What I’m excited about in iOS 7

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Has it really been seven years?

iOS 7: It’s crazy to think it’s been seven years since the first release of iOS / iPhone OS (and the original iPhone) way back in 2007. If you haven’t seen the original video of Steve Jobs’s keynote announcing the iPhone, I highly recommend watching it. It marked the beginning of a new era in how all of us interact with technology.

During today’s iOS 7 keynote, I tried to lay low and not read too much into what people have been saying on Facebook, Twitter, and the comment sections of Engadget and The Verge. The levels of snark are off the scale on days like this and for the most part, it doesn’t positively contribute to the conversation.

What I’m excited about

Everyone has their own likes and dislikes when it comes to their favorite mobile operating system. For the most part, I’m pretty excited about some of the new features announced in iOS 7. I think this release finally tackles a lot of limitations and features that people on other platforms have harped about for years and it’s significantly mitigated the remaining reasons to jailbreak.

One caveat: I write this without having had an opportunity to download the latest beta. That said, I’m really excited about 3 things in particular: namely, the new control panel (a simple swiper from the bottom of your screen brings up a panel offering quick access to common system settings), improved multitasking (Apple’s implementation is allegedly “smart” — apps know when to wake up, update / download data, and go back to sleep. This is huge for apps I commonly use like Feedly, Pocket, and Downcast), and an improved notification center (it’s something I was so happy with when iOS 5 was announced but it’s always felt so limited — now we can see a list of relevant and important information at a glance, in addition to all the missed notifications we’re collecting).

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What I’m not excited about

My one and only gripe (albeit, it’s minor in the scheme of things) are the default first party icons. (Others have been complaining about this as well.) Their overly simplistic look doesn’t really appeal to me and I’d actually argue that they look bad. I’m not sure what happened in the design process here but it’s something that detracts from the overall polish of iOS for me.

Anyway, its going to be a long wait until fall. But I’m excited about this new direction and can’t wait to see where companies like Apple, Google, and Microsoft continue to take us in the mobile space.

An ngnomo’

Due to downsizing and restructuring, last week was my last week at DeNA San Francisco (formerly ngmoco). Past ngmoco alum have a special saying for this type of thing: “I’m an ngnomo’!

The past year or so has been a blast! I met so many great people and I know we’ll cross paths again. We did a lot of great work together and had a lot of fun in the process, plus we learned a lot and taught each other a lot too.

Anyway, I’m excited for new opportunities and even bigger and better things to come. Stay tuned! :)

A look back at the last year:

Extrapolating the screen size of Android mobile phones over time.

  This piece was originally posted on gdgt. Check it out, here.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus

Abstract: The latest Android mobile phone under Google’s flagship phone line, the Nexus family, currently has a diagonal screen size of 4.65 inches (118.1mm). This follows a trend that Google started with the HTC Dream / T-Mobile G1 — their first Android flagship phone. Released in 2008, it had a diagonal screen size of only 3.2 inches (81.3mm). Since then, screen sizes in Google’s Nexus line have grown at an average rate of 0.48 inches (12.2mm) per year.

I. Introduction
In 2008, HTC released the first Android phone, the HTC Dream on T-Mobile[1]. Known as the G1, this phone kicked off the Android revolution. At the time, it featured a screen size of only 3.2 inches (81.3mm) — which is rather paltry by today’s standards. Since then, subsequent releases of Android phones by Google and its partners have featured larger and larger screen sizes, culminating with the Samsung Galaxy Nexus[2], announced earlier this week in Hong Kong.

II. Methods
For this experiment, we only used specifications data provided by Google and its partners to determine the screen size. We listed each of Google’s flagship phone ordered by release date. Then we divided the total change is screen size by the total number of years.

From there, we’re able to extrapolate the potential screen size of future Android phones.

III. Results
Here is data from all of Google’s stock Android phones.

  • T-Mobile G1 (2008) – 3.2 inch
  • Nexus One[3] (2010) – 3.7 inch
  • Nexus S[4] (2010) – 4.0 inch
  • Galaxy Nexus (2011) – 4.65 inch

We see that over the course of 3 years, Google’s phones have gained a total of 1.45 inches (36.8mm). This factors out to an average growth rate of 0.48 inches (12.2mm) per year. With this result, we can now predict the screen size of Android devices over time.

  • 2012 – 5.13 inches (130mm)
  • 2013 – 5.61 inches (142.5mm)
  • 2014 – 6.09 inches (154.7mm)
  • 2015 – 6.57 inches (166.9mm)
  • 2020 – 8.97 inches (227.8mm)

IV. Conclusion
Over the last few years, it’s clear to see that the market has spoken with regard to its preferences over the size of mobile devices. Google has recognized consumer’s preference for larger devices and has moved toward a “bigger-is-better” strategy for mobile phones. At the current rate of growth for Android phones, by 2022, they will eclipse the 9.7 inch screen (246.4mm) size of Apple’s tablet, the iPad[5].

V. Footnotes

Seeing this post on Gizmodo earlier today made realize something. Android phones are getting bigger and bigger. So, I decided to write this tongue in cheek “research paper” to highlight the increasing “screen bloat” of Android devices. Bring on the 9.7 inch phones, baby! 2022 can’t come soon enough.

gdgt live in Los Angeles on October 28th!

Gdgt live in LA

At the end of this month, I’ll be down in Los Angeles for our gdgt live event. It’s our first time coming to Southern California. If you like gadgets and want a chance to play with some of the latest and greatest devices out there (and also win them), you should come out!

It’s free, all-ages, and open to the public.

When: Friday, October 28th, 2011 from 7:30pm – 10pm
Where: Club Nokia, 800 West Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles
Who: Over 20 of the hottest brands in tech. See who will be there!
How: This event is free, all-ages, and open to the public. Invite your friends! RSVP here.

[more info gdgt blog]

My impressions of the Fuji FinePix X100

  This piece was originally posted on gdgt. Check it out, here.

Finepix x100 2bs3 460

Alright, I meant to post this awhile ago — here are my impressions of the Fuji FinePix X100 after using it for a week.

Pros

  • The viewfinder displays all sorts of awesome live data.
    Holy awesome, I don’t know why more camera manufacturers haven’t done this yet, but the X100’s viewfinder has a live histogram. For me, it’s totally key when trying to nail a photo. I absolutely love using histograms to try and get proper exposure. Plus, there’s all the usual information (aperture, exposure, ISO, grid view).

    Another cool aspect of the viewfinder is that it shows a rectangle that shows the actual field of view of the image that will be captured. This means you can see outside this area and use it for anticipation, planning, or lining up your shot. I love it.
  • The lens is fast! It’s a fixed 35mm lens with an f/2.0 maximum aperture. The bokeh at f/2.0 is nice. It’s super sharp when stopped down to around f/4.

  • Hybrid viewfinder: So, this camera does something kind of interesting. It has a regular old optical viewfinder, but it also comes with an electronic viewfinder as well that can be manually engaged (or automatically engaged when in macro mode) that shows what your camera sees directly from the viewfinder. Sadly, there are cons to this (see down below!).

  • Design: The design is awesome. I love that retro style, and the camera is comparable in size to most micro 4/3’s cameras. Except it has an APS-C sensor inside!

  • The camera sensor: It’s an APS-C sensor — this is the same type of sensor you’d find in most DSLRs. Micro 4/3’s cameras (which are all the rage right now, and roughly the same size at the X100) have a slightly smaller sensor.

Cons

  • I wear glasses now, so when I put the viewfinder up to my face, I can’t actually see all the information displayed in the viewfinder. I can see the field of view of the image, but that’s about it.

  • Focus = slow: Oh, man. I lost a number of shots while waiting for the lens to lock focus. It’s actually pretty slow! And this is a problem that I notice happens a lot in low light environments (which the camera should actually be really good at shooting in!).

  • Hybrid viewfinder: This camera does something particularly annoying every single time you take a photo using the optical viewfinder. After you take an image, the electronic viewfinder pops up and shows you the most recent image you took. There’s no way to turn this off. Are you in the middle of trying to capture a series of action shots? Too bad! “Snap — view photos for 1 – 2 seconds — snap! — view next photo for 1 – 2 seconds — snap! — oh, my God, just let me take photos and look at things later!”

    The other issue I have with this (and all electronic viewfinders in general) is the general poor quality and low resolution of the image you see.

  • Slow to try and setup for a shot: This might be my limited amount of time with the camera and inability to truly get used to it, but I found it a pain to try and setup the camera properly for shots as I walked around Austin and San Francisco with it. Changing lighting conditions (which normally don’t phase me, even on my DSLR), wrecked havoc on my ability to take photos. There’s not really an automatic mode (for better or for worse) — this camera is for really seasoned professionals who know their stuff (do you know your Sunny 16 rules? If so, you can probably be comfortable using this camera).

A theatrical review: “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs”

Originally posted on gdgt on February 10th, 2011.

Last night, we ventured across the bay to check out a play by Mike Daisey at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre. It was a 120 minute one-man extemporaneous show about the history of Apple and a look at the people who build the gadgets that we love.

Judging by the title (and with recent events relating to Job’s recent health), you might think this is a show taking a deeper look into the life and times of Mr. Jobs. This would turn out to be an incorrect assumption. Daisey’s performance is an insightful, an often hilarious tale of the two Apples under Steve Jobs and John Scully. “Steve is not a micro-manager — he’s a fucking nano-manager!” Daisey switches between this and taking a serious look into what goes on behind the scenes at “all factories” in Shenzhen, China.

Daisey is the perfect epitome of an Apple fanboy, calling himself a devout follower of the Apple religion and perfectly describes what it’s like to own an Apple product. For those of us who are equally under the influence, it makes him easy to relate to. (That said, I don’t think you need to be a fan of Apple to enjoy this show.)

This sets up his story for a perfect transition from faithful believer, to wavering skeptic. “One day,” says Daisy, “I began to do something that all religions fear — I began to think.” Daisey goes on to explain that it all started because of a post he read on an Apple news site (Daisey says, “Have you ever noticed there’s no such thing as an Apple news site? The only thing they talk about are rumors.”). The post was about an owner of a new iPhone finding a series of pictures from the factory in the camera roll of their phone. A few of the images even showed factory workers in their cleanroom jumpsuits. This changed everything for Daisey. Until that point, he had never thought about the actual people who made his gadgets.

Side note: I think this may be the post that Daisey speaks of.

Daisey ends up traveling to Shenzhen, China and poses as an American businessman. He shares some of the things he saw; from factories with tens of thousands of people working on assembly lines in complete silence, to young teenagers who spoke to him about their work days (12, 14, or 16 hours).

Throughout the entire performance, Daisey is switching between the seriousness of what he saw in Shenzhen and his light hearted story of Apple’s history. In the mid-1990’s, Daisey explains, “Apple needed Jesus Fucking Christ to save them. So, they got the next best thing and brought Jobs back.”

If you’re a fan of gadgets and technology, I think you’d get a kick out of this show. It’s an interesting look into Apple and makes you consider the consequences of using the gadgets we love. Daisey explains that while it’s shameful nearly all companies turn a blind eye to this sort of behavior, the onus is on us as consumers to let these companies know we won’t stand for it.

Fortunately, Daisey’s humor and stories make the show quite entertaining, and you never really feel like you’re being lectured at. That said, I definitely felt bad about using my gadgets afterward (I arrived at the show carrying my bag containing a MBP, iPad, and iPhone — all of which were made in Shenzhen). You leave the theater with a heavy heart.

“The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” is performing at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre until February 27th, 2011. Ticket prices range anywhere from $45 – $75 dollars.

Show info: www.berkeleyrep.org­/index.asp