iPhone 7 Versus Google Pixel

Today, Google announced their new smartphone: the Google Pixel, priced identically to the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. I've been trying to think of reasons why someone may choose to buy either device, besides purely Android or iOS preference. 

So, I made a list:

iPhone 7 and 7 Plus

£599 - £719

  • Dual Cameras: 2x Optical Zoom
  • Optical Image Stabilisation
  • Water Resistance
  • 3D Touch
  • Taptic Engine
  • A10 Fusion Chip
  • Stereo Speakers
  • 7000 Series Aluminium
  • Apple Stores in Every Major City
  • iCloud Backup
  • The App Store
  • Included Headphones
  • Software Updates on Day 1

Google Pixel and Pixel XL

£599 - £719

  • Unlimited Photo Backup
  • Fast Charging
  • Daydream VR Support
  • Headphone Jack

Improve Speed and Accuracy of Touch ID

I just learned a sweet way to improve Touch ID on an iOS device. This trick appears to actually increase the fingerprint information saved to your device, which results in both faster unlocking and the ability to increase the area of your fingerprint that Touch ID recognises. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Go to Settings > Touch ID & Passcode
  2. Ensure you only have one copy of each finger added. (I used to add my right and left thumbs twice to improve recognition. There is no need for this now due to this trick.)
  3. When the fingerprint you want to improve is added, simply rest that finger on the sensor as if you’re unlocking your device. You’ll see its name pulse grey to confirm recognition.
  4. Keep doing this, imagining the sensor taking a picture of your fingerprint each time it pulses grey. 

You can prove this trick works by immediately trying the very bottom of your fingerprint and seeing that Touch ID fails to recognise it. If you then try the centre of your finger and slowly work your way down, it will add the necessary data in steps until it detects your finger.

In typical Apple fashion, this advanced feature is only there if you’re looking for it. I’m glad it’s been discovered and I’m even more happy that I no longer need my thumbs added twice.

The Cheapest Way To Buy An iPhone In The UK

Below this brief update is my original article from 2012. It’s slightly out of date, but this update explains all you need to know.

If you can, buy your iPhone directly from Apple, unlocked. Shop around all the carriers and choose the best SIM-only plan for you — on the shortest terms possible. I recommend nothing longer than a SIM-only 30 day rolling contract. This gives you the flexibility to switch carriers on a whim if a cheaper or better deal appears. I recommend 3’s SIM-only 30 day contracts (that’s what I use now), and Giffgaff’s various 30 day “Goodybags”. (The reason I use 3 is because their data coverage is better in my area, and the cost is only slightly higher than Giffgaff. The customer service and random added fees are worse with 3, though. Giffgaff are awesome.)

The Math

Let’s pretend you want an iPhone 6 Plus, 64GB, Space Grey. You want a good amount of data per month, too.

Buying iPhone from EE:

  • iPhone 6 Plus 64GB Space Grey (probably locked to EE): £149.99
  • 20GB data, unlimited minutes/texts, £58.99 for 24 months
  • Total = £1,565.75

Buying iPhone from Apple and using 3’s SIM only 200 plan:

  • iPhone 6 Plus 64GB Space Grey: £699.00
  • 3 UK’s SIM-only plan - Unlimited Data, unlimited texts, 200 minutes, £15 per month
  • Total = £1,059

That’s a saving of over £500.

Even though the upfront cost around £600-£700 for an iPhone seems crazy, factor in 24 monthly payments of only £15 or so and you get a much lower overall cost after 2 years.


I currently own an iPhone 5, off contract. I bought the phone outright from Apple shortly after release for £540. I use the cheapest carrier available to me in the UK. That happens to be giffgaff. I pay £12 a month for unlimited texts, unlimited data and 250 minutes. The coverage on giffgaff is great, because they run on O2's network. O2 have one of the best networks in the UK.

The reason I bought my iPhone outright is twofold. Firstly, it's cheaper. Sure, £540 upfront for a phone seems like a lot of cash to lay down — a regular contract would let me drop just £279 for the handset — but I'm given the luxury of £12 a month thereafter (with no lock-in), whereas contract users are tied to a specific company for at least 12 months, at a cost way above what I'm paying.

If you do the maths, over 12 months I pay £684 for my phone and data plan, whereas a similar 12 month contract on Vodafone would cost £771. That difference in price is a lot of apps. Or even a few of these.

There are additional benefits to buying an iPhone directly from Apple, which include the device being unlocked — if another mobile operator springs up who happens to offer a better deal than giffgaff, I can switch. I'm also not obligated to pay £12 every month. Because giffgaff have extremely fair pricing, sometimes it'd be cheaper for me to just top up a little and let it last me over a month1. This is especially true if I'm often using WiFi, and therefore little data. Because my iPhone is unlocked, it also holds a substantionally higher resale value.

The Device And Carrier Are Separate

The iPhone is a portable computer. It just happens to connect to the internet for most of the tasks it's used for. When you think of a traditional computer and the internet connection which accompanies it, they are clearly defined, separate entities.

All the power of mobile phones has ended up in the hands of the carriers. People buy their phones by walking into stores run by carriers. When compared to how people buy computers, it seems crazy. Imagine buying a desktop computer from a Vodafone store.

This coupling of mobile device and mobile carrier is coming to an end. The value in the device/carrier relationship is all in the device. The iPhone changed everything.

I believe we would be better off if we all treated mobile phones like computers and carriers like broadband providers. £540 for a portable computer isn't expensive. But £41 a month for 600 minutes, unlimited texts and 1GB of data is insane.

I look forward to a future where device manufacturers hold more power than carriers. The balance is shifting. It's only a matter of time before it topples completely.

If you would like to join giffgaff, please use my affiliate link. We will both receive £5 free credit. Thank you.


1: Even though it may be marginally cheaper for me to not always pay £12 every month, I tend to top up on a monthly schedule just for the convenience of knowing I have unlimited data if I need it.

“Comparison: iPad vs. Windows 8 Tablet”

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.

Thickness

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.

Weight

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?)

Microsoft’s poor software support for iPad

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.)

Multitasking

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.

MicroSD support

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.

AirPrint

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.

(Emphasis mine.)

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.

Better luck next time

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 New iTunes Mini Player

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:

  • Playback controls from within the mini player, including being able to add the current playing song to playlists or start a genius playlist
  • AirPlay controls
  • Up Next access allows me to queue up songs to play after the current track finishes — or stop playback when the current song ends
  • Search feature allows me to find and queue up any song within my music library
  • Beautiful artwork display, with a user interface which fades away when not being used
  • Mini Player hovers above all other OS X windows allowing me to enjoy artwork whilst doing other work — it’s even possible to hide the “Up Next” or “Search” drawer at the bottom of the window so only the artwork is visible

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.

compact-mini-player.png

The compact mini player is now a beautiful artwork viewer, too: apps like Bowtie are now almost unnecessary if you want to just enjoy your artwork whilst doing other things.

Brilliant update.

Samsung’s Tizen: Is Ditching Android an Option?

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.

Samsung is a hardware company fighting its most important battle in an industry dominated by multiple software giants.

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.

Apple Maps and Customer Feedback

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.

How to Fly on an Aeroplane like a Decent Human Being

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.

Don't recline your chair. Ever.

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.

Help people with their ridiculous baggage

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.

Don't touch other seats

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…

Choose a good time to move around during the flight

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?

Be aware of other passengers' senses

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.

Be aware of your own senses!

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:

drunk-on-plane.jpg

Other things worth considering

These points didn’t fit into the main article, but that doesn’t make them any less important. In no particular order:

  • Young children + aeroplanes = a bad time
  • Don’t try and repeatedly talk to someone who looks busy
  • Share the damn armrest
  • Don’t mess around with the window blind
  • The cabin crew have a tough job — try and make it easier

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.

Antichamber for PC Might be My Next Portal

I started playing Antichamber last night with a friend. It’s quite possibly the most mind-expanding experience I’ve had since I played Portal for the first time.

Whilst infuriating and difficult at times, the game itself isn’t the challenge presented. The mind of the player is the challenge; your brain must be wired a certain way in order to complete the game.

Absolutely amazing. I can’t wait to finish it.

From its Steam Store page:

Antichamber is a mind-bending psychological exploration game where nothing can be taken for granted. Discover an Escher-like world where hallways wrap around upon each other, spaces reconfigure themselves, and accomplishing the impossible may just be the only way forward.

Several years in the making, Antichamber received over 25 awards and honors throughout its development, in major competitions including the Independent Games Festival, the PAX10, IndieCade and Make Something Unreal.

This quote from Rock, Paper, Shotgun nails it:

“Even as the developer told me what the game was doing to mess with my brain while I was playing it, it still succeeded in messing with my brain.”

Signs a New Apple Product Will Be Successful

What initial signs should we look for in a new Apple product to determine its success? Here are my thoughts.

The new product:

  • Is risky
  • Has very strong design decisions
  • Is very opinionated
  • Feels new and uncertain
  • Is “obvious in hindsight”
  • Lacks features traditionally accepted as necessary

Compare these with your initial impressions when first discovering the iPad or iPhone. Let’s not be so closed-minded. Instant dismissal of new technologies, especially those from Apple, tend to… backfire.

How to Browse Flash Free on OS X

A good way to tell if someone is a nerd is to check how many tabs are currently open on their main computer. If the number is greater than 10, there’s a good chance you’re looking at a nerd’s machine. Using this measurement, I certainly fall into this exclusive camp. Whilst being a nerd is often extremely beneficial, it comes with some drawbacks. One of these is the performance losses when more than a few tabs are open in Safari on OS X. I’ve suffered with this problem for months and have recently found a few simple steps to take to avoid it altogether. The biggest culprit is Flash.

It has become normal for me to have upwards of 20 tabs open at a time on my Mac. Doing this would very often bring the entire machine to its knees, forcing me to quit Safari and re-launch, loading each tab again. Over time, this procedure became tedious and I have been looking for a simple solution to stop my browser getting bogged down when used heavily. I’ve found an answer.

The first step is to completely uninstall Flash from the system. I performed a search for “flash” using Alfred, but I’m sure a Spotlight search in OS X would locate the uninstaller, too. Ensure Flash is completely uninstalled before proceeding with the next step.

Secondly, to avoid issues when playing YouTube videos, install the Safari extension YouTube5. This replaces Vimeo, YouTube and Facebook video players with a much nicer alternative. It also makes YouTube videos play without hitch - when Flash isn’t installed, YouTube will often refuse to play a video even though it’s technically possible. YouTube5 solves this problem for me.

The last step to enjoying a more responsive browser even whilst under heavy load is to install this Open in Chrome Safari Extension. As it sounds, this Safari extension makes it extremely simple to open pages Chrome, from Safari. Google’s browser contains Flash within it — so if you’re viewing a page which requires Flash (which you’ve uninstalled), you’re now just a button press away from viewing it with no issues. This is the “cheat” step for running a Mac without Flash installed.

I also use Open in Chrome to fix some quirky behaviour with YouTube5. Occasionally an embedded YouTube video will disappear from a page when the YouTube5 player tries to load. If this happens, all I need to do is press the button in my Safari toolbar and I’m viewing the page in Chrome straight away.

open-in-chrome.png

It’s worth noting that installing the Safari extension for Open in Chrome isn’t enough — there’s also a small “helper” application which must be running. Drag the included app to your Applications folder, then launch System Preferences > Users & Groups, navigate to Login Items and ensure the helper app is set to run automatically when you login. Once that’s been set, you will want to launch the app so it’s running straight away.

When you next reboot, the helper app will automatically run and you’ll be good to go.

I am yet to find a problem with this setup. The Safari extensions do not seem to impact performance of the browser and running Chrome occasionally is a small price to pay for faster browsing most of the time.

Review: 4 Unbranded Bean Bags for Writing Use

I find myself always keen to find better ways to write. Whether it’s using different apps or working in a completely different location, chances are I’ve tried it, or thought about trying it.

After recently reading Matt Gemmell’s excellent article about writing tools, I decided I should heed his advice and pick up a bean bag to help me think whilst writing. This is how Matt uses his:

I repeatedly throw it up at the ceiling and catch it, and it’s strangely therapeutic. I can often resolve a narrative, structural or inspiration issue within a few minutes, using this. It’s my first port of call when I freeze up during writing, and I use it to recharge my brain during an editing session.

I don’t write in quite the same way Matt seems to: my approach is much more “spew out as many words as possible for half an hour, then edit and refine until everything makes sense”. The bean bag comes in handy primarily whilst refining.

Unfortunately, I had to buy a set of four bean bags, rather than just one. As I’d predicted before the bags arrived, my go-to writing bean bag is the blue one. My second favourite colour bag is red. I find the green and yellow to look reasonably unpleasant: I don’t really want them sitting on my desk.

Throwing a bean bag up to just below the ceiling is an extremely fun game to play, which takes my mind off what I’m currently writing about. After a minute or so playing like this, I often find myself having “eureka!” moments, whereby I realise exactly which word I was looking for. This is why I bought them; they delivered what I was expecting. Your mileage may vary.

The bean bags fit in my hand well and have surprisingly similar proportions to an iPhone 5: if you want a size guide, the bean bags are approximately 10cm wide by 15.5cm long. The iPhone 5 is about 5.75cm wide and 12.5cm long. The smell of the bean bags wasn’t pleasant initially, but I’ve had my blue bag out in the open for less than a week so far and the smell is starting to fade. I imagine any odd, artificial smells will completely disappear within a month.

The texture of the beans is firmer than I expected. To give a rough impression of what each bean feels like, imagine a dodecahedron made from tough plastic, about a quarter the size of a pea. The beans are not round; when squeezed tightly and played with in my fingers, “clicks” can be heard as the beans pop past each other. When talking about the entire bag though, the individual texture of one bean becomes largely irrelevant. Together the bag feels about half-full of beans, giving it a pleasant weight and texture. Squeezing the bag as tightly as possible doesn’t result in an uncomfortable feeling and I’m not the slightest bit worried about the bag splitting.

 My favourite, the blue bean bag.

Overall, even though I’m primarily using just one of the packaged four bean bags, I’m happy having paid £5.83 including delivery. I’m pleased about the purchase and I recommend these specific bean bags if you’re looking for writing help. They’ll also be fine for more traditional bean bag use, I’m sure.