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.
The world's most lively pop-culture event reaches the half-way mark today. Four glorious days of geekdom concludes tomorrow at 5 pm PDT, but there's lots to come before the end. Saturday is typically Comic-Con's busiest and brightest day. With the masquerade ball coming tonight, cosplayers will be everywhere. I reflected on "the roles we play" three years ago and adapted the post into the introduction to my book Comic-Con Heroes: The Fans Who Make the Greatest Show on Earth.
About 130,000 make the pop-culture pilgrimage. They come for all different reasons. Some love comics. Others want to see their favorites stars, close up or in celebrity panels. Collectibles draw many people -- those free or purchased. Others want to meet those whom they idolize, which might be getting an autograph from an actor or chatting with an artist. Then there are the artists, writers, and other storytellers who want to learn something that will turn what they love into successful careers. But most attendees share something in common: They are fans. Many are geeks, while others see themselves as misfits -- non-conformists who aspire for something greater.
Overnight, AT&T U-verse went dark in the Wilcox household. We're cord cutters once more. A year ago, we let the service go for about two weeks but returned after Cox Internet failed to deliver constant connection. When going back to AT&T for just the Net, the company made an offer I couldn't refuse: Hundreds of channels, HD, DVR, and Internet for $99 a month. Cost would be $69 without the television service.
But with Game of Thrones and Walking Dead behind, and the 12-month contract expired (yesterday), streaming is once again high on the thrifty list. I made several phone calls looking for an AT&T deal that would keep us customers, but no offer matched Cox, which guarantees pricing for a year without locking me into any commitment. We set up service about 10 days ago, hoping the Internet would stop yo-yoing around.
Eighth in a series. What goes around comes around. It's cliché but describes my return to Nokia after abandoning the brand five years ago. I never expected to come back, and the app experience, while a backwater compared to Android or iOS, is little different than when I left. Cameras are great and app selection limited, but it's hugely improved because of Microsoft.
Nokia was in 2009 still the world's mobile handset leader, except for one major market: The United States. As such, Symbian dominated mobile app development, even as iOS rose in prominence. (Remember: Apple opened its app store in July 2008, and the first Android phone shipped a few months later.) But the majority of apps and supporting services, developed by Nokia and third-parties, best suited the rest of the world. Americans had limited choices on the company's handsets.
In February, I foolishly spent 50-odd bucks for QPlay, the streaming TV player for iPad, which I used with the Air. The user experience was terrible from the start and never got better over the miserable months that followed. Slow. Stuttering. Stopped.
Today, the startup sent me email that the service bustup. Doors close July 25, so lend your QPlay to your worst enemy while you still can for some streaming mayhem and frustration.