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.
Firstly, 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
With 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…………