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The Nokia Lumia 1020…

… Some disagree on it being innovative but for sure it’s making people think. My thanks to insightful, gentleman tweep @BrianSHall for stimulating my grey cells this morning while I was on the train. He posted a tweet about Apple needing to compete with the Nokia Lumia 1020 which led me to totally rewrite this post, thanks Brian.

My response was two words Retina Camera.

Don’t Make Me Repeat Myself

I’ve already written my opinion of the Nokia Lumia 1020 shortly after the launch event. This is more about market ramifications for all the other Smartphones out there but especially Apple.

Nokia Lumia 1020

What are HTC, Apple and all the others doing in response to the Lumia 1020 raising the bar?

Word of the day is once again, “opportunity”.

The Warptest POV

Tim Cook and Apple had a wake-up call last year with the Nokia 808 PureView. This was truly the shape of things to come.

Nokia Pureview 808

Anyone who didn’t realize this technology was being integrated into the Lumia Windows Phone was asleep at the wheel.

Is a year plus long enough for Apple to build the iPhone 5S/6 with a Retina Camera, associated Apps and an SDK like Nokia has?

That depends on a combination of ego and policy more than development and testing. The bottom line is, which is more important to Apple: seeing their product spec driven by competitors’ innovations and not their own or maintaining a competitive edge?

iphone

With thanks to Apple for the image.

(My hope is companies like HTC read the writing on the wall too but that’s a different kettle of fish).

After the “so-so” reception of the iPhone 5 can Apple afford not to deliver their next iPhone / iPad with a Retina Camera? The Smartphone wars may be flaring up again and the consumers are the ones who will benefit from this.

tim meh

Are you on the fence over which Smartphone will be your next and does the idea of having the best camera on your phone make the difference to your decision?

not carl zeiss

Samsung Gives Us Their Take On The Cam-Phone…

… And with it TechCrunch throws an absolute wobbler and decides that this is the Lumia PureView Killer.

Their title “Samsung Just Killed Nokia’s ‘True PureView’ Windows Phone And It’s Not Even Unboxed Yet” drew my attention and so I hit the link in Twitter.

Techcrunch S4 ZoomI didn’t need to so much as scroll to see the image of the Galaxy S4 Zoom which for all intents and purposes looks like a point and shoot camera which apparently has a phone built in.

With thanks to YouTuber Tracy80sGirl for the clip

Apples and Pears

My suggestive title aside I decided to see what it feels like to treat a point and shoot as your phone: –

  1. I really hope my jeans pocket stretches back to original shape and thankfully I didn’t accidentally hit the zoom button when it was in there; the rest I leave to your imagination.
  2. Yes, there needs to be an equivalent term to Glasshole for people who walk around talking into a point and shoot camera.
  3. I have more comments from my brief behavioral testing run but let’s progress…

With thanks to Samsung Mobile Press for making images downloadable

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TechCrunch’s article indicates that “serious” photographers will take a point and shoot form factor camera over Nokia’s Lumia PureView whilst at the same time deriding the comparison of Samsung’s 16 Megapixels versus the PureView’s 41 WHOPPING Megapixels as nerdy. Sounds like someone wants to have their blogging cake and eat it too.

The bulky argument cancels itself out because both phones are bulky in different ways. The Galaxy S4 Zoom protects the zoom lens housing by building a protruding base to the phone across the whole width whereas the Lumia has a consistent form factor except for the bubble shape of the lens housing.

I will say one more thing regarding technical spec. TechCrunch, anyone who is remotely serious about taking photos will see one thing that differentiates the two lenses: –

Who’s got a Carl Zeiss lens?

carl zeiss anyone?

The Warptest POV

In a nutshell the Samsung looks good for what it is but the Nokia looks better. The promise of the competitive technical specs of 10X Zoom versus WHOPPING Megapixels may cancel each other out.

Really it comes to this, do you want Windows Phone 8 or Android 4.2 (Jellybean)? Whichever, you had better make sure you have unlimited data and unthrottled bandwidth for uploading these undoubtedly large photos or simply sending resized copies until you can use a wifi connection.

Sorry to burst your bubble TechCrunch but I don’t think Nokia is under much threat from this specific model especially when you factor the promise of Lumia’s low light abilities, Wireless recharging and some amazing proprietary apps.

So whilst I may be happy to see you Samsung Galaxy Zoom, you won’t be in my pocket.

How about you?

#Trending Logo

#Trending popped up yesterday…

#Trending is the first unofficial Twitter Music App and it’s on Windows Phone. Amazingly the App Developer also made it Windows 7.x compliant so double hat-tip from me.

#Trending comes in the usual two App flavors, paid and free. So far I’ve been using the free version. I had read it doesn’t work in all regions and was pleasantly surprised to see I could use it in Israel.

#Trending App

What Does #Trending Give You?

#Trending puts the music that is trending on the new / coming soon Twitter Music service on your Windows Phone.

 Twitter Music

When I go to the link for Twitter Music I get the Coming Soon screen so it’s tough to test how well the App delivers but it works for me and I get a rapidly built queue of music through my phone.

 #Trending On The Phone

#Trending plays a 30 second sample of the song, enough to decide if you like it. The really nice feature on Windows Phone is the ability to turn this into a ringtone. The App Developer does request,

“Please make sure you have purchased the content before setting as ringtone from windows phone music store.”

If you decide to make an In-App purchase then #Trending makes a Marketplace Search for the artist and music you chose.

The Warptest POV

What’s not to like? The App works well and whilst it doesn’t cache the next song for when you go places without reception it also is very easy on battery life; I used it on and off during the day on my HTC Titan the rest of the time it was running in the background.

I’m interested to see how Twitter Music will work, for now I’m giving #Trending a recommend.

Vine meets Wolverine

Vine is what exactly?

Vine launched with much fanfare as a shareable micro-video app with expectations of rapidly becoming the next big thing for iOS.

Subsequently they added embed functionality and job postings on the Vine site seem to indicate that an Android version is coming soon.

Love it, or Hate it?

The sentiments have been mixed on Vine from what I’ve read online. As you know I’m a Windows Phone user so my daily access other than for testing is limited with iOS but from what I’m seeing some love the medium and others positively loath it.

Where Have We Seen it So Far?

The mainstream use cases are limited but an outstanding example was new movie The Wolverine, based on the popular Marvel Comics character. Below is an incredible first look mini-trailer made with Vine showing Hugh Jackman reprising this role.

Subsequently we saw Bryan Singer post a Vine from the set of the new X-Men movie showing preparations for shooting and some familiar faces from previous X-movies.

 The Warptest POV

Video is a tricky thing. Not everyone has it on their website and not everyone does it well. There are a lot of factors that can mess things up but Vine minimizes some of these risks by dealing in snapshots which minimizes all that pesky post-processing.

In a way this is a natural extension of micro-blogging and the 140 Characters of Twitter and as it is a new app we are still at the stage of “I’m eating my sandwich” / “Having a shower” stage that Tweeps indulged in back in the day.

The fact is that whilst movies can use Vine nicely we are still at the discovery stage for using this app as a mainstream tool for engagement. To those who hate it I would suggest you remember the bet posed to Ernest Hemingway; tell a story in 6 words:

For sale: baby shoes, never used.”

If Hemingway was around today wouldn’t he be using Vine to tell his stories? One thing is for sure, I’m looking forward to installing the Windows Phone Vine App when it eventually launches.

 

No Entry To App Store

iPhone5 iPadsApple Are Tightening Their Rules …

The Standards defined by Apple for an App to be accepted and remain in the App Store are changing again on May 1st.

According to various tech blogs including Engadget 3 Acceptance Criteria are set to change and not just new submissions but for existing apps too.

Acceptance Criteria Update

  • Apps cannot access UDID any longer. Apps and their servers will have to use Vendor or Advertising Identifiers instead.
  • Apps must be built to support Retina display devices.
  • iPhone Apps must be built to support the 4 inch (larger) display on the iPhone5.

Fragmentation: Zero Tolerance

Whilst the issue of Retina and iPhone5 add one or two more devices to the mix Apple are squaring off to ensure no nasty fragmentation issues ever crop up.

One has to assume that iPhone6 will have some other substantial hardware differences too. Apple cannot rely on their brand maintaining high sales simply by releasing a bigger/smaller screen.

If so then the precedent set here will continue and App developers should anticipate a similar zero tolerance cutoff date for apps to be compelled to support iPhone6 too.

The smarter, more proactive developers will ensure they are compliant earlier rather than later.

App Lifecycle Ramifications

If you are a sole developer, Startup or big Software House invested in App development then this has some ramifications for you: –

    • Your team are going to have to have access to all the devices you support Retina and earlier, iPhone and iPad to ensure your App detects the device type and renders the app accordingly.
    • First and foremost your QA are going to need to bring their A Game and ensure comprehensive test coverage for these changes.
    • Your QA are going to need access to these devices ASAP to ensure that these new criteria are incorporated into their testcases and are fully tested:
      • The basic testcases are simple:
        • Retina devices: UI elements and text should display visibly and where touch enables should be large enough to be easily and distinctly touched.
        • Retina devices: graphics that may be part of the app e.g. images of items for sale on e-commerce apps should render at the correct size.
        • Non-Retina: conversely UI / graphics should render proportionate to display resolution i.e. not hard coded for Retina and thus oversized.
    • As for replacing UDID well this is a ticking clock. If you snoozed and missed this one you weren’t paying attention in class were you.
    • All said and done the cost of developing your App just increased substantially.

The Warptest POV

If Bloomberg’s Business Week article is to be believed then Apple may be facing a drop in profits and as a result no one in Apple sales will shed a tear if this change in App Acceptance criteria force increased device sales to App Developers and Testers.

Whilst I’m not cynical enough to believe this was raison d’etre behind this move, I have to ask,

How is this going to affect the face of the App Store?

Are we going to see multiple Apps thrown out by Apple where the Developer cannot afford to support these changes?

Is this going to drive some Apps away from the App Store and to Android, Windows Phone or Blackberry 10?

What do you think?

Moleskine …

For quite a few years I have kept a stock of Moleskine notebooks in different sizes as my go-to notes, sketch and idea keeper.

For someone who the generic yellow A4 legal pad doesn’t quite do it or if you enjoy the discussion it prompts when you pull out your Moleskine notebook in a meeting then this brand is for you.

The Moleskine Store

An App, yes and App…

Imagine my pleasure when I was looking through the Windows Store and discovered that there is a free Moleskine App.

I have a simple note taking App but it lacked something and I found myself simply not using it however the UX of the Moleskine app on Windows Phone manages to take the look and feel of analogue notebook and bring it into the digital domain.

 The Moleskine Windows Phone App

The app is also for iOS and Android (ICS 4.0+ on the Samsung App Store).

Perfect or Not…

The Windows Store has a rating and comments for on each App download page (not unlike other App Stores) I always find the user comments enlightening about bugs or features that would improve the app. In the case of Moleskine there were two comments that relate to a locked notebooks bug (I would rate the bug as severe but only if locked Notebooks is a feature you use; I don’t) and a feature request to improve on the workflow by using swipe gestures to turn notebook pages (this is a great feature request and I hope Moleskine find a way to implement this in the next version).

My favorite feature after the UX is the ability to sync with my SkyDrive or Evernote.

My feature request would be to add a collaborate feature to allow other Moleskine App users to see, edit or comment based on share permissions whether they are Windows Phone, Android or iOS.

My Take…

This is a simple, elegantly designed app that does lack some features but manages to bring their distinct brand from paper onto the screen of my phone. I have yet to purchase any apps but if this app became a pay app I might have to consider buying it.

How does this stack up against your journal / note taking app of choice?

————– Update April 2nd 2013 ————–

I just got the latest update to the Moleskine app on my Windows Phone and was wowed to see both Evernote and SkyDrive support in the settings. Clearly I will be using the latter but choice is a good thing and this is one more excellent feature in a already elegantly done App.

Moleskine clearly believes in Windows Phone as a growing market for Apps and not just Windows Phone 8 but 7.x too.

Bravo Moleskine!

October is here and with it the impending launch of the Windows 8 Ecosystem; the primary elements of which are Windows 8 OS, The Surface (and other Windows 8 Tablets, RT and Pro) and Windows Phone 8.

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Image courtesy of Microsoft Word Clipart Collection

We have already had the teasers from Nokia and HTC with the Lumia 920, 8X and 8S. Samsung is also lurking in the wings with their Ativ.

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Photos via the official Nokia and HTC sites

It doesn’t take a visionary to realize that the success of the Windows 8 Phone and the 8 Ecosystem as a whole is enormously dependent on Startups and Individual App Developers fully embracing the Windows Store as a viable option for their Apps; not just the Google and Apple Stores. Windows Phone Apps will make or break this.

Microsoft needs to take a step back just before the launch and seriously analyze their successes and failures with Windows Phone 7 and learn from this.

Israel, The Startup Nation is a giant Petri Dish for App development and yet successes such as Waze apparently see little if no potential ROI in a Windows Phone version.

image

Alas the rumors were not true of a Waze for Windows Phone App .. my thanks to for their transparency and speedy reply.

To be fair, Waze are not alone in this. Path and several other successful Apps seem to have completely ignored Windows Phone as a platform. Have they just been waiting for Windows 8 Phone to see if the market share changes and makes it worthwhile or is the effort of maintaining versions of their Apps on one more platform just not worth the effort.

Ironically, Microsoft unlike Apple is a highly active participant in both stimulating innovation and providing guidance and  support at Startup level with Bizspark and their Accelerator program.

Ultimately, it is insufficient to build and launch Windows Phone 8 unless Microsoft can entice App Developers and Startups to either also  or exclusively develop Windows Phone Apps and if they are truly smart they will ensure that these Apps continue to support the existing Windows Phone 7.5 customer base.

Even with 100,000+ Apps already in the Store, Microsoft cannot rely on the adage “If you build it they will come”. In the age of Lean Startups there has to be a strong reason to choose to budget Development for Windows Phone Apps over iOS, Android or (even) Blackberry.

How would you entice and encourage this?

 

Trouser and fashion designers everywhere were up in arms yesterday after the new and longer iPhone 5 release. A source close to the President of the International Tailors Federation was quoted,

“We can’t keep redesigning pockets to keep up with the increase in Smartphone size and length. Pant pocket technology is lagging still at turn of the century candybar and flipper phone design. Consumers are angry with us for not keeping up with rapid changes to phone size. We’ve asked Apple, Google, Microsoft and Blackberry repeatedly to keep us in the loop but they simply won’t .. it’s very frustrating. This new iPhone 5 release is a classic example, how are pockets going to accommodate that?”

When asked consumer organizations everywhere said the pocket issue was serious and they just wished that the tailors and designers could stop getting caught with their pants down.

 

Last week I posted the link to the Techcrunch article “” as it referred to various company’s efforts to provide comprehensive testing coverage for Android; this involves testing on a variety of handsets and tablets.

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Many of you know that I work in the field of testing and more and more frequently the projects involve mobile platforms.

There I was innocently thinking “How nice, finally Techcrunch is doing an article related to testing.” what I didn’t take into account (before my optimal caffeine dose) was the actual subject matter wasn’t purely testing, it was also related to the subject of Android Fragmentation.

Fragmented Android

Weekly “caffeine compatriot” and my Go-To Guy for all things Android, @Brassman75 posted an article on his Brassnet blog:

 I’m sick and tired of all this talk of Android “fragmentation”

Where he makes some strong points against the whole issue of fragmentation. I recommend reading this.

Warptest Perspectives

From my point of view the only failure Android has is a marketing or branding failure here; one man’s fragmentation is another man’s flexibility.

Android as a mobile OS for Smartphone and Tablet may be on many devices of different configurations but this isn’t necessarily a negative.

If you are set on owning and using an Android device then there is almost certainly a device to suit your specific requirements. The official Android site allows you to browse and compare here.

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The real questions remain, what is Android doing to counter this negative perception, where is it coming from and will Android continue to just let the OS sell itself?

Where Are You Mobile Technology?

We often hear that mobile technology or smartphone processing power is greater in these tiny handheld units than the computers used to affect the Lunar Landing by NASA.

Mobile technology - moon landingImage courtesy of YouTube screencap

However, sometimes it seems that no matter the hot new mobile device we are all lusting after the technology is just a new spin on the same thing .. there seem to be a couple of obstacles to progress:

Stall #1: Batteries

Smartphones, laptops and other mobile devices are dependent on rechargeable batteries. These batteries are either heavy or have limited lifespan. This is not to say that there haven’t been improvements but which of us at an event or in an airport doesn’t gravitate to the nearest power socket for a mains electricity boost?

In a previous post I wrote about Apple registering a patent for hydrogen powered batteries and the inherent problems in this but at least someone is pushing the boundaries of the existing paradigm.

Stall #2: Screen Size

I’m writing this post on a 13.3” wide laptop screen. I was initially concerned about the drop down from 17” but my back is thanking me for the lighter load and with a 1Gb GPU it does the job well.

We are starting to hear about flexible screens and micro-projectors but let’s be honest us Sci-Fi geeks are waiting for a “screen” that is 3D Holographic, touch display.

The moment your display is holographic it will change by need. I’m going to suggest again that a Smartphone with Kinect built-in would provide the “touch” reactive functionality.

However, this will in all likelihood be constrained by battery life.

Mobile technology - Obi Wan You're our only help
Star Wars – Princess Leia’s Holographic Message to Obi Wan

At the end of the day these are not the only issues but they are big ones. What do you think?

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RUMORS ARE FLYING ABOUT IPAD NEW…

That iPad New has serious overheating issues. Are we talking AntennaGate II  here?

DELTA: iPAD NEW VS iPAD2

One of the improved features seems to be the Retina Display: Apple says on their page that Retina provides a mindboggling 3.1 megapixel display.

I was instantly curious about two things: –

  • What is inside the box that processes and renders all these pixels?
  • How was this tested?

I got on Bing and found this site, iFixit which details the disassembly of the iPad New.

iPad New - ifixit takedown

picture courtesy of the iFixit.com site (unedited)

displaying the Apple A5X GPU for iPAD New

SEGUE:

What does a GPU do? In a nutshell it takes over the complex processing required to render graphics from the CPU. Basically though the more you use it and the more power it consumes to do it’s work the hotter these things get. That’s why many PC GPU’s or graphics cards have an onboard fan

BACK:

What is keeping the iPad and other mobile devices GPU cool when they start rendering and processing their megapixels?

One would assume that the Apple 5X (comparable to NVIDIA’s Tegra 3) is designed for optimal performance and yet there are the reports of extreme levels of heat.

iPad New - Hot
JUST HOW HOT IS THE IPAD NEW?

 

Is this why Microsoft are coming late to the party? Not because they are waiting for a primetime version of Windows 8 but because a bulkier yet cooler tablet running Windows is no competitor for iPAD or Android Tablets. Are Microsoft working with the GPU producers to ensure more efficient heat dispersal?

More importantly why wasn’t this issue caught at testing? I can only speculate but several things come to mind:

  • The image I have of the testing lab at Apple is of a chrome and black lab where devices are tested on lab benches and held by specially designed clamps .. there is little if any hands-on device testing.
  • The number of devices this bug was found in was decided to be within acceptable thresholds and so the bug wasn’t fixed .. expect a patch for the GPU firmware to resolve this.
  • In the past I have joked about Apple engineers walking into bars implying that I partially believed this to be part of Apple’s marketing plan to surreptitiously get a test device into the hands of  Beta tester / Blogger. This didn’t happen with the iPAD New and so no hands-on beta testing.

ANTENNAGATE II

The iPhone4 suffered from an issue of contact with the in-the-frame antenna producing call droppage. Apple decided to acknowledge the flaw and even sent a free bumper case to consumers that was meant to resolve the direct contact issue of fingers to frame-antenna. My suggestion for Apple here is along those lines…

ovenglove1

Tongue-in-cheek suggestion to Apple Marketing

If you have ideas or opinions about this I would love to hear them. Meanwhile I’m hoping my friends who have ordered their iPAD New tell me this bug doesn’t occur with them.

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Can-phones : The whys and wherefores

This Can-phones piece is devoted to anyone who has been stuck inside the house with the kids and needs something fun to do with them instead of more TV or Angry Birds.

It’s been several years but I decided to see if I remembered how to do this and to put those empty coffee tins to good use by making a pair of can-phones with my 6 year old.

Safety, safety, safety

  • The coffee tins I used are a brand that has no sharp edges; some of them do and as such are completely unsuitable for kids to place to their mouth or ears and use as a phone.
  • Some of the prep work here was done using a model drill .. gloves, goggles and kids at a distance please and once done disconnect the drill from the wall socket and put it away.
  • You will see in the photos I used the model drill sanding head to grind down the sharp edges created by drilling thru the can.
  • As I was doing this I was explaining to my 6 year old at each stage .. he gets safety and was thrilled when I let him wear the safety goggles. It’s all good fun.

The Concept

For those of you unfamiliar with can-phones the idea is two cans with holes through the center of the base and a string tied through the hole. When the string is taut between the two cans, one of you speaks into their can and the other hears by holding their can up to the ear.

The taut string carries the vibrations of the speech along it and the cans “transmit” and “receive” the sound. If you are a physics buff and have a better explanation that works for kids, have at it.

How To Do It

Here are a bunch of photos detailing the steps we took to make our phones:

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Raw materials and drilling the holes.

PIC00540PIC00541

Grinding down the sharp edges from drilling

PIC00543can-phones : threading the string

Threading and knotting the “phone wire”

can-phones : hello?can-phones : who?

Talking and listening on the phone.

Everything after grinding down the sharp edges was done with the Little Guy and he had a lot of fun doing it. He’s also at a curious age so he had a lot of questions throughout about how it worked.

I’m afraid there is no bluetooth, sync or apps to be had for this model but on the plus side battery life is indefinite. Enjoy.

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