by Jin Kim
Travers said that Waveguide optics are a revolutionary new way of moving light within smart glasses and are a fraction of the size and weight of conventional prism-based optics. Waveguide optics also deliver a much wider field of view; it uses a 1.4 millimeter window with a tiny input pupil, similar to a fiber optic cable, that is expanded using a hologram in front of the eye. Light isn’t bent through bulk material as with conventional optics.
Google Glass, but with smaller, superior optics.
You step inside Walmart and your shopping list is transformed into a personalized map, showing you the deals that’ll appeal to you most. You pause in front of a concert poster on the street, pull out your phone, and you’re greeted with an option to buy tickets with a single tap. You go to your local watering hole, have a round of drinks, and just leave, having paid—and tipped!—with Uber-like ease. Welcome to the world of iBeacon.
Looking forward to this future.
According to IBM, it is Apple mobile devices that drive mobile sales, and Apple users spend more money per order, as follows.
- Black Friday. On average, Apple iOS users spent $127.92 per order, compared to $105.20 per order for Android devices. iOS devices garnered 28.2 percent of all online traffic compared to 11.4 percent for Android. iOS sales accounted for 18.1 percent of all online sales, compared to 3.5 percent for Android.
- Cyber Monday. On average, Apple iOS users spent $120.29 per order, compared to $106.70 per order for Android. iOS traffic reached 22.4 percent of all online traffic, compared to 9.1 percent for Android. iOS sales reached 14.5 percent of all online sales, compared to 2.6 percent for Android.
Not surprising iPhone and iPad users spent more, but Amazon Kindle Fire’s share of Android online sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday was probably substantial.
Woodside also touched on the Moto G during the interview, saying that the device came out of a specific challenge: “How do we create a phone that’s objectively as good as iPhone 5 for a third of the cost.” Woodside said that technology costs have gotten low enough where that’s possible. “That’s what we did with Moto G,” he tells Brownlee.
Dennis Woodside is CEO of Motorola Mobility. The Moto G is objectively as good as iPhone 5? Subjectively speaking, I don’t think so. But if Woodside really thinks it is, Motorola will run into bumpy roads ahead.
We think as a software-driven company. We think about the software strategies first, and we know that software developers aren’t going to have – they’re not going to deal real well with all these different size products when they have to redo their software every time the screen size changes, and they are not going to deal well with products where they can’t put enough elements on the screen to build the kind of apps they want to build.
This is how I am understanding Steve Jobs’ take on the interplay between software and screen sizes. The iPhone is the culmination of hardware (primarily determined by the size and aspect ratio of the display) and software geared toward providing information in particular ways that are fitting to someone using a mobile phone. This doesn’t preclude the iPhone from being used to accomplish tasks that are meant for devices with larger displays but the iPhone does what smartphone users want smartphones to do very well, precisely because it was designed to do them well from the very beginning. The same logic applies to the larger iPads, but a bit loosely.
The iPad mini has a 4:3 7.9-inch display while the iPad Air is much larger at 9.7 inches but with the same aspect ratio. The same aspect ratio suggests Apple was assuming most iPad users will use both iPads for similar things. Most probably do. But the size makes one more portable than the other. The iPad mini is more portable so people who use the iPad mini will probably use it for more iPhone-like stuff than the people who use the iPad Air. Should there be iPad apps that are tuned more for one or the other? Based on Steve Jobs’ argument and my understanding of it, I would guess so. An iPad app specifically designed for an iPad mini would probably be a superior experience than an iPad app that was designed to work with either.
Take this logic all the way to the end and the iPhone and the iPad, in terms of functionality, will become very similar with the only difference being the size and aspect ratio of the screen. For instance, very soon voice will travel over LTE data connections via Voice over LTE or VoLTE. At that point there is no point in having additional communications protocols or chips. The iPhone will connect to the Internet via LTE with voice data traveling through that pipe. And the cellular iPads will gain voice communications capability through VoLTE. In terms of hardware communications capability the two will be virtually be the same. With only the display being the difference: 5-inch, 7.9-inch, and 9.7-inch iDevices.
With that in mind I think Apple will build one more size between 5 inches and 7.9 inches. I’m not sure Apple will simply split the difference between 5 inches and 7.9 inches to get something around 6.5 inches. It’ll probably be smaller, at around 5 or 5.5 inches, and at most 6 inches. This iDevice would be a phone/tablet hybrid, but at that point the distinction between phone and tablet would be moot.
If Apple ends up with four different iPhone/iPad sizes with the distinction among them being only the display, my guess is software will be the differentiating factor among them. The smallest would be used by those who want it primarily to be something like a phone, while the largest will be used by those who want it primarily to be something like a tablet. The two in between would be more tricky, but there will be distinctions in usage patterns clear enough for differentiated software apps among all four.
Technologies — like VoLTE — will make hardware distinctions among iPhones and iPads moot, save for the display. The distinction will then be found in software and the apps developed for the different sized displays. App developers will have more work cut out for them, but it will be worth it as the end users will be delighted with the differentiated experience. There will also be more incentive for users to buy more than one iDevice for the unique experience each iDevice provides. This is probably not what Steve Jobs meant in the quote above, but I’m guessing this is probably what is going to happen.
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?”
In the past few years, it has gotten user’s payment information by asking them to enter it into ITunes when they bought an app, a video, or some music. This allowed the company to build up a large database of payment details. Then it added iBeacon to every new device it rolled out without asking anything of its users. Later, it pushed users to share their payment information on the device through iCloud keychain by saying it would also synchronize passwords in the process; and finally, it unveiled fingerprinting as an easier way to unlock the iPhone.
iBeacon as an integral component to developing a revolutionary way of how we pay for things? I can see that happening. The Apple Store has gotten rid of the cash register stand and replaced it with Apple retail staff using iPod touches (or are they iPhones?) retrofitted to work as mobile cash registers. And in the future Apple retail staff with mobile cash registers will be replaced with us, the customers, carrying iPhones and iPads with Touch ID.
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.