Category Archives: ipad

iPad Mini is almost the ideal tablet

Apple’s senior vice-president of marketing one-hands the iPad Mini.

I’ve been using the iPad Mini for the past few days, and boy was Steve Jobs wrong. The Apple co-founder, before his passing, derided the sort of smaller tablets being pumped out by competitors two years ago as inferior and undesirable. Here’s what he said:

One naturally thinks that a seven-inch screen would offer 70% of the benefits of a 10-inch screen. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. The screen measurements are diagonal, so that a seven-inch screen is only 45% as large as iPad’s 10-inch screen. You heard me right; just 45% as large.

If you take an iPad and hold it upright in portrait view and draw an imaginary horizontal line halfway down the screen, the screens on the seven-inch tablets are a bit smaller than the bottom half of the iPad display. This size isn’t sufficient to create great tablet apps in our opinion. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on November 7, 2012 in apple, ipad


Tablets expected to take schools by storm

With the iPad Mini hitting stores today, the tablet wars are heating up. As the technology gets better and cheaper and the competition between manufacturers gets even more fierce, tablets are going to start popping up everywhere, even more so than they already have.

A little while ago, a friend of mine who’s taking some night courses asked me if he should get a laptop or a tablet for taking notes. I instinctively recommended an ultrabook, but he instead went with with a tablet. After thinking about it, he was convinced that it served his course purposes and doubled as a nice entertainment device.

I’d never really considered the classroom as a place where tablets could replace traditional computers, so I talked to some educators and experts about it. With tablet fever gripping the general public, I wanted to know if this was a growing trend among students or if my friend was just crazy.

According to educators, students still prefer to use laptops for taking notes in class, but the tide will shift soon, possibly even this year. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on November 2, 2012 in apple, education, Google, ipad


10 technologies I’m thankful for

What’s more useful: Google’s Street View or Apple’s Flyover?

It’s Canadian Thanksgiving, which means that many of us here in the Great White North have spent the weekend in food-induced comas. In between bouts of overeating, some of us may also have taken the holiday to heart and reflected on the things we’re grateful for. Since technology is the operative theme in these parts, I spent the weekend thinking about the various gadgets, software and tech-related things that I’m thankful for.

What follows is a top 10 list of technologies - inventions that have made my life better, easier or more productive. I tried not to include the big, obvious things, like the internet, but rather focused on the specifics that have enhanced my particular slice of the world.

10. Amazon: Whenever possible, I buy my stuff on Amazon, mostly because it’s the epitome of how a business should operate: low prices, great service. I also dig the fact that the company is a purposeful disruptor, even this far into its existence. Its ongoing fight with publishers to lower the price of books while at the same time giving authors the power to disintermediate those same publishers makes it an easy company to root for, both as a consumer and as a writer.

9: Xbox 360: I play most of my games on the Xbox 360, mostly because I like its controller better than the PlayStation 3. If measured by the number of hours of pure joy delivered, no other machine or technology even comes close. Read the rest of this entry »


Web getting fatter as data plans getting slimmer

Here’s a funny joke you can tell at the next party you’re at (warning: it’ll only get laughs if you happen to be partying with a bunch of nerds): how are Americans like websites? Answer: they’re both getting fatter.

Is it a website or a wireless provider?

It’s true. The obesity epidemic - as it pertains to people’s actual waist sizes - is well documented. The Web’s bloat, however, not so much.

Back in December, the HTTP Archive reported that the average website size had grown to just about one megabyte in size. That’s more than triple the size of three years ago, when the average was about 300 kilobytes. This growth is pretty standard - websites averaged only about 14 KB way back in 1995 - but things are about to get a whole lot worse as Apple seeks to again reshape the Web with its high-definition Retina displays.

One estimate figures that websites will climb to about 5 MB as a result. As some observers have noted, that’s going to have dire repercussions on internet users - especially here in Canada, where usage limits are low.

Web traffic is still the third biggest use of the internet, making up about 16%, according to Sandvine. That’s down from about 38% in 2009, with online video through the likes of Netflix coming on strong in that time. Video consumption isn’t likely to go down any time soon, which means the fatter web is going to contribute to larger usage overall.

It’s not as big of a problem with home wired networks and their bigger caps, but it is in wireless. Let’s do the math. If $17 gets you 250 MB of data for your iPad per month, that’s about 50 web page views per month or 1.6 each day. And that’s only if you view websites, never mind YouTube videos or app downloads. It’s hard to say how many websites the average person visits, but not too many keep it to less than two a day.

Carriers in both Canada and the United States have been ratcheting down the amount of data users get in exchange for faster LTE speeds. Now, 100 MB and 200 MB are not uncommon. Remember the days where if you got into an argument with a friend at a bar over who was in that movie, and you could easily whip out the old smartphone to check? Better think twice as more and more of the web goes Retina.

Many websites have “optimized” versions for mobile phones, which is another way of saying they’re stripped down so that they load faster on slower wireless networks and display better on smaller screens. Still, the web has been getting fatter regardless of Apple’s Retina displays, while usage limits have been heading the other way. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist - or network engineer - to see that we’re heading for a big collision: carriers versus customers.



Posted by on July 3, 2012 in apple, ipad, iphone, mobile, telecommunications


Is the end near for Asian tech companies?

nexus7Believe it or not, we’re in the midst of another massive paradigm shift in technology - and once again, it’s because of Apple.

Relax haters, this isn’t some fanboy rant about the latest cool features that Apple is adding to its devices which competitors have already had for years. This has more to do with the change in business models that the iPhone maker is ushering in.

Historically, technology has gone through rotating periods of proprietary-ness versus openness. What has usually happened is that one company has come to dominate a particular field with its products, then had its monopoly smashed either by authorities or by co-operating competitors that stressed openness and interoperable standards. It happened with IBM and computers and with Microsoft and software.

With the ascension of Apple, the king of proprietary-ness, into the world’s biggest and most influential technology operation, other companies are now starting to emulate how it does things, especially in the realm of vertical integration.

In the space of a week, both of Apple’s biggest competitors - Microsoft and Google - announced their own custom-built branded tablets. Microsoft last week unveiled the Surface while Google on Wednesday announced the Nexus 7, a seven-inch tablet that is manufactured by Taiwan’s Asus but which is otherwise a Google device through and through.

In both cases, there is a touch of desperation. Apple continues to dominate tablets with more than 65% of the market, with only Amazon’s Kindle Fire managing to breach double digits. It’s no coincidence that Amazon is an American company - but more on that in a second. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on June 28, 2012 in amazon, apple, Google, ipad, iphone, microsoft, sony


Surface tablet a big reversal for Microsoft

So Microsoft is officially entering the tablet wars with the Surface? What a difference a year can make.

Perhaps the most interesting part about the upcoming Windows tablet from a business perspective is that Microsoft is building it from end to end. Unlike the PC or smartphone worlds, there’s no involvement from the likes of HP, Dell or Nokia. The Surface is going to be a Microsoft product through and through, as evidenced by the Windows logos all over it.

It’s a big departure for the company, which has built most of its fortune with “partners.” Microsoft has historically made the software that has powered the hardware built by a host of vendors. One key standout, however, happens to be the company’s most successful current product: the Xbox 360.

At last year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, I asked Dennis Durkin, chief operating and finance officer for Microsoft’s interactive entertainment business, if the vertically integrated approach with the video game console could be applied to other parts of the company. His answer was politely phrased, but it amounted to a big fat no. “Because we’re doing so many unique things with the hardware, it makes sense for us to design it,” he said. “In other places that may not make as much sense, it may make more sense to ride an ecosystem of partners.” Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on June 19, 2012 in apple, Google, ipad, microsoft


One OS to rule them all?

As someone who is deeply intrigued by the prospect of an Apple-produced television set, I was somewhat disappointed by Monday’s kickoff to the company’s annual Worldwide Developer Conference. That’s not to say, however, that a ton of interesting stuff didn’t come out of chief executive Tim Cook’s keynote.

The most important news, I thought, was the official unveiling of Apple’s own Maps app for iOS devices. The new app will be included in the iOS 6 update when it becomes available this fall. It’s not yet clear how good the app is or whether it will completely supplant the existing Google Maps used on iPhones, iPads and iPods, but it’s pretty clear Apple is looking to cut the final strings tying it to its former ally.

As I wrote in an analysis piece for The Globe and Mail, that’s a good move now that the companies are bitter smartphone and tablet enemies. Creating its own core Maps function will allow developers to better integrate their apps with Apple products, which will only increase their reasons to keep creating for Apple as opposed to other smartphone vendors.

Siri was also a big star of the day, with the voice assistant soon expanding onto the iPad, into other countries - including full Canadian functionality - and even into cars. The growing trend of computing control beyond the mouse and keyboard was the subject of another analytical piece I penned for the CBC.

One other observation I’d make is that the new computer operating system, Mountain Lion, and respective mobile software - iOS 6 - may be the last two independent OSes we see from Apple. Many of Mountain Lion’s new functions, including swipe controls but also notifications and alerts, seem borrowed from iOS, to the point where Mac computers are increasingly looking like iPads.

Apple also announced cross-platform support between Macs and iOS devices. In other words, you can play a video game on your iPad, but your opponent may actually be playing on a Mac. It doesn’t matter because it’s the same experience.

This merging makes all sorts of sense since it makes it easier on app developers. If they only have to create software once and then it works on all of Apple’s devices, that’s obviously much better than having to do it twice. It’s the same idea Microsoft is working towards with Windows 8, which looks like it could provide the same experience on computers, tablets and phones. The benefits to end users are also obvious - not only will documents look the same regardless of device, so too will games and other content.

The previous Mac OS, Lion, was released last July, while iOS 5 came out in October. Could the next release of both operating systems be combined next year into one unified beast? There are a lot of people who hope so.

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Posted by on June 12, 2012 in apple, ipad, iphone


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