program drawer, which will infinitely scroll through however many apps you have. Not that easy if you have a ton of apps, so most people would end up putting the apps’ shortcuts on the desktop to mimic iOS. You can also create folders on the Android’s desktop. However, it’s amazingly flawed, which made folders in iOS4, albeit late, is a ton more intuitive in terms of implementation. Why? Well, in Android, once you put a shortcut into a folder, you cannot rearrange the icons. Yeah, sounds stupid isn’t it, but that’s the case. The icons will simply be sorted based on the order you put the shortcuts into the folder. In contrast with iOS4, you can simply tap and hold, and you can freely re-arrange the icons in any order you want. Another drawback is due to Android using the paradigm of a desktop OS. Inside a folder, you have a bar at the top representing the folder’s name, and an X button at the right corner to close the folder. In iOS4, once inside a folder, you can simply close it by touching anywhere outside the folder. Easy. Not the case with Android. You have to touch that X button to close the folder, and the button is fairly small for my finger that sometimes I need to press it several time to close a folder. Not intuitive especially when you’re on the go and you want to do things quickly using one hand. Just another situation that makes you appreciate the tiny details in Apple products.

Okay, so what else do I usually use my iPhone for. Pictures. Putting pictures on the iPhone is actually a hassle, more than it supposed to. Unless you use 3rd party apps, you have to use iTunes to sync pictures to the iPhone. That may sound okay, but today, I have pictures all over the place. My computer, Flickr, Picasa, Facebook, etc. There’s no integration in iOS. You have to pretty much use one or more 3rd party apps outside the built-in photo app. This is true even for Apple’s own MobileME service. This going in-and-out apps just to view your pictures is not intuitive. On my N1, when I put in my Google account, its gallery app automatically pulls and sync pictures from the Picasa account associated with the Google account. Very nice! You can add more than one Google account too if you have more than one Picasa account. Also, this means the pictures are not stored internally, only downloaded on demand, saving storage space. The gallery app on the N1 is very nice, uses the accelerometer to simulate tilting the “photo album.” Of course, it’s not all perfect. The app only syncs picture with Picasa. You have to rely on 3rd party apps if you use other online services outside Picasa. One app that I like is called justpictures, an aggregator app for your pictures from various online services, including Facebook. Oh, and it’s free. This is something that Apple needs to re-think on their approach in iOS. Windows Phone 7 supposedly will offer even more integration as its default picture hub can aggregate pictures from various online services outside the box.

I use my iPhone heavily as an iPod. iTunes is just an amazing jukebox software, especially for podcast, and the integration of syncing music and podcast with the iPhone is just beautiful. So, how do I do this on the N1? Well, it’s a journey of frustration. The N1 doesn’t have any desktop client app. So, my first though is to download podcasts directly on the phone. Google has an app called Google listen. It’s a simple and straight forward app, allowing you to subscribe, download, and listen to podcasts. However, there’s quite a bit of downsides. Downloading podcasts straight to my phone is slow, even on wifi. To me, the iTunes approach is faster as the heavy duty lifting is done on the desktop, and iTunes simply copies the files to my iPhone. Also, Google listen is not integrated with the default music app, and doesn’t have its own widget for playback control. This means I have to go to the app for controls. Not intuitive. I rather have a solution that integrates with the default music app, which has a playback control widget. So my next idea is to simply have a desktop software solution. The first one that comes up to mind is doubletwist, an iTunes clone. But then apparently the Mac version doesn’t have podcast syncing. BOO! Next alternative is Songbird, but I find that its podcast support is fairly bare, not even supporting some feeds. I finally found a more straight forward syncing solution, Salling Media Sync, which is just a simple syncing program that syncs contents directly from iTunes to the portable device of your choice. Looks great, but you have to pay $22 for a fully syncing feature. Oh well, at least I can try it for free. It works okay. Since the N1’s music app doesn’t have a built-in podcast support, Media Sync simply creates a podcast playlist, and dumps all the podcasts you wanted to sync in that playlist. Not ideal, but I guess it works. At least this way I’m using the default music app.

As for using my N1 as an iPod, well, it’s like having a basic MP3 player. Luckily, my Apple earbud works with the N1. The microphone and play/pause button work fine. Only the volume buttons don’t work, and I have to use the volume button on the N1 itself.

But the journey of frustration didn’t stop there. My next step is to find a solution for listening to those podcasts in my car. My car is old, it doesn’t have an AUX input, let alone USB or iPod support. So the only way to listen to contents from an external device is via an FM transmitter. Sad isn’t it. So my first step is to find a universal FM transmitter, ideally the one that also providers USB charging so I can charge my N1 at the same time. Well, looking around, I realize that everything now is “Made for iPod/iPhone.” The proliferation of iDevices have been so significant that every company is focusing on accessorizing the iDevices, nothing else. What a bummer. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Finally I found a solution from Griffin, a universal FM transmitter (out of dozens of models they make for iDevices). It’s a simple FM transmitter with a 3.5mm audio plug and a USB jack for charging. As for mounting, I got a generic mounting harness that attaches to the air vent in my car. Attaching my N1 to this setup, it’s cables galore since I have 2 cables hanging from my N1, the 3.5mm audio cable and the USB cable. This is also when I found out about the “car mode” of my N1, forcing the screen to remain on. The solution is not pretty, and it’s quite a hassle, especially compared to my previous solution for my iPhone, using this FM transmitter from Belkin. It’s a cleaner solution as it also acts as a holder for my iPhone with a built-in dock connector.

Okay, after all these, I took a step back and realized, why am I doing this. I mean why went through all these hassle just so I can listen to podcasts in my car? I already missed the ease of iTunes syncing with my iPhone. I miss the smoothness and polished feel of iOS. Also, I have to remember that epocrates on Android is not updateable. Finally, I gave up, pulled out the SIM card from my N1, and put it back in on my iPhone 3GS. After waiting for the Apple logo to finish booting iOS, I felt a huge relief. LOL. Yeah, it’s true. Using my iPhone again feels like a blessing. I felt like a lost lamb, going back to the comfort of Apple’s bubble after being lost in the woods of Android. Don’t get me wrong, I love a lot of things on my N1. Google Voice integration is a huge one. Another thing I like is the notification system. Let’s face it, notification on the iPhone is at the level of a dumbphone. However, there is this level of comfort when using iOS. I cannot describe it, but I know I feel this surge of relief when I returned to using my iPhone after a mere ~3 days using my N1 full time. It made me laugh.

My N1 will be a backup phone from now on. Android is marching on, getting more polish with each version. My only worry is that we will never see a pure Android experience anymore, with all Android devices are pretty much OEM customized (HTC, Motorola, Samsung, etc) and/or carrier controlled. The next excitement will be Windows Phone 7, and maybe it will be the better alternative. In the meantime, I’m back at the comfort of the church of Apple. LOL. ๐Ÿ˜€

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2010 in android, apple, comparison, google, iPhone, review

 

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iPhone 4

In before the analyst.
Well, watching various live blogging on WWDC 2010, one thing really captured my attention that nobody seemed to pay attention too. iPhone 4 have quad-band HSDPA! That means both AT&T and T-Mobile. So T-Mobile is getting iPhone 4! Or better, unlocked!

Edit: Well, so much for that. The spec for the iPhone 4 is up, and not 1700 HSDPA band. The quad-band is 850/900/1900/2100.

๐Ÿ˜ฆ

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2010 in apple, iPhone

 

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More thoughts on the iPad

With many tech blogs and news sites posting endless stream of anything iPad, I want to put my own 2 cents too. ๐Ÿ˜›

I’ve been thinking about how would I use the iPad. Usually one would buy something for a purpose. Apple is obviously hoping people would try to find a purpose to justify the iPad purchase.

1. An portable internet device for the home. Ever been wanting to view some websites while you’re taking a dump, while watching TV, or while lying on your bed? I’ve been doing it with my iPod Touch/iPhone, but obviously having a device with a larger screen like the iPad would make the experience better. The larger screen is also better to view videos. A netbook is a hassle due to their form factor. The issue with the iPad is how I would get my content on it. Currently, it seems that you have to sync the iPad with iTunes, just like iPods. Well, considering the small storage space on the iPad, this is an issue. Plus I don’t want to have all my videos in iTunes. I already have a Windows Home Server for all my videos. Apple should put the ability to stream content from a networked drive to the iPad. Alas, I don’t think it would be able to do that. Plus for the price, I’ll stick with my iPhone.

2. A camera companion on the go. Let’s say you’re traveling, and want to take tons of pictures while being able to view/back them up. Currently, a cheap solution is to bring a netbook with you. Most netbooks come with an SD slot where you can dump all your pictures to. The iPad with the SD card dongle might be a more portable solution. Problem is, again, the limited storage of the iPad (if you already fill it up with your music/videos, etc). Plus, the photos app is just a basic viewing app. I’m sure there will be many photo editing tools coming to the app store (already plenty for the iPhone), but it would be more seamless if Apple put iPhoto on the iPad.

3. As a backup internet device. As much as I like Comcast, it doesn’t have 100% uptime, and when it’s down, it’s really frustrating being offline. The iPad with 3G plus its prepaid wireless data plans seem to be a nice and cheaper way to have for a backup internet, vs paying $60 a month continuously for 3G data with a USB dongle. The dilemma is, I already have the iPhone (and I’m sure it’s the case for most people that are interested in the iPad). Now if only AT&T allow tethering on the iPhone, even with an additional fee, it will still be cheaper than spending money for the iPad. Alas, AT&T sux, and there’s no hint whether they would allow iPhone tethering in the US, ever. The iPad seems to be an expensive way to solve a simple problem.

So, yeah, it’s hard trying to find a use for the iPad. Now I’m sure once it’s released, there will be apps that change the way we think about it, but at this time, the iPad seems to have a lot of potential, yet at the same time feels too limited.

I’m curious that Apple might release the iPad simply as a training wheel for their future products, for people to get used to having multi-touch on a larger screen. I would imagine future iMacs and/or Macbooks would employ a multi-touch screen. Even better, imagine an iMac/Macbook that has an A4 equipped with iPhone OS built-in for instant-on usage, in addition to the traditional OS X and intel processor. Want to listen to music/check email quickly on your Macbook, instant-on to the iPhone OS. Want to do more stuff like picture/video editing, simply boot up to OS X. Yeah, that would be awesome! Hey, I just did a rumor for upcoming Apple products! I’m guessing Apple will see how successful (and probably how small/cool they can make the A4) the iPad is, and implement it to the iMac/Macbook in a couple of years.

 

The iPad is here.

Well, after countless of rumors, fake news, fake claims, photoshopped pictures, etc etc, Apple finally unveiled the long-awaited tablet, called the iPad. No, it’s not a pot of gold spitting out unicorns, it’s just an extra large iPod Touch, to put it simply. However, because many people were imagining the Apple tablet to be a pot of gold spitting out unicorns, there are currently a lot of negative feedback, especially from the haters (who are ironically frequent visitors of sites that tend to do a lot of Apple coverage, like engadget).

When Jobs announced the iPad, he stated that the function of the device are simply to be used for browsing, email, photos, video, music, games, and eBooks. Well, the iPhone/iPod Touch already do some of those, so, being a larger iPod Touch, the iPad will be more of a better experience in those things thanks to the bigger screen. Let’s stop here for a moment. A lot of people are wanting an actual tablet PC, with a full featured desktop OS, thus the negative feedbacks. Obviously that’s not what Jobs said the iPad would be, and in a way, Apple did the right thing. Tablet PCs are not new, and they never become mainstream. Why? Because they’re mostly just laptops with a touch screen running Windows. Apple approached this in a different way, from a consumer electronic perspective, not a computer. However, that doesn’t mean the iPad is the “Jesus tablet.” We’ll go over on some of the odd choices Apple made later.

Let’s start chronologically with the keynote presentation.
First, we see Steve Jobs demoing Safari on the iPad. It shares the same gestures as Safari on the iPhone/iPod Touch. Jobs made it like it’s a new experience, but it’s not. We’re already tapping and “touching” the web, albeit on a smaller screen. Obviously it will be more pleasant doing it on a larger higher res screen, but not as groundbreaking as when multi-touch was first demoed on the first iPhone. I can see steam coming out from Jobs’ ears, seeing the empty boxes where a Flash animation/ads would’ve been when he demoed the various website. (He quickly zoomed in on a picture on National Geographic website when an empty plug-in box showed up the sides). Yeah, no Adobe Flash support, which imo is a good thing. A lot of the haters want Flash on the iPhone. Considering how lousy Adobe is, and with a lot of security issues with Flash, I’m glad Apple stays on their ground for not supporting Flash. HTML 5 FTW! Still funny though imagining what Steve was thinking when he’s demoing NYT websites with those empty plug-in boxes. LOL.

Next is email. It’s the similar email client as the one on the iPhone, with several UI tweaks when viewing the iPad on portrait or landscape mode. On landscape mode, you have the inbox and the preview pane side by side. Not bad, but then again, nothing too exciting either. No hint whether there will be a unified inbox or not. Considering it’s the same iPhone OS, my guess is not.

Oh, yeah, no multi-tasking, and no new way to switch apps. Just like the iPhone, you have to go back to the home screen to switch to another app. This can get annoying real fast on something like this. My guess is iPhone OS 4.0 is not fully ready yet. Why can’t Apple just buy Palm, and copy the way WebOS switch between apps using the ribbon.

Next, Photos. The photos app looks a lot like iPhoto (and you can guess the next version of iPhoto would share some of the looks). However, no skimming, which would be nice. Instead, you can pinch an album/event to show the pictures inside it. Nice eye candy, but skimming would be more efficient imo. In addition to viewing pictures, you can make slideshows too. Jobs showed the origami transition effect, which is very neat. Here’s the issue though, how do you get your pictures into the iPad? Wait, no camera? WTF? Yeah, no camera. This would be a no-brainer, but no, nada. You can sync your photos via iTunes from PC/Mac, but that is a really clunky way to get your pictures into the iPad. You can also import photos from an SD card/USB storage using the optional USB/SD card to dock connector adapter. I expect a fully functional iPhoto app for the iPad in the near future, as without editing capability, the current photo viewing functionality feels half-baked. Still, a built-in camera seems the more logical way. I’m guessing that will be for the next gen iPad.

Next, music. A big meh. Basically it’s like the iTunes store, except that it’s your own music. Jobs stated how nice it is to browse and play all your music collection. Wait, what? ALL your music collection? What’s the capacity of the iPad again, 16GB up to 64GB. WTF? If there’s 128GB model, then it would be fine, but 16GB? Puhlease. Apple better have some streaming functionality from iTunes on your desktop PC to the iPad. If not, this is just a big meh. The iPod app feels like a mini iTunes instead of an iPod. Small fonts galore for track and album titles. Annoying! Hopefully there’s a way to pick a larger font. Also, there better be a shuffle-by-album. If not, then the iPad fails at playing music vs a regular iPod nano/classic. Interesting enough, no coverflow? No HE-AAC support?

iTunes store, meh. Calendar, pretty nice. Heck, it seems better than iCal on OS X itself. Contacts also looks nice, better than the one on OS X. However, there’s no phone functionality on the iPad, something that I would want on this. Hopefully the contacts app can be seamless with VOIP apps. Maps is just an XL version of the Maps app on the iPhone. Still on Google maps, contrary to the rumors. A-GPS only on the 3G model, not the wifi only model. Youtube is nice, but since youtube’s content sucks major ass due to frequent copyright takedowns, I’m not too excited about this. Gimme streaming J-Dorama built-in on the iPad, then I’ll bite. ๐Ÿ˜› Videos, well, nothing groundbreaking. The iPad’s screen resolution is only 1024×768, so no true 720p (although it does support 720p video playback), and not widescreen, so it’s not really an ideal movie viewing experience, contrary to what Jobs was trying to portray. Besides, I bet you have to sync movies with iTunes. Overall, Jobs didn’t explore too much details on these, other than trying to make it sound like the experience is new and exciting, while obviously it’s not.

Next, on to the hardware itself. As usual, the first thing Jobs said was how thin the iPad is. The big surprise here is, the fact that the iPad uses Apple’s own A4 chip. Wait, what? Apple made their own chip? Yeah, thanks to PA semi acquisition a while back. Imo this is a BIG HUGE news, that is overlooked by many people. I can see Apple using their own chip throughout their products. The next obvious one would be the iPhone and iPods, depending on how large the chip is. And then Apple TV! I can imagine the next Apple TV will be using Apple’s own chip. To put a further speculation, imagine Apple TV using the iPhone OS, complete with games. Voila, Apple’s gaming console. The possibilities are endless as Apple would be a huge CE company, capable of making a lot more products powered by this Apple chip. My next guess would be Apple making a real TV with this chip and Apple TV built-in.

Okay, enough of the chip. The iPad comes in 3 storage size: 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB. MAJOR LAME! Really? Only maxed out at 64GB? 128GB would be more reasonable, considering how Apple is trying to market this as a media device. 16GB is just sad. Heck, I have a 16GB iPod nano, and it’s just for music. I’m guessing Apple decided to scale back of the storage simply to not exceed the $999 price barrier. In short, it’s a marketing strategy, to advertise that their top-of-the-line iPad is still below $1000. Then there are the usual tech specs: Wifi n, Bluetooth, dock connector, speaker, microphone… oh wait. Microphone? This is odd. Why? Well, first, there’s no phone app, even on the models with 3G wireless connectivity. Second, no camera, no front facing camera, so no video conferencing. So, a microphone just for VOIP? My guess is that Apple will put in voice commands on the iPad, although that could contradict the supposedly more “intimate” interaction of multi-touch on the iPad. As for Bluetooth, I hope it’s not the crippled Bluetooth connection just like on the iPhone, meaning only for headsets. I want Bluetooth file transfer, or even better, Bluetooth tethering with an iPhone.

Next, Scott showing some apps, iPhone apps. Since the iPad uses the same iPhone OS, it is obviously compatible with all the current iPhone apps. In addition, the iPad can do pixel doubling so the iPhone app can be run full-screen. Big whoop. He demoed the facebook app. Heck, with the iPad, I can just go to the real facebook site. Games designed for the iPhone would run faster and smoother due to the faster processor, but obviously games designed specifically for the iPad would be better. The SDK with iPad simulator is also released. Imo another reason there’s a 60/90 days delay during this announcement and the scheduled iPad shipping date, is to allow some time for developers to make iPad-specific apps.

Next, some apps. First, Gameloft, with their FPS game. Really? FPS game is bad enough using a gamepad, now using a touch interface? Even worse, requiring some gestures (eg. 3 finger gesture just to open a door?)? Sorry, but keyboard + mouse FTW.

Second, New York Times. Yeah, even though Jobs showed that you can view the full NYT website with Safari, NYT is doing an app (probably because Jobs was not too happy with those empty Flash plug-in boxes, LOL). Some people are saying that the iPad will be the savior of the newspaper industry. NYT app shows some interactivity and even video playback. Pretty neat, and could entice some people to subscribe. However, considering I can get my news via simple RSS feeds… yeah.

Third, Brushes. Basically Paint on the iPad, with fingers. I’m sure this is a big deal for some people, but I’m no artist. The playback feature is really neat though.

4th, EA, with Need for Speed. If you think FPS is bad enough, yeah, trying to fiddle/touch the controls while playing a driving game doesn’t look fun at all. I’m sorry, but there are better game genres to show off the iPad. RTS, Adventure games, RPG, etc, not FPS or driving game. I’m guessing Apple just want to show off the graphics/processing power of the iPad.

5th, MLB. Imo sports apps like this may be one of the killer app as you can add a lot of interactivity while watching a game. Could be an awesome thing for sports fans. I couldn’t care less though. ๐Ÿ˜›

Steve returned to the stage to show iBooks (not to be confused with iBook, the pre-cursor to the Macbook), another HUGE news that slip by a lot of people. Apple is opening an eBook store, competing head to head with Amazon and the Kindle. iBooks app looks a LOT like Delicious Library. Typical Apple, the app has plenty of eye candy, especially with Steve showing how he’s flipping the book’s “page” partially back-n-forth. The fact that Apple is going to use epub format is also great news. Publishing companies are more archaic than the recording industry, clinging to DRM heavily. Hopefully Apple can change the market like they did with music. On Apple’s site, the iPad apparently has a voice over screen reader, something that the Amazon Kindle has, but got into a big fight with the publishers. Will Apple fare better? Steve surprisingly didn’t say anything about battery life, something that E-Ink-based devices will have a huge advantage. Plus, I don’t know if I can read a book for a prolonged period of time on an LCD screen. Not good for your eyes. The bigger news here is obviously Apple’s entry into the eBook market. I don’t think Amazon should be worried, as they already know something like this would happen, thus the Kindle app for the iPhone.

Next, Phil with iWork for the iPad. I don’t know. There’s a lot of questions here, not about the apps themselves as they look great but about the basic functionality you would expect. For example, printing a document/spreadsheet. There’s no USB port on the iPad. Will it be able to print to a networked printer directly? Via USB host with the USB to dock-connector dongle? If you have to export your work to a desktop first, then it’s super stupid. Then there’s Keynote. The obvious question is, is there video out? Turns out Apple has a dock-connector to VGA dongle for the iPad (which is ironic by itself considering Apple is focusing on mini display port on its computers). There’s an issue with the dongle itself, how do you connect to the AC adapter for long presentations? I’m guessing a dock connector splitter? As for iWork itself, this is the first time Apple unbundles iWork, meaning you purchase Pages, Numbers, and Keynote separately. $10 each. The touch interface seems tedious on Keynote, but maybe a pre-cursor for something larger like Microsoft’s surface (or iMac with multi-touch). The automatic word-wrap around a graphic on Pages look great. Numbers, meh. I haven’t used a word processor extensively out of school, let alone a spreadsheet or a presentation app. Another question would be, how do one export the created files out of the iPad? Syncing via iTunes? Emailing? Again, more reason for Bluetooth file transfer support.

Yes, the iPad syncs via iTunes, just like the iPhone. Sounds like iTunes will become more bloatier than ever.

Back to hardware, looks like Apple will have 2 versions of the iPad lineup. One with Wifi only, one with Wifi and 3G wireless. Looks like Apple realize that people would be furious if they have to pay more monthly bills and under contract, so the 3G data plan for the iPad will be prepaid (yay!), AND 3G iPads are unlocked out of the box (YAY!). There are 2 data plan, $15 for 250MB per month, or $30 for “unlimited.” My guess is unlimited means 5GB, since Apple is doing this with AT&T. The best part of this is of course, prepaid, meaning that you can just buy the 3G data plan when you actually need it, not having to pay for it continuously. Oh yeah, no Verizon, as Apple wants this to be an international model, thus GSM/HSDPA, not CDMA. Yeah, take that Verizon fanboys.

Now, the pricing. Jobs made a reference how people were speculating that the price will be $999, and dropped the bomb that the price of the iPad will be just $499. The crowd cheered. Wait, really? $499? Well, typical Apple, that is the lowest end model, the one that you don’t want. 16GB and wifi only. Add $100 for each bump in capacity (32GB for $599, 64GB for $699). That $499 doesn’t look that cheap anymore now does it. ๐Ÿ˜› Having 3G connectivity and GPS adds $130 on top of those prices. So, the real price of the tablet that you will want is actually $829, for the 64GB model with wifi and 3G. Still lower than $999 (which is why we don’t see a 128GB model as Apple probably wants to stay below $999), but definitely not $499. It’s the typical Apple upselling/marketing strategy.

The wifi only models will ship in 60 days, and the wifi + 3G models will ship in 90 days. Why? In addition for regulatory issues, obviously this lag is to allow developers to have their apps ready when the iPad is shipping. As for accessories, I’m sure there are a lot of people drooling for the keyboard dock.

Lastly, a complementary making videos, a trend started with the unibody aluminum Macbooks. Oh, and a new tagling, “You just… DO!” LOL. Kinda lame. Apple is trying to portray how amazing and magical the iPad is. Yeah, that would work if we didn’t have the iPhone. Problem is, all this multi-touch stuff is not new anymore, so the newness of touching stuff is, well, getting stale. People already see Microsoft’s surface, and the various multi-touch capable PCs.

In the end, the bigger news here is not really the iPad, although that is the focus of most bloggers and tech journalists since it’s the unicorn. The big news are:
1. Apple having their own fast and low-powered chip ready for mass production.
2. Apple going into the eBook market.

So, is the iPad “magical” and “revolutionary”? Nope. Like I said, a lot of the fanciness is kinda stale due to the fact we already have multi-touch for a couple of years. The iPad seems to lack a lot of things, like a camera, front facing camera for video conferencing, a phone app (or at least an SMS app), multi-tasking, etc. It’s obvious the OS is not fully optimized for the iPad (small icons, sparse screen). A live widget like weather would be nice, like on Android phones. Should you get one? Well, I don’t think there’s a need for a tablet or iPad in the first place, outside specific industries. However, knowing Apple, I’m guessing we can see the price being pushed lower by the end of the year or so, so people would buy the iPad just because, and then contents and apps will follow suit.

Regardless whether you find a use for the iPad or not, it’s another new and shiny toy from Apple. Heck, the lure of prepaid 3G data is very tempting for a backup internet (since AT&T doesn’t seem to offer tethering for iPhone in the US, ever). Personally, I was hoping for unlocked iPhones instead of this, but obviously that is not happening. Hopefully we will see more information and specifics on features (eg. Bluetooth file transfer, Bluetooth tethering, VOIP, etc) as time goes, and maybe we will see the OS itself being optimized (or the iPad itself shipping with OS 4.0 instead). Nonetheless, I at least expect iLife, or at least iPhoto for the iPad in the near future.

As for future rumors, let’s get started before the analysts. ๐Ÿ˜›
1. Price drop of the iPad before 2010 holidays. Maybe together with the regular September/October event.
2. Next gen iPad would have a camera, or at least a front facing camera for video chat. Also iChat app will be released. It will have a larger screen while retaining the same size (less bezel).
3. iLife 2010 would share some UI looks as the iPad photo app.
4. iCal and Contacts on the next OS X would share the same look as the iPad version.
5. iPhone OS 4.0 will cost iPod Touch users yet another $10

Well, there you go, a long and winded overview of the most hyped product announcement event ever. Heck, imo the iPad release overshadow President Obama’s State of Union Address! LOL.

 

My first AT&T wireless bill

Well, I got my first AT&T wireless bill. (Why? We’ll get to that in my upcoming post) Why am I doing a blog post about a bill? Because it came with a manual! Yeah, that’s right. A manual for a bill.

We usually think a bill as simple. It just shows you what you owe and what you’re paying for. But of course, leave it to the wireless carriers to complicate a simple common sense approach by adding bogus fees, charges, taxes, etc, to the point that people are simply confused that they have to pay more that what was advertised (for example, the fees/taxes/charges on my bill is around $10 already!). I’m guessing AT&T did this because they must have gotten a lot of phone calls from people demanding explanations about their bills. Of course, it would have been more logical to simply make the bill simpler, and advertise prices as they will be on the bill. But no, logic is not the way US wireless carriers work. ๐Ÿ˜›

I found this to be too funny that I have to make a video. LOL.

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2009 in ATT, ATT wireless, bill, iPhone

 

T-Mobile’s myTouch 3G Quick Impression

I stopped by a T-Mobile store yesterday to play with the HTC myTouch 3G. HTC myTouch 3G is the US version of HTC magic, HTC’s 2nd gen Android smartphone.

The phone itself feels fairly compact, not as bulky as I thought. Definitely not as bulky as the G1 because the myTouch 3G doesn’t have a physical keyboard. If you’re coming from a non-touch-screen dumb-phone/S60/Windows Mobile, you’ll be amazed by the UI. It uses capacitive touch screen, like the iPhone, thus offers more responsiveness than the likes of resistive touch screens that are commonplace in S60 and Windows Mobile phones. Touch is quite responsive. Having a good touch interface really change the way you interact with the phone. A lot of things become more natural than pressing buttons.

Google maps is awesome. The myTouch 3G has a built-in A-GPS and digital compass. Paired those with Google maps’ street view, and you have a completely new experience. The digital compass will keep track on where you’re facing automatically. All the other apps are standard fare. The music player is just a basic player. The camera doesn’t seem to be that great, but it might be simply because I’m playing with a demo unit.

Like I said, if you’re coming from a non-touch screen phones, or smartphones that are designed to use stylus/using resistive touch screen (S60, Winmo), Android’s UI is surreal. Considering that this is just version 1.5 of the OS, it’s quite an amazing accomplishment. Now, note that I didn’t mention the iPhone.

I don’t have the iPhone, but I’ve been using the iPod Touch since the 1st gen. Let’s face it, Apple nailed the iPhone OS’ UI pretty good. Although the myTouch 3G uses capacitive touch screen, I find the responsiveness to be slightly below my iPod Touch. This is very prevalent when typing on the virtual keyboard. Although the myTouch 3G has auto-correction, which helps a lot, I find myself mistyping letter far too often compared when I’m typing on my iPod Touch. Then there’s multi-touch, which is non-existent on the myTouch 3G. Multi-touch makes the iPhone’s touch UI to feel very natural, like pinching in/out to zoom in/out. I find that the lack of multi-touch makes the Google maps and internet browser apps on the myTouch 3G to be less intuitive. Then there’s the menu button on the myTouch 3G. Really, why do I have to go away from a big touch-screen to press a small button on the bottom to pop up a menu? It detracts me from the whole touch experience. Not cool.
A side note, as far as UI responsivess on a capacitive touch screen, imo the ZuneHD is even better than the iPod Touch, thanks to its nVidia Tegra processor.

So, there’s my quick impression on the myTouch 3G. It has a much better user experience compared to the plethora of dumb-phones/resistive touch smartphones. However, Apple really set the bar pretty high. Good thing is, Android is open source, and you can see how quick it’s improving going from 1.0 to 1.5. With more and more phones coming out using Android, we will see more and more interesting features. Motorola already announced its Android phone, the Cliq, which is focused on social networking. HTC Hero, HTC’s 3rd gen Android phone, will have multi-touch. Once the OS reached 2.0, we may see Sony Ericsson’s xPeria X3 using Android.

At this point in time, a regular consumer will have a better user experience on the iPhone. As far as subsidized price, it’s the same price as the iPhone. iPhone has more memory, but myTouch 3G has microSD slot. The downside of the iPhone in the US is that it’s locked with AT&T, and T-Mobile provides better value in the monthly bill. I do hope, and rooting for Android to be as good, if not better as a platform.