BBM Comes to Android and iOS

Chris Welch for The Verge: 

BlackBerry has just announced that its hugely popular BBM messaging service is going multi-platform: it will be released for Android and iOS as a free app this summer. BBM will support iOS hardware running iOS 6 and above; the Android version will be compatible with version 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and above.

This move is far too late for BlackBerry. Multiple journalists noted on Twitter that this is a move that would perhaps have best been made about four years ago.

BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins noted that BlackBerry is making this move now as “a statement of confidence”. Apparently they’re so confident in BB10 that they no longer need BBM to be an exclusive-to-BlackBerry service in order to attract users. I highly doubt that’s the case. It’s probably more a case of getting the spotlight back on BlackBerry and getting users using their products again.

Cynicism aside, it’ll be interesting to see what sort of apps BlackBerry cooks up for both Android and iOS.

 

Foursquare’s Fine Details

As pointed out by Bill Couch on Twitter, when pulled down far enough, Foursquare‘s pull to refresh functionality on iOS ends with a neat little illustration of a girl with a Foursquare balloon.

It’s little things like this, baked into apps that make me love both iOS and technology as a whole. Awesome touch. Check it out and try it out for yourself by downloading Foursquare from the Apple App Store.

iOS Uptake Ridiculously High

Unity Technologies Blog:

iOS uptake is crazy high: 98% of the market has iOS version that’s not much older than one year.

It’s unsurprising to learn that Android uptake is much, much lower. If there’s something Apple does extremely well, it’s getting people to update their systems. I seem to recall OSX uptake is at a similar level.

The blog post from Unity also notes how much more popular iOS is in the Western world and shows Android’s dominance in the East. Not surprising, but it shows just why Apple is targeting countries like China (even issuing apologies because of state-run media). The East is Apple’s route to world domination – in mobile operating system terms at least.

You can enjoy the raw mobile stats, too.

HTC unveils an iPhone with a Windows Phone interface running Android

The HTC One:

There’s a very specific group of gadget nerds out there that wants to buy a device with Apple’s hardware design, Microsoft’s interface, and Android’s “openness.” Unfortunately for HTC, I’m willing to bet that that group isn’t big enough to save the company’s slumping profits.

What about the 5-inch iPod touch?

iphone 5 inch compared to other iphones

More on a 5-inch iPhone and scaling the interface | iMore.com:

Then, just like there’s an 11- and 13-inch MacBook Air, and a 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pro, there’s a 4- and 5-inch iPhone, and a 7.9 and 9.7-inch iPad.

Almost 9 out of 10 AT&T customers bought 4-inch or smaller iPhones last quarterrather than all big screen Android and Windows Phones combined, and roughly 6 out of 10 Verizon customers did the same. So aside from geeks who keep posting about how they really want it, and shoppers for whom bigger as a feature is always better, Apple might not feel any pressing, mainstream need to add another screen size to the iPhone product line. Yet.

But if and when they do, stretching the screen offers less complexity, and less impact on both iOS and developers. That’s how you expand a product without expanding panel production or developer support headaches. It’s an Apple-like solution.

Apple hasn’t released a big phone yet because they haven’t had to in order to be successful. If it does release one, the history of the MacBook line and the release of the iPad Mini indicate that a 5-inch iPhone would have interface elements of the same size as those on the 9.7-inch iPad and the same pixel density screen as the iPad 3/4.

I find this theory likely because it a) makes logistical sense, which makes it seem like something right up Tim Cook’s alley, and b) it lets Apple cover even more price points. My addition to the theory: Apple also release a 5-inch iPod touch Plus at $299, and makes the 4-inch iPod touch the $199 model. That would make the $200 model a steal of a bargain and the $299 model an even lower-priced tablet option than the iPad Mini. This also has the benefit of an easy upsell: Apple won’t include a cellular radio in an iPod touch. If you want LITE, you either need to buy an iPhone (and if you want the big screen too, an iPhone Plus) or an iPad.

Thoughts on the Nexus 7, two months in

In early November I made the decision to send my iPad 2 and Kindle home as presents to my younger sister and mom, respectively. I decided that I would replace both with one device, something with a 7- or 8-inch form factor. After being disappointed with the availability of the iPad Mini, I decided that I would give the Android ecosystem a shot and purchased a Nexus 7 at the Berkeley school store.

Rather than post my initial impressions of the device, I decided to get a few months of actual use out of it in order to give a better idea of what it’s like to use it on a regular basis. Two months in, I’ve done everything on it that I used to do my iPad. Here’s a list of what stuck out most to me from my time with Google’s first tablet:

  • Widgets, while cool in theory, really don’t serve much purpose in my use case. Out of the five home pages available, I use three – one for my most used apps and music controls, one for browser bookmarks and email, and one with a large widget of the albums I recently listened to. Besides the first page, which basically acts as my first page of apps on the iPad, the others are barely more useful than simply opening the apps. The bookmarks are convenient, but I could always not swipe over to the page and just tap on the Chrome icon to get to the bookmarks. The same can be said for email, and that requires less scrolling to see more of my inbox. The album widget is pretty nifty, but I don’t listen to music on my tablet as often as I do on my phone anyway.
  • Project Butter and quad-core processor be damned, this thing still stutters. Not in graphics-intense games, mind you – on small tasks, and in scrolling in the web browser. This happened occasionally on my iPad as well, but the increased frequency after switching is noticeable.
  • I haven’t found a suitable replacement for Reeder yet. This may simply be because of not enough searching on my part, but I miss the design and functionality of my go-to RSS reader.
  • Instapaper is worse on Android. Marco Arment didn’t develop this version, so I’m not putting the blame on him. With that said, not having The Feature available makes finding new things to read a bit of a pain in the ass, and articles that are formatted properly on the iOS version were so bad on Android that I would generally end up reading them in Chrome. Many of these were from the New York Times, so that might be an issue.
  • Google Music Manager is pretty nifty. I buy all my music from iTunes, and by having Music Manager installed on my laptop I automatically have all of the music available on the tablet as well.
  • It is incredibly nice being able to buy books from Amazon from within the Kindle app. I understand why Apple doesn’t allow it on iOS, but I still don’t like it.
  • Reading books on the Nexus 7 is much more comfortable than on the full-sized iPad. I can hold it in one hand for extended periods of time with no problem.
  • With that said, reading comics on the Nexus is not as enjoyable as on the iPad. Text is generally just a bit too small, and I found myself zooming in more than I liked and experiencing eye strain during and after reading.
  • Facebook on Android sucks. Even with the recent move to a native app, it’s slower and doesn’t work as well as on iOS.
  • Wi-Fi reception is worse than it was on my iPad. In my house in Berkeley, my iPad generally had access anywhere in the house. On the Nexus, I have to be sitting on the side of my room closest to the router, which is across a hallway from the router. Unacceptable.

Overall, would I recommend the Nexus 7 to a friend? That depends. If you’re adamant about only wanting to spend $200 for a tablet, then yeah, this is probably your best option. But if you’re willing to spend the money to have a better overall experience, the iPad Mini is the best you can buy. User interface preferences aside, it has better performance, better wireless access, 4G as an option, a bigger screen, and weighs less. While I don’t mind sticking with the Nexus for now, you can be sure I’ll be selling this to a friend and moving to an iPad Mini as soon as the next revision of it is available.

‘WWDC Banner Confirms iOS 6 Announcement’

I mentioned this post on MacRumors yesterday on the podcast, but I never addressed it here. From the MacRumors piece:

With Apple having dropped numbering and other descriptors from its latest model of the iPad earlier this year, there has been speculation that the company may follow suit with other products such as the iPhone. Today’s banner indicates that the company will at least continue marketing iOS using its version number. 

The problem with this paragraph is that absolutely no one thought that the numbering scheme would be dropped for iOS. Apple doesn’t have a numbering scheme for any of the Macs it sells, yet Mac OS X is still numbered for each new major release, and that’s likely how it’s going to be for hardware running iOS in the future. 

Beyond that, I have an issue with the post and others like it on Engadget, AppleInsider, and elsewhere: everyone knew that iOS 6 would be announced at WWDC. Posting about a single banner simply makes the sites look desparate for page views (as if they didn’t look that way already).