Thursday, January 9th, 2014
Ben Parr, formerly of Mashable:
Good journalists are cynics and skeptics by their very nature. This is essential to the DNA of great reporting. The press must remain skeptical of those in power and of those who wield power in order to keep power in check. Without it, you get China, the NSA and **CENSORED**. That’s why it doesn’t surprise me that tech journalists are cynical about themselves and their industry. But let me point out a couple of recent developments in the tech journo world…
I love the fact that in the list of new developments and solid signs, Parr points out the return of Valleywag. When something is big enough to satire, then it’s on the right track.
Wednesday, January 8th, 2014
Or, as the rest of the tech world sees it ‘David Pogue vs Kara Swisher & Walt Mossberg‘.
Sony’s research with consumers around their smartphones uncovers an amazing fact:
…the consumer who’d prefer to have a smaller device doesn’t want fewer features.
The Xperia Z1 Compact is being touted as a Sony high end smartphone in a small package. I’m not sure I’d class a 4.3 inch screen as small, but for Android manufacturers this is a step in the right direction. Looking forward to reviewing this handset in the near future.
The expected outpourings of ‘wonderful, super, smashing, luvvie’ are there to see in the BAFTA nominations this year (‘Captain Phillips’, ’12 Years a Slave’, ‘Mandela’, ‘Philomena’, etc) but two nominations caught my eye and made me smile. Daniel Bruhl as Best Supporting Actor in ‘Rush’, and Best Visual Effects for ‘Pacific Rim’.
Both will likely be trounced by establishment films, but both should proudly slap ‘BAFTA Nominated’ on the CV’s. I’m cheering for both of them.
Tuesday, January 7th, 2014
One of the issues that is building up around CES is the need for companies to present ‘something big and world changing’ every twelve months. Sony’s announcement of their new fitness and emotions tracker (Gizmodo) feels like a company that has had to find something to present to get the headlines – presumably because another waterproof smartphone and a return to the American smartphone market isn’t enough for the ravenous hordes prowling the show floor for something shiny and ‘new’.
The device and associated smartphone app (to be released when? We’ll tell you later) will have other partners involved (we’ll tell you who later), will be available at some point (we’ll tell you when, later), and has some magical function that can read your emotional state (we’ll tell you how, later). Given the non-announcement announcement, why did Sony bother?
CES has such a hold over the major players in the industry that this isn’t going to change in the near future – everyone is going to stick to CES’ schedule, and not their own schedule. it’s why I respect Apple (who simply don’t attend any more) and Microsoft (who have not had a major keynote at CES since January 2102). Trade Shows like CES and to a lesser extent Mobile World Congress have their strengths, but forcing companies into a twelve month cycle of show and tell is not one of them.
There’s something thrilling and ‘living in the future’ with Intel’s announcement of Edison, a computer with Wi-Fi built into the form factor of an SD card at CES (TNW and others). I suspect the team behind Raspberry Pi are pouring over the specs and capabilities this morning to assess the weaknesses and strengths, but there’s something that caught my eye about the Edison. Where’s the power source?
It’s all very well having “Pentium-class computing” in this small form factor, but the power requirements of wearable tech coupled with a need for multiple days between charge (at a minimum) are just as important than the physical size of the CPU. Looking through the online press releases there’s no mention about this side of the equation.
Of course if this is going to power the next iteration of wearables, then there’s plenty room in Maxwell Smart’s shoe for some batteries.
Monday, January 6th, 2014
Jon Jordan puts some numbers on the launch and the income of Rovio’s (rather greedy) freemium karting cart game, Angry Birds Go. While the launch period saw the title perform well, it’s been dropping quickly away from the top of the app downloads and earned revenue charts:
Yet as most of the graphs show, the key concern for Rovio will be that while Angry Birds Go! has launched very well in terms of its first three weeks, it’s now tracking downwards in terms of top grossing chart position, particularly on the more volatile App Store.
Lots of graphs and stats to go through over on Pocketgamer.biz.
Chris DeSalvo, one of Danger’s first employees writes about Danger’s smartphone technology at length:
I came across a website whose purpose was to provide a super detailed list of every handheld computing environment going back to the early 1970′s. It did a great job except for one glaring omission: the first mobile platform that I helped develop. The company was called Danger, the platform was called hiptop, and what follows is an account of our early days, and a list of some of the “modern” technologies we shipped years before you could buy an iOS or Android device.
As you might expect, lots of discussion and comparisons to US devices, and no mention at all of SIBO, Psion, ARM, EPOC, or Symbian, but a nice read nonetheless.
Sunday, January 5th, 2014
Added here as a reference both for myself as well as my readers is a curated list of Tech Events by Mike Butcher. Also includes some of the notable overseas events that European tech companies should be aware of.
Why is it important to do this? In the first instance, Europe is a bit of a mess. Every single country seems to have its own major conference on tech startups. And so we need a single overview of what’s going on.
But the main reason is that it’s easier for those of us in the media (hello!) to cover your company if we get to meet you at an event. And it helps if that event does not clash with another. So if we produce a list of the bigger events, the events organisers will – like several planes emerging from above the clouds and realising they are about to crash into each other – hopefully not clash with each other. It’s also much easier for investors to move between conferences where there are startups to check out and entrepreneurs to meet. It’s also easier for startups to take their show on the road and present to investors or the media if the events don’t clash. See? Everyone wins!
With an LCD screen on one side, and an e-Ink screen on the opposite side, Yota’s prototype smartphone was one of the big winners of CES 2013. Now, a year later, the handset is now on sale in a number of European territories. I’ve taken a closer look at the handset over on Forbes:
The easiest way to think about the e-Ink screen implementation is that it is related but subservient to the main interactions on your smartphone. To set up one of Yota’s applications on the e-Ink screen you need to ‘send it to the back’ from the LCD screen… In my time so far with the Yota Phone, the answer is yes. By virtue of being e-Ink, the second screen is always on, drawing very little power, and Yota’s customizations of Android and their own apps which use the screen prove the concept works. With just the e-Ink screen I’ve been able to navigate around Edinburgh, check my diary and upcoming appointments, follow my favourite websites via RSS, read a number of eBooks, control the playback of music on my smartphone, and naturally see what the time is. All without powering up the battery hungry LCD screen on my smartphone.
It’s still a generation one product from a company new to the smartphone world (but not to telecoms, Yota have a strong background in routers and modems), and while I’m excited to see what they come up with next, the first handset out of the gate is a worthy handset that is practical in day-to-day use.
Saturday, January 4th, 2014
Bitspin are the team behind Timely, the popular replacement alarm clock for Android, and they’ve just been bought by Google:
We’re thrilled to announce that Bitspin is joining Google, where we’ll continue to do what we love: building great products that are delightful to use. For new and existing users, Timely will continue to work as it always has.
Given Google’s previous form in buy-outs, I expect Timely to be removed from the Google Play store in the first weke in April and the Bitspin team assigned to ‘other roles inside Google’.
Friday, January 3rd, 2014
Big Bang is another entry in the scattershot Rabbids franchise. It’s hard, you play with a single life, and it’s an arcade game where a knowledge of orbital mechanics, and Kepler’s laws of planetary motion, comes in useful. Naturally I love it:
I loved the concept and game mechanics of Big Bang when I first played it just before Christmas, and my time with the game since then has increased my appreciation of the title. No, it’s not for everybody, it can be frustrating and orbital mechanics is not as easy a concept to grab as ‘lob a bird at a wall’, but if you stick with it you’ll find an engrossing game that offers something different to the run of the mill puzzle game you might have expected.
Thursday, January 2nd, 2014
While Windows Phone 8 does work well with Gmail, I get the feeling that it still works on the IMAP model. MetroMail is a third-party client that provides a more Gmail focused inbox for WP users:
While Windows Phone’s email application does handle Gmail in a way that fits in with the UI, there are some areas where it can be lacking (including label support, filtering, and multiple accounts). Does the third-party client MetroMail address these issues and, if so, is it worth Googlers switching to it? That’s a finely balanced decision.
My full review is over on All About Windows Phone.
Even though Bump has been around since September 2009, even though it’s one of the biggest iOS/Android sharing apps out there, even though as a free download it continues to appear in the top download charts… Google’s purchase of Bump Technologies in September 2013 has led to the service being closed down some three months later. Twenty-nine days from now and Google will switch the service off and the data will be lost.
Imagine that… Google deleting data.
I really don’t want to use the term linkbait and Walt Mossberg in the same sentence, but as the former ‘All Things D’ team open up their site to the public (Re/Code) I’m hard pushed to think of a better term for ‘It’s Not a Church, It’s Just An Apple Store‘:
The biggest tech religion is the Church of Apple, with countless blogs defending its every move, regardless of whether it’s a good one. Some carry a sort of permanent sense of suspicion from the old days of the 1980s, when using a Mac was considered weird by many. Apple cultists are often quick to question not just the judgment, but the motives and personal character of anyone who dares to question the company’s magic touch. And, because they can’t see any other way of thinking, they assume that if you praise or use an Apple product, you must have signed up for the whole religion.
I wish the team the best of luck, but I’m hoping this style of article is simply to prime the pump and get into the SEO game, rather than indicative of the future direction.