Tag Archives: News

Google Search: More advertising leaves less room for organic results

Google’s corporate motto is “don’t be evil.” When this was unveiled in 1999 / 2000 (attribution claims vary), it was seen as something of a dig at various large companies and the way they operate. Zooming forward to the present day, I find myself wondering if Google are beginning to lose sight of this ethos and become a little drunk on their own power.

I run a number of blogs. One of them has, over the past few years, become rather successful. Now, I don’t mean “earn a fortune, quit my job” successful, but successful enough to attract advertisers, gain loyal readers running into the thousands, win a couple of small awards, and earn me enough money to make the time I spend on it worthwhile.

So, why am I moaning about Google? Well, it started a few months ago, when I began to notice my unique visitors dropping like a stone. I had a chat with an “industry” friend, and he pointed me in the direction of a very interesting article about how Google is slowly “killing off” organic search.

Google Search
Google Search

More advertising, less search results

According to the article, there’s now less and less space on a typical Google search page dedicated to organic results, and more and more dedicated to revenue-generating Google products. The examples in the article include a search for “auto mechanic” where only 13% of screen real estate on a 13” Macbook Air ended up displaying natural search results. A search for “Italian Food” on an iPhone showed NO natural results whatsoever on the first screen (barring one from Google-owned Zagat) and required a scroll through four pages of information before any truly natural results appeared at all.

So how does this affect independent bloggers? In my case, my blog has been at the top of Google’s results for a number of relevant search terms for several years. Now it has dropped down, typically to fourth or fifth place. So why has this happened?

Well, it’s clearly due to one of the recent algorithm updates, but looking at the sites that are now on top reveals little. While one or two may arguably have more “authority,” some are small commercial companies appearing seemingly at random, which tells me that despite Google’s punishing algorithm updates, some sites are still manipulating their rankings with SEO techniques and are slipping through the net.

After spending years creating good content and building readers, Google moves the goalposts, resulting in far fewer people finding my site.

While I know this sounds like “sour grapes,” I’d be less bitter if I truly believed that all the results that have pushed me from the top deserved to be there. I’d find it easier to accept the situation if some didn’t contain vastly out of date content that (personal bias aside) simply doesn’t deserve to be there.

The more I think about it, the more it seems that increasingly, the only way to ensure people consistently find you on Google is to pay Google. Even if you’re doing well in the organic results right now, the next algorithm change may plunge you into obscurity, especially when Google’s page layouts now mean that even being on the first page of the natural results doesn’t mean anyone will see you without lots of scrolling.

Google built its popularity on being fast, clear and fair. It would be a terrible shame if that “don’t be evil” slogan came back to bite it.

Qwiki becomes Yahoo!’s 11th acquisition under Marissa Mayer

Yahoo-acquires-QwikiYahoo! recently announced that it has acquired the New York startup Qwiki, bringing the total number of acquisitions under the tenure of Marissa Mayer to 11. Originally a video search engine web platform since 2010, Qwiki shut down its web platform early this year and launched a social mobile video app after its iPad version of the app got about two million downloads.

After moving migrating back to New York from San Francisco, the company adopted the new focus in an effort to work with media brands such as ABC News. Qwiki works by organizing your photos and videos by date, location, and time of day and clumping it all together. It selects a song from your iTunes library based on your listening behavior, adds media, and allows you to edit the filters and captions before rolling a minute-long Qwiki with all of your iOS device’s camera roll. According to the founder and CEO, Doug Imburce, Qwiki was never intended to be a video-sharing app, but rather, a storytelling app.

What The New Acquisition Brings to Yahoo!

QwikiAs it has done with most of its acquisitions, Yahoo! will not kill off the brand. Instead, it will continue to support the app while the team joins the company in New York to reimagine the company’s storytelling experiences.

The mayor of New York city, Michael R. Bloomberg was also kind enough to comment on the new acquisition saying: “Qwiki is a great example of the momentum in New York City’s booming tech sector. While the company was started out west, they relocated here to be a part of our surging tech community… We congratulate them on their partnership with Yahoo!, and hope they continue to grow and thrive in New York City.”

Since taking over as CEO of Yahoo!, Marissa Mayer has spearheaded the acquisition of nearly a dozen startups that cost less than $100 million. These include Alike, Astrid, GoPolloGo, Jybe, Loki, Milewise, OntheAir, Snip.it, Stamped, Summly and now Qwiki.

What’s next for Yahoo!? As of this writing, Yahoo!’s Tumblr blog was updated with the news that the company had acquired Xobni, an address book app creator, bringing the total number of acquisitions by Mayer to 12.

iPad Mini shortages – An “own goal” for Apple?

Liverpool v Fulham - Premier LeagueWhen a new product hits the market, there’s often a shortage. It happened with the Nintendo Wii, the original iPod and with numerous different iPhones.

I’m not here to have a detailed debate as to whether manufacturers should, by now, have brought their supply chains up to speed. I will also limit my speculation as to whether sometimes these shortages are engineered to increase hype and demand.

All I’m going to focus on is that Apple’s Christmas shortage of iPad Minis has had an unexpected effect: I’m no longer sure whether I can be bothered to buy one.

I tried really hard to get an iPad Mini. I had my eye on the “cheap” one, the 16GB WiFi only model – in white if possible, but I would have settled for black. I tried first to find one in the various electronics stores in my home country of Portugal. I didn’t hold out an awful lot of hope of finding one here straight after launch, but I was unconcerned as I was spending time in London before Christmas.

Everywhere I went in Portugal I found iPad Minis. But there was a problem: all I could find was the 64GB WiFi and cellular model. This costs just shy of double the price of the entry-level model (€669).

The iPad Mini
The iPad Mini

On arrival in London, I headed to the flagship Apple store – no iPad Minis. The next day I made a beeline for Harrods, one of London’s high-end department stores, which has an Apple Store concession. They had iPad Minis, but guess which ones? Yes, you got it – 64GB cellular models at double the price I wanted to spend.

I knew from my visit to Harrods that there was little point in going to any of London’s Apple stores that day, as the shop assistant informed me that people had been arriving from them all day, hoping Harrods had some in stock.

Dejected, I tried the next day to “think outside the box” and headed out of London to the Apple store in Kingston-upon-Thames. By now, I was unsurprised to hear that they only had the 64GB cellular models. They told me the only chance of the 16GB WiFi was to arrive first thing in the morning.

Sadly, by this point, I’d already dedicated too long to the task, and had to spend the rest of my time in London at work. Yes, I could have queued early in the morning, or chanced an online order turning up, but by this point, I was rather put off by the whole experience.

I was beginning to wonder just how many people would end up paying twice the price for a 64GB cellular iPad Mini out of desperation.

The thing is, I was beginning to wonder just how many people would end up paying twice the price for a 64GB cellular iPad Mini out of desperation. I couldn’t help but consider whether this situation was in some way deliberate.

The iPad Mini is in direct competition with lower cost devices like Google’s Nexus 7. The entry-level model is, on that basis, the only one that really matters. It’s going to appeal to those people, like me, who are on the fence about the need for an iPad (in addition to an existing iPhone and Mac) and need a little convincing.

All the messing around looking for one didn’t persuade me to buy an expensive version. It instead made me reconsider whether I really needed one at all. Christmas is over, and I’m sure that within a couple of months, we’ll hear about a new iPad Mini with a retina screen and a better spec. Perhaps I’ll buy one of those. I suspect I am one of many people who feel this way.

Supply shortages may come with the territory, but Apple has scored a real “own goal” with this one. With the amount of time between new, updated models becoming shorter all the time, people really need to the ability to buy products while they still want to – otherwise they may not buy them at all.

Image courtesy: ASHISH1897

Apple iPhone may be king, but Android rules the world

In many countries around the world the iPhone is the most popular smartphone, beating all other pretenders to its crown whether they’re running Android, Windows Phone, or even BlackBerry OS. However, Apple is being roundly beaten by the strength-in-numbers behemoth that the Google operating system has grown to become.

The iPhone may be king, but Android rules the world.

The popularity of Android has been growing for several years, but it’s now reaching a level that threatens to upset the Apple apple cart. A strong Android spells disaster for the iPhone. The more people who opt for Android-powered smartphones over the iPhone, the more Apple should start to worry.

Three Out Of Four

According to a new report from IDC (via Reuters), 75% of all new smartphones shipped in Q3 2012 were running Android. This is a massive rise in market share over the same period in 2011, when Android accounted for 57.5 percent of all smartphones shipped. In total there were 181.1 million smartphones shipped in Q3, and Android was installed on 136 million of them.

Apple is lagging woefully behind, with just 14.9 percent market share in Q3 2012. This is a slight rise on the 13.8 percent market share iOS enjoyed over the same period in 2011. The new iPhone 5, an incremental upgrade if ever I saw one, will likely help boost these figures for next year, but when 75 percent plays 15 percent there’s only ever going to be one winner.

iOS Vs. Android

I’m of the firm belief that Android and iOS are both great operating systems. And Windows Phone also deserves to be thrown into the mix for those not keen on the offerings from Google or Apple. There are startling differences between the two, naturally, but they both essentially do the same job, and both do it extremely well.

The problem for Apple is that it has one device (in terms of smartphones) going up against the dozens of Android devices swarming the market. Most mainstream consumers won’t be the least bit interested in iOS vs. Android, and instead choose hardware based on its specs and how they align with their needs. In which case Apple just cannot compete.

Conclusions

Apple will keep banging on about the iPhone being the most popular smartphone on the market, but it’s being roundly beaten by the collective that is Android. This matters because one thing in particular is driving smartphone adoption: apps. With the number of Android users growing so will the quantity and quality of Android apps available on Google Play. And that will harm Apple for the long term.

Image Credit: Cheon Fong Liew

Don’t look now, but here comes the Windows Surface tablet

The image above is smartphone photography in its truest form; taken this month at the official Microsoft Store at the Mall of America (across the walkway from the Apple Store), this sign heralds the next big step for the software/hardware giant.  Indeed, the Surface tablet by Microsoft is arriving in stores this Friday, October 26th, 2012.

And if one is asking what the heck is the Surface and why should one be interested, let me elaborate:

The Surface Tablet by Microsoft

Image Courtesy of Microsoft

The Surface tablet is Microsoft’s new investment into the touch screen tablet market.  It comes as a 2lb, 10.6″ 10 point multi-touch HD tablet (larger in both regards than the 1.5lb, 9.7″ screened iPad) with stereo speakers, a few USB ports, a micro SD slot, front and rear facing cameras, a headphone port, and a video display output port.  The tablet is supported by a 22 degree “kickstand” that can flip in and out for maximum viewability.

Image Courtesy of Microsoft

The main keyboard is a pressure sensitive interface that doubles as the protective case for the Surface’s screen, and for an improved typing experience can be upgraded to the hard, mechanical Type Cover. Both keyboards work in hand with the kickstand to efficiently turn on and off the Surface when closed or transported.

The Surface Operating System

Besides the physical attributes, the Surface is being advertised as two different tablets with two distinct operating system options.

Windows RT

The Surface’s first operating system coming out on October 26th is known as Windows RT, which can be considered like a “light” version of Windows 8.  All the iconic Windows Metro tiles are present here (Mail, Sky Drive, Calendar, Facebook, etc); with them installed the homescreen can be modified and tweaked to suit one’s preferences.  Additional applications and tiles can be downloaded by the Windows Store, which also act as the content manager for the Surface.  Windows Defender is also included as a safeguard for one’ personal data.

The RT version also comes initially with Microsoft Office RT Preview, which carries all the common Office products in a non-polished form (with improvements coming through a free upgrade later on).  And yes, all Office programs in the Windows RT system will be touch-friendly.

Windows 8 Pro

Although the Surface is being released with Windows RT, it is Windows 8 that will use it’s functionality to the fullest.  The forthcoming Windows 8 on the Surface acts like Windows 7 in the background, but still has all those pretty Metro tiles on the front end with similar connectivity to social media and the like.

Unlike the Windows RT version, the full Office suite will be available for the Windows 8 Pro Surface, again with emphasis added on the touch capabilities for maximum efficiency.  And because Windows 7 is essentially running in the background in Windows 8, the future Surface tablet will be able to run and install any application that have been compatible with existing Windows systems.  Networking and security will also be expanded beyond Windows Defender with bit-locker disk encryption, remote desktop access, and other IT management features.

The Present Situation

The main differentiation between the Windows RT version of the Surface and the Windows 8 version is quite clear: the RT Surface is currently available for $499 ($699 as the 64GB version) and the Windows 8 Pro version does not even have a release date yet.  But when Windows 8 Pro is released, the improved Surface will boast an i5 Core Processor, 2 extra GB of RAM (4 GB total), and double the battery size for usage well beyond the 8 hours the Windows RT surface can provide.

Presently, the Windows RT version can be pre-ordered from the Microsoft Store, but depending on the release of Windows 8 it may make sense to wait and see if the Surface can really stretch its wings with the added functionality.

How social media and technology have changed the election process

Disclaimer: I realize this is a technology website, and while I have my own political opinions, I am not in any way attempting to push any sort of belief, or support either candidates in this post. I tried to be fair and balanced, and in no way intended to spark a political debate. Technological debate only!

Technology has changed our lives in more ways than can possibly be written about in one article. It has probably changed more things than we can even realize, and the fact that it is all around us is starting to be taken for granted. Recently, while reading various news articles about the latest debate and how people perceived the candidates, I finally realized just how much tech and social media has impacted something as important and life changing as the presidential election.

The Spread of Information

Undoubtedly, the biggest impact that technology has had is through the way that we spread information. In the past, things had to be looked up in an encyclopedia, or you had to find someone who was knowledgeable in the subject so that you could ask them some questions. Today, virtually every piece of information known to man is available literally at our finger tips.

Think about our daily interactions:

“Who played in that movie?”

“Let me check IMDB.”

“How tall is the tallest building?”

“Let me Google it.”

“How do you build a house?”

“No problem, let me find a how-to video on YouTube!”

These things drastically change the speed of information, and this is most evident in the current presidential elections. In the past, elections could be completely decided by how strong the physical campaign was for the candidate. It was relatively simple really: if you visit more places and speak convincingly, more people will be willing to vote for you.

Now, the political landscape is completely changed by social media and the easy access we have to all sorts of information. All of a sudden, the information asymmetry that candidates were counting on simply is gone. This has had a huge impact on how we perceive the candidates, and I believe, how we vote.

The Debates

One of the biggest examples of the effects of social media during this election is in the presidential debates. In the past, debates were somewhat downplayed, and people thought that it ultimately could not sway the results of an election. Many people thought that while opinion may change slightly, it wouldn’t affect the outcome of the election unless one candidate flat-out humiliated or dominated the other one. Then, of course word would spread.

However, spreading the word in the age of the internet is infinitely easier than it was ten years ago. This means that people can tweet, post status updates, or send friends messages instantly to say what they feel about the presidential debate. Instead of being alone or with a group of friends/family watching the debates, we are now in groups of thousands and millions where tons of opinions are being thrown around. This also means that instead of forming your own opinion, you are more likely to be swept up in others ideas long before you realize what it is you want. In some cases this may be a good thing, but it can also be terribly destructive to one of the candidates depending on how the flow goes.

Fact Checking

My favorite aspect of this tech impact on the elections is the “fact checking” websites that have popped up all over. The idea that they’re out there has a very positive effect on the elections, and on politics in general. In the past, candidates could spew lie after to lie to the general public, and if they were convincing, that was all that mattered. While this is still true in some situations, the fact that you can jump on your smartphone or laptop and check to see if what you were told was actually true really shifts the power away from crafty words and convincing personalities. Of course, you are often still left with how you feel about the person and how convincing they were, but if a point you really identified with was found out to be a lie, then you are much more likely to change your opinion.

Naturally, there is still some bias in these websites and articles that check the facts, and while campaign parties realize that it is out there, they still do their best to avoid telling the absolute truth. What seems to be a “win” these days is telling something that isn’t a lie, but isn’t 100% true. By staying neutral, and usually skipping the parts that you don’t want to bring up, it is much easier for the people who read about it to simply think of it as “strategy” instead of lying.

Social Media

Something that I find extremely interesting, and that I think has a strong impact on the elections, is the social media that is used to discuss the candidates. For example, during the political conventions and the debates, live tweets were displayed in real-time on the screen so that viewers could get an idea what others were thinking about debate. While this may seem harmless, and even collaborative, it can really change the impact and the perception of the discussion. Tweets that are discussing what is currently happening in discussion effectively decide where the attention is being focused during the talk. Something as harmless as “Why does Biden keep smirking?” can lead to millions of people ignoring the words and only looking at facial expressions.

Another huge impact that these sites have, is how much people have been taking quotes or pictures from debates and campaign events and positing them online with funny twists. Places like Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter are hotbeds for pictures and quotes that are edited and changed for a funny purpose.

One glaring example, and the one that really made me think “Oh wow, technology really is changing the elections” is the Mitt Romney and his “binders full of women” comment. Something that was seemingly an innocent statement was picked up in minutes and had a Twitter hashtag, a Facebook account, a website called bindersfullofwomen.com, and a Tumblr page full of memes about Romney and his stance on women. If you ask viewers what they took away from the debate, you may get a mix of answers, but if you ask them if they heard about “binders full of women,” most anyone will say yes.

Similar things have been done against the Obama campaign, and it isn’t hard to find similar Tumblr pages or YouTube parodies that tear apart the Obama administration and try to take statements that he has said and put them in a negative light.

Future Elections

While I believe that all of these things have drastically changed public perception of candidates, it hasn’t altered the process enough to completely change politicians themselves. They still lie, they still say half-true statements, and they still do their best to manipulate the public. The smart ones are jumping on the tech wagon and using these things to continue to perpetuate the lies and the propaganda by taking to social networks or posting viral videos. The bindersfullofwoman.com site that I mentioned above? It was created by someone who is an avid Obama supporter and is linked with the campaign funding channels. Things like this that are seemingly funny and innocent, are pointedly political and calculated attempts to tear down the image of the other candidate. We will see much more of this in future elections, and it will continue to be hard to tell whether it was an innocent joke or a focused attack.

As technology continues to be more pervasive in our lives, more people will get their information from channels on the internet. Be it Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, or even a blog that you regularly read, these places are quickly and effectively changing the minds of many citizens who regularly access them. I would like to believe that in the future, this will lead to more truths being told, and less lies being allowed, but I am not so sure.

The internet has long been a place where facts are overruled by opinions, where stories that have no real base are picked up, and entertainment trumps anything related to sense and responsibility. There are many tools that are available to greatly improve things in the election process, but it remains to be seen whether these tools are used more by people who make positive changes or ones that take advantage and use them negatively.

Image Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

Microsoft Office for iOS and Android has finally been confirmed for a March 2013 release

Microsoft Office is finally coming to an iOS and Android operating system near you.

Mobile phone and tablet users have patiently waited and hoped for Microsoft to release an app version of their pervasive software. There have been rumors and stories claiming Microsoft Office was coming to mobile/tablet devices for years, but the wait is finally over.

According to a press release obtained by The Verge from the Microsoft’s Czech Republic representatives, the company is set to launch mobile versions of their Office software in March of 2013.

In addition to Windows, Office will also be available on other operating systems, Windows Phone, Windows RT, Mac OS, Android, IOS and Symbian” says the Microsoft press release.

The press release also mentions that Microsoft Office 2013 will be available for businesses as early as December of this year, and the app versions of the software will be made available to the general public at the end of February/early March of 2013.

There was no mention of what the app would cost iOS and Android users. The most expensive apps in the Apple apps store can cost well into the $100s of dollar range. While it is probably too early to speculate on price, expect the Microsoft Office 2013 app to be a premium download that will cost well above the average price of a standard app.

March Release Date: Coincidence or Perfect Marketing?

One of the first things to stand out about the Czech press release is the March 2013 release date. March has traditionally been reserved for Apple’s launch of its new iPad. Over the last two years Apple has announced the specs for its new iPad in early march and sold the device a few weeks later. Knowing how savvy both Microsoft and Apple are with their marketing, it would not be a stretch to assume both companies strike a deal to incorporate the Microsoft Office app into the new versions of the iPad.

While Microsoft Office may still be the gold standard for office productivity software many iOS users have found other apps to replace Office on their devices. There are a plethora of third-party productivity apps that fill in the gap that not having Microsoft Office leaves.

Microsoft would be wise to use the release of a new iPad to promote its Office app in order to help it again a foothold on a productivity market that has found ways to replicate Microsoft Office on mobile phones and tablets.

How 4G mobile networks are changing our lives

One of the leaders in 4G, VerizonWhen the iPhone 5 was announced, many people wondered how its many incremental changes would allow Apple to take the lead again in the smartphone market.

Of all the changes, there is one feature that will be the most important, and will most impact the impression of the public: 4G.

The 4G radio upgrade that allows the iPhone to access this much faster internet connection (in some cases, faster than the cable connection in our houses) will completely change the user experience in more ways that we realize. The same can be said for any mobile device that is 4G capable, and as more companies upgrade their technology, this new connection standard will revolutionize the way we interact with the world.

A brief history of network connection speeds

To understand the gravity of the 4G breakthrough, we have to look back a bit at the first connection revolution: broadband internet access. When the internet first began, and users eventually got access to it right from their own homes, the dial-up connection was extraordinarily slow. You had to wait minutes just to load the login page for email, not to mention the fact that you had to give up a phone line to do it. This meant that most people didn’t use the internet to constantly surf content, and webpages were basic so that things were easier to load over the poor connection.

When the broadband connection was created and the technology became more and more popular, it completely changed the way that companies created content online. Sites like YouTube and Facebook were becoming media moguls, and the availability of a faster connection opened up options for companies that were not previously available. They used these new options to completely revamp the usefulness of the internet, and it changed the way we interacted with the world.

All of a sudden, it became more convenient to jump on a shopping website to find a product than it was to go to a physical store.

All of a sudden, it became more convenient to jump on a shopping website to find a product than it was to go to a physical store. Information from Google was mere seconds away, so going to the library became obsolete. Watching a movie was as simple as a few clicks, and some momentary loading, the need to run to the store for a rental was all but eliminated. Even chatting with your friends became easier to do with your internet connection, so social sites exploded all over as people logged in from home.

A ton of content started to become available, and over the evolution of the speed in the past ten years, websites like Netflix and Hulu have been able to build their media-based companies because of this better technology. Even things like email and search have become so easily accessible and convenient that it is our preferred way of contacting people and finding information.

If the slow speeds of previous internet connections had stayed the same, almost none of the things that we do now would be possible. Even if the information was out there, nobody would have the patience to access it, and no company would invest time in creating content for something so difficult to access.

The mobile revolution

The next biggest jump in how we access information and interact with the world was the smartphone. Phones such as the iPhone began to bring search, maps, and informational apps to the finger tips of their owners. This certainly has been a revolution as smartphones and tablets have become faster and more reliable, and more interaction with the internet has been on-the-go. These incredibly convenient tools that were available online (search, money conversion, Wikipedia, distance calculators, etc) were starting to be put into sleek and easy to use smartphone apps. The added convenience of having them on your phone brought their usability to a new level, and the smartphone market sky rocketed.

However, when smartphones leave the safe haven of a high speed wifi connection for a standard mobile data network, things go downhill pretty quickly. It is something that we have become somewhat used to, and we forgive the slow network speeds because we realize this is the price for the convenience of accessing this information while being mobile. Sure, it might take a little extra time to load those pictures or get your Google search result, but it is much better than not having any access at all.

4G is going to change all of that in the same way that broadband changed the way we use our computers and the internet.

4G is going to change all of that in the same way that broadband changed the way we use our computers and the internet. One of the easiest ways to see this is to take Netflix as an example. Their apps for Android and iOS are fantastic, and when you have a wifi connection you have thousands upon thousands of video options for entertainment. When you leave that wifi connection, your willingness to wait for that video to buffer becomes much less, and in the end you end up using it almost not at all. This is just like dial-up, it would load if you were willing to have some patience, but for many websites it just wasn’t worth the wait.

With the faster 4G connection, once again, sites such as Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and even Facebook, are going to be able to pump out media to their users. It will also allow every single website to increase their complexity, and put out mobile versions of their sites that will be much more satisfying to the user. The lag that we experience now has already started to become a thing of the past, and children that are young now will not be able to remember the time they couldn’t get access to a site or video instantly via a mobile device.

How mobile device companies are cashing in

Since 4G is fairly new and much of the public isn’t entirely sure what it means for them, companies like Apple are cashing in on the new technology. In the iPhone 5, the improved processor will certainly add some juice for dealing with software running on the phone, but the 4G connectivity will pick up any remaining slack. To many users, this will be all part of the “Apple experience”, and many will attribute the improved speeds to be the result of the processor and the device itself.

Instead of marveling at the speed the phone brings down data in the browser, people will think, “Wow, Apple made the iPhone 5 a lot faster!” The same can be said about any other 4G device that is out on the market today.

Meanwhile, we have moved past the strict need for faster processors on phones as most new mobile devices can handle a very significant amount of software and usage without having a lag. Incremental processor updates will certainly still help development of software, but the 4G network is what is going to vastly improve the user experience.

4G’s impact on the future of software

One of the interesting aspects of this improved connection is just how much it will change the software world in the future. Right now, we see many companies transitioning to cloud-based solutions, but with a typical 3G connection, this can be very limited. With faster internet connection speeds, companies like Apple and Microsoft have the ability to build cloud-based operating systems that are shared between the mobile platforms and the computers.

Apple’s mobile operating system iOS and their desktop operating system Mac OS have been converging for years now, and with Windows 8, Microsoft is taking that a step in that direction as well. Processors in mobile will certainly still play a role in this development, but the fact is that these companies can take a huge load off of the devices backs by creating server-side software that is network dependent.

With potential 100Mbps download speeds, downloading pieces of your desktop operating system doesn’t seem too far fetched anymore.

The dreaded data caps

The biggest concern right now is how mobile carriers are capitalizing on this improved network connection. Using incredible amount of data on a network is something that is relatively new, and knowing that more people are going to be switching to 4G for the speed, companies are beginning to charge more for data instead of less. Verizon and AT&T previously offered unlimited data plans for around $30 per month, and for anyone who used their mobile device a lot, this was more than worth it. However, in recent years they have implemented a max plan of 2GB for around the same price, and for these years it hasn’t caused that much of an uproar. Unless you were a diehard mobile device addict, having 2GB of data seemed like more than enough.

Many people hoped that, as faster data connections were made available, data caps would also increase to support the increased throughput. It isn’t very hard to use 2GB of mobile data anymore, and with increasingly data-intensive applications coming out every day, it is more likely that even the average person will use 2GB in a month.

With the increasing popularity of 4G, mobile carriers seem to be trying to squeeze every penny out of their customers.

With the increasing popularity of 4G, mobile carriers seem to be trying to squeeze every penny out of their customers. Capped data has continued to be the norm, but it won’t stay that way for very long. The more that people transition to 4G, and the more data that is used, the more people will start to demand better prices for it.

The same thing happened with text messaging once people started to realize how obnoxiously over priced an individual text message cost. Now, unlimited text messaging plans are the most efficient, and they have made text messaging one of the preferred ways of contact for millions of people across the country.

Hopefully the same thing will happen with mobile data, but we do have to take into consideration that the phone companies are running out of things to charge for. Now that the primary use of mobile phones has changed from voice calls to things like streaming video, sharing rich media, and browsing the web, carriers want to find new areas to rake in the profit. Unfortunately, for the time being, data is that area.

So where does that leave us?

Even with data caps, 4G will be a driving power behind the technology of tomorrow. The increased network speed will unlock thousands of potential options for small and large businesses alike. Our transition from laptop devices to fully capable mobile devices will continue, and with speeds this impressive, we will see the transition faster than previously thought.

Before long, something like Google’s Project Glass, with an augmented reality system that constantly shows you information about the world around you, will be an every day item. With more powerful processors, and better hardware, companies have been trying to pack all of their punches into on board software. Now, that approach has become much more flexible, and our future hardware world will be most likely be much better complimented by full feature options available virtually instantly through your mobile network.

Image Credit: Flickr.com Creative Commons

Apple Releases a New iPod Touch in the Wake of iPhone 5’s Hit Release

It has been one week since Apple unveiled the new iPhone 5. As if the mere release of the fifth generation iPhone was not enough, the giant gadgets designer also dropped a newly revamped version of the Apple iPod Touch. The iPod Touch can be defined as an iPhone without the phone, meaning that the device delivers the other functionalities of an iPhone apart from the calling functionality.

Bigger screen, thinner device

This new iPod Touch still perpetuates Apple’s trend of releasing gadget updates that are slimmer, more power efficient and smarter than their predecessors. The gadget features a 4-inch retina display with an aspect ratio of 16:9 to enhance on video and gaming experiences which are the core functionalities of an iPad.

Weighing in at 88 grams (from the former 101 grams) with a super-thin depth of 6.1mm, the device is now powered by a dual core A5 processor, an improvement from the former A4 which is aimed at improving general processing capabilities to better on the execution of heavy-weight applications.

To cover the iPod, Apple designers have dumped the tapered chrome backing for a flat aluminum panel, a move that rhymes with the casing change of the iPhone 5 and is believed to add to the versatility of the gadget. The sleek cover is punctured at the front top part to host a secondary camera that can support 720p video and facial recognition with its pixel power left classified during the release.

At the rear of this new gadget that now features an internal speaker detaching you from the constant need for earphones and 2.4GHz and 5GHz 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi radio making it compatible with Apple’s AirPlay Mirroring feature, is a new 5-megapixel camera complete with LED flash that supports 1080p video capture and other iSight capabilities.

Released in a variety of colors that include blue, silver and black that are bound to create an illusion of diversity fromone gadget to another, the new iPod Touch will come with new earbuds dubbed “EarPods” to enhance the audio quality delivered to the user.

An impressive cut down on power consumption will definitely reduce the need to get plugged in and juice up the iPod. Statistics released put music playback time to a record 40 hours.

Pricing

It is speculated that the iPod will be selling at a retail price of $299 for the 32GB model and $100 more for an additional 32GB of storage to lay hands on the 64GB model.

Everything you need to know about the new iPhone 5

The much anticipated iPhone 5 is finally out and from a glimpse of the gadget during the launch,
Apple did not make us wait all this long for nothing. Measuring 0.30 inch thick, the iPhone 5 is 18%
thinner than its predecessor and Apple claims that it is the thinnest and lightest (3.95 ounces) phone
around.

Network

In bid to tackle areas where the influx of Android smartphones is poking holes in iOS, the company has incorporated high-speed 4G-LTE networking capabilities which will add to the already impressive list of supported networks (GPRS, EDGE, EV-DO and HSPA). LTE will have a dedicated single chip  for voice and data, another for radio, and a dynamic antenna that will surf through different networks automatically.

Display

To compete with other high end Smartphones like Samsung galaxy S111 or the Nokia Lumia 920, the Retina Display screen has been increased to an impressive 4″ which, though still less than that of its competitors, delivers better display at 326ppi (1,136×640) at an aspect ratio of 16:9.

The extra screen dimensions mean more icons can be crammed into the home screen reducing the time to locate certain services. Other applications that will take advantage of this real estate will be the calendar which can now give a full five day view and iWork apps. However, third-party apps without updates will have to work framed in black borders to avoid stretching or scaling.

Hardware

Encased in an aluminium unibody stellar quality shell does away with the fragility of its predecessors, the iPhone 5 packs an A6 chip that is two times faster than the current A5 chip. The chip, which in the real sense is 22% smaller than the A5, will deliver faster speeds effectively doing away with the lagging common in the 4th generation iPhones when they run heavy apps.

Battery Life

Powering all this awesome hardware under normal circumstances is expected to make consume more battery life.  Apple is however promising longer battery life – an alleged 8 hours for 3G talk, 8hours of 3G and LTE browsing, 10 hours for Wi-Fi browsing and video playback, 40 for music playback and a whooping 225 hours of standby time – something we won’t be sure of until it is tested.

Camera and Additional Features

Other cutting-edge features include a primary “iSight” camera at 8 megapixels featuring backside
illumination, a hybrid IR filter, five element lenses and a f2.4 aperture, a secondary camera, additional three more
microphone, improved noise cancellation feature, a new and smaller connector (Lightning) and SIM card and a new OS, iOS 6.

The 16GB is $199, the 32GB is $299 and the 64GB is $399.