This is a video produced by Apple to encourage developers to make apps for iOS.
Here's last year's, if you didn't catch it at the time. It's equally heartfelt.
This is a video produced by Apple to encourage developers to make apps for iOS.
Here's last year's, if you didn't catch it at the time. It's equally heartfelt.
Amazing and inspirational video prominently featuring my good friend Andy Jay. If you enjoy watching talented gymnasts and free runners enjoy themselves, this video is for you.
Sometimes, things have to be done. This is one such example.
I'm honoured that the moment was captured by the official Rush photographer. Can't believe I was invited backstage — a perfect way to end my 7th time seeing this incredible trio.
Well, it’s an accurate title, I suppose.
My recent article, “A Tale of Two Adverts”, received a bit of attention online. Since publication, I’ve been keeping a closer eye on certain tech adverts because I think how a company advertises their product speaks volumes about how they view the product in the world. Microsoft has a new advert, so now’s a great time to analyse it.
I find most of the points raised in this ad to be questionable. Here’s a chronological list of them, along with my thoughts.
The iPad is a staggering 0.05” thicker than the Asus VivoTab RT. This seems like a weak first point to make to potential customers? That’s 1mm.
The iPad weighs 0.28 lb. more than the specific Windows 8 tablet Microsoft has chosen to compare it to. How convenient! (Microsoft’s own tablet, the Surface RT, actually weighs more than an iPad, but who’s keeping track, anyway?)
Yes, really! Microsoft criticises its own software in an advert — specifically, the lack of Office on iOS. This is an especially weak argument which is only getting weaker with time. Who actually enjoys using Microsoft Office? For me, the lack of Office support is actually a plus — the (hundreds of) alternatives available on iOS are much more enjoyable to use. (I appreciate I’m in a fortunate position not having to use Office, but how many people do actually enjoy using the suite? My guess? Not many.)
Support for multitasking in iOS exists, but Windows RT can display multiple apps at once — side by side. This is the first real point I feel is worthy of being presented in an advert, even though I question whether the tradeoffs made by this UI decision are actually worth it — every Windows Store app should be made to work full size, 1/3 size and 2/3 size. I imagine this isn’t trivial for developers to code. Considering Microsoft is struggling to gain marketshare in the smartphone and tablet world, adding complexities for developers to deal with may not be the best idea.
The Windows device shown in this advert has a microSD card slot for extra storage — just like the Surface RT. Whilst I appreciate the conveniences a microSD card can provide, it’s solving the wrong problem. The future is ubiquitous online connectivity, cloud storage and streaming — not memory cards. These portable storage cards require careful file management, something Apple wants users to avoid.
Criticising the iPad for not supporting as many printers as Windows RT devices is quite rich, considering what Microsoft considers “support”. Many Windows RT devices include support for cable-based USB printing — but wireless printing is a completely different story.
On iOS, the only way to print is wirelessly. Who wants a cable? Nobody, right?
In order for devices to qualify as AirPrint-enabled by Apple, they must meet some quite tough standards, such as not requiring any drivers. (Perhaps Microsoft is so okay with filling their devices up with crap that a bunch of printer drivers crammed onto the device seems fine?)
Say I own a Windows RT device and want to print wirelessly. Surely it must be much easier than on an iPad — after all, this advert shows wireless printing working perfectly, with the iPad dubbed as “Needing a special Apple printer”. The official Microsoft Surface support page answers my question:
Surface RT is compatible with printers that are certified for Windows RT. Some printers might not work with Windows RT or might not support all of the features of your printer. To find out what's compatible, find your printer in the Windows Compatibility Centre.
I checked my printer (which isn’t AirPrint-enabled), but it isn’t supported for Windows RT. Looks like you “Need a special Microsoft printer” in order to print wirelessly from Windows RT. Huh.
Considering AirPrint has been around longer than Windows RT, I imagine the wireless printing ecosystem is actually stronger on iOS than Windows RT — and that there are more AirPrint-enabled printers than Windows RT Wireless Printing(™)-enabled printers. I call foul.
There are certainly some problems with Microsoft’s branding and advertising, but this article exaggerates them for comedic effect. I hope to see future Microsoft adverts showing products in use, being loved by people who feel real. Apple’s new ad, “Music Every Day”, just like their previous effort, focuses on exactly this. It’s compelling, touching and feels real. What more could you ask for?
The iTunes Mini Player has always been a feature I’ve stayed away from: it never helped me browse, queue up or enjoy my music in new ways. With the latest update, however, that’s all changed. I now find myself making heavy use of it.
Here are some reasons why:
This update to iTunes seems to be one of the most profound in recent memory: whilst the upgrade to iTunes 11 was arguably a bigger undertaking, Apple has now really brought the Mini Player up to the next level. Music enthusiasts and casual listeners alike should enjoy all the new features. To get started, just click the icon next to the “Full Screen” button on the top right of the full iTunes window.
From a BGR article about the Samsung Galaxy S4, Zach Epstein writes (emphasis mine):
My sincere hope is that Samsung takes advantage of its success and focuses its resources on refining the hardware, software and service experiences it presents to users. I want a more cohesive experience across Samsung apps. I want better services that lock users into the Samsung ecosystem for years to come. These are the things Samsung might consider working on as it develops the Galaxy S5 and other upcoming phones.
The kinds of integrated services Zach is hoping to see in a Samsung smartphone take incredible amounts of resources to put together: imagine the negotiations and business deals that happened in order for just the iTunes Store to exist — the same iTunes Store that recently had its tenth birthday. That’s forgetting the Movies, TV and App Stores and iCloud. If Samsung wants to play with the big boys, it needs to make one hell of a commitment.
Samsung is facing a tough decision: should the company continue to use Android in its smartphones, relying on Google to update and maintain the software and add these integrated experiences and services, take a more self-reliant approach, modifying Android so heavily that it becomes essentially a Samsung skin on an Android foundation, or — possibly outrageously (and in the style of Apple) — ditch Android altogether and create an entire phone OS from scratch? As shocking as this last option may sound, The Verge reports that a “High-end Samsung Tizen smartphone is coming in August or September of this year:
[A]ccording to [Samsung executive vice president of mobile] Lee [Young-hee] the upcoming phone will be “the best product equipped with the best specifications.”
This could certainly be pure marketing spiel. But it could also be a mysteriously vague announcement of the smartphone industry move of the year.
Let’s backtrack for a moment. In Q4 2012, Samsung recorded $4 billion in profit from its cellphone and telecom business. In the same quarter, Google recorded “just” $2.9 billion profit from all its businesses combined. Samsung is making significantly more money from Android than Google is. The question arises, does this huge reliance on Android and massive profit disparity cause tension between the two companies? And, if so, who has more to lose?
If Samsung takes the smartphone industry seriously — which I believe they do — making a bold move like ditching Android could potentially reap huge rewards for the company. If done right. But it’s a colossal undertaking and one very big risk: what if customers are more loyal to Android than they are to the Galaxy brand, rejecting any high-end device lacking the Android apps and Google services they’ve grown to love? How will Samsung launch an app store in 2013, when there are already established market leaders and competitors?
Back in January I pondered if Samsung leaving Android might just be the “story of 2013”. I still think it’s a pretty long shot, but I’m watching this space.
Daniel Jalkut writes about one of the less often discussed, but still incredibly frustrating problems with Apple Maps — the “Report a Problem” feature not appearing to... well... do anything:
In order for Apple’s customers to continue “reporting a problem” with Maps, they need to feel that their reports are having some impact. They need to feel respected. Ideally, good reports would lead to timely corrections on a mass level that would benefit all other iOS users. Anecdotally, this is not happening.
I can confirm this to be the case here, too. On day one of iOS 6’s release, I submitted corrections to Maps for a few places in my local area. None of the mistakes I highlighted have been corrected.
Furthermore, back in February, Apple Maps directed me over an hour off-course, wasting valuable time when I was traveling to a music store just before closing time. When I arrived (almost too late), I mentioned this Apple Maps mishap to the owner of the company, who had actually been aware of the issue since day one. He told me that corrections had been submitted by him and multiple customers, all to no avail.
I haven’t used Apple Maps since.
What’s clear is that taking the time to “Report a Problem”, correct the incorrect information in the app and then hit submit is a non-trivial amount of work. Apple seems to be completely ignoring this wealth of user-submitted information, which leads to a very dangerous situation — the most valuable users (those who submit feedback) becoming alienated by the very company their (wasted?) efforts were trying to help.
“Did Apple even see my corrections?” “Haven’t I corrected this before?” “Why does nobody at Apple care that my road is incorrectly named?!” “Why do I even bother telling Apple about these problems if they’re not doing anything about it?”
Daniel has some smart thoughts about how to solve this incredibly frustrating problem — but it’s a difficult challenge to tackle. Even though it’s complex, Apple went ahead and shipped Maps knowing full well how many users they have: there is no excuse for not staffing appropriately to deal with customer feedback, especially when it helps improve your own (admittedly half-baked) product.
The best case scenario for Maps is every single piece of Maps feedback getting logged and checked, with the “true” reports being applied in one huge update. Is that likely? I’m not so sure.
I’ve touched on the differences between Apple and Microsoft before, but here’s a more visual example of the two companies; namely, their adverts for smartphones.
Update: I felt I’d been lazy and not fully explained my thoughts about these two ads. I’ve updated this article with some thoughts below the videos.
I think these two adverts speak volumes about the companies behind them.
Microsoft’s ad lets us know they’re not even remotely afraid to acknowledge competition: Windows Phone’s two biggest rivals are mentioned by name: “Galaxy” and “iPhone”.
It feels to me as if this advert is far too focused on bringing up competition. There’s no mention of any Windows Phone features which might be a reason to switch: the only reason given is the dogmatic and weak motto “Don’t fight. Switch” — which doesn’t even make sense.
50 seconds into Microsoft’s advert shows a man with a large Apple logo tattooed on his chest. This logo is (amusingly) pictured larger than any other logo in the ad, including the Windows Phone logo.
Don’t get me wrong — I don’t think bringing up competition is always a mistake: Apple has done similar things in the past, with the “Get a Mac” campaign back in 2006. However, these adverts were always carefully written to show the advantage of a Mac in different situations. Further, actors were used to represent the two camps, as opposed to Microsoft’s approach: using real iPhone and Android handsets in their own marketing materials. (And big Apple logos.)
If your biggest competitor’s logo appears larger than your own in an advert commissioned by you, that’s a pretty good sign that something is wrong.
Apple, with its advert, is focusing on how the iPhone fits into people’s lives. Their ad is exactly 60 seconds long — not a word from a commentator (about the iPhone) is spoken until 54 seconds in. Even then, it’s one simple and true statement: “Every day, more photos are taken with the iPhone than any other camera.”
The iPhone is being shown fitting into lives, being used by real people. Real people who don’t fight about the device they’re using; real people who care more about what they’re doing than the device they’re using to do it.
A recent episode of Back to Work compelled me, someone with a lot of experience flying (…economy), to write a guide of sorts for anyone noble enough to care about other people's feelings on an aeroplane. Here's my set of pointers which will — hopefully — improve your experience whenever you take to the sky.
The only thing reclining your chair accomplishes is making the life of the poor passenger behind you slightly more miserable. A chair recline isn't a victimless crime: for every inch you gain, the passenger behind you looses.
The total space for passengers in an aircraft is a zero-sum game. If you work to increase your personal space, you’re just taking away from fellow passengers. And nobody wants that.
"But what if the person in front of me reclines?" No buts. Suck it up like a champ and deal with having less room. In fact, go one further: expect the person in front of you to recline their chair. If everyone on the entire plane reclines, the result is pretty much the same as if nobody reclined. It's really not worth the effort.
Yes, I know they bought waaaay too much “Duty Free” alcohol and it's not your problem, but the more this sunburnt, middle-aged passenger with a questionable fashion sense struggles getting their bag in the overhead compartment, the more time the whole plane wastes waiting. And nobody likes waiting.
Help the cabin crew (and every other passenger waiting in line) out by offering to lift, carry or squash someone else's baggage into the overhead compartment. One day you'll be glad when someone else offers to help you.
The rules for seats unoccupied by you are simple: avoid touching them. Even one hand rested on another passenger's seat will make it feel (to them) like the world is about to end.
Hate getting your seat on the plane kicked by young children? Having it lent on by an aging holidaymaker can be even more disruptive. (Just think of the weight difference!)
Use your own seat if you need to steady yourself when standing — and if you need to steady yourself as you're moving through the plane cabin, you chose a bad time to move. Which brings me neatly to…
If you realise you need the toilet 15 minutes before the estimated landing time, it's probably best to wait. All that's likely to happen if you get up and start wandering around the aisle dangerously close to the descent is that you'll get caught in turbulence.
And who wants to go to the toilet when everything's shaking?
What do I mean by this? Well, let's take the sense of smell. That leftover curry you decided to carry on board and proceed to eat really stinks. And perhaps the passengers around you aren't fans of Indian cuisine.
What about the sense of touch? We've dealt with not touching other seats, but the same goes for other passengers. Be aware of the available legroom between you and the fine folks next to you. Are your legs in their Personal Space? Be careful. You probably wouldn't want their legs brushing against yours.
Flying drunk is almost certainly not going to end well for you or any of the passengers within earshot of you. Most fliers aren’t there because they enjoy flying: they’re on board to get from A to B with the least amount of hassle possible.
Anything you do to increase hassle in other passengers’ lives will probably result in bad things happening to you. This is just one example:
These points didn’t fit into the main article, but that doesn’t make them any less important. In no particular order:
I’ve probably forgotten a bunch of important and obvious things. If there’s something you think should be added to this list, you can let me know on twitter or drop me a line. I hope you’re now a better passenger.