by Jin Kim
But I circled the entire store, visiting every section for several minutes at a time, and not once did a prompt appear. As usual, the Apple Store app knew which store I was standing in, but that’s not a new feature. When it came to iBeacon notifications, nothing came through — regardless of how long I stood in front of the iPhones on display. I locked my phone and woke it up several times to no avail. Puzzled, I asked an employee for help. He checked to make sure my iPhone 5S had all the required settings enabled (it did), and even pointed to a table under which a transmitter had been installed. Nothing.
Unimpressed, even for beta. Most Apple Stores are small enough to have the entire store in your view, but I can imagine an improved version of this service being handy if you combined iBeacon with indoor maps for larger multi-level Apple Stores, as well as other large retail stores: “Siri, where can I find iPhone Lightning cables?”
Google: The LG manufactured Nexus 5 sports a 445-ppi 4.95-inch 1920×1080 IPS LCD display and is protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3. The Nexus 5 is the first Android smartphone to run KitKat. Thankfully, like the LG G2 which the Nexus 5 is based on, there is LTE (AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint are onboard). Unlike the LG G2, the volume and power buttons are on the side. Priced at a very affordable US$349, unlocked.
Update 2013.11.04: The Verge reviews the Nexus 5. First let’s see what Joshua Topolsky says about the display, and then we’ll check out the camera.
Being flashy or ostentatious was never Google’s goal with the Nexus phones. The point is to let the hardware get out of the way so the software can do its thing. Android is the statement here, not the Nexus 5. That’s why its 4.95-inch, 1080p screen is such a key tenet of the phone’s appeal, and it more than gets the job done. It’s not oversaturated like the Moto X’s AMOLED display, though it can look a bit washed out and desaturated next to a device like the HTC One or the iPhone 5S. But those are relatively minor nitpicks. The screen overall is bright, beautiful, crisp, and accurate. At 445 pixels per inch, it’s a fantastic device for reading, working, browsing the web, or watching movies — a perfect window into Android.
Desaturated. It might be the result of reflectance. Even if the LCD itself is color accurate, a lot of reflectance between the cover glass, touch layer, LCD, etc. will result in washed out colors. FYI, Nokia has done a lot of work to eliminate reflections. Next up, the Nexus 5 camera:
The 8-megapixel camera on the back of the Nexus 5 is certainly capable of taking rather beautiful photos in the perfect setting. Unfortunately for us, life is not filled with perfect settings — and when you’re faced with real-world picture taking, the camera underperforms constantly and consistently. The Nexus 5 takes photos and video with too little contrast, too little saturation, and too little color (or inconsistent color) — when you can get the camera to focus at all. Low light performance isn’t exactly poor, but getting it to snap the picture you want at the moment you want will drive you absolutely nuts.
That’s too bad. I, along with many others, was hoping the Nexus 5 camera would be at least on par with the iPhone 5s or Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Google says the problem is software not hardware so maybe there’s still hope. Perhaps the weak showing of the LG G2 in a six-way smartphone camera shootout was also due to poor software. Overall, the Nexus 5 seems like a great bargain for the price, but what I want and need is a great display, long battery life, fantastic apps, and a great camera. Unfortunately, the Nexus 5 fails on that last one.
Google has made improvements to the camera. David Pierce, The Verge:
The changes break down in five categories, Burke says, autofocus first among them. Mixing speed and image quality requires a fragile balance, particularly in low light, and Android 4.4 skewed too far toward image quality. “There’s a tendency to say, ‘oh, we have this cool thing that stabilizes, so lets make the shutter time longer, reduce the gain even longer, and get better shots.’” But while the Nexus 5′s optical image stabilization allowed it to get better-than-average shots in low light, in good lighting it just made for frustratingly slow shooting speeds. By speeding up the framerate and increasing how quickly the camera can read its surroundings and fire a picture, Burke and his team improved the autofocus, the exposure, and the white balance. “You fix the motion blur,” he says, “and make everything faster.”
Colors can be exaggerated, low-light focus still takes longer than it should, but the Nexus 5′s camera is now better with Android 4.4.1 according to Pierce. To me accurate colors are more important than popping colors and tweaking the algorithm to make colors pop is making photos worse in my book. It should be left to the user to adjust the accurately colored photo as necessary; it shouldn’t come out popping. So the Nexus 5 now autofocuses faster, has better exposure and white balance, but produces photos with less accurate colors? Is that really an improvement?
The Chromebook 14’s 14-inch, 1366 x 768 display ought to be left in whatever storage bin HP pulled it out of. It’s big, but it’s not particularly bright and doesn’t have great viewing angles — it looks muted and washed out next to the vibrant, colorful Chromebook 11. The bigger problem, though, is that 1366 x 768 is barely acceptable on an 11.6-inch screen, and it’s nearly unusable blown up to 14 inches. At 111 pixels per inch, text becomes blurry and jagged instead of crisp and clear and small icons can be hard to discern. The screen looks like it’s dirty with a sheen obscuring the picture you want to see — but it’s just a bad display. It makes the Chromebook 14 feel like a chore to use, not like a laptop I could stare at all day.
What good is a notebook if the display sucks? (The same logic applies to smartphones, tablets, real notebooks, monitors, and TVs.) US$299 isn’t cheap if junk is what you’re getting for it.
One thing we missed out on was that Justin Bieber wanted to rep BlackBerry. He said, “Give me $200,000 and 20 devices, and I’m your brand ambassador,” basically. And we pitched that to marketing: Here’s a Canadian kid, he grew up here, all the teeny-boppers will love that. They basically threw us out of the room. They said, “This kid is a fad. He’s not going to last.” I said at the meeting: “This kid might outlive RIM.” Everyone laughed.
According to Forbes, Justin Bieber’s earnings is US$58 million as of June 2013. After weeding through all the financial mumbo jumbo it seems Blackberry on the other hand lost almost $1 billion according to Business Insider. Two of the reasons why BlackBerry is doing so poorly are: iPhones and Android smartphones. On a related note, I wonder what would happen if you add a Blackberry-like keyboard to the iPhone?
One of the reasons that I’m so fascinated by screens is because their story is our story. First there was darkness, and then there was light. And then we figured out how to make that light dance. Both stories are about transformations, about change. Screens have flux, and so do we.
George Bernard Shaw famously said, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” By that definition, Jobs and Musk are the ultimate in unreasonable men. And the world is so much better for it.
via The Verge. According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple signed an agreement with China Mobile, the world’s largest carrier. Apple’s iPhone 5c and 5s already supports China Mobile’s proprietary TD-LTE network and are expected to be available later this month. I wonder which of the two — the company behind the world’s most popular smartphone versus the world’s largest carrier — gained the upper hand. My guess: Apple’s overall profits will soar, but profit margins will drop.
Yota Devices: The YotaPhone Android smartphone sports two 4.3-inch displays. The main screen on the front is a LCD with a 1280×720 pixel format with a resolution of about 342 ppi. The back screen is a 640×360 electronic paper display (EPD) with 16 levels of grey.
I can make good use of this. The only, and best, use of the EPD is to read text; most other uses detailed by Yota Devices are gimmicky. I read, a lot, everyday and most of it is on my iPhone because the iPhone is almost always with me, but my eyes get tired reading on the LCD. If instead I could read on an EPD — text only and stripped of all the chrome and ads — I think I would enjoy reading quite a bit more.