Apple's iPad Event

Yesterday, Apple accidentally leaked the specs and design for their two new iPads, the iPad Air 2 and the iPad Mini 3, before today's event.

After what seemed like another 3000 amazing dad jokes from Craig Federighi, including one totally adorably phone call with the one and only Stephen Colbert, Apple made it's first announcement. OS X 10.10 Yosemite would be available for download today, and that it would be free. Yosemite was first unveiled back in June's WWDC 2014 event, and it not only served as a total visual refresh of OS X to complement the more recent iOS visual overhaul, it brought forward a bunch of new things, most notably, continuity.

The second announcement was that iOS 8.1 would be available for download this coming Monday, and after the absolute nightmare that was iOS 8.0.1 that bricked any iPhone 6/6+ user that was unfortunate enough to have downloaded it, 8.1 looks to bring a whole slew of improvements to the operating system.

Also rolling out on Monday is the first stage in Apple Pay, Apple's NFC based payment system. The company has partnered with 500+ banks since it's initial announcement last month.

The biggest news of the event, however, wasn't a recap of the software we saw last month at the #AppleLive event, but rather it was the announcement of the new iPad Air 2, and the iPad Mini 3. Both devices have the Touch ID sensor that was first seen last year in the iPhone 5S, and now come in the champagne gold colour as well. The major difference now is that the two no longer stand equal. With last year's model, you could buy either the Air or the Mini, and not feel like you were settling for something lesser than what the other offered. It didn't matter what screen size you bought - you were getting the latest and greatest from Apple. Now, the Air outstrips the Mini in every conceivable way, from the inclusion of the A8 processor to a thinner design. The Mini, however, remains the exact same, without even getting a spec bump to last year's A7 chip, and has the same thickness. It's essentially a non-upgrade, and more expensive than it's near identical twin, the iPad Mini 2.

And this is where the first of Apple's many problems comes from - a total lack of focus. The designs of the iPhones and iPads are completely different, and from a company that prides itself on it's uniformity and continuity of design, that's simply unnacceptable. The new iPhones have tapered glass that goes edge to edge and rounded sides, but the iPads still have the chamfered edges seen back on the iPhone 5 over two years ago.

And the worst part about all of this is that there are now FIVE iPads to choose from. Five. That's a play straight from the book of Samsung, with tablets from every generation and size imaginable creating a nightmarish situation when it comes to choice. And these iPads, with the exception of the Air 2, are all basically the same 'S' updates of one another. Sure, they're better, faster, and thinner, but they're all still largely the same as before. 

In a move unlike Apple, and more Samsung-esque in Nature, (which is weird given Samsung's recent efforts to make people buy their latest phones and not the $0 on contract Galaxy S3 from two years ago), Apple is still selling their older models. If there's one thing they should borrow from Google it's that once they move onto the newest hardware, from the Nexus 4 to the Nexus 5 to the Nexus 6, they should stop selling the previous generation, instead focusing on bringing people up to the newest hardware that the company is offering.

The problem's Apple is trying to solve in this refresh is a problem that no one has, that their iPads and iPhones are too thick. With the iPhone 6 and 6+, they reduced the footprint of the phone, but left an unsightly camera bulge which is atypical of Apple, and sacrificed the structural integrity of the device overall. Sure, the original iPad is thicker than two iPad Air 2s stacked one on top of another, but that doesn't matter to most users. Users want a device that will lost long, and that requires a larger batter. Most users would be more than happy with a slightly thicker device if it meant that it could do more for longer periods of time. Thinness does not necessarily mean innovation.

"Sure, they're better, faster, and thinner, but they're all still largely the same as before."

On top of all the iPad mania, Apple also announced a 27" 5K Retina iMac. It has a a 5120x2880 display, which contains 67% more pixels than a regular 4K display.

B0Fn2nGIQAEpOdh.jpg

Personally, I find this hilarious, especially since Apple has yet to optimize their Mac Pro to work properly with 4K displays, let alone dual screen setups. Even then, when it does barely work, everything is absolutely tiny in 4K, and even tinier in 5K, as seen in this image tweeted by The Verge's Nilay Patel.

A fully specced 27" 5k Retina iMac also comes with a pair of binoculars. *Squint squint.*

A fully specced 27" 5k Retina iMac also comes with a pair of binoculars. *Squint squint.*

The 5K Retina iMac will start at $2,499, and will be a great buy for anyone with that kind of dispoable cash, but for the time being I'd reccommend you wait unless you you can no longer see individual pixels and can no longer tell screen from reality. The weirdest part about this particular refresh is that the iMac cinema display with Thunderbolt, first released three years ago in 2011, didn't see an update. Even if you wanted to use that with Apple's newer hardware, you won't be able to as it has Thunderbolt 1, and doesn't support Thunderbolt 2 which is needed for 4K.

I'm not entirely sure what the event tagline, "It's been way too long," means either., other than possibly, "It's been way too long since we last made you spend a boatload of money on a product we may or may not completely refresh 11 months from now." And once again, there was no mention of either an Apple TV (although the refresh Mac Mini could be Apple's solution for that for the time being) or a Retina MacBook Air.

All in all, you could call this Apple's laziest hardware refresh event in a long time, and you wouldn't be wrong. All of their products seem incredibly disjointed, and despite having massive Steve Jobs quotes outside the event venue, the company seems to lack his laser like focus. Apple lacks the brand consistency that it used to have right across the board. It's slowly unifying the software design experience across OS X and iOS, but the hardware remains as different as ever. From a company that used to be as tight as Apple, that's a little worrying.

Why #Bendgate is Important

Two days ago, YouTube user Unbox Therapy posted a video demonstrating how under the pressure exerted from just his hands, he was able to bend and seriously damage the week old iPhone 6 Plus.

Before Lew, the man behind Unbox Therapy, could even offer a follow-up video in which he tried to bend a few other phones - including the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Moto X (2014), Nokia Lumia 1020, HTC One (M8) and the 4.7" iPhone 6 - #bendgate took the news world by storm. Twitter users were reporting seeing large and local media outlets reporting on how the iPhone 6 Plus had issues with bending. 

#Bendgate
  1. Designed to withstand the most demanding environments. Like your pockets. #HTCOneM8
  2. Oh fuck! It is now live on CNN and that guy was trying to bend it live on tv. Try bending a spoon instead!! #BendGate http://t.co/9jfhsklM7g
    Oh fuck! It is now live on CNN and that guy was trying to bend it live on tv. Try bending a spoon instead!! #BendGate pic.twitter.com/9jfhsklM7g
  3. To make matters worse/to get everyone to stop talking about #Bendgate, Apple released iOS update 8.0.1 that kills users cell service. Nice.
  4. BREAKING: Apple announces Searching… its new low-cost carrier available worldwide for free.

Now, while I don't necessarily agree that #bendgate - or #bendghazi, as some are calling it - should be getting so much attention as it has over the last two days, it's safe to say that if Apple had gone with a slightly thicker design, they would've been able to avoid this situation entirely. Going from 7.6mm in the iPhone 5S (8.97mm in the iPhone 5C) to 7.1mm for the 6 Plus and 6.9mm for the iPhone 6 resulted in the:

  1. The ability to have the camera remain flush with the rest of the device, leaving an ugly, protruding bulge (something Apple is aware of and is actively hiding in their promotional pictures of their two new devices)
  2. The removal of what most phones have - a magnesium chases, which makes up the inside of these other phones, even the ones that only have a metal band around the edges to ones entirely made of plastic. 

Due to the fact that Apple decided to go with a large, flat sheet of aluminum - a soft metal - the structural integrity of the device isn't going to be as sound as other devices made from a similar process, like the HTC One (M8). With a soft metal like aluminum, the weakest point is often going to be near the centre of the device. In the case of the 6 Plus, it gave into far more bending and resulted in far more damage because when compared to the 4.7" iPhone 6, the aluminum unibody build has nearly an extra inch of real estate. It doesn't help either that in Lew's video, he's placing the iPhone 6 Plus under far more stress than the phones are designed to undergo based on what an average person's usage of the device. Not everyone is going to be twisting and bending the phone to the extreme, but that being said, the phone still shouldn't be so structurally unsound as to bend and break when inside someone's jeans - which is what sparked this whole controversy in the first place. Case in point is Seattle developer, Kav Latiolais, who's brand new iPhone 6 bent after a spending the night charging.

By designing both a thinner and lighter phone, they were trying to solve a problem that no one ever really had with their iPhones, and in turned, created a whole new PR monster for themselves. Half the reason why this is blowing up so much is because when compared to "terribly cheap plastic" devices like the Moto X and Note 3, the iPhone 6+ took far more damage than you'd think a supposedly high end device, like the iPhone, normally should. The other half is that the iPhone is historically an incredibly expensive device. With people willing to drop hundreds to thousands of dollars year after year to secure a sense of material happiness, it's understandable why they'd be so upset when their week-old device starts to bend and break after normal usage.

This isn't the first time a phone OEM has had users report seriously damaged devices from simple bending. In 2012, an XDA user reported his HTC One X bent in half after sitting on a wall, and only a few months ago did an Android Central forums user reported that his HTC One (M7) was bent we as well, and two days ago, YouTube user, Adam Mckeithan, posted a video of him performing a bend test on his Galaxy S4. And while these users who report such severe damage to their devices may not be indicative of the entire user base, it's important to know that it is still happening. Even if it is only 1%, as Apple is reporting the bendgate numbers to be, out of 10 million devices sold as of two days ago, that's still close to 100,000 users reporting this issue. And that 1% talking about it was enough for Apple's stock to drop 3 points since yesterday, resulting in an $18 billion dollar loss from their $600 billion market cap. That's not a small amount, and isn't something to be brushed aside just because not everyone is reporting having the same issue.

And the thing is that there's nothing wrong with having a slightly thicker phone than everyone else, or keeping the same thickness as the device before it had. Over the last few years, there has been a race to ship the device with the highest resolution display. The leaps and bounds in this sort of technology also helped shape the phablet landscape we have today, and helped OEMs to develop thinner and sturdier phones than years previous. Apple largely stayed out of that because they recognized that past a certain point, the eye can no longer distinguish individual pixels. So while the iPhone's Retina display was sub 720p, it didn't matter to them or their users. By adding more and more pixels to a larger display, the users weren't getting anything extra, other than higher battery drainage. That's something that Sony acknowledged when they announced that they would be skipping over the newest fad, 2K displays. So for Apple to develop a thinner phone other than for the sake of saying that the new iPhone is 1mm thinner than last years model is frankly surprising. They sacrificed the clean, utilitarian look for something that looks more like a prototype than a finished product, especially when the new thinness does nothing for the overall user experience. It's okay to be thicker than everyone else, so long as it improves upon an already great user experience.

If it was any other company, Microsoft or HTC or hell, even Samsung, it wouldn't have mattered as much. Remember when Samsung's S3 and S4 devices had issues with overheating and exploding batteries? Even something far more serious like exploding batteries in more than one device didn't get nearly enough attention as "antennagate," an issue Apple faced back in 2010 with the iPhone 4. And that's because Samsung, HTC, Microsoft, etc., aren't a luxury brand like Apple has become. When you have people clamouring over a new phone every year, waiting in line for a hours, sometimes days on end, you leave the average consumer market and enter the luxury brand tier, being paired with other high end luxury items such as Louis Vuitton purses and Gucci glasses. It's as much a statement about your brand allegiance as it is a declaration of your apparent wealth.

At the end of the day, #bendgate is important for one reason and one reason only - it's this kind of nitpicking from users and reviewers that allows for the next generation of products to be better. From the iPhone 4 to 4S, Apple was able to make adjustments and resolve the entire antennagate problem. Companies aren't infalliable. They will make mistakes, and are often too close to their own products to see them. I'd rather have a few days of people going bonkers and having a little bit of fun at the expense of one company (and how their newest phone is bending unexpectedly) and have that lead to better products than not at all.

#AppleLive

#AppleLive
  1. Don't forget, Apple's v live event is happening today at 10am PDT/1pm EST!  http://apple.com/live 
  2. In other non-Apple related news, today is the 15 year anniversary of the Sega Dreamcast.  http://theverge.com/e/5890194 
  3. I'm hoping that Apple doesn't release the iWatch for another year, but announces the iTV instead, just to troll everyone and see them squirm
  4. And that Craig Federighi makes more super cool dad jokes. "The time has come for us to watch TV. See what I did there? Time, watch, haha!"
  5. OS X/iOS/Safari users can watch Apple's live stream here:  http://apple.com/live  Non-Apple users can watch it here:  http://ustream.tv/ltktv 
  6. I hope the entire audience just laughs at Apple if they release a rectangular watch
  7. It's interesting Apple is doing a liveblog but the fact that they are implementing social media with it is a major departure for them.
  8. I wonder if Apple will finally bring the iPhone naming scheme in line with the rest of their products - Pro, Air, & Mini. #ApplAppleLive
  9. I mean, they can't very well use numbers anymore, since they fucked up with the 5C. Think about it: 6/6C 6S/6C...S? #AppleLive
  10. Looks like the leaks were right about there being two new iPhones - the 6 & 6+. #AppleLive http://t.co/IBT4wbB12J
    Looks like the leaks were right about there being two new iPhones - the 6 & 6+. #ApplAppleLiveppic.twitter.com/IBT4wbB12J
  11. iPhone 6: 4.7"/1334 x 750/6.8mm iPhone 6+: 5.5"/1920 x 1080/7.1mm #AppleLive
  12. The new iPhones have some seriously impressive battery life specs. #AppleLive http://t.co/2WmjENHTUY
    The new iPhones have some seriously impressive battery life specs. #AppleLive pic.twitter.com/2WmjENHTUY
  13. The 6 has DIS, & the 6+ has OIS. The cameras on these new devices alone are enough for me to want to buy them. #ApplAppleLive
  14. The 6 on a 2 year contract is $199/32GB, $299/64GB, $399/128GB The 6+ on a 2 year contract is $299/16GB, $399/64GB, $499/128GB. #AppleLive
  15. Official off-contract pricings for the iPhone 6/6+: 6: $749/16GB, $859/64GB, $969/128GB 6+: $859/16GB, $969/64GB, $1,079/128GB
  16. You can pre-order the 6 & 6+ Sept. 12th (this Friday) and they start shipping out Sept. 19th. iOS 8 is out Sept. 17th. #ApplAppleLive
  17. You can get a Nexus 5 or two Moto Gs, a Chromecast and a large deluxe pizza for the cost of a 128GB iPhone 6 on a two year contract ($399).
  18. And for an extra $20, you could buy stock 13" MacBook Air ($1,099) for the price of a 128GB no-contract iPhone 6+ ($1,079).
  19. People are happy with iPhone thickness, disappointed with battery. So they made it thinner and kept the battery. Apple logic.
  20. I'm still waiting for a 128GB Android phone, preferably a Nexus. #AppleLive
  21. Tim Cook is trying to make it seem like taking my credit/debit card out, and handing it to someone to pay is difficult. #AppleLive
  22. Despite not having Google Wallet in Canada, we already have tap-to-pay, and none of these payment issues. #AppleLive
  23. This is basically Apple saying, "Look! We're the first to use NFC in 2014!" #AppleLive
  24. AND Apple Pay only works on the 6/6+ (U.S. only at launch as well); the only iPhones with NFC. #AppleLive http://t.co/ZBKJWo1279
    AND Apple Pay only works on the 6/6+ (U.S. only at launch as well); the only iPhones with NFC. #AppleLive pic.twitter.com/ZBKJWo1279
  25. Tim Cook with the legendary, "One more thing..." He looks so pleased with himself too! (Photo via @verge) #AppleLive http://t.co/zHCM8tmxmc
    Tim Cook with the legendary, "One more thing..." He looks so pleased with himself too! (Photo via @verge) #AppleLive pic.twitter.com/zHCM8tmxmc
  26. Standing ovation for Tim Cook. This is the day where he finally stepped out of Jobs' shadow, and into his own legacy. #AppleLive
  27. Looks like the master, Apple, is finally taking design cues from the student, Samsung. #AppleLive http://t.co/c43FUdXa2w
    Looks like the master, Apple, is finally taking design cues from the student, Samsung. #AppleLive pic.twitter.com/c43FUdXa2w
  28. So, the digital crown on the #AppleWatch is basically the side scroll-wheel that BlackBerry used to use. #AppleLive http://t.co/n6K7r6RJ2g
    So, the digital crown on the #AppleWatch is basically the side scroll-wheel that BlackBerry used to use. #AppleLive pic.twitter.com/n6K7r6RJ2g
  29. .@omnilogist There are so many issues with microSD cards - something both Apple & Google have acknowleged for years: http http://androidcentral.com/why-nexus-devices-have-no-sd-card 
  30. The #AppleWatch looks super clunky in terms of both hardware & software. It's nowhere near as slick/minimal as Android Wear. #ApplAppleLive
  31. Despite having 2 sizes, 3 case materials, 6 band types, the #AppleWatch is still a first-gen device. Wait for the second-gen. #AppleLive
  32. Apple needs to demonstrate one-handed real-world-style use on the #AppleWatch, not two. (Photo via @verge) #AppleLive http://t.co/tkQQryai1g
    Apple needs to demonstrate one-handed real-world-style use on the #AppleWatch, not two. (Photo via @verge) #AppleLive pic.twitter.com/tkQQryai1g
  33. Motorola should feel proud with the #Moto360. They absolutely DESTROYED Jony Ive's #AppleWatch design. #AppleLive http://t.co/FP8wMT1y8p
    Motorola should feel proud with the #Moto360. They absolutely DESTROYED Jony Ive's #AppleWatch design. #AppleLive pic.twitter.com/FP8wMT1y8p
  34. If you want to be an early adopter of the #AppleWatch, you're going to have to wait until early 2015...and spend $349. #AppleLive
  35. Especially considering that it’s tied to an iPhone, I think they should have gone cheaper on the Watch.
  36. Still no word on connectivity, water resistance, or battery life for the #AppleWatch yet. #AppleLive
  37. Tim Cook mentioned that its easy to charge the #AppleWatch at night, implying EVERY night you'd have to charge the thing. #AppleLive
  38. I was hoping that Cook & Bono would burn down iTunes together and announce a less bloated version of that monster. #ApplAppleLive
  39. This is kind of the opposite of burning down iTunes and starting over

Why Google's "Real Name" Policy is a Good Thing

Yesterday Google announced a piece of information that frankly, I disagree with. When the company first launched Google+ three years ago, they required all users to use their real names on the platform. They slowly extended this rule outward into their other services like YouTube as they marched forward on their campaign to make Google+ the centre of all things Google.

When I began to think about it more, as the real name policy was something I never really gave much thought to until the announcement, I realized that I actually really liked it, and that's for a number of reasons. Reading through the comments on the official announcement, I could tell that I wasn't alone in that feeling as many other users expressed similar sentiments. The first thought I had was that if I wanted to look up someone, or some information on someone, I could just enter their real name into the search field and find exactly what I was looking for. Before this, and now, I would have to search for their online handle, which often differs across different platforms, making it yet another bit of data I would have to track (much like e-mail addresses). You can change your online handle as much as you want, but not your real name.

The real name policy also helped to create a better web in my mind. When Google first introduced the new comments system on YouTube, largely everyone was pissed, but I was excited. If it meant that forcing a change potentially for the better could help foster actual conversation between people rather than the nonsense we had, I was all for it. And the new comment system actually kind of worked. In the end, it kind of made YouTube comments  a little more tolerable, given that people couldn't necessarily hide behind a false username.

"Before Twitter, texting, and Instagram, Flickr and Tumblr, the weapon of war was a slam book—a spiral notebook with some miserable kid's name written on the cover, passed among frenemies who filled page after page with nasty remarks and devastating criticism. Eventually the book was tossed or lost, and the kid could recover. But with social media, there's no respite, no half-life for rumors and innuendo. On a whim, you can take your target out with the press of a button and sleep soundly. "There is 100 percent a lack of empathy on the Internet. You don't have to deal with the natural consequences of your behavior," says Jamie Howard, PhD, a clinical psychologist at New York's Child Mind Institute. "You say things you wouldn't say, and your conduct is harsher." Empathy develops when we receive cues from in-person interaction—you say something mean to someone, you see her cry, you feel bad. Technology can obstruct empathy's development and foster detachment." Holly Millea, Elle 2014

And that's the problem, the big double edged sword of the online world - anonymity. Personally, whenever and wherever I can, I try and use my real name as my online handle for a number of reasons I find particularly compelling. It lets people know exactly who I am, and it's a uniform, universal handle for myself across Reddit, Twitter Instagram, Google+ etc, making it super easy to keep track of and maintain, (and is one less thing I have to remember myself). The biggest reason, however, is that it helps me control myself online. There have been far too many occasions where I have been ready to reply with something incendiary purely because I was frustrated in the heat of the moment, but then realizing that the Internet is forever, and that it would be forever tied to my name, therefore my offline self, I stopped short. And when I do choose to comment, I remain directly accountable for both my words and actions online, and that is something I have always advocated for - being the same person you are online as you are offline.

However, that's not to say that I don't see the value in remaining anonymous online. There are communities across sites like Reddit and Tumblr, in which people get together because they feel a distinct sense of freedom and safety which they otherwise might not get by using their real names, and in those cases, anonymity is a great tool. However, like everything, it will, and has been, wildly abused. Rather than allowing for the best, most positive interaction, people are rewarded for the most interaction, and that's a distinct problem that the real name policy directly addressed. That's not to say using your real name prevents you from being a total moron - there are plenty of examples everywhere you look.

Personally, I feel like this is largely several huge steps backwards, and is something I wish Google hadn't bent on. However, I wouldn't be surprised if this, at least at some level, had something to do with the ridiculous "Right to be Forgotten" nonsense going on in Europe.

Source: https://plus.google.com/+TapasEaswar/posts...

Google I/O 2014 (My thoughts on one of the biggest tech events of the year)

This is a fairly long blog post, so if you're stretched for time, you can read the TL;DR version here.


Every year, most of the larger software companies hold their keynote conference where they show off the latest and greatest products and features they have in the pipeline. This year was no different. Microsoft had their //build/ conference, and Apple’s WWDC, both aimed at their developer audience. Today was Google’s turn, and frankly, it blew both Microsoft and Apple’s right out of the water by introducing three new product categories, Wear, Auto, and TV, of which Microsoft has never entered, and Apple has been rumoured to enter for years, but hasn’t. Let’s start from the beginning.


DESIGN

First, Google announced their new Android program aimed at connecting the next five billion people on the planet to modern smartphones. They called this, Android One.

Credit/Source: The Verge

Credit/Source: The Verge

It looks as if it was inspired by Motorola’s new line of Moto devices (X, G, & E), in that you’re getting great hardware that’s modern and future-proofed, for an unbeatably price, and the Nexus program, in which Android One phones run pure, stock Android. They’re made specifically in mind for these countries, running 4.5" screens, dual-sims, and FM radio — all features important for those users. As Sundar Pichai said, this platform is “high quality, low-cost” smartphones with widely available parts.” For devices that are going to priced at around $100, and under, they’ll make for excellent alternatives to those who want more than just Windows Mobile/Phone, BlackBerry, and the plague that is Samsung’s never ending torrent of plastic.

Credit/Source: The Verge

Credit/Source: The Verge

Next up was the Developer Preview of Android L, which if going by the previous named releases for Android, has yet to be fully named. Lychee, Lollipop, Lemon Meringue? Who knows. What we do know, however, is that it’s the biggest, and most important release of Android to date. It’s Android, re-thought and redesigned from the ground up, and it looks beautiful. We first saw an example of this in the recent UI update to the Google+ app. It’s cleaner, using a mix of squared boxes, round buttons, and bright, playful colours. It’s not as dark as the Holo design language that first appeared on Android 4.0 ICS, but not as translucent and empty feeling as iOS either. It’s a really nice, pleasant feeling inbetween, even making generally cluttered looks apps like Gmail look much cleaner.

Credit/Source: The Verge

Credit/Source: The Verge

It gets better. Remember how good, and how near-perfect the Android notification system was? Google made it better. The lockscreen and notification shade are now basically one in the same, letting you see all of your notifications in one place. If you’re inside of a movie or game, you get a heads-up, enhanced notification that you can view, and then dismiss or click to enter the app it’s from. I’m just glad it’s not a chat-heads me-too clone, as it actually looks far more functional and useful, not taking up tons of screen real-estate for prolonged periods of time. And, this is all compatible with Android Wear. If you swipe away/dismiss a notification on either your Android phone or Android Wear device, it disappears from the other as well. The sync is just a beautiful feature.

They went a step further, and improved Google Search. So now when you search for something, you can tap the information card, and then once again to right into the corresponding app on your phone. We already have this, but right now you have to set your defaults, adding an extra step initially. Maybe this will make things a tad more efficient.

And finally, for Android L, is Project Volta. Much like Project Butter and Project Svelte before it, Volta is it’s own dedicated attempt at making one singular aspect of Android infinitely better. In this case, it’s the battery.

Credit/Source: The Verge

Credit/Source: The Verge

It includes a battery saver, similar to what we’ve seen in the Galaxy S5 and the One M8, as well as a Battery Historian, which not only lets you get a more in-depth look at what exactly is draining your battery, but also wakelocks as well, which any Nexus owner will tell you is the bane of their existence. Along side this, Android will now get security updates pushed through Google Play, rather than an entire system update. This goes along with Google releasing the rest of their apps to the Play Store, and ART finally replacing Dalvik (as well as being 64-bit compatible) as the exclusive run-time, means that we’ll get faster, better, and far more secure devices in the long run.

The best part about all of this is that the new design language, Material Design, scales across phones, tablets, and now Chrome (and Chrome OS as well), meaning that instead of Chrome OS and Android feeling like extremely distant cousins, they now feel like close siblings. The continuity between these two is very similar to what we saw in the OS X Yosemite demo at WWDC ‘14, but it’s still a really nice addition.

Credit/Source: The Verge

Credit/Source: The Verge

This in relation to Chrome OS now being able to run Android apps, it’s a beautiful thing, giving it a sense of continuity if you will. Android L is just chalk full of new animations, eye-candy, and general polish.


WEAR

During the presentation, we saw many of the speakers with big watches on, some circular, some square-ish. These were the first Android Wear devices being worn out into the wild, and they were impressive. Android Wear is basically Google Now on your wrist, and that’s an amazing thing. It shows you notifications from all your apps, music, directions, and more, all in one convenient place, and it looks beautiful, following the Material Design language first seen in Android L.

You can even order a pizza from the device in less than 20 seconds. It’s impressive.   Credit/Source: The Verge

You can even order a pizza from the device in less than 20 seconds. It’s impressive.
Credit/Source: The Verge

Right now, there are three OEMs — LG, Samsung, and Motorola. Both LG and Samsung took the square face route, with Samsung basically optimizing their Gear Neo to work with Android Wear. It’s definitely better though, since it means it opens up more phones that aren’t just Samsung devices to wearables. I just hope that they can’t run any of their awful, custom skins, on top of it, leaving it pristine. The last is the Motorola 360, which is the first device to sport a round face. It just looks gorgeous, and the crowd seemed to be the most excited for this device as opposed to LG and Samsung’s offerings. While I/O attendees get either the LG G Watch or the Samsung Gear Live, they also get a second Android Wear device in the form of the Moto 360, when that becomes available. I would say that I’m jealous, but it’s hard to feel excited about the boring, square boxes offered by Samsung & LG when Motorola has produced an absolute beautiful work of art in the Moto 360. Oh, and all Android Wear devices are water resistant, which is a real nice touch that makes so much sense.


AUTO

This one’s huge. It’s Android, well, Google Now, inside of your car. On the screen, you can control navigation, phone, and music, with more to come.

Credit/Source: The Verge

Credit/Source: The Verge

And it’s completely voice controlled, meaning you can ask your car what time a restaurant is open until, and then ask for directions, all seamlessly. It will also read out your messages to you, to help prevent dangerous texting and driving, letting you keep your focus on the road. Right now, they have 44 partners signed up, and the first Android Auto cars will be out by 2015. I’m really interested in seeing what people will make of this.


TV

The third and final product category is the one that I’m most confused about. Android TV. It’s the refresh to the abysmal failure that was Google TV, but I’m not so sure that I can tell the difference. Like Google TV, Android TV is baked right into the the screen. You use your phone’s screen as a remote to scroll through your apps, shows, and games, as well as featured Google Play content. Android TV also follows the design language first seen in Android L, so it certainly looks pretty, but we’ve seen this, and frankly, I’m getting PTSD flashbacks to the horror that was the Nexus Q.

Credit/Source: The Verge

Credit/Source: The Verge

The weird part about all of this is that it supports Googlecast, so it basically functions like a Chromecast, and this is where I don’t know what to make of it. Personally, when it Android TV was first leaked back in April by The Verge, I thought it would be pushed either as a software update to the Chromecast itself, or be bundled with the Chromecast 2. That, to me, would make far more sense, but instead we still have the Chromecast, and now Android TV. Rather than feeling like a product family, they feel like competing products — the antithesis to Chrome and Android now.


WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

So, what does all of this mean? Well, it basically means that Google is trying to be everywhere you need it to be, with your phone at the centre of it all. Think about it. Google Now is at the core of Mobile, Wear, Auto, and TV. It can do everything that Siri and Cortana can, and then some. It’s Google trying to take over both technology & media, while making sure they’re doing it in as beautiful a way as possible. Since Matias Duarte joined Googled before the release of Android 4.0 ICS in 2011, we knew that Google wanted to distance themselves from their ugly past. Literally.

Credit/Source: The Verge

Credit/Source: The Verge

From Android 4.0 to 4.4 KitKat, we’ve seen their vision slowly grow, and Android L, whether it’s 4.5 or 5.0, is the first time we’ve seen what it has always meant to be — unified and beautiful across devices without any compromise to functionality.


I think what I most appreciated about this year’s I/O keynote was the fact that unlike Apple’s direct jabs at Android at WWDC ‘14, Google chose a much more subtle route.

“Custom keyboards, widgets: those things happened in Android four to five years ago.”

That’s what Sundar Pichai said on-stage in regards to Google wanting to build a more open platform that extends out to other aspects of your life, from Auto, to Wearables, to your living room. It’s as if Google wanted to say that yeah, widgets and customization are all a part of the Android experience, but that’s not everything — it’s more than that. While they did spend time talking about the aesthetics of Android, they didn’t dwell on it too long. Instead, each keynote speaker briefly touched upon it before moving onto how it makes using the app a better experience, and how that leads to using their various products from Android, to Chrome OS, a much better, more seamless experience as a whole. It’s just an interesting comparison to see where priorities lie between companies.

Google also took a page straight out of Apple’s book, by announcing the Developer Preview of Android three months ahead of the actual release in the Fall, a first since they’ve usually announced and released at the same time. Hopefully this means that Google is listening to the community with a closer ear now, so that many of the bugs get ironed out before the release of Android L to prevent back to back system updates within two weeks of each other.

There’s no doubt that this is the single biggest, and single most important release in the history of Android. With over 5,000 new APIs, a total re-thought redesign of the UI, and the extension into new fields with your phone at the centre of it all, Google made me feel excited again about the future of Android today, and that’s probably the best reaction they were hoping for — a re-energized community.

Source: https://medium.com/@tapaseaswar/google-i-o...

My Thoughts on Amazon's FirePhone

I tuned in late to Amazon's announcement of their first phone, the Fire Phone and from my first, preliminary look, it seems interesting. It has a dedicated camera button, something more phones should have, and free, unlimited, cloud storage. That's absolutely bonkers. It also comes with this tilt/gyroscopic/dynamic perspective, that's basically iOS' parallax effect on steroids. It uses four front facing cameras to detect motion of the phone, and of your head as well, to make the effect of peeking around the corner all that more immersive. However, those two features pale in comparison to the absolute coolest feature; Firefly. It's a service, similar to Google Goggles, SoundHound, Shazam, etc, that detects anything and everything around you, and then let's you buy it. On Amazon of course.

That's where the cool ends, and the not-so-cool begins. Because Amazon opted to run their forked version of Android, Fire OS, there is no access to Google Play, or even apps like Instagram, or even the official Gmail.  While they may be coming soon, the fact that they're currently not there will most likely be a huge deterrent to most buyers. The second aspect that I'm not a fan of is the overwrought UI of the device. It's too glossy, too blocky, and just too much. Having gotten used to the simple minimalism of both Android 4.4.x and iOS 7, the UI of the Fire Phone feels like a step backwards into the dark days of Androig 2.3.x Gingerbread and iOS 1-6. It definitely shows a lot of promise though, so I'm hoping Amazon can clean it up by the time it gets into the hands of the users.

Now, because it's an Amazon device, running a forked version of Android, this will be a huge incentive for everyone who wants to use Android, but doesn't want to be tied down to Google. For those already invested in Amazon's ecosystem, the Fire Phone will be the key device in connecting you to and unifying your experience across all their services, from Kindle, to Fire TV, Amazon Music, and Amazon itself. They've done what Google hasn't been able to with Android & Chrome; create a single, unified experience. Because of this deep integration, I wonder if this will be enough to sway even the most diehard of Windows Phone and BlackBerry fans away from their tiny, non-app, ecosystems.

However, despite already having the pre-order site up and running, you're basically dropping $650 for a decidedly mid-tier spec'd phone that's locked to AT&T, and you'd have to wait at least a month before you'd actually get the phone in your hands. Even if you got it directly from AT&T, you're still dropping $200, which frankly is just too much for a phone in its first generation, with no guarantee of a second version. Remember when Facebook wanted to be the centre of your entire universe, and made two phones with HTC, the ChaCha, and the First? Remember how well they did? I'm not faulting Amazon for wanting to take that risk, but they most likely would've had a better shot as just packaging all of the features built into the phone as an app. Or, better yet, revamp the Amazon app itself and update it to modern UI guidelines, and bake Firefly into it, as that seems to be the main feature of this phone as it is.

TL;DR: Amazon made a phone when they could've just made a single app, and wants you to buy stuff with it.

Source: https://plus.google.com/+TapasEaswar/posts...

Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation; redundant, and a headache for everyone

Canada's Federal government passed an Anti-Spam legislation that will go into effect on July 1, 2014. While it may sound great at first, it's really not. If anything, it's a redundant headache for everyone; legislation for the sake of legislation. 

The gist of it is that companies that using email to promote their products and services have to now get express consent from everyone they send out email to, or IM, SMS, or call. However, think about it for a second. If you are already on the emailing list for a particular company, chances are you like what they do/sell, and signed up on your own accord to stay up to date. That's pretty much the exact same thing, no it is the exact same thing as this nonsense piece of legislation. 

Retailers that acquire their emails at the cashier checkout also ask for their customer's consent. It's not as if they are placing a gun to their head, forcing them to hand over their work or personal email addresses. Instead of making the process easier, cashiers now have to ask for the email, ask the customer to read the consent statement, type in the email, and then accept, making an already painfully slow process even slower. The only impact that this will have is far fewer people signing themselves up because it will be easier and quicker to say no than to agree and have to go through that million step process for something that should be incredibly simple. 

The end user has the power to already grant consent and take it away, by giving their email or phone number to whomever they choose, or by simply unsubscribing or not handing over that information. 

If the federal government wanted to pass an effective anti-spam legislation, they should have targeted the ISPs. Before iOS 7 was released, my dad had no way of blocking the spam phone numbers that would call him, and I'm not joking with this number, 17 times a day. I had contacted Rogers, and they wanted to charge him $20/month to block only three phone numbers. The best part is that his cell phone number, the one that was plagued by spam calls, isn't listed anywhere. So, rather than placing the onus on the end user that's constantly under attack, why not make it so that the ISPs have to stop giving out their customers phone numbers to the highest bidder? Why not make it so that the ISPs have to provide a flat rate service in which the customer can block as many calls as s/he wants? Why not make it so that every phone has to have a call blocking feature enabled? Why not do a million other things that would actually benefit users and businesses, rather than making it harder?

Source: https://plus.google.com/+TapasEaswar/posts...

My Thoughts on Apple's WWDC14 Keynote Presenation

-Tim Cook just burned Microsoft using a goddamn pie chart.

-OS X 420 is amazing, but my vote still goes to OS X Oxnard.
-That dark mode for OS X Yosemite is just gorgeous. Looks like they took some design cues from +elementary OS.

-Craig Federighi's entire presentation is like the world's longest dad joke, and I love it. 
-I'm liking OS X 10.10 way more than I thought I would. It puts Windows 8.1 to shame. They even did the universal search better!
-Holy fuck. The mirroring of SMS & Phone calls across Macs, iPads, and iPhones, is just bonkers. Wait, no, the SMS/Phone mirroring is basically just what MightyText/DeskSMS already do on Android but...native. It's essentially Bluetooth.
-iOS 8's Spotlight & Quicktype features. Totally revolutionary when they were introduced years ago...on Android.
-iMessage is going after Snapchat, WhatsApp, Line, Kik, Viber, etc, with new voice, video, and picture messages (but no stickers).
-iOS8's new iCloud/Photo editing suite is basically Google's Auto Awesome/Android's basic gallery editor that's been around forever. 
-Cool. Third party keyboards and notification shade widgets in iOS 8. More stuff from Android circa 2010. Yawn.
-iOS 8 is wholly uninteresting to me without an API for Siri, & a homescreen refresh, as seen in this concept image.

ios8_912_1.jpg

-The only thing about the iPhone that I'm remotely jealous of is that fingerprint scanner, but then again, I don't need it.
-For someone like me, a live demo of someone coding is similar to a magician on stage casting spells.

DSC_1552.jpg


-No, "Oh, and one more thing," moment this year. Looks like there's no iWatch, new iPhone, or MacBook Air with Retina Display this year. Apple's still playing catchup it seems. 

Source: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+TapasEaswar/p...

Why Apple Buying Beats Makes Sense

It looks like there rumor of Apple purchasing Beats that was floating around yesterday was confirmed by Tyrese Gibson and Dre himself in an expletive laden video posted to Facebook. I'm slightly worried because that totally worked out for HTC during their partnership. Buying Beats to get into music is like if Apple bought Starbucks to get into coffee: low quality product with an insanely high profit margin based purely on the popularity of the brand name.

It seems that whoever buys out or partners with Beats is doomed to fail almost immediately. AT&T, HP, HTC, and next, Apple, verifying the unpopular opinion that they are indeed in a rapid downward spiral, and while I dislike Beats for the simple reason of it not being high-quality audio for it's absurd price-point, I can see why Apple would want to buy them for a few reasons.

The first being that there Beats logo and flat wire headphones have replaced Apple's white earbuds as a sort of status symbol. No longer is it just enough to have an iPhone. You need to have an iPhone AND Beats. Think about it. Apple is all about image. Beats is all about image. People who buy either product are all about image. From a business standpoint, and financial, it makes perfect sense for Apple to acquire Beats, even if the product that they are buying doesn't make sense for a consumer to own, especially when compared to similar products from competitors that are significantly better for audiophiles, and at a much cheaper and affordable price point. Then again, Apple has never focused on affordable price points, so regardless, this is a perfect move for Apple that makes sense.

Secondly, iTunes Match and iTunes Radio, much like their predecessor, iTunes Ping, have been considered radical disappointments in the music streaming industry. Whatever is it, Apple can't seem to build their own music service to match, let alone compete, with the likes of Pandora, Rdio, and Spotify. Having Beats and Beats Music onboard would certainly help, especially if they were to merge it directly into iTunes. Trying to find new music on iTunes is an awful experience, something that Spotify excels at. The other big problem is that with Apple, your music is more or less locked in, with no way or transferring it to other platforms. Spotify alleviates that, by letting you switch from iOS to Android and back, because it's all in the cloud. If Apple were to release a version of iTunes for Android like it did Windows, with Beats Music baked in to help you discover new music, I think Spotify, and similar competitors, would have serious reason to worry.

The final reason is that the iPod and Apple's entrance into music is what saved them from total failure the last time. It makes sense that Apple would want to take the lessons they learned then and re-apply them now, to keep up with the ever changing demands of the music industry. People want options, and I think Apple is finally about to give them a viable one.


EDIT: The Apple/Beats acquisition has been confirmed today (May 28, 2014). Read more here.

Source: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+TapasEaswar/p...

Samsung Has a Design Team? Who Knew!

Is anyone else bothered with Samsung launching a website based around "meaningful design?" I mean, they're the last company that should be talking about anything design related. 


As a company, Samsung continues to use multiple design aesthetics in its flagship devices, poor quality hardware, yet struts around as if it knows anything about meaningful design. The worst part is that this is in relation to their current lawsuit against Apple, in a feeble attempt to prove they did not copy core aesthetics from the iPhone.

If Samsung put half as much effort into their designs as they do their marketing, then I would be okay with the site. If the site was launched at any other point than now, I'd be okay with it. The thing is though that Samsung has always been a reactionary company, aping many aesthetics from other OEMs, creating their own Frankenstein's Monster of design choices.

This is the settings menu on the Samsung Galaxy S5. It's a six-screen, vertical scrolling clusterfuck of a nightmare with 60-something options to choose from.

This is the settings menu on the Samsung Galaxy S5. It's a six-screen, vertical scrolling clusterfuck of a nightmare with 60-something options to choose from.

What I personally find funny is that the site is a textbook example of Samsung's design philosophy: messy and incoherent. If the company was truly honest, then design.samsung.com should return a 404.

Source: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+TapasEaswar/p...

The Problems of Social Media

A few days ago, a 14 year old Dutch girl identified only as “Sarah” sent out a tweet to American Airlines.

“hello my name’s Ibrahim and I’m from Afghanistan. I’m part of Al Qaida and on June 1st I’m gonna do something really big bye,” — @bizzledemetriax

The internet caught wind of this latest round of online idiocy, and it spread like wild-fire. Within a matter of time, that tweet garnered over 2000 retweets, even a response from American Airlines, saying that they had reported her tweet and IP address to the authorities. This spurned a serious of replies from “Sarah” back at American Airlines, saying she was joking, sorry, and that she was so scared.

Yesterday, she was arrested by Rotterdam authorities, with an investigation pending.

This leads us to today, where now dozens upon dozens of teenagers are following in “Sarah’s” footsteps by tweeting more bomb-threats at American Airlines (likely in retaliation for arresting the Dutch teen), and bizarrely, Southwest Airlines — a completely unrelated airline.

While Sarah may have just been spouting off the idiotic thoughts that came to her head, like many teenagers before her, the fact of the matter is that she did so on a public, nay, international, platform. She many have genuinely not known that she would cause trouble, and that an airline as big as American, would take it seriously, because y’know, bomb threats. When the lives of their passengers are at stake, the airline has to do everything in their power to prevent anything from happening, even if the threat turns out to be fake. Her copycats, however, know exactly what they are doing, and I hope that they too realize soon how unfunny it all really is.

Social media is amazing. It lets me connect and contact some of my favourite people I otherwise would have absolutely no access to, and have conversations with them. It allows disgruntled people to voice their opinions about companies, letting their public voice enact some sort of positive change. It lets me, sitting at home, get real-time updates about the situations going on all over the world. It lets important people reach out to the masses to talk about things that matter to them; to spur conversation in an effort to help better the world. The downside is that it lets everyone think that what they have to say is important, even if 99% of the time it’s just verbal diarrhoea turned into digital text.

The problem, however, lies in the fact that it creates a sort of disconnect, in that people do not associate their online persona’s with their real-life selves. They think that just because they hide behind an online handle, they can get away with anything, because the online world is different from that of the real world, and that doing something online cannot have consequences offline. That is entirely untrue, as seen in the case with “Sarah”, and something that more people need to realize.

And that’s the issue with having everything instant — there’s no longer any time to sit and think about what you want to say. You see something, react, and post said reaction, and then move onto the next thing. We’ve become addicted to this, and go crazy inside until we get it out of our system in a way that the whole world can know.

Don’t get me wrong, I love social media and think that it’s a great tool when used properly, but when idiots get a hold of it and use it to spew their idiocies across the web for the rest of us, it ruins it for the rest of us.

Perhaps arresting “Sarah” was the right thing to do. She’s no longer a child, but is not quite yet an adult either, but she also needs to learn a lesson, and be used as an example of what not to do.

People like to say that this newest generation is going downhill, and there are many instances where I’d normally like to disagree, but in this case, I simply cannot. I’m frankly quite scared for when these maladjusted teens grow up and have to face the real world with real consequences.

Source: https://medium.com/@tapaseaswar/the-proble...

Facebook Buys Oculus Rift for $2 Billion

Facebook bought the Oculus Rift VR company for a cool $2 billion today. With that came a few immediate and visceral reactions, the most prominent being, "Facebook ruins everything!" which isn't entirely untrue.

However, the purchase could be beneficial, and just might spur the right amount of competition we so badly need.

Think of it this way; Facebook has never been particularly shy about wanting to be the dominant player in the IM market. Their recent purchase of WhatsApp only served to further that notion. With Oculus, Facebook can do three things. The first is step away from their Zynga days of casual, social gaming, and make their first steps into real, console level gaming. No longer will you just have trophies and achievements to unlock and compete against - gaming will happen with real-time news feed updates. And this will only be possible if Facebook forces the player to login in through Facebook in order to connect and communicate with other gamers.

The second is taking the IM idea one step further. Facebook Messenger is already cross-platform, so having it extend into the world of VR gaming seems like a natural extension. Imagine Chat Heads inside games. You won't have to pause, find the message, respond, and then unpause. Chat Heads would work in game as they do on our mobile devices. Forcing players to use Facebook Messenger would be similar to Google forcing it's Google+ service into every Google application.

The third and final, and what I think is the most interesting idea, is that Facebook could take the Oculus Rift VR technology and turn it into a Google Glass competitor. Right now, in the new wearable market, Google has the strongest, and only, foothold on glass-type wearables. The Oculus could provide Facebook with enough traction to push out the perfect Facebook hardware. Facebook has never had a successful smartphone, but they just might work out in the wearables. Imagine Facebook Home, but through glass. It would essentially be the spiritual successor to the augmented reality app, Layar, and once again, would have deep Facebook Messenger integration built right into it.

There is a flip-side to this, and that's Facebook is dipping it's resources into too many different fields without really perfecting any of them. Their design aesthetic is constantly changing, and many of the products are revealed, quickly adopted, and just as quickly abandoned. That, and games could be so inundated with ads, that the platform is dropped entirely as players leave in droves. 

Facebook could be going the way of Apple in the 90s, before Jobs took the helm again, and MySpace in the mid 00s. Unless Facebook is able to make this $2 Billion purchase work out for them, we might not have a viable future of VR.

While I don't trust Facebook with any of my personal information, the social giant is trying to expand in a way not to dissimilar to Google, and the acquisition of Oculus Rift is a step into huge new territory for them.

Source: https://plus.google.com/+TapasEaswar/posts...