Twenty-fifth in a series. The App Store saw some excellent releases this week, including two expensive games (by App Store standards) which are well worth the asking price, a powerful email client, a fun, modern day take on an old arcade classic, a superb journaling tool, and an app which can help you take back control of your digital identity.
In other news, all three Infinity Blade games are on sale this holiday weekend. The original Infinity Blade is now $0.99, Infinity Blade 2 is $1.99 and Infinity Blade 3 is priced at $2.99. If you don’t have any or all of these games, now is your chance to right that wrong.
Samsung’s Galaxy Gear has been handed a rotten assessment by Apple’s gadget-loving co-founder Steve Wozniak.
The man who started up the technology behemoth with Steve Jobs complained that the smartwatch doesn’t offer the convenience he was hoping and within half a day it was up on eBay ready to be sold at a bargain price.
WinZip has released WinZip for iOS 3.5, a major update to its iOS app for managing zip files on an iPhone or iPad. The latest version of the app, which is heavily discounted to just $1.99 until July 2nd, allows users to zip, extract, encrypt and share zip files safely.
Version 3.5 opens with added support for two new cloud-based storage accounts, with users now able to directly access both Google Drive and OneDrive accounts in addition to Dropbox.
Speaking at a press event as part of Samsung's Business Discovery Day, Jae Shin, the vice president of Samsung's Knox mobile security business group, said that wearable devices will take off with or without Apple's help.
Historically, the hype surrounding the launch of a new Apple product has provided the kick-start for interest in a new type of technology. This has previously been the case for smartphones and tablet computers, thanks to the iPhone and iPad, respectively.
Samsung Galaxy S5 may face stiff competition from the likes of HTC One (M8), LG G3 and Sony Xperia Z2, but it is doing quite well sales-wise in major markets, according to a report released today by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. Apple's older iPhone 5s, however, still edges ahead.
"In the USA the Samsung Galaxy S5 was the second highest selling smartphone in May just behind the iPhone 5s", says Kantar Worldpanel ComTech global strategic insight director Dominic Sunnebo. "Apple loyalty is high in the US, with former iPhone owners making up just 8 percent of Galaxy S5 sales. The majority of those switching to Samsung were LG and HTC users".
Apple makes some wonderful hardware, like MacBooks, iPads and iPhones to name a few. Plus, its OS X and iOS operating systems are well-designed and rock solid. However, the company's apps and programs are rather hit or miss.
iWork used to be a very capable office suite. Sure, it was not as good as Microsoft Office, but it got the job done. Last year, Apple updated iWork and while it looked pretty, much of its functionality was removed. The same was done to Final Cut Pro X in 2011. In other words, Apple seems to be focusing more on casual users than professionals. Today, the company kills popular photography program Aperture which continues this trend of dumbing down its own software.
Twenty-fourth in a series. Apple refreshed its aging iPod touch lineup this week, introducing a new 16GB model with an iSight camera, and lowered the price of the existing models. If you’ve been tempted to pick up an iPod touch, but were put off by the price, now is the time to go for it.
The App Store saw some excellent releases this week, including a free app which lets you store unlimited photos and videos in the cloud, a Ministry of Silly Walks game voiced by John Cleese, a travel app that covers everything from planning to booking, an origami based puzzle game, and a slot machine that lets you put pictures of friends and family on the reels. And that’s just for starters!
Last week Apple quietly introduced a new entry-level iMac. This week it’s added a new entry-level iPod touch to the Apple Store, and slashed the price of existing models.
The new iPod touch comes with 16GB of storage, a 5-megapixel, 1080p rear iSight camera and color-matched wrist strap loop. It’s priced at $199. The price of the 32 and 64GB models have been slashed to $249 and $299 from $299 and $399 respectively.
It is no secret Microsoft is marketing its new Surface Pro 3 Windows 8.1 hybrid as a direct rival to Apple's venerable MacBook Air ultrabook. As someone who owns the latter of the two I can see why. Both are premium devices that are similarly priced (Surface Pro 3 is more expensive, however, when purchased with Type Cover) and offered in near-identical configurations, power-wise, which yield comparable battery life (MacBook Air is better in this regard, even if only by mere hours). However, as I wrote in a past article, Surface Pro 3 offers extra features, like a touchscreen and tablet credentials, which can, arguably, make it more appealing.
As I said before, Microsoft's best chance of persuading MacBook Air users to switch to Surface Pro 3 is come upgrade time, as, right now at least, this upgrade, as appealing as it may be for those willing to dump OS X for Windows, is not worth the cost penalty. Microsoft appears to be aware of this, as it launched a new trade-in offer for MacBook Air owners. And, unexpectedly I might add, the Surface Pro 3 maker offers quite a bit in return.
Third in a series. In business perception is everything. Many companies succeed or fail not because their products are great but their brands are perceived to be that way. Apple is a remarkable perception manager. Consider iPhone 5s, which features and benefits fall far behind many competing devices. Rather than innovate, the fruit-logo launches an evocative marketing campaign -- "You're more powerful than you think" -- that makes the smartphone look better. Improved. The ads are compelling because they communicate: Your life will be better, you shall achieve your dreams, by buying iPhone 5s.
Meanwhile, competitors like Microsoft truly innovate and take the kind of risks that once defined Apple. Last year I asked: "Will 2013 be another year of Apple iteration masquerading as innovation?" Yes, and halfway into another year, little is changed. The answer is the same. Last month I explained "Why Apple no longer innovates". OS X Yosemite and iOS X 8 are prettier, but so what? Meanwhile, Windows 8/8.1 is a radical rethinking of the platform -- as is Surface, which delivers refreshing change to computing. What's that long-forgotten Yellow Pages tagline? Let your fingers do the walking. They do on Surface.
"Abandonware". It’s the scourge of the industry. Every time a vendor abandons a software product, a puppy dies. Or an orphan. Or a Java developer.
Regardless, nobody likes to see their favorite app/game/platform get left behind. It’s the worst kind of techie betrayal. You spend days, weeks or even months mastering a product only to have the virtual rug pulled out from under you.
Hate all you want, but Skype is awesome. The fact that it is supported on like, everything makes it one of the best video chat solutions. It works on Linux, Android, Windows Phone, iOS, OS X -- it is the bomb. Microsoft shows no favoritism to platform when this software is concerned.
Today however, in a bit of shocking news, Microsoft announces that in an effort to move everyone to the newest version of Skype, it will be retiring older versions for Windows and Mac. Does this mean that outdated versions will move to Florida and join AARP? No, well...maybe. Actually, it is not at all clear what retirement means in this case.
Both Microsoft and Google have agreed to add a kill switch their mobile operating systems. Following an agreement with the New York Attorney General, the next versions of Windows Phone and Android will include a feature that will render handsets useless if they are stolen. The attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, published a report yesterday outlining the importance of such a feature, and revealed that two of the biggest names in technology are on-board.
It's something that authorities have been calling for for some time now, citing the sheer number of mobile phone thefts taking place around the world. Schneiderman's report points to Apple as proof of the efficacy of a kill switch. Thefts of iPhones dropped by 17 percent in New York City after the introduction of a remote wiping and locking feature. The Secure Our Smartphones report took fire at Samsung. The company had opted not to include a kill switch, and thefts of Samsung handsets jumped by 40 percent in NYC. "Reactivation Lock" has since been implemented on a small number of new Galaxy handsets.
You might recall that we recently reviewed the ChargeKey and ChargeCard USB charging gadgets. These are now being relaunched with an updated design using more durable materials and have had a name change to NomadKey and NomadCard -- though we’re guessing they won't recharge your camel.
There's also an extra product, the carabiner-style NomadClip that you can fit on your key chain, belt or anywhere else to ensure you’re never without a charger. It’s non-load bearing but with a steel frame and polycarbonate outer shell it should be tough enough to survive life's day-to-day knocks.
Amazon today unveiled the latest entrant to the smartphone race -- the Fire phone. The handset continues the Fire name that is more readily associated with Amazon's range of Android tablets, and it has a few tricks up its sleeve to make it stand out from the competition. A press event in Seattle brought to an end weeks of rumor and speculation as the phone, which features Dynamic Perspective that allows for maps and other images to be displayed in three dimensions, was revealed.
Run by four ultra-low power specialized cameras and four infrared LEDs, Dynamic Perspective has numerous uses. One application makes it possible for users to gain a different perspective on an image or object on screen by moving their heads. In games, a move of the head can be used to switch views, and there is scope for unique navigation options within apps. Some applications are slightly simpler, and mimic those found in other handsets such as Samsung's Galaxy range. For example, auto-scroll allows for easy reading of lengthy documents and web pages without the need for swiping.