Tag Archives: apple

MacBook running hot after installing OSX Lion – Fix here

After installing OSX Mountain Lion I noticed that my Mac Book Pro was getting extremely hot and battery life was poor at best. Seems I was not alone.

After googling (if that’s a verb), I discovered one of several solutions:

  1. You’ve got a Citrix type client installed which is running in the background (see this thread)
  2. You have Office 2008 or 2011 and Spotlight is having an issue with indexing (see this thread)
  3. You need to reset your SMC (see this Apple KB item) – this is not as likely as the others.

I have gone through all three and so far it seems to have cooled the laptop. I’ve also noticed that Flash/Shockwave sometimes hangs with high CPU – with the new changes I need to evaluate if that’s still a problem, but figured in the meantime I’d share how to potentially fix your Lion woes.

Update 1: After performing steps 1-3 I noticed improvement in battery life – until I started to use Chrome with a site using Flash and suddenly Shockwave was going crazy with CPU and memory usage. Again, it’s not just me. If anyone has ideas please comment below.

The State of the Smart Phone Union – iPhone 5, HTC, Motorola, Samsung et al

The iPhone 5 is launched 21 September 2012. It is anticipated to out-sell the iPhone 4S, yet reading the netisphere there’s some negative press out there about the launch – somehow, despite the leaking of multiple parts ahead of time, it wasn’t revolutionary enough.

Whilst it didn’t blow away the competition, it did provide enough reason for some to upgrade their phones – faster processor, widescreen, better construction and updated camera to name the main ones (IOS6 is a given and available for other models). Consequently the general reaction from Apple Fanbois was to either cry in their latte, blindly accept their given lot, or to critique the product for not being evolutionary enough (e.g. missing NFC). Droidbois meanwhile were laughing in their Mountain Dew because the hardware specs are a little underwhelming compared to many of their handsets.

To me this was all somewhat irrelevant. In my opinion, we’ve reached a plateau in smart phone hardware. It’s not a roadblock, just a natural pause in the way of tech things that let’s the market stabilise and then move on.

The Differentiator

The difference here is the software implementation – the iPhone 5 hardware is comparative enough with its’ Android competitors (namely Samsung Galaxy SIII, HTC OneX and Motorola Razr) to not really care. Without getting into a debate about the Apple custom processor vs OOTB Snapdragon et al., the software is going to be the thing that makes the difference for many.

When you look at the comparison of IOS vs Droid apps, there’s very little difference – there are some outliers (for example, iPhone has Hipstamatic and Siri whilst Droid has Swype and a swathe of apps that let you customize your android experience – to name but a few). It’s these differences that will drive consumers to the platform – and they’re looking for integration both at an app level, but also to their life. I’ve seen some beautiful apps but their function is limited (Solar for example), and to be honest, I’d rather have something a little more intuitive that could give me more insight into the weather and what it means for me.

So whilst the debate will rage on about IOS vs Android, i’m looking to the app developers to really push each platform and bring true value. In turn they will also push the limits of the hardware which will drive the handset manufacturers to go to the next evolution (or revolution – Google Glasses anyone?). That in turn will put pressure on the batteries, cameras, building materials,etc to go to that next level.

So when is iPhone 5S out again? 🙂

User Experience (UX) and the Car

Technology has crossed the barrier of the few to the many, where mobile phones now have the ability to take a picture, access the internet, contact someone else anywhere in the world using a variety of methods (text, IM, voice, VOIP); televisions now come Internet ready and video/audio streaming is becoming the norm. Even the terminology has gained acceptance in everyday – MP3, streaming, torrents, IM are all terms that are heard and understood more and more.

Yet many of these technological advances would have had a harder time gaining traction if it wasn’t for User Experience (UX).

Apple – The UX company

Apple Computers is a leading UX company – not just through their software, but through everything they do:

  • Marketing – Apple started in the music and high-end art / marketing groups and slowly propagated through those channels (where as Microsoft went to the Business market). The channels chosen are more exclusive – i.e. you have to have a good product, otherwise you fail quicker – but conversely, you will be held with respect if your products do hold up and the user experience is great.
  • Products – Having owned several Apple products myself, it’s clear that Apple takes great pains to make sure the product won’t fall apart the day after your warranty runs out. From the iPod, iPhone, iPad and Mac ranges, everything exudes quality.
  • Support – AppleCare is a huge success with its’ userbase because they offer straightforward replacement/repair should things go wrong, There’s less of the fine print that goes on with many other warranties, so that when things do go wrong, you don’t have to face getting past a policy or person in order to get things working again.
  • Interconnected – If you own several Apple products, you’ll notice they’re designed to work with each other (or at least that the idea). Got iTunes? (in theory) Your iPod, iPad, AppleTV can all work from one iTunes repository. You can stream content from your Mac computer to your AppleTV…

UX in your Car

As you can see from our Apple example, User Experience permeates everything they do; it’s not an extension of their products and services, it’s part and parcel – there is no separation. In order for the general public to accept a more leading edge technology based product, it must have great user experience and Apple undersands this more than most.

However when we look at the typical car, User Experience has not taken the same strides; That’s not to say there haven’t been advancements and considerations, but they’re more from the extension of the car, rather than being part of the car.

Simple Things Make All The Difference

Take for example heated front windows – if you’ve ever had a car with them and have found yourself in the middle of winter with a frozen windshield, you’ll know how thankful you are that you either don’t have to get out and scrape the window, or sit there waiting for the car to warm up in order to clear the window. I had one a 2002 Ford Focus, yet my current cars (Ford Mustang and Mazda Tribute) do not (and it wasn’t even an option for the Mustang – and I don’t believe it was for the Mazda either). You would think that 10 years on, car companies would have grasped that these types of features would be standard as part of a total User Experience. You can also extend that into other “extras” such as heated wing mirrors, boots/trunks and doors that open and close themselves, climate control, self-adjusting seats/steering wheels, etc.

When you also consider that many people now have their cell / mobile phone as an extension of themselves (it’s always there, always connected, always referred to), that the car should be considerate of this fact and be linked up to the phone – That is to say,  when the driver sits down and plugs their phone into a dock (wouldn’t it be great if docking stations were one size fits all including the connector!?!), or connect via Bluetooth (or similar) it knows their preferences for seating, climate, wing mirrors, the radio presets they favoured, the playlists they liked and connected them so they could make handsfree calls. Not only that, but it would be intelligent enough to use GPS, weather and traffic reports to help the driver understand if there would be any delays etc. and offer alternatives.

“My car already does that”

There are after-market players looking to solve some of these things, but there is no interconnectedness between any two manufacturers. Equally car manufacturers are looking at some / all of these types of additions, but rather than considering the User Experience, they’re addressed as premium extras.

Whilst I believe that there needs to be a premium model line for certain extras, there is no reason why some common user needs aren’t addressed as standard on many cars. And it isn’t just limited to the electronics of cars; simple things like seatbelts that don’t require you to reach back, oil filters and spark plugs that are easily accessible (I had a Buick that had to be hoisted up to access 3 of the spark plugs), folding seats that don’t require you to work out how to use them, storage capability that is well thought out, how the car adapts to you (and feels connected to you) etc should all be part of the Car User Experience. The car manufacturer that acknowledges that is one that will succeed over the majority.

Who Are The Players?

Right now there are a few to watch out for; for total quality vs feature it’s limited to a handful. The one that really stands out for me is Ford Motor Co.; they have worked significantly on the quality of their car and with the introduction of the Ford Sync they lead the way with in-car features. Kia and Hyundai are also making significant advances in their products, but neither has yet to completely adopt the right approach.

That being said, I don’t believe one car manufacturer has yet to embrace UX across all aspects of its’ products. It won’t be long until the public starts to demand a new standard of motor vehicle which integrates with other devices and adapts to the driver/passengers. Time will tell how the motor industry adapts to the new way of thinking; let’s hope given their lack of progress with the internal combustion engine that UX doesn’t face the same trials.

Android Overload?

Android robot logo.
Image via Wikipedia

The number of Android devices spilling from manufacturers begs the question what this means for both the platform (Google), the market (manufacturers) and consumers. It seems every week you hear of another Android device being prepared for launch and in doing so are we heading towards a critical mass?

Google creates a beautiful monster

Google produces the Android operating system (OS) and licenses it to manufacturers, such as Motorola, Samsung and HTC, who in turn don’t have the costly overhead of developing their own OS – instead they can focus on getting the hardware right and other aspects to their product.

On the flipside of this, they are at the behest of Google releasing new and improved versions of Android to keep the ever hungry “next-gen” public satisfied (“Wow! This new version is great! When’s the next one coming out?”). This also creates a legacy question for manufacturers – e.g. should Google releases a new version, this might not be totally compatible with their existing or older hardware. This risk is mitigated in a number of ways, including Google working closely with those manufacturers to ensure the roadmap for their product is understood.

Manufacturers = Android + YMDB?

With so many potential vanilla Android devices, some manufactures provide “value-add” layers on top of Android to become differentiators – or Yet More Dumb Bloatware (YMDB). For example, Motorola introduced “MotoBlur” on many of their phones which aimed to provide a means of streaming your social media site conversations (e.g. Facebook, Twitter). Although this sounded useful, the reality was that many users did not like this “feature” and so Motorola now play this feature down The reality is that many additions to the already very capable software can frustrate users. Mobile carriers take note.

So what is it that drives consumers to buy these products? There are several factors, all of which interact with each other, including consumer profile, retailer conditions (price, availability) and manufacturer features. Let’s delve futher into these before we see how they interact with the mass of Android devices.

Who are the consumers?

Those buying devices today tend to fall into one of several categories:

  • Budget Tech – these people tend to know their technology but want a device that’s fit for their budget; they know there will be reduced features (perhaps no camera or HDMI output), but really are looking for core capability (capacitive touch, good processor and memory). Extremely price sensitive.
  • The Casual Curiosity / Novice – these folks tend to get seduced by the hype and want to dip their toes in the tablet water. They are moderately price sensitive.
  • The Business User – annoyed with the thought of carrying unwieldy laptops and cables, probably hating the in-built trackpad mouse, these users want a device that lets them retrieve emails and work on documents efficiently. These folks are not extensibly price sensitive.
  • The Power User – Heavily invested in all things technology, these folks will want a powerful, fast device that’s very flexible (typically they will want to “root” the device, or customize it in some way that makes it more “unique” for their purposes). These people are somewhat price sensitive but will pay premium for advanced features.

Now we have a pretty good picture of the key consumer categories, let’s look at how they interact with the market.

Keep the Consumer hooked, keep the order sheet booked.

Manufacturers tend to focus on a number of key things, including:

  • How many units will I sell (what is the demand – and demand vs competition)?
  • What is my price per unit vs the competition price for comparable devices?
  • What’s in both mine and my competitors’ innovation pipeline (i.e. what’s next)?
  • What is my market share? (How much % of the market do I have?)

What Drives Price?

There are several factors including:

  • Exclusivity – how unique and desirable is my product (the more unique or exclusive products will drive their price up)
  • Features – What feature set does my device have (this can drive price up or down, depending on what features are available)
  • Competition – What are the competitive devices and their respective prices?
  • Market Share – Low market share devices might want to set their prices aggressively to gain more consumers – or have some strategy that lures consumers to their products; products with high market share should also maintain their prices accordingly to retain that share.
  • Production cost – Manufacturers need to make a profit so price their products so that a profit is determined at some point in the future.

When you put these factors together you get a very complex picture – each manufacturer is looking at all these different aspects to try and determine

Breakout of the Mobile OS Share; Source: Nielsen

Although Android commands the market share with 29% of all devices, because of its’ very accessible and successful adoption, many manufacturers are playing in this space

Android isn’t alone in this challenge; Windows Mobile – and specifically Windows 7 Mobile is starting to challenge the market – however there is still resistance to many users adopting the Microsoft platform for many reasons including dislike of Microsoft, being burned by previous Windows Mobile platforms, or just the perception of the OS.

The Difference is the Differentiator

Sounds obvious, but with perhaps little to differentiate products between manufacturers, it requires controlled innovation to succeed. Currently Motorola and Samsung are leading the charge by either producing new-to-market products (Motorola Xoom was first Android tablet) or enhanced products (Samsung offering high quality screens and dual core processors). As the market develops, these manufacturers will need to continue to develop their products to capture the market segments. This requires research & development funding which can only come from existing product sales, which in turn means they will have to charge a premium for their products. This can only be sustained so long as the brand equity is there and the consumer is prepared to pay that premium. With a glut of Android devices this may become an increasing challenge to maintain. Apple (and to some extent, RIM) face less of a challenge in this respect, yet need to keep at least in line with the Android innovations to retain their market share.

In Summary…

Mobile device manufacturers will face increasing challenges to maintain market share and fund / develop new products whilst retaining a unit cost which is realizable to the consumer. Additionally with network providers dropping their unlimited network plans, those devices may have to innovate in the communication space (e.g. reducing bandwidth requirements) which, especially in these increased economic sensitive times, would a differentiator that the price conscious consumer would respond to and help drive market share.

With Android as a platform being easier to adopt to a device, it begs question how will the multiple manufacturers provide relevant devices to the consumer and be different enough to gain enough market share and profit to be viable. I believe there will be three tiers that will emerge – namely, budget, mainstream and premium. Even then, those manufacturers playing in those spaces will face a great deal of competition. The difference then, is the differentiator.

More reading

Google Android 2.4 – What to Expect

Apple iPad2 is stepping stone to the next Apple iPad (iPad2 HD)

Steve Jobs while introducing the iPad in San F...
Image via Wikipedia

The news has been awash this week with Apple’s announcement that the iPad2 was being released mid-March 2011. As usual the industry press and “fanboi’s” were all over this like bees to a honey pot – and ironically that’s exactly what I believe this product is, in anticipation of the next iPad Apple is surely developing.

There is quite a bit of information here that leads to the conclusion, so for those of you with a shorter attention span, might want to fast-forward to the end of this post.

Steve Jobs’ Mind Control

If you listen to Steve Jobs’ presentations (see iPad2 presentation) you’ll see he’s a clever salesman. Using his stature and choice of words is almost akin to the techniques that Hitler used to incite many German’s. Not that I’m saying that Mr Jobs should be viewed like he is a modern day Hitler; just his technique has parallels, with clearly different intent.

Let’s take a look at some examples:

  • When we said the iPad was magical, people laughed at us. But it’s turned out to be magical.” – setting the scene; “us against the world”, then reaffirm position
  • They’re taking advantage of this incredible, magical UI.” – Using positive enforcement
  • Fantastic games, a lot of apps for business and vertical markets. The things people are doing here are amazing.” – more positive enforcement, creating a sense of excitement
  • Having built in all this stuff, one of the striking things about the iPad 2 is that’s dramatically thinner. 33% thinner.” – Use of the word “striking” suggests he’s “one of us” looking at the product for the first time
  • The new iPad 2 is thinner than your iPhone 4.” – you DID buy an iPhone, right? You are part of our “inner circle”, right?
  • When you get your hands on one, it feels totally different.” – Once someone picks up a product, their purchasing potential goes way up. This is basically programming people to go to a store… so you will buy one.
  • This has been tried and tested… iPads get 10 hours of battery life.” – doesn’t every product get tried and tested? Yes, but this is a phrase associated with things that we know are true; used to suggest that significant effort has been made. Significant effort = perception of quality.

The reason I mention the delivery of Jobs’ keynote is because of its’ intent. Combine the setting with the person and their persona, the words they use, the means of delivery including attire (you don’t see him wearing a suit on purpose) and the audience participation causes GroupThink excitement. It becomes infectious and makes you want to believe in the Church of Steve.

This is all done to help sales in anticipation of the next generation iPad (yes, you read that right).

Apple’s Product Pattern

Look at the iPhone and the excitement around that; consider each version (iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4) and how each version incrementally delivers new or updated features. Do you remember the anger and frustration that was made by iPhone 3G users when 3GS was launched? No? See how selective our memories become when we’re indoctrinated into believing things through social and media subliminal pressure.

If you look at the iPhone Wiki, you’ll see a new iPhone was launched every year since 2007. The iPad is following the same trait (see iPad Wiki). However, since the original iPhone launch in 2007, consumers are becoming more and more savvy about what to expect for the next incremental product update.

So based off the product cycle information, it’s suggestive that there’s another iPad product being developed already.

Details on the new iPad – iPad2 HD

Well of course there aren’t any – yet. But read on…

Releasing the iPad2 can be viewed as releasing the iPhone 3G; it’s definitely a step up from the original product but it falls short in a number of areas:

  • Screen resolution is still 1024 x 768 – it’s no Retina display and not the best HD movie experience. I suspect they made this choice as existing iPhone apps would look even worse on an iPad Retina display.
  • The rear-facing camera is not going to be great for still photography – 1280 x 720 = 0.92 megapixels. For this to be anywhere near usable there needs to be at least 3MP.
  • Still has 256mb Memory, just like the original iPad

Apple’s product cycle tends to fall in September, which is when we will see the launch of the iPhone 5 (see “leaked iPhone 5 parts surface“)  and then early 2012 we’ll see iPad 2 HD launch. [postscript: Rumour now is that the iPhone 5 will be announced in June 2011, leaving the door open for other products in September]. The A5 processor is really necessary for the Retina display to handle moving things around the screen and this delay gives Apple enough time to work out what to do with the backward compatibility for existing iPhone apps.

Should you buy an iPad2?

Do you have an iPad? Then no.

Otherwise, consider the iPad and the Motorola Xoom and then see what works best for you. Bear in mind that the Moto Xoom is in early product cycle so may fall down against the iPad2 initially in *some* areas, but Google is committed to making the platform successful so you can almost guarantee future updates will also make it a compelling argument. Right now the Xoom not priced at the right level (although some large volume discount retailers are selling it at discount).

Disclaimer

I take a neutral approach to the Mac vs PC; Android vs iOS debates that rage forums etc. Our household has Macs, PCs, iPads, Android devices and iPods. All of these devices we enjoy using day in and day out. I do dislike iTunes immensely though!


A trick up Apple’s sleeve? iPod Touch 4th Generation

Apple has released two significant products that have generated a great deal of press; the iPad and the iPhone 4 but has been pretty quiet about their iPod product line of late. Why is this?

The iPod helped Apple make it big

No-one can argue that Apple’s iPod product line was a game changer not just for the MP3 player market but also for Apple’s own image. Of course they were already huge in the creative industry (with the help of Adobe with applications such as Photoshop) and had a “edgy” branding in the tech market, but to make it into everyday people’s homes was the huge leap for them – and the iPod made that possible.

iPod Touch 4th Generation released September 2010!

Well, that’s my guess. Apple has traditionally released a new generation around September and given that the iPhone product can lend its’ set of technology back to the Touch, it’s not unreasonable to suggest that this September we’ll also see a new iPod Touch. For Apple to announce that during the furore of iPad and iPhone madness would dilute the message for all the platforms, so I would imagine we’ll see them announce the Touch towards August. In the meantime, existing iPod Touch units can upgrade to iOS4 – if you’ve got a Touch and feel like an upgrade is in order, Apple have an app (well, page) for that.

New Features for the iPod Touch 4G

Here’s the list of potential upgrades I see for the next gen Touch:

  • Camera – For both stills and also video. Because of the iPhone 4G’s video conference capability, it would be great if they could also include this feature for the Touch – but that also blurs the line of what this product is designed to do. I think at best we’ll just see a static camera capability.
  • High Resolution Screen – Using the same technology as the iPhone 4G, the screen resolution will be upped.
  • Longer Battery Life – if the iPhone 4G gets it, why shouldn’t the Touch?
  • Faster Processor – Now Apple manufactures their own processors, as seen in the iPad/iPhone4 products, this could be likely.

Other posts around the webby world suggest they want 3G – I don’ t know this will happen because this starts to make the product a mobile phone like device. Though thinking about it, that could be  the staging of what the Apple product line is headed towards – the vision many have shared that we have a mobile all-in-one device that includes phone, camera, video, media player, games machine…What a bugger it would be if you lose it though… for that to work you would start to need retina scans or finger printing authentication..

Since writing this article Apple did release the iPod Touch which did include the features I suggested; You can also install Skype which gets around the whole 3G/Phone question. The camera isn’t quite up to the iPhone 4 specification but there is a reason for that. In any case the product seems to once again set the standard for mp3 players. I’m sure Microsoft’s Zune will be playing catchup soon…

Apple iPhone price cut on the way?

Rumour is that Apple is not only going to offer retail of the iPhone through CostCo but also that it will drop the price to $149 from the current $199. This really gives it to the T-Mobile G1 offering. Could this be the start of phone wars?

The next best move would be for other providers to offer the iPhone – rumour also is that Verizon is talking to Apple. Given Verizon is one of the more quality carriers (T-Mobile being the other), this could be an interesting time for those of us yet to have made the jump….

Windows 7 and T-Mobile G1 notes

Windows 7 notes

I got hold of a copy of Windows 7 PDC build 6801 (geek!) and installed it on VMWare last night. It’s a bit of a hog on my laptop so I didn’t keep it around for long but compared to vista it seems less intrusive. It’s an early copy so there’s not a great deal visually different from Vista, but from what I did see, it’s just OK at the moment. I’ll wait for another, more mature version before I make a longer evaluation.

It won’t work on VMW v6.0 but will on v6.5 by the way. I heard it also works fine on VirtualBox.

T-Mobile G1 notes

After looking at some of the forums the current major gripes with the product are:

  • The GMap GPS is not that accurate
  • The camera quality is terrible
  • The battery life is pretty awful (some ppl have to charge multiple times a day)

There are rumours and comments that there will be firmware updates to correct some or all of these – I think right now I would not want to own a G1 given all this. I am still reticent about an iPhone too because of the AT&T network.