Tag Archive | "apple iphone 4s"

Samsung Galaxy Nexus: The Closest I’ve Come to Switching to Android

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I’ve been using the iPhone for three generations now — starting with the iPhone 3G, then the iPhone 3GS, and finally the iPhone 4 which is my current companion. I’m finally due for an upgrade and I must say that I’ve come closer than ever before to picking an Android phone (specifically the Galaxy Nexus) over an iPhone, but it just wasn’t meant to be and I’ll explain why. Be sure to note that what’s important to have in a phone for me might not be the same for you; I’m just laying out my thoughts here as to why the Galaxy Nexus has been the phone that has come the closest to tempting me over to Android.

Android 4.0

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich feels like the first truly full package in the history of Android. Finally there’s good hardware acceleration and enough performance for a nearly smooth home screen. This hasn’t quite translated over to all apps just yet. Android finally seems to have all of the vital default apps and has long included a turn-by-turn navigation app that blows Apple’s Maps app out of the water. Google just launched the Chrome Beta browser which offers a rich browsing experience which should have been included in Android long ago. Photos can now be robustly edited right in the gallery without scouring the Android Market for the right app. Home screen folders are extremely fast and a pleasure to use, while resizable widgets further the level of flexibility and customization. There’s better battery and data analysis, and much more. This has all come together in bits and pieces over the last few years as Android has grown, and 4.0 is the first time it feels like a complete package to me.

The saddest part about all of this is how hard it is to get your hands on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Google has crafted this seemingly complete package, but less than 1% of users have access to it right now! I’m actually limited to the Galaxy Nexus if I want a top-end phone that also runs Android 4.0 at the moment.

Camera

The camera app in Android 4.0 is super fast in both launching and taking consecutive photos. Unfortunately, I still find that all Android handsets that I’ve tested have lacked in camera quality (for both stills and video) when compared to the iPhone 4, often despite higher megapixel ratings. For me, camera quality is more important than speed. The new panorama mode in the Android 4.0 camera app is neat, but I find that I can achieve better results by taking individual photos, then stitching them together on the computer. It’s a shame that Nokia never got into the Android ecosystem as they’ve long been heralded as having some of the best optics in the mobile industry.

The iPhone 4S camera is supposed to be even better than the iPhone 4 camera with 8MP instead of 5MP and reworked optics. If I can achieve photos like the following with the iPhone 4, then I’m looking forward to what the iPhone 4S has to offer:

Notification System

I’ve said it before and I think it’s still true today: Android is the best at managing notifications, while iOS is the best at delivering them. Between Android 4.0 and iOS 5.0, Android absolutely wins when it comes to managing notifications — you can toss away individual notifications or dismiss them all at once if you’d like. Tapping on a notification takes you directly to the item you are being notified about. All of this is better than how iOS does it. However, Apple’s push notification system is best in class. I don’t understand why Google doesn’t have push Gmail through the official Gmail app. Side-by-side with the Galaxy Nexus, my iPhone 4 shows changes to my inbox almost instantly, while the Galaxy Nexus doesn’t do anything until significantly later, unless manually refreshed. I can literally receive, respond to, and be done with an email on my iPhone 4 before it even arrives on the Galaxy Nexus. For some people, getting notifications instantly isn’t a big deal, but as someone who works on the web it’s a big advantage and one that I can’t easily give up.

Screen Size

If you follow Carrypad regularly, you’ll know that I’ve got some gripes with 4″+ screens. One-handed usability is important to me because I’m frequently on the go. The 3.5″ screen of the iPhone (all versions of it) is far more comfortable in my hand than anything 4″ and above. The Galaxy Nexus, at 4.65″, is just too big to be used comfortably in one hand for me. Everyone’s hands are different sizes, so everyone has a different limit, but with the massive-screen fad that’s been growing in Android over the years, it’s almost impossible to get a top-end Android phone in a size less than 4″. If the Galaxy Nexus came in any size 4″ or less, I’d be far more inclined to pick it over the iPhone 4S.

Customization

This is one of Android’s greatest strengths, but it always runs the risk of being over-complicated. I’m the kind of person who loves to tinker with their gadgets and get them to work just the way I’d like. On the iPhone, this urge is satisfied with jailbreaking, which enhances the customizations you can make on iOS, but it’s not much compared to what you can do on Android. With Android 4.0 on the Galaxy Nexus, I can fit tons of apps efficiently on one page with folders. On other screens, I’ve got at-a-glance access to my calendar, weather, inbox, and music player. It’s nice to be able to do much of what I need to right from the homescreen instead of jumping through hoops between apps. This category is a major win for the Galaxy Nexus.

Apps

There’s no denying that there are some great apps on Android, but Apple’s iOS App Store still has a greater number of apps than the Android Market. When we’re talking about hundreds of thousands of apps in each store, the aggregate hardly matters. Where iOS has the real advantage is in quality and consistency. Because Apple has strict guidelines, most apps are intuitive and work well without crashing. When it comes to apps from the Android Market, you might have two great apps, but they might have two completely different interface approaches — one app trying to emulate an iOS-like ‘everything on screen’ style and the other trying to do the Android thing by hiding features away in long-presses and hidden menus. Alone, each of these is arguably as good as the other, but when you have to jump between apps that go back in forth in their interface approach, the user interaction aspect of it becomes increasingly convoluted, and this is something I quite dislike.

Availability

If everything above held an advantage for the Galaxy Nexus, there would still be one huge issue for me choosing it over the iPhone 4S — availability. I’m on AT&T, and the Galaxy Nexus is decidedly not available for purchase. AT&T has not one Android 4.0 ICS phone available at the moment, which means the best I could do is buy one of the top-end Android phones then wait and hope that it would receive an ICS upgrade. If Google thinks the Galaxy Nexus and Android 4.0 is such a great pair, they’ve got to do a better job of making it available for people to actually purchase it. The only way for me to actually get my hands on the Galaxy Nexus would be to switch carriers or buy an expensive unlocked version of the phone without a subsidy from my carrier.

So, Google, you almost had me on this one, but unfortunately I’ve made up my mind to continue with the iPhone — for now anyway. Fix the stuff above that needs it; you’ve got two years to work on it before there’s another chance to convert me.

How Apple’s Siri Just Stole Voice Control From Android

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Image courtesy Apple Inc.No doubt you’ve already heard of Siri, the voice control software that Apple is launching with the iPhone 4S. If you are late to the part, recap here.

Apple is billing Siri not as “voice-control” but as a personal assistant that will perform tasks for you. The press is already lauding its impressive functionality. But how has Apple managed to make such a big splash over a feature that Android has had for some time now?

To start, marketing has a lot to do with it. While Android bills voice-control (VC)l as just that — a way to control your phone with your voice — Apple promotes Siri as an entity that will help you get things done. Apple has given their iOS voice control a person’s name. Simply by calling it “Siri” (notice how Apple — and thus the press — always spell it as though it’s a proper noun), Apple has immediately made it more personal and more human — you’ll see the word ‘assistant’ thrown around a lot in stories about Siri (not excluding this one). Even if the abilities of Siri and Android’s VC were identical, Siri would become the colloquialism for voice-control on a phone, the same way that mainstreamers, who don’t know the difference, call any digital audio player an iPod.

That’s if the abilities of Siri and Android’s VC were the same. At a base level, there’s no fundamental difference between Siri and Android VC, both convert sound into meaning and perform some function based on what you’ve said. But Siri feels more human because of the breadth of its understanding. [See there I go, talking about Siri as if it were an entity and not a thing. Touché, Apple]. Siri will see high usage because the user doesn’t need to look through a list of things they are allowed to say, or pay attention to the order that they need to be said. Apple has ensured that Siri can understand such a range of input that there’s no need to think first about what you are asking it. Again, this makes Siri far more human than Android VC; you speak to Siri like a person, with no need to pause to formulate your question in a special computer-readable way. This means that there is a highly likelyhood that anyone who hasn’t used Siri before could ask it a question and get a good response, making it inherently more intuitive than Android VC. That’s the goal anyway.

Once Apple frees Siri from it’s iPhone 4S jail (either on to older, or newer devices), expect it to become a household name, and expect lots of existing voice-control software to be ‘reborn’ with human names.

Apple iPhone 5 / iPhone 4S Event Coverage

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iPhone 4S available starting October 14th on Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T in:

  • United States
  • Canada
  • Australia
  • United Kingdom
  • France
  • Germany
  • Japan
(pre-orders begin on the 7th)
iPhone 4S Pricing (on-contract):
  • $199 – 16GB
  • $299 – 32GB
  • $399 – 64GB
If you don’t need the bleeding edge, Apple is lowering the price of the 16GB iPhone 4 to $99 on-contract and the 3GS will be free in the same manner.
On the 28th, it’ll hit 22 additional countries, and be in 70 countries by the end of the year on over 100 carriers. Apple says this is their fastest iPhone rollout ever.
iPhone 4S specs:
  • dual-core A5 CPU, providing up to 2x CPU performance and up to 7x graphics performance (over iPhone 4)
  • iOS 5 with Siri voice assistant
  • Same outer design as iPhone 4 but with redesigned antenna
  • 8MP camera capable of 1080p recording. No mention of front camera so we’re assuming it’ll be the same 0.3MP front camera
  • World phone – CDMA and GSM in one phone
  • Everything else is pretty much the same as the iPhone 4 except there is now a 64GB option for the iPhone 4S
Thanks for sticking around. Credit must be given where it is due. Props to the excellent live coverage from Slashgear, Enagdget, and ThisIsMyNext.
——————
17: Event is done. No mention of the iPhone 5 or Steve Jobs, and no explanation of that missed call notification from the event invitation… something fishy is going on here.

16: Apple store still down. Apple.com not updated to show anything new yet. Pricing for the iPhone 4S is the usual but they’re adding a 64GB option finally: $199 (16GB), $299 (32GB), and $399 (64GB), all on contract of course. Availability for the iPhone 4S is October 14th. Pre-orders start on the 7th. Still nothing about Sprint or an iPhone 5. I’ll be completely blown away if the BRG story is true. For those due for an upgrade, Apple is dropping the iPhone 3GS to free and the iPhone 4 to $99, pretty sweet. Oh hey they just said the iPhone 4S will be on AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint.

15: Still showing more Siri stuff. Reminders can be set through voice which will integrate with the Reminders app that’s coming with iOS5 (something I used to use the old Siri app for frequently). If Siri doesn’t know what you’re talking about, it’ll use Wolfram Alpha to try to give you some info. Examples given are currency exchange rates, definitions, and “how many days until X”. Now they’re showing dictation through Siri. Siri learns your voice according to Apple. Apple is calling Siri beta at launch. Dictation processing happens remotely on a server, which means it might have to fall back to less precise methods when you don’t have a connection, or maybe it won’t work at all.

14: Apple demoing the assistant software which is using the original name (before Apple purchased the company) “Siri”. Some of the queries you’ll be able to ask it: What’s the weather like today? What time is it in Paris? Set an alarm for 6am. Stocking checking, restaruant finding, directions, lots of functionality. The key here is that the user doesn’t need to know what they can or cannot ask. Just ask it something reasonable and it can probably do it. A cool demo of a text coming it: Siri reads it, user asks if they have any appointments at 12pm on Friday, Siri responds that there is nothing on the calendar, then the user asks to reply to the text, all by voice and the button on the Bluetooth headset. Pretty cool… will this only be available with the iPhone 4S?

13: Hoping we have the option to choose between 720p and 1080p video capture, as the larger size is sometimes not necessary for both storage and editing reasons. Apple isn’t always big on choices though…. Apple now talking about their new Assistant software which has been detailed pretty heavily in the media already. This is Apple’s version of voice control, which will use natural language to do a lot of stuff. Don’t know about you folks, but I’ve always found voice-control to be underused because I don’t like looking like an idiot in public. Great for the car and when you’re alone, but otherwise it’s just weird. If anyone can make is socially acceptable to talk to your phone without a real person on the other end, it’s Apple.

12: The iPhone 4S is a world phone, featuring both CDMA and GSM technology in one model. International travelers rejoice. New 8MP camera, backside illumination (for better low-light performance). Apple says the iPhone 4S camera can collect 73% more light than the iPhone 4 which should mean even better photos. There’s also a hybrid IR filter, but I’m not sure exactly what that does! The 4S takes pictures way faster than other smartphones on the market. 1.1 seconds to first photo for the iPhone 4S compared to 3.7 seconds for the Droid Bionic, then 0.5 seconds to a second picture, compared to 1.6 seconds for the Bionic. Ouch. 1080p video recording for the iPhone 4S along with video image stabilization (probably software-based).

11: [No mention of Steve Jobs yet. I can’t imagine that won’t say something about him.] Infinity Blade 2 is launching 12/1/11. Apple manages to increase processing power and also raise battery life, they won’t launch a phone without increasing these it seems, wish other companies would follow that lead. Wow finally, an antenna redesign; but I thought you said it wasn’t broken, Apple? iPhone 4S has HSDPA for up to 14.4 Mbps download. Upload is still at 5.8 Mbps (that’s IF your carrier supports those speeds.) Apple says their technology is just as fast as the HSPA+”4G” phones that some carriers have been pushing. The real question is whether or not the carrier will support such speeds through HSDPA…

10: iPhone 4S is official. Same design outside, new guts inside. Apple’s dual-core A5 CPU (same as the iPad), up to 2x faster than the current CPU in iPhone 4 (A4). Dual core graphics as well which Apple says can provide up to 7x increase in performance. President of Epic Games (they make the Unreal Engine, which powers Infinity Blade, and others) is on stage to talk about the iPhone 4S and gaming. They just announced Infinity Blade 2. The first one was pretty good, but the on-rails aspect killed the experience. Next one appears to be set in an Asian location.

9: Finally looks like they’re moving onto the iPhone. Nothing new before recapping the success of the iPhone 4. They’re calling it the “#1 portable game player”. I call BS on that one. Now recapping iMessage which will work across iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad. There’s a white version of the iPod Touch coming. Cool?

8: Moving back to the iPod. I could have sworn that the invitation said “Let’s talk iPhone”. Oh hey look up there at the top of the post, it most definitely does. I’m starting to think that the missed call notification is telling us that Apple didn’t make it’s deadline and won’t have any iPhone to show off today! Showing 16 new virtual clock-faces for anyone using the iPod Nano as a watch.

7: New app from Apple called Find my Friends. It’s like Google’s Latitude, except from Apple. Time location sharing so you are only sharing where you are at certain times during the day. Oh lord, now they’re recapping iTunes match. I hope the folks there at the conference know what they’ve signed up for. All of this seems to be building to something underwhelming… we’ll have to wait and see.

6: They are going over big iOS 5 features, nothing new so far. This feels like a lot of filler information…. Oh here’s something new, iOS5 is coming on October 12th. Why not today?! iCloud info coming right up. More recap… maybe Apple thinks that they waited so long for their usual iPhone announcement that we forgot what they said at WWDC? Engadget says jokingly “Lots of wonderful things to be found in these clouds.” Agreed.

5: Moving onto iOS. They’ve got a chart up for mobile software market-share and Android is colored green, isn’t that cute! iOS is 43% while Android is 33%, they aren’t far behind and Apple isn’t trying to cover that up. Rim is the next shown on the chart at 17% and everyone else is 7%. Wait a minute, Fusion Garage’s Grid OS isn’t on here, there must be a mistake! Apple says there are 500,000 apps in the app store now (last we heard was some 300,000); 140,000 of those are iPad specific. Honeycomb-specific apps are now somewhere in the thousands still, I think.

4: Now onto iPhone stats. 125% growth year-over-year for the iPhone, compared to the rest of the market which grew 74% (according to Apple). #1 in satisfaction followed by HTC, Motorola, LG, etc. (yada yada). Moving on to the iPad. I want to tell Apple we (tech folk) don’t need a recap, but I suppose this is all for investors, analysts, and the like.

3: Still chatting about growth. Anyone with Apple stock will be please, as usual. Some of these things remind me of the book “How to Lie with Statistics”. Surprising to see Apple talking so much about the iPod; this is an iPhone event after all… right, Apple?

2: Talking about retail stores and just pointed out that Apple’s store in Shanghai saw 100,000 people visit in the opening weekend… a recent LA store took a month to reach that many people. Also noting that the Hong Kong store sold more Macs on opening day than in any other Apple store in the world. Clearly there is going to be some big Apple+Asia news coming up.

1: Apple store is down. Par for the course. iCloud.com is still up and offering login for developers. Event is beginning with a lot of talk about how Apple has grown and released a number of bar-setting products. Classic Apple event format so far!

Today is the big day for Apple to show the world its latest iPhone. We’ll be updating this post with the major developments as Apple’s event proceeds. Rather than doing a minute by minute live-blog, we’ll be watching the live-blogs and updating in numbered chunks. Be sure to refresh every now and then.

Rumors are swirling about the possibility of an iPhone 4S, and iPhone 5, or perhaps both. There’s also been pretty wild stories about Sprint getting a short-term WiMax exclusive on the iPhone 5, leaving AT&T and Verizon out of the loop until a few months later. I don’t think Apple would strike such a deal and frustrate loyal customers on the other carriers, but BGR says they got the info from a rock solid contact, so we’ll have to wait and see.

My own predictions for which (if any) 4G networks the iPhone 5 will feature are here, though I didn’t include Sprint as not much had been heard at that point about the carrier getting the iPhone.

I for one am hoping that iOS 5 launches today for those devices that will support it. Feels long overdue. Aside from software and phones, there is going to be a lot of reading between the lines to be done. Steve Jobs’ recent resignation from the CEO position is well known by investors and tech folk alike. This event will be as much about the iPhone as it is about showing that Tim Cook is a more than qualified and inspired CEO.

Oh and don’t forget, if you are going to trade-up for the next iPhone, you can sell your old device pretty darn easily through Gazelle. If you go start the process now, you can lock in the current trade-in price (with no commitment) before it drops following the announcement.

Apple iPhone 5 Event Confirmed for October 4th

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Some of the big name tech media have just received invitations from Apple for an iPhone press event to be held on October 4th, at which Apple’s iPhone 5 is expected to be announced. The invitation image shows the brilliance of Apple marketing. Yes, this is marketing. They market extremely well to the press and the press markets to their customers for them; that’s why Apple spends way less in advertising than many other tech companies, and has stock that trades far higher.

A lot of people are betting that Apple will bring the screen size of the iPhone 5 up to at least 4″ or even as large as 4.3″. My money is on the phone keeping a 3.5″ display. If they do change it, I can only hope that they don’t go further than 4″. Other proposed features include NFC and perhaps 4G. The latest version of Apple’s mobile OS, iOS 5, is expected to be launched on the iPhone 5, and we may see it released to existing devices during or shortly after the October 4th event.

A little while ago I speculated that we’d see Apple announce an iPhone 5 for AT&T with HSPA+ and a variant for Verizon with 4G LTE. Interestingly, Sprint is now expected to be joining the aformentioned US carriers in iPhone availability, but I’m doubting we’ll see a WiMax iPhone 5 (Sprint’s current 4G technology, which it is said to soon be replacing with LTE), which leads me to wonder whether or not Sprint will get the iPhone 5 at all. Perhaps that iPhone 4S that’s been rumored over the last few months is actually the CDMA-based iPhone 4 that Verizon currently offers, but with some tweaks and compatibility with Sprint’s 3G network?

The invitation image is quite neat after all. For non-iOS users out there, all of these icons are from core iOS apps, and each of them means something. The calendar icon says that the event is on the 4th, the map icon says that the event will be at Apple’s ‘Infinite Loop’ HQ in Cupertino, and the clock icon says that it will be held at 10AM PST.

But what of the phone icon with a missed call? I think Apple certainly wants people to speculate about this. Typically that little 1 at the top right of the phone icon means that you’ve got a missed call or a voicemail that needs to be listened to. Maybe it means Apple will only be announcing 1 phone instead of an iPhone 4S and an iPhone 5 as rumored? Maybe Apple’s new CEO, Tim Cook, will come on stage and at some point listen to a ‘voicemail’ on the iPhone 5 left by Steve Jobs. At any rate, it will likely tie into the event.

What do you think it means?

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