Yesterday, Apple announced a minor refresh to their iPad portfolio, with improvements mostly focused on Touch ID and a thinner footprint. In many ways, this did feel like this was a "placeholder" upgrade. The new iPads would certainly appeal to loyalists, but they don't seem to target the primary reasons behind the recent slowdown.
The slowdown in iPad sales (or high-end tablet sales, in general) was caused by three factors -- 1) Increasing overlap in use cases of large screen smartphones (or phablets) and tablets, 2) Inability to move downmarket, despite lower iPad Mini prices, because of competitive reasons highlighted in the chart above, and 3) Limited upmarket mobility because of a lack of developer focus around productivity.
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.
It is estimated that one in three smartphones shipped in 2018 will be a phablet, which is more than double their projected share for 2014. For Google -- with Android still likely to run on the majority of phablets -- helping developers to properly optimize their apps for larger screens has become a top priority. Ensuring that Android phablets provide a great user experience is paramount; otherwise, users may jump ship to Apple's iPhones or Microsoft's Windows Phones.
So, today, Google takes the wraps off its first phablet, Nexus 6. It is the embodiment of all the great features we have come to expect out of a phablet from late-2014: super high-resolution screen, super fast processor, solid cameras, very thin bezels and a huge battery. As expected, Google also announced a new tablet, the first one to come since July 2013, called Nexus 9. It does not disappoint either. Of course, both run the new Android 5.0 Lollipop, which is shipping in the next few weeks.
Microsoft Surface Pro 3 is one of the greatest tablets for content creators. It can run full-blown software like AutoCAD, Lightroom, Office and Photoshop because Windows 8.1 runs the show, it rivals ultrabooks in the speed department, can double as a laptop with a Type Cover attached, offers good battery life thanks to efficient processors and, on top of all this, ships with a neat stylus as well, out-of-the-box, which Microsoft calls Surface Pen.
Surface Pen is a precise input tool, which comes in handy when users want to draw, sketch or take notes, for instance. Still, for those who would like to make the stylus even more precise in operation can turn to Microsoft's new app, Surface Hub, to adjust pressure sensitivity, among other things.
We're increasingly becoming a digital society, yet almost one in five people in the UK lack digital skills and 52 percent of those are aged over 65.
There are quite a few computer manufacturers nowadays, and many of them release products of varying quality. However, there is one that seems to consistently produce computers that are extremely well-built and functional -- Lenovo. Not only do the manufacturer's laptops and tablets have great build-quality, but the designs seem well thought-out and innovative.
One of my favorite product lines from Lenovo is Yoga -- multi-mode computers that can be transformed into different form factors. Today, the company unveils the Yoga 3 Pro, ThinkPad YOGA 14, Yoga Tablet 2 and Yoga Tablet 2 Pro.
In a post on the Surface blog, Microsoft has moved to assure businesses that the Surface line is here to stay. We've already heard that the Surface Pro 3 is a success -- although there are no figures to back up this claim -- but Microsoft's failure to launch a third generation RT-based version of the Surface, as well as the disappearance of the long-rumored Surface Mini, raised fears that the line of tablets may not be long for this world. Microsoft is keen to allay these concerns, pointing out not only that Surface is here to stay, but also that it is particularly suitable for businesses.
The post points out that the Surface Pro 3 is a device that's "great for getting things done". There's almost an air of desperation to the blog post in which Microsoft extols the virtue Surface and confirms its commitment to the brand. The selling point is still that the device is a laptop and tablet in one, and post author Brian Hall, General Manager for Surface, is quick to mention a number of big names who have adopted Surface Pro 3.
While many people into technology spend their days languishing on the couch or vegetating in an office chair, others live active lifestyles. In fact, many people would identify themselves as being "extreme" by doing activities such as skydiving, rock climbing and parkour. However, people also work extreme jobs, like working in the sewers, construction or law enforcement.
If you are somebody doing an extreme or hardcore job, the average tablet won't cut it for you. Extreme people need extreme technology and today, Samsung announces the availability of its hardcore Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 8 inch tablet. It is a slate designed for people that work dirty jobs and need it to take a beating. However, it may meet the needs of people that have extreme hobbies too.
Tablets are fantastic for casual tasks such as checking email, browsing the web, watching movies and playing games, but they’re not so good for doing work on because the virtual keyboard takes up so much of the screen space, and it’s difficult to touch type on.
If you want to boost your productivity, you need to consider buying a keyboard for your device. There are plenty of good ones to choose from, but that adds yet another thing to carry around with you. The Atongm Bluetooth Virtual Laser Keyboard is a tiny solution (36x18x74 mm, approx. 40g) which gives you back your screen space and turns any surface -- such as a table in a coffee shop -- into a keyboard.
Nowadays, all major operating systems are great. Regardless of your preference, it cannot be denied that Windows, OS X, iOS, Android and many Linux distributions are amazing feats of technology. It is not uncommon for me and many others to use multiple operating systems every day. While Windows is what I use mostly for getting work done, Android is my smartphone OS of choice, and the iPad is my bedtime entertainment computer. It is not necessary to live on a desert island-like environment from only one company exclusively.
Bluetooth keyboards have made typing on devices convenient; however, there is an annoying aspect -- pairing. If you use a Bluetooth keyboard with only one device, you should have no issue. Unfortunately, if you want to share it between multiple devices and operating systems, you have to re-pair it every time you switch. This becomes a tedious affair, turning convenience into a hassle. Luckily, Logitech has released a product, that should alleviate this nuisance -- the Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard K480.
Tesco has launched the successor to the one of 2013's standout budget consumer tech products. The hudl2 tablet has arrived in the UK, and it's well worth taking notice of.
Featuring a decent 8.3in, 1,920 x 1,200 pixel resolution screen, a 1.83GHz Intel Atom quad-core processor and 16GB of internal storage (which can be boosted to 48GB), its specifications don't exactly make the mind boggle.
When Microsoft took the wraps off Windows 10, the software giant informed us that its latest operating system, which officially launches next year, will run on all sorts of devices, including PCs, smartphones and tablets, and feature a unified app store. Both are firsts, as, so far, there was a Windows to suit everything: one for ARM tablets, one for PCs, one for embedded devices, one for smartphones and so on. Of course, the Server editions will not go away, but that's to be expected.
As a Windows Phone user and watcher, I am particularly interested in seeing Windows 10 in action on smartphones. Microsoft has talked quite a lot about what the new operating system brings on PCs and tablets -- it even released a Technical Preview build for x86 devices -- but kept quiet about its plans for smartphones. Well, that has changed, thanks to Joe Belfiore, the software giant's Operating Systems Group corporate vice president (better known as the head of Windows Phone).
While traveling, my smartphone's always running out of juice sooner than it normally does. This leads to some frustrating moments, like being unable to make calls, open a map or send texts, not to mention having to watch the percentage indicator. Not knowing where someone is, for instance, is never great news in such situations. I know I could use an external battery charger, but I tend to avoid them, and for good reasons.
They generally tend to be bulky, ugly, and almost fragile. Getting the impression that what can only be regarded as a tool is flimsy is not confidence-inspiring -- if it breaks, it's going to be a problem. Microsoft's new Portable Power appears to be different, however. And why wouldn't it be, when it has some Nokia DNA in it?
There are lots of excellent Android tablets around, including the Nexus 7, and the Kindle Fire HDX, but if you can’t afford a top of the range tablet, or are looking for a second device, or one to give as gift, then a budget model may be preferable.
Gigaset (previously Gigaset Siemens), which usually makes home phones, has entered the tablet market with the QV830, an ultra-affordable 8-inch Android tablet with some stylish touches -- it has an anodized aluminum rear casing, for example, rather than being all-plastic as you might expect.