We're entering the season of giving and receiving, and it's safe to assume that one of the most popular electronic gifts this year will be tablets. With three key platforms to choose from, various price-points, different sizes, and a bewildering array of manufacturers, which one should you opt for? One factor that's well worth considering is durability.
SquareTrade, a company offering extended warranties on electronic devices, has drop-tested ten of the most popular tablets to see which can handle the abuse. The results might surprise you. Perhaps most startling is how poorly some of the big names fared.
The two words "app store" might seem like a fairly generic reference to some kind of outlet at which one might expect to purchase apps, but it is a term that is most associated with Apple. Back in March of last year, Apple attempted to trademark the term in Australia, but the Registrar of Trade Marks refused the application.
Never one to give up without a fight, the company lodged an appeal with the Federal Court. Rather than rethinking the original decision, the court threw out the appeal so other companies are free to use the term without fear of legal repercussions.
While I keep the list short this year, it wouldn't be U.S. Thanksgiving without my writing about gratitude, and why some tech company's executives, employees, and partners should prostrate and pray "Thanks".
Let's start off with Google, which continues a great run that started with Larry Page's return as CEO in April 2011. If he's not all smiles this Turkey Day, someone should slap that man aside the head. I could tick off a hundred things for which he should give thanks. For brevity's sake, so you can get back to the big game and bigger bird, I select some things that might not come to mind.
The tablet market could be slowing down after years of growth, according to industry estimates, with Apple's iPad set to be hardest hit.
Research firm IDC projects that total tablet shipments globally are set to increase by only 7.2 percent this year, compared with 52.5 percent growth in 2013.
Despite what many people say, size does matter; well... at least when it comes to screen-size and productivity. Sure, a large screen limits portability, but it also makes it easier to do work and multi-task.
Tablets became wildly popular, in part, because they had larger screens than smartphones. With that said, the Phablet craze has created smartphones with such large screens, that it can limit the allure of tablets like the iPad. Some analysts and pundits predicted that the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus would cannibalize iPad sales and use. Well, a new study by the company behind the popular Pocket app, shows that the latter may be true.
Take a browse through Apple's App Store and you'll notice something interesting: there are no free apps for Mac, iPhone and iPad any more. Or at least you'd be forgiven for thinking that was the case. Rather than trying to entice people into downloading apps by emblazoning a sexy "Free" button next to them, Apple now opts for a more descriptive "Get" button.
This does not mean that free apps now cost money, but it does mean that the apps you download may cost you money further down the line. Confused? The rewording of the download buttons seems to have come about because of regulators in Europe expressing disapproval that apps previously labeled as free could lead to large bills via in-app purchases.
The iPad is a wonderful tablet that people love the world over. Sure, Apple has its detractors, and people tend to focus on the deficiencies of the iPad, but its continued popularity is no fluke; it is enjoyable and useful with a ton of great apps. Unfortunately, the tablet's power is limited by its form factor. In other words, other than Microsoft's Surface line, the average tablet cannot stand on its own or be positioned for comfortable desk typing.
Case manufacturers have enabled some brilliant solutions for making the iPad more versatile, and Logitech has been on the forefront in that regard. In fact, Logitech has garnered quite the praise and respect from the iPad community for its cases and keyboards. Today, Logitech continues this tradition, with the attractive Logitech AnyAngle case. It is compatible with the iPad Air 2 and all models of the iPad mini.
It seems that Apple is in update mode today. As well as the launch of the OS X Yosemite 10.10.1 update, today also sees the release of iOS 8.1.1. The focus this time around is not really on delivering exciting new features, or even fixing glaring problems, but keeping owners of older devices happy. Aging iPads and iPhones are in for a treat as there are performance boosts to look forward to.
Pre-iPad 2 owners miss out, but the update is available for iPad 2 and newer a well as iPhone 4s and newer. Apple is yet to publish a changelog for the update, but check for an update on your idevice and you'll see a brief description about what to expect.
In the classic movie Rambo: First Blood, Col. Trautman tells John Rambo, "It's over Johnny. It's over!", to which Rambo exclaims, "Nothing is over! Nothing! You just don't turn it off!" While the interaction is actually regarding Rambo's trouble leaving the Vietnam War in the past, it actually sounds like something an ex-iPhone user would say about iMessage. You see, Apple's messaging platform has been historically difficult to eliminate from one's life -- leading to missed text messages and overall frustration.
Sadly, this has been a huge inconvenience for quite a while, but Apple is finally rectifying the cause of Android-converts' indignation. Today, the company introduces a new tool called "Deregister iMessage". Those that have ditched the iPhone should check it out as soon as possible.
When Microsoft released Office for iPad, it was immediately popular and shot to the top of the app charts. This was hardly surprising, as people had been hoping for it ever since Apple's tablet was released. Sure, Apple's iWork solutions are fine, but Office is, well...Office. It is the gold standard for getting things done.
The problem was, while the apps were free, editing was not. You see, downloading Word, Excel and PowerPoint cost nothing, but it did not function as consumers had hoped. Only viewing office documents is a frustrating experience -- people want to edit too. The solution for this was to become an Office 365 subscriber, which unlocked the full potential of the software. While many recognized the value in being a subscriber, it is a hard sell when Apple's offerings are much more affordable (or free with a new iPad). Microsoft responded by making editing a free feature and all are happy right? Not so; what about the people who already paid? Great news, you can get a refund now!
As a web user it's very easy to feel like just another cog in the financial machine. Visit just about any website and you'll encounter ads. These generate revenue that's needed to pay for developers, writers, servers and so on, but the likes of YouTube, which rely on user-generated content, can quickly generate large profits thanks to the costs to revenue margins. Now video streaming service Hang w/ is bucking the trend and sharing profits with its users.
The platform exists as an iOS and Android app, and enables users to broadcast to users around the world as well as conducting video chats. It has managed to earn itself celebrity endorsement from the likes of Cheech and Chong (oh, yes), 50 Cent, Soulja Boy, Timbaland, and Ultimate Poker, and has helped to drive 22 million downloads for major shareholder MEDL Mobile. Recognizing the fact that it is users creating content, Hang w/ now shares 25 percent of its advertising revenue with users.
In an effort to drum up awareness about its Surface Pro 3 slate, Microsoft has been dishing out devices free to every TV show and broadcaster going, often sponsoring shows (aka filling them with incongruous product placement) and handing over cash to get the message out.
Unfortunately the message that seems to be coming across a fair bit lately is that the recipients prefer iPads. The CNN news team has certainly found a good use for the promotional Surfaces that Microsoft paid them to use -- the devices apparently make a good wall, behind which it’s possible to use Apple’s tablet surreptitiously on air. And as one newsreader discovered, Microsoft Surface also makes a wonderful stand to rest an iPad against.
On May 15, 2001, while previewing the first Apple Store to analysts and journalists, then CEO Steve Jobs boasted: "Apple has about 5 percent market share today", but the remainder "don't even consider us". Jobs exaggerated, and not for the first time, seeing as how Mac global share was more like 2 percent. But the ambition, to use the retail shops to "double our market share", was achievable. Three years following his death, with 10-percent long ago reached in the United States, something more startling occurred: During calendar Q3 2014, Apple moved into fifth place for global PC shipments, according to IDC. The question is why?
I have wondered for weeks, and waited until Apple's quarterly earnings report before writing an analysis. By my math, the average selling price of Macs was about $1,200 -- that in a PC market where sales are sluggish, at best, except below $300 selling price. Yet, according to financial disclosures, Apple shipped a record 5.5 million Macs, with units up 21 percent annually and 25 percent sequentially and generating $6.625 billion revenue; that's an increase of 18 percent and 20 percent, respectively, for the same time periods. Who in the hell is buying these things, and for so much money? The answer may surprise you.
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.
Sarah Perez makes the point before I could (oh lazy me): "Apple announces too many iPads". That's the most sensible take on tablets launched last week, and over the weekend copycat stories started posting. Strange thing, there's nothing new about iPad configuration complexity. The number of base SKUs, while way too many, increases by just two.
I first harped on Apple's "too many problem", following iPad mini's introduction two years ago, observing: "It's a crowded lineup, with overlapping features and prices not seen from Apple since the early- to mid-1990s". Crowded is understatement. The mini jacked up the number of basic configurations from eight to 14. However, when looking at all available SKUs, including two colors and carrier-specific models, the number jumped to 54.