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Date: Wednesday, 08 Oct 2014 22:06

Do you remember the good old days when you could: 

1. Write a text message to a friend and hit ‘send’, safe in the knowledge that it would be transmitted without any further action? If your BlackBerry didn’t have signal at that precise moment, the message would be queued and then sent when signal was reestablished. 

2. Plough through your emails with a single key press d, d, d, d, d, d, d, (to delete, for example) or a favourite of mine (thanks to the now defunct Gmail for BlackBerry app: e,e,e,e,e,e,e,e,e to archive) 

3. File your email with a simple ‘i’ and ‘d’ and a tap. (Where ‘i’ was for the ‘file this message’ action and ‘d’ was for the ‘done’ folder in my case)

4. Reply to an email on the train without any connection error messages

5. Read an email on the train without connection error messages

6. Queue up a load of outbound emails which would be automatically sent (like SMS messages) when signal reestablished, without generating all sorts of complaining prompts 

Oh those were the days.

Author: "Ewan" Tags: "Devices, Blackberry"
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Date: Wednesday, 08 Oct 2014 07:30

We are back with another Top 7 Apps submission. This time Jess MacIntyre, EMEA Marketing Manager from Qriously is sharing her favourite apps with us.

Qriously is a mobile advertising technology company that taps the value of opinions. Our mission is to create a more meaningful advertising experience for both consumer and advertiser. We have offices in New York and London, with additional team members in LA, Atlanta and Vienna. Our products unlock the value of people’s voices in real time and at mass scale….something a little like this.

Jess uses the iPhone 5C so let’s take a look through the list…

– – – – –

Telegram: Instant messaging service that’s free and protects your privacy. With WhatsApp now part of the Facebook family, people are on the lookout for an alternative and my boss, Chris Kahler suggested I use this instead, especially given WhatsApp will soon start charging.

VSCOcam: an app for creative minds to create and share great photography. Not only can I share my own photos I can also get inspiration from others.

Skyscanner: To check for the cheapest flight when researching for the next trip away. I’m regularly going away on business, and as a start-up, we need to ensure we get the best deal possible.

Expensify: A quick and easy way to submit your work expenses on the go. Gone are the days of hanging on to a ton of receipts and stapling them to a piece of paper.

Sonos: For my home sound system, we can control what music we play via this app on my phone. It means you can control what you’re listening too with minimal effort.

Spotify: To make some world class playlists whilst on the move and to use via my Sonos app for my home sound system. I’ve introduced this recently to my parents who are re-discovering the whole back catalogue of Fleetwood Mac.

Uber: When you miss the last tube home, Uber is always on hand to make sure you get home safely at a fair price!

– – – – –

Thanks to Jess for her list. Intrigued about Telegram and it will be interesting to see what Whatsapp’s future is. Absolutely love VSCOCam, great choice!

If you’d like to contribute your Top 7 Apps or if you are the PR representing someone you’d like to see featured, everything you need to know about participating is right here.

Author: "Sarah" Tags: "Applications, Jess MacIntyre, Qriously, ..."
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Date: Tuesday, 07 Oct 2014 17:28

Five minutes was all it took to exit the relationship with Vodafone.

I phoned up on Sunday and said I’d like to either renegotiate or get my PAC number. She immediately transferred me through to the right team, no messing around.

Within a few moments I’d adjusted my wife’s mobile number to £13.50 per month. They weren’t doing me any favours. The lady just looked at her usage and offered me the corresponding price plan. My wife’s usage is super simple — in fact she hardly uses any data since she’s more or less always in WiFi range, so I didn’t have a problem with that. 

When it came to my number, we had a problem. I’m using about 1.5gig of data on average, the lady reckoned (mostly because I’m putting all of my data usage through a super-fast “4GEE” Osprey MiFi unit from EE. The jump from 1GB of data to 4GB of data was a bit expensive. Stupid, I thought.

“Is there anything you can do?” I asked the lady.

“No.”

“Ok, PAC code then please,” I replied. 

She conferred with her manager. 

“We can give you a £54 credit but we’ll need to put you on the higher tariff. It’s the only way we can help, that’s equivalent to a fiver discount,” she explained.

I laughed to myself and politely declined. Deary me. 

We’re in the age of bit pipe, we really are.

I got my PAC number and called up Three. Five minutes later I had transferred my number to one of my existing Three lines. 

I now have unlimited everything. Not that I will necessarily use that. I really won’t. It’s just nice to have. 

The interesting experience for me is that I didn’t feel I’d lost something. For so long, the power of the Vodafone brand — the reputation — has held me in check. There was a time, years ago, when it really mattered. It really did. I couldn’t reasonably make a business call on the One2One network, for example. I couldn’t risk clients thinking I was an idiot, not prepared to invest in my own technology. 

So proper people used Vodafone or BT Cellnet (“O2”). Orange — with it’s incessantly brilliant branding — became a fair choice, especially with their pleasing “new handset next day” policies. 

But no one ever got fired for buying Vodafone. 

And I drew great satisfaction from knowing that my calls would always get through. 

Until, that is, they didn’t. 

Until my calls began dropping regularly. Until, dear reader, shoddy voice service became the norm — especially if you were moving at more than 10 miles per hour. This wasn’t just exclusive to Vodafone.

I towed the line. For the last two years I’ve run 12-month contracts with them. I thought I’d call and see what sort of deal they would offer me.

I was frankly surprised at the limpwristed response. I’m by no means a huge individual customer for them — about £125-£150 a month on average, including my wife’s line. I did expect a few bellytickles. 

In fairness, I could probably have ummmed and ahhhed at the lady. I could have flashed my virtual eyebrows at her and come armed with research of a competing price plan (to try and get her to match it, etc.)

Alas I was just a little bit too tired. 

Last year I felt a change in the force. I stopped thinking of my operator(s) as anything other than standard service providers. The operators have invested significant sums over the years to do their best to distance themselves from the ‘bit pipe’ reality. 

I couldn’t see the value in hanging around with Vodafone. I called up to see if they still wanted me. The answer was ‘not really’ ;-) 

I was quite surprised at the speed of it all. Within about 12 minutes I’d got my PAC from Vodafone and transferred it to Three. It’s all transferring later tonight. 

So, hello Three.

I’m not new to Three. I’ve had a Three account for donkey’s years. I just haven’t ever selected them as my primary operator of choice until now. I picked the 12 month unlimited everything deal. 

Bring it on.

Author: "Ewan" Tags: "Operators, Three, Vodafone"
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Date: Monday, 06 Oct 2014 22:08

I was having a read of the Citymapper app update notes and came across the reference to a watch. Could be Apple Watch. Or just a version for Android Wear. Either way I would like to see an implementation of Citymapper on a watch. I love Citymapper for getting around London easily.

And as I have remarked before, I do love their app update notes.

IMG_0176.PNG

Author: "Ewan" Tags: "News"
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Date: Monday, 06 Oct 2014 09:51

Tablets Main Pic

Since the iPad was launched in 2010, tablets have become an important product for companies such as Apple, Samsung and Microsoft. Tablets have proved extremely versatile – so much so that they have replaced many of the laptop’s roles and arguably provide a superior user experience in many cases. Games, movies, email, web browsing and social media all feel natural and easy to use on a 10″ screen, so it’s no surprise that consumers have flocked to buy them in droves.

Now that tablets have become ubiquitous, analysts expected that sales would follow the same ‘hockey stick’ upward trajectory of smartphones. Unfortunately, growth in the tablet market has stagnated, leading many to question whether consumers are losing interest.

In this post we explore tablet sales trends, and discuss how we think the market might evolve during the next few years.

Tablets suffer a slump in sales

According to ABI Research, global sales of tablets grew by just 2.5% in 2014. While there is still growth, this rise was much smaller than expected. NPD DisplaySearch claims that growth was even lower at just 2%, and that it will remain in single digit figures through to 2018. Is that a plateau or a flatline?

Unfortunately, this 2.5% rise is much lower than expected – 6 months earlier in the year, IDC estimated that the total tablet market (which includes 2-in-1 devices such as the Asus transformer range) was forecast to grow by a more respectable 19.4%. So what went wrong? From a predicated 19.4% to an actual 2.5% in 6 months – clearly earlier estimates were way off target.

Worldwide Shipments of Tablets

Worldwide tablet shipments (millions of units) per quarter

 

The story across the major retail outlets confirms the trend – tablet sales are down and consumers are unwilling to replace their tablet every year.

“The tablets boomed and now are crashing.” – Hubert Joly, Best Buy (USA) CEO

Looking at the market leaders – Apple and Samsung, iPad sales fell 13% in the first half of 2014 while Samsung increased by 26%. Together, these two companies have a combined 70% of the market. But while overall tablet sales are on the rise there are definite signs they have reached a plateau.

Worldwide tablet shipments reached just 49.3 million units in Q2 of this year, considerably less than the holiday quarter in 2013. While Christmas obviously helped achieve those 76.9 million sales, between Q1 2013 and Q2  of this year shipments have remained decidedly unremarkable.

Can Apple maintain it’s lead in tablet sales?

As the current market leader, it’s worth examining Apple’s tablet figures in more detail as we’d expect Apple’s tablet slowdown to be reflected by the dozens of other tablet brands.

Global market share of tablets by vendor

Global tablet market share by vendor. Data from Statista.com

 

Over the last quarter, Apple generated $5.9 billion from iPad sales. That’s more than Amazon, Microsoft and Google have achieved from all of their tablet sales ever. However, Apple sold fewer iPads than in the year-ago quarter representing its second quarterly drop from last year.

In the March 2014 quarter, Apple sold 3.1 million fewer (16.1 percent) tablets year-over-year (falling from 19.5 million to 16.4 million), and in the June quarter iPads fell gain by 9.3 percent (down 1.3 million units, from 14.6 million to 13.3 million).

Apple’s CFO Luca Maestri stated in a recent earnings call, “iPad sales grew overall in the developing markets with particularly strong year-over-year growth in the Middle-East, where iPad sales were up 64%, in China where they grew 51%, and in India, where they were up 45%.” He added, “This growth was more than offset by lower sales in more mature markets”.

So at least publicly, Apple is shrugging off its uninspiring iPad sales. In fact, the slowdown was partially attributed to the overlap between screen sizes for tablets, notebooks and smartphones.

It’s true that ‘phablet’ style devices (which have screens over 6 inches) could be cannibalising tablet sales. This might be true to an extent, but if so that will only worsen with the introduction of the iPhone 6 Plus. On the upside, Apple would no doubt be happy if that device cannibalises sales of the 7.9″ iPad Mini, because profit margins on the iPhone are much higher.

In terms of Apple’s product mix today, the situation is very different than it was 7 or 8 years ago before the iPhone became such a massive success story. Back then the iPod was the company’s most important product. But today iPod sales have nearly dried up and its two iOS based devices are its most popular products: the iPad accounted for 16.67% of Apple’s revenue in Q2 2014 and the iPhone more than 50%.

Apple product mix

Apple’s mobile product mix. Data from Statista.com

 

It’s not all doom and gloom for Apple however. Historically, its biggest sales by far have been generated in the Christmas holiday season, and it may be able to tempt users to the refreshed iPad lineup later this month – they are expected to include the Touch ID fingerprint sensor and the latest A8 CPU.

Furthermore, there are currently 12.3 million iPad users in the UK – just over 19% of the country’s total population and 50% of UK tablet users. Those users are likely to upgrade at some point; once you are hooked into the Apple ecosystem, it can be hard to escape…

Apple’s forthcoming October event (which, according to Re/code, will held be on Thursday 16th) is expected to confirm the existence of an iPad Pro with a 12 inch screen and more memory (2 GB) – this would improve the iPad’s ability run all those productivity apps that enterprise users love so much, and a rumoured side-by-side app view would please those that laud the same  capability in Microsoft’s Surface tablet and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab range.

Mimicking the trends that have emerged in the smartphone industry, Apple’s dominance in tablets is steadily being eroded on all sides by Samsung and cheaper Android alternatives. But to use my favourite fast food analogy – just because McDonalds sells the most hamburgers in the world doesn’t make them the best hamburger.

Why are tablets declining in popularity?

At least for Apple, declining tablet popularity can’t be attributed to customer dissatisfaction with the devices – the iPad Air and iPad Mini consistently achieve the highest customer satisfaction ratings of any tablet in surveys conducted by companies such as JD Power. Additionally, the iPad holds around 85% of the US education market – so clearly consumers are happy with the iPad’s capabilities and are using it in all sorts of ways.

Another sign that people are actually using their iPads (rather than letting them gather dust) is highlighted by the iPad’s share of web traffic:

Infographic: The iPad Still Dominates Tablet Usage | Statista

So what are the reasons tablet sales are on the wane?

1) No incentive to upgrade

All the major manufacturers update their flagship smartphones at least once a year. Despite tablets receiving frequent updates to more powerful hardware, the incentive to upgrade every year isn’t as strong. How many people do you know that are willing to buy a new phone every year but only update their tablet every 2 years or even longer?

Another clue is that many smartphone owners are locked into two-year contracts, so there’s an incentive to upgrade only at the end of the contract. This means that every year there are millions of people who can obtain the latest device for a relatively minor outlay. This doesn’t apply to tablets, where the full cost is normally borne by the consumer.

2) Lack of subsidies

Unlike smartphones, mobile operators tend not to subsidise the purchase of tablets. Additionally, most people are happy to use their tablet on WiFi only; but even those with cellular data contracts don’t generate as much income for operators as smartphones do – they are more likely to pay for a low tariff or just use them at home. Due to this lack of subsidy tablets are, perhaps unfairly, perceived as expensive luxuries.

Paying a few hundred pounds every 2 years for a new smartphone doesn’t seem like a big deal, but paying several times that amount for a tablet is cost sensitive issue for many people.

3) Laptops making a comeback

PC sales have certainly slumped over the last few years, and the manufacturers like Dell and HP have suffered in the general downturn. Perhaps surprisingly, the PC market is starting to show signs of growth – cheaper laptops that run Chrome OS and reduced OEM licensing costs for Windows has resulted in a greater choice of powerful budget computers that sell for just a few hundred pounds.

Consumers that may have opted for a tablet are now spoilt for choice when it comes to laptops and PCs, and it’s hard to argue against a physical keyboard for getting any real work done…

What’s the outlook for tablets?

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 tablet

The perfect coffee-table tablet?

Tablets have become a daily part of our lives. But with much longer replacement cycles and expectations in terms of what you can actually do on a tablet, we shouldn’t expect the same kind of unlimited growth that smartphones have experienced. The market for tablets is still in its infancy, and it remains to be seen whether hybrid and 2-in-1 devices will eventually become the preferred form factor.

“Are tablets going away? Absolutely not. That’s just a function of the lifecycle. Tablets are going to become more important” – Rafe Blandford, All About Windows Phone

With companies like Tesco producing affordable and relatively powerful tablets such as the Hudl, there is still ample room for expansion. It seems unlikely that tablets as we know them are going away any time soon, but it’s up to the manufacturers to produce more innovative and versatile designs if they truly want to replace the laptop.

But for now, tablets are still the perfect coffee-table Internet devices and for me at least, the honeymoon is still going strong…

You can also listen to a heated and very entertaining debate about the death of tablets over at the 361 Degrees Podcast.

Author: "Roland B" Tags: "Devices, Opinion, tablets"
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Date: Monday, 06 Oct 2014 07:30

We are back with another Top 7 Apps submission and this time we have Alex Vitty, Head of User Experience at Future Platforms. Here’s more about the company:

At Future Platforms, we specialise in blending technology with innovation to create digital solutions that are genuinely useful to our clients and their customers. Visit our website at futureplatforms.com

Alex uses the iPhone 5 and is running iOS8. Let’s get on with her list;

– – – – –

Citymapper: Citymapper revolutionised travel apps and became the usability benchmark for all our utility apps. It is incredibly easy to use and has a clean, intuitive interface.

Uber: Much of the beauty of the Uber app lies in the ease of the service itself, but the whole experience wouldn’t be so enjoyable if it weren’t for a top class app to support it. You go straight to a map showing you and all the taxis nearby then two taps to order – no messing about!

Wunderlist: Wunderlist’s beautiful interface was the first thing to attract me. I was worried about the lack of integration with Google Tasks, but it’s sharing functionality more than makes up for it and makes collaboration easy.

AirBnB: AirBnB’s UI was always slick, but the latest redesign brings it up another notch. Gorgeous, silky smooth transitions and a beautifully designed menu complement the large-scale imagery beautifully.

NatWest Banking: Mobile banking can be boring, but NatWest somehow alleviates this with a clean, intuitive and (almost) delightful interface. Transferring money or making a payment is extremely straightforward; choose the accounts, amount and go. Simple really.

Spotify: I particularly like the integration of their apps across platforms. I tend to use the Mac app, which does a pretty great job of presenting huge amounts of content. I can seamlessly switch to the iPhone app, which has a similarly intuitive interface with a scrolling tabs bar for each of the main sections.

Swype: Not an app per se, but I absolutely love my Swype typing. I find it is so much quicker to type than a single tap keyboard, and it’s so easy to add additional words to your dictionary.

– – – –

Thanks to Alex for this list, I’m a big list fan so Wunderlist is a must! Going to investigate swype though.

If you’d like to contribute your Top 7 Apps or if you are the PR representing someone you’d like to see featured, everything you need to know about participating is right here.

Author: "Sarah" Tags: "Applications, Alex Vitty, future platfor..."
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Date: Friday, 03 Oct 2014 22:18

iOS 8 Main Pic

iOS 8 is, in Apple’s own words “the biggest iOS release ever”. Available in the wild since 17th September, it promised a slew of exciting new features, but on the surface at least there seems to be few major changes; rather, it appears to be more of a refinement of the user interface, as well as under-the-hood improvements that should allow developers more flexibility and control. iOS is finally becoming more Android-like in its customisability while still being easy to use and intuitive to newcomers.

As a committed iOS user and self-professed early adopter (my current Apple devices are an iPhone 5S, an iPad Mini Retina and a MacBook Pro), I was highly anticipating some of the features promoted at this year’s Worldwide Developers’ Conference (WWDC) in June. For example, the ability to install third-party keyboards such as Swype and the Continuity feature that relays phone calls between a Mac and an iPhone. Arguably, some of iOS 8’s best new features have been available for Android for years, so it’s fair to say that Apple has been playing catchup to a degree.

Does iOS 8 turn the iPhone into a magic and revolutionary device?

Before we delve into our own experiences with iOS 8 over the last 2 weeks, it’s worth a recap on the eventful two weeks that Apple has just endured…

An embarrassed Apple recalls iOS 8.0.1

iOS 8 Adoption

iOS 8 is now on 46% of Apple devices. iOS has decreased from 91% two weeks ago.

Hot on the heels of the iOS 8 release, version 8.0.1 followed just one week later. Unfortunately, it caused an outcry among iPhone 6 owners who discovered that Touch ID had stopped working and more importantly, cellular radio was broken.

The release was quickly withdrawn and iPhone users were provided with manual rollback instructions, followed a few days later by iOS 8.0.2 which did resolve the issues and provided various other bug fixes.

What went wrong with Apple’s release process?

According to Bloomberg, the person responsible for iOS quality assurance (Josh Williams) also oversaw the infamous Maps release – a debacle which resulted in the eventual ousting of senior Apple executive Scott Forstall and a well-publicised apology from CEO Tim Cook. To be fair to Apple, Maps has come a long way since then…

Despite all this negative publicity, consumers seem unconcerned and iOS 8 adoption is fairly respectable. Current figures from Apple show that it’s already on 46% of devices. In contrast, iOS 7 falls to 49% which is down from 91% two weeks ago. For reference, this time last year iOS 7 had already reached 65 percent.

iPhone 6 Bend-Gate blown out of proportion?

To add insult to injury, it has been a bad few weeks for Apple since the release of the iPhone 6. The aptly named “Bend-Gate” incident caused an Internet sensation with the news that iPhone users had inadvertently bent their phones. As it turned out, only 9 out of 10 million users had actually complained. To counter the claims, Apple invited journalists for a rare glimpse inside its top secret product test facility in Cupertino, an attempt to stem the media outcry and avoid an incident as embarrassing as “Antennae-Gate” or last year’s “Scuff-Gate”.

Consumer Reports then conducted their own ‘three point flexural tests’ last week and concluded that the iPhone 6 Plus could actually withstand 90 pounds of pressure before deforming, beating the HTC One which came in last at 70 pounds. Under ‘normal use’ conditions this compares fairly well to the other phones on test, though not as well as the exceptionally strong iPhone 5 at 130 pounds. The clear winner was the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 which could withstand 150 pounds of pressure.

But seriously, it seems that common sense should prevail – it’s no surprise that Apple’s thinner, lighter iPhones would be more delicate than previous models. Unfortunately, irresponsible members of the public have taken to attempt bending the iPhone 6 at Apple stores all over the UK.

It seems the fuss is not going away just yet…

iPhone 6 (iOS 8) Deformation Pressure

The iPhone 6 can be bent with extreme force. Source: Consumer Reports

Impressions of iOS 8 after two weeks

Rather than conduct a detailed review of every feature and nuance of iOS 8 (that information is available just about everywhere by now), I will briefly describe my personal impressions of using it incessantly over the past two weeks. Installation itself was painless, if a little slow to obtain the download. And unlike Ewan’s iPhone 6 backup and restore problems, I experienced no iCloud issues with my iPhone – admittedly I performed the update with an iPhone 5S rather than an iPhone 6…

Performance

Metal API

Metal will improve iOS 8 game performance even on older iPhones

Apple usually supports iOS on the last 3 generations of iDevices. That means iOS 8 is compatible with every iPhone dating back to the iPhone 4S (sorry iPhone 4 owners, it’s time to upgrade). In practice, while iOS will run on older phones, those users can expect below-par performance simply due to the processor and performance requirements. After all, the latest A8 processor found in the iPhone 6 is considerably more powerful than the A5 in the 4S.

In recent CPU benchmarks such as GFXBench, iOS 8 performance is almost identical to iOS 7, and the good news is that Apple normally releases updates that address performance as time goes on.

In my experience, I have not noticed any slowdown directly caused by iOS 8. Of course, in the iPhone 6, benchmarks show the A8 chip is between 24 to 46 percent faster than the A7 in last year’s iPhone 5s – a distinct advantage when pushing all those extra pixels.

In fact, iOS 8 games that use the new Metal language may even run faster and more smoothly due to optimised graphics performance. Right now not many games use Metal, but even an iPhone 5S running iOS 8 can expect better graphics performance as developers start to adopt the new framework.

Apps

iOS 8 also adds some minor but welcome changes to the built-in apps. In Messages it’s possible to record short audio clips, photos and videos and send them with a quick upwards swipe. Likewise, it’s much simpler to view a contact’s location directly in Messages without opening the Find my Friends app. The default keyboard also gains much better predictive capabilities – three suggested words appear above the keyboard and there’s an extensive set of Emoji characters. This might seem like a minor addition, but since the keyboard is used in almost every app you will really notice the difference and extra versatility.

There is also a Tips app (which cannot be deleted), which is great for novice users but would perhaps be better as a free download in order to save storage space. The most obvious addition in iOS 8 is the Health app, which on its own doesn’t do much (except count footsteps using the iPhone’s motion coprocessor) but is in fact more of a central repository for all sorts of health accessories, such as Jawbone’s Up and Fitbit wearables. A handful of compatible apps are available in the App Store, which means that besides those dedicated apps, their data can be viewed in Health.

Despite not yet owning any fitness accessories, I switched from using the third-party activity tracker “Moves” to the Health App (it seems to have less impact on the battery) and I can see the huge potential for holistic health monitoring when the Apple Watch is released next year.

Health Apps

A small number of HealthKit-compatible apps are available in the App Store

 

Notifications

Notifications were long overdue an overhaul prior to iOS 7, and they have continued to be refined and improved in iOS 8. The most noticeable change is that each notification can be actioned or dismissed without switching apps. For example, just pull down on a notification and relevant options are presented (for example Reply or Trash).

As a heavy iPhone user, I’ve found the new notifications considerably more convenient. Whenever emails arrive that I simply want to delete, it’s just a case of swiping down and tapping the relevant icon. With dozens of emails arriving in my inbox every hour, the usefulness of this feature cannot be underestimated.

I also find the tweaks to Notification Centre extremely welcome – the Today screen can be customised with widgets such as news or LinkedIn profile views (depending which apps you have installed) and the Missed Notifications panel has been removed – it was never clear before how notifications fell into the missed category.

Subtle tweaks to the menu colours and transparency also make it slightly easier to see which icons are selected, so on the whole, it’s much more functional.

iOS 8 Notifications

Notifications in iOS 8 can be more easily actioned or dismissed

 

Camera and video

Keen photographers will appreciate the refined camera controls in iOS 8 – it’s possible to manually adjust most of the point and shoot options such as brightness, or simply to leave them on the recommended default settings. For post-editing photos, again there are lots of new settings to play with, though I still think the Windows Phone camera app is easier to use. A time-lapse video mode also makes an appearance, as does the ability to apply third-party filters to your photos without needing to open those other apps; instead, it can all be done in the main Photos app.

The camera is one of the features that I use the most on my iPhone, and the changes introduced in iOS 8 are certainly for the better.

Battery life

The biggest complaint about the iPhone is always its battery life. With WiFi and Bluetooth enabled, it can be hard to achieve a full day’s charge with even moderate use. The various activities and processes in iOS all contribute to the continuous drain on the battery, made worse when lots of apps are installed and constantly updating themselves. I have found battery life under iOS 8 almost on a par with iOS 7, which is not necessarily a good thing, but it’s not markedly worse. To make use of the new Continuity features (more on that below) I now run all day with Bluetooth enabled – there is undoubtedly an impact on battery life but it doesn’t appear to be making a noticeable difference.

Continuity and handoff

Continuity in iOS 8

Continuity and handoff – not fully available until OS X Yosemite

Probably the two most promising features in iOS 8 aren’t even fully usable yet. Continuity and handoff, when used together allow a limited set of applications (such as Mail, Messages, and Pages) to be used on one device and seamlessly picked up on another, exactly where you left off. This currently only works between iPhones and iPads, but Mac support is planned for OS X Yosemite later on this year.

Handoff is of limited practical value at the moment, but it should come into its own when iPhone calls can be received on the Mac (routed between the two using a combination of Bluetooth and WiFi).

Song recognition in Siri 

Sadly Siri is one of those features that once the novelty has worn off, many people never use. That’s a shame because Siri is often the quickest way to create reminders and search for items on your phone (e.g. songs, contacts or settings). In iOS 8, Siri has gained some genuinely useful abilities – notably more relevant search results and what’s on guides in your local area.

Personally, my favourite Siri feature is the ability to recognise any song via Shazam. Simply ask her what song is playing, and she’ll listen for 30 seconds before telling you the name of the song plus a link to the track in the iTunes store.

Is it worth upgrading?

For anyone with an iPhone 5 or newer, upgrading to iOS 8 should be a painless process that brings lots of visual tweaks and enhancements, plus some great new usability features. Not least, the ability to install third party keyboards might be a clincher for some people, but in just about every way iOS 8 improves over its predecessor.

By waiting a month or two before upgrading, you’ll benefit from a more stable release with fewer bugs (and a few speed enhancements to boot).

On balance, iOS 8 is a welcome evolution of what was already a great operating system.

Author: "Roland B" Tags: "Devices, News, Product Review, Apple, iO..."
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Date: Friday, 03 Oct 2014 07:30

We are back with another Top 7 Apps submission and this time it is from Colin Grant, Head of Marketing at Gamar. Let’s learn a bit more about Gamar;

Have you been to a museum and not remembered fun and interesting elements? Have you taken your children to a museum and felt they might not have learnt and retained information? Gamar turns iconic attractions into interactive adventure playgrounds through incredible augmented reality games – helping people get the most from their visit.

Colin uses the iPhone and let’s get cracking with his list…

– – – – –

Twitter: Because 24-hours a day it’s the best app for delivering up-to-the second insight, information, banter and banality. And the great thing is the unpredictable ratios with which I get served that mixture.

IMDb: Because it’s the most comprehensive app for films and trivia (it’s the only place I could have found out that the script to Back to the Future was rejected 40 times).

BBC News: Because its impartiality and excellent reporting leaves other news apps trailing. Yes, its content is somewhat restricted but it delivers exceptional quality on every visit.

Spotify: Because it’s a well-designed, intuitive app that puts millions of songs at my fingertips – no single app has the variety to combat my train journey boredom, hype up gym visits and entertain my children.

I’m a big fan of Right Move right now because I’m in the middle of a home redevelopment/move quandary. Right Move constantly helps me remain aware of the options and what’s available.

And given I’m Head of Marketing for Gamar, I have to include Gamar because I want my children to have an enjoyable learning experience at museums. What better way to achieve this than with the #1 app for playing augmented reality games – my children use the app to gain enjoyable, educational experience at iconic attractions.

Sky Sports News: As a Liverpool fan, football has dealt me some dramatic highs and lows, but there’s no way I could miss out on a regular fix of sports news. The writers on the Sky Sports News app have the ability to make any sport that’s shown on Sky appear to be utterly fascinating.

– – – – –

Thanks to Colin for his list of apps. I’m a big fan of Spotify and of course everyone tweets don’t they? IMDb is a must for me when I fail at remembering what ‘that bloke off the telly was in before this’ – we all need the extra help!

If you’d like to contribute your Top 7 Apps or if you are the PR representing someone you’d like to see featured, everything you need to know about participating is right here.

Author: "Sarah" Tags: "Applications, Colin Grant, Gamar, top 7 ..."
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Date: Wednesday, 01 Oct 2014 07:30

We are back with another Top 7 Apps submission and we have Nicolas Ott, Managing Director of Telecoms of Arqiva Telecoms.

Nicolas joined Arqiva in January 2012 as Managing Director of Telecoms which provides cellular, wireless broadband and voice & data solutions for the mobile communications, public safety, local government and commercial markets. He is passionate about fitness, sports, good food and music. Nicolas is married and lives in West London.

Nicolas uses the iPhone 4 and let’s have a look at his list…

– – – – –

Italian Larousse: My wife is Italian but my vocabulary is very rusty. This app is a convenient way for me to learn new words on the go until eventually I can become ‘piu esperti’ (that’s expert in Italian!).

Windfinder: Kite-surfing is one of my favourite ways to unwind on holiday. Windfinder allows me to find the perfect place and conditions to surf so I can make the most of my free time – or to stay in my hammock if there is no decent wind!

Better Leisure Centre: I am a keen tennis player and this app has made it so much easier for me to book courts at my leisure centre and stay on top of my game. It makes playing tennis at my club so easy.

Nike Running: My team here at Arqiva are all fitness fanatics – we have triathlon runners, cyclists and some even compete in “ironman” challenges. We are all motivated individuals – both when it comes to work and physical fitness –and the Nike Running app is very user friendly, allowing me to track my sessions and fitness progress.

Michelin Restaurants: We all know that good meals matter! This is a great app to find the right restaurant when you are in a place you don’t know – such as the very good pub just next to Emley Moor!

Shazam: It’s always exciting when you hear a great song and can find its name and download it, or when you can’t remember the name of an old one you are listening to! Shazam is a great app which means as long as I have my phone on me I can find the song’s details within 3 seconds.

Le Monde: I like to stay in touch with news stories in my home country, which are often quite surprising.

– – – – –

Thanks to Nicolas for his list of apps. I’ve just got back into running myself so I’m using the Nike Running app a lot at the moment. Also Shazam saves me from a lifetime of trying to type in lyrics to google – which are never right!

If you’d like to contribute your Top 7 Apps or if you are the PR representing someone you’d like to see featured, everything you need to know about participating is right here.

Author: "Sarah" Tags: "Applications, Arqiva, Nicolas Ott, top 7..."
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Date: Tuesday, 30 Sep 2014 07:20

Big Data Title

There has been a lot of hype about “big data” in recent years, but what does it mean for mobile network operators and how can they benefit from it?

Big data is a catch-all term that involves new methods and technologies for collecting, managing, and analysing in real-time the vast increase in data (now typically Petabytes, Exabytes and Zettabytes).

It has been a buzzword in the oil and financial sectors for several years, but it’s only more recently that network operators are starting to realise its potential. It is especially relevant to operators, who are looking for new ways to increase profits in an age of declining revenues – but as yet, less than half have the capability to fully exploit this relatively new technology.

Operators interested in Big Data

Operators are starting to adopt big data strategies

Billions of Gigabytes of data

According to Cisco’s 2014 Visual Networking Index report, mobile data will exceed that from wired devices by 2018, with 61% of data traffic. That’s a staggering growth – in fact even now mobile traffic exceeds that of the entire global Internet in 2000…and by 2016, the amount of data traversing the Internet is expected to reach 1 billion Gigabytes per month!

Likewise for mobile in an age of bandwidth-hungry smartphones, the amount of subscriber data that the networks generate is staggering – mobile data now makes up a huge proportion of global traffic, and it’s this information that can be used to profile customers, improve the networks, or even sold to third party companies.

It’s a sobering thought that your mobile network probably holds Gigabytes of data about you. Every time you make a call, surf the web or send a text, you’re generating useful information. Even by simply having your phone connected to the network, you are sending details about your location, speed, and countless other metrics that reveal perhaps more than you’d like.

The opportunities for big data in telecoms

Why is big data important to mobile operators? It promises to promote growth (and profitability) in several ways:

  • Optimisation (quality of service) though better network traffic analysis
  • Prevention of fraudulent behaviour (by analysis of call data records)
  • Tailored marketing campaigns to individual customers – by location and social networks
  • Development of new products and services based on customer behaviour analysis

Big data on its own is useless without effective analytical tools to interpret the data, with the aim of reducing costs and improving the customer experience. Ultimately, the declining revenues of voice and data services also means that the networks want to monetise their customer data in any way possible. Increasingly that means selling or sharing the data with third parties or government departments for marketing or planning purposes. For example, it might be incredibly useful to know what routes are used by crowds leaving a football match so that public transport can be co-ordinated effectively.

How is big data being used?

The mobile operator places special probes in its network that capture billions of daily records, which are then processed to extract useful metrics and (supposedly) anonymised where necessary to remove personal subscriber details. A network with millions of subscribers might generate 10s of billions of data records each day – these all need to be stored, processed, analysed and finally interpreted.

The data collected about you is used to generate statistics about the volume and rate of text messages and voice calls, Internet data volume (web, email and video), and metrics related to call setup times, mobile network usage by region and cell, and other valuable insights such as the top smartphones by data usage.

Customer privacy and security

After the various high profile revelations in the past few years regarding phone tapping and breaches in security, customers are even more concerned how companies use their sensitive personal data.

The mobile networks have unparalleled knowledge of our behaviour patterns (such as browsing habits, physical location, text message content and social network posts), that they are quite rightly wary about selling their big data for commercial gain.

Big data challenges

Telecoms companies have always handled terabytes of data but it’s the quantity, diversity and complexity of the data that has dramatically increased.

Quantity. 4G mobile networks are leading to a massive increase in the amount of data generated by customers, and social media and video sharing are adding to the problem. This means greater storage capacity is needed as well as better ways to organise and access the data.

Diversity. Smartphones, Internet-enabled devices and a new wave of sensors (everything from home monitoring to personal fitness devices) are all generating traffic on the networks in a variety of new data formats. The data has to be efficiently organised and structured before it can be analysed.

Complexity. Telcos need to handle data volumes to large and complex for humans to deal with, while maintaining the quality and integrity of the data.

It’s clear that big data holds great promise for mobile operators, and is an opportunity to gain valuable insights into their subscribers. This should promote a better understanding of their networks and an improved customer experience. It can also be a catalyst to increase revenue and drive innovation, which should lead to better quality networks and services.

Hopefully, it’s the customers that will ultimately benefit from big data.

Author: "Roland B" Tags: "Operators, Opinion, T-Mobile"
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Date: Monday, 29 Sep 2014 07:30

We’re back again with another Top 7 Apps submission and this time we have Peter Sells, Head of Mobile at Havas EHS. Here’s a bit more about Havas EHS;

Havas EHS, part of the Havas network, is a full service global agency, the sole global digital agency of record for Dove, Surf and more recently Dove Men+Care, with clients as diverse as Tesco Clubcard, E.ON and Volvo. Through our creative focus on innovation and digital initiative we have seen double digit growth in 2014, with new wins from, Viking Cruises and Heathrow plus new business from existing clients like TSB and Unilever, new awards for clients such as Pets at Home and easyjet and over 100 new hires across all disciplines. We are building on our data reputation with the launch of our new market-leading data and digital product tool in the UK and globally. Havas EHS is re-shaping its future at real pace, with real results.

Peter uses a iPhone 4 and a Nexus 5. Let’s take a look through his list…

– – – – –

img0327 - Peter SellsCitymapper – Love it love it love it. For two reasons 1) it does what it promises delightfully and effectively 2) the text accompanying the regular updates makes me laugh. Refreshing for an app to communicate a bit of personality don’t you think?

Hailo – you’re either an Uber dude or Hailo chap. I’m the latter. I prefer black cab chat I think. And Black cabs can use bus lanes – think about it people.

Spotify – has fundamentally changed my relationship with music and my attitude to ‘ownership’. Spotify premium is like an all-you-can-eat music buffet without the nausea.

Facetime/Skype – anything that allows me to see my kids when work doesn’t has got to be in this list right? Should be no. 1

Evernote – like a digital bag I can chuck bits and bobs in and read later on my convenience. Sorry at my convenience.

Google voice search – Accurate, faster than typing and you look like a berk. Just pretend you’re talking to someone.

Dark Sky – better than Michael Fish. I get a peculiar thrill when a notification tells me it’s going to rain in 15 mins for 45 mins – and it does. The only time I am confident about what will happen in the future. That and Spurs not making top 4 again this season.

– – – – –

Thanks to Peter for his list, I’m a big Evernote user so I know the value of that one. I think I should download Dark Sky as I have too often been caught without a coat or umbrella in a downpour!

If you’d like to contribute your Top 7 Apps or if you are the PR representing someone you’d like to see featured, everything you need to know about participating is right here.

Author: "Sarah" Tags: "Applications, Havas EHS, Peter Sells, to..."
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Date: Sunday, 28 Sep 2014 22:21

Microsoft cloud and mobile first smartphone strategy

Is the cloud and mobile-first strategy making any difference?

Microsoft has set its sights firmly on the smartphone market with the acquisition of Nokia. Since the failure of Windows Mobile, its previous smartphone platform, Microsoft desperately needed to unify their struggling mobile hardware and software business. And Nokia, who had been caught off guard by competitors such as Apple and Samsung, needed a much wider audience than it could achieve on its own.

When it comes to smartphone market share, things have not been encouraging for Microsoft – Windows Phone only accounts for a few percent of smartphone sales (even though Windows Phone has been around since 2010, it has yet to exceed much more than 5-6% percent share), a fact that makes Microsoft more determined than ever to attract users to the platform. While the situation might look bleak in the face of Android and iOS’s domination, Microsoft has a great opportunity to win customers by offering more diverse and attractive devices, as well as leveraging its strengths in the business / enterprise market.

But these days, smartphone hardware capabilities are become increasingly irrelevant (just take Apple, who is often criticised for playing catchup in terms of hardware and features, but consistently sells tens of millions of iPhones). What matters most is a superior ecosystem of cloud-based software and tightly integrated services that work in harmony. And its the relationships with hardware vendors and its own Nokia business that Microsoft can use to redraw the battleground.

What does cloud-first and mobile-first really mean?

Even before the Nokia deal closed, Microsoft was promoting “cloud and mobile first”, in contrast to the “devices and services” ethos espoused by previous CEO Steve Ballmer.

Satya Nadella Cloud

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, selling the merits of cross-platform cloud services and apps

When you look closely at what this really means, it is more of a refocus rather than a change of direction. Since Satya Nadella became the CEO early in 2014, the changes in Microsoft’s overall strategy have become clearer and despite the rhetoric, the opportunities for Microsoft to increase adoption of Windows Phone are there to be taken.

“Microsoft has always been about bringing those three constituents together with platforms and applications, and we now do that in a mobile-first, cloud-first world” – Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO

Windows was once aimed solely at traditional PCs, but is now positioned to address a much wider market that includes tablets, smartphones and even the Xbox. Microsoft sees all these devices as an opportunity to expand, reflected in their desire to create apps for iOS and Android. And it knows that a vibrant, diverse ecosystem is essential to tie users into Windows. Microsoft will never abandon the PC market, but it’s increasingly emphasising its cloud services and trying to attract customers to its Nokia brand.

Cloud first pays off

When you really think about “mobile first, cloud first” it’s easy to see how the cloud part fits in, because Microsoft can easily take its desktop products and rework them into modern cloud-based services. Consider Office – it has been a mainstay of the enterprise for two decades and has now been re-spun as the subscription-based Office 365.

When it comes to Office 365, the vision is pretty straightforward. It is to make sure that the 1 billion Office users and growing can have access to the high-fidelity Office experience on every device they love to use – Microsoft

There’s also OneDrive, which is baked into Windows 8 desktop and Windows Phone allowing users to store any type of documents in the cloud, and according to Microsoft there are now 250 million active OneDrive accounts with over 11 billion photos stored. Microsoft’s other software products such as Skype and Outlook are also incredibly popular, and could be killer apps in its cloud-based future.

And in the enterprise, Microsoft has positioned Intune and Azure Active Directory as cloud-based mobile device management and identity solutions that help IT departments to manage all the various cloud services used by employees, with clear separation between personal data and sensitive company information. Because it works with Windows, Android, and iOS, it’s a convenient and attractive to IT departments trying to cope with the complexity that ‘bring your own device’ entails.

As far as the cloud is concerned, Microsoft is promoting and investing heavily in the technologies, applications and services, and stands a good chance of making them more ubiquitous and seamlessly integrated into all its smartphone and desktop products. For example, using OneDrive as the default location for Word documents on iPad means that you can pick up where you left off on Office 365 without having to save and copy files manually.

More recently, in a sign that its cloud strategy is starting to pay off, Microsoft announced that commercial cloud revenue has doubled this year to $4.4 billion.

Nokia smartphones – the weakest link?

As much as Nadella has touted Windows, he’s made it clear that Microsoft is focusing on cross-platform strategies, highlighted by the Office for iPad release in March this year. Those apps (Word, Excel and Powerpoint) quickly rose to the top of the iPad charts – as a freemium model they are available free to view documents but require an Office 365 subscription to create documents. But by creating compelling products on rival platforms, Microsoft hopes to extend the reach of its most popular applications that users are already familiar with and use every day. With Office on iPad, Microsoft has got off to an encouraging start.

Office is available for rival smartphone and tablet platforms

Office on the iPad has been a success story for Microsoft

However, Microsoft still needs Windows Phone and the Nokia brand to succeed if it wants to remain relevant in the mobile space. And it’s in the more lucrative mid and high-tier segments that Microsoft remains a niche player, though at least in public says it’s happy with third place for now.

Why are Nokia Lumia sales less than inspiring? It’s certainly not hardware capabilities that are the problem; its flagship devices such as the Lumia 930 have been well received by the tech press and offer impressive specifications (for example high-end cameras, quad-core processors and full HD displays) that in many cases exceed what the iPhones offers.

There are also plenty of big name Windows Phone apps in the store now, but Microsoft needs to do more to attract developers who often ignore Windows Phone or that develop for iOS and Android first. Microsoft has improved its developer tools to make it simpler to create apps in Visual Studio, but it’s a chicken and egg situation: without the app store revenues developers won’t create apps, and without the apps consumers won’t buy a Nokia smartphone. There is still much more to do to address the problem; perhaps the ability to develop cross-platform apps in Visual Studio that work on all those devices would make it a no-brainer for software developers?

Finally, Microsoft has hinted it will drop the Nokia brand name at some point in the future. Perhaps that change needs to happen more quickly, as a single Windows brand would simplify its marketing message. Moreover, a truly common OS (Windows 9) on the desktop and Windows Phone would allow developers to create a single application that works on every device. If Microsoft does consolidate Windows, it may help to gain smartphone share and become a legitimate rival for Android and iOS.

Microsoft’s smartphone business looks promising and for now seems to be taking the right approach with its cloud and mobile-centric strategy. It remains to be seen how effective this will be, and whether it translates into higher sales for its Nokia smartphones and Surface tablets.

You can read more about Apple’s Enterprise strategy in our related post.

Author: "Roland B" Tags: "Devices, News, Services, cloud, Microsof..."
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Date: Friday, 26 Sep 2014 07:30

I’m delighted to have a Top 7 Apps submission from Suresh Batchu, co-founder, CTO, and SVP of Engineering, MobileIron. Here’s a little bit more about what the company does:

MobileIron provides the foundation for companies around the world to transform into Mobile First organisations. For more information, please visit www.mobileiron.com.

Suresh currently uses an iPhone as his primary phone and Nokia (Lumia 920) Windows Phone as secondary. Suresh used to have Android Phone before and he keeps rotating phones every year to keep up with all the operating systems.

Let’s crack on with Suresh’s list:

– – – – –

FlipBoard: It has become a ritual for me to read news after work.

MobileDay: Our VP Marketing introduced me to this and it makes dialling way easier.

WhatsApp: Recently we have become WhatsApp family and it’s great with close friends too.

LinkedIn: They have added some new features that are great.

Google Maps: I am very bad at directions… and our VP Biz Dev says that I am a bad driver too :)

YouTube: My kids don’t know what a TV is – they only know YouTube and Netflix.

Flickr: They enabled auto update and now all my family pictures are on Flickr. 1 TB free… no one can beat that yet.

– – – – –

Thanks to Suresh for his list of apps, there’s a good mix here with a lot of family themed time too.

If you’d like to contribute your Top 7 Apps or if you are the PR representing someone you’d like to see featured, everything you need to know about participating is right here.

Author: "Sarah" Tags: "Applications, mobileiron, Suresh Batchu,..."
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Date: Wednesday, 24 Sep 2014 07:30

I’m delighted to have received an in-depth Top 7 Apps submission from Jide Sobo, Head of Mobile at leading Media Agency MEC. Here’s a quick overview of MEC:

We’re a top 5 media planning and buying agency that’s genuinely excited about today’s dynamic media landscape. Today we offer over 65 diversified services beyond our core media planning and buying services: from innovative broadcast sponsorships to social media insight, mobile advertising, SEO and data and analytics.

Our clients expect great delivery, great prices and great plans, but MEC delivers so much more through a team of genuinely inquisitive well motivated people who are dedicated to finding inspiring solutions to deliver exceptional results.

Jide uses the iPhone 5S, so let’s take a look through this list of Top 7 apps…

– – – – –

Dark Sky: Incredibly accurate 1 hour precipitation forecast. As I cycle to work, this is invaluable for timing when I leave, and what I wear.

Score Cloud Express – creates sheet music from any audio, even humming. I’m learning the piano at the moment, and this is a great way of getting snippets of popular songs for me to practice

Hyperlapse – A new favourite! It creates incredible time lapse videos from normal footage shot on the iPhone. Great fun to use, and I’m sure some people will do really incredible things with it.

Sugarsync – A cloud based file back up system, this allows me to automatically back up all of the files on my various laptops, and then be able to access them from my phone. It’s great for those unexpected moments, when you want to show somebody a document that you had no idea that you needed.

Day One – A really simple journaling app that I use to keep a record of all of the mini restaurant reviews that I write

Touchnote – for sending real life postcards home from holidays. Sometimes it’s nice to send a proper postcard, rather than an impersonal Facebook update.

Social apps – a big cheat here, but I’ve got to mention Facebook & Twitter as I spend so much time using them

– – – – –

Thanks to Jide for his list, I’m a big fan of Sugarsync and you can’t help but be on Facebook and Twitter can you?

If you’d like to contribute your Top 7 Apps or if you are the PR representing someone you’d like to see featured, everything you need to know about participating is right here.

Author: "Sarah" Tags: "Applications, Jide Sobo, MEC, top 7 apps"
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Date: Monday, 22 Sep 2014 21:26

IMG_0009

I made a classic mistake on Friday night when I was sorting out the new iPhones for myself and my wife.

Two iPhone 6 devices arrived on Friday morning and then late into the evening I decided to get them setup.

I backed up my wife’s iPhone 5S and then my own iPhone 5S.

And then I promptly erased my wife’s iPhone 5S, ready for the phone to be recycled.

I fired up her new iPhone 6 and went through the restore process.

Everything was fine during the set-up process until the time came to perform the actual restore. That failed. I tried about 10 times.

The error I got was invariably the same:

Lost Network Connection

Your iPhone could not be restored because you are no longer connected to the Internet.

This, sadly, is blatantly not true, given I’ve got a highly reliable BT Infinity 2 connection here and the rest of my devices are all performing perfectly fine. I tried multiple hotspots. I even used my MacBook to masquerade as a private hotspot. Nada. Now and again I’d see a message on the phone saying “Two hours remaining” or “40 minutes remaining”, indicating the restore was working…

And then the same error message would appear again.

Eventually my wife went to bed. Without her phone. And that’s saying something. It’s almost unnatural to go to bed nowadays without your phone ‘working’.

I eventually decided to setup her iPhone 6 as a new device.

Which was a total flipping arse for her. And then for me, when my iPhone 6 wouldn’t restore my backups — it was suffering from exactly the same symptoms.

I reasoned that the error must be due to the sheer number of people hammering Apple’s iCloud servers on Friday. I used the same reason to explain the continual error messages across the weekend. Backup works fine. Restore seems to be flawed.

And now I’ve got a problem: Worry. I’m not accustomed to Apple stuff not working.

My worry is that when I lose my iPhone, the restore still won’t work.

What is the flipping point of paying for a 200gb iCloud account when the flipping thing doesn’t work?

I’ve been wondering whether to contact Apple and try and get some support. But I am not holding out much hope. I don’t know if I can be bothered.

It’s been seriously inconvenient to lose all the basic settings I thought I’d be able to restore in a few minutes automatically.

Have you come across a similar situation? Did your iPhone restore process work without a hitch? Any suggestions?

Both iPhone 6s are setup and working now — it did take me most of Saturday night to get my new 6 back into operational mode with all the various passwords and services setup again. So I don’t have an immediate need to restore — but I do want to know that when I need it, it will actually work!

Rather disappointing. If you’ve any suggestions, I’m keen to hear them!

Author: "Ewan" Tags: "Devices, News, backup, error, icloud, iP..."
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Date: Monday, 22 Sep 2014 14:44

shutterstock_75943606

Mobile TV and video were once considered “killer apps” that would entice subscribers to use more data, helping the networks increase ARPU and hold onto customers in an increasingly cutthroat market.

Video was perhaps thought of as a panacea that would prevent operators becoming merely bit-pipes; but in reality, this is the situation they face today.

A decade ago during the early days of 3G, live TV and video was touted as a differentiator that simply wasn’t possible on 2G, and the operators even created in-house solutions to stream live video. Unfortunately, the user experience tended to be poor due to limited bandwidth, underpowered devices and badly implemented user interfaces.

And unlike today’s scenario where most online video is simply consumed via the Internet, back then every operator was scrambling to offer an in-house portal stuffed full of video downloads and live TV channels. It was certainly ambitious, but failed to catch on initially.

But with today’s high-speed 4G networks and big screen smartphones, has mobile TV and video lived up to the hype?

We take a brief look at some recent statistics with a special focus on emerging markets.

Demand for Mobile Video

Mobile video includes popular websites such as YouTube, Hulu and BBC iPlayer, as well as dedicated subscription-based apps such as Amazon Prime and Netflix. Spurred on by the rise of more powerful smartphones and tablets, mobile video consumption worldwide is growing phenomenally.

According to Cisco’s 5-year forecast, mobile data traffic grew 81% in 2013 of which 53% was video, and is predicted to rise to over two-thirds of all mobile data traffic by 2018.

Global Mobile Data by Application

Video constitutes a significant percentage of mobile data traffic

 

And it’s mainly Emerging Markets that are helping to fuel this rise in video usage. In many cases, mobile is leapfrogging fixed line technologies entirely, with Internet use nearly on a par with fixed line. For example, Africa and the Middle East have a comparatively low Internet penetration at 21.3% and 44.9% respectively, but are embracing mobile for reasons of convenience and ease of deployment.

It is no surprise then that mobile video is becoming increasingly popular as access to the Internet, network speeds and smartphone penetration rises. These factors are driving the uptake of data services in general and making it easier for consumers to access Video On Demand, live TV and music streaming.

Annual Mobile Data Growth by Region

Emerging markets have more room for growth in mobile data

 

What is Driving Video Usage?

As 4G networks are deployed, mobile network speeds are increasing. Globally, the average mobile downlink speed in 2013 was 1,387 kbps, up from 526 kbps in 2012.

In the Middle East and Africa, the average downlink mobile network speed is predicted to rise from 529 kbps in 2013 to around 900 kbps in 2018. Good quality video eats up bandwidth, and with nearly 1 Mbps it’s finally becoming possible to stream higher resolution content that looks good on the small screen.

Studies have shown that subscribers on 3G networks in Nigeria tend to consume more music and video downloads than those on 2G (17% versus 10%). In other words, faster networks enable users to download video content more quickly, and receive higher quality and more reliable streams.

Of course, better quality video is what it’s all about for consumers, many of whom still prefer to use a tablet at home on WiFi rather than watch TV on a smartphone.

Smartphone Users Consume More Video

According to Cisco’s Visual Networking Index, the average smartphone generates as much data traffic as 49 basic feature phones, and a tablet device the equivalent to 127 feature phones. But despite the relatively low penetration of smartphones in emerging markets (31% in Argentina and 26% in Brazil) compared with mature markets (UK, USA and the UAE each have much more than 50% smartphone adoption), the latest smartphones with high-definition playback have helped encourage higher data usage for mobile video.

Smartphone Penetration

Smartphone penetration is relatively low in emerging markets. Despite this, mobile video and TV is a popular service

 

In fact in 2013, 79% of smartphone users in Brazil watched video clips of some kind, 28% of these at least once per day. This compares favourably to the UK where only 53% watch any kind of mobile video clips. In Thailand, the figure is even higher with 53% of users watching mobile video on a daily basis.

Mobile video views in emerging markets tends to be higher than mature ones

Mobile video views in emerging markets tends to be higher than mature ones

 

The Importance of Content and Quality of Experience

Most people are receptive to the idea of mobile TV and video, but only if the right price plan and content can be delivered; users are very sensitive to the overall quality of experience and picture quality, which need to be managed carefully to avoid dissatisfaction. And after all, nobody wants to pay for poor quality video, and nobody wants to pay per MB to watch a 2-hour movie!

Content providers must also cater to local tastes. In the UK, this might be a service offering the latest Hollywood films as an all-you-can-eat subscription service on every device (TV, tablet and mobile), but in India for example, the latest Bollywood movies would be a more attractive service.

Technical Challenges For Mobile Video

Many of the challenges in delivering great quality mobile video in mature markets also applies to emerging markets. But the technical issues may be more severe due to various environmental, geographical and technological factors. Because network speeds can vary so dramatically, video optimisation techniques such as bit-rate adaptation and media transcoding can be used to adapt the content on the fly to match the network speed. This helps to minimise disconnections and pauses during playback, and can determine the correct video bit-rate (in other words, the quality) to stream based on the network conditions.

Video optimisation then is essential to limit the amount of data traffic whilst balancing the overall user experience.

More powerful smartphones

Mobile device capabilities play a huge role in the end user experience i.e. a combination of multimedia playback formats, streaming delivery protocols, screen resolution, and features such as automatic bookmarking, bit-rate adaptation, quality of experience monitoring, and the level of interactivity that can be offered.

Due to the low levels of smartphone adoption in Emerging Markets, the baseline mobile video experience is often quite poor. Most feature phones support only basic video streaming using the older MPEG-4 or H.263 formats. In contrast, many of today’s top-tier smartphones can play full HD resolution video in H.264 format, which provides superior picture quality, bandwidth efficiency and error resilience.

So, is Mobile Video still a Killer App?

There is no doubt that mobile TV is becoming increasingly popular, whether it’s for on-demand content (downloaded and viewed) or live TV. We have reached a point where smartphones can easily handle full HD video, and streaming over the Internet and 4G mobile networks can be achieved at an acceptably high quality.

In future, the most successful mobile video and TV services will be those that enable you to watch on every device, wherever you are and at a low fixed price that doesn’t increase with data usage. And it’s up to the mobile operators to provide high-speed and reliable networks that allow us to use our favourite video services unhindered by data plans and bandwidth throttling.

Mobile TV and video is finally coming of age, but there is still a long way to go…

Author: "Roland B" Tags: "News, Opinion, Mobile TV, mpeg, Operator..."
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Date: Monday, 22 Sep 2014 07:58

Visitor_registration_on_the_iPad_·_Envoy

 

I really don’t have any time for the standard rubbish registration systems at receptions.

I recognise the importance and the need for such a process. I’d just like it to be as elegant as possible.

Enter Envoy. I really like the look of this. Check the service out at signwithenvoy.com.

Author: "Ewan" Tags: "Devices, Services, App, envoy, reception..."
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Date: Friday, 19 Sep 2014 07:22

We are back with another Top 7 Apps submission and this time it is from Adam Chapman, Director of Marketing at ReadSoft. Here’s a quick overview about the company:

ReadSoft is a leading global provider of software solutions for document process automation  in the cloud or on premise. ReadSoft is by far the world’s number one choice for invoice processing automation, especially into business systems. ReadSoft’s software enables companies to automate document processes such as accounts payable processing, and mailroom automation. Since the start in 1991, ReadSoft has grown to a worldwide group with operations in 17 countries on six continents and a network of local and global partners.

Adam uses the Samsung Galaxy S3 (rooted and using the Cyanogenmod). Let’s take a look through his Top 7 apps list…

– – – – –

LinkedInMaybe an obvious choice, but the app is great for on the move networking.

Google KeepGreat for taking notes whenever and wherever inspiration strikes you!

TripAdvisorFor when you need a half-decent (and still within budget) hotel or a good restaurant for clients.

National Rail (or RealtimeTrains website): Because we all have to travel by train sooner or later and at least this way I can see how late I’m likely to be!

TubeAssistantWhen you’re in London, knowing where to go and even being shown the best carriage and doors to be closest to for the exit minimises the trauma of being on the tube.

WorldMateThe simplicity of being able to just send flight booking emails to a central email address and seeing all the details, along with times, gate changes and alerts appear in real time on my phone is awesome – reduces airport hassles no end and keeps together hotel and taxi bookings the other end.

Business Calendar ProThe only calendar app worth using!  Very useful homescreen widgets to see the day’s agenda at a glance.

– – – – –

Thanks to Adam for his list of apps. Hadn’t heard of Tube Assistant so that’s being added to my apps!

If you’d like to contribute your Top 7 Apps or if you are the PR representing someone you’d like to see featured, everything you need to know about participating is right here.

Author: "Sarah" Tags: "Applications, Adam Chapman, Readsoft, to..."
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Date: Wednesday, 17 Sep 2014 23:45

I came across this rather interesting release from the team at ParcelHero detailing one of those critical issues that we don’t tend to consider much at all, especially when we’re busy obsessing over the precise arrival of our gorgeous new device.

If you think about the average delivery guy making, let’s say, 50 deliveries a day on a normal busy day, I wonder how they manage an additional n deliveries that day? There’s obviously a bit of notice that this ‘launch’ day is coming.

And how many naughty couriers will be doing that severely irritating ‘ghost delivery’ thing? You know when you discover a ‘missed you’ card by the door, yet no one rung the doorbell or knocked on the door? I’m convinced some couriers literally can’t be bothered and sprint toward my letter box, slip in the card quietly and then run really fast before I can stop to catch them.

Anyway. Conspiracy theories aside, have a read what the team from ParcelHero have to say… and remember this post when you’re effing and blinding about not getting your iPhone in your hand tomorrow at 8am:

Prepare for The iPhone 6 Effect on September 19, warns ParcelHero

What will happen to parcel deliveries on September 19 – as the launch of the new iPhone 6 creates thousands of extras deliveries – and how many customers will receive their new phones on launch day?

With iPhone 6 mania reaching a peak, international courier ParcelHero says retailers and parcel delivery companies are bracing themselves for a the iPhone 6 Effect, as customers clamour to receive their new phones on launch day.

ParcelHero’s David Jinks MILT says: ‘As we learned from the launch of the iPhone 5 back in September 2012, and various incarnations of the iPad, new Apple product launches create intense activity in the parcel delivery industry.’

David adds: ‘Let’s not forget that, as well as the devices being shipped through carefully planned channels by Apple, Carphone Warehouse, John Lewis etc, the online shopping platform eBay currently lists over 66,000 results for iPhone 6, many promising launch day delivery. That’s a lot of private individuals also looking to sell (or sell-on!) their new iPhones as well.’

Customers who have already ordered their new phone – particularly the larger screen iPhone 6 Plus – could well experience delays receiving their phones at home as Apple struggles to supply enough phones into the UK. And if you are looking to order online now, Apple and all major suppliers have announced that the new iPhone 6 Plus is a complete sell out – there’s currently at least a three to four week delay. For the standard iPhone 6, there’s also already a 7-10 working days delivery window.

Both iPhone 6 versions will also be available in stores from 8am of course, but with one eBay trader selling his Apple store launch day reservation for over £250 (that’s not including the cost of the phone itself!), optimistic shoppers are facing a long queue.

David cautions: ‘Because ParcelHero only partners with leading delivery companies such as DHL and UPS, who have been working for some time with their retail customer to ensure they meet demand, ParcelHero deliveries on unlikely to be impacted by the iPhone 6 Effect. That’s not the case for every parcel courier company or delivery company however. If you want to send a parcel around the 19th you are best to choose a quality courier or carrier.’

Author: "Ewan" Tags: "Opinion, courier, delivery, iphone 6, la..."
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Date: Wednesday, 17 Sep 2014 23:22

I’m delighted to have received an in-depth Top 7 Apps submission from Paul Prendergast, CEO at Inhance Technology. Here’s a quick overview from their website:

Inhance Technology builds white label mobile security and service programmes for leading companies working in wireless retail, insurance and warranty, consumer electronics, trade-In, and affinity. Founded in Ireland in 2005, with sales and marketing hubs in the UK, the USA and China, it helps businesses become more profitable by ensuring their customers’ devices and content are secure, optimised for use, and when the time comes, ready for trade-in.

Paul uses the Samsung Galaxy S5 so let’s take a look through his Top 7 apps list…

– – – – –

Yelp: When looking for a good pub or restaurant at the last minute in a new city, I like to use Yelp. Personally I find a lot of online review apps and websites need to be taken with a grain of salt these days. However for the most part I like to think Yelp is a reliable source of information. Like most people, I’m usually swayed by the number of positive reviews an establishment gets. Of course when it comes to it, it usually comes down to my own gut instinct.

Quip: Quip combines documents and messages into a single thread of updates. It’s useful when I’m on the move, because it allows me to make edits to the same version of a document that my team are working. I really like the collaborative nature of Quip and the simplicity of its design – it makes a big difference when you’re working with people in different countries and timezones. On the whole, I think it helps our global team work more efficiently.

Spotify: Instant access to countless different artists is the obvious draw for me. If I’m honest, I haven’t bought any music since I signed up over a year ago. I think the big selling point for Spotify is the offline music feature, which doesn’t eat up all of my data. However, I also like the intuitive way it helps me discover new music based on my current interests. I think it’s going to be interesting to see what the market throws up in the way of competition in the future.

Todoist: Todoist is a simple ‘To Do’ app that gives a high level overview of my tasks for the day ahead. What I like about Todist is that it gives me the information I want straight away, and then gets out of the way. Often I think a lot of these apps can focus too heavily on the UI or can be too constraining in how they want the user to use their product. I also use Google reminders throughout the day.

Feedly: Feedly is my own personal news feed. I like don’t like wasting time jumping from one webite to another to find the news I want. This RSS aggregator allows me to read all of my favourite business, tech and food articles, all in one place. Again it has a simple but clever design. I read the news I want before getting on with the day ahead.

Google Maps: I’m old enough to remember using oversized city maps (actually I’m still happy to use them from time to time). However Google Maps really makes travelling so much easier. I’ve debated with friends on the merits and drawbacks of using it on holiday – does it really take the fun out of exploring a new city? I say no … Get off the plane. Type in your hotel destination. Tap the quickest route to get there. Drop those heavy bags. Then let the real exploring happen.

Inhance Mobile: I’m probabaly biased here but I do I love the way this keeps my device and the content on it safe. It’s a white label app used by companies including Virgin Mobile, The Carphone Warehouse, Dixons, and Best Buy in the States. I think our add-on features such as CTX (quickly transfers mobile content between devices) and Inhance Trade-In (quickly determines an accurate valuation for used devices) helps Inhance Mobile stand out from the crowd.

– – – – –

Thanks to Paul for his list and I have to agree about Spotify, interesting to see what competition it faces in the years ahead.

If you’d like to contribute your Top 7 Apps or if you are the PR representing someone you’d like to see featured, everything you need to know about participating is right here.

Author: "Sarah" Tags: "Applications, Inhance Technology, Paul P..."
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