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Saturday, September 13, 2014

On Death and iPods: A Requiem

On Death and iPods: A Requiem | WIRED

BY MAT HONAN   09.12.14

Jim Merithew/WIRED

Have you ever loved a car? Maybe it was an old truck you drove for hundreds of thousands of miles, or maybe it was your very first car: where you had your very first beer and your very first kiss. You can love a car and keep on loving it as long as you don’t crash it. If you’re willing to maintain it, you can keep driving it basically forever. Maybe some day it’ll be old enough that you’ll get thumbs-ups from cool kids as you putter down the street in your charmingly vintage car. This is not the case with gadgets—even though, for many of us, our old gadgets were way more important than our old cars.

Gadgets come and go from our lives. Technology marches forward so rapidly that even if you could replace a broken part—which often you can’t—doing so just wouldn’t make any sense. Other times, the networks and services those gadgets depend on to keep running go away entirely. Gadgets die, even the ones we love."

The IPod Is Gone, But Not Forgotten

This tablet packs a 3D camera, slim and sturdy design

"Smartphones slowly but surely usurped digital cameras as the popular way to take photos, but are tablets the next gadget to takeover? Dell is taking a step forward as a top challenger in this shift with the release of the Dell Venue 8 7000.

The 8.4-inch slate houses a 3D camera powered by Intel's RealSense technology and it ships with pre-loaded software to take full advantage of its unique capabilities."

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Android Wear hardware review: Sometimes promising, often frustrating | Ars Technica

Companies are always on the lookout for the next big thing, the kind of product that will popularize a new kind of gadget and drive growth to the same extent that digital audio players, smartphones, and tablets have done over the last couple of decades. That's why they're all chasing things like smart TVs, smartwatches, smart glasses, smart homes, and various other "Internet of Things" things. Everyone wants to be the one to hit it big with a runaway mass-market success story.
The Gear Live and the G Watch are better than the gizmos that have come before. They're running better software that can do more things, and they're tied into an ecosystem that is likely to try to do something with them (seriously, thousands of developers went home with these last week). The trouble is that the things that came before didn't really set the bar very high; Android Wear barely has to hop to vault over it.
Of the two smartwatches we've reviewed, the Gear Live is clearly better. Its screen is crisper and more colorful, it feels better to wear, and it looks better (something I can't believe I'm writing about a Samsung watch). It has added hardware features. It's better at springing to life when I bring it up to my face. It's $30 cheaper. Its band is... well, it's easy to replace.
What it fails at is making the smartwatch into a must-have device. As it stands now, it's something that will make it a tiny bit easier to do a whole bunch of stuff you can already do. It exists only as an accessory, and at $200 it just might cost as much or more than what you paid for your phone on a contract. In a world where the Moto G and the 2013 Nexus 7 exist, $200 is too much to pay for an Accessory to a Thing. $200 is enough to buy an Actual Thing.
Maybe Android Wear will be useful enough to become indispensable in six months. Maybe the Moto 360 will strike a balance between semi-useful-thing and fashion accessory that hits a mass-market nerve. Right now, though, these watches are like their predecessors in that their promise is greater than their real-world utility. I might miss a couple things about the Gear Live when I take it off my wrist and ship it back to Google, but it's not going to be difficult to part with.

Android Wear hardware review: Sometimes promising, often frustrating | Ars Technica

Lessons learned from Microsoft’s pioneering—and standalone—smartwatches | Ars Technica

Is there anything to learn from these early adventures in smart devices? Perhaps. It's faintly ironic that one of the concerns people express about today's smartwatches is how little they can do when not paired with a phone. They're functionally smartphone accessories, albeit expensive ones, and this is held to be quite a drawback. But if the SPOT watches tell us anything, it's that the ability to escalate to the phone—switching to a device that isn't just a passive receiver of notifications—is, in fact, key to the value proposition. The watch alone is just too restricted, and in practice, it's just not that big a deal if the watch doesn't do much without the phone.
The limited SPOT products might also teach us a thing or two about connecting everything to the Internet. Electrical goods companies may feverishly anticipate a world in which everything has a screen and an Internet connection, but if the Melitta coffee machine is anything to go by, normal people couldn't care less about making their appliances into anything more than, well, dumb appliances.
As for Microsoft, the company is today busy trying to build platforms. It wants to be a part of the Internet of Things and offers no-cost Windows licenses to get there. And it's sure to have some kind of wearable strategy soon; the usual "sources close to the matter" claim that the company is working on some kind of wearable sensor-packed bracelet watch thing. While it will still need a smartphone, unlike the high profile devices from Apple, Motorola, Samsung, and LG, Microsoft's device will apparently work with iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.

Lessons learned from Microsoft’s pioneering—and standalone—smartwatches | Ars Technica

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Android is still the top smartphone OS in the US, according to comScore

"The latest data from research firm comScore shows that the number one smartphone OS in the US continues to be Android, but it actually saw its market share go down from 52.5 percent in April to 51.5 percent in July.

iOS, the number two smartphone OS, saw its market share rise from 41.4 percent to 42.4 percent in the same time frame. Windows Phone is third, going up from 3.3 percent in April to 3.6 percent in July. BlackBerry is fourth and saw its share drop from 2.5 to 2.3 percent. Symbian is fifth, dropping from 0.2 to 0.1 percent.

The leading smartphone OEM in the US continues to be Apple, claiming 42.4 percent of the industry's market share in July, up from 41.4 percent in April, Samsung is second with 28.4 percent, up from 27.7 percent. LG is a distant third with 6.4 percent, followed by Motorola at 5.7 percent and HTC at 4.7 percent."