Getting a bit pensive about technology

My last blog post was in June this year. That level of activity is not really good enough so I’m thinking about where this blog fits into my life these days. The problem is that I’m becoming more reflective about technology and social media, and their place in our daily lives. For me, I’ve become very self-aware of how much time I spend staring at my phone or tablet whenever I have time to kill. Be it on the tube, at home, on my lunch break at work, it is so easy to just get out my phone and absent-mindedly stare at an app until something else comes along, and it is really beginning to bother me.

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Apple’s TV solution is already here

There’s always been a lot of discussion about what Apple’s play for the living room would look like. Some people think they’ll build an actual TV while others think it will be some form of set-top box.

Personally, I think it is neither. I believe their TV solution is already here, and it is called, funnily enough, the Apple TV. You can pick one up for £99 and it will instantly let you rent movies and stream music and video from your iOS devices.

But this is just the start. One of the lesser-publicised announcements at WWDC, as part of the iOS 7 feature list, is support for 3rd party game controllers, by allowing them to be certified for use under the existing “MFi” (Made for iPhone) program.

This means that soon, you can use a console-like controller with an iOS device, and you can bet your bottom dollar that this will be rolled out to the Apple TV. All that is required is an app store for Apple TV and you’re set.

So, we have a £99 box that streams all your content and can play games. That to me sounds like a pretty compelling proposition.

The only bit I haven’t figured out is the hardware. Apple have spent the last few years slimming down the Apple TV, removing built-in storage in favour of streaming. However, to run apps, it will need storage, and to play decent games it will need beefier hardware, which will bump the price. There’s still a big gap up to the next level, so there’s room to increase the price, but it does change the dynamic somewhat.

Anyway, can’t wait to see what they come up with.

Some more great commentary on this by Austin Sweeney on his blog

How not to decide to move platforms

Andrew Kim, on his blog Minimally Minimal:

Last week, I went to a Microsoft Store and bought a Nokia Lumia 920. I frequently say that Nokia has some of the best looking phones in the market today and have also publicly shown my admiration for Windows Phone. However, these things have never convinced me to switch perviously. So the question is, why now?

Well, it’s iOS 7.

Andrew elaborates briefly on what he dislikes with iOS7:

To me, iOS 7 is sailing in a completely wrong direction. What needed to happen was a significant rethinking of iPhone but all we received was a facelift.

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The over-rated iOS 7 “design language”

Dan Frommer:

Feel free to gush about or criticize Apple’s new “design language” in iOS 7. For some people, that’s important. But for most iPhone users, once they get used to the new look — which is, obviously, a work in progress — their phone is going to work pretty much the same way it did before: Screens of squarish icons for apps that don’t really talk to each other very much.

My thoughts exactly.

A lot of prominent Apple bloggers and designers seem to be reading a huge amount into the ‘layered’ and ‘dynamic’ design of iOS7, citing things like transparent menus and parallax wallpapers as means to engage the user in an interface full of depth (as opposed to the “misconception” that it is actually “flat”).

Either I just don’t understand design at the same level they do, or I don’t need to, because to me, while these elements may be true, they are an excuse for the authors to focus too much on one discipline and ignore the bigger picture.

iOS7 does indeed herald a more modern era for iOS, but to try to imply that the visual overhaul somehow means iOS works better is a real stretch. As Dan says, there is no better app-to-app integration and no ‘opening up’ as hinted by Tim Cook recently.

For all the talk of iOS7 representing a more respectful approach to the proficiency of smartphone users, Apple is still treating its customers as ones unable to make their own decisions when it comes to the overall experience they should have from their phones.

Entering the world of manual photography

Perhaps as a January depression-busting technique, I bought myself a new camera. I’ve always enjoyed photography, especially nature photography, but have only ever invested in point-and-shoots (my last camera being the Sony DSC-TX7). Initially I intended to buy a dSLR such as the Canon 110D; i.e. an entry-level dSLR that would allow me to take good quality photos and learn the ways of manual photography. However, I got swayed by the size of the Compact-System-Cameras (CSC), namely the Sony NEX-F3, which is the one I settled on.

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