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simon collis

musings of an omnivorous biped

6 things I want from iOS 7

Posted by Simon Collis on 2013/06/27
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iOS 7 appears to be basically a graphical reboot of the familiar iPhone operating system. Ironically, I’d argue that a redesign is something it doesn’t need – especially what is apparently a marketing-led redesign, as much as anything. No, what I’d like to see are a few features that iron out some of the nasty little gremlins and inconsistencies in iOS. For example…

  1. A wifi hotspot that works properly
    Come on guys, how hard can this be? Android’s had it figured out for at least the last three or four years. Stability, easy to connect – I don’t want to have to turn it on and off three or four times to connect non-Apple devices. (Or, in the case of Apple devices, frequently have them not connect at all). And the “silently turn off because nobody’s using it while still reporting that it’s switched on”. Yeah, get rid of that too. And while we’re on the subject of wifi…
  2. Stop treating mobile data as a second class citizen
    This may be down to the biases of iOS app writers, but it doesn’t seem so. Dropbox on Android is happy to upload my 500MB video I just took over 3G, but Dropbox on iOS? “Dropbox will never upload files greater than 25MB over mobile data”. Great. So my unlimited data plan with its nice fast upload speed counts for nothing, while I have to tie up my home wifi and its paltry less-than-a-third-as-fast ADSL crawler lane? And incidentally, my home wifi has a “fair use policy” – my mobile data doesn’t. So personally, I’d rather you use mobile data IN PREFERENCE to wifi – especially if it’s on a train where I’m paying by the MB. Ouch. But that’s annoying, and I could live without it, if only I had…
  3. A way to turn off the “rubber band” effect
    Steve Jobs was enormously proud of the rubber band effect, and Apple have patented it, and used it in court against Samsung. But my word, does it ever suck. I really really really hate it. A way to turn it off would just make my day, week, month and year. Of all the things in iOS, if this were to disappear it’s the one most likely to get me dancing the Snoopy dance on the kitchen table. But OK, enough moaning about what I don’t like, how about improving something that I do like – for example…
  4. Multiple schedules for the “do not disturb” scheduler
    I stay up late at the weekends, and get up late at the weekends to. That may not be the healthiest way to live, but then I suspect this is true of a lot of people – especially those on shift work. How about the ability to put in different schedules for different days of the week? (I suppose catering for non-weekday based schedules is too much to ask, huh?) Oh, and while we’re on the subject of calendar type functions, how about…
  5. Holiday calendars for the Calendar app
    Hate to mention it, but Google calendar (and therefore Android) has had these for years. OK, I can connect to Google calendar to get these, but does everyone actually trust Google these days? And what about those people who’ve never used Gmail/calendar/etc? What do they do? And if we’re going to talk about not having to use Google services, perhaps I’d best mention the elephant in the room…
  6. Let’s not have another Maps fiasco, eh?
    Apple’s reputation was damaged quite severely with the Maps fiasco (apparently Bracknell lost its train station – although on the plus side, the branch of “Our Price” reopened, so every cloud has a silver lining, eh?). Whatever the motivation, please resist launching another system before it’s properly ready, like Siri, iCloud or, er, Maps, won’t you? You may not have noticed, but Blackberry have woken up again, and Microsoft are starting to get serious about phones now – another massive stuff-up like Maps will not go down well. Trust me on that.

There’s been an awful lot of rumours about Intel and takeovers recently. One, that Intel is about to buy (or merge) with AMD. Another, that Apple might be about to buy Intel. Well, there aren’t that many companies that have the financial clout to buy Intel, but there are a few that might want to buy them. Here’s what I think.

  • Apple
    A takeover of Intel by Apple would make perfect sense for Apple, if not Intel. In fact, I’d say it ought to be right at the top of Tim Cook’s “To Do” list.Apple have recently started designing their own ARM chips for iPads and iPhones. It would make sense to buy Intel, decommission some of the products and turn their fabs over to making their own chips – which they’ve been designing themselves for a few years now. It means not having to deal with pesky outside suppliers like Samsung, with whom they have a bit of a history.

    It would prove disruptive in the external market too – they could easily drop the mobile chips for external suppliers, which although it would pass the market over to AMD for Windows laptops, and effectively kill the Surface Pro, it would have a strategically far more important result – ending Intel’s push for Android. And more traction for Android is something Apple can’t really allow to happen.

  • Oracle
    Oracle earn bucketloads of cash, and already own the SPARC architecture through Sun – a hardware business they’ve been growing. Owning Intel would give them a way into the x86 server market, either with Solaris on x86 or their own version of Linux. It would also essentially give Oracle a very hefty slice of the “Windows tax”, as they would now be providing the chips for probably 80% of the Windows market. It would give them access directly to Intel’s design department, with the inevitable consequence that Intel could produce a line of processors “optimised for Java”.If Oracle really wanted to play hardball, of course, it wouldn’t then be out of the way to suggest to Microsoft that if they want that ready supply of Intel chips to continue, they might want to consider discontinuing that pesky “SQL Server” product with immediate effect – whether that’s legal or not, I’ll let the lawyers fight over, but I can imagine it causing Larry Ellison to purr with delight; it is, after all, pretty much the same sort of squeeze Microsoft put on OS/2 back in the day.
  • Microsoft
    Legally speaking, this one would probably be the most difficult to achieve. I can imagine the DoJ would have something to say, and AMD would be right there, knocking on the door.Nevertheless, Intel’s recent announcement of upcoming Android notebooks must be alarming Redmond, and I can imagine that being pretty high up on Microsoft’s list of “things we really don’t want to happen”.
  • Google
    This one is quite the maverick on this list, but let’s think a moment.Google got into the hardware market by buying Motorola – mainly as a hedge to get Microsoft off Android’s back. That didn’t work. Owning Intel would pull the rug out from Microsoft, and essentially reverse the balance of power between the two companies, forever. Google would be able to dictate terms, and Microsoft could do little more than acquiesce meekly, knowing that Google essentially controlled enough patents, and enough of the market structure, to play enough hardball to strangle Microsoft’s businesses at any second. Certainly, the “Android tax” would stop overnight – it would have to, if Microsoft wanted to continue to work with the makers of Android – who would now be the largest supplier of the chips on which the vast majority of their software runs. Their only route out would be to push Windows entirely to an ARM-based infrastructure – something that’s not working very well right now.

As John-Louis Gassee pointed out, Intel are weak right now. They’re ripe to be taken over. For Apple or Google, Intel would represent the prize: control of the industry.

If Intel survives as a separate entity by the end of the year, I’ll be extremely surprised.

And once they’re gone, who’ll buy AMD?

iOS is for tablets, Android is for phones

Posted by Simon Collis on 2012/08/08
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Here’s a thought I’ve been thinking for a few days.

Like many of the rest of the Google fanboi sheeples, I laid down a goodly sum of cash for a Nexus 7 the moment it came out. What’s to like? Well, first off, the screen is nice. Really nice. Better than the iPad 2 – maybe. Better than the iPad 3 (sorry, new iPad)? Not so much. But it’s close. Read more

All Surface, No Feeling?

Posted by Simon Collis on 2012/07/16
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Microsoft just took a huge gamble. A mega big one. And I’m not sure if they’ve already lost.

Let me start with the background. A few months ago, they announced Microsoft Surface, a shiny Lumia blue tablet thing (apparently it’s hit production problems already – who’dathunkit?)

Today, they announced that Windows on ARM – you know, WinRT – would “include” Microsoft Office. What does “include” mean? Is it included in the price, is it ad supported, like Office 2010 Starter? Or will it require an Office 365 subscription in order to use it? Read more