Springtime for nerds

It’s spring and the mind of the geek turns to new hardware releases.

The iWatch is still the hot rumor, but I wouldn’t expect that to even be announced until September.  That is when Apple will, probably, announce the iPhone 6, and iOS 8.
I’ve seen rumors that Apple will include a range of fitness tracking options in the much debated iWatch.  If they do, then they have a chance to pounce on the market hole created by FitBit recalling their Force device.   This also puts a lot of pressure of FitBit to come up with a Force replacement (with a functional wrist band) PDQ.  If they wait too long, and the iWatch rumors get stronger, they will loose market share to Apple’s vaporware.
On the Amazon front, they have discounted their Kindle devices.  Given that they had razor thin margins at best at the retail price, I’m taking the discounting as a sign they want to dump inventory.  Flushing the channels of the current inventory in preparation for new model Kindles in the pipeline. I expect them to announce these well in advance of Apple’s big announcement in September.  Big retail sale days for consumer electronics include Graduation and Father’s Day (Dad loves his gadgets).  If they can make those dates, that would make up for the loss from discounting the current Kindles.   They count on the downstream sales on those devices anyway.
For the Android fans out there, take heart.  The Google I/O show is slated for June.  The rumor mill is expecting the next flavor of Android to come out as well as some new hardware.  A new Nexus and some more wearables to go with Google Glass are expected.
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iTunes for the UI Fail!

Approaching the two hour mark for what should be a simple iPhone sync.

I flushed the primary drive of my desktop, loaded Windows 7 and and started reinstalling software. All my data is on another drive, so it should be a fairly straightforward process.   To Windows 7’s credit, it has been. Up until I hit iTunes, software from the UI Uber-geniuses at Apple.

I installed iTunes, it found my old information in the my documents folder tree (part of that keeping all the data on a separate drive things), but was treating this as a new instance of iTunes, instead of the continuation of the old one.

I manage my music and movies manually, and sync podcasts and apps.  If I tried to change the default setting to that configuration, I got dire warnings from iTunes that it would erase my phone data and replace it. After a bit of digging, I did the non-intuitive action of transferring my ‘purchases’ from the iPhone to this instance of iTunes.  They I made the selection to sync the podcasts I wanted synced and got the dire warnings again.  I bit the bullet, hit sync, and here I am two hours later, still waiting for iTunes to figure this out.

I’ve made the selection not to send usage data to Apple at least three times, each time, careful to hit the “don’t ask this questions again” button.

I’m still no closer to having Dr. Tiki and the gang loaded on my iPhone. So much for Apple’s ease of use and well known attention to detail in order to improve the user experience.

In this case they have screwed that pouch so hard that poor mutt can’t walk.

Epic Fail for the vaunted Apple UI here.

The Droid

Verizon has finally gotten what could a be a viable iPhone replacement.  A phone running the latest version of Google’s Andorid OS and a growing supply of applitions.

I haven’t got my hands on one yet, but I’ve read a few reviews that state it stands up quite well in head to head comparisons with the iPhone.  The biggest complaint I’ve heard is that the iPhone has a much deeper pool of applications available.  Not suprising, but I expect the number of Android apps to grow quickly.

Verizon is also pushing its much wider 3G coverage heavily, but it’s still not a GSM network.  That topic has been discussed here, and I’m sure it will again, but I’m still a fan of GSM networks.  It is my opinion that Verizon is going to have to bite that bullet sooner or later.

The Droid phone and its OS have another advantage, open source.  The iPhone is locked down tight by Apple.  It controls your apps, what they can do, and how much data you can transfer over the cell phone network.  An Android based phone, with a SIM slot, is much more flexible.

Bringing another over to the Dark Side

My brother just bought a shiny new iPhone 3GS.  He had a smart phone, but didn’t like it. The User Experience on that phone just plain sucked.  It wasn’t  just that the phone used the Microsoft WINCE OS, although that is a damn good start for a poor user experience, the had the nasty habit of randomly dialing from his pocket, and loading apps or ending his call while using it as a phone because it thought his ear was the phone’s stylus.

Now, as Leo Leoporte said a few weeks ago, using Apple products is like living in Mussolini’s Italy.   Ya, the trains run on time, but there is some nasty stuff going on to make that happen.  The iPhone UI is second to none for a smart phone, but crap like blocking the Google Voice app and limiting desktop access to iTunes ensures that a good chunk of their user base will switch as soon as a more open alternative has 60% or more of their functionality and a slick user interface (can you say Android kiddies?).

Well, Android isn’t there yet, so I’m still sticking with my iPhone, especially since the camera on it is greatly improved.  I’ve seen posts by multiple professional photographers who have stopped carrying a “pocket camera” all the time, because they think their iPhone is “good enough.”

Here is my entry for a damn good iPhone photograph.

iPhone firmware 3.1 BETA

Firmware version 3.1 has just entered BETA.

Here are some of the highlights.

Bluetooth support for Voice Control.  So finally, my iPhone “smartphone” will be able to do wihat my old Motorola Razr did from day one.  Tap the button on a Bluetooth headset and initiate a call simply by speaking.

MMS may or may not be supported. Depends on AT&T approval.

Small improvements to the video editing.

There are a few other minor features, but I’m expecting there will be a number of bug fixes in the release that won’t make the public annoucements, including anti-jail break features.

iPhone 3GS

I broke down and got a new iPhone. My old one was a 1st gen, I gained a lot of new features. Faster processor, more memory, GPS, and a much better camera. In addition to better stills, the 3GS will take videos as well.

The better camera and videos are really the big feature over the 3G. The older version supports many of the software features. The real bang for the buck comes from upgrading from the first gen model.

What will be interesting is see how the multiple phones running the Android OS will stack up as well as the applications that will be written for it.

Update: Ok, the single most useful feature of the 3GS over the first gen iPhone, not needing a bloody adapter to use a standard set of head phones!

Summer of the Smart Phone

Let’s review what is announced/rumored for this summer.

Palm’s Pre is due out in two days.  Will it be enought to save Palm? Hell, Sprint could use the boost too.

Two days after that,  the new iPhone firmware is release, and probably new iPhone hardware as well.

Later this month, Nokia’s N97 is due out

After that,  Google will release another rev of Android and multiple Android phones will be hitting th streets.