Facebook has finally updated its Like button to allow users to express a much wider range of emotions, or as the social network refers to them–“Reactions”–to what others post.
The new feature, which is rolling out slowly (as Facebook tends to do), will create a far more nuanced experience for everyone, and will have a major impact on our engagement with the platform as a whole.
Amazon takes the proprietary route with its Fire TV set top box and gives consumers one more choice that won’t serve all of their needs.
I’ve always admired Amazon for their customer-centric view of the world. Their online shopping experience is second to none. Their customer service is superb. Their dedication to creating devices and services to meet the needs of their customers has always impressed me – especially given that the hardware space is so competitive (and littered with failures).
So I was really keen to find out what Amazon’s latest toy, the $99 Fire TV set-top box had to offer. Even though it isn’t available to Canadians currently, the U.S. version is likely a very strong indicator of what we’ll get when it arrives.
Sadly, what we’ll get is a series of compromises.
Now that Google’s diminutive WiFi media player is available in Canada, how does it stack up to Apple’s set-top box and which should you buy?
It’s been several months since Google unleashed the Chromecast, a tiny dongle-like device that turns any HDTV into a Wi-Fi enabled display. Initially only available in the U.S., the $35 gadget was very well received and Canadian Reviewer’s Gadjo Sevilla found it to be an easy and reliable way to stream content to a TV.
But if you wanted a Chromecast back in 2013, you needed to order one via the U.S. and frankly that was a hassle. Now that it’s being sold in Canada for $39, the time is right to take a look at this new player and see how it compares to one of the most popular devices in this space: Apple TV.
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock (or simply not reading Canadian Reviewer) you’re probably aware that curved screens are all the rage. First it was TVs, with both LG and Samsung debuting curved OLED and LCD HDTVs and UHDTVs.
The rationale being that a curved screen offers viewers better picture quality because it eliminates edge-distortion caused by the increased distance of the sides of the screen to your eye. Yeah, I’m not necessarily buying that reason either, but one thing’s for sure: Curved screens are here and starting with the LG G Flex, they’re going to be in your hand, not just your living room. So the question is, why do we need a curved smartphone?
They claim that it’s the iPhone 6, and I think they’re right. Here’s why:
- The case design borrows directly from the iPad mini and the new iPad Air. All of the styling cues are there. Smooth corners on the back of the case, satin-like finish, ultra-thin profile.
- The home button is clearly a TouchID unit, which we would expect Apple to keep in any update of the iPhone.
- The balance of earphone jack, Lightning connector port and speaker/mic perforations are all exactly where you’d expect them to be based on the iPhone 5s layout.
- According to BI, the phone’s screen dimensions are pegged at 4.7″ which up slightly from the iPhone 5/5s/5c at 4″. This might be the biggest surprise of all given that until now, Apple has been reluctant to increase the width of the iPhone, arguing that based on their extensive R&D for the original iPhone, the current width is ideal for most users. But if there’s one thing that Samsung has been able to prove, it’s that a lot of folks either don’t mind bigger phones, or they’re happy to trade off a little comfort in return for a bigger screen size. In any event, it looks like Apple has finally bent to consumers’ tastes on this, although it’s clear from the photo that they have done their best to minimize the impact on width. Look closely – the side bezel is razor-thin, providing what I suspect is the closest thing we’ve ever seen to a true “edge-to-edge” display.
- So what about sticking to their guns? Well here’s where we get to the fun part. Rather than acknowledging they were wrong about screen size, I think Apple will market this new iPhone as the “iPhone Air” – the choice for people who want ultra-thin, ultra-light and “the most beautiful display of any mobile phone” while retaining both the 5s and the 5c as options for those who still prefer the original dimensions.
- I expect the price to be the same as the current iPhone 5s, while the 5s and 5c will drop by between $50-$100 at launch.
- So a bigger, thinner iPhone? Is that it? Yes. With the possible exception of the inclusion of NFC and a better camera (you can never have too much improvement in a camera), I don’t think the iPhone Air will have (or will need) any new features. I think the simple fact that folks who didn’t buy the iPhone because the Galaxy line was bigger (and who will now reconsider the iPhone) represents a huge potential win for Apple, especially as they start to compete in China now that they’ve secured the China Mobile deal. I think that Asian users of smartphones have already shown a significant preference for large-screen phones and that this will continue.
Apple’s iCloud is possibly the best thing to happen to smartphones since the touch-screen. Not only does it seamlessly synchronize your data between all of your iOS devices, it does the same thing for your Mac or PC – and – it acts as a tether-free way to backup the contents of your iPhone.
When I recently switched from my iOS 5 equipped iPhone 4 to the loaner iPhone 4S I started using last week, I used the iCloud restore feature to port all of my settings and apps. The result was astounding. After the restore, which by the way was completely done over Wi-Fi – no tethering to a computer or iTunes – my 4S looked like a complete clone of my 4, right down to the wallpaper for my lock and home screens. The only thing I had to do was re-enter my Wi-Fi passwords.
But I digress…
One thing I noticed about this process was, while the backup and restore via iCloud was impressive, my backup size was really big. In fact, I had already come close to using up all of the free 5GB that Apple allots to all iOS 5 Apple IDs. If I only had the one device, that might not be the end of the world. But the iPhone is just one of three iOS devices I use under my Apple ID and there’s simply no way I was going to be able to back the other two up without needing some more room.
But it turns out there’s a simple way to drastically reduce the size of your iPhone backup.
When you go into your iCloud settings, and check out the options for Backup and Storage, you’ll see that each and every app on your device can be set to have its data backed up, or not. Including the Camera Roll. That’s key, because if you’re like most iPhone users and you make regular use of the awesome camera on these phones, you probably have plenty of photos and videos.
When I checked mine, it was sitting at 4.4 GB!
No wonder I was almost out of room. So I turned it off.
Huh? Yep, I turned it off and saved myself nearly all of the storage space I had been sucking up. I know what you’re thinking, but my photos are *still* backed up.
Here’s why: The PhotoStream feature on iOS 5, when turned on, automatically keeps a copy of the last 1,000 photos you’ve taken, regardless of which device you used, on a 30-day rolling period. And those photos do NOT count toward your Backup and Storage capacity. It’s free storage from Apple, and it’s even better than using your iCloud storage space. PhotoStream sends your photos to your computer which is ultimately where you want them anyway.
There’s only one caveat. If you take a lot of video on your iPhone or iPod Touch, you’ll need to remember to back these up manually, since PhotoStream doesn’t backup your videos – only your photos.
One last thought if you’re thinking that backing up your Camera Roll is something you want to keep doing: your iCloud storage space isn’t the only area that is impacted.
When your phone is locked and plugged into power and connected to Wi-Fi, it will automatically backup your data. For most people, that means overnight while you’re sleeping at home.
Consider that even a backup of 2GB can consume a good chunk of your bandwidth cap, it’s well worth keeping your backups as small as possible.
Make sure you check the full list of apps that are backing up to iCloud – most use virtually no room, but some can be hefty. Check out those Songify and Kindle items in the image above. Only 70Mb between them, but I have very few books or songs in there. It could go much higher.
Despite the initial disappointment that the iPhone 4S didn’t turn out to be the iPhone 5, the new smartphone from Apple is garnering praise from the media as a worthy successor to the iPhone 4 and must-have upgrade for those still using iPhone 3G and 3GS models.
And, as has been the case with nearly every iPhone and iPad release since 2007, eager buyers have been lining up at Apple Store locations around the world. Even Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak got in on the action, despite already having his own iPhone 4S which was delivered to his home.
Given this enthusiasm, it’s a good bet that inventory levels at Apple stores in Canada will be depleted quickly and buyers may not get the model they have their hearts set on.
But the good news with the iPhone 4S, when compared to the launch of previous models, is that Apple has made a point of supplying their partners with healthy stocks of the phone so that no one need go home empty-handed.
There’s no question that Apple stores remain the emotional favourite when it comes to buying iPhones – this time around much more so given Steve Jobs’ recent passing. But if you don’t live near an Apple store, or if their supplies have dwindled by the time you head out to buy, here are your alternatives:
- Bell World
- Virgin Mobile
- The Source
- Best Buy
- Future Shop