What do you want to see most on the new iPhone 6 (if you care about Apple's upcoming device, that is)?
That was the question posed by Usell.com in a poll of a thousand mobile owners across the US, and the resoundingly top response was the much talked-about sapphire screen. 45 percent of respondents said they wanted a super-tough sapphire display, with 50 percent of Android and iPhone users saying they would ditch their current smartphone for the iPhone 6 if it came with such a screen.
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.
Let's cut to the chase. No, they shouldn't. The iPhone used to be exciting and interesting. It 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. This is not to say that the popularity of the device in itself makes it less appealing, but it certainly seems to have made Apple lazy. Innovation has gone out of the window. We've had the same design for the handset for what seems like an eternity. It looks as though there might be something of a change in style this time around, but is this really enough to make the iPhone exciting -- or even interesting -- once again?
By far the biggest problem with the iPhone is the lack of choice. While Android users (and even Windows Phone fans) have a huge number of handsets to choose from, the same cannot be said of those sucking on Apple's teat. Things did improve slightly when the 2013 iPhones were released, but you're still stuck, essentially, with two phones to choose from -- the really expensive over-hyped one, or the pale imitation wannabe version. Some choice. To be clear… I've been an iPhone owner. It's a functional phone, but Christ it's dull.
In California, a bill has been passed that will require smartphone manufacturers to include a kill switch in their handsets. The bill states that "any smartphone, as defined, that is manufactured on or after July 1, 2015, and sold in California after that date, include a technological solution at the time of sale, which may consist of software, hardware, or both software and hardware, that, once initiated and successfully communicated to the smartphone, can render inoperable the essential features, as defined, of the smartphone to an unauthorized user when the smartphone is not in the possession of an authorized user". It's a lengthy description, but it means the kill switch that many people have been asking for for so long is becoming a reality in another state.
This is not the first time a kill switch bill has been passed -- Minnesota did something similar back in May. The SB 926, Leno Smartphones bill in California is rather more far-reaching and comes partly in response to the statistic that between 30 and 40 percent of robberies in major US cities are smartphone robberies. Once activated, the kill switch will prevent a phone from being registered on a wireless network, and cannot be bypassed even with a hard reset. In the event of theft, a user will also be able to remotely wipe their device to protect any private information they may have stored on it.
Think about wearable tech and your mind probably jumps to watches first. V.BTTN is a little different. It's a programmable button that links smartphones, tablets and computers via Bluetooth and it can then be used to trigger all manner of events. Looking for a remote shutter trigger for your smartphone? V.BTTN can do that for you. Need a remote control to start and stop recording? Got that covered too. The device comes from VSN Mobil and is available now for $59.99. It's one of those pieces of hardware billed as having virtually limitless possibilities, but this is one instance where the claim is justified.
What the button does depends entirely on the app you decide to link it to. It's slightly more advanced than just "hit the button" -- there are short and long press options, as well as gesture support thanks to a built-in accelerometer. As standard, V.BTTN is just a button. You can stick it in your pocket or bag and carry it around with you if you like, but there are also a number of accessories.
It's a simple question, with no apparent simple answer. A Nielsen report has shed some light on the matter, revealing that Android smartphone and iPhone users, on average, use 26.8 apps per month. But, without knowing the context, it is impossible to accurately determine what it actually translates into.
If that's 26.8 apps out of 30, the usage rate is close to 100 percent, but if it's 26.8 apps out of 100, the usage rate is close to 30 percent. A new infographic, courtesy of Yahoo Aviate and Yahoo Labs, adds some much-needed context into the picture, but does it offer an accurate answer to that question?
Microsoft, it is time to reconsider your Windows Phone plans. The tiled smartphone operating system's market share came in at a tiny 2.7 percent in Q2 2014, dropping from the 3.8 percent it claimed in the same period of last year. As a result, Windows Phone saw a 28.94 percent decrease year-over-year in market share, caused by low shipments of only 8.0 million units in the second quarter of the year, 0.9 million units less than in Q2 2013 when its shipments were at the 8.9 million units mark.
The data is from a new report issued by research firm Strategy Analytics, which adds "Windows Phone continued to struggle in the United States and China", the first two largest smartphone markets worldwide. There, Kantar Worldpanel ComTech places the platform at 3.8 percent and 0.9 percent market share, respectively. That is lower than in other markets such as Australia, where Windows Phone was able to reach 5.3 percent market in Q2 2014, as well as some parts of Europe.
The competition is heating up in the smartphone space, as, in Q3 2014, a dozen vendors have what it takes to shake up the top five smartphone makers list, according to a new report from research firm IDC. Judging by the standing from Q2 2014, the likely players in danger of losing their spots are Huawei, Lenovo and LG.
Samsung and Apple continue to be in a position of strength, with the two being responsible for 25.2 percent (74.3 million) and 11.9 percent (35.1 million), respectively, of the 295.3 million smartphones shipped in the quarter that ended June 30. That said, both lost market share compared to Q2 2013, when they claimed 32.3 percent and 13 percent, respectively, thanks to shipments of 77.3 million and 31.2 million units, respectively.
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.
When I go for runs, my iPhone always comes with me, providing music and motivation through apps like Zombies, Run! Usually I just jam the device in my pocket, but that's not always possible, or practical. There are other ways to carry your phone with you, including using armbands, but SlimClip offers an alternative option.
The plastic case has a thin flap on the back. You lift this up to slide the iPhone into the enclosure, and the flap doubles as a clip so you can attach the device to your waistband. It's a simple, but very clever idea that works well.
My colleague Alan Buckingham has already detailed the different hardware he switches to when the weather warms up. He makes his changes to escape his hot office environment, but I have a rather different reason for swapping devices in the summer.
I work in a basement office. It’s a very nice basement office -- it used to be a call center in the days before I moved in -- but the temperature rarely changes throughout the year down there and the lack of windows means the different seasons have very little impact on me. I’m unaware of when it’s snowing in winter, or more importantly, when it’s gloriously sunny in summer. So on days when I know the weather is nice, I move outside, so I don’t miss the sunshine, and get a welcome (and much needed) dose of vitamin D.
Phones hit the headlines for lots of reasons -- the biggest, the most expensive, the shiniest, or just the newest. We live in times in which security and privacy are major concerns for people in all walks of life. The activities of the NSA, as revealed by Edward Snowden, served only to heighten paranoia -- the prospect of having one's phone calls and text messages intercepted is something that fills few people with joy. Enter Vysk communicastions' Vysk QS1 phone case which can be used with an iPhone 5 or 5s, and a Samsung Galaxy S5 or S4. The selling point here is that it's not just your phone that's protected, but also your privacy.
The privacy features come in mechanical and software forms. On the mechanical front there are "shutters" that can be used to obscure your phone's front and rear cameras, and there's also a jamming system for microphones. This is described by Vysk as "Lockdown Mode", but you can take things a step further. For $9.95 you can subscribe to "Private Call Mode". This introduces encryption to your texts and phone calls, with an onboard processor taking care of encryption on the fly and sent via the Vysk encrypted network. As Vysk puts it: "No one -- not even Vysk -- will know the identity of the caller or the recipient. No data is collected -- no phone numbers, call times or content - so there is no data to record. Because nothing is recorded, nothing is at risk."
Hitting the road means luggage, and luggage is a pain -- all that… stuff… to carry from place to place. Traveling light can help to make the journey less of a chore, but there are some things that simply have to be packed: no self-respecting technology fan would go on vacation without taking a raft of devices with them. But devices need power, and this means chargers are needed. iPhones, MP3 players, Android tablets, iPads, digital cameras, Chromebooks, and countless other devices all need power -- and that means a lot of chargers.
We just took a look at the Lumsing DCH-5U 5-Port USB Travel Wall Charger which enables you to leave the chargers at home and charge up to five devices simultaneously from a single power point. And we have one to give away!
A few weeks ago I took a look at Lumsing's harmonica battery pack. Now from the same stables comes the lengthily titled DCH-5U 5-Port USB Travel Wall Charger. This is a slightly different twist on the idea of providing power to travellers' devices -- this is a wall charger rather than a portable battery pack. If you're going on vacation, taking a trip, or even just hitting the office, there are your devices to consider. Your phone, tablet, MP3 player, and other bits and pieces all need power, all need their own charger.
Except they don’t. Leave all of your chargers at home, and just take a selection of USB cables -- this 5-port hub allows for up to five USB devices (obviously) to be charged from a single wall power point. The 31W/6.2A unit has two 5V 1A ports for phones, and three 5V 2A ports for tablets and devices with higher power demands. Oddly, the ports are labelled, left to right, iPad, iPad, Samsung Tab, iPhone, and Android. It would have made more sense to simply indicate which of the five were the high-powered ports, but this is a minor niggle in the grand scheme of things.
The Tour de France 2014 has just kicked off in Yorkshire, England, where 198 top riders will spend the next two days battling through 120 miles of beautiful countryside.
If you’re a cycling fan then you really should be there. But if that’s not possible -- or you’re just inspired by what you see -- then you can get into the spirit of the event with Tour de Yorkshire, a fun free iPhone and iPad game.