The world of tech and tech accessories has radically changed in the last few months, and from what I can tell, nobody noticed. Here is my take on the “big picture” of phones, tablets, watches and whatever.
Apple really needs Steve Jobs back
Today is the 5th Anniversary of the iPad, the game changer device that has not only changed how we surf the web, but how we play games, watch TV, read books, and keep our lives organized. It was a groundbreaking device that is still making waves.
Fast forward to March 9, 2015 when Apple held another semi annual big presentation on what is “new” from Apple. It solidified my opinion of Apple I got from a similar event last October (when they finally got around to making a bigger iPhone): Apple is no longer on the cutting edge, they are riding in the wake.
What did they announce? An Apple Watch, a technology others have experimented with the last couple of years which only the nerdiest people think is cool.
A new MacBook which is pretty much the most overpriced device ever offered by Apple. This is basically a “netbook” as it is not powerful enough to do much beyond what you can already do on any tablet.
In my honest opinion, Apple is now a full two years behind everybody else, and losing ground.
Google is now the industry leader
Android 5 released in November, is now the default OS for hand held devices. It is a major step up from 4.4 and it is an actual game changer.
Android 5 brings with it a suite of common “apps” that use the same interface and work together. You might ask, “So what?”, but I think Android 5 marks the beginning of the end of the reign of “apps”.
It was never spoken, but we have all known that apps have basically consisted of web sites and flash games that we either pay for with money or ad spam (or both) just so that it will work on our phone. Except for a few games, most apps exist out of stupidity. Companies are now pushing customers to download their apps to make purchasing their stuff easier.
Only a handful of apps are useful, the majority of Apps basically just fill our devices limited memory with junk we once found funny or amusing.
The ones that are actually useful are the ones that provide us info we want or need, and the way they do that is through “push notification”. That’s the first revelation of App demise.
The second revelation is this: Every app seems to want to have its own interface design, this is a problem as it means you have to learn how to get information you need from many different interfaces. We forgot this lesson was learned a long time ago. The thing that made Macintosh computers successful back in the 80’s is that every program had the same interface. Microsoft figured this out finally with the release of Windows in the early 90’s.
Google is now doing the same thing for Android. The philosophy behind Android 5 seems to be a common interface among the built in apps, and these interface tools are being made available to app designers, too.
These two observations are gaining strength in the industry and will lead to the “End Of Apps As We Know Them”. Goodbye pages and pages of apps, hello easy access to the info you are looking for. Android 5 is designed around that philosophy, and it’s a welcome change.
Microsoft is back behind the wheel
The only thing really holding back Microsoft right now is that Windows 10 isn’t ready, yet. A common OS for phone, tablet, laptop and desktop is just too cool.
In a rush to jump into the mobile market, Microsoft’s recent history has been full of one boondoggle after another. One of the biggest was Windows RT project, a broken version of windows for mobile processors. Their first tablets Microsoft Surface and Surface 2 ran on RT, even though similar sized devices with full Windows 8, were already being released. The heavily advertised but widely rejected Windows Phones could only run RT, and these poor selling tablets were an attempt to get developers to support the Windows app store.
This past month they released the Surface 3, the first in the non “pro” line that runs full Windows 8.1 and is powerful enough to run most windows software, except graphic heavy games.
The Surface 3 is about half the cost of the above mentioned MacBook, and its stats are comparatively the same.
If you are really looking to save money I recently tested a $77 Windows 8.1 tablet. How was it? Well about what you would expect from a $77 tablet. They spared every expense, including a battery that did not charge all the way, no sleep mode so you have to sign in every time to you turn it on, and buttons in the worse possible locations. Bottom line, there are a lot of decent name brand tablets between $200-300 that are better deals.
Still, the mere fact that $77 tablets exist shows that Microsoft can be competitive with Apple and Android, and that’s the bigger picture. By the end of the year, inexpensive phones that run full Windows 10 should be available.
Windows 10 is going to be a game changer, a common OS that adapts itself depending on whether it is on a phone, tablet, or PC. The PC version of the interface is a lot more Windows 7 like than even 8.1 is, while the tablet version is more fat finger friendly to make it useable on small screens. Microsoft’s free cloud storage will automatically move your profile and data to any device you sign in on. This is a huge incentive to go all Windows on all devices.
After years of failure, Microsoft seems to be getting it right, but they have a lot of catching up to do in the market share department.
The “big picture”
Granted Apple and Google have similar services that move your data between devices, unfortunately most of us find ourselves with incompatible stuff spread between all 3 companies. Hopefully soon I will find an easy way to see my PC contact list and iTunes library on my Samsung Galaxy. In the mean time, if you can, pick a company and stick with them, it just makes everything easier.
The “big picture” is this: In the last 5 years since the ipad, we have seen Apple fall behind, Google surge ahead, and Microsoft bounce back. It is only a matter of time before it all gets homogenized, with all 3 companies offering the same goods and services delivered in the same way, the price of which will only get cheaper.