One of the main reasons why smartwatches are a tough sell today is battery life. Consumers expect them to work for a very long period of time on a single charge when, in reality, they only last for a day or two. It is no surprise then that, coupled with other issues related to the user experience, most people could not care less about them.
Not even the long-awaited Apple Watch looks like it will be able to match our expectations. When Tim Cook unveiled the device last month he left out details regarding battery life, which we took as a sign that we should not get our hopes up. A statement that Apple's CEO just made at the WSJ.D conference confirms our concerns.
Anyone who has ever used a modern-day Mac will tell you that Apple gets its trackpads right. Sure, they look nice and feel great to the touch, but, most importantly, they are also properly supported in OS X. It offers myriad gestures to help users navigate as efficiently as if they were using a mouse. In fact, the trackpad is designed to feel like an integral part of the system, not as a bolt-on, as there are lots of things that can be done faster with it, like locating a window or opening the notifications panel.
The same cannot be said about Windows PC trackpads. They truly feel like bolt-ons. And it is not because they are poorly put together, but rather because the drivers never seem to be good enough to reveal the trackpads' true potential. Microsoft, however, wants to change that in Windows 10, as the upcoming operating system will support Mac-like trackpad gestures. Finally.
OnePlus One has attracted lots of attention from the media and consumers without even being generally available, as virtually every other flagship smartphone is today. Many have chosen to play by the company's rules, asking and waiting for the invites which give them the option to purchase the device. It's a pretty unusual way of selling and buying smartphones, but it seems to have only boosted One's appeal.
If you have not yet had the chance to buy One, you should know that today OnePlus is making it generally available to pre-order, as it temporarily drops its invite-only system to get One in the hands of more consumers.
The mobile device market is extremely diverse judging by the number of companies which sell smartphones and tablets today. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of vendors worldwide. On the other hand, when it comes to mobile processors, there are only a handful of companies which make them. Of those, even fewer are also handset vendors and even fewer still are well known by the average consumers: Apple and Samsung.
It is tough to make a splash in the mobile processor market, as top players such as Qualcomm and Apple are so far ahead in the game that it is very difficult for a new player to catch up and compete on equal footing with the leaders. LG, however, is not afraid to give it a try, as it just unveiled its first in-house mobile processor. And the South Korean maker is not wasting any time as it has already put it to use in its new G3 Screen phablet.
Microsoft officially announced today that the Nokia branding will not be used in conjunction with its future Windows Phones. The software giant will sell its upcoming smartphones as Microsoft Lumias. However, it will continue to make use of Nokia's name for dumb phones.
The tech media may act surprised, but, in fact, we have known that this was bound to happen for more than a year. In early-September 2013, when the sale of Nokia's Devices & Services to Microsoft was announced, the terms revealed that the software giant would eventually have to drop the Nokia branding.
Microsoft app launches are usually predictable. Most are offerings which aim to get us hooked on the software giant's most-prominent products, like Office, OneDrive, Outlook.com and Xbox. But, every once in a while, Microsoft does something out of the ordinary, like it wants to tell the world that, much like startups, it too is capable of intriguing and exciting things.
After launching a lovely keyboard for Android Wear, Microsoft just released a whole bunch of apps for Android, iOS and Windows Phone, made by an in-house team of "hackers, makers, artists, tinkerers, musicians, inventors" called Microsoft Garage. The most interesting offerings are Torque, which my colleague Brian Fagioli just covered, and two lockscreen apps, for Android and Windows Phone.
With Android 5.0 Lollipop yet to be released, some manufacturers have already revealed their upgrade plans for the latest version of the mobile operating system, effectively setting a high bar for the rest of the pack. You can thank HTC, Motorola and Sony for doing so last week. In fact, HTC and Motorola consistently rank among the first in this regard, and when it comes to rolling out those software updates to their customers' devices as well.
Not to be outdone by its far-distant competition, top maker Samsung wants us to know that it too has some upgrade plans for Android 5.0 Lollipop. But, instead of actually showing them, it has posted a rather lame teaser on Twitter, regarding Galaxy Note 4. Pundits have fallen for it, writing that the much-awaited software update is fast-approaching. Really?
HERE's upcoming availability for Samsung Galaxy smartphones was announced in late-August, and, at first, it appeared to be an exclusive launch. But, shortly after, Nokia's arm revealed that the app would actually be made available for every compatible Android smartphone "later this year".
HERE launched in beta for Samsung Galaxy smartphones only two weeks ago. For a first public release, the amount of features available is rather impressive, even for someone like me who is used to the fully-featured HERE suite on Windows Phone. And, now, everyone with an Android smartphone running any of the three Jelly Bean iterations or newer can also test what HERE has to offer (as long as the device has 1 GB of RAM or more), as the app's availability is extending beyond Galaxy smartphones.
With Android 5.0 Lollipop, Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 on the horizon, as well as some great Android devices already on the market, some of you may be thinking about ditching iOS for Android. It is unquestionably a big decision, so you may want to ensure that the switch from an iPhone or iPad will be as painless as possible.
To help with the switch, Google has prepared a nifty guide that explains how you can migrate your data from iOS to Android, tackling key areas such as multimedia content, contacts, email, messaging and, of course, apps. You may recall that Apple posted a similar guide last month, detailing to would-be customers the steps they need to take to move from Android handsets to iPhones. Google now looks to simply be returning the favor.
Samsung today announces that flagship Galaxy smartphones and tablets are now approved by the US government for complete classified use within its agencies. The handsets have received the stamp of approval in no small part due to the security features made available by the built-in KNOX suite.
The announcement comes less than six months after Samsung revealed that a smaller number of its other KNOX-toting Galaxy devices have received the green light from the US Department of Defense, to be used on unclassified defense networks.
On Android, setting up email services other than Gmail involves using the built-in Email app or heading over to Google Play to install dedicated clients. But it looks like users may soon get another option, as Google will likely offer support for more email providers, like Outlook.com and Yahoo Mail, in its upcoming Gmail 5.0 app.
This appears to be Google's way of ensuring that Android users will finally be able to enjoy a consistent email experience no matter what device they may use or what customizations and apps the operating system features. It is a welcome change, and one that is long overdue.
Today is a big day for both Apple and Samsung, as the two are launching their latest flagships in three of the largest smartphone markets: iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus officially hit China, and Galaxy Note 4 arrives in US and UK. It's a "finally" moment in both cases, as the handsets were announced more than a month ago.
For Apple, having its new iPhones officially available for sale in China, the largest smartphone market, is a huge opportunity to boost sales in what could very well be its best quarter of the year. The pair had to launch later in China this year, due to regulatory hurdles. Among other things, the local government has forced Apple to beef up the security of iOS 8 to give the new iPhones its nod of approval.
There are times when you may want to avoid using App Store or the built-in recovery mode to install OS X 10.10 Yosemite. So, Apple continues to give you the option of creating a bootable USB drive. You can use it anytime and anywhere to get the operating system running, quickly, on any compatible Mac. An Internet connection is not even required as everything you need is already on it.
Creating a bootable OS X 10.10 Yosemite USB drive is very easy. All you need is a Mac, as the tools provided for the process are only available in OS X, and a USB drive with a capacity of 8 GB (or more, depending on what you have lying around), as the setup file is rather large. I will also explain how to use a dedicated third-party tool, in case you decide that this option suits you better.
Remember those predictions about tablets taking over the world and putting good-old PCs out to pasture? Well, scratch that, as it is not happening, at least not in the foreseeable future. Sales are slowing this year, dramatically. The slate market is estimated to only grow by 11 percent, year-over-year, in 2014, falling short of the 55 percent increase that was registered in 2013. So why is this happening?
Well, if you ask Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, it is because "tablets are not smartphones". Giving the US market as example, Kantar Worldpanel ComTech highlights the fundamental differences between the two categories, pointing to long replacement cycles, impersonal nature, resilience and low perceived value of tablets as the main reasons for the sales slowdown.
We have known for quite some time that the next incarnation of Android will pack a kill switch. This feature has long been requested, as it would prevent unauthorized reuse and, therefore, make a serious dent in smartphone and tablet theft. It is even imposed under Californian law, going into effect next year. But even though Google has not mentioned it yet, the kill switch is indeed baked into Android 5.0 Lollipop.
The kill switch in Android 5.0 Lollipop is officially known as "Factory reset protection", and is offered as an opt-in feature which only works in conjunction with a passcode. After it is enabled, the user's credentials (Google account and password) are required in order to reset the device, to allow a person other than the original user to use the device as intended.