Sunday, 16 October 2016
However I do miss the apps. My bank doesnt even have one. So I have a Samsung Galaxy S6 that occasionally use. The problem is that Samsung has done something that PC users has been hit with for years - crapware. You buy a new PC, or a Samsung device, and it's filled with apps to "help you". Apps you never use except by accident and wish weren't there. In the Windows world most, if not all, uninstall. If you are an IT Pro you can even do a whole clean install on a PC. Not so with Samsung. The official Samsung phone comes with built in crapware you can't remove unless you download and root the device. You can remove it a bit but it sits there as an update. If you press update all then it comes back.
My problem is a bought my phone from Ebay. Actually that overstates it. I bought a brand new device at a decent price as a European phone from Ebay. By European I mean unlocked and working well except for one thing. It was destined for the Hungarian market. After setting the default language to English all worked well and there is literally no problem except for the crapware.
I can't remove it unless I root the phone and that is lot of effort to remove just one app. I have disabled all the other Samsung crapware but this one is just vaguely irritating. It sits there in a sort of unwanted pointless way.
I do feel guilty that I can't use this app. The unwanted and slightly unloved dimension to apps you cant install is not just annoying but also wasteful of space.
The only route to liberate this app from limbo would be to learn Hungarian. That's crapware for you.
Saturday, 8 October 2016
It was only a Mac product. That mean't it reached a tiny fraction of home computer users. Even if 100% of all Mac users bought an ipod around 90% of computers would not be able to use it. This was because they used Windows.
Not only did no version of itunes exist for Windows the hardware interface, FireWire, was rarely found on a Windows PC and was usually an expensive add-on card. To expand the sales of ipod it would have to go for the Windows market.
Apple first did a deal to get another music software program for Windows to sync to the ipod. Eventually itunes was available for Windows and the ipod used a USB cable to sync.
The ipod took off. When the iphone was launched in 2007 it was immediately available for Windows due to a version of Itunes being available.
Steve Jobs used to say that people wanted to own their music not rent it. So Apple pretty much ignored the streaming music services like Spotify. Even Microsoft has had streaming services - Zune, Xbox Music and now Groove.
All this changed with the release of Apple Music in 2015.
Like most Apple products it works only on Apple devices. Apple Music is a streaming service that you use with your iphone.
However there is also an app for Android. Nothing for Windowsphone, no app for Windows 10 UWP (Universal Windows Program).
Apple's view of the world is that they are the premium mobile device company and their competition is Google and Android. Microsoft Windows is now a legacy consumer platform with itunes. Just a few years ago Microsoft was a serious player in the consumer computing space, Steve Ballmer, the former CEO would bite off the hand of any journalist with an iphone near him. He would carry a Windows laptop and a Windowsphone everywhere.
Today Microsoft is the enterprise and cloud company. Making Windows for consumers is a legacy business. Xbox One is a outlier. They are not interested in consumer products.
You can tell the most important consumer technology companies by the apps on iphone and android. You can tell the company Apple thinks is the biggest market for their products because their music app is available for Android.
Sunday, 18 September 2016
Iphone day is a moveable annual feast where Apple believers gather at stores worldwide to buy the latest model. Although these days we have the Internet so people should be able to order from home and have it delivered there is a special need for Apple fans to come together. Almost like religious belief.
The new Apple iphone 7 Plus comes in at $749 although this price is masked by the monthly payment plans. In the UK the price has risen due to post Brexit falls in the value of the pound, However mere money wont get in the way of the true believer.
This iphone is not mush more than it’s predecessor. It is always, in the words of Apple, “the best iphone ever”, but it reflects a maturing of the market. The 2007 iphone was revolutionary and made the most important personal computer one you could carry in your hand. The apps ecosystem and the the marketing power Apple had over phone carriers forced combined voice, sms and data plans into affordable tariffs.
We are now 9 years into the iphone revolution and almost everyone who wants, and can afford, iphone in the west has got one. Older iphones are used as “hand me down” phones in families further diluting the market. Apple has quietly upped the spec of less well selling products such as ipad and Apple Watch as well as reducing prices. Its also noticeable that Apple is no longer going to give the number of phones sold on the first weekend as it has every other year. You could just think cynically that Apple dont want to announce because sales are going down but I think the market is simply maturing and iphone is now an evolutionary product rather than revolution.
The annual Apple Day seems now to be something for fans and part of the marketing process. Buyers who need an iphone now should order online. If they want an in-store experience of enjoying shiny new things then wait a few weeks and pop in to feel the love. Queuing in the rain seems something for the fanboys.
Saturday, 3 September 2016
These are all versions of the Android mobile operating system. Android is now on 80% of the world's mobile phones. Huge market share when compared to Apple iPhone, Blackberry and Windowsphone. Blackberry now sell "secure" Android phones. Which should tell you something about Android "security".
Apple do well out of iphone as a premium device that makes a lot of money. Microsoft have now integrated Windows 10 so much into all their products that Windows 10 Mobile is now just a compiler switch and costs next to nothing to produce. Microsoft just produce a couple of reference models now and rely on partners to make Windowsphone with no license fees for devices below 8 inch screens. Basically free.
Google is in a different position. Android is free. There are literally thousands of Android variants and you can pick up a tablet for very little cash. Google have partners that make Google branded phones once a year but most Android phones are not Google. Google earns money from advertising and the Play Store. Microsoft gets the most money from Android directly because of the Microsoft technology in Android. Microsoft makes an estimated $2 billion per year from Android.
Saying Android's success is a Microsoft success sounds daft but financially it's true!
Android's numeric success has led to thousands of compilations of Android and thousands of versions. The only real benchmark has been the regularly updated Google Nexus devices which reviewers praise for running "stock Android". Google themselves have switched between HTC and LG as manufacturers.
As a result the first upgraders to Android Nougat will be Nexus owners. Then it's up to the other manufacturers to send it out. Samsung are often pretty good just being a few months behind.
For the phone carriers upgrading and security patches are not that important. What they want to do is sell a new phone. They would rather you bought a product every couple of years than do software upgrades, unlock your phone and go to a sim only contract. For this reason Google like their unlocked phones and do their updates over wifi.
There is so much money in Apple that carriers dont delay an Apple update. Also Apple news quickly gets to Apple owners. Not so much for Android. IT Pros will be flashing roms, customising etc but this will by pass the great mass of purchasers. They will just stick with their 2013 copy of Android Kitkat (4.4) unless they get an onscreen prompt to update. If they go into a store they get offered a Samsung, HTC or Sony device.
On the eve of Android Nougat (7.0) we find 30% of Android users are still on version 4.4. If apps want to take advantage of 7.0 features at least 30% of the audience is excluded. The success of Android OS and it's lack of central control means many users are actually using old software versions and potentially subject to security vulnerabilities. Market dominance has it's price.
This is the same position that Microsoft found itself when it had 94% of the PC market. Microsoft developed a patch and update policy. Google hasn't and cant because of the diversity of Android.
So it's with some sense of irony that Microsoft's Windowsphone, with little market share, now running Windows 10 Mobile is being updated almost monthly using the same technique as the PC update strategy. Arguably this makes Windowsphone the most secure and most updated of any mobile OS and most suitable for non-IT Pros. Funny thing that.
Friday, 19 August 2016
I was on holiday. The offer was pretty good. There were software vouchers in the deal and a year of Office 365. So it was all good.
The experience was excellent and the staff were great. However when I buy a PC or tablet in the UK I go to a general PC store. They are what they are. In the back the store sells TVs, the staff are paid commission, they know very little about what they are selling but that's not their fault. Retail has moved on for the US PC buyer but for most of the world only Apple retail stores are a presence. Microsoft is US only. They do have some Canadian outlets and one in Australia but it's really US only.
The most important downside to this is the 'signature PC'. All the PCs sold in a Microsoft retail store are crapware free. They are just a pure Windows experience. Buy from regular retail and you get a PC bloated by unwanted special offers, advertising, "enhanced experiences", and sometimes even malware.
The global PC buying experience is dire and customers want something better. However Microsoft fails as a global company by being US Only.
However it's not just Microsoft. Want to use Google Voice in the UK? That would be US only. How about Project Fi? Not available in my region.
What about Cortana for Android? US Only too. You can sideload from an APK site but it's locked for US regional settings.
Bing Rewards? No. That's US only too. I get emails telling me I have rewards waiting. You just can't get them outside the USA.
There is also this advert from Microsoft. Years behind Apple and Google with NFC mobile payments we have these young people tapping to pay. However it's US only.
After 4 years of announcing Tap to Pay on Windowsphone in 2012 it is now available in the US market that has the worst take-up of Windowsphone globally. All Nokia phones, except for the extreme low budget models, were NFC ready globally. Microsoft, with it's head in the US market that was still swiping magnetic strips, was unable to launch in countries that have supported this for years. I have never seen so many Windowsphones used by Microsoft in any advert for a long time. It makes me think they used every Windowsphone in the US to make the ad.
If you are not in the USA it's worth a giggle looking at the insular approach of the US tech giants. However this does have a dramatic effect. The top selling mobile devices are designed and built in the far east. Cambridge based ARM in the UK, not Intel, is now at the centre of the mobile chip market because it was not UK only.
US only is not a mark of exclusivity but rather the failure of a global technology vision for US giants with the sole exception of Apple.
Sunday, 7 August 2016
Windows 10 retired Internet Explorer last year on release and created 'Edge'. Created to compete with Chrome from Google. Almost no one really spotted Edge because it wasn't ready for prime time. However it does render text very well and copes with the high dpi screens that people get with the current generation of laptops.
The missing piece was extensions. The addons that give power to the modern browser. The anniversary update added extensions so now people are using Edge.
My own browser extension I use every day is 'LastPass' the password manager.
Adblockers have also arrived as extensions. So Edge is probably the feature people are most likely to use in Windows 10 now.
I use Chrome a lot but extensions means that I am giving Edge a try. You can find out more about Edge here; Edge
Saturday, 23 July 2016
On 29th July 2016 we will be one year on from the launch of Windows 10. It's the last day of free upgrades to the OS. After this, in the US,Windows 10 will be $120 to upgrade.
A short time ago Microsoft announced that 350 million devices had Windows 10. The Windows 10 core now being on PCs, tablets, xbox one, hololens, and Windowsphone. The calculation of Windows deployment has also changed. When licenses were sold this was counted as a copy. Now it's the number of actual PCs seen by Microsoft. So the numbers should be the most accurate ever.
On 2nd August 2016 the anniversary update will happen. In this new world of product development Windows is now never finished and is on a continuous update cycle.
In the past we had an RTM version. RTM was "release to manufacturing" and literally the moment a gold CD or DVD was created with THE finished version of Windows. This concept is no more.
Windows Insiders, who receive the latest updates, have received multiple updates this year. Insiders switch on the reception of pre-release builds. These can be the "production ring", "slow ring" and "fast ring". The faster the ring the more of a test version. I actually have a spare cheap laptop for the test builds and I never put them on my daily computer for reliability reasons. You would not want to brick your daily laptop and have to reinstall Windows suddenly so the "fast ring" is really only for the adventurous.
This year really does mark the change of Windows to this continuous update cycle. Microsoft is often looked at as not as revolutionary as Apple. Continuous updates and taking business to the cloud is every bit as revolutionary as Apple. Its not just as visible as an Apple keynote speech.