Saturday, June 15, 2013

My Thoughts On iOS 7, Did Apple Reinvent iOS ?

iOS 7 on iPhone 5
Earlier this week Apple held their annual WWDC 2013 developer's event. Every year on day 1 of the agenda is the press conference which Apple usually announce new versions of their iOS and Mac software with some casual hardware announcements. I gave my thoughts to the event a few days ago, so if you want to read it click here. In the almost 2 hour long press conference, Apple announced the latest version of OS X and refreshed lineup of MacBook Airs as well as giving us a sneak preview of the upcoming refreshed Mac Pro desktop. Well the mega star of the show was iOS 7, in this article i'm going to talk all about what i think about iOS 7. Fast forwarding back to Monday when Apple held the keynote, i was watching the event live and if i'm not mistaken they announced iOS 7 at about 2:15AM (11:15AM PT). Tim Cook was the one which announced the new software and he didn't do much as the product video did most of the talking. Moving on to my very first impressions of it, i really like the new interface and it was paired up with the new dynamic wallpapers so it made the experience look even better. My first impression of it and my current impression of it is still the same which brings to my overall conclusion is that i like iOS 7 a lot, well the new interface that is. About the new icons, they look very nice and redesigned and Jony Ive seemingly made them look very simple and very minimalistic in terms of the overall look and feel. The text on iOS 7 is really to my liking as i really like minimalism in the things i do, minimalism just makes thing even more cleaner and simple looking. The negative impacts which i can see this bringing is that although the minimalistic text looks clean and simple, while reading long paragraphs it might be as easy to the eyes for some users because the text is pretty thin and the letters look very similarly in size which makes somewhat of an optical illusion to the text body. Another thing which i'm concerned is that the icons which Jony Ive bundled in with iOS 7, the new icons no longer have texture or abstracts like wood and felt. In that some of the icons now have pure white backgrounds and that might raise a problem when a user is putting up a dark background and the icons might just look weird. On that topic the new icons somehow will not look good with other third party app icons. Take for example the Facebook app icon will indefinitely not look good beside the new iOS 7 icons because it has a dark styled icon, whereas the official twitter app icon will most probably blend right in due to its simple and light color.
The fresh new coat of paint iOS desperately needed to survive, but is it enough ?
Moving on to the overall look at iOS 7, Tim Cook said that iOS 7 is the biggest change to iOS since the introduction of the iPhone and Craig Federighi says "its like getting an entirely new phone, but one you know how to use". I totally hands down agree on what Craig says about iOS but as for Tim Cook, err not so much because it seems that this sentence is repeated every iOS release.
As what the rumor mills said prior to the launch, iOS no bears a more flatter UI which dissolves the 3D look and feel to the whole OS and leaving only the front of everything. iOS 7 to me really looks very organized and looking at the demos Apple did during the event, the OS seems to look very unified everywhere around the stock apps. I literally love the look of the new keyboard. The animations now look a bit androidified but there's no harm done there. The new dynamic wallpaper which Apple has introduced is just Apple's way of defining a live wallpaper. Currently there are only two available in the 1st beta of iOS 7 and when the software hits prime time this fall more are expected to be added but the question now arises whether Apple will allow you to add third party dynamic wallpapers. Apart from the dynamic wallpapers, Apple also added a new element which gives your still wallpapers some motion which is actually pretty cool, you can also put a panorama static wallpaper for your home and lockscreen and the wallpaper will follow your motions as you go round and round and round a circle. In addition to the new flatter and cleaner UI, Apple also introduced the new notification pull down menu which now shows you not only your notifications but also a nicely lined up day agenda which consists of your calendar appointments and your alarms, the notification pull down menu is now also supported on the lockscreen . Seemingly gone is the tweet button and the stocks which was introduced last year in iOS 6. Also throughout the whole UI iOS 7 tends to use a blurred out screen of your current screen as the background of certain features like the spotlight search keyboard, notification center, command center, etc. Which brings me to the next big thing on iOS 7 which is Command Center, for jailbreak users this might just be pretty normal as something like this has been in the jailbreak community for quite some time now. Basically command center is a simple way for you to access some simple settings like wifi, brightness, camera, etc. Similar to the notification pull down menu, the command center also works on the lockscreen. But the problem here is that nothing there is seemingly customizable, other than that i think that command center will work quite smartly. Another thing is that in the past few days i've been hearing and reading a lot of criticism about Apple copying other platforms and in command center you can say that apple did reference it from the android pull down notification bar but i can see that Apple's one is more easily accessible because it is a pull up from the bottom opposed to a pull down on android and the toggles are located at the very tall and with phones getting bigger and bigger you would have to stretch your fingers a bit to reach those toggles. Jumping into the usual preinstalled apps on iOS 7 like photos, weather, notes, etc these apps have now been given a facelift and is updated to join hands with the new flatter and cleaner UI. The app which i most like is Safari, Apple has made it even more beautiful with that search bar which hides on when you are scrolling down to create a full screen browsing experience.
It's like an alternate universe where everything works the same
Next on i'll jump right into the camera app which has been totally redesigned and in my eyes it is the best camera interface present on any platform period. Sure, the new iOS 7 camera does not come with a load of modes like the S4's one but the iOS 7 keeps itself to the most basic level at core for a camera which is soley for taking picture only. The UI of the app is very very simple and easy to use, its basically your viewfinder and below are your camera functions like video, aspect ratio, filter, etc. All you have to do to switch modes is to either swipe left of right and the function starts immediately and seemingly the response is very good. One major system feature which Apple has given a facelift is the multitasking bar/window which is now no longer only icons which vibrate at its own position when you want to close them, it is now a card style interface with the screen of the app and the icon below. All you have to do to close the app is to swype up and that's it. Similar to the notification pull down and command center the multitasking window/bar takes up the whole screen and the background is a blurred out screen of your current screen. Inside the new app icons Apple has added a new feature to the stock mail app which enables you to swipe to the left to archive or delete the mail. The App Store now also has a tab which you can now search apps based on the age rating. Overall the new UI is sleek and beautiful in design and yeah now you can just swipe to the right to go back provided that there is a back button in the top left to the screen. I can't say that the UI is flawless but it is still what iOS users like but now its just been given a fresh coat of paint. Oh yeah another thing is that the there is one icon which has live movements which is the clock app, it is literally live and you can stay all day long looking at the second hand move one second at a time. Apparently, the weather icon is not live because in Apple's test it was draining battery life, but if would be quite cool if it was live but i do agree because the weather app needs to take on data from the web and constantly update it whereas the clock app is basically just moving routinely. I also liked the animation which come with iOS 7, the best one is the one where you change from apps in the multitasking window where apps just like motion up in a rectangle and i can relate this animation because its similar to the one found in android. 
Good artists copy, great artists steal
I have talked and highlighted most of the high points of iOS 7, so now i'm going to talk about the user responses in social media. Over the course of the days in the middle of me making this article and the iOS 7 unveiling i have been looking through my facebook and twitter to read through some comments on iOS 7. I seems that everybody does not like the UI with exceptions of a handfull of people liking it from day 1. People started trash talking about Apple by saying this and that and that Apple copied every there OS out there and people left and right were saying that they were disappointed that Apple was now copying even from windows, the talk goes on and on. But what i would like to reiterate is that, Yes it is very obvious that apple copied/referenced/steal the design of key iOS 7 features and called it their own and called it their innovation. That point is obvious but what i tend to see is not comparing it with other OSs and just look at iOS 7, Jony Ive Apple did a great job in designing this new OS which is fresh and clean. If you do compare (picture above) the iOS 7 features which Apple copied with the respective platforms you can see that its like a carbon footprint but overall Apple refined the design of the things they copied and added a little of their own touch. As what Steve Jobs said 'good artists don't copy they steal'. Moving forward to things which i'm still concerned about iOS 7, as i said earlier about the white based icons, there is actually a engine inside the OS which detects your background and intelligently changes the theme from either black mode or white mode; you can also manually change it yourself in the settings. This does come up with a question of wheter is it enough. Another thing is that other than images Apple never actually showed iOS 7 running on the iPad. I think they still haven't quite got the UI right and the beta for the iPad is only coming in a few weeks time. Relating to that i'm not sure how Apple plans to implement features like command center or the multitasking bar/window into the iPad's bigger display. Could it be like a full screen experience or a partial one like the pull down notification on the iPad with iOS 6. As i always say with Apple products 'Apple made software itself is nothing unless paired up with the hardware optimized for it'. So in order to have the best experience of iOS 7 i would need to see a device built around the new OS which is seemingly more optimized and carries all features. That would be the new iPads and iPhones which is coming in fall. I will come back once again with another article about iOS 7 when Apple releases new hardware in fall, so until then see you!
The crowd is going wild, well on social media that is #Twitter #Facebook 
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Friday, June 14, 2013

My Thoughts On WWDC 2013

WWDC 2013 background
Its about 24 hours since Apple held their keynote at WWDC 2013 in the Moscone West center. As usual i'll do a wrap up article after some time because i want to get to look into the opinions around the web as well as some mysteries behind the just announced things. So this is my first year jumping into the mobile phone industry and this is my 2nd experience of the WWDC fever. To be frank i really liked this WWDC but i really missed the moments where Scott Forstall took the stage last year as he is the only person which could just present spontaneously and gets fast to the point. This year at WWDC a lot of things were different, this is also the first public press event Apple has held this year and i can see that Apple is in a route to announce new hardware at the end of the year from now onwards. The event started at about 10+ and this year's intro video was focused on simplicity with minimalistic text. Tim Cook then took the stage first and talked quite a bit about the current status of Apple and some of the achievements Apple has collected since the last press event, as usual some trash talking came to play. Then there was a short demo by anki which showcased iOS device controlling robotics. Soon after that was done, Tim Cook took back the stage and started on again with the Macs and Mountain Lion took the tile of the best version of Mac Apple has ever created with 28 million copies sold since it was announced last fall. Next Craig Federighi comes up to stage to announce the new version of Mac which is called Mavericks. This new version of Mac includes a ton of new features which makes the experience of using Mac even better with some tagging, window collaging, multiple display support and quite a number of technology improvements inside the OS itself. I was really impressed with the battery life thing which was very innovative indeed, it basically is a Safari thing which helps Macbooks save more battery on the fly by intelligently turning off and on the CPU usage for the browser. iCloud Keychain was another cool addition to iCloud which can save your passwords and autofills and not to worry as these sensitive documents are encrypted. Next, Phil Schiller went up and announced the new refreshed Macbook Airs which are being powered by Haswell processors and are now a bit more cheaper. I was literally impressed with the battery life of the new MBA. Then after that it was the moment which i was waiting for since WWDC last year, it was the sneak peek of the all new Mac Pro which really looked nothing like a tower desktop and future upgradability for it looked bleak. But moving upon that i actually liked the design of it and it was also in a very small package and is powered by some very high tech components like 12 core Xeon processors, AMD FirePro GPUs, and comes with SSDs. The next thing was that it came with 6!!! Thunderbolt 2 ports which was just jaw dropping and Phil added that the new Mac Pro is capable of outputting 3 4K displays without any problem whatsoever. The highlight of it was that it is going to be assembled in the USA. Next, iWork for iCloud was announced and from the looks of the Demo that was really one very powerful program which runs on the we browser. Then after that Tim had the pleasure to finally announce iOS 7 and then the crowd went wild. Craig took the stage once again and went through 10 of the new things in iOS 7. The new mobile OS from Apple ushered in a whole new design and the whole OS finally had its long overdue UI overhaul. Well it wasn't much of a UI overhaul but it was much more of an improvement to the previous versions. New features like Command Center, iTunes Radio, Face Time Audio, etc was announced. Well, i'll talk more extensively on iOS 7 in my upcoming featured article about my thoughts of iOS 7. The even then wraped up with Tim Cook saying some closing words with a short video ad in the end about Apple. All in all i really felt that this years conference was way better than last year in terms of the richness  of announcements. So until next year, i'll see you again for the WWDC 2014 recap. Watch this video below by TheVerge of the highlights of the keynote.
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Thursday, June 6, 2013

I Will Be Changing Platforms From Blogger To Wordpress

Well if you've been following our facebook page since the past week, then you would have seen this picture above here. Well today i am formally announcing that i'll be finally returning to blogging and you might say that what i am doing here at The Technology Of Today International is blogging and yes. But the point is that for the first time since i left the 3 years ago, i'll be starting to do some personal blogging. I remembered when i first started blogging it was around the year 2008/2007. At that time facebook and twitter was alive but it was not as widespread as the duo we know and love today. So i started my blogging journey with blogger as it was a pretty popular platform at that time for a free online blog. If not mistaken in that year alone i created over 6 blogs and up until recently i was trying to get back one of my blog with my name as the URL but i was not able to track down the email. The funny thing about it is that while trying to find the email behind that blog i found out i had a gmail account which was long forgotten, the most funny thing is that i had no recollection of creating that email but the password is to my knowing. Ok enough about that, fast forward to the present time, i am finally back to personal blogging and this time around i am switching platforms. I am announcing that for my personal blog i'll change to wordpress and as for this blog i have no plans of exporting it to wordpress so i'll be still using blogger one way another. You can read more about my journey of changing platforms in my blog at You can socialize with me via twitter via my twitter handle which is @dickwyn or via the hashtag #iChange. Well while i'm here i'll talk a little bit about my experience about changing platforms. At the beginning it sounded very fun indeed and before i start anything too in depth i did some research and found out that 50% of the top 20 blogs in the world are rocking wordpress. As i was researching more i got more and more excited. Up until i started jumping into the interface i was truly frustrated as there was really a learning curve to things and everything seemed misplaced. Well i won't continue any further, if you want to read more about my journey click here to read it in my blog. Here are some screenshots and some captions.
The blogger interface is really super simple and revealing as for the wordpress interface i don't even know where to screenshot because the interface was really very knocked up and it seems like everything is hiding from me, literally.
The new post page for blogger looks very complicated compared to the one on wordpress
The new post page on wordpress is really super simple and is more powerful than the one provided in blogger
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The Samsung Galaxy S4 Active, Flagship Gone Rugged

In the long line of rumored things, today Samsung has finally revealed the Galaxy S4 Active in the midst where most of the attention is on Computex in Taipei. The Active has been rumored shortly after the S4 hit the market. Prior to this the device has also been spotted out in the wild and even with some short hands on video. For starters the Galaxy S4 Active (GT-I9295) has a 5" 1080P screen which translates into 443PPI, but here's the catch the screen is not an AMOLED one, its a IPS display TFT display which is ok given the high pixel density. The hardware inside this adventurous phone is similar to the GT-I9505 and yes the device supports LTE. The main attraction of the device however is its ruggedized body which is IP67 certified and is water (up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes) and dust resistant. For additional specification of the device check out the chart below. Samsung's CEO J.K. Shin had this to say about the device:
"The Galaxy S4 Active is the newest addition to the GALAXY series and is purposefully designed for active users who love the outdoors. Samsung has taken the innovative features of the Galaxy S4 and added breakthrough protective design elements to create a device that thrives in an active environment and is built for a lifestyle of travel and exploration"
Moving on, i was reading through the press release and it seems that the Active is not only more rugged but it also has some added features. Samsung still retained most of the Galaxy S4 hardware and software features like airview, super sensitive screen, air gesture, group play, etc. What is missing is the support for the dual camera mode but the device is still capable of recording underwater. Given its ruggedness, Samsung has added a feature in the camera app called 'Aqua Mode' which will make pictures and videos more clearer. The overall footprint of the device has been increased (139.7mm X 71.3mm X 9.1mm VS 136.6mm X 69.8mm X 7.9mm), the device also weighs 21g heavier than the original S4. Well these dimensions can be justified with the waterproofability and overall ruggedness of the device. But one thing i am skeptical about is wheter the device can live up to its rugged name by fairing in a drop test, only time will answer that. Talking about rugged, i think this is the first time i've seen a rugged flagship phone because other than the Xperia Z no other flagship device have been IP certified. Personally i would choose the Active over the original S4 any day of the week because the Active has a better and more solid design plus its rugged. I can close my eyes with the 8MP camera and the thicker body. Oh yeah not forgetting the Active also comes in 3 magnificent colors which are Urban Grey, Dive Blue and Orange Flare. Availability of this device is still unknown but it'll make an appearance at Samsung's London event later this month. 
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