So I’ve been missing in action for quite some time. Sorry about that, but hey we all have off months right? Anyway, during my time away several new developments have come about. The iPhone got bigger, the iPad got smaller, and Windows was completely reinvented. It’s quite the world we live in when almost 100% of consumer technology changes in a matter of months.
Whiners rejoice and the blogosphere is full of Windows 8 haters. I don’t think I’ve seen this many people claiming Microsoft falling since 1995. Nearly 20 years ago Microsoft changed the Windows interface and the technology world was claiming the sky was falling. Yet again people are misrepresenting change, and calling for MS to shut the doors and board up the… dare I say it… Windows.
Everything I own these days has an Apple logo on it and I’m proud to report Windows 8 is running great on my machine. I’ll admit that it’s distinctly different, and the learning curve can be a bit challenging. Honestly I don’t see how it couldn’t be. The PC is evolving and what it needed was an operating system capable of being used on the next generation PC. Windows 8 is exactly that, it allows the PC to change form and compete with smartphones and tablets.
First let me explain that Windows 8 is two distinctly different interfaces built into a single operating system. The “new” interface formerly known as Metro, was built to run what Microsoft calls Microsoft Store Apps. This interface is built for touch input and relies heavily on gesture based navigation. It was designed to run on ARM based devices and competes directly with the smartphone and tablet markets. Think about it this way: this interface was built to compete with the iPad and App store. Now it’s possible to buy devices that only run this interface. This version of Windows is called Windows 8 RT.
The full-blown version of Windows 8, the version most of us will use, is a second interface mode. This is called the desktop mode, essentially this mode works exactly the same way Windows 7 did. The biggest change in this mode is the loss of the start button, but a few third-party utilities already exist to put it back.
So, Microsoft has allowed PC manufactures to create new types of PCs. Some are tablet only, slate type devices, others are convertible PCs and some creative folks are building completely new form factors. Windows 8 has bred new life into PC hardware choices, something that the PC world desperately needs. It’s clearly the right choice and as new form factors arise savvy customers will embrace the idea that they can purchase a single device that serves the role of both laptop and tablet.
My assessment is that Windows 8 doesn’t suck! It does require a bit of trial and error, and they could have done a better job of merging the interfaces but it’s a great step in the right direction and you simply can’t beat it with a price point under $40.00.
The thing that I liked most about my iPhone changed. I know it sounds trivial but I use my phone one-handed and I loved the form factor of the smaller screen. Having said that, the iPhone 5 launched with iOS6 and both lacked the quality I’ve come to expect from Apple. The first batch of iPhones were built quickly, and it showed. Wireless connectivity issues, screen problems, camera halos, and case imperfections were all reported with the initial release. Since then it appears that Apple slowed production and the quality increased, but the delivery times are horrid. Along with the hardware issues, iOS6 removed Google Maps and replaced it with a less than complete in-house map program.
My assessment this release is a black eye for Apple. The issues with the hardware have been resolved, iOS6 has had updates to correct several issues but it will be a long time before Apple maps can compare to Google Maps. The iPhone 5 is safe to buy, but it lacks the killer feature to make it stand out.
The iPad Mini has a 7.9 inch screen making it larger than it’s competitors. The screen size and the power of the App Store make up the primary selling points for the iPad Mini. With a starting price point of $329 the device isn’t cheap but it’s not out of reach. This device offers teens and parents of teens an affordable option for a device that seems geared for education. While the device does not currently sport a retina display, I predict we will see it in the next version.
My assessment of this is that it makes a better gift than an iPod that will cost about as much. It’s an excellent device for students, and offers a nicer screen for media consumption. If you can wait to buy, I’d hold for the next model as I think they will improve the screen.
Honestly I can’t do a proper assessment of Android, I simply don’t like the OS. What I can say is that my latest experience with the devices show me great improvements. The interface is clean, and what was once laggy is now fluid. Hands down Google Maps beats Apple maps so they have a winner with users needing directions. The killer app on Android for me would be Google Now.
Google Now is a predictive personal assistant. It utilizes Google data about you to offer up content that you’re likely to need at any given time. For example it “learns” your sports team preferences and will serve up the final score as games end. The killer part of the Google Now experience for me is that it comes with Google Maps. Google now understands how you travel and where you’re going. So for example if you have a meeting at 4 p.m., Google Now is smart enough to know you’ll be driving to the appointment. It scans traffic conditions and routes to your meeting destination and changes the reminder on your appointment to account for traffic conditions and travel time.
My assessment of Android is positive, it’s an excellent competitor to iOS and in some ways offers a superior experience. The issue of fragmentation within the Android device market is nearly the only flaw. If you’re a smart consumer and understand the product versions you can get an excellent device at a reasonable price.
As the holidays approach be sure to tune in and see my suggestions for this years hot tech tools and toys. This year we have some real winners!
Filed under: Mobile, Reviews, Technology | Tagged: Android, Apple, iPad Mini, iPhone 5, Microsoft, Windows 8 | 2 Comments »