Tag Archives: Apple

iPad Air

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So this past week we took the plunge with my wife and I replacing our iPad 2 and iPad 3 with the iPad Air.

The first thing I noticed when opening the box is just how much smaller the iPad looks. Apple took a decent chunk off of the bezels on the sides and have thinned the device overall giving it those chamfered edges to bring it in line with the design philosophy of the iPhone 5S and this makes a big difference to the way that the iPad looks, in my opinion improving its aesthetics even further on what was already in my opinion the best looking tablet device on the market. Now it pretty much blows everything else away in terms of looks.

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Then when you lift it up there’s the weight difference. I have gone from an iPad 3 (which was heavier than iPad 2) to the Air and I have noticed a huge difference. It is now much more comfortable to hold for longer periods of time. As I use iBooks a lot for reading so this is a massive plus for me so it’s a big tick in the win column. As you can see its now no thicker than a bIro. That’s mightily impressive!

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Next up is the interface that is iOS7. This is proving to be a marmite style OS where you either love it or hate it. Fortunately for me I am firmly in the ‘love it’ camp. iOS6 was starting to look a little old compared to some of the other OS that are out there so this new version is a welcome breath of fresh air.

My favourite addition by far is the Control Centre. Whilst it’s less useful on my iPad, on my iPhone it’s invaluable being able to access the switch to turn on Airplane mode, WiFi, Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb, Orientation lock, brightness, volume, Airdrop, Airplay, Camera and the Clock app all with one swipe up from the bottom of the screen. Over the life of the device this is going to have saved me a decent chunk of time having to hunt through settings for some of these options and anything that saves me time and makes life easier sounds pretty good to me.

Then there’s the speed of the thing. Apple gave it their A7 processor which is the same one they have put in the new iPhone 5S as well as the new M7 motion do-processor. Jumping from my iPad 3 to the Air I have noticed a big difference in load times, especially in processor intensive apps such as Home Design or Infinity Blade. The new processor males light work of the request thrown at it and leaves me with the impression it can handle quite a bit more than the everyday user is ever going to use it for. The M7 is there to effectively monitor how the device is moving even when it’s asleep. It’s seems that it would be really useful for those fitness apps, but anybody that knows me can attest to ten fact that that’s not my thing at all.

I have to admit I was disappointed that the Touch ID that Apple included on the iPhone 5S didn’t make it to the iPad. This was by far my favourite feature of the new iPhone. Being able to unlock the phone and pay for apps without a pass code or password is a major plus so in this respect I think Apple dropped the ball a little bit by not including it as after doing something with Touch ID on my iPhone and then picking up my iPad and not having the functionality it does feel a little like going backwards. I am sure this will be included in the next model Ina years time, but it’s a real shame it wasn’t put on this model.

Having said that, it is pretty much my only gripe about the device. Overall it is an excellently put together device. It looks stunning, feels great and has pretty much all the functionality you would expect with an iPad and some impressive power under the hood with its 64bit A7 processor.

Apple released 2 iPads. The Air and the new Mini with Retina Display. So one of the questions I know people who are going to get an iPad are asking is which iPad should I get? The iPad 2, the Air, the Mini or the Mini with Retina Display.

One thing everybody should now avoid is the iPad 2. At the price Apple is asking for this, considering how dated it is now then the £329 that Apple is asking for the WiFi model seems a bit of a rip off. Especially as you can buy the new Mini with Retina Display for a tender cheaper at £319 with the new Mini being approximately 4 times more powerful and packing a beautiful Retina Display.

I think what people need to consider is what device they already have. If you don’t have an iPad already then the default choice should either be the mini with Retina or the Air. Which you go for entirely depends on your specific needs. If you want something really portable and light then go for the Mini. If you want it for consuming media content like films & tv shows or if it’s going to be a work device then go for the Air. The extra screen real estate will really make a difference.

If you already have an iPad then this would depend on which one you already have. If you have a first, second or third gen iPad then switch up to the Air and you’ll notice a big difference. If you have the 4th gen iPad I would suggest holding on for the next iteration to come out as the only real benefit you would really get is a faster processor and a lighter device. And if you wait for the next one Touch ID is a dead cert.

If you already have a Mini then this this decision really rests on if you want the Retina Display or not. If no, then stick it out and wait for the next gen, but if you crave that better looking screen then the new Mini with Retina Display is the way to go.

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Tech Days

So, the last couple of days have been pretty hefty with news of new hardware and software releases and it’s fair to say that I’m quite looking forward to some of the things that are soon to be released.

Let’s start with something that’s going to have the most impact on the way that I use my technology, and that’s Apple’s iOS7.

iO`s7Firstly, damn it looks good! Bright & colourful and uniform and that’s just the first impression from Apple’s video they used to debut. You’ve probably read this already but for those that haven’t, what are the new features?

These are:Re-designed icons – These look beautiful in the new style – plenty of use of white space – and it looks stylish.

New lock screen – Instead of sliding across, slide up

Folders – You can now put as many apps as you like in a folder

Active home screen – the apps float above your background so when you tilt your phone, the image moves so you can see behind your apps

Control Centre – putting all those useful settings in one place

Notification Centre – get to it from the lock screen

Multitasking –  what appears to be true multitasking

Camera – new filters

Photos – can now organize your photos based on the metadata

Airdrop – share with other iOS7 users

Safari – some nice updates

iTunes Radio – something to challenge Spotify

Siri – made smarter, can do more with your phone

Updates – App store updates automatically update

So from the above, which ones are going to have the most impact on me and which ones am I looking forward to the most. For me, the things I anticipate having the biggest impact are Folders, as anybody that knows me will know that I love to keep my idevices as organized as possible, and with the update to folders you can now put as many apps as you want into a folder. For me this means I can just have one page of apps and keep my devices tidier than before. I just hope things like Newsstand can now be [ut into a folder, seeing as how this is one of my little used apps.

Control Centre will also be a big help to me. Quite frequently I switch wi-fi off, or switch my phone into Airplane mode, so having something that will allow me to get to all of these from one place. Apple win.

Notification Centre is also nice. This is mainly because when you deal with a notification on one of your idevices, it automatically syncs to your other devices so you don’t need to deal with that multiple times. I have multiple devices, so for me this will be really useful and will get rid of one of my pet peeves.

Then there’s App Store updates. These are now automatic. This will be brilliant for me as a couple of days ago on my iPhone I checked and saw that I had 80 updates waiting, mainly because I can never be bothered to go and click on them, so having something that does it automatically for me will be pretty awesome and I’ll always have the latest update for my apps.

I’m not really that bothered by most of the things that were announced and I don’t think the impact that iOS7 will have will be huge, but it most certainly looks like it will be a positive one. Also, one of the things that I have heard people say is that these features have been in other phones for a while and this is true. However, when it comes to user experience it looks like Apple have smashed it. I’ve tried other phones and the user experience just wasn’t what I was looking for, so I guess only time will tell once iOS7 is released to the masses, but from what I’ve seen I can say I’m looking forward to it.

So, the other major news is the battle between Microsoft’s XBOX One and Sony’s Playstation 4. Now I’m not a fanboy of either of these companies. When the PS2 and the original XBOX were released I had both of them and found myself enjoying the XBOX more than the PS2. With the XBOX 360 and the PS3 the roles were massively reversed as I quite literally hate the XBOX 360, from what it originally ‘did not’ include and the majority of games that I played just weren’t up to scratch of those made for the Japanese giant and so the PS3 won that battle for me – its inclusion of Blu-Ray was certainly a big helper.

So firstly there’s looks – neither console looks particularly spectacular

xbox+and+ps4v1With the consoles themselves, they both just look like black slabs of plastic – nothing inspiring there. The controllers have both seen an update as well, whilst Microsoft has opted to leave their relatively the same, with just smoothing out some things like the truly awful D-Pad the 360 has, the Sony have kept the same basic shape for the controller but added a touch sensitive pad, a share button and a headphone jack to the controller which shows me they may be a little more serious about gaming than Microsoft is.

Specs wise they are practically the same console with just slightly different processors, and the PS4 running more spec’d up 8GB GDDR5 RAM whilst the ONE uses 8GB DDR3, so this may come back to haunt Microsoft a few years down the line. Also the PS3 has a better graphics processing ability which again could hurt the ONE down the line, but also I think highlights that Microsoft is less about the gaming and more about the whole living room experience which I’ll touch on in a bit.

Games-wise, I think the PS3 effectively destroys the XBOX. Yes, XBOX has some interesting exclusives but the PS4 has the better ones like Killzone, Infamous and Destiny. Exclusives have never bothered me. Up to now Metal Gear Solid has been a Sony exclusive and apart from Metal Gear Solid 2, I think it’s a pretty terrible affair that holds little interest for me. I  know a lot of people love it, and that’s fair enough, it’s just not for me. The real kicker with the games though is with the DRM. Microsoft are effectively holding games hostage by limiting what they can do with their used games. You can only trade them in at participating retailers and you can only lend it to one friend. This sucks quite frankly. You bought it, you should be able to do what you want with it.

This is where Sony have struck a vital blow at Microsoft, the PS4 has no DRM. You can do whatever you want with your used games with no restrictions. AND the PS3 does not have to be permanently connected to the internet like the XBOX does. If the XBOX cannot connect once every 24 hours, forget being able to play that game you just spent £50 of your hard-earned cash on. It won’t care. No internet connection – no game.

Yes, the XBOX One is trying to do something new – an always on microphone on the Kinect (privacy anyone) lets you voice control your console. Sounds lovely, but anybody used Siri – it’s a pain in the ass and wont recognize what you’re saying – it’s going to be a pointless feature. It can do Netflix and pipe through your TV feed in the US. Firstly, I’m not in the US so why do I care? And secondly, if I want to watch TV, I just pick up the TV remote. I know Microsoft want the XBOX to be the centre of your living room and I get that, I just don’t think it will work. Sony on the other hand appear to be concentrating on what’s important – and that’s the gaming. Yes, they will add features as they go which will likely end up competing in more ways with the XBOX, but they have the core principles right which I dont think is the case with Microsoft.

And finally there’s the price. XBOX One will retail at $499 in the US and £429 in the UK, whilst the PS4 will be $399 in the US and £349 in the UK. That’s a difference of $100 in the US or £70 in the UK. The US as usual gets both consoles significantly cheaper with the XBOX costing them the equivalent to £320 and the PS4 £255. This is also a fun fact – XBOX One is region locked, PS4 isn’t so I may just import mine from the US.

So in the end as I don’t think anybody will be surprised, form the information available I think Sony have already won this war before the consoles even get launched. Whether it be their focus on the core gaming aspect, their total lack of DRM which I’m sure will see droves of XBOX users make the switch to the PS4, or the significantly cheaper price of the PS4 for beefier specs.

In a sentence, Sony have taken Microsoft, bent them over a barrel and are quite literally shafting them in the woodshed…………

Life of Pi

So, this week I have been incredibly excited. The reason? Well this week I got my hands on a Raspberry Pi and some information on how to turn it into an AirPlay receiver. Now this may not excite a lot of you, but it certainly excites my inner geek….and my outer geek. Effectively I’m having a geekgasm.

Now when it arrived in the morning yesterday on my first day of annual leave from work I thought to myself – yes, the delivery bods at Amazon must have known that I was off and how exited I was to get my hands on it (yes, I’m ever so slightly delusional). Anyhows, I got the device and all the necessary gubbins I needed such as power lead, usb wifi dongle and usb sound card to get everything up and going, so I eagerly retreated to the bedroom desk and started getting set up, then realsised – hand on a minute – I dont actually have a USB keyboard lying around which I was going to need for initial configuration. So off I went to work to get my keyboard that I had left there, got home with it, plugged it in and did the initial configuration steps and then went to type some more stuff and shock horror! The damned thing had died, so I was not best pleased.

Fortunately I had enabled SSH (remote login) via xrdp on my Raspberry Pi s was able to log in and do the necessary configuration steps through my laptop. Well, almost all of the necessary configuration steps. Trying to get the sound card to work properly was impossible, as was getting the correct packages to make the thing AirPlay enabled. Needless to say I spent a very large part of yesterday tearing my hair out and shouting at some plastic and silicon for not doing something simple. In the end I gave up and decided to start completely fresh this morning – and you know what, after a fresh install and a new keyboard I finally got it working – I now have an AirPlay enabled Raspberry Pi that is being run through an old Hi-Fi I thought was broken, that5 ultimately turned out to be my own stupidity.

So – happy me!

Also in the news this week – the wife is still ill, so that could be better. I also got myself a new 3TB hard drive this week as my colection in iTunes is threatening to split the old hard drive at the joins, so gonna have a bit of a shuffle with all of that and make some additional space which I am sure I will fill up pretty quickly – I still have plenty of DVDs and Blu-Rays I need to convert to a digital format.

And in more tech related news, tomorrow is Mac Mini day – WooHoo! Been wating literally years to get myself a decent Mac. I bought myself an old G5 Mac to see how I’d get on with the OS before buying a new one a couple of years ago and loved it, and tomorrow that day finally arrives. There’s always been something thats cropped up to stop me getting it, whether that’s the car breaking down or some other similar crisis, but the day is nearly upon us and that is something else I cannot wait for.

Am going to visit my sister, mum and her partner this weekend. As I’ve mentioned before my sister is pretty damned awesome, though she does have flaws. One of those is a flaw she shares with my wife – she likes to talk…..a lot. Now most people that know me know I’m not really much of a conversationalist. I generally don’t speak unless I have something to say. Yes, there are times when I myself won’t shut up, but I think that entirely depends on the company that I have at that time. So as Myers-Briggs say – sometimes I like to go to a different room in the house.

Now the usual thing that the wife and sister used to talk about was Westlife. They split up last year so I thought to myself that I might get a break from having to hear about how many times they’ve been to see them, and who their favourites are. I was right, to an extent. Now they are trying to decide who it is they should go and stalk – and the leading candidate from what I understand is One Direction. Now my brother in law said it best when he was explaining to my niece about One Direction, and the reason she couldnt find them was because they are considered a virus and were cleaned away as such. If only real life were like that. Now I’m not ashamed to admit that I used to enjoy watching the X Factor. I never really watched the qualifying shows as I never really cared for all the awful people that humiliate themselves, but I did like the live shows as you actually got to hear a select few (not all of them by any means) who could sing and entertain and who were very good at it.

The problem is that the last couple of years have just been terrible. Last years winners for example ‘Little Mix’, I have to say that I despise every single thing they have released. It’s like an assault on your ears by a bag of cats that are on the verge of being drowned. It’s hideous. Now this years winner ‘James Arthur’ is a bit different, as I actually like him, and I thouroughly enjoy listening to his debut single Impossible. However, even he, as good as he is will be forgotten just like all the rest. It’s like a cattle market – get people on for their 5 minutes of fame and then get shot of them. Yes, they may make a little bit of money out of it, but how many of the winners do you ever hear from? The only one I can think of was Leona Lewis (who I hate), and you don’t hear very much from her these days so at the end of the day, what’s the pint of it all? It’s supposed to be entertainment, but in the 12 -15 hours of programming they have in a year, usually only about 1 hour of that is any good, and that’s usually the guests they have on rather than the contestants. I’m specifically thinking of the year before last when they had the final and were at Wembley and all of the finalists where laughable to mediocre at best, and then they had Coldplay on, and Coldplay is the one and only thing that saved that show as they were epic! To this day, they are the only thing I can easily remeber from that show. So just goes to show, if you’re shite you’re gonna get shown up.

Now I smell southern fried chicken downstairs, thatmust mean dinner is about done, so until next time, don’t do anything stupid folks, unless you video it and send it to me, then that’s perfectly ok 😀