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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

iPhone4S - My SGSII is unimpressed

So I followed the Apple Keynote today at Engadget's liveblog and I just wanted to see what Apple pulls out of its sleeve to get "even more ahead" of the competition (so they say). I expected to see cool new stuff, I thought I would see an iPhone5. An iPhone that none of my friends or co-workers would ever buy because of Apple's horrible pricing - but it still would just be there, existing, turning me into a liar when I go on about my Samsung Galaxy S2 being the best smartphone. But lucky me. It was the iPhone4S. And guess what? My Samsung Galaxy S2 is the best smartphone. Hell yeah.

So what about the keynote? I'll make it short and be as biased as possible... wait, what? Huh.

The small things

  • Cards for iOS5. Create Gift Cards and let Apple send them. Awesome. Cool thing. Thing is, there's a bunch or services for probably every region in the US/Europe where you can do the same thing for less green. Still, nice thing. But as the first feature presented at a Apple Keynote? Unimpressed.
  • Notifications for iOS5. I'm not even... well, okay. It's what Android's been doing for years. Yes, my phone has this bar. Yes, I can swipe right or left for calling/texting. It's Apple copying. It's okay. Copying makes progress in technology. The problem is that Apple's being a b*tch about it.
  • iMessage. Push messages to all iOS5 devices. Neat.
  • Reminders. A ToDo-App, really? Granted, the geostuff is cool: Reminders go off when you enter or leave a certain area.
  • Twitter integration. Uhm. They didn't have that?
  • Newsstand. Well. There's an app for that. Still nice.
  • Camera shortcut (double-tap home button), use volume button for taking pictures. Nice. Some Android Roms (not enough) have that. Nice anyway.
  • Synched reading list, tabbed browsing on iPad, eMail-Stuff. Neat.
  • Photo Sync over the iCloud. 5gb Cloud Storage for free. Everything above costs you. My G+-Apps uploads all my photos into a personal photo folder as soon as I plug it in for recharging. Google hasn't send me a "limit reached" warning yet. Way over 5 gb ;)
  • Find my Friends. Oh, Google Latitude. You're welcome, Apple.

The iPhone4S
  • DualCore-Processor. Up to 2x faster CPU, 7x faster Graphics
  • "even better call quality" - Oh that's really nice, I mean it was very good from the.. wait a second. WHAT? Good joke.
  • 8 megapixels camera. Nice.
  • 1080p recording. Nice.
  • AirPlay. Wired or wireless game streaming to your (tech enabled) TV-Set.  Cool stuff.
  • Siri. Well... that's a really cool thing.

Siri
Apple's new voice recognition system (or personal assistant) looks very promising. During the keynote, Siri understood everything and was able to read out messages, check the calendar, move appointments and help you call people or write messages. My SGSII does a good job with the whole voice stuff but I do not use it as much as it is still a bit... clumsy. It's just not as smooth as Siri looked like. I really want to have a conversation with my gadgets one day and I think this is a nice step forward.

All in all
You can twist and turn it as you like: For me, the iPhone4S is just Apple trying to catch up to Android's top runners. My SGS2 still has a better CPU/GPU, probably more RAM, a microSDHC slot, better WiFi, bigger and way better display, MHL output, 2MP front-facing camera, standard SIM, probably more battery capacity and removable battery (got 2 extra batteries for ~$15 each, working perfectly). My phone's like $23 a month including a two-year contract and $555 on amazon.com without a contract and the iPhone4S sets you back $199 and puts you in a two-year contract. That's just laughable. I don't even want to know what it's going to cost without a contract. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Restructuring Machinanigans

I was not really satisfied with writing about eLearning, technology and social networks on one single blog. As I stated in some of my posts, I am not very experienced in blogging, yet. After thinking about how I could improve my blogs from a structural point of view, I decided to take out eLearning and put it into a separate blog to make it easier for me to cater for different readers. So if you find yourself looking for eLearning on this blog you better point your browser to http://machinanigans-elearning.blogspot.com.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Smart move, Facebook.

So I'm a bit late to the party but I, too, have seen the Facebook F8 keynote (at least most of it) and I was quite surprised when Mr. Zuckerberg started presenting Timeline. I did not read too much rumors and stories about what the big announcement might be in advance but I still had heard about the music sharing and Spotify integration. Timeline however, was completely new for me. Until I learned that it is in fact not new... just a redesign of the profile page.
My first impression was like this: "What the deuce? That's just your profile in ... Well, that's just your profile with a different layout and without the need to click on the 'more'-button on the bottom of the page to see all entries." *shocked face*
I have to admit that it is more than that. Timeline makes use of Facebook's new 'top story'-system and only picks out the user's most important status-updates. If you do not 'like', how Facebook arranged your own timeline, you are free to modify it by inserting events manually or unchecking stories in order to hide them from your timeline. Another nice feature is the integration of Apps. As I understood it (when listening to it with half an ear while being distracted), Timeline checks your use of Facebook apps and does cool stuff with them. You use a cooking recipe app? Timeline collects all the information and puts it into one place on your timeline. You use sport apps a lot? All your miles will be collected in one place, too. Thank you.
Still, it's just an over-glorified revamp of the Facebook profile. And even though this will probably strengthen Facebook's position at the top of the Social Network race and the old profile truly needed an overhaul, I hoped for the new feature to be something more innovative and new
Why was this a smart move? Well, I can think of multiple reasons but here are the two most important ones (in my eyes):

1) New stuff to play with
The ability to change stuff appearing on your timeline, tweaking how it looks and presenting it to your friends will probably make people spend enormous amounts of time on Facebook (even more than before). Most people will start filling out details of their lives that haven't made it to Facebook yet. They will enter pictures of them when they were babies and try to make their timeline as complete as possible. Talk about sucking your users into your network ;-)

2) Bad chances for Plus and other SN to catch up
Facebook has the data and the user base to pull such a move. People have been using Facebook for years, updating their statuses and uploading pictures of events and journeys. Seeing their last few years neatly arranged in a timeline will probably be a blast for most users. Google + cannot provide such a feature yet as it hasn't been online long enough. They could implement it and give people the option to fill their profiles themselves but it wouldn't be as cool and easy because Facebook has collected authentic status messages from all users over the years.

Final thoughts

Timeline will suck Facebook users even more into using Facebook than before. Even more so bundled with the other changes (music, netflix-integration etc.). But will it work for people who do not really care about Facebook? They will probably not start caring just because of Timeline. If you're not using Facebook much, your timeline will not really be that impressive (exception: you've been using it rarely but are registred since 2004/2005). I'm sure the Facebook guys now that. And they probably have all the numbers on how many people will be impacted heavily by Timeline and that's why they went through with it.
Being registered as a developer, I played around with the current version of Timeline and even though it was nice to look at, I wasn't impressed too much. I'm still thinking about conducting "the experiment": leaving Facebook and moving to G+ for good.

Thanks for reading and please excuse my English

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Last year's news still awesome - Gamers will save the world

I just wanted to share a very cool TED Talk video with you. It was filmed Feb 2010 and this particular one is by Jane McGonigal and she's talking about how the world could profit from 'harvesting' your average video gamer's enthusiasm and motivation to solve problems. Check it out! :-)

I will probably refer to this video a lot in future because I see a huge potential of linking all of those characteristics of gamers to a possible source of motivation to learn in eLearning.




And here is the original source: TED.com

Thank you and please excuse my English
JFT


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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Google+ Update!

If you're into Google's Social Network Google+ you might find the latest post on Mountainview's own blog quite interesting. I will sum it up in a short list:

Nine new features today 9/20/11!





  • Hangout (video chat) now works on smartphones with Android 2.3+ and front-facing cameras (iOS support coming soon).
  • Hangout On Air allows you to record your Hangout-Session or just broadcast it live to anyone who likes to watch.
  • New Hangout Feature: Screensharing -> Show pictures/documents you have on your screen
  • New Hangout Feature: Sketchpad -> Your very own multiplayer whiteboard
  • New Hangout Feature: Google Docs implementation (Yay! for that one from me)
  • New Hangout Feature: Named Hangouts (search for interesting hangouts and join them)
  • Search in Google+ ... finally!
  • No more invitations needed! Yes! Open to everyone!

Read the full blog post by Google here.

Google also revealed what's coming next on Plus in this blog post and showed of some nice stuff happening to the mobile application soon. You will be able to change you profile photo on the go and can customize your notification priorities a bit better. Also, the Google+App is getting APP2SD which is absolutely lovely. Huddle will be renamed to messenger and photo sharing is now possible through this very service.

I think these are some awesome news! What do you think? 

Thanks for reading and please excuse my English
JFT