Friday, 27 September 2013

Amazon Look To Burn The Competition

With a lot of focus recently towards Apple and its new iPhone, we have decided to turn our attention to Amazon and what they have to offer – The new Kindle HDX.

We live in a very tablet-centric society at the moment and Amazon has upped their ante with regards to the Fire tablet we all know and love. They have introduced two new models, the 7-inch and the 8.9-inch and both come with a brand new, high-resolution screen that change their brightness in accordance to the ambient light.

That’s not all either, both come with a Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor at 2.2GHZ (better than a lot of laptops) and are 34 per cent lighter than their predecessors. Arguably the most successful Android tablets on the market, these powerhouses cram in both power and pixels, which is good for those of you who want to continue using the Kindle for your reading hobby.  In fact, they are also packed with a special reading mode to allow you to read on your new tablet for up to 17 hours. That’s a lot of reading!

The 8.9 inch Kindle HDX comes with a rear-facing camera too and has been installed with a small photo editing app, so you can tweak the brightness and contrast of your favourite snaps. Amazon has paid attention to its previous success with their Kindle’s though and the design has near enough stayed the same. The soft rubbery back still remains as does a very similar interface, so if you have had a previous model, you’ll fly round this one too.

One of the Kindle HDX’s key features that has been praised as one of its major selling points though is their ‘May Day Button’. This allows 24-7, 365-days-a-year technical support should you need it and also utilises a one-way video chat. Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, has also said that they are aiming to respond to requests in 15 seconds or less. Impressive!

If you want one though, you will have to wait just that little bit longer. The 7-inch model is available for pre-order but will not be shipped until October 18th. The 8.9-inch; November 14th.

What also might be good to know is the 7-inch will cost around £200 and the 8.9 inch will be under £350.

Friday, 20 September 2013

7 Top Tips For iOS7

So you've just installed the shiny new iOS7 but apart from the new look you're not sure what else it does. Or even worse you were used to the way something worked and now it's different. Well after answering a few questions (that were often the same) about it from our clients over the last day or so we decided to put a few top tips together.

1. New slide up/down panels
By sliding your finger down from the top of the screen the notification centre is opened. As well as just showing old (misssed) notifications this now includes the date, current weather, calendar, reminders, and stocks. This can now be done from the lock screen though can be disabled in settings.

Another new panel has also been added by swiping your finger up from the bottom of the screen too. This is called command centre and includes things you quickly want to change or specific Apps to quick launch. This includes things like flight mode, wireless on/off, brightness, volume, and timer, calculator, and some others.

2. Searching
In previous version of iOS you had a specific search screen to the left of the home screen. This is no longer there on iOS7 so how do you search? From any of the home screens if you swipe your finger down from the middle of the screen then the search box will appear at the top of the screen. Simple when you know how!

3. Flashlight Addition
Ever found yourself fumbling around in the dark and wishing you had a torch with you. Well with iOS7 you can use your phone as one! From the new command centre you can switch on the flashlight with a single press and use your phone's camera flash as a torch.

4. Email Changes/Improvements
If you're used to going to your inbox and swiping right across the message previous to delete that obvious spam message you may get a shock. It doesn't do anything now! But don't worry, if you swipe right to left instead of left to right then you can delete (trash) instantly or even reply, forward etc too using the more button.

Another massive improvement that has always been missing is the ability to "mark all". This is especially useful for people who have their email setup where they are seeing the same messages on their phone as their computer but these are showing as unread on the phone. Now you can just click "edit" and then use the new mark all as read function.

5. Closing running programs
Previously you could close down Apps that were running in the background by double clicking the home button and then holding your finger on the App icon and select delete. With iOS7 the double home button click is the same but then it shows a card of the App and the icons below. Now matter how long you keep your finger pressed the delete button won't appear! You now simply swipe the App card upwards off the screen and it's closed.

6. Blocking numbers
This will be a lifesaver for those of you that are always getting spam PPI claim phone calls! If you go into recent calls and click on the info icon then at the bottom of that screen you can "block this caller". This then blocks calls, messages, or FaceTime from that number/contact.

7. Photo Viewing
As well as the existing albums structure then if you use the "photos" tab then you can view your photo's by collections and moments. This cleverly splits up your photo's into headings of the place and times photo's were taken. So if you were on holiday for a week in Cornwall it would create a heading for this and have all your holiday photo's in there. This makes looking for that specific photo from an event so much easier than going through your whole camera roll!

We hope that these tips all help you get along with your fresh install of iOS7 and please feel free to add tips of your own in the comments section below.

How Much For That App?

Whilst browsing through recent reviews about the new iPhone and the release of the iOS 7 software, we came across an interesting infographic about apps.

The average price of an iPhone app is around $0.19 (12 pence) so we were surprised to see some of the pricey apps available on the App Store and thought they were worth a mention.

Top of the pile is VIP Black. This is the world’s first premium lifestyle app and is for those people that have an income above £1 million, which they must show proof of.  So, that rules a lot of us out even if we wanted to see what this app was about. Although, another thing that would rule many of us out is the price tag … $999.99 (£623). This is the highest amount of money that app developers can charge for an app on the App Store.

Another top-priced app is Agro, a functional App whose most common audience is Farmers. Tested by large organisations, this app is useful for storing client details pertaining to different chemicals, pests and crops. This app, along with VIP Black is optimised for the new iPhone 5, which is handy!

A little lower down the app chain is Preebs. This has been specially crafted to assist commuters on their daily drives or commutes. It makes full use of billboards during their journey by providing various types of outdoor advertising. Preebs, isn’t cheap either though, and will set you back nearly £500.

Next up is a football game, and no, it’s not made with gold footballers – instead it comes with high resolution graphics and animations that give you the ultimate playing experience and is named Barcelona vs Madrid. We would like to think that the game includes a few more teams than these two though. For this app, you can look to pay $349.99, or £220 for those in the UK, a lot dearer than FIFA.

So, these are little more expensive than Angry Birds, even if we think we would have more fun on Angry Birds. For those of you interested in these apps you will have to pay a hefty sum - they will cost you more than buying an iPhone outright. Pricey!

Friday, 13 September 2013

Apple's Double iPhone Day

Apple has announced not one, but two new additions to their already existing collection of technology.

September 10th saw Apple shed some light on its latest releases, with the iPhone 5S and the iPhone 5C being the main focus. The delivery date for the new iPhone 5S is September 20th, so we don’t have to wait too long to see it first hand, but we will have to wait a little longer for the iPhone 5C.

The iPhone 5C is available for pre-order though, and you can choose from a number of different colours too, which include Blue, Green, Yellow, Pink and White. There is not much difference from the iPhone 5 but you can expect to see improved software (iOS7), better FaceTime and much more support for your networks.

The iPhone 5S is also armed with the iOS7 software which was touched on during the media event earlier in the week. Better apps, a smoother user experience and a new look are all key features of the new iOS7 software and will accompany both new Apple additions.

If you are due an upgrade, this will be the first time you will have the choice of two iPhones, but if you’re looking to find which one is best, the answer is difficult. Both models are very similar but have their differences, which makes the decision all the more easier. If you are looking for an app power model and prefer more security features, the iPhone 5S is the choice for you, but if you love the iPhone but don’t like the huge price you have to pay for them, the 5C might be the better option for you. Truth is, both are pretty good so you won’t go far wrong with either.

The iPhone 5S has twice the processor performance which makes it the number one choice for those who search for smoother gaming and usage, although the apps that will actually use this performance won’t be in the App Store for some time yet.

The iPhone 5C is basically the iPhone 5 with better choice of casing and for a lower price. So, to reiterate … it is entirely your choice.  All we know, is we look forward to seeing them up closer when they are finally released.

A Flying Car We Can Buy

This is not something we normally talk about, but who are we to ignore an innovative piece of technology worth mentioning. In this case, it’s a flying car!

We’re not talking about a Harry Potter style vehicle or something out of the Jetsons, instead we are talking about the Terrafugia Vision.

This new vehicle is very close to becoming available to the general public but it has a few regulations and a couple of other hurdles away from being on the market for us to buy. We say us, but it will be available for those that are willing to shell out a mere $279,000. Yes, dollars! It won’t be available to us Brits for some time.

So what is the Terrafugia Vision? Well, like the title suggests, it’s a flying car. It has a cruising speed of 100 miles per hour in the air and its miles per gallon are estimated at around 35 when driving it on the road. This plane-cum-car can travel up to 410 miles, with a reserve tank that will give you an extra 30 minutes. So, it might not be ideal to go on long journeys but you can still get from A to B quite conveniently.

This new technological advance has been in progress since 2006 and has always been the dream of Carl Deitrich since he graduated from University with a Ph.D.

The only problem this great design might face, which is the same with a number of other light aircraft or little airplanes, is that when the weather is a bit too windy or wet, the car-plane might suffer from some problems. If the weather changes whilst in flight, you will be pretty much stuck, but don’t let that put you off, this is still a great bit of technology.

Although, if you are interested in having a Terrafugia Vision, you might need to consider your finances. The price tag of $279,000 means that people that are looking for a sports car may be interested, for us normal folk… not so much!

Friday, 6 September 2013

The Winners and Losers of Technology

We are often talking about new technology that is due to be released or a review of technology that has already hit the streets, but very rarely do we talk about what good or bad has come from it.

So, that is exactly what we are going to do. We will mention some winning technology and some, well, losers.

Let’s start with the winners:

•    Apple iPad – I’m sure many people already had this in their head’s when thinking about innovative technology that is a winner, but the Apple iPad has completely reshaped the use of computer technology. The ability to move with a computer more freely than a laptop, having your apps at your fingertips wherever you go and a great design means that the iPad is featured as one of the technology wins of our past time.

•    Nokia and the Windows Phone – Maybe not as influential as the iPad, but … and it’s a big but, without the gamble on its Windows Phone Nokia could quite have well been dead and buried, so for that, it’s a win in our eyes. This gamble has paid off, especially with the decline of Blackberry.

Talking of Blackberry, let’s turn to a couple of losers within the technology world:

•    Blackberry Playbook – Blackberry in general is on the decline like we mentioned, but the Playbook didn’t help matters. The Playbook was extremely rushed to get it onto the market and it didn’t turn out to be all we expected. In fact, it didn’t even have any email or calendar apps … not very convenient for a tablet. It didn’t help that it was outshone by the iPad.

•    3G – European operators have spent billions on their 3G licenses (£22.5 billion in the UK) and the idea at first was gold dust, but in reality, many of us still don’t get 3G today. So for that reason, it is a loser.
So, here we have a couple of examples for the winners and losers of technology in recent years. There is a whole bunch more but we might save that for another time when some new technology hits the street, like the Apple iWatch we mentioned last week.