Is Convergence the Way to Go?

Both Apple and Microsoft are bringing their desktop and mobile computing experiences closer together. Is this a good idea, or a recipe for disaster?

Current rumor has Apple releasing Mountain Lion next month.  Windows is due to hit the streets outside of Redmond, likely in October 2012.  While considered polar opposites, these two new versions of OS X and Windows have one key ingredient in common – they are both trying to bring their desktop and mobile computing experiences closer together.

Microsoft Windows 8
You can see Soft32′s Windows 8 deep dive, here.  In Windows 8, Microsoft is designing an operating system that can be used on either a desktop or laptop as well as a tablet.  Windows 8′s new user interface, Metro, is heavily touch based. It has the user physically interacting with the hardware and the computing objects on it via touch.  If the hardware being used doesn’t have a touch layer, then the user can use both keyboard and mouse to simulate touch.

As I pointed out in my review (URL), this doesn’t always lend itself to the best computing experience. Using the mouse to simulate a touch and swipe to scroll through a screen isn’t as intuitive as it sounds, and is really rather clumsy. I think I’ve established, with Windows 8, that having one OS for either hardware types or categories doesn’t create a good user experience. However, in my opinion, this is clearly in response to only Google’s Android (to an extent), but to Apple’s Lion and Mountain Lion releases of OS X.  Microsoft sees the movement towards a unified computing experience and has taken a unified approach in developing a single operating system to cover all computing hardware types.

Last time, we looked at Microsoft and Windows 8. Let’s take a quick look at how Apple has decided to converge iOS and OS X.  Mountain Lion continues Apple’s desire to blur the lines between the two…

Apple OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion
Apple’s approach is much different.  Instead of putting OS X on your iPhone or iPad or iOS on your Mac, Apple is bringing specific iOS features to the desktop.  These mobile device features are adapted to the desktop or laptop for, what Apple feels is a better experience on the non (or not as) mobile hardware.

The difference here is approach and design.  Apple is taking specific features from iOS – Messages, Notifications, Reminders, iCloud Integration, etc., those that make sense to have on the desktop and are finding a way to implement those. The features are similar, but not identical, given the differences in the hardware.  Their addition is subtle, even elegant in some cases, as in the implementation of Notifications.  The point is though, that while both platforms have similar features, while they may share a similar look and/or feel, they are implemented and presented differently, taking advantage of the benefits of each platform.

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Lightroomapps brings big improvements to their GoDocs for Google Docs

Lightroomapps released the third version of GoDocs for iPhone and iPad. This latest version brings major changes to the application including an improved interface and no synchronizing limitation. The reading part was brought to the next level by improving the loading speed of large files you are now able to open pdf links, go to specific page and even read pdf files in two dimensions.

With GoDocs you are able to search for text in documents. Therefore, finding specific paragraph or line is easier than ever before. Now, you have the opportunity to switch between the mobile and desktop editors. More than that, we optimized the editor so the entire process is streamlined and easy.

With Push Notifications service you will receive push notification when a new document has been shared with you or when a shared document has been changed by someone else. There are a lot of innovations in the revisions. While preserving viewing of specific revisions, now you have the ability to open them in other applications, send revisions by email or print specific revision.

GoDocs 3.0 has a refreshed and even more user-friendly interface. The app looks amazing on the iPhone and now supports iPad Retina Display.

Pay attention that you have to re-add the account after updating. This is required for Push Notifications to be set up properly. Also it will prevent any problems with synchronization.




buy GoDocs

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iPad 3 Rumor Roundup

After months of speculation, it’s looking likely the third generation of the iPad is imminent. Here’s your guide to what’s known and rumored about what will likely be the hottest gadget of 2012.

What’s the timetable and how do we know?

Apple has just announced a press event for March 7th, teasing journalists with the line “We have something you really have to see. And touch.” If this is the launch of the iPad 3, the device would likely be on sale within a few weeks.

 

Is this definitely a new iPad?

That’s the most likely explanation. It’s unlikely to be a new iPhone given the last model only came out a few months back. One other possibility could be a rumored new device that’s around the five to seven inch mark, though most analysts believe this would be a poor compromise between a smartphone and tablet.

What are the most likely changes in the new iPad?

One likelihood is a quad-core processor. That means a chip that can literally do four things instantaneously. This means the device will be able to do a much better job of carrying out demanding tasks without slowing down other features. For example, the iPad could use three of the cores to carry out video editing while still letting the user access the web. Quad-core would allow more intensive gaming and other tasks previously thought of as restricted to full-blown computers.

Another expected change is a screen with a 2048 x 1536 resolution, nearly double that of a full-HD screen. Taking account of the bigger screen size, this would be similar to the “retina” display on the latest iPhones. Apple uses this name with the argument that, at an ordinary viewing distance, such a resolution means the human eye can’t distinguish individual pixels, effectively making the image identical to reality.

What other new features could debut?

It’s thought the US model will support LTE, one of the new generation or 4G mobile data technologies. When it works to its full potential, 4G allows users to get the same speeds as home broadband from anywhere with a good mobile signal. Unfortunately LTE is still in the test stages in the UK.

The new iPad could also have a Near Field Communications chip, a technology similar to Bluetooth that only works over a few centimetres but connects almost instantly. It’s mainly used for contactless smartphone payments at the moment, but it could allow quick wireless syncing with compatible computers.

Less likely-sounding rumors include a 128GB model (double the current highest capacity) and a change to the Apple-specific charger and data socket.

How certain is all of this?

You can never be 100% certain about Apple rumours. The company loves to keep an air of mystery about its plans and techies tend to get caught up in their imagination and dreams when predicting what’s going to happen, the most embarrassing recent example being when the widely-hyped iPhone 5 turned out to simply be the slightly tweaked iPhone 4S. That said, there are a lot of credible sources, including in the South East Asia electrical engineering industry where large component orders by Apple often uncover its future plans.

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CopyTrans Suite – a set of apps to replace iTunes and manage your iPod or iPhone

One of the most annoying features of the Apple iPod is that it can only be connected to one computer at any one given time. This isn’t useful if you have multiple computers on your network, in your house or at work, with different audio collections that you own. Likewise, if you are going to get a new computer and want to scrap the old one, you can’t just connect your iPod to the new computer and transfer that audio over.

CopyTrans Suite, an iPod utility, fixes all of these problems. With CopyTrans Suite you can back up, copy, recover and, simply, transfer music from your iPod to your computer. CopyTrans Suite is compatible with your iPod, Photo, Mini, Shuffle, Nano, Video, Touch and iPhone, so this even works if you are upgrading from your old iPod but want to keep some of those older songs that you no longer have.

CopyTrans Suite is a fantastic application for people with multiple iPods, multiple computers or multiple audio collections. Instead of having segregated music collections, you can now unify them together to give you all of your music, all of the time, wherever you go. CopyTrans Suite also acts as a fantastic backup utility, so that even if your computer crashes, you can restore your entire iPod library to your computer easily.

Read full review | Download CopyTrans

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iPad 3 Rumors & Thoughts – Part 1: Hardware

With Steve Jobs gone and his legacy not completely publically known or understood, the iPad 3 is almost a complete unknown as well, though the rumor mill has been churning lately. Let’s take a look at some of the rumors and see what’s what.

I’ve been reading the authorized Steve Jobs biography, and quite honestly, I’ve been learning a great deal. Apple very much *IS* Steve Jobs, and vice-versa. It’s been an interesting read. Much of the design and thoughts for the iPad itself came before the iPhone. It was put on hold to address and release the need for the iPhone. However, the magic that is the iPhone will forever be beholden to the iPad. This was probably one of the most interesting revelations I’ve encountered in the book so far. But the iPad… that was Steve’s baby. He really wanted to do a tablet to counter the netbook surge and push, which is pretty much OVER at this point.

Apple has the tablet market pretty much sewn up. At this point, Android can try all it wants, but without the walled garden that Apple has cultivated and nurtured, it’s going to be hard for Google, any of their hardware partners, or ANYONE really, to catch up to them any time soon.

That being the case, rumors of an updated iPad have been circulating for quite some time. Many sites have been saying that the next generation iPad is already in production, and is readying for a March or April release. While I won’t say too much about that just yet, I do want to touch on some of the other rumors related to specific hardware feature sets that many are speculating will differentiate it from the iPad 2.

Better Screen – HD Resolution?
There’s been a great deal of speculation about this particular, potential feature upgrade. A Retina Display from Samsung, a Sharp IGZO display… No one really knows for certain what is going to happen here. However, I think it’s safe to say that Apple’s next generation iPad will have a much better screen than both the iPad 1 and iPad 2. Regardless of what type or which manufacturer really got the contract, Digitimes is reporting some (also unconfirmed) specifics on the screen:

  • A QXGA (1,536×2,048 pixels) display
  • Longer battery life
  • Although its other hardware specs may not be as exciting

The A6 Processor
Apple’s next system on a chip should have nearly twice as much punch as its previous iOS devices. The A5 chip is dual core. The A6 is rumored to be a quad core powerhouse. The tablet should be able to crunch through some major data at that point. Unfortunately, I haven’t heard how fast the chip is rumored to be, though I would assume 1.2-1.5gHz would not be unreasonable.

The Graphics Processor
Given that mobile gaming is on an uptick, and that iOS gaming is in no small part responsible for most of that uptick, it’s almost a certainty that an enhanced graphics processor will be part of Apple’s new iPad. There’s been very little about which processor…but with gaming becoming more important, and iLife apps like GarageBand and iMovie likely to be improved as well, the next edition iPad will need the additional punch of an improved graphics processor. This is probably more important than the implementation of the A6 processor.

HD Camera
The implementation of an HD quality screen begs the implementation of an HD camera. The implementation of a front and rear facing camera in the iPad 2, and the introduction of iMovie for the iPad really kicked this off. I would say that a 720p/8MP rear and 2-3MP front cameras are a safe bet as well.

4G-LTE
Apple clearly stated that it wouldn’t support LTE in the iPhone 4S. While speculation is ripe, no one is willing to make a FIRM say-so on the implementation of LTE. However, it is widely anticipated that Apple will support LTE in both the iPad 3 as well as iPhone 5. So as long as you’re in an LTE equipped market, you should be good to go.

Thunderbolt
This is probably my most favorite and most underused feature in my Early 2011 MacBook Pro. With the implementation of this high speed connectivity solution in its desktops, it seems logical that Apple will move to Thunderbolt and improve the throughput of local synchronization for all its iDevices. However, that would retether the devices it unleashed with the implementation of iCloud in iOS 5.

It would also totally hose about a gazillion iDevice accessories currently on the market today. Apple has been using their 30 pin dock connector forever, and while there have been a few changes to it, generally speaking they’ve stuck with it since the iPod was introduced many years ago.

This would be an interesting development; and one that I actually hope doesn’t come about. However, we’ll have to wait and see.

Come back next time, and I’ll dive into this a bit more with some speculation about iOS 6 and what it’s going to bring to the table.

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HP & WebOS – What does its Loss mean, really?

In a mobile world currently dominated by iOS and Android, does the loss and then open sourcing of WebOS really matter?

I’ve been in mobile devices most of my career. I cut my teeth on them. I’ve watched some devices and operating systems grow up, grow old and die. PalmOS, WindowsCE and Windows Mobile are a few. WinMo was killed for Windows Phone, and its totally different.

WebOS with its cards motif was a big step forward and a huge step away from Palm’s traditional PalmOS. The hardware was ok, the OS was pretty good; but Palm lost their momentum and wasn’t able to turn it around.

Palm mothballed the OS and sold it to HP. HP promised to do something with it, but they couldn’t get it together either. They initially decided to let the OS die, but later decided to revive it and open source it. Its been a number of weeks since that announcement. I can’t help but wonder what the impact of that development means at this time.

In a word or two…not much.

HP’s official development and work with WebOS has ended. They’ve given the software to the development community to tweak and use as they like. Right now, there aren’t any CURRENT devices using the open sourced (or any) version of WebOS. Unless a major hardware manufacturer or OEM decides to go that way, you likely won’t see it, either.

So again, what does that mean? Will it make a difference in an iOS and Android dominated market?

I don’t think so. The iPhone is the iPhone and will continue to grow in popularity all over the world. Android will continue in current and new devices, and be as diverse as the day is long. Windows Phone will continue to chip away at both; and RIM will likely disappear,  regardless of what WebOS does or doesn’t do.

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iPhone 4S Battery Problems – A Viable Work Around

While Apple takes another whack at cracking the battery life nut in iOS 5.x, there are a few things users can do in order to keep themselves powered up.

The battery life issues in iOS5 are real. Apple has acknowledged them and they’re actively working on trying to resolve them. Unfortunately, its proving to be a bigger nut to crack than they thought it was going to be. So while Apple tries to dig themselves out of the battery life hole, I thought it might be a good idea to explore a few battery life saving alternatives.


Switch to EDGE Only
When 3G data was introduced to smartphones a few years back, it was discovered that 3G radios consume a LOT more battery power than EDGE based radios. It was also discovered that the device will work VERY hard to pull in and lock onto weak 3G signals, thereby consuming even more battery power. This is a problem, especially if you live in an area that skirts the edge of 3G coverage area.

One of the things that carriers tell their customers who are having battery life issues is to turn off 3G and run on EDGE only. Yes, you will be relegated to much slower speeds, but the extended battery life may be worth the trade off to you, especially if the 3G coverage you have in your area is spotty.

Curb Data Use
If you don’t have a lot of data running over your smartphone’s data connection, you can turn data off completely and you’ll save a lot of battery power. This kinda kills the smart in your smartphone, but again, you’d be surprised at how much power you can save. I do believe that this isn’t realistic, though. If you’re going to do this on a regular basis, then you probably didn’t want a smartphone in the first place. I’d switch to EDGE only first…

Carry a Power/USB Cable
If you’re going to be out and about, then you need to carry an iPod/iPhone cable in your gear bag, backpack, purse, whatever. If you’re going to be in the car for a while, you need to make certain you have a car kit or a power cord for your car. Charge the device when you can and keep the battery fresh at given points throughout the day.

Get an External Battery
Both Mophie and Zagg offer external batteries for your USB powered devices. While they can be a bit pricey, having additional battery power available for your iPhone can be important, if you choose to leave your data services as they are, fully enabled, and find yourself running low on power.

Get a Battery Case
There are a number of different battery cases available for the iPhone. Most offer an additional 10 to 20 hours of additional battery life as well as much needed protection to your iPhone. The only downside to a battery case is that they add a great deal of bulk and some additional weight to the device. You need to make certain you’re ok with a thicker, bulkier device before jumping into one of these. Depending on the model you buy, you can expect to pay $40-$100 USD for the case; but the additional bulk, weight and cost may be worth your while as Apple works on the iOS update that’s supposed to resolve this issue.

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iOS 6 Wish List

iOS5 is out and available to all supported iOS devices. With the iPhone 5 and iPad 3 rumored to be coming in 2012, let’s take a quick moment to speak to a couple desired features.

The release of the iPhone 4S also gave us iOS5. Battery life issues and improvements not-withstanding, any additional additions or life altering improvements will need to wait until iOS 6 is released. In light of that, I’d like to speak to a quick wish list for iOS6. The list is below, in no particular order.


Improved Battery Life

Let’s face it, the battery life issues in iOS 5 are real and legitimate. The iPhone’s battery needs to last at least 12 hours between charges. I don’t know if that’s a software fix, a hardware adjustment, or a better, bigger battery. I don’t care. At the end of the day, however, 12 legitimate, realistic hours is the magic number in my opinion.


Browsable File System (a File Manager)

We have about as good a chance at getting a real, browsable file system as we do of Samsung and Apple amicably settling their patent disputes. A browsable file system goes against the tenants that Apple laid down regarding iOS – the user doesn’t need to worry about such things. However, at times, I would like to be able to add, subtract and move files on my own without having to use a sync conduit (iTunes).


Widgets

This is the one Android thing I am really going to miss when I move back to iOS. Widgets on my home screen are an awesome way for me to check the time, the weather, etc. However, Apple hasn’t embraced the concept and really hasn’t changed their application launcher at all. The only thing they did to it, really since its introduction in the original iPhone in 2007, was to add folder support, and implement Spotlight searching. But I would really like to see a clock and weather widget on my main home screen. My eyes aren’t as sharp as they used to be, and I’d like to do this without jail breaking the device.


Google (or other provider) Maps with Turn by Turn Navigation

I’ve said it many times, I am SEVERELY directionally challenged. I need turn-by-turn navigation on my phone. Without it, I’m going to get turned around and get lost when going to new places. Android and Windows Phone have this via either Google or other carrier sanctioned application. I’d rather not go the carrier sanctioned route. It would be nice to either have something Apple branded or from an Apple partner on the device when I buy it. The current version of Google Maps really just isn’t enough.


Customizable Shortcuts (to settings and other default applets)

I would really like to be able to place a shortcut on my device to Airplane mode, Sound/Vibrate toggle, Bluetooth on/off, Wi-Fi on/off, 3G/4G on/off, etc. or to at least have this built into some sort of Settings bar that could be enabled on one or more home screens. Constantly sifting through menus to get to this stuff is a pain, and is very inefficient.


Siri Improvements

I like the idea of AI on my smartphone. I like the idea of being able to have an intelligent conversation with my device and then it taking action based on that. Part of that is there now – Siri, what’s my day like? Siri, schedule a meeting on “xxx” with “xxx.” Siri, send an email to, “xxx…” I know I’m a getting a little ahead of the game, but something like I want isn’t too far away based on the building blocks that are already put in place. I think some of this is going to happen, but it’s going to take a lot of time, and won’t all come together in iOS6. It will take a number of years and a number of OS revisions. It’s also going to take time, working with Siri on YOUR iPhone, as it will need to learn your habits and then anticipate them. What I would like to see for iOS 6.x is a way for that learned behavior to be passed on from OS rev to OS rev, old iPhone to new iPhone.

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