Tag Archives: iOS

Tim Cook at D10: Hints at Facebook Integration, and Siri Improvements

Last month, we reported that Tim Cook was to kickoff the D10 conference. That occurred today in which Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher interviewed Apple CEO Tim Cook about a range of topics. MacRumors has a transcript of the entire interview. During the interview, Cook hinted at two upcoming feature for Apple’s customers.

The first one suggested that Facebook integration into iOS maybe on its way. In the past, it has been rumored that negotiations between Apple and Facebook have been tough. As a result, Facebook integration in iOS has been absent while Twitter has been integrated.

When Cook was asked about Apple’s relationship with Facebook,  he suggested that there will be news in the near future:

For us, we want to provide customers simple and elegant ways to do the things they want to do. Facebook has hundreds of millions of customers. So, anyone that has an iPhone or iPad, we want them to have the best experience with Facebook on those platforms. So stay tuned.

Cook was also asked regarding Siri and reported that customers love the voice assistant feature on the iPhone 4S, and that its one of the most popular features on the device. He went on to say that they have a lot more coming:

But, there’s more that it can do. We have a lot of people working on this. You’ll be really pleased with the things you’ll see over the coming months. The breadth that you’re talking about — we’ve got some cool ideas about what Siri can do. We have a lot going on on this.

 


Google Chrome Might Be Coming On iOS Soon

Macquarie Equities Research released a report stating that Google’s Chrome browser might be coming to iOS device. The report does not state when it might arrive on the Apple’s app store, however, it states that  it could be as soon as Q2 of 2012 and if it doesn’t land on the app store by that time, it is definitely arriving by the end of this year.

As much as we would like to see the Chrome browser on iOS devices — iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, Apple doesn’t allow third party browser app to be set as a default app for the device which limits the usability of the app. For example, any links within an email, text messages will open on default browser (Safari) on any iOS devices.

Chrome browser on desktop is highly successful browser with about 18.57% of browser market share falling only slightly behind Mozilla Firefox. Google, also, recently released Chrome Beta for its own mobile operating system, Android. With the release of Chrome on iOS Google also might be able to get away with the huge chunk of money it spends on Apple for Google search on Safari browser. With Chrome browser, all the money that it will earn from the search, Google will be able to keep them with themselves.

However, we do not think Chrome for iOS will make it big for a simple reason that Apple does not allow third party apps to be set as default browser.

 

Apple Releases iOS 5.1.1

Today, Apple has released iOS 5.1.1 for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch users. The update offers bug fixes and improvements for HDR, AirPlay, and Safari syncing.  iOS 5.1.1 is available for the iPhone 4S, iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS, third- and fourth-generation iPod touch, and all iPad models.

iOS device users can download the update through iTunes, or access the delta update directly on their iOS device through the Settings application. Go to Settings.app -> General -> Software update. The build number for the update is 9B206.

The full list of changes in iOS 5.1.1, as noted by Apple, are:

  • Improves reliability of using HDR option for photos taken using the Lock Screen shortcut
  • Addresses bugs that could prevent the new iPad from switching between 2G and 3G networks
  • Fixes bugs that affected AirPlay video playback in some circumstances
  • Improved reliability for syncing Safari bookmarks and Reading List
  • Fixes an issue where ‘Unable to purchase’ alert could be displayed after successful purchase
Download links for the updates are listed below:
– Third-generation iPad: Wi-FiAT&T/GSMVerizon
– iPad 2: Original Wi-FiNew Wi-Fi (with A5 die shrink), AT&T/GSMVerizon/CDMA
– Original iPad– iPhone 4S
– iPhone 4: GSMCDMA
– iPhone 3GS– iPod touch: fourth-generationthird-generation

iPhone 4S Used by a Windows Phone User: Screen

iPhone 4S

For an introduction and background to this series, please refer to my first post on the topic: New Series: iPhone 4S Used by a Windows Phone User.

After looking at the setup experience, the first thing I wanted to look at is the much talked about Retina display of the iPhone 4S. I had heard a lot about how fantastic it is, and read a lot about the technical stuff like pixel density on that screen, but hadn’t experienced it outside of using my friends’ phones for a few minutes. The few minutes I spent with my friends’ phones did not impress me much but I attributed it to the fact that I had spent so little time with the display.

So, having used it constantly for a few days, what was the verdict? Frankly, I don’t see what the big deal is. Yes, it is clear and crisp. It is very, very clear and crisp. However, the Super AMOLED screen of my Focus and the ClearBlack AMOLED on my Lumia are both equally clear and crisp. In fact, I love the deeper colors on the base Lumia screen much more than what the iPhone 4S produces. It could be a result of bigger tiles on my Lumia compared to the many folders (with tinier icons) on my iPhone, but in “real world” use, the Lumia comes off as being as clear and crisp as the iPhone and the colors richer/deeper than the iPhone.

 

IMG_0048Screen Capture (11)

 

Yes, I could zoom into a specific icon and see how there is virtually no pixelation, but I never zoom to that level with my normal eyesight. Under normal circumstances, I look at the Lumia screen (with the dark theme enabled), and I look at the iPhone 4S with the normal brightness, and I must say, the Lumia screen comes out looking better.

(Please excuse my screenshots – I tried to make sure the brightness levels on both the phones were similar, and also, it looks like screenshot tools on *both* the phones seem to be just average?)

The other area where the Retina display is supposed to do better is reading. The claim — web pages, books, etc. are much better to read on that display compared to the Lumia? Here too, I did not see a tremendous difference.

IMG_0049Screen Capture (12)

 

IMG_0053Screen Capture (15)

IMG_0051Screen Capture (14)

IMG_0050Screen Capture (13)

Perhaps my expectations were raised really high? Maybe. Perhaps I should have tested it with long periods of reading? Maybe, but I don’t read pages and pages of books on the phone. The most I read is a multi-page web article, some part of books/magazines, and of course emails. I have provided some samples of the same above, and the Retina does not come off as being vastly different from the Lumia.

I would like to state emphatically, the iPhone screen is fantastic. However, in comparison to the Lumia, it does not seem to be dramatically superior. The Lumia holds its own despite “lower specs” across the board. The ClearBlack AMOLED on the Lumia “pops” the colors very well and the text renders quite well too. Oh, and a completely personal takeaway: when I turn on the Lumia, there is an immediate “wow” factor; maybe because of the colors, the brightness, the curved glass screen, or a combination of these and other factors that I can’t really pinpoint. Whatever it is, it makes the Lumia screen feel better than the iPhone screen, to me. Some friends on Twitter said that I need to give the Retina display some time and I will realize the beauty of it. I have seen it is a good screen, but after 4-5 days of extensive use, I really don’t see a huge upside in that screen.

Also, since I promised to talk about size as well, let me say that strictly speaking, the Lumia 800 that I am using now and the iPhone are not too different in size. However, my previous phone, the Samsung Focus, was 4″ diagonally and I really, really like that size. When I started using the Lumia after the Focus, I felt that the Lumia itself was a bit small (it is 3.7″ diagonally) and the iPhone is even smaller. So, compared to my ideal screen size of 4″, the iPhone seems smaller. However, for this experiment, I will not bring it up since the Lumia 800 and the iPhone are comparable in size.

Do you have any feedback on this comparison? Have you seen something I did not? I would love to hear from you!

iPhone 4S Used by a Windows Phone User: Out Of the Box Experience, Setup

iPhone

For an introduction and background to this series, please refer to my first post on the topic: New Series: iPhone 4S Used by a Windows Phone User.

As someone who has switched (and reset) Windows Phones quite a bit, for one reason or the other, I know how painful it is to get the phone to “my state”. Yes, entering my Windows Live ID and setting up Facebook account sets up a ton of stuff automatically (Contacts, Calendars, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pictures) but there are still a lot of personalization items which I have to repeat every single time. Here is what I have to do every time I set up a new Windows Phone, after setting up my “accounts”:

  • Reinstall all my apps. It is a bit easier now with web marketplace and apps like Reinstaller, but I still have to manually reinstall each app.
  • Customize each app with login information, settings for the app, etc.
  • Set up my live tiles for various apps. Some apps offer secondary tiles (like “Sports News” in a newspaper app, for example), so these have to be manually set up.
  • De-dupe contacts across Windows Live, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. This seems like a bit of functionality which was left off for lack of time. On Windows Live website, these contacts are in fact de-duped, but on the phone, they are not. So I have to go in and clean up manually.
  • Create my People Groups and pin them to Start Screen. I like this feature a lot, so I do like to create three groups: immediate family, cousins, and close friends. That way, I see the updates from these groups bubble up over all the other noise. There’s no way to save these Groups in the cloud so they automatically come when I sign in.
  • Adjust system settings like letting Bing use location services, my Office username, etc.
  • I don’t play many games, but if I did, almost none of the games save their states in the cloud, so all game progress gets lost when moving phones.
  • Connect to PC to set up wireless sync (and check if there are any updates available for the phone).

As you can see, there is a lot of work to be done after signing into various accounts to set up a new phone. How does it go with iPhone? Read on!

New Series: iPhone 4S Used by a Windows Phone User

iPhone

Those who read my posts know that I have been a Windows Phone user since it launched in late-2010. I like the platform a lot, and do believe it is more efficient for the way I use a smartphone. Before I switched to Windows Phone, I used an iPhone 3GS. Since then, my exposure to iOS has been through my iPad (1 and 2) and my iPod Touch. However, those iOS devices are at most used for an hour a day, so it is not fair to use that to compare against the Windows Phone platform.

So, when I recently got an opportunity to get an AT&T iPhone 4S, I jumped on it. I decided to give it my full attention, use it as my primary(-ish) phone for some time, and compare and contrast iOS with Windows Phone after actually using it. I figured, rather than compare specs on paper, which anybody can, it would be better to compare usage. With that in mind, I present this new series, where I will talk about various aspects of using Nokia Lumia 800 Windows Phone vs. using an iPhone 4S. My intention is to look at the common tasks one performs with a smartphone and how they differ across these two platforms. This is not so much of a “competition” to determine who “wins”, it is more of a comparison to identify the tasks where one platform may excel and the other may not.

I plan to break the series into the following:

What I do not want to do is:

  • Look at hard specs like cores, PPI, version of bluetooth supported, etc. If any of these happen to make it more difficult for me to do normal things, I will point them out.
  • I am going in with the assumption that we are going to live in a heterogeneous world where I may have a Windows PC and related apps along with my iPhone or iPad. As a result, I will try to stay away from stuff that is clearly going to remain “Apple-only”. For example, iMessage or certain aspects of iCloud which do not carry over to say, a Windows Phone, like contacts and calendar sync. There are other platform-specific tie-ins with Windows Phone like Xbox LIVE Achievements, which again, I won’t go into.

I am genuinely excited, both, to try the iPhone 4S (it’s been about 2 years since I used an iPhone), as well as to compare that experience to how I do things on my Lumia. Is there anything specific you would like me to look at in this experiment? Let me know!

Microsoft launches Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 5000 for Tablets and PCs in India

Microsoft has introduced the Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 5000 for the Indian market making it one of the first multi-platform Bluetooth keyboards to be launched in India.

Bluetooth Keyboard 5000 pic 1

At less than three-quarters of an inch thick and 400 grams in weight, the Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 5000 is a slim and sleek alternative helping you get rid of pesky wires, docks, or trans-receivers. I’ve been using the Microsoft Arc keyboard for several months and have been looking for an alternative that takes away the need for a trans-receiver. The small unit can easily be lost and also occupies a USB port all the time. The Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 5000 is very easy on the hands and has an ergonomic Microsoft Comfort Curve design. The design promotes a more natural wrist position whether you are working on a desk or in a casual posture.

“Microsoft Bluetooth Mobile keyboard 5000 is especially designed for people on the move and as the market for mobile products such as the Tablets and Laptops increases; this is poised to become an accessory consumers would definitely want”.

Mr Satish Parreddi, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Retail Sales & Marketing, Microsoft India

The compact keyboard offers full functionality of a keyboard and is compatible with both tablets and PCs, although it is small enough to slip into a bag. Priced at an attractive price of INR 3350 in India, the Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 5000 works equally well with Microsoft Windows (Windows Vista and Windows 7), iPad, iPad2, and many Android devices. Available only in black color, the keyboard requires the standard AAA batteries.

Share Your Smartphone Screen on MyColorScreen

mycolorscreen_iconImage sharing is of essence. Pinterest and Instagram have proven that and the Instagram acquisition by Facebook has made the startup trend even more legit. MyColorScreen is a new startup that opens up a network of people who love sharing the screenshots of home screen on their smartphones.

Smartphones are something which are a strictly personalized device be it the apps or how it looks. Now if you are passionate enough to show off how your homescreen looks like, the new startup is a great place to start. The app has already housed more than 11000 homescreens from the Android and iOS. It’s a nice idea and is quite addictive as you keep on looking at those stunningly customized homescreens.

mycolorscreen-app

Once you choose to jump into the new app, sign up. After that, go to the upload screen and after a couple of selections (OS choice, phone template, homescreen screenshot) you will be able to share the screen. You can upload multiple screens at a time too. Once you have uploaded the screen you will also be able to tag apps and wallpapers in the screenshot to tell what apps you used or are visible on the screenshot.

mycolorscreen-app-tags

As we have seen how Pinterest has grown into a referral site and publishers and developers are sincerely using it as a promotional tool even though it is nothing but an image sharing service. Considering that MyColorScreen can also be a great place to promote your Android and iOS apps by tagging them to the screenshots and showing off your app (multiple) screenshots too. The striking similarity to Pinterest grid layout also goes with the recent trend of grid based UI.

The frustrating fact about the app is that you do not have a native app for the smartphones to take/share screens directly from the phone. Otherwise the site is a visually pleasing gallery of homescreens worth a watch. All said, we still have to wait to see if this app turns into a successful marketing tool or just an image sharing app. Whatever be the fate of this app, the developers did employ a brilliant concept.

Bengaluru On The Go – A Must Have iPhone/iPod Touch App for Every Bangalore Based Commuter

With traffic in Bangalore soaring to new heights, more and more people have started commuting to their workplaces by means of public transport. Getting around a huge city like Bangalore can be quite daunting, especially if you’re new to the city.

Bengaluru On The Go aims to be the app to help you sort out the commuting scene. Developed by Mumbai-based Angry Goo Dev, Bengaluru On The Go is their second app on public transport, the first app being Mumbai On The Go.

The opening screen of Bengaluru On The Go is very nicely laid out, with 4 icons showing the different means of transportation of which infomation can be viewed through the app.

Bus

The Bus section is probably the place where you’ll spend most of the time using the app. The app allows you to search for buses as per bus stop, bus number and also from a specific location to a target destination.

Tapping on the bus stop brings up a comprehensive list of bus stops from which you can board the bus. Thankfully, there’s also a search feature which means that you don’t have to wade through list of bus stops that you aren’t interested in. Tapping on a specific station brings up a list of all buses that pass through this. The thing which had me confused the first time when I checked this section is that all the views are linked – so tapping on a bus stop brings up a list of buses, tapping on a specific bus brings list of all stops through which the bus goes. Clicking on the bus stop again brings up a list of bus stops – see what I mean?

 

There’s no logical “end” to this app, which is a good and a bad thing. It’s pretty nifty if you’re going from one end of the city to other, with no direct bus linking them, so this keeps the flow of the travel. On the bad side, if you don’t notice this behavior, you’ll end up being confused as to where you are. Thankfully, there’s a “Home” button on the right hand corner of every view, so there’s a easy way to get back to the home screen.

In addition to bus stops and individual bus listings, there’s also an info button which brings up general information about BMTC bus passes and the like.

Taxi & Auto

The Taxi section is mainly informational, showing the day & night time charges and contact information of couple of Taxi services in Bangalore. The auto section, however, has a nice dial listing the distance reading and it’s corresponding day and night reading. Much like the bus section, there’s a search bar in the auto section as well so you can just enter the distance and get the fare amount.

The fares are accurate to the latest revision and sourced from Bangalore Traffic Police, Bengaluru On The Go developer Mikhail Madnani informed me when I had asked him if the fares were up-to-date.

Metro

With Namma Metro running in limited areas of Bangalore, Bengaluru On The Go also features a section dedicated to Namma Metro. With timing information, fares for token and group fares, map of the Namma Metro, Bengaluru on the Go features just about anything that you would want to know about Namma Metro.

Conclusion

While there are few apps in the App Store focusing on public transport in Bangalore, none of them have integrated all the four means as nicely as Bengaluru On The Go. Probably one of the best features of Bengaluru On The Go is that the entire app is self contained, hence it works offline even if you do not have a data connection or if your cell phone is out of network coverage. The design of the app seems a bit dull, but Angry Goo Dev are working on revamping the design of the app soon.

Bengaluru on the Go is a paid app, available for $1.99 on the App Store. While it seems relatively steep, considering the time & effort saved trying to find information from going to one place to another makes it totally worth the sticker price.

My recommendation: If you’re in Bangalore and have an iPhone or an iPod Touch, you must have this on your apps list. Grab it from the App Store.

Instagram For Android Clocks 5 Million Downloads In 6 Days

The 6 developers behind the popular picture sharing service, Instagram, must be having the time of their life. A few days ago, Instagram released its much-awaited app for Android handsets, which crossed the 1 million-download mark in just a day. When the app was released in the Play store, more than 2000 people were signing up for the service every minute.

As if the successful release of its Android app was not enough, something bigger happened last night. Facebook announced that it would be acquiring Instagram for a whopping $1 billion. Yes, $1 billion for a service that does not even generate any revenue. Also, that whopping amount will be divided among the six Instagram developers only. Talk about hitting a jackpot!

Today, the Instagram app has crossed another milestone. It has managed to clock in 5 million+ downloads in the Google Play store in just 6 days after it was initially released. This makes the app one of the biggest Android app launches in the history of the open-source mobile OS. Other developers looking to port their popular iOS game to Android take some hint from the Instagram team on how to do so successfully!

Instagram was initially launched on the iOS App Store around one and a half years ago, and has around 27 million iOS users to date. The iOS version had taken around 6 months to reach the 5 million downloads milestone!

Via – TheNextWeb

Amazon Appstore is More Profitable than Android Market (Google Play)

Apple’s iOS is still the top smartphone platform in terms of apps, with over 550,000 apps, while Google’s Android comes a close second with around 400,000 apps in the Android Market.

However, when it comes to generating revenue, iOS is still miles ahead of the Google Play Store. According to Flurry’s research, a top iOS app generates more than 4 times as much revenue than a top Android app on the Play Store.

Surprisingly for us, and humiliatingly for Google, Amazon’s Appstore is much better than the Google Play store in terms of generating revenue from apps. It generates 89% of the revenue generated by iOS apps, and more than thrice the revenue generated by Android apps on the Google Play Store.

Appstore Revenue Comparison

Amazon seems to be having much more success than Google with Android. It has the most popular Android tablet, the most profitable Android App Store. Now you know another reason why Google wants to jump into the tablet fray with its own budget Nexus tablet – it can’t let Amazon milk its Android cow, while it stands on the sidelines.

In the mean time, despite losing the market share war, Apple’s iOS remains the best platform for developers, and hence, users.

Nexus Tablet: Why It is Different from a Nexus Phone

Google Nexus Phone

In the past few days, the rumors of Google making and selling their own tablet have gained steam. The rumors also point to a Kindle Fire-like price point of $199. The instant reaction is to look at Google’s earlier attempt to sell hardware directly to consumers, the Nexus One phone. We know it was a failed experiment which Google acknowledged, by shutting down the operations.

Nexus tablet, on the other hand, is a completely different story. I have firmly believed that tablets should not be sold by the carriers. Yes, there are some options with tablets where you can get cellular broadband service, but first and foremost, a tablet should be sold like a PC. I mean, a computer store or a consumer electronics store. Best Buy, Fry’s Electronics and the like. The carriers can also hop in and sell the 3G/4G versions of the tablets like they tried selling the 3G-enabled netbooks. So, taking the sales point away from the carrier stores is a good sign. Compare this with the phone where, at least in the US, it is extremely hard to sell a phone without subsidies. Nokia tried it long time ago and failed. Even Apple briefly tried the unsubsidized route but realized people are much more sensitive to upfront price than you would think. Given that the sale of the phone is tied so much to a carrier, it does not make much sense to conduct the sale away from the carrier. Apple is clearly an exception here, like in many business processes today.

Secondly, the price. If the rumors are true and the tablet is in fact around $199, it will be a huge win. A stock Android tablet with no “skins” installed, for $199 could be an interesting device. Kindle Fire has its ecosystem to rely upon but out of the box, it does limit which Android apps can run on the device. If a Nexus tablet can run all Android apps, and additionally support Amazon media consumption (either via Amazon apps like Kindle app or via the browser for Amazon Video), it becomes a superset of the Fire, for the same price as the Fire. Yes, the current Android tablets already do all of that, I understand. However, none of them have gained any traction yet, and if Google can get behind the marketing and sales, and create a Nexus phone-style clean and crisp user experience, I think users may get interested.

In fact, if this strategy does not work, you can presumably call it the end of the road for Android tablets.

IDC: Android to Topple Windows by 2016

IDC just published a new research report tracking the growth in sales of PC, tablet and smartphone shipments in the coming years. Smart connected devices, which include these three, saw shipments of more than 916 million units, with revenues of around $489 billion in 2011.

IDC predicts total device shipments to reach 1.1 billion in 2012, with device shipments almost doubling to 1.84 billion units by 2016 – a CAGR of nearly 15.4%.

IDC Smart Devices 2012

Smartphones are expected to account for a major portion of this growth, while tablets will also account for significant growth. PC shipments aren’t expected to grow much in the coming years.

While Windows is currently the top platform on smart devices, its overall share is expected to drop to 25.1% share in 2016, from a 35.9% share in 2011. On the other hand, Android devices will account for almost 31.1% of all smart devices in 2016, up from 29.4% in 2011, and lead the total market. Apple’s iOS devices are expected to capture 17.3% market share in 2016, up from 14.6% in 2011.

The growth in Android device sales is expected to be driven by the propagation of cheap tablets and smartphones, a segment which is currently dominated by Android.

Interestingly, IDC mentions that most Android device makers will find it hard to stay profitable, given the intense price competition.

It also says that iOS will continue to be more lucrative for developers, despite the low market share, due to a higher proportion of users who are willing to pay for apps.

Microsoft Aiming to Bring All Top Apps to Windows Phone

Despite having more than 70,000 apps, Microsoft’s Windows Phone is still far behind Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android in terms of sheer numbers. That is probably the biggest hurdle that Microsoft needs to cross, now that it seems to have figured the hardware conundrum, with its new focus on budget smartphones with Tango.

Microsoft has been surprisingly friendly to Windows Phone developers until now, and apparently has plans to become even more friendly, to attract more of them to its platform.

Nokia and Microsoft will be spending up to $12 million each to fund a new program called AppCampus at Aalto University in Finland. They will fund app developers who build apps for Windows Phone, as well as other Nokia platforms.

More details about Microsoft’s plans to address the lack of top apps were revealed in some leaked slides today. Apparently, Microsoft plans to set aside $10 million and use it to “ring-fence” top iOS and Android app developers who aren’t currently building for Windows Phone. Even if Microsoft isn’t able to match the numbers of iOS or Android, if it is able to get the top apps to Windows Phone, that might do it for most users. It also plans to reduce average app pricing to bring it in line with other platforms, and try to offer more exclusive titles on Windows Phone.

Microsoft plans to bridge the gap in terms of top apps by Q2 2012. We should know how it works out in the next three months.