State of the smartphone market

Apple’s iPhone 7 and Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 were this year’s unsurprising landmark releases in the smartphone market. However, over the years there has been a trend where the appearance of new technology in smartphones slows down. This should not really be surprising considering the extent we have come already since Steve Jobs talked of a phone, an iPod, and a camera in one device. “We call it iPhone”, he proclaimed on stage nine years ago. Next year will be the tenth anniversary of iPhone and a lot of people had decided for themselves that that would be the phone to wait for, not this year’s iPhone 7.

In fact, Apple’s alternate year of release for newly numbered models shows the company itself probably believes that one brand new smartphone a year is an unrealistic expectation. Instead a new one every other year accompanied by a stepwise change in the form of an “S” model in-between was their solution and rightly too. Until we somehow put a printer and flatbed scanner into our phones, there will likely not be a technological revolution in the true sense of the word.

Apple’s stocks were already dipping as iPhone sales dipped in the last two financial quarters. But with Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 phones bursting like crackers and forcing the company to recall all phones, their share in the market will likely also dip just as dramatically if not more. Rumours suggest a $10 billion loss after passengers were banned from carrying the phone on aircrafts. Continue reading

A tirade on iOS 10 and iPhone 7

Apple missed the mark with iOS 10, focusing heavily on material updates that do little to make the OS radically different. In fact, iOS 10 looks to me like a redressed iOS 9, which in turn is a redressed iOS 8, which is what iOS 7 should have originally been. The biggest features of iOS 10 (improved Messages app, new lock and keyboard sounds, redesigned Music and News apps, card-like interfaces that take up way too much space on screen etc.) should all have been app updates or minor updates in 10.x versions, not part of a core OS overhaul, and certainly not the highlight of iOS 10.

Share sheets and Extensions were probably the last major iOS change worthy of an entirely new edition of the mobile operating system. This time round, opening up Siri to third-party developers is probably the only notable overhaul — and it too came much later than it should have. A lot of other features I was hoping for (including stock apps residing on the App Store and enjoying regular updates like Apple’s Pages, Keynote etc. already do) never made it to iOS 10. Something as fundamental as natural language input — which Calendar.app on Mac already has — is sorely missing from iOS, and, combined with the fact that Apple now allows us to remove stock apps from the home screen (not delete them, but even removing them is better than having a folder full of junk), I am certainly tempted to wipe the slate clean and start over with a generally better experience. Continue reading

Apple Notes and Evernote: apples and oranges

I see a huge number of people on the hunt for a good note–taking application these days, and most attempts at an answer involve some sort of comparison between Evernote — the reigning king — and Microsoft’s OneNote, which has its own, growing tribe of followers. And they are both, at some point, almost inevitably, compared to the inbuilt Notes.app provided by Apple. This is simply wrong and should be avoided.

First of all, there are broadly two classifications of note–taking applications: on the one hand are swift, simple (humble?) jotting applications and on the other are file organisers. A note is a type of file at the end of the day which makes Evernote squarely a file organiser whereas Notes.app is a simpler, more straightforward note–taking application. It is much easier to jot something down and get done with it on the stock Notes.app. Evernote feels too bulky for this sort of thing. On the other end of the spectrum, Evernote excels at handling long notes, taken over a longer duration, often built upon, edited, re–worked and filed often as part of a larger collection of related notes. Generally speaking, one often needs both types of note–taking applications.

Simplicity goes a long way

I often find myself using Evernote about ten times a month often (across all devices), but have, on occasion, used it as often as several times a week. To me, the premium plan that Evernote pushes so frequently in my face does not make much sense. At the end of the day, I have a Pro subscription to Dropbox that I can use for storage, but Evernote’s organisational and notes handling capability is what keeps me with it — plus the scanner app, Scanable, from the makers of Evernote is excellent and naturally ties well with Evernote. Continue reading

An iOS 10 wishlist

June this year will see the release of Apple’s latest mobile operating system, iOS 10, during their annual World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) at the Moscone West convention centre in California. Abiding by the usual secrecy company which the company always keeps, no feature of the upcoming operating system has been talked about anywhere in official capacity.

On the one hand, this means considerable suspense builds up prior to launch — which is what Apple’s publicity team likely wants — and on the other, it means we are free to build castles in the air. Apple has probably surged far enough in its development cycle that it will not be in a position to listen to any user requests right now and accommodate features into the system, but there have been some things in the air already which may have made it into the upcoming OS. In any case, these are a few things I hope to see in iOS 10.


 

1. Customisable control centre

The control centre is possibly the most useful feature added since iOS 7 and it needs an important change: customisability. Something as simple as there being five toggles and shortcuts could be replaced with six, customisable toggles which can be 3D touched for more options (there are Cydia tweaks that help users achieve similar things). This would make the control centre vastly more useful. Music scrubbing is a good feature tying with Apple Music, but having buttons to favourite a song and add a song to an existing playlist would be welcome additions. Continue reading

Apple v the FBI — Apple should stand up for encryption

Ever since Snowden’s leaking of NSA data raised public awareness about encryption and government breach of privacy, everyone has been scrambling to make their devices safe. Apple has been a leading voice in improving encryption and their own encryption is top notch.

At the outset, the entire Apple v the FBI case was bound to happen sooner or later, and I would be extremely mistaken if Tim Cook had not already prepared himself for this. But it is ultimately such hard, yet necessary decisions that have shaped Apple and made it an admirable company in more ways than one. And right now, Apple is risking quite a lot to stand up for privacy and encryption, and it is doing the right thing. Continue reading

iOS apps more than sufficient? — Part II">Are stock iOS apps more than sufficient? — Part II

Exactly one year ago I wrote an article on using stock apps on iOS. Specifically, the case I was making was that for most people, stock apps will do just fine and our seemingly natural gravitation towards third-party apps exists, not always as a consequence of their being better, but as a result of us not giving stock apps enough time to show us their worth. Once again this is mostly because we are used to encountering shoddy bundled apps elsewhere and the trend that stock apps are all bad just sticks.

Now, having spent an entire year with my iPhone, I decided to return to address the same issue (naturally with the same title), and with considerably more experience backing me. One particularly useful trend I noticed through the year as I switched to third-party alternatives was that I found myself returning to stock apps. At the end of the day, this stands as an opinion piece, but one that is worthwhile to everyone contemplating this issue — and especially to those who discard stock Apple apps just by habit. Continue reading

iPhone 6S — two weeks later

A little over two weeks ago I bought an iPhone 6S. Coming from a 6 Plus (for reasons outlined below) I found the device to be wonderful, but not without a couple of complaints.

This time I bought a space grey 6S (not the Plus edition). Having used it as my main mobile device in my regular environment, with my usual above–average to heave use, there are a lot of things I find similar to the 6 with one key difference — this device will probably last longer as an old model than an iPhone 6 would, I would bet at least till iOS 12, and this longer shelf life in the future means better performance now, and that really is what it all comes down to. In any case, let us try to keep this review as brief as possible. Continue reading