iPhone, iPad Games, Apps, Reviews, News Thu, 30 Jul 2015 08:09:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Apple iPad 2 Sales Unaffected by Kindle Fire Release Wed, 25 Jan 2012 20:37:57 +0000 Read More]]>

Many tablets have been introduced in the market from companies looking to create the “iPad killer”. Top contenders include the Motorola Xoom and Kindle Fire, which failed to follow through with the original hype that it created upon release.

On Tuesday, following Apple’s announcement of their 4th quarter earnings for 2011, an analyst during the earnings call, asked Apple CEO Tim Cook if the iPad was impacted by lower priced tablets. Cook, as a reply, noted that Apple sold a record 15.4 million iPads and that Apple doesn’t consider “limited function tablets and e-readers to be in the same category as the iPad”.

Cook also noted that ecosystem for the iPad is “in a class by itself”. Tim Cook may have a point as it proves true during sales, where customers seem to gravitate towards product that offer a more solidified user experience, simplifying email, web, and desktop computer integration seamlessly, all of which iOS does very well.

We strongly believe in optimizing applications from day one to take advantage of the larger canvas. There are only a few hundred apps designed for the competition, versus more than 170,000 apps designed specifically for iPad. People who want an iPad won’t settle for a limited function tablet.

However, Cook wasn’t the only person praising the iPad. A number of executives from the Cupertino company have said that tablets are going to overtake the PC market in units and according to IDC, tablets outsold desktop PC’s last quarter on a unit basis in the United States. Following his statements about the iPad, Cook also mentioned that Apple will “continue to innovate like crazy” and will compete with any tablet out in the market.

Apple is consistently leading the smart phone and tablet market, guided by Steve Jobs’ quote from famous hockey player Wayne Gretzky, “Skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been”. Apple’s advanced intuition of the trends helps them to adjust their new product lines to the ever shifting technology market.

Apple is expected to announce the iPad 3 sometime between February and March, with a new A6 chip, higher resolution screen, and better cameras.

]]> 13 Is BlackBerry PlayBook the real Apple iPad Killer? [Comparison] Wed, 29 Sep 2010 18:39:37 +0000 Read More]]> BlackBerry PlayBook

There have been a wealth of articles, and pretty comparison tables produced recently in most major publications to show us just how the upcoming crop of “iPad Killers” will shape up against their nemesis.

Breaking them down the differences between the Apple iPad, Samsung’s Tab, Dell’s Streak and the BlackBerry PlayBook (I’ll come back to that name in a while) come down to four key statistics.

1. The size of the screen, and consequently the entire tablet.
2. The processor.
3. Camera, cameras or no camera.
4. Price.

And an honourable mention for Flash!

Apple’s iPad is the heaviest and the biggest of the three, it certainly doesn’t sport the fastest silicon of the three, doesn’t support Flash and has no cameras. Seems like a slam-dunk for the competition, right?

Not really. I’ll explain why…

All of the iPad’s rivals have smaller screens, and also have lower resolution display panels. None of which are 720p, including the iPad. But the iPad is the closest of the three. It’s also the perfect form factor for the kind of stuff people want to do on a tablet. Apple get that. No-one else quite does yet. Android are probably the closest of the three or four mobile operating systems to iOS to “get” touch interfaces and the ergonomics of the devices associated with that kind of workflow. And even Android has a ways to go yet. Luckily its developer community is growing in experience and we are seeing some cool things coming down the Android pipe. The Samsung Tab’s OS is a good example of that.

With the noticeable exception of the Dell Streak, which with a 5 inch screen is too big to put in your pocket, seems like a podgy iPod Touch rather than a tablet, and seems confused about whether it is a big phone or a remote control, the other two tablets are also uncomfortably placed between the size of the iPad and the iPod Touch. Their size and their proposed functionality are slightly at odds.

Being hyper critical it would be easy to say that Dell, Samsung and BlackBerry have fallen at the first hurdle. Because they don’t seem to get what using a tablet is all about. Yet, it’s all about something in your hands that feels like an electronic magazine, and is comfortable to use as such. For that kind of application the iPad is the correct size. Which is presumably why Apple made it that way.

Both the Tab and the Streak offer similar core silicon for their devices as the Apple iPad does. They all basically have the same 1Ghz ARM SoC, albeit with a few tweaks to each manufacturers specifications. But Dell and Samsung’s offerings are barely on sale yet, whereas Apple’s iPad has been kicking around in the market place now for quite a few months. And their silicon has been tweaked to work with iOS from inception. It’s a small but very important differentiation when it comes to that super secret Apple sauce that just makes thing work.

BlackBerry have gone another way altogether and have slapped a dual core ARM SoC in their PlayBook tablet, which is similar in many ways to what we would expect Apple to put in its next processor revision (The Apple A5) for the next iPad and iPhone refresh. The iPad refresh coming quite significantly sometime around the launch date of BlackBerry’s tablet. The difference is that Apple know how much power their A5 chip will need, because they will have designed it to work within the bounds of their tight (and maturing) Tablet design. A design based on an already proven model which has fantastic battery performance. BlackBerry are still working through that, most likely with an off the shelf ARM core which is much more power hungry than Apple’s A5 will be. To be honest it is quite worrying that the PlayBook’s User Interface is still only visible as PR CG mock ups. It is also worrying that they are allowing full multitasking and Flash on their mobile device. Something we know does not work well even on up to date Android hardware; from either a performance or battery life perspective.

As an aside BlackBerry have gone the same disastrous route that Palm did with their initial approach to their SDK and prospective developers. As it stands right now there is no native SDK for writing apps which use OpenGL or run native code on the PlayBook. Sure, Apple made the same mistake, but they remedied it quickly. Palm didn’t and it killed their developer program out of the gate. Having seen both Apple and Palm make this mistake BlackBerry can only have made it again because they were forced to (or are superbly ignorant). I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and say they were forced to. The only reason for that would be that their tools are not mature enough (or even in existence yet) to allow developers to program for the platform in the way they’ll want to and that is a bad sign at this stage.

Apple has stuck cameras, both front and rear facing, into its iPhone and the recent iPod Touch update. At the same time they have been making us all realise how much we want Facetime video calling on all our devices, which is an industry standard for video communication that they are hoping to license to other manufacturers. Facetime is a defacto video communications standard which costs Apple nothing to run. The onus being on network providers and eventually mobile data packages to provide bandwidth. And in the next iPad refresh it is a no brainer that we will see front and rear facing cameras if for nothing else than Facetime calling.

Apple’s current tablet offering, the iPad, ranges in price from around $500 up to $850. A price that it doesn’t seem that BlackBerry, Samsung or Dell are able to undercut.

And when Apple rolls out the iPad 2 it will most likely stay at the pricing levels of the current iPad model, while that first generation model will disappear or drop in price further.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Samsung’s Tab will sell. It’s a nice piece of kit. And Android is perfectly suited to it. The version it runs fitting the tablet almost as well as iOS fits the iPad. But it will sell to a different market, and it’s certainly not going to stand up to Apple’s iPad revision, due out in a few short months.

The Dell streak it is best to forget I think. Enough said.

Finally the fire-breathing, dual core monster that is BlackBerry’s PlayBook will probably be hitting the market about the time we are all talking about the new iPad. And if it wobbles just once in any area.. Say battery life, or the stability of its untested OS, or problems getting Flash to play nice, or heaven forbid because of BlackBerry’s legendary manufacturing problems then the new iPad will crush it.

If Apple stick an HD Retina style display in the new iPad then that really is game over for BlackBerry and Samsung also, until they rush something else out of the door. And here we see the problem. All the other manufacturers are still following Apple’s lead. Reacting to Apple rather than out thinking them. And the only places they are thinking independently (like with device and screen size decisions) they seem to have gone the wrong way altogether.

Sure Apple’s iPad is not expandable, has proprietary connections, no Flash and is getting on for a year old. But it’s that year of the iPad in the market, and several years of developing iOS and iDevice manufacturing, as well as building custom silicon that means that anything that Apple does from now on in is going to continue to excel, and make any other manufacturer look like it is playing catch up for at least another round of hardware revisions in the mobile market place.

So about the time that the Galaxy Tab is starting to sell in good numbers, the Dell Streak has been discontinued and the BlackBerry PlayBook hits the market the new iPad killer will be Apple’s 2011 iPad revision.

One final thought. BlackBerry need to change the name of their tablet. Outside of the US “PlayBook” sounds like a kids coloring book.

And here’s one of those comparison charts for you:

Tablet Apple iPad BlackBerry PlayBook Samsung Galaxy Tab Dell Streak
Display 9.7 inches, 1024 x 768 pixels 7 inches, 1024 x 600 pixels 7 inches, 1024 x 600 pixels 5 inches, 800 x 480 pixels
Processor 1 GHz Apple A4 1 GHz dual-core 1 GHz ‘Hummingbird’ 1 GHz ‘Hummingbird’
Weight 1.5 lbs 0.9 lbs 0.8 lbs 0.48 lbs
Dimensions (H x W x D) 9.5″ x 7.4″ x 0.5″ 5.1″ x 7.6″ x 0.4″ 7.5″ x 4.7″ x 0.4″ 6″ x 3.1″ x 0.4″
Storage Options 16 GB, 32 GB, 64 GB 16 GB, 32 GB 16 GB, 32 GB 16 GB microSD card
Camera no camera 5 MP rear camera, 3 MP front camera, video recording 3 MP rear camera, 1.3 MP front camera, video recording 5 MP rear camera, VGA front camera, video recording
Operating System Apple iOS QNX Android 2.2 Android 1.6
Connectivity Wi-Fi, 3G (AT&T, no contract required), Bluetooth Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Wi-Fi, 3G (on AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, with contracts), Bluetooth Wi-Fi, 3G (on AT&T, with contract), Bluetooth
Flash support No Flash support Supports Flash 10.1 Supports Flash 10.1 No Flash support
Battery life* 10 hrs surfing web on Wi-Fi, watching video or listening to music N/A 4,000 mAh rated for 7 hrs movie playback 1,530 mAh battery, up to 9.8 hrs talk time
Price $500-$700 (Wi-Fi only) $630-$830 Wi-Fi + 3G N/A N/A $560 no contract, $300 2-year contract
Availability Shipping since April Early 2011 Late 2010 Shipping since August
Apps Apple App Store To be launched Android Market Apps Android Market Apps

*Battery life as specified by the manufacturer

Do you think Apple has got the Tablet market in its pocket for the foreseeable future? Have your say in the comments…

Comparison Chart Source: Wired

]]> 9 HP Slate: No iPad Killer (Video) Fri, 24 Sep 2010 21:15:23 +0000 Read More]]> Remember the HP slate? That’s the tablet device Steve Ballmer was waving around during his CES keynote this year, and the very same one subsequently canned by the computer hardware manufacturer. Today we’re treated to a full four minutes of demonstration courtesy of YouTube user x313xkillax, showing off boot-time and web browsing.

The video starts off well, showing the slate’s 2 (count ‘em) cameras, SD card slot and USB port. The most interesting, and without doubt ludicrous button ever placed on a consumer device is a CTRL-ALT-DEL key! That’s right folks, when your shiny new HP Slate crashes you just need press one button to kill it. Terrific!

Is it real? Engadget seems to think so. If I hadn’t seen the thing power on (which happens in a spritely manner) I’d be shouting ‘FAKE’ from the highest mountain I could find, but considering you see the hardware running Windows 7 as HP initially planned – and Endgadget’s belief it’s legit – it might just be real.

Watch the video and let us know what you think – could this have been an iPad killer?

To answer my own question… No

The issue I see with all the ‘iPad killers’ (I do hate that phrase!) is that they seem to be aiming for a different market. Apple’s focus is to get the iPad into as many hands as possible, which is borne out by its competitive price. This means making it as user friendly as possible, sometimes at the expense of losing some of the bells and whistles other manufacturers seem desperate to include.

Take the HP offering as an example. Putting a full-fledged desktop OS on there may give the device more possibilities than Apple’s offering, but could this cause confusion? Possibly. What about that USB port? Can you plug a printer into it? What about a USB 3G dongle? Will the device have drivers for these or will they need to be downloaded? Will they even work at all?

These are all questions Apple doesn’t want the user to have to ask. In Apple’s eyes at least, choice feature bloat equals user confusion and that’s a bad thing.

]]> 10 Apple iPad Competition Starts To Drop Out Mon, 03 May 2010 15:08:49 +0000 Read More]]> The most interesting story this week in tech was one that wasn’t even properly reported. As the Apple iPad gained momentum as the de facto tablet computer, the expected competition started to slowly bow out of the race. Two of the largest technology companies in tech very quietly put their highly touted tablets on the shelf, probably never to return. It’s another sign of Apple’s current technology dominance and the inability of traditional tech companies to produce the devices the populace demands.

The first to throw their proverbial hat in the ring was Microsoft. Yes, Microsoft. The giant of yesteryear didn’t even bother to try to test the tablet computing market. Perhaps they were hesitant to go another round in the tablet computing fight. Microsoft very famously tried to lead tablet computing early in the 2000’s. At the time technology, and the market as a whole, was not ready for what Microsoft had to offer. This time around Microsoft’s offering was the much rumored Courier device. The Courier prototypes featured a twin touchscreen interface that opened and closed like a hard shelled book. Running an inventive user interface on a specialized version of the Windows CE/Zune operating system, the Courier device actually generated a lot of buzz and interest. It might have actually been competitive with the iPad. Only time will tell why Microsoft put one of its most revolutionary products in 10 years on the shelf.

The second to bow out of the race was HP. Their Slate device ran Windows 7 on a 9 inch touchscreen tablet interface. It was reported to include a 3 megapixel camera, SD card support, GPS, and 1080p playback. Another interesting project, it would seem HP just wasn’t willing to go into the tablet market when it wasn’t assured success against the iPad. It’s unfortunate they weren’t willing even make a limited run at the market and provide Windows users a modestly viable alternative to the iPad. Given the run away success of the iPad, it is understandable. It’s also understandable seen through the lense of the Palm acquisition. Perhaps HP’s plan is to move forward with WebOS instead of Windows. Or to move more into the smartphone space. Either way, its another iPad competitor that bowed out without even trying.

So what does that leave? Undoubtedly Google will bring either a company-branded tablet or one developed in conjunction with a hardware manufacturer like they did with HTC and the Nexus One. At this point, Android seems to be the only willing and viable competition to Apple and their iPhone OS powered device. The fractured nature of Android may cause some missteps along the way but it will be interesting to see if Google’s operating system (and let’s be honest it is Google’s operating system) becomes any sort of threat to the iPad.

What do you think? Will any company provide competition to the iPad? Did Apple start out so far ahead that no one will catch up? Leave us your comments and let us know.

]]> 6 Microsoft unveils first 3D games for Windows Phone 7 Series. Direct3D only! Wed, 10 Mar 2010 13:11:28 +0000 Read More]]> windows-phone-games-xna-06

Microsoft has today released some screenshots of a couple of 3D games that are currently in development for the Windows Phone 7 Series. Is it just me or is that an awfully big mouthful for such a small device?

Anyway, the images look interesting, but this is not an impressive enough couple of titles to excite people into buying another flavour of handset, in my opinion. Perhaps we’ll see more this week.

First up is “The Harvest” which is a Diablo re-imagining featuring destructible environments. That is under development by Luma Arcade.

Next is “Battle Punks” which is under development by Gravity Bear. This is, and I quote, “a sword-fighting Facebook game”. Your guess is as good as mine!

Microsoft also, unsurprisingly, confirmed that Direct3D is the only graphics API supported on the Windows Phone 7 Series. This seems a super dumb move to me. All current OpenGL apps / Games will have to be ported. Whilst that will be fine by large publishers, and those developers that already work with Direct3D, it will alienate the already very large developer base who are working on Android, Apple and just getting started on Palm’s mobile devices. If you remember I reported recently that Palm have just opened up access to their OpenGL ES API in a new addition to their SDK launched at GDC. Consequently Microsoft are going alone again on their own 3D graphics API “Direct3D”. While everyone else uses OpenGL ES. This will not aid Microsoft in quickly generating a vibrant App Store of their own with contributions from developers out there with successful existing mobile games.

When the Zune Store was announced many successful iPhone developers were approached and courted by Microsoft and turned the software giant away. I can see them having the same reaction to the Windows Phone.

Android already suffers from app market fragmentation because of the multitude of devices with different specifications out there. Apple is heading that way with the two flavours of silicon it already has in it’s iPhone, iPod and iPad. But they all at least use the same graphics API. I know that small indies are not going to want to support yet another API and another set of hardware, especially when frustratingly they know the silicon underneath is the same.

So it seems we will again have two distinct camps in gaming land. This time in mobile gaming land! With XNA developers, inexperienced in mobile game production, having to hit the ground running if we are going to have any real indies producing for this new phone.

Microsoft has been on a mission for quite some time to establish itself as dominant in the games market, at any cost. One of it’s more underhand weapons in this effort is it’s own proprietary graphics API. One would have thought they had learned their lesson, along with Sony, with the advent of the Wii that the gaming landscape is unpredictable nowadays. It’s not a beast which is easily corralled anymore. Right now both Sony and Microsoft are kind of directionless because of the massive shift in the games market over the last two years. Although interestingly it’s now Sony that are picking up speed in the console market. And this is purely speculation on my part, but if Sony are really going to bring their own “iPhone & iPad killers” to market, as is rumoured, I would expect whatever API they choose for 3D graphics to at last have some kind of high level abstraction that is more akin to OpenGL ES than anything else. If not a full OpenGL ES API from day one.

Perhaps Microsoft intend to go the opposite direction to Apple, Google and Palm on this, and instead of encouraging the indie market simply buy up studios, leverage existing IP in house, or even create new studios in a mobile gaming war similar to their XBox campaign. Good luck with that.

The bottom line is all this does is limit choice for consumers, and make developer’s lives harder, while these big companies fight out battles to have different APIs control the same chips!

windows-phone-xna-03 windows-phone-games-xna-05 windows-phone-games-xna-06

Image Source

]]> 2 Microsoft’s Courier. Is this the iPad slayer? Sat, 06 Mar 2010 20:28:40 +0000 Read More]]> Mircosoft courier iPad Slayer 2

Microsoft’s Courier tablet was first mentioned on tech sites a couple of months ago. At the time it was only a concept which existed in the form of a kind of User Interface showcase with cartoon hands controlling a virtual device. But those concept videos were rather impressive and very forward thinking. Of the many UI features that impressed me one really stuck in my mind. It was perhaps the simplest of them all, but it struck me as really nifty. When you want to transfer a picture or note to the clipboard you just slide it to the hinge of the device and it sticks there partly exposed on both screens. You can then flip through pages until you find the one you want. Once there you slide the clipping out onto either screen and paste it. Simple, but so cool I wanted one just so I could try it!

The User Interface of the Courier overall had the same shock and awe effect on me that the iPhone’s did when I first saw it. Before that OS X blew me away similarly.

Because at that stage the Courier was a concept no-one had any idea of the dimensions of the device. Or how much of the hardware was actually real. Or even how close to reality the incredibly impressive conceptual GUI of this thing was. All we did know was that the Courier had two screens, and opened like a traditional book with a hinge in the middle. It also supposedly had a pen, although the UI videos showed both multitouch with fingers and the pen being used. Oh, and it had a camera if the concept videos were accurate. We get to see it taking shots with that, and those snaps being filed away in a scrap book, edited and collated, and used as part of a presentation.

My initial reaction to the hinged device idea was that I wondered how people were going to actually use a device on the move which folded in the middle. How would it stay open on your lap? How would you type, draw or work with it when also having to hold it. Would the hinge be floppy or stiff? It was all the same kind of concerns that people had about how Apple’s take on a Tablet would work for typing and viewing movies etc. But I loved some of the ideas that were being explored with the Courier. Part of the reason that I worried about the folding design was that I envisioned it being around the size of a legal note pad when folded shut. So around the size of a magazine. I am not sure why, but that was my impression. My mind was stuck with the idea of a traditional tablet sized device or something about the size of the iPad, I guess.

Looking at the concept videos again it is fairly clear that this thing is not actually that big. Indeed, pictures that Engadget have today show the device (or at least a mockup) in human hands, and as being much closer to the size of a traditional paperback. For some reason this has made a massive impression on me. Engadet’s information on the device is here.

Mircosoft courier iPad Slayer

The videos (which have been around for a while now) are further down the same page. Make sure you watch them. They are obviously not real. By that I mean they are not running on a real device. But there is no reason in this day and age that a User Interface could not do all the things we are seeing there. And if Microsoft’s Windows Mobile 7 interface is anything to go by then the general look and feel all fits. Again though, all we’ve seen of that is flashy web sites and conceptsÉ so far.

Engadget have this to say: “Courier will function as a “digital journal,” and it’s designed to be seriously portable: it’s under an inch thick, weighs a little over a pound, and isn’t much bigger than a 5×7 photo when closed. That’s a lot smaller than we expected.” With reference to that last sentence: Join the club guys!

If, and this is a big if. But if Microsoft can produce this device so that it looks as good as the pictures we have seen to date. And if the User Interface has the functionality detailed in those concept videos, then the Courier is going to be truly remarkable. And I will camp outside a store or travel half way round the world to buy one on day one. And I’ll want to develop for it too.

I am not convinced that this device will be all that the videos and pictures promise. It just seems too good to be true. But if it is then I think we could see a massive shift in power in the mobile market place.

Microsoft could really be making a rather incredible device that people simply must have.

What do you think about the Courier? Is it the iPad slayer or is it promising too much and will it underwhelm in real life?

By: Stephen Northcott

Microsoft’s Courier: Videos of the interface in action

Images and Video Credit: Engadget

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