Google merging Chrome OS and Android: Apple is next

The Post-PC is more of a PC-Reborn era.  And it is so because the PC isn’t that big box under the table anymore. Or even that laptop, Ultrabook or convertible you’ve spent some money on lately.

No. Your PC is your smartphone. And if it’s not yet, it will be that soon enough.

The dream

That’s what Canonical envisioned almost four years ago. On October 31st, 2011 Mark Shuttleworth published this on his personal blog:

This was Canonical's dream. They're still sleeping though.
This was Canonical’s dream. They’re still sleeping though.

By 14.04 LTS Ubuntu will power tablets, phones, TVs and smart screens from the car to the office kitchen, and it will connect those devices cleanly and seamlessly to the desktop, the server and the cloud.

The idea was clear: your smartphone would become your PC, and the experience on that device would adapt to your needs and resources. But Canonical wasn’t able to deliver that promise. It even tried to launch Ubuntu Edge, the “convergent phone” that would provide all the necessary to get a responsive experience. That project had to be cancelled due to insufficient funding on Indiegogo, where nevertheless it was a record project.

Thankfully, Microsoft stole the idea

Microsoft took up the torch, and the company led now by Satya Nadella is finally delivering that idea. We saw the result with the new Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL, the first phones that thanks to Continuum, the Microsoft Display Dock and that ‘One Windows’ paradigm are able to transform that experience.

Your smartphone is finally yourPC.
Your smartphone is finally your PC.

You can finally use those smartphones as a smartphones or as PCs. It depends on what you need, and on what your resources are. A display, a keyboard and a mouse are enough to provide that desktop experience running from a smartphone.

Convergence is here, and it seems unstoppable.

Google agrees: this is the future

Google has been pretty clear in the past about the relevance of Android and Chrome OS. Both made sense for the company, and both covered different users. That was the official message.

pixelc
Google Pixel C was a surprise: a tablet for productive work. Everyone jump on board!

There was other goals inside the company, of course. As many predicted, maintaining two code bases when one of them is clearly not getting much traction seems not a good idea. Yesterday The Wall Street Journal revealed how Google would ‘fold’ Chrome OS into Android. There has been some updates on that report, and it seems Chrome OS will continue to exist after the release of that combination of both projects.

Chrome OS, tells The Verge, is not being “killed” and Re/code explains how “Starting next year, the company will work with partners to build personal computers that run on Android“. It seems the path to Google’s convergence will be a little slower, with two products coexisting -Android with Chrome OS features, and the traditional Chrome OS-, but the end seems clear: only Android (maybe with a different name) will survive.

Apple: merging iOS with OS X seems mandatory now

The discourse about convergence has also been unequivocal at Apple. Tim Cook recently explained how iOS and OS X had both sense for different scenarios:

ipadpro
And again, productivity shows the way. Your tablet wants to be your laptop. And it wants to be that with iOS. Weird?

We don’t believe in having one operating system for PC and mobile. These operating systems do different things,” said Cook. “We have no intention to blend them.

But again, this is the official discourse. There are to many hints to dismiss a possible merger between iOS and OS X:

  1. OS X has received minimal updates on the last two years, and in most cases there has been an ‘ios-ification of OS X‘. Continuity and Handoff were nice, but not specially ambitious.
  2. Apple’s ARM SoCs are incredibly powerful: they even beat the new MacBook, and that could led to that promising Apple laptop based on on an ARM processor (Apple A10?) and, of course, iOS.
  3. The new iPad Pro proves that Microsoft’s idea with their Surface is the one that can really save tablets. And it’s based in iOS. Not OS X. iOS.
  4. The Mac division is still important, but the iPhone is what makes Apple successful. Compare 63% revenue from iPhones to 13% revenue from Macs. If you add the iPads (another iOS product), you get a whopping 71% of revenue based on that products. That’s what work.

I have no doubts about this. Apple wants your smartphone to be your PC too. I’m absolutely sure they’re working on it, so stay tuned. Google’s decision won’t be the last on this front.

 

 

 

OnePlus X is the Nexus we all wanted

The OnePlus 2 has been surprisingly unsurprising, but the new smartphone from OnePlus sticks to what really shone in the first device that this Chinese maker launched. Impressive price/features ratio.

The design is fantastic, the size is convincing, and all the hardware features (AMOLED!) seem really promising. Even the camera performs on the first impressions, and I’m sure this one will be the star of the show for the upcoming months on that price range.

In fact, this is what many of us wanted from the Nexus family. An unexpensive device with great features that can provide a good experience. I miss the fingerprint or the quick charge options, sure, but I can live without them for that price.

I’m waiting for the reviews, but I think this leaves Moto G and everything around $200-$250 biting the dust. And makes everyone wonder if they really need to spend the $400 the Nexus 5X costs. I’m not sure the official Nexus is worth that now.

Source: OnePlus X unboxing and first impressions [Video]

Is the Apple TV affordable? Maybe, but the HDMI cable isn’t

The Apple TV has been late to the party and not particularly bold or agressive in the new concept. It brings a new Wiimote remote with Alexa Siri support and a dedicated OS whis is no more than an iOS fork (Apple is obsessed with platforms differentiation).

The hardware -with an Apple A8 inside- is much more powerful and ready to let users enjoy the apps and games suited for this device. Which will have to be specifically developed for the new Apple TV, of course.

It’s available now and it will ship on October 30th, but beware: the HDMI cable is not included. If you want the official one (1.8m), that will be $19. Or you can buy the $5.49 cable (2m) from Amazon. Or the AIM High Performance FLAT Cable FLE2-02 (2m) for $545. Anyone will give you the same exact quality and the same exact features.

You decide.

Source: The new Apple TV is now available to order from the Apple Online Store, first units ship October 30th

The Windows 10 Mobile app debate

Tom Warren talks on The Verge about the lack of apps on Windows Phone and the gradual disappearing of several apps that are no longer available or that were available but weren’t updated.

Windows 10 Mobile will try to fix this with the technologies that allow iOS and Android developers to port their apps and games to this platform, and I recently asked one Microsoft exec if that wasn’t something that would stop native development.

He told to me that he believed it was not the case. They see that as “bridges” (and they call them that way), so those developers don’t have to start from scratch. The transition can be made softly this way, and that could lead to developers that really take advantage of the promising Windows 10 ecosystem. As Warren writes:

With constant Windows Phone change, the only thing that has remained persistent is a lack of apps. Windows 10 Mobile is rumored to arrive to existing handsets in December, but Microsoft still hasn’t officially revealed a launch date. A lot is changing in the new OS, with different built-in apps, a new design and navigation, and Microsoft’s expectation that developers will create universal apps. It’s unlikely to make any difference to the fate of Windows Phone overall. It’s another reset, and Microsoft can’t keep hitting the reboot button forever.

I doubt it will be the case: few announcements and lack of details don’t talk very well about the future, but we’ll see.

Source: Windows Phone has a new app problem | The Verge

Surface Book vs. MacBook Pro: on apples and oranges

The reviews are there, and there are more and more coming, but PC World has tried to make the same comparison that Microsoft talked about in the launch event.

Of course comparing one machine to another is a little bit unfair, but every comparison is that. The MacBook Pro (13 inch, Core i5-5752U) is slightly faster than the Surface Book (Intel Core i5 -6300U ) on CPU-related tests, but 1) that’s a comparison between a 28W and 14W TDP chips and 2) these are chips from different generations.

And then there’s the comparison between an integrated GPU (Intel HD 6100 on the MacBook) and a discrete GPU (supposedly, a special version of a GTX 940M on the Surface Book). And the result is pretty clear. Which confirms again that the comparison is unfair. In any case:

The Surface Book’s premium price is what a premium is about. You can’t get discrete graphics in any MacBook Pro, but you can on the Surface Book. And the payoff is clear.

True.

Update (10/23/2015): another comparison, not that realistic either. I can’t understand how a tech reviewer can’t understand the difference between processors. Comparing machines by their price can really give us some surprises. Processors on both machines are absolutely different, (dual core Core i7-6600U with a 15W TDP on the SB vs a quad-core Core i7-4870HQ with a 47W TDP). Of course the MacBook crushes the Surface Book. C’mon.

Source: Surface Book vs. MacBook Pro: It isn’t twice as fast. It’s three times as fast | PCWorld

Fairphone 2 shows Google Ara how it’s done

Have you broken your smartphone’s screen and want to get a replacement? Do you want to upgrade just the camera? Or access to a new battery? All of this can be done on one phone and one phone only, and it’s not Google’s Project Ara. It’s the Fairphone 2.

The first modular phone, built by a Dutch startup, starts shipping in December for €525.

There’s for sure a market for this, but I guess most users simply want an iPhone. That’s a pity, because this is really something that could revolutionize the smartphone market.

This is really something. Probably something ahead of his time.

Source: Fairphone 2 hands-on: Modular phones are finally here | Ars Technica UK

YouTube Red: it’s my way or the highway

Josh Constine on TechCrunch:

YouTube made its top video creators an offer they literally couldn’t refuse, or they’d have their content disappear. Today YouTube confirmed that any “partner” creator who earns a cut of ad revenue but doesn’t agree to sign its revenue share deal for its newYouTube Red $9.99 ad-free subscription will have their videos hidden from public view on both the ad-supported and ad-free tiers

That’s a tough proposal from YouTube and the message for content creators is clear. It’s my way, or the highway.

Or Facebook Video, for that matter. Watch out, Google. That bet could go wrong.

Source: YouTube Will Completely Remove Videos Of Creators Who Don’t Sign Its Red Subscription Deal

The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 isn’t cheap, but it delivers a lot

I still have to read the full review, but on its final words Brett Howse explains clearly how everything in the Surface Pro 4 has raised the bars. The Type Cover is much better (keys and touchpad), the hardware is superb, and the execution is difficult to criticize.

But it is not cheap. At all. The “sweet spot” could be the SKU with the Core i5, 256GB SSD and 8GB RAM for $1299. That’s without the $129 Type Cover, of course. With that money you can find for sure other alternatives, but this is indeed a great machine:

If you are looking for a workhorse tablet that you can be productive on, I don’t think anyone else offers the build quality, performance, and accessories, compared to Surface.

Please have in mind that using this on your lap is not very comfy. The Surface Pro 4 and its predecessors are meant to be used on a table. If you plan to use it otherwise, consider other options.

Source: Final Words – The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Review: Raising The Bar

HTC One A9: judging a book by its cover

HTC released yesterday the new HTC One A9, a smartphone that look really good from the outside and that also gets really interesting features on the inside. There are doubts about its battery life, but what matters here is the promise of Android updates 15 days after the official Nexus line updates. They’ll have to prove that, because not everybody believes they’ll be able to get that.

Perfect fit, as Vlad Savov said.
Perfect fit, as Vlad Savov said.

The 3GB RAM / 32 GB storage will be $399 for a limited time, and if the camera delivers -audio seems to be fantastic- this is a good deal, although the Nexus 5X is even more competitive and the camera, according to the reviews, is really good.

The design is really aggressive. It’s so similar to the new iPhones that I wonder if Apple will sue them or not, but they really would have a winner here. But I guess HTC wanted to make a safe bet here: many people do judge a book by its cover, and on the looks area, the One A9 is good. As good as the iPhone 6s.

Nexus 5X & 6P reviews coming: worthy successors with surprising cameras

Reviews on the new Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P are coming. Ars Technica (both in one review, interesting but please, Ars, pagination in 2015? Really?) Engadget (5X, 6P) and TechCrunch (5X, 6P), are amongst the first ones to publish them, but we’ve got also first (I’d say ‘second’) impressions from Wired.

According to Ars, “all other Android devices are second class citizens“. I think this is an overstatement, because the later admit that there is no quick charging or wireless charging support, and the cameras are not comparable but the cameras seem even better tan their rivals’ and they are no longer the typical limited Nexus cameras.

I don’t like the fingerprint position, and as I told previously, Google should use this phones to show what Android 6.0 (and future versions for that matter) can do. That, by the way, is clearly the big pro of both smartphones.

The devices have nice prices in the US. That’s not the case in Spain and the euro zone, where the Nexus 5X ($379) will have a price of 479 euro. The same happens with the Nexus 6P ($499 != 649 euro) .

Not bad phones, but not specially good on the features/price ratio.