Apple really sounded off announcements today at the first day of their Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, and they certainly didn’t disappoint. We saw a variety of new products soon-to-come including a new iteration of their mobile OS and desktop OS. Though the new features and devices are impressive, we have to question whether the changes and improvements will be enough to keep Apple at the prominent position it’s in. Our prediction? Yes.
So far, Apple has announced the next version of their iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad OS, iOS 6, bringing with it a variety of new features. Also, The successor to OSX Lion is officially Mountain Lion, revealed to bring more apps, more Airplay, GameCenter, notifications, and more. There was also considerable excitement over the new expensive but premium MacBook Pro, boasting a Retina Display screen and a body thin as the Macbook Air. The iPad will also receive Siri to boot, and Siri will have a host of improvements.
Here’s the feature breakdown:
iOS 6 – New features are interesting but somewhat uninspired.
- New Maps app with “Flyover”, allowing users to see an aerial view with real images
- GameCenter gets challenges
- Deeper Facebook “integration” to accompany that of Twitter
- “Do Not Disturb” disables ringer during specified hours
- “Passbook” app unifies gift cards, coupons, tickets, and more
Mountain Lion – Receives very iOS-like features.
- All-new Safari with iCloud-syncing tabs to OSX and iOS devices
- GameCenter support
- iCloud with support for Documents
- Notification Center
- AirPlay (1080p streaming)
Siri – Can do stuff we thought she already could.
- Launch apps
- Give team, league, and player stats, scores, and standings
- Give movie showtimes and read reviews along with actor information
- Yelp business reviews
- OpenTable reservations
- “Eyes Free” feature coming with future car integration
It’s expected that we’ll see a couple other things at this year’s WWDC–and we should. We expect an Apple TV SDK as well as refreshes of the iMac and Mac Pro with Retina Displays. Despite the near overload of Apple’s announcements, we still have four days remaining of the WWDC conference. The question is: how much more can Apple change everything?
Though the yearly E3 convention is intended for video games, often times companies stretch the definition a bit and unveil new software and technology enabling new ways to play. Microsoft and Nintendo took the stage in this regard, though we did see a few other pieces of technology rear their heads. In all honesty, the concept of Xbox Smartglass looked an awful lot like the new features of the Wii U, given the tablet-console communication will enrich the gaming experience. The Wii U’s tablet integration has been awaited for a while now, but this does raise questions. That said, Microsoft has been keeping us on our toes in awaiting the “Three Screens Vision”, connecting the console, tablet or phone, and PC. It’s also important to note that both have their advantages. Xbox Smartglass will be available for Windows 8 tablets, Windows Phone, Android, and iOS as far as we know. In the keynote, Marc Whitten mentions the use of the app on Android, so we can assume iOS as well. The Xbox website’s Smartglass page says that there will be an Xbox Smartglass app for Windows and Windows Phone, and that the “Xbox SmartGlass technology is available on other major platforms in the My Xbox app”. There is already an Xbox Companion app for Windows Phone and a beta for Windows 8 (since Windows 8 is in beta–download the latest iteration, Release Preview here). We also assume that there will be something along those lines for Android and iOS, perhaps with some limited features, though we have no details as of yet. The real deal here is that Xbox Smartglass is connecting “the devices you already own” for an enhanced experience not just gaming, but viewing movies or videos, and for browsing the web. All these features are briefly described in Xbox video below.
As far as the Wii U goes, I’m convinced that Nintendo has this technology pretty much in the bag. The integration that they demoed does look more refined than that of Smartglass, and, as of late, superior. That said, Nintendo has the advantage working with only one “tablet”, if the so-called “gamepad” could be described as such. As far as we know, the gamepad will have some abilities we associate with a tablet, like video-chatting, but the apps and services which will be available are uncertain. We can’t hardly blame Nintendo for this though, because so far as we’ve “heard” the gamepad should be in the $100 price range, limiting the hardware. Then again, if Amazon can do it, why can’t Nintendo? It’s important to note that the gamepad isn’t a tablet. And unlike the devices meant for Smartglass, the gamepad is not really a device outside of gaming purposes. Outside of gaming, we know the gamepad may have features like the 3DS currently has. Both devices will feature integration with the new MiiVerse “social network”, for which smartphone apps will also be available. Nintendo seems to be really going out of their comfort zone in order to try and bring customers what they want most, so kudos to them there.
We’ll admit there was some other technology that was there, but we’ll save you the trouble of it because it wasn’t all that special. If you’re interested on the “virtual reality” Doom 3 goggle gizmo, we recommend the article at the Road to VR blog.
Previously, I released a post titled Battle of the Mobile OSs Part 1: Apps. So, in the continued battle of the smartphones, I know bring to you my spin on the ecosystems associated with each major mobile platform.
This is less about statistics than the plain and simple user experience when it comes to a platform. But this simple experience, or perhaps not so simple, is not to be overlooked. All considered, this ecosystem is one of the biggest things that a consumer new to the smartphone market will look at. Many phones have the same apps, hardware capabilities, and other overall features, but consumers will start looking to what else the phone has to offer. Ecosystem, in layman’s terms the functionality and compatibility with other hardware and software components, is key to every device. To every phone, it’s own.
Android has convenient functionality with the vast majority of Google products. Apple has extremely simple but effective functionality between other Apple devices, including iCloud and AirPlay, but most key is its amazingly mainstream media software: iTunes. Windows Phone has holds its own with its integration with the Xbox and the Zune software, along with other Microsoft products. Blackberry has unique features in this realm including some functionality between a Blackberry phone and Playbook tablet, but more importantly, Blackberry Messenger (BBM). Each mobile platform has a unique foundation under it, making each appealing in its own way.
I suppose I should start with the platform which most prizes its unique ecosystem: Windows Phone. Among many things like Microsoft Office and Xbox Live, Windows Phone 7 has capabilities built in that are unavailable or not cheap on other phones. Backed by one of the most essential software corporations on the planet, Windows Phone has plenty of power behind its punch, even if it has yet to fully mature. Windows Phone is also wired to automatically integrate Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, Windows Live, and other accounts to present you the latest in statuses, tweets, and news, along with contact linking and other functionality. What truly comes to mind concerning ecosystem for Windows Phone is the future in Windows Phone 8, Windows 8, and the new Xbox; the idea being to unite all of Microsoft’s platforms
It could also be argued that Blackberry’s ecosystem, or rather its characteristic extras, make it the most secure mobile OS around. Blackberry supplies features which though unique, often come at the cost of others. The platform does however elevate above the rest when it comes to fast, easy comunication–with BBM. With new features like Blackberry Music, Blackberry is also becoming a more social phone, and can be argued one of the best for chit-chatting, texting, and talking digital-style. However, on a stricter interpretation of “ecosystem”, Blackberry is somewhat of RIM’s only child, outside of the PlayBook.
The OS with the most true punch, the hip and the now, iOS takes the cake when it comes to media ecosystem. Outside of apps, however, the platform suffers on a lack of built-in functionality. iOS offers many features like iCloud, allowing the seamless transfer of data, and also AirPlay, used for the access of an Apple TV. The platfrom could be considered relatively barebones, leaving the user to rely sometimes inconviently on apps. The core functions, such as Settings, Music, AppStore, and iCloud are also apps in and of themselves.
The Google phone, Android offers everything from Gmail, YouTube, Latitude, Calendar, and just about every other Google product, often preinstalled as an app. The app-for-everything approach can get repetitive when you have it for every little piece of software, however, it offers capable access to all Google programs. Aside from this, the Android plane is relatively open to whatever you prefer.. The Android Market now has music, movies, and more through a variety of Google services including Google Music, Google Books, and YouTube. While it may seem a little disorganized, the Android Market unites the majority of Google media products to utilize the core functionality. Nonetheless, if you don’t care for Google products, you’re out of luck.
Ecosystem is essential to every smartphone. Without it, we would have no music, videos, apps, or anything on our phones. We need ecosystems for just about everything behind our phones. So, without discrimination, I can only leave the choice up to you.
Modern technology markets move at the speed of sound, and mobile smartphones are no exception. In the war of the mobile platforms, it is always a trick to what’s best for you. It’s difficult to decide which operating system is truly superior, as they all seem to have their advantages and downsides. Android, for example, has a huge variety of free apps, along with an enormous ROM and hacking community, but often sacrifices other things, like software efficiency, or iOS, which though it has the greatest app store around limits hardware options and software customizations. And whether it’s iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone, the apps for your smartphone are an important aspect to consider.
Here are the stats on apps:
iOS: Over 500,000
Android: Over 340,000
Windows Phone: About 60,000
Blackberry: Over 43,000 (as of December 2011, according to bgr.com)
Each marketplace does, however, have its problems and caveats.
Android, for instance, has a large percentage of low-quality apps, according to AppBrain. Though the app growth is considerable, there is much fragmentation between Android marketplaces to specific manufacturers and even apps which may include risks to the user identity and integrity of the software.
iOS may be the biggest, but it still lacks the streamlining, or perfection if you will, of demos, and upgrading to a paid version. Along with this, some argue that an app selection that is too large makes it difficult to weed out what you want.
Windows Phone, though growing, still has a lack of some major app titles. The Windows Phone Marketplace did notably grow from an estimated 50,000 apps to 60,000 in about 25 days, so the platform could see some very rapid progression in the future. It does also have the support of many independent developers, dedicated individually to their apps, and therefore responsive to users.
As for Blackberry, there has been little to no data released by RIM on the actual numbers of apps in Blackberry’s App World, though some other figures, such as an alleged 2 billion total app download were officially announced at CES 2012. It may also be noted that a substantial number of ‘apps’ in the App World may also be eBooks, though the same may apply to any app store.
This covers the four major mobile operating systems, but there are more out there. For WebOS, MeeGo, Symbian and whoever more, the app selection is rarely substantial. Also, look out for future posts on the ever-raging battle of the operating systems, for the showdown of other features (or the lack thereof).
Continue reading: Battle of the Mobile OSs Part 2: Ecosystems and Extras.