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iMessage – a grown up version of BBM

October 14, 2011 Leave a comment
"Leopard" Icons in Black

Image via Wikipedia

So… I updated to iOS5 yesterday morning, the thing I wanted to try out most of all was iMessage and in all honesty it took me a while to figure out how to use it… because I was already. Now this for me is the perfect example of good design, it should be so simple that to use it there is no learning curve – or in fact no learning at all.

BBM has been the big success story for BlackBerry – particularly when it comes to getting teenagers to use it as BBM provides free texting, the trouble with it is that you BBM identity is based on your device PIN which means if you switch devices you have to add all your contacts again.  This has been made easier due to the backup/restore services however it still sends out an invite request to all my contacts. I seem to constantly get new invites from people who have lost, replaced or updated their BB.

The next issues is that it is an extra app to use which means that for those new to the blackberry they have to work out how to use it, OK so it isn’t like learning how to do open heart surgery but it still requires going onto another application and then adding contacts.

So what is so good about iMessages – The genius of it is twofold:

1. To begin with you don’t know you are using it, if a person in your contact list as an iPhone (or other iOS device) running it then an iMessage is sent by default and sms is used as a ‘backup’, I can see the delivery state and if the other person begins responding you can see it – so you can’t see if a message has been read but I’m not certain that is a killer feature anyway.

2. it works on multiple devices and follows you around based on where your account is in use rather than your device PIN. This means I stay who I am and if I get a new phone or device it will work on there too without having to do anything or requesting to be added to people’s contacts.

How Apple could improve it further would be to add it as a feature to iTunes or better yet make this accessible from other platforms and devices too but that may well be too big an ask.

A few years ago I used to talk to people about how one day all our phone numbers would be replaced using ‘presence’ and how UC would transform how we would live and work, that has failed to materialise (yet), for many reasons but steps like this will begin to make it a reality.

What I want – smartphone, tablet, laptop and desktop – nivarna….

April 14, 2011 Leave a comment

From what I see day-to-day there is increasingly less focus on what is going on in the realms of desktop OS. As browsers are getting steadily more and more advanced, and vendors are now getting behind HTML5 and CSS3it is making browser apps a much more pleasant place to be. Furthermore the ‘technical native’ generation are entering the workforce and as a result they are happy with the concept of browser-based apps. Also of note is that the strangle hold that Microsoft has had on the desktop OS world is beginning to relax: in 2003 Windows (in one flavor or another) accounted for nearly 94% market share, as of March 2011 this figure is now 86% (source WC3 stats). That represents quite a slide – and a 2% reduction in the last year alone. More interestingly it seems that Windows 7 (their best OS yet) hasn’t increased the market share yet even Vista caused an up-tick…  IDC announced yesterday that  Global PC shipments declined 3.2% during the first quarter of 2011 (1Q11) compared to the same time last year and that will have a knock on affect for the revenues of the likes of Microsoft. The world seems to be changing – and it seems things like tablets and smartphones may be the cause of this.

Now this is where there is an opportunity… let me explain…

When Motorola announced the Atrix I thought they were on to something – I really liked some of the ideas but the truth was it was a case of being close but not getting the cigar. I loved the accessories but all in the price is just too hard to swallow and that the netbook/laptop options meant I would end up running a Linux desktop which just isn’t for me (I know – I know – Linux is a great os but I’m not a fan)- so I remain a walking catalogue of consumer electronics….

If I could have a smartphone, that I could ‘dock’ into a tablet that I could then click onto a keyboard (for my laptop) and then when at my desk dock into a cradle to give me access to my multiple screens, mouse, keyboard (and touch screen aspect of the tablet for control etc) – each time increasing the processing power, resolution capabilities and storage then I believe we would have world peace 🙂 – well I for one would be happy. If I could go seamlessly from one device to another with access to same docs, (perhaps have a cloud based storage mechanism) or at least remote access to the files on the cradle whilst traveling then this would be a winner. Especially as this would also be a mobile/desktop soft-phone. Microsoft, Apple and increasingly Google (enter ChromeOS) are well positioned for this strategy and I have a feeling that this is where Apple are going – maybe that is the basis for the iPhone5 nano rumors and the huge new data-center… after all this would again change everything.

Now it’s time to bitch about the iPhone.

April 13, 2011 Leave a comment

OK – I may ave finally reached the end of the honeymoon period with my iPhone4. I had some teething problems with it when we first got together, things like not being able to accept ICS invitations etc – but all those issues are in the past, but this week… my rose tinted glasses may have finally been removed…

Two major problems have finally worn me down:

  1. BATTERY
  2. HEAT

So I got used to the fact that I’d be lucky to get more than 24hrs worth of battery life out of the iPhone4, with moderate use – and provided I didn’t let my children near it but I’m now down to around 10 Hours tops. This is a MAJOR problem, as I’m not glued to the phone all the time in fact in terms of phone calls today I’ve made a total of 4 calls each less than 5mins in length, I used it to listen to podcasts this am for 1hr total and I’ve checked emails a they have arrived so today would be a low usage day. Oh and it was charged overnight.

As for the heat, well if I used the phone for more than 2-3 mins either to make a call or for apps the screen would get very hot. I’ve never had this issue before and my first attempt at fixing the issue was a full reboot – no joy. Eventually I closed down all the open apps and repeated the reboot and this seemed to fix the issue. This was a real surprise I’d not been doing anything that different in terms of my usage (or that of my children who seem to take control of it every weekend!)  and I thought that the concept of backgrounding apps on the iPhone was that the apps were put into a state of suspended animation so as not to consume resources – is this no longer the case?

I’m blaming iOS4.3.1 for my troubles – 4.2 presented me none of these issues. Am I now returning from the dark-side and the cult of Apple? Is it time to move to Droid – or horror of horrors back to BlackBerry?  Well I will be trying out the new BB devices when they come out over the next few months but before I issue divorce papers to my iPhone I will see if iOS 4.3.2 will repair my relationship.

Why I’ve divorced my blackberry.

March 30, 2011 2 comments

So the background is that I’ve been using the blackberry in anger now since 2003-4, my first was a 7100 – I think… I can’t say I loved it to begin with – more suffered it – as I had to have access to email all the time and living in an area with no broadband was an issue.  I was working at Parlano – and our whole way of working was based on using group chat so I only had email contact with customers. It was when I moved to Reuters (now Thomson Reuters) that I discovered the blackberry crack – and soon became addicted, due to the integration with our mail and calendar system (Exchange) – Reuters had an email culture and it was the defacto way of communicating.

So, roll on a couple of years to July 2010, now working at Formicary. I got a free upgrade opted to go for an iPhone – I wanted to see how the other half live, and as Formicary are RIM partners we get the new BlackBerry devices just before launch so I would still be able to get a new RIM device from work so it seemed sensible to try something new.   So swapped to using the iPhone and HATED it…. there was no way to accept calendar requests, the email delivery was slow, so I bought a SIM card adapter and went back to my BB Bold and I used the iPhone as an iPod… and my children loved playing games on it.

Then the Torch arrived on my desk…. here were my findings:

Negatives

the home screen -when I unlock the device I have to expand the menu tray, this adds an extra click which is a click too many.

touch screen – the select functions are pretty inaccurate, in fact it is fairly inaccurate for touch sensitivity for all functions.

screen keyboard – is unusable for writing messages, in portrait mode you get about two lines of visible space to type and in landscape you have about two lines. Also the keyboard is pretty clunky to use on-screen it would be better to use Swype style keyboard.

switching between menus- appears very slow to switch from one screen to the next – for instance from the ‘all’ to the ‘favourites’.

Voice calls – the mute button doesn’t seem to function 100% of the time when on calls you think you have clicked it and you don’t hear the audio indicator yet it is muted and the other way around too. Also I seem to accidentally end calls when I use the handset pressed to my head – not sure why…

Pinch/stretch – not very slick, seems to be a bit hit and miss, often you end up selecting instead of stretching/shrinking

Always calling people by accident – made myself very unpopular when I was working in the USA for two weeks and kept calling home or other random people

Positives (well there was one at least!)

I like the new style phone keypad (on the screen) for making phone calls. – much quicker for dialling numbers.

Desktop Manager 6.0

Couldn’t even get the thing to start – despite 3 re-installs… ended up having to revert to DM5.

All in all I found the user experience far better on the Bold 9000 – and as the Torch was touted to be the challenger to the iPhone I was very disappointed.

Fast Forward – iOS 4.2 was released and I could accept meeting invites on my iPhone4, I stopped using the Torch. I got used to the screen based keyboard and started adding apps like RSS readers and other productivity tools.  I liked it. I then lost it…. it was the first phone I’ve lost in years and I was genuinely gutted. I then had to argue with my insurance company (the lifestyle group) and went back to using the torch 100% of the time and realised how much I’d grown to love the world of iOS. I was in mourning.

Finally my claim was resolved and I was able to replace my iPhone 4 – and we had finally implemented exchange 2010! woo hoo – it wasn’t even my birthday!- I am now VERY happy – So much so that I have now handed over the BB Torch to be used for testing in our lab.