Yoga Book: Going beyond the tablet

The guys at The Verge have done a fine job by discussing how the new Lenovo Yoga Book came to life. This is a hardware device that, as Nilay Patel has said over at Twitter, is the first fascinating one in a long time.

The new and impressive Instant Halo Keyboard won’t be perfect for many people, but I’m sure the trade-off is worth it. Being able to type, write and draw on the same surface is a great deal, and not many hardware makers would have thought of an option as creative and bold as this.

In fact, there’s one company everyone would think of if asked which could be responsible of that innovation. That company, of course, was Apple.

It hasn’t been that one for some time now. The problem is, this is becoming the new normal.

Apple should have done something like this. Lenovo? Not in a million years.

And here we are.

13 billion reasons for Apple to abandon Europe

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The Commission can only order recovery of illegal state aid for a ten-year period preceding the Commission’s first request for information in this matter, which dates back to 2013. Ireland must therefore recover from Apple the unpaid tax for the period since 2003, which amounts to up to €13 billion, plus interest.

When Apple and other big technology firms set foot in Ireland they did for a good reason: they could use the tax system there to earn more profits. That justified the investments they made on their headquarters and the European staff working on that country.

That is no longer true: the European Commission investigation has discovered how much money the Irish tax system has lost due to this kind of management, and it’s no small money.

Apple can’t be the only one to be found guilty and pay, of course. Others -Amazon, Google, Microsoft- have been doing the exact same thing for years, so I guess this won’t be the first time we heard or read news on this front.

The problem? Those companies created European branches in countries such as Ireland for a reason. If that investment results in fines like the one we are seeing, then it makes no sense -not as much, at least- to maintain that  structure in Europe. I’d say many of them will leave those headquarters or will reduce their staff in the short term.

The new iPhone 7, on September 7th

But not at 07:00 AM, fortunately.

I’d like to say I expect a big hardware refresh here -Apple Watch 2, MacBook Pro, Mac Pro, Apple Thunderbolt Display, maybe an Apple Home à la Amazon Echo-, but I really think the focus will be the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

Oh. And iPhone 7 Pro with its dual cameras. Stay tuned, this will start some debate for sure. Apple can disappoint on other issues, but not on the post-news fever.

Android 7.0 Nougat makes more sense on tablets… and convertibles

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Big smartphones are everywhere, and Nougat’s new features make them more useful.

Honeycomb was meant for tablets. The idea tried to take advantage of that new gold rush started with the iPad, but that iteration never took off.

Tablets are back, but with a different perspective: now they’re trying to conquer not just the consumption but also the production of content, and the new features in Android Nougat take that into account.

Split view is probably the most interesting here, but changes to notifications and other areas that seem to merge certain ideas from Chrome OS -like the new dual system partition- make Android 7.x Nougat an interesting option for the future convertibles that will follow the premature Pixel C.

That and the ability to run Android apps on Chrome OS could bring us a new twist in this market.

T-Mobile unlimited data is not so unlimited

T-Mobile has announced its ‘unlimited plan’, an interesting option for heavy users of data plans on smartphones. The problem is, it’s not really unlimited:

The new T-Mobile One plan will come with unlimited mobile hotspot data, letting subscribers use their phone to connect a computer or other device to the network, but at 2G speeds. Speaking on the conference call this morning, T-Mobile executives said a premium option will be available with a higher-speed hotspot. Update: T-Mobile says the premium hotspot option will cost $15/month extra for 5GB of high-speed data.

Forget about ditching your current DSL/Fiber/Cable connection at home: the dream of paying just one data plan is just that, a dream. In Spain and other European countries unified (“convergent”) plans are quite popular, and they seem to be the way to go on the foreseeable future.

They make sense for the carriers and the users , who keep getting hungry about their mobile data needs. Nice bait for those carriers too, that nonetheless provide packages that at least in developed countries solve our needs easily.

 

Intel: if we can’t defeat them, we’ll join them

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Intel lost a recent opportunity to save itself from the mobile disaster, but there’s still hope for them. Not as makers, though: the recent deal made with ARM will allow other microprocessor designers to take advantage of Intel’s resources in the production process.

That could be a good way to leverage the technology and experience Intel has accumulated through all this years, but it’s also another sign -we didn’t need much more of these- of an Intel that threw in the towel long ago in the mobile space.

AMD made a similar move when GlobalFoundries spun off, and it went pretty well for them. We’ll see what happens with this new strategy from Intel.

Google Duo: simpler must be better

It’s  somewhat incredible how Facetime has no clear contestant in the world of mobile video calling apps in Android. We’ve got Skype and other options, of course, but none of them has conquered Android users and here we see even much more fragmentation than on the instant messaging market.

That’s what Google is trying to solve with Google Duo, which pursues something remarkable: minimalism and simplicity. The app is available starting today for Android and iOS, so we’ll see if in this world of overcomplex applications something like this really makes sense to users.

Maybe separating that from Hangouts was the right thing to do after all.