Laptop to a Tablet Fight

January 23, 2014

It was June 18th when Microsoft surprised the world with what it deemed, their new Surface tablets; the problem is, tablet sales are skyrocketing and no one was looking for a tablet that did more.

What Microsoft introduced was not a tablet, but a new device soon to be called a “2 in 1″ or in other words, Microsoft released two laptops with removable keyboards.

It’s clear that Microsoft spent a lot of time working on these two new computing devices and even when announced, still required another 6 months of backing before they would be ready to ship.

Do Microsoft’s Surface “tablets” do more than tablets from Apple, Samsung and others? Yes, they do, they have keyboards and operate in a more “PC like” horizontal, widescreen fashion. Tablets from other vendors are held in a portrait fashion and are squarer than widescreen.

Holding any Microsoft Surface in this portrait fashion is not only gives pages a “too tall feeling” but the all of the Surface devices are too heavy to hold in this upright fashion.

Again, the Surface is a laptop and not suitable as a dedicated tablet.

So while other vendors were working with Google to design tablets that users were craving, Microsoft was working internally as well as with their OEM partners to develop the “non-tablet” or what we now call a “2 in 1″ device. A laptop with a removable keyboard.

Anyone who has ever tried holding a Surface in front of them for more than a few minutes knows that the designers never intended the Surface, either of the Surfaces to ever be used as a mobile tablet. It was clearly designed as a laptop where it’s weight would anchor it to a table and provide a firm location for their flexible keyboards.

Windows 8 was designed for Tablets (and works great with the Surface too)

So it’s surprising to see all the things Microsoft’s Operating Systems design team got right, when their top secret hardware group got so much wrong.

Microsoft Windows 8 and 8.1 are great touch oriented operating systems as well as solid platforms for developers and has all the 21st century features a developer could want. Windows 8.x has open APIs for 3rd party devices, solid programing languages, solid user interface cues and design metaphors that are clean, efficient and a pleasure to use.

Google’s Android OS which is found on most all smartphones and tablets in the world doesn’t share these strengths and has developers, OEMs and users all clamoring for some consistent rules to follow, design ques that don’t change and require developers to re-wright their apps every six months.

OEMs can’t upgrade their current and previous device models at a fast enough pace, nor can they or do they upgrade their devices because the cost to update their designs is too costly.

By the same token, Google doesn’t have the maturity required to develop standards which continue from current generation devices to the next and the next after that.

Windows Phone 7 led to Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 and now today we have Windows 8.1. With very few exceptions, all apps written for Windows Phone as far back as 4 years ago all could still exist or co-exist with today’s more matured operating systems.

Another strength Microsoft has is again in its software. I can turn on my Surface RT or Surface 2 and out of the box, can print to my Epson or HP all in one devices that were released and end of life long before Microsoft announced Windows 8. In Windows 8 RT I could scan from my scanner too via the Windows Control Panel and today with Windows 8.1 I can use a Modern App to Scan photos or documents directly to my SkyDrive, Email or Fresh Paint.

Google’s Android and Chrome can print, but must to the “cloud first” which means you must have a) a network connection and b) an internet connection, but Google does let you use your devices camera to “scan” in documents and photos.

Apple invites vendors into its walled garden with licensing its AirPrint API, but only for customers who are big enough to afford the steep prices for these APIs. I for one, don’t like that I am paying money to Apple for their AirPrint license when I buy a new printer.

Will the Real Tablet Please Stand Up?

So, while Microsoft is still busy confusing the market with their “2 in 1″ Surface devices, which I love, I am still waiting for Microsoft to release their first true tablet.

They don’t have to look too far for examples of great Windows 8/8.1 tablets, there are a multitude of new 8 inch tablets with quad-core Intel parts, and crisp IPS LED displays. They even come in 10 and 11 inch models too.

So when will Microsoft release their first tablet? I’m guessing they will release their new tablet(s) in the first half of 2014 and it will be thin, light and have a 16×10 more squarer display like the tablets running Android and iOS.

These tablets will run a version of Windows 8.1 or Windows Phone 8, but it won’t really matter which, because neither of them has enough market penetration for it to matter.

But what will matter is that now Microsoft will have brought a tablet to a tablet fight and with the support of Windows Modern Design language these new tablets will now have both the hardware and the software to take over the consumer market – a market that wants stability.

One last prediction: When these new lighter tablets are released, they will be compatible with Microsoft’s Surface keyboards, but the difference will be that the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 will now include the keyboard in its base price.

Tablet Distraction

So the question is, was Microsoft’s Surface enough of a “tablet distraction” for consumers and analysts while Microsoft developed their first tablet?

Surface 2 Sneak Preview (sad)

October 1, 2013

I attended Microsoft’s Surface 2 Sneak Preview event tonight in Sam Francisco.

I’ll write about the preview and post it tomorrow, October 2.

If you already think you know what I’m going to say, you are in for a surprise. 

There will be no pompoms or fireworks.

The Future for Windows RT is Bright

August 3, 2013

While analysts and original equipment manufactures are cheering the death of Windows RT and the Surface RT, I think it’s a blessing that these vendors are leaving Windows RT.

This allows Microsoft to develop new and improved products unhindered and free to create.

Microsoft will not have to worry about their (fair-weather) partners complaining that Microsoft has an unfair advantage over them.

Microsoft is now free to create a new generation of products as distinct as the iPad and as advanced as the 41 megapixel Nokia Lumia 1020.

Like they did with the simple addition of an integrated kick stand and revolutionary Touchcover keyboard.

Windows Phone Start Screen

July 29, 2013

What is the Start Screen?

The Start Screen in Windows Phone 8 is just like the Start Screen in Windows 8, it is a “home screen” where you place “tiles” of your most commonly used and accessed apps and phone functions.

What are Live Tiles?

Put simply, Live Tiles can be thought of as ADVANCED widgets or gadgets similar to the ones you find on Android or like the ones you can place on your Windows Vista desktop.

These Tiles are square or rectangular in shape. Most but not all Tiles on the Start Screen can be made “Live” and show you status updates, notifications, appointments, etc, but many of them can also be turned off so they just have a static Tile which does not update in the background.

How many Tiles/Apps can you place on your Start Screen?

While I don’t know of any “limit” set by Microsoft for how many apps you can have on your Start Screen at any one time, there is a limited number of Tiles which can be displayed on your Start Screen without scrolling downward. The most frequently checked and less personal Apps get Tiles placed at the top of my Start Screen, and the Apps which are more private or less frequently checked are placed at the bottom where they are out of view from casual onlookers, but easy to see with the scroll of the screen.

What apps can I place on the Start Screen?

ALL APPS! Unlike other platforms, all apps can be “pinned” to the start screen and moved around freely without disturbing other apps and Tiles.

Simply long-press on the app name in your list of apps, and select Pin to Start.

Many apps also support pinning content to your Start Screen from inside the app. For example, you can pin your hotel location on your Start Screen so your phone can always get you back to your hotel the fastest and quickest way. Pin your favorite web page, a recipe or review on your Start Screen and have access to what you need, when you need it.

Windows Phone 8 Features

Here are the apps I have pinned to my Start Screen

From top to bottom:

Phone (Microsoft): History of calls, voicemail, visual voicemail (not Verizon), dial-pad, contact search, history search Phone Tile Description from MS Windows website

Messaging (Microsoft): Text/sms messages, mms messages, Facebook messages (chatting), set “online status” for Facebook, set Messaging Settings such as Group Chat, Facebook Chat on/off, text message backup to cloud, chat backup to cloud, etc.

Mail (Microsoft): View, create, edit and reply to emails. Swipe function allows quick access to your Inbox/Folder, unread messages and flagged messages. These features are very helpful for people with large inboxes and/or folders.

Searching emails stored on your phone as well as on your email service are also supported, as well as many other advanced email features. (varies by email hosting service) Email Description from MS Windows Phone website

HERE Transit (Nokia): HERE Transit makes it easier for you to get anywhere by bus, train and subway. Quickly compare routes, departure and arrival times and even how far you need to walk for each route option. Available in over 740 cities globally, this is the only transit app you’ll ever need. Store Description

Key Features

  • The new start experience lets you plan a trip in advance, access your favorite places, your history and nearby transit stations with a swipe
  • Now you can easily create, access, and manage all your favorite destinations from the new dedicated favorites screen
  • See door-to-door walking directions that take you all the way there
  • Compare route options, arrival and departure times, transfers and even walking distances
  • See a detailed view of each segment on the map, and station by station details
  • View nearby stations and stops both on a map and in a list
  • Access favorites from other HERE apps and here.com
  • Pin frequent destinations to your Start screen
  • Stay current with over-the-air updates of transit information
  • Switch from HERE Maps to HERE Transit with one tap

Calendar (Microsoft) Windows Phone Calendar Description

The Forecast (RIPETUNGI) THE FORECAST is a beautiful colour driven weather app. Store Description

Using colour to display weather type, THE FORECAST is a uniquely simple weather app. Providing daily along with 5 day forecast for locations worldwide across 3 stunning screens, the weather never looked this gorgeous.

People Hub (Microsoft) The People Hub is more than just an address book on your phone. It’s a one-stop shop that keeps you up to date with your social networks and helps you stay in touch with the people you care about most. People Hub

Here’s a quick rundown of the different sections of your People Hub.

• What’s new – Here’s where you can check out all your contacts’ latest updates, pulled together from Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Bracing for an avalanche of posts, tweets, and pics? No worries—you can filter the info you see in the People settings.

• Recent – Here you’ll see—and get quick access to—the contacts you’ve viewed or communicated with most recently.

• Together – Get to your Rooms and Groups and create new ones from here. Tap into a room to start a chat or see what’s new in the calendar, notes, and photo album. Or open up a group to see the members’ latest posts and pics.

• All – This is your contact list. Just tap a name to call, text, chat, email, write on the person’s Facebook Wall, or see their latest social updates and photos. The History view shows your recent calls and conversations with a contact—handy!

Tip: If you pin a contact, room, or group to Start, its Live Tile will show new updates and messages.

 

Nokia Smart Camera (Nokia) here is an exclusive app only for Nokia Lumia Windows Phone 8 devices: Shoots a sequence of photos, making it easier to capture great moments. Choose your Best Shot or combine the photos into one picture, make a strobe effect to emphasize motion, remove unwanted objects or choose the best faces for great group shots. Nokia Camera

Internet Explorer 10 (Microsoft) Open multiple tabs, get search suggestions as you type, and share a web link in just a couple of taps. Plus SmartScreen Filter helps protect you from dicey websites.

Me Tile (Microsoft) Your one-stop shop for posting to social networks and taking a quick peek at who’s writing on your Facebook Wall, tweeting about you, and liking your posts.

Settings Tile (Microsoft) This isn’t an actual app, but it is a central location for ALL of the settings for your Windows Phone. Separated into two separate swipeable menus for System Settings and Application Settings.

Here is where you can give or deny access to accessing the internet, changing system colors, backups, location detection, and much, much more.

Some unique features of the deep settings integration on Windows Phone 8 and are not found on other phone platforms or are not as deep rooted are, Kid’s Corner, Cloud based Child Settings and rules, Do Not Track, as well as the usual.

Music + Videos (Microsoft) essentially this is Xbox Music and is only one of the many music and video players available for Windows Phone 8. The Music + Videos Hub is where you can play and manage your media. It’s also home to Xbox Music, where you’ll find millions of songs to stream or download.

It’s even where you can tune into your favorite FM radio stations – provided you have corded headphones connected to you phone which acts as the FM antenna.

Microsoft Office Hub (Microsoft): The Office Hub on your phone is the place to go to work on your Microsoft Office documents. Go there to find documents, open them, and make last-minute changes to them, or even start new documents. In the App list, tap Office icon to get started. In there, you’ll see a couple of different ways to find and open your documents.

Windows Phone Central app: The official app of wpcentral.com, your guide to everything your Windows Phone can offer. Read news, tips, comments, app & game reviews wherever you go.

With live tile support, you can be up to date on the latest Windows Phone news when pinned to your start screen.

Wikipedia app (Rudy Huyn): All Wikipedia on your windows phone.

 

 

 

OneNote (Microsoft): Keep on top of things at home, work, or school using text, pictures, or audio in Microsoft OneNote Mobile. Whether you need to pick up a few things from the grocery store on the way home, review notes from a meeting or class, or plan something, you can stay organized and get things done from your phone using OneNote.

ABC News (ABC) See The Whole Picture with the new ABC NEWS App for Windows Phone

 

 

Engadget
(AOL) news reader

 

 

 

My Media Center (Ceton Corp): If you love Windows Media Center you’ll REALLY love My Media Center (formerly Ceton Companion). Manage and control your Media Center experience from your Windows Phone, whether you’re inside or outside the house. Works with ANY tuner!

 

WordPress (Automattic): WordPress for Windows Phone is an Open Source app that empowers you to write new posts, edit content, view stats, and manage comments for your WordPress site.

 

 


Facebook
(Microsoft): Facebook for Windows Phone makes it easy to stay connected and share information with friends. You can post status updates, receive Live Tile updates, check your news feed, review upcoming events, check in to places, manage your inbox, upload photos, publish notes, accept friend requests, pin Places and Messages as Tiles, and look at your friends’ photos, walls and info.

***And don’t forget about Facebook Chat – it’s built into the Messaging app on your Windows Phone.

Photos Hub (Microsoft) The Photos Hub houses your collection, including online albums, and even shows a feed of your friends’ latest pics.

 

Wallet (Microsoft) Keep your reward cards, coupons, credit cards, local deals, and memberships in one convenient place on your phone. I have my MS Wallet linked to my Walgreens Rewards and Rx app, AMC Stubs rewards and app as well as others including PayPal.

SBUX Card (Denham Software Solutions): Starbux Card (unofficial Starbucks App) allows you to make payments at Starbucks and check your rewards status, find the closest Starbucks location, enter multiple cards with custom names, check card balances, check Starbucks reward information including how many free drinks are available, pay for purchases

 

HERE City Lens (Nokia): Nokia City Lens is now HERE City Lens giving you an entirely new way to reveal what’s around you. Simply hold up your phone as though taking a photo, and HERE City Lens overlays the best shops, restaurants and points of interest right on your display. Tap a place icon to call ahead or get more information such as hours, reviews and directions. You can even save a place for later or share it with friends. Tilt your phone and HERE City Lens brings up additional view options like list and map views. No more wandering around for a café. No more looking for street signs. With HERE City Lens, you see what’s around you from your point of view, so finding something great has never felt more natural.

Windows Phone Store: name says it all

Hipstamatic Oggl Pro
(Hipstamatic): A Community For Creative People To Capture & Curate Their Lives Through Photography. ** the Pro version adds support for the Lumia 1020 41 megapixel sensor as well as Nokia Lumia exclusive features such as their award winning 3-way optical image stabilization.

Oggle Pro also allows me to post to

 

Flashlight (Tony Sakariya): NO ADVERTISEMENTS (no network data used, no tracking) FREE

 

 

 

So while these are the apps I have pinned to my Start Screen, they are only a small sample of the apps I have installed on my Lumia 1020. J

US Carriers Open Door for Microsoft and Nokia

July 16, 2013

broken-chains_00401670

The new plans from T-Mobile and AT&T which allow customers to upgrade their phones as frequently as every 6 months as it is in T-Mobile’s case or every 12 months in the case of AT&T may just give Micosoft and Nokia new opportunities to not only gain much needed market share, but steal away the very valuable and influential smartphone enthusiasts who crave the cutting edge hardware they crave.

Mac or PC – It’s an Investment

My reasoning is that consumers aren’t married to their smartphone platform in the same way they are for their Windows or OSX based computers and laptop.

When you purchase a laptop or desktop computer, you are making an investment in hardware. Neither Windows of Macs come with productivity software, so the consumer makes additional investments in a word processor, photo editing software, video editing software, software to play DVDs or Blurays.

This is a big investment to make and one that you plan on leveraging for years to come. Upgrade it little by little and very quickly you have, “bought into” the platform you chose.

Smartphones

Up until this summer, Americans “buy a phone” for a discounted rate and are locked into a contract for 24 months – this lock isn’t just for their wireless service, it’s also linked to the smartphone you purchase.

Apps are for the most part free and an “expensive” app or game could cost you $10, but more than likely, if you buy an app it will yt between $2-$3.

Like in the example above, you have now invested in the cost of the phone, you may have purchased some apps, but the investment is very small and I’d argue many people spend much more a at Starbucks in one visit than most people pay for their apps in 6 months.

Smartphone users no longer have the same capital invested in apps and games because they are free or very low cost, they still have the 2 year commitment to the smartphone.

This commitment to one phone, one platform for 24 months is not to be taken likely and I believe that people’s loyalty to their 2 year plan extends to the device they chose and for many people they make the most of it and select the “best phone at the time.”

Next and Jump!

So now we have the plans from AT&T and T-Mobile which allow users to exchange their phone on a more frequent basis and since the users never buy the phone and have to trade it in to get the newest plan they now have the opportunity to get a new phone – a clean slate.

So every 6 or 12 months customers can trade in their current phone for a brand new device. There is a premium for this service, but making a trip to Starbucks once a day is much more costly than these carriers’ premium plans.

So now the 2 year commitment is out of the equation and consumers who choose one of these plans they now have the mindset that they phone they have today will not be the phone they have next month or in the near future.

The shackles are gone

If Nokia and Microsoft and Blackberry for that matter can come out with phone designs that are compelling on a reguar enough basis, keep them current and up to date, the person who has an iPhone, Galaxy or One trades in the phone they have only had for a short period of time, they are free to choose the smartphone with the most “wow factor.”

I could see many people who purchased a high end smartphone from Apple, Samsung or HTC trade and on their 6 or 12 month cycle “try” a phone like the Nokia Lumia 1020 – with its revolutionary 41MP sensor and HD zoom technology.

One of the biggest barriers to switching phones has been removed and in AT&Ts case, after 12 months, they can exchange their year old phone for the latest and greatest with no money down – not even any fees.

What about the App Store?

While I will be the first to say that there are some holes in the Windows Phone 8 Store, most people will never notice – well, maybe after Instagram gets released for Windows Phone, but seriously, there are an abundance of apps in the Store and while there isn’t everything, if consumes switch platforms, the developers will follow their customers to Windows Phone.

Gosh, once users have HERE Drive+, HERE Transit, HERE Maps and discover the built-in and instantly accessible app-like features built into Bing on Windows Phone, they will see the wealth of features available to them and everyone who has a Windows Phone out of the box – it’s really an amazing feeling showing an Android or iPhone users Bing Vision or Bing Music. They go nuts!

Loyalty and Superfans [Disclosure: I am a Microsoft and Nokia superfan]

For every Android, iPhone or Windows Phone 8 superfan out there, there are 30 more who are not loyal to any of the smartphone platforms. These people are heavily influenced by that one friend, co-worker or family member and will then make a purchase based on what these people have.

If Nokia and Microsoft can come out with smartphones with WOW features that people really can relate to and then see the superior results immediately – like with an ultrahigh resolution phone with “zoom later” capabilities, then I believe these people, the non-techy people will be drawn to the “new” Windows Phone platform.

Of course, if Microsoft and Nokia don’t upgrade both the operating system with more features and improve upon not just the phones camera, but evolve beyond the imagination they will get more users leave Android and leave iPhone.

Wrap-up

So while these plans for power users aren’t for everyone, they do allow consumers in the US who are locked to a carrier in 2 year contracts one to three additional times in their contract to trade-in the old for the WOW!

Google’s Dominance and Arrogance is why Maps Can No Longer be Downloaded

July 14, 2013

Google-Chrome-King

You may have read or discovered first hand that Google has now removed the ability to download maps to your Android smartphone, tablets as well as your Google Maps app on iOS.

There are two simple reasons why Google has been able to remove the offline maps feature:

  1. Google does not see Apple or other service as a major threat to their “free” maps and navigation and therefore they can remove features without losing customers
  2. Google needs to keep your smartphone connected to their servers so that they can find patterns in your walking and/or driving habits – when your maps are stored on your phone, you are not leaving breadcrumbs for Google to follow

This sounds like a step backwards for the search giant, but it is a major step forward for the advertising giant.

Yes, there is an Easter egg which will allow Android users to “download” limited map locations to your Android smartphone, but it is little more than caching the route you are taking to your phone. This is caching, not offline maps. With the route data cached to your Android or iPhone Google Maps is still able to relay data to and from their servers, and thereby gives them permission to follow you for every step, every turn and how long you’re stopped at a red light or slow moving traffic.

It is imperative to Google’s business model to keep continuous access to you and your whereabouts on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. Gathering information on from your Google searches is no longer enough for Google to continue to raise profits and make their shareholders billions.

Breadcrumbs

Think about it, every time you log into your computer, tablet or smartphone, you are simultaneously signing into Google+, Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs, YouTube account.

This means that anything you search for on Google, post on Google’s ‘social network’ Google+, videos you play or subscribe to on YouTube, driving directions, emails and even your top secret business plan you are storing on Google Drive is all being collected and saved into a profile they then sell to their clients in the form of targeted advertising.

Capitalism demands that more is more and anything less is failure

Google has already concurred the ‘free’ internet services business and in order to grow, they need to know what you are doing when you leave your home or work computer, they need to know where you go, how you get there and what streets you use – even what time of day or night you make these trips.

Google Maps and navigation was one area of compromise Google made in order to secure their dominance on your smartphones. First, kill the stand alone GPS business by making their navigation free, then Google needed to make sure that their navigation offerings had features that Apple could not easily replicate and would be highly desired for not only the iPhone, but also for their loyal band of Android enthusiasts. So they gave everyone what they wanted, what they desired and added the ability to free users from slow or poor internet connections and make their maps available offline. Everyone who has used GPS navigation on their phone knows how slow and annoying it is when you make a wrong turn and have to wait for your phone to download new directions – it’ terribly frustrating to say the least.

There is one problem with offline maps for Google and it is simple. If the users smartphone has offline maps, and the user can download all the maps they may ever need to their devices, they also don’t need to connect to Google’s servers, and if the devices are no longer connecting to Google’s servers, they can no longer follow your every move.

You don’t even need to be receiving turn-by-turn directions in order to be followed, all you need to do is carry a smartphone with Google Maps installed around with you. That’s it.

But it’s Anonymous; Don’t be so paranoid:

First off, I am not paranoid and I could care less that Google makes billions of dollars a quarter by collecting information from the people who use their services, but it isn’t as anonymous as you think.

Anonymity doesn’t have the same meaning as it once did. It once meant, freedom from identification, but identify you is exactly what Google and others are now doing to hundreds of millions of people every minute of the day and night, year after year.

You see, by signing into your Google service you are giving Google authorization to collect all your search results, emails you create and receive, they see all your transaction confirmations from your Zappo or Amazon purchases, they can read the documents you have created and stored on their Drive cloud service and now that they have removed the ability to download maps to your mobile device, they are now able to continue to monitor and follow you wherever you travel.

If a neighbor, colleague or classmate followed you or even just knew what park you like to relax at, what grocery store you did your shopping at or which pharmacy you filled your prescriptions at you would be upset, angry, creeped out and rightfully so.

But this is what you are allowing Google to do and while I think that many users get a fair amount of services in return for this information, Google is none the less tracking you and collecting information about you and then using what they have learned to send you targeted ads and services.

When the information Google discovers about you is being collected and collated in order to sell you, your identity to marketers and businesses is no longer anonymous.

Connect the Dots

So, now you understand that everywhere you go is being recorded by Google. We also know and accept (agree to license) that Google ‘reads’ our Gmail correspondence, but add that to the data they already have from your Android or Chrome device and that goes beyond “anonymous” tracking.

There is nothing anonymous about knowing where you live, work, shop, write in your emails, what you receive in your emails, your purchase and shipping histories, or what routes you take every day or every weekend.

Do you go to a country club every weekend? Do you regularly go to sporting events, take your children to the same park or recreation area – these are the areas where Google’s tracking is lacking. They need to get more information from each user and the way to do that is to connect your emails, searches, Google+ posts, Twitter posts, Google searches and maybe even the thesis or business proposal you wrote in Google Office or shared on Google Drive.

Drive, Googles cloud service is Ingenious

How does Google generate revenue from people who:

  • Purchased smartphones from Apple, Nokia and Blackberry?
  • Purchased Microsoft Office, Office 365, Final Draft or Apples Pages at home or at work?
  • Purchase or use email from Outlook.com, Exchange 365, or Apple, Yahoo!, or use business or school email?
  • Participate on social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, Sina Weibo and others?

Why it’s simple, offer them ‘free’ cloud storage and market it as a service to safeguard their most important documents, reports, photographs and anything else people want to store on their Drive cloud storage service.

It’s smart really, if users value their files, photos, music and other data, they will want to keep it backed up and accessible from anywhere.

Not only do they have access to where your photographs were taken – think about all the photos you have taken of your children at their favorite park, day care or school play.

Does it stop with Google’s maps and navigation?

No, where there is money to be had, you can be sure that companies will continue to find ways to capitalize on future revenue and growth.

Just think about what Google could do if they wanted to take control your car?

Yes, ask your car to take your to a steak dinner and the Google car of the future will take you to one of its advertisers which is likely a national chain restaurant and not the 60 year old family run steak house with 5 star ratings.

Need your clothes dry cleaned, direct you to a copy-shop that supports Android and Chrome’s Cloud Print “feature” because they have no direct printer support of their own. I can only guess where your car will direct you when you have ½ a tank of gas, but happen to be 10 miles away from one of Google’s advertisers who sells gasoline.

If you mind getting all these wonderful services in exchange for following you, tracking where you go, what you do, what you write about in your diary or where you take the most photographs, maybe you would care if I said that Google is collecting this information about your children, your wife, your husband, your mother or father?

We are just entering the era where consumers are used as currency and with every new generation, trading their privacy for products and services there will be fewer companies which create products and charge for their use. If corporations such as Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, Oracle and others cannot sell their products for a fair price, then all consumers will lose their right to privacy.

Closing thoughts on Apple and Microsoft

Google is one of hundreds if not thousands of companies who use similar practices and business models, they are just the most successful at it.

Microsoft’s Bing search engine offers advertisements based on your searches and if you allow them, they will use your Facebook account to offer more customized search results.

However, Bing also has a Bing Rewards Program where you can earn credits for your searches and can then trade those credits in for products or services. Google does not share their profits with their users.

SkyDrive is not free, you get 7GB of cloud storage when you purchase Microsoft products such as Windows 8, Windows RT, Windows Phone, Office, Office 365, Xbox membership etc. You currently only receive 7GB total no matter how many products you purchase, the exception being Microsoft’s Office 365 which comes with 20 additional gigabytes of storage as long as you license the Office software.

Windows Phone 8 comes with true offline maps on all devices from all manufactures for the region or country you live in. Nokia’s Lumia 82x, 92x and 102x come with licenses to download maps from anywhere in the world. Other Nokia Lumia smartphones as well as Windows Phone 8 phones from HTC, Samsung and others can upgrade their regional licenses for a global one.

These maps, navigation, poi and mass transit apps are licensed from Nokia’s HERE/Navteq division currently are the most advanced and most complete navigation, poi, traffic and routing services available for the consumer.

Smartphones running Windows Phone are fully licensed and purchased from Microsoft. They are not developing the platform to give away, but that might change if all consumers demand free to use products in exchange for their privacy.

For Apple’s part, they invest vast amounts of research and development dollars to create their products and take a lot of care to make sure their partners follow through with their vision.

Apple makes quite a bit of money this way and this is how they are able to provide users with email, cloud storage and services.

Facebook, MySpace provide a social playground for their members to share and create. It is very apparent that they provide ads based on your personal data and they do not hide that. It is up front and understood.

Amazon, Newegg, Zappos sell products and make most of their profits from making money on each sale or selling you additional services, just like your local Macy’s department store, service or gas station.

The difference is that Google is selling your privacy in exchange for cash and while I am fine with that arrangement, I believe that many users of Google’s services and products do not understand that their privacy doesn’t[t end with a targeted add based on your current search, but it follows you and tracks you on your way to work, school, shopping, playground, daycare, little league, soccer practice and beyond.

Pinch to Zoom is Dead – Introducing Zoom Later by Nokia

July 14, 2013

tech-nokia-lumia-1020-with-nokia-pro-camera

At the end of the month, Nokia will introduce a new smartphone that can replace your point and shoot camera – No, really!

The Nokia Lumia 1020 smartphone has a 41 megapixel camera element along with a six lens design – all of which were designed with ZEISS as well as a true shutter for blur free motion/action shots.

This new flagship smartphone from Nokia isn’t just a bigger sensor on your phone, no, it’s a new way to take photos.

Zoom Later

With Nokia’s Pro Camera softbeware which is also being made available to current Lumia smartphones running Windows Phone 8, takes the time consuming task of setting up the shot before you shoot.

Take a photo with the 1020′s huge sensor and it takes a wide area shot of what ever is in front of you. After you have taken all the shots you want, you re-open the ultra large photos, zoom, rotate, and crop your image ‘just so’ and it saves a more sharable 5 megapixel of your edited photo that is suitable for sharing immediately on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Videos that you record with the Lumia 1020 are shot in either 720p or 1080p at 30 frames per second. With these two camera modes and the 41 megapixel sensor in the smartphone, you can zoom between 6 and 4 times respectively without compromising the videos quality. A nice side effect of this very unique zoom capability is that your microphone does not pick up the sound of your lens zooming in and out, making for a more finalized product.

To really cement this smartphone as more than a phone, Nokia also is shipping a camera grip which gives your Lumia 1020 a larger form factor with a grip for one handed use, attaching to a tripod and additional battery for the all the extra use you will be getting from your smartphone and camera.

Even if you don’t buy the optional camera grip accessory, the smartphone comes with a wrist strap so you don’t accidentally drop your camera over the side of your boat or into the sandy beach.

So, if you want to always have a great camera or video camera with you for all those moments you want to share, this is the only device many people will ever need or want.

Also, check out videos on youtube from Nokia showing their uniqie and simple camera settings that pros, semi pros and novices will use with ease.

When does a Tablet become a PC

July 14, 2013

starting tomorrow, Sunday July 14, Staples is reducing the price of all Surface RT models by $150, with the 32GB model with 10.4″ widescreen for $349.99

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For me the one thing that differentiates an ordinary or extraordinary tablet from a computer isn’t its size, shape or design, but what defines a computer is its ability to connect to a broad and diverse set of peripherals.

I’m not just talking about USB storage, a smartphone, external monitor or television, but peripherals which add value to a device such as printers at home or work, scanners which allow your device to scan in photographs and documents.

This is the holy grail of computing.

If you can walk into a Kinko’s or client’s office and be able to connect to their printers or scanners with your “tablet” then it has gone beyond the definition of tablet and has crossed over to PC. Think how many times you have purchased tickets for the movies or vacation and printed your tickets? These are things you can do on RT – at your home, hotel, office or friends place – without downloading messy printer drivers which never quite uninstall. :/

In my opinion, a keyboard or traditional laptop form factor doesn’t make your device a PC. The ability to create content on your device, no matter what its shape is, be able to manipulate it and then to finally print it from that device makes a device a PC.

For example the iPhone can many things that we traditionally used a PC for – whether it was a Mac or Windows. You can surf the web, play movies, read email and with relative ease, you can also create or respond to emails.

There are even apps which facilitate bookkeeping, banking, etc on the iPhone – it can send a document or email to a printer equipped with Apple AirPrint support, but these are not your everyday printers and the all-in-one devices which include a scanner or fax cannot be directly used by your iPhone.

The iPad on the other hand can have a keyboard and mouse added to it, but without the ability to print or scan to ordinary printers – like the one you already own, it is a dead end device and leaves it in a category that has more in common with your smartphone than your desktop computer.

Android and Chrome are even less capable than similar products from Apple because there is no printer you can print directly to. Everything you want to print has to be directed via the internet or network to a service or app running on your PC which then sends your printout to the printer after first being uploaded and downloaded through the internet and then prints.

That’s not very convenient or very practical and limits the use of your Chrome or Android device and makes Google’s “Office” suite of apps little more than a gimmick.

Enter Windows RT

Windows RT is Windows and don’t be fooled by people who tell you otherwise!

Windows RT in fact has the underlying capability to run many apps designed for Windows 7 – in fact, it can run many apps written for Windows XP. The fact is simple, Microsoft has disabled the ability to run these apps on devices that run Windows RT – the future is touch, the future of apps is sharing resources and suspending when not in use to allow RT devices to operate longer between charges, and at the same time, rid developers and users from a system that was designed back in the late 80′s and released in the 90′s.

Windows RT ships with Microsoft Office 2013 preinstalled on all RT devices and includes the latest versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and with the launch of Windows RT 8.1, it includes Outlook 2013. All of these apps operate just like their x86-64 counterparts that you would purchase for your home desktop PC or Office PC. Yes, some features have been removed like macros in Excel as well as some other features, but those are not used by many people and they have been removed (for now?) to conserve battery power and other performance reasons. All in all, you will never know those features are missing.

But like I said before, a tablet or device isn’t a PC if It can’t be used to take your work from idea to final product and printing is the way most of use finalize our work.

Since Windows RT is Windows, it also has decades of peripherals which have support for Windows built in. No, it can’t print to every printer you have eveer purchased, but out of the box, it can print to thousands and thousands of dot matrix, injet and laser printers without even downloading any drivers from the printer manufacture – and this can typically be well over 100 megabytes of files just so that you can print.

Windows RT and Windows 8 have a new driver model for printer which is built into Windows and has a built in library of thousands of printers, their capabilities and features and as soon as you connect to the printer or all in one with a USB cable or via your home network you can print immediately (period).

You can even scan in photos from your scanner directly to your RT device – although there is no pretty Metro interface to do this, you can do this from the Windows desktop.

Windows 8.1 adds the ability to print to 3D printers and also adds the ability to scan from your scanner or all in one without leaving Windows 8′s finger friendly interface (this was likely possible before, but it wasn’t included with every RT PC sold – now it will be).

The last difference I have found between an iPad, Android or Chromebook is the ability of Windows RT to have totally separate user accounts all accessible on one device. Log in with your personal account and your Start Screen, accent colors, wallpapers, email, documents, photos, cloud storage, etc, etc, etc, are loaded on the device and are separate from all other users on the device – and follow you between RT and your desktop or laptop running Windows 8.

So, before you go out a purchase a new “tablet” or feel like you need to upgrade your current tablet or even replace your laptop, please consider replacing it with a “PC” running Windows RT.

** All devices running Windows 8.0 and RT 8.0 are upgradeable to 8.1 free of charge later this year. (Unlike your Android tablet which will likely never be upgraded or patched with security updates).

Why Windows RT needs to survive and Why you need one as your next tablet or laptop

July 4, 2013

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Microsoft Window RT is more than just a version of Windows for tablets running ARM processors, RT is a platform rich in user experience, simplicity and highly functional platform.

First let’s look at some of the reasons why ARM tablets and laptops running operating systems from Google and Apple are so popular. When you purchase these products, they work out of the box, they are light to hold and carry, they can operate about twice as long between charges as laptops built upon the Intel/AMD x64 architecture, but that’s not the “killer feature” of these devices, it’s that they are nearly maintenance free.

Maintenance Free

Three words, System on Chip, or SoC. You see, unlike desktop computers based around ALL Intel or AMD computers, ARM based products are built around a single chip that has everything you need to build a computer. A SoC includes the CPU, video chip, the I/O and nearly everything needed to build a light and efficient computer, networking etc. Designs from Intel and AMD (more on AMD later) currently rely on many chips to build one computer or tablet and since every computer is designed slightly different or very different with thousands of possible configurations, you are always playing a game of updating each component and inevitably, updating one component will break another component and will not only require another update, but likely will cause the user a lot of grief until they figure out what is making their system operate wonky.

A system based around the ARM architecture is built around one design, one chip with all the basics as well as many advanced features. No more driver updates from multiple vendors, because now EVERY driver and update is designed and certified by the Tablet and computer manufacture.

IPad popularity

I don’t think Apple’s iPads are popular because they are thin and light although I do think that is the initial attraction, but the reason why people love their iPad and why they recommend them to others is because unlike a Windows PC, which many people already own, there are no complicated drivers, or updates. Nothing breaks down and every app works as expected.

Does the iPad have a USB port? Expandable storage? Or can it print to your existing printer or scan in a photo or document from a scanner? No, you can’t connect your digital camera to your ipad to upload yor photos, you can’t connect an external hard drive or USB thumb drive to back up, restore or transfer files. Do people want these features? Yes, they do and many people turn to the many cheap and bountiful Android tablets so they can have these features.

Android isn’t an iPad

Android on the other hand does give users the ability to attach external hard drives and thumb drives and there are many choices to choose from. Small and light, big and powerful and everything in-between.

The problem is that with such broad proliferation of devices and newer models arriving every 4 to 6 months, vendors tend not to support the models beyond their ship state – the Android tablet you purchase on 2012 or 2013 will never be upgraded to newer versions of Android, no security fixes will be released to protect your investment or your data.

There is another aspect of Android tablets which is different from iPads, it’s that every Android tablet manufacture can and usually does add their own propriety features and user interface, making each product different from every other one. This may seem to be a benefit, but when every time you switch between operating system to Android app from the Play Store has a different look, different feel and more often than not they cannot share information between each other, you start to see how this open and “free” platform isn’t all its promised to be.

Windows RT and Surface RT

Windows RT takes the very best of Apple’s iPad and adds in the very best of Windows for an easy to use platform, feature rich, standards and best of all, most printers and scanners you already own can be used directly without downloading drivers. Connect a printer or scanner to your full sized USB port or connect directly via your wifi connection, print and scan just as you would with a laptop from Apple or Hewlett Packard, Acer, etc.

Traveling and want to back up your photos from your camera or smartphone? No problem, Windows RT will make this transfer of data easy and even help you to organize and upload these images to Facebook, Twitter or other social network, just like a PC.

Again, like Apple and like Windows, you have one user interface across all Windows RT and Windows 8 tablets. Unlike Apple’s iPad, your tablet PC also operates just like your desktop PC running Windows 8. One interface to learn, settings on your RT device will be automatically be carried over to you desktop PC. Traveling and need to install another language on your computer or need additional keyboard layouts? Install these or other Windows features on your RT tablet an for consistency they install on your home PC.

With the release of RT 8.1 and Windows 8,1, there are many more features that are synchronized between devices and all your settings can be changed all without ever going to the Desktop or Control Panel. Of course there are many options which allow these changes to be carried over to your other Windows 8.1 or be saved locally.

It’s all about the apps

But what about apps? Exactly, its all about the apps and the apps on Windows RT are for the most part top notch and follow a consistent and predictable design philosophy. These are good things because it means that you can jump from app to app or operating system to app and never feel jarred and disconnected. As a matter of fact, the new interface brought to Windows 8 brings all programs together and operate cosistantly and just as users the world over have adapted from a disconnected PC experience to a more connected online experience where we are encouraged to share our thoughts and opinions in short sound bites, Windows 8 makes this easy to do with a Share Charm accessible to every Windows 8 app.

I’m using Windows RT 8.1 Preview on my Surface RT and can tell you that not only has Microsoft expanded on the functionality of their new Charms Bar and the fast and easy access to sharing, printing, scanning, streaming video to your smart television, ect, but it now is available to more devices and has been refined to easier for the newbie as well as advanced user.

Running multiple apps at a time

Windows RT and Windows 8 allow users to split their screens in two so that they may run one app in a large window pane and a second app on the side. While this does make it easier to use one app and monitor a 2nd, it really didn’t enhance the user experience.

What might be the “killer feature” of Windows 8.1 is its ability to dynamically share the screen between apps and logically and intuitively divide the screen into sections side by side by side. For example. You are reading an email and it has photo, pdf or document attachment or web link. Once you choose to open it, the email app snaps to the left 50% of the screen and the app which you have set to open these file types opens instantly in the right 50% of your screen. The actual app opens, not a viewer as other platforms use, but real apps so for example, you open a photo in an email and once open, you can save, edit, print, share or tag it as you would any other photo you have stored on your computer.

Microsoft’s laser focus

For all of Microsoft’s faults, both perceived, fabricated and deserved, one thing Microsoft knows how to do better than any other company in the world is their ability to support many thousands of developers and hardware original equipment manufacturers, third party hardware vendors etc with consistent and well architected standards for all to follow.

This laser focus on design and third party support is the sole reason why the computer industry has grown so rapidly and why we have so many choices of printer, scanners, monitors, video cards, network cards, keyboards, etc to choose from. The very reason why so many developers develop their apps for the Windows platform.

You can design for Windows and know that what you have developed will for years if not decades to come. This is also why so many people choose to use Microsoft Windows and Microsoft products at home as well as in their offices. You can safely invest in costly software and hardware peripherals and know you can use them for years to come – even if you purchase a new computer running a version on Windows developed 10 years after you made that costly investment and know with confidence that it will “just work.”

This is the same expertise Microsoft is bringing to Windows RT and to Windows 8. A platform designed for the future; a platform that will continue to grow and develop for years to come, a platform that brings along with it much of Windows compatibility with hardware peripherals out of the box and a platform to build upon.

Googles lack of focus

Google does not appear to have ever developed a short or long term goal for their Android platform. The Android kernel isn’t optimized to work with any one, two or three ARM SoC products, their user interface for Android changes every four to six months, they continuously develop for future products without taking the time, effort or desire to support the millions of products released into the free market.

Every time Google releases a new version of Android, it almost always necessitates app developers to rewrite their apps to work on or support the newest revision. Each time an Android vendor releases a new device with a new SoC from a new vendor, a new screen size, resolution or combination of the two not only is that version of Android highly customized to support the new device, but apps need to be changed and updated.

Customizing Android for each and every tablet is not an easy task and consumes a lot of corporate resources, for both the hardware, but also the drivers and everything that allows Android to work on the device.

Once a company has released a product the design team is onto developing and customizing Android for their next product.

So when Google releases a newer improved version of Android that adds features or fixes problems, they do not have the manpower or resources to bring that new version of Android with all the advancements to their existing products.

That leaves Android users with a tablet that is stuck in time and will not advance or improve over time.

Apple’s iPad platform

Apple has complete control over their iPads and such and unlike Google, they do want the users of their iPads to gain new features as they are released and they have designed their iOS operating system that powers the iPhone and iPad for developers to develop apps that work on all of their products. Sure, some newer features are only available on the newest products, but from a user standpoint, their apps still work, their operating systems is secure from most malicious threats and their investment in their iPad is trouble free for the life of the product.

Windows RT gains more than it loses

For these reasons Windows RT will not only succeed, but will thrive and the more people who switch to a tablet running Windows RT the more people will hear about how wonderful their experience is and how they don’t lose features found on desktop and laptop computers, but they will tell people of all the things they have gained too.

In fact, AMD is about to release an x64 based SoC and I hope that Microsoft chooses to release a Windows RT PC using this chip and not a Window 8.1 PC, because I love how my Surface RT “just works” and is trouble and hassle free.

There is no such thing as a free lunch…. There is no such thing as a free App…There is no such thing as a free Internet Service…

July 3, 2013

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Everything has its price and we live in a world where information is valuable. When someone gives you a sandwich you may help them with chores around the house or do some yard work or a little bit of consulting on the side – this is how you are paying for your lunch.

Free apps, games, search engines, cloud storage, email hosts, etc. are not as straight forward and instead of asking you for your help in exchange for using their services, they tell you how they are helping give you better services, easier to use services, faster services without being equally as up front with you about how you are making them money in exchange.

Internet Advertising is a big business and from January through March of 2013 there was over $9.6 billion U.S. generated. Yes, there are many hard working people being employed by these companies, but they are just that, companies making many billions of dollars profit each year by giving you “free” apps and services.

Better disclosure and labeling of these services, apps and utilities are need today

  • They are not “free”
  • They track you browser use and history
  • They decipher your internet patterns
  • They read your emails
  • They use your GPS/location to track your real world activities
  • They monitor what files you store on their cloud, how and where you access them as well as what the files contain

All of this is done so that they can

  • Get their app on your computing device and prevent you from using other competing services
  • Send you ads based on what is in your inbox, outbox and sent folders
  • Gain huge margins for direct marketing to you

Problems associated with installing these “free” apps

  • Increased app and device crashes
  • Markedly decreased battery life on portable computers and phones
  • Increased internet browser pop-ups
  • Reduce the visibility of web pages you visit
  • Increased de-sensitivity to installing apps from unknown publishers
  • Increased probability to installing adware, malware, virus’ and trojans

 

Misconceptions

  • I don’t pay any form of currency (money) for the app, toolbar, email service, search engine, etc. and therefor it doesn’t cost me anything –
    • Consumers are paying for these services in shorter battery life on phones, tablets, laptops, ie: a free game with ads uses 3x more battery than the game itself.
    • Consumers are paying for these services and apps by time and frustration when your device or apps crash
    • Games which have ads are using your internet connection to download these ads and your cellular provider charges you based on how much internet you consume
    • Anonymous – While your name may be separate from your data, they know where you live, where you work, where you stop to get your daily coffee, have lunch 4 times a week, shop for clothes and they even know what deodorant you use.

      Each anonymous user is now using one service in their home, office, phone, tablet – in fact, they even get you to login with your personal account when you use someone else’s computer – 24/7 surveillance and monitoring

      And soon these “driverless” cars will also be collecting more data about you and what you do and will soon use this and other data to direct you to business’ not because it is best for you or what you need, no, it’s because they are getting paid to send you there.

What changes are needed?

  • Consumers need to be told up front the potential risks involved with installing apps
  • Consumers need to be told up front the that using their service is
  • Consumers need to be given a simple and upfront method to removing the installed service back to the previous system state
  • Service providers need to have reasonable method for consumers to receive technical support in the use, maintenance and removal of the service/apps
  • Apps need to disclose how much internet data is being transferred to/from a device via it’s WAN connection
  • Apps and services that use GPS and positioning need to have an icon which clearly shows when and for how long the GPS is being used
  • When a user is not actively using said app, it needs to also halt all GPS and position tracking, internet usage and ads must also pause to conserve battery as well as privacy
  • All companies and persons which generate income/revenue from a computer service, internet service, app or utility supported by ads or any type of data mining should have to fully disclose the following
    • How much revenue they expect to generate monthly and yearly by your use of the app or service
    • The percentage of revenue generated by their “free” services
    • The global revenue they generate

Alarmist?

I am not trying to start a war against free services, I think that many people enjoy the benefits they are receiving from services such as Google, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, web toolbars as well as downloadable tools and utilities.

But for these companies and business’ to call their services “free” is dishonest and devalues services and apps which truly are free or are being paid for by other operating systems, apps and services you have already purchased into.

Truly Free Services and alternatives

A majority of internet traffic and web use is generated by people using services they are not paying for directly, but they are getting paid every time you use their app or service. Collectively we call these services free, but internet business generate billions of dollars each year.

$9.6 billion was generated from January through March 2013 from internet advertising and year over year this amount is increasing by 18% year over year.

Choice

Consumers need to know they have choices each and every time they use the internet, World Wide Web, check their email, write and email, use a search engine, send a text message on their phone or update their profile on a social network play a game on their phone or tablet.

Not all services are created equal and not all services are up front with the consumers, the people, who rely on these services daily and what these companies do with your data, or how they affect the long term and short term use of your computer, your smartphone, your tablet or fancy new car.

Eyes wide open


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