I am reluctant to criticize unreleased Apple Watch because my analysis about original iPad -- given before seeing it -- was wrong. That said, Android Wear, while seemingly sensible comparison that analysts, bloggers, and journalists make, isn't right. When put in perspective of next-generation wearables, I think Apple Watch should be compared to Google Glass.
Be honest. Which looks more innovative to you? The utility of something you see at eye level that provides real-time, location-based information is much greater than something that demands more responsive -- "Hey, Siri" -- interaction and turns the glance and fingers downward. Granted, Apple Watch delivers alerts, and you feel them, but your attention is always to look away.
Google geeks have speculated for nearly a year about Android and Chrome OS coming together as one operating system. Yesterday's announcement -- that some Android apps can now run on the browser-based platform -- seems to foreshadow a combined future. Make no mistake about what this really means. Chrome OS is an ecosystem with no future because there is little monetization of apps. The platform would be dead if not for the existing and smoothly integrated Google cloud ecosystem.
Android apps inject life into the Chrome OS ecosystem. Free apps can't sustain any platform because developers have no incentive to create them. Android opens a huge spigot of apps -- and some which developers can monetize, more than they do through paid services tacked onto free web apps. BTW, Microsoft should take a cue from Google, by bringing boatloads of Windows Phone apps to its PC operating system.
I'm a Mac user again. After two years of using Chromebook as my primary PC and going "Microsoft All-In" for the summer with Nokia Lumia Icon and Surface Pro 3, at the end of August I returned to my first love -- despite my reputation for hating it. I'm not anti-Apple. Fanatics who try to silence me, and other journalists not glowing about the fruit-logo company, just want you to believe that I am, by insisting bias where none exists.
Before Tuesday's splashy media event, I anticipated buying a new iPhone -- to fit into my renewed Mac lifestyle. But the size really bugs me. Last weekend, I asserted that September 9 would start the Tim Cook era -- that it would define where the CEO will take Apple. I used iPod nano as example of a product that defined Steve Jobs' leadership style. But Cook soiled my anticipation that he could be so bold. iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are too much me-too devices, and they're not what I expected from the great innovator.
In my professional life as a journalist, I only wrote one rumor story for which sourcing was truly sketchy. Generally my rule is this: Write what you know to be true in the moment based on the most reliable -- and identified, meaning we directly communicated -- sources available. But I didn't feel confident about my Oct. 17, 2001 iPod story. My source (only one) confirmed that six days later Apple would unveil a "digital music device", but it wasn't clear what that meant, something the story reflects.
I reminisce about iPod because it's gone. CNET, where I worked when writing about the mystery music device, reported the device's disappearance yesterday. The link for iPod Classic now goes to iPod touch, and the music player is no longer sold at Apple Store Online -- not even refurbished. The extended name, adopted in 2007, is appropriate. The original iPod is a "classic". It is one of four foundational products released in 2001 that still drive everything Apple in 2014. Music changed the fruit-logo company long before iPhone established the world's largest tech company. iPod is part of the story.
The big event is over. Today, Apple announced iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, with 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch screens, respectively; Apple Pay; and Apple Watch. What we don't know is as important, if not more, than what we do. For example, Apple didn't pinpoint when in 2015 the smartwatch would be available or how long the battery will last. But Cook did discuss the ease of charging overnight, which probably indicates enough.
As I suggested three days ago, today's media event marks the beginning of the Tim Cook era, as he does things his way rather than Steve Jobs'. Notice how the CEO favors emphasizing the company brand over "i" this or that in product names. He also shed typical stern look for big, bold -- and frequent -- smiles. This is Cook's day.
I must disagree with colleague Mark Wilson, who last week asserted: "There is no reason for anyone to care about the iPhone 6", which as I write has 124 comments. I'm a big fan of provocative posts, because they engage the readership. But my feelings differ about commentaries that bluster without substance. Mark is absolutely wrong. There is every reason for everyone to care about the next iPhone.
Mark asserts that iPhone "used to be aspirational and high-end. Now the world and his dog has an Apple handset and it's turned from something special into a poor substitute for one of the countless alternatives...The iPhone is run-of-the-mill. It is predictable. It's just plain boring". In many ways, I agree, but his boring assessment is every reason to "care about the iPhone 6".
The Internet is buzzing about celebrity nude photos pilfered from iCloud. The problem is bigger than Apple's security, if breached, which I doubt. Behavior is the larger concern, and how people adapt during the contextual cloud computing era. If your phone automatically syncs pictures or videos to any cloud service -- Google Photos, iCloud, OneDrive, or another -- you must assume that nothing is private.
That personal nude video you shoot on the HandyCam is very different from the one taken on Galaxy S5, iPhone 5s, or another device. I should be stating the obvious, but given pervasive attitudes about the Internet -- where people feel safe browsing in the sanctity of their domicile or WiFi coffee shop -- carelessness must be the presumption. These leaked celeb nudes, if real rather than Photoshopped, are good example. Simple rule: Don't shoot any photos or videos on a cloud-connected device you don't want everyone to see.
A day after I posted "Apple's march of the lemmings", 9to5Mac published Mark Gurman's gripping inside look into Apple's PR strategy. The story, "Seeing Through the Illusion: Understanding Apple's Mastery of the Media", is fine example of the kind of news reporting too often missing on the web today. His multi-section report is well-organized, believably-sourced (even where anonymously), and accurate -- to which I can attest based on my experience dealing with Apple as a journalist. Gurman also validates many of my ongoing complaints about how bloggers and journalists report about the company.
As expressed three-and-a-half years ago, "I am not anti-Apple". But I am against the unquestioning pro-Apple caucus the news media has become. As stated on my birthday in 2011: "My problem isn't Apple, but all the news and misinformation about the company. You can chock up any tone in my Apple posts to them. Someone has to counterbalance this crap".
So the Apple media invites are out, and I am laughing my ass off at how effectively the company manipulates the Fourth and Fifth Estates and how willing are the lemmings to be led. (I got no invite, by the way, and didn't expect one.)
So what? We've got the same venue where Steve Jobs unveiled the Mac in 1984. Thirty-year anniversary. Check. The hall is considerably larger than the two others more typically used. Check. Add them together and you have a writ-storm of speculation -- and soon purported, unconfirmed leaks -- about something really big coming on September 9th.
This summer, I took a break from Chromebook, to conduct an experiment going "Microsoft All-In". After using the browser-based concept for about two years, I even gave up Google products and services for awhile. What terrible timing! There's a sudden shift in the winds, as Chromebook heads away from x86 and towards destination ARM and competing Intel processor Bay Trail. These lower-power consumption, lower-heat producing chips also illuminate new Chromebook form-factors: 13.3-inch displays. The first of these -- from Acer, ASUS, and Samsung -- started shipping in June, July, and August. I tested the ASUS C300.
Like the other two manufacturers, ASUS offers Chromebooks with 11.6-inch and 13.3-inch screens. I review the larger laptop. Both compete with the ARMs by adopting Intel’s Bay Trail processor, which offers similar benefits and performance pitfalls. There's nothing exceptional about the C300, which strangely is a benefit. The laptop's attributes are quite balanced -- design, performance, and price.
Ninth in a series. User experience is an ongoing series of surprises -- discovery of something unexpected and useful when positive and discovery of annoying glitches when negative. Both evoke emotional responses. The latter is devastating as little frustrations build to crescendo. That's the state I near with my "Microsoft All-In" experiment. Dissatisfaction grows.
I started this journey on July 1, after buying Surface Pro 3. The tablet-hybrid promised so much, and my overall experience with the hardware is excellent. I can't say the same about the operating system, web browser, or supporting services. Clunky is good word. Think old car that runs well on the highway but sometimes stutters and stalls at stoplights. The overall UX is nowhere as smooth as Chrome OS or OS X.
I understand that it's the dog days of summer, when news is light, readers vacation, and writers struggle to produce current content. So I'll forgive colleague Mihaita Bamburic, for his misguided attack against Surface Pro 3. He asserts that Microsoft markets the computer to the "wrong crowd". If that would be tech writers, he gets a nod. Otherwise, I shake my head and point a finger.
I've read this misguided diatribe before, from tech reviewers switching to the Microsoft PC from an Apple, but never expected it from him. As someone who has bought and paid for MacBook Air and Surface Pro 3, I say that Microsoft's marketing is spot on target. The problem isn't the potential consumer buyer but geek writers, particularly those already using Macs.
Yesterday, I received an automated call from Barclays Bank warning about suspicious purchases. The number: 877-935-2427. The message asked for the card number to proceed. This morning, my wife received a call from 800-888-8804 indicating our AT&T account had been breached and asking to provide the last four digits of her social security number. We don't have accounts with either company.
Both calls phished for personal information -- something I'm used to by email but not to our cell phones. The proximity -- less than a day apart -- and the first of them ever disturbs me. I don't recall receiving these kinds of bogus calls before. To be clear: You should never give out personal information to automated systems. When there is a legitimate security breach, the service provider will ask for verification information already on file, not request account numbers or any portion of a social security number.
Four years ago, I asserted: "Windows Phone 7 series is a lost cause", and it was. But you gotta give Microsoft credit for persistence. Today the foundation is solid, and app developers are finally starting to notice, like they did in 2004 with Apple's flagship operating system.
But pundits howl like the zombie apocalypse, which is pretty good analogy for mindless Android and iOS users constantly clicking and scrolling. Microsoft's Windows Phone "glance-and-go" design philosophy is all about living beings and interacting with them rather than cold plastic and metal slabs. (Say, isn't that where we lay the dead before burying them?)
It's the question I keep asking, wondering whether to blame the device or my daughter. Last night, she texted: "My screen cracked again. I'm so sorry". That's the third shattered iPhone 5s since May; two 5ers busted before that. Clearly, she's fumble fingers, but something just doesn't seem right. The college student sticks the damn device in a protective case. Did Apple put pretty design before damage durability?
I spent several hours searching for smartphone breakage data today -- on the web and contacting several sources compiling stats. Strangely, the most compelling comparisons are years old. For example, in late 2010, SquareTrade reported that iPhone 4 accidents exceeded the 3GS and devices from competing smartphone manufacturers. In a 2012 survey of 2,000 iPhone users, 30 percent had damaged their device in the previous 12 months.