Design in style Apple, leaks about Samsung Galaxy S7, smart watches from Nokia, death of Firefox OS and attempts in absentia to sue the yet unannounced flagship Xiaomi …
Five thousand Where, seven thousand How,
One hundred thousand why
Modern technical devices are extremely complex things, and a huge number of people are involved in their development and production. In such a case, there are practically no trifles – poor build quality or an unsuccessful choice of components will put an end to any device, no matter what ingenious concept is behind it. This is a kind of orchestra, in which there should be no place for falsehood, because the mistake of any of the musicians will ruin the game for everyone at once.
What happens to a well-played orchestra that suddenly ends up without a conductor during the intermission? Most likely, the musicians will in any case bring the concert to the end, they have no choice. Probably, they can even avoid a loud failure. Music connoisseurs will be grimaced by this performance, but less educated viewers may not even notice the difference. In the end, this orchestra already has hundreds of concerts and thousands of rehearsals under its belt; they can play the current repertoire not only with their eyes closed, but even hanging upside down. But it's better for them not to take on new performances – no matter how professionally each musician plays his part, in the end, something strange will still turn out. Especially if life forces you to change the old repertoire for something new. The orchestra cannot do without a talented conductor, it definitely needs someone who can bring all these parts into a single whole, explain how and to whom to play and where to place accents, follow the performance of the piece during the concert, and so on.
Sometimes there is a feeling that despite all the efforts of Tim Cook, a professional conductor in Apple did not appear. Employees of this company are used to believing in 'magic Apple' just as much as customers. But for some reason they don't want to think about the fact that this magic had a very man-made nature.
Jobs demanded to do strange, almost insane things. For example, while every self-respecting touchscreen owner used a neat stylus, he suggested poking dirty fingers at it. And then he built a real mobile empire around one single phone, which the other manufacturers simply did not fit into their heads – it is simply impossible to live off the sales of one flagship, this naive strategy is doomed to failure from the beginning! The same iPad will not even be remembered – the gigantic and extremely expensive photo frame was supposed to remain a funny and useless curiosity.
I don't know if there was at least one person in Apple other than Jobs, who really fully understood why the products came out the way they did. Who would see the whole picture as a whole, and not just be well versed in his musical part. And could not only answer the questions 'how?' So what?' but also 'why?' and why?'. Apparently, for most of the employees, the process of creating successful devices was a kind of alchemy – mix coal and copper powder, heat it over low heat, add a little acid … and in the end we get a gold bar. And let the spiteful critics say that this is nonsense, the employees Apple – they know firsthand that the scheme is working. I've been helping out for so many years.
Based on the slogan 'the boldness of the city takes', Jonathan Ive (CDO or Design Director) continued his alchemical experiments. As before, he began to mix a bunch of different ingredients in one bottle, piously believing that he would get the precious metal again at the end. But, apparently, not everything was so simple for Jobs, and the main secret was in something else. In any case, this trick does not work without it – the company has not yet been able to obtain either gold or silver in this way, a mixture of completely inappropriate ingredients remains in the test tube. It saves that the old production formula iPhone still works, but how long will it last?
Another example of an alchemical chimera was a branded case Apple with a built-in battery. His photos immediately spread all over the network, collecting many comments and provoking a bunch of articles and discussions.
Fear and Loathing in California: Battery Case from Apple
It would seem, why pay so much attention to some kind of case? There were enough controversial accessories in the world before him, and much less beautiful. And an additional battery is by no means a small thing, it is clear that such a cover will not become the latest squeak of fashion.
In fact, we are not talking about this ill-fated accessory as such, but about what has been happening with Apple in recent years. The question has been in the air for a long time, but so far it has mainly worried about the 'geeks'. Even though ordinary users complained about this or that bug or poor optimization of the last update IOS, they still had no doubt that these were just annoying misunderstandings on the way to a brighter future.
There were already a lot of reasons to think about it, but if only a few were interested in such things as the position of the connector on the Magic Mouse or the method of charging the iPencil, then the case is just simple, understandable and clear for everyone. And it raises questions not only among the 'geeks', but even among users who are far from technology, who understand just about all kinds of covers, bumpers and covers very well.
apple's 2015 lineup is looking great pic.twitter.com/302S7jstSp
– Owen Williams (@ow) December 8, 2015
No matter what fans of the brand may say, the greatest strength Apple was not abstract innovation at all, but design. Moreover, the word “design” here must be understood in a broad sense – it is not just how the device looks, but also how it works. The idea of adding a touch screen, a voice assistant or a fingerprint scanner to the phone was by no means new, just before that no one could fit these elements into the device so organically. It wasn't about what the company's designers did, but how they did it. Geeks can be indignant and shout as much as they want that the company has only slightly changed a long-known idea and there is absolutely nothing to be proud of. But the devil is in the little things, and a couple of awkward touches are enough to turn a brilliant picture into something completely absurd. And the replacement of just a couple of words can make a brilliant hokku out of an awkward recitative. Moreover, only a true master can discern a really ingenious idea behind the author's mistakes and finish an unfinished work with a couple of precise strokes. But anyone can appreciate the difference between 'before' and 'after'.
Now Apple have forgotten how it all started. Design was again relegated to a choice of icon style and watchband. The main message can be expressed very simply – 'we can do anything, because we Apple and we know exactly how to do it right'. And in fact, the thought is very much in the spirit of Jobs, only there is one 'but' here – he really knew exactly what he wanted to get in the end. And he did not hesitate to hit with a conductor's baton on the hands of everyone who, in his opinion, did something wrong. Jonathan Ive clearly does not have such an understanding. And although they gave Tim Cook the baton, he has very little idea of what to do with it and tries to just wave in all directions – so there are more chances that sooner or later he will get to the right place. Watches, styluses, cases with batteries, new lines iPhone and MacBook – it seems that the energy is in full swing, but the result of new beginnings is still strange. Maybe he was really a genius in the role of the first violin, but he is absolutely not suitable for the role of a conductor. They say that it happens in music.
Purpose and means
Companies that know exactly what they want to get in the end are generally much less than they would like. Quite often this or that project is started simply because in theory it can be profitable or can help increase market share. But why the users themselves need it, managers of large companies prefer not to think about it. Actually, this is usually not the question – we are talking about ways of earning money, what have some users to do with it? As a result, the theory remains a theory, the product turns out to be initially stillborn and useless. Which is not surprising – the necessary users did not plan to do it from the very beginning, the task was to build something 'at the level of competitors'.
Probably, this is the very same rake that everyone should step on at least once. And we are talking not only about the manufacturers of equipment – the temptation to write an abstract 'cool something' or quickly make a 'game of the year' arises among many writers, music groups or game studios. Initially, there was no idea behind such a work, but the carriage and trolley were popular stamps in it. If the book is about vampires in love, if the game is about the apocalypse and zombies, and so on. The main thing is to be in trend, and then we will clean it up somewhere.
Where in the end it turns out to be 'scooped out' is clear to everyone, except for the author himself – to one of the tributaries of the Styx River. Where from such works of 'trend hunters' a solid traffic jam has already formed.
The Firefox OS project was originally utopian. In fact, the only idea behind it is to make some kind of similarity Android, but on your own engine. Spice it all up with a generous portion of web apps, of course. When asked who needs all this, the answer was also the same – well, budget Android smartphones always slow down, and ours will fly at the speed of a brand new fighter. And in general, Android with their 'java' is bad, and Firefox with HTML5 is good.
Offtopic: Firefox OS demo on Android smartphone
Recently, Mozilla officially confirmed that nothing good came of this venture, and officially curtailed the project. True, with the proviso that we are talking only about the release of smartphones, and the OS itself will develop and, probably, will be useful for something else. To its credit, the company must admit that the reason was named honestly and frankly – “we could not offer our users the best solution.”
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Several years ago, the success Android inspired many developers. A variety of companies said that they will also try to make their own OS, implying that it will be like this one Android, only better. Now such projects are being closed one by one. Tizen has some chance of life only in the form of a 'corporate-government' OS. Jolla with its Sailfish OS is on the verge of extinction. Work on Firefox OS has been largely phased out. Ubuntu Touch has been in a coma for years. Windows Phone (mobile) remains a young and promising OS.
But no one is going to draw any conclusions. The exclamations of 'Let's be in trend!', 'Everything is at the level of competitors!', 'Like company X, only better!' Are heard again … The epidemic of mobile OS ended only as a waste of time and money? Not scary, let's try our luck again. Only this time it will be a 'smart' watch or glasses for augmented reality, with them something will certainly be lucky. The sign is new, the scheme is old.
And the point is not even that the niche of these smart watches is not very large yet. And not in the number of technical flaws (the battery life alone is worth something). It's just that no one is again trying to wonder why the buyers themselves need all this. Attempts to come up with something that would really be better and more convenient than existing solutions, at least for themselves, at least, basically these are primitive variations on a long-worn theme.
For example, recently renders of smart watches from Nokia have leaked to the network. According to unconfirmed reports, there is nothing left before their launch on the market – sales may begin at the end of the first quarter of 2016. Most likely, we will find out the details at CES.
According to rumors, the watch works on standard Android Wear, the main emphasis will be on the fitness tracker function. You can evaluate the design of the clock by the render above. In my opinion, it is completely typical and similar to both the first versions of Samsung Gear and a bunch of other similar devices.
Although there is still hope that Nokia will surprise us with something. Moreover, the company has chances for some sales. A watch is not only a function, it is also an image. 'Geeks' and other people who are not indifferent to mobile technology are no exception, they just often have their own concept of 'fashion brands'. For these people, the Nokia brand still means as much as any TAG Heuer. Whether they will buy a smartphone with this nameplate (if such ones still appear on sale at all) is still a big question, but a smart watch may well. This is not a smartphone, there are fewer requirements for them.
But there are almost no hopes that we will see something really interesting under the Nokia brand. Most likely, it will be a standard “Chinese”, no different from dozens of other similar devices.
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The calm before the storm
As you can see, there has been very little interesting news this week, mostly due to the upcoming CES. Manufacturers clearly reserve all the most interesting things for this exhibition, and although information leaks do occur, they are still quite pale. Quite often nothing is known about new products, not even the name.
Of the more or less interesting leaks, I can only single out information about the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Plus. Which, however, will be presented at the MWC rather than at CES.
Thanks to accessory manufacturer ITSkins, we found out the dimensions of the smartphones – 143.37 x 70.8 x 6.94 mm for the Samsung Galaxy S7 and 163.32 x 82.01 x 7.82 mm for the Samsung Galaxy S7 Plus.
According to rumors, smartphones will have three versions with different processors at once: Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, Samsung Exynos 8890 and Exynos 7422. Moreover, one of the prototypes of the smartphone with Exynos 8890 has already appeared in the benchmark, the results are in the screenshot below.
Other 'goodies' include a ClearForce-enabled screen (similar to ForceTouch) and hope for memory cards.
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However, even the secrecy of the manufacturers, surprising for the last time, did not prevent some patent trolls from declaring that yet unannounced and not shown smartphones already infringe on their rights in every possible way. For example, a smartphone Xiaomi Mi 5 has already been included in the list of 'worst offenders', which has not even been properly announced yet (so far there is only a teaser for a certain unnamed smartphone Xiaomi). This is stated in the lawsuit of Blue Spike LLC, which filed Xiaomi in a Texas court.
However, Blue Spike LLC can be understood – apparently, this company is not engaged in any real developments and lives only through this kind of patent trolling. And money, as you know, does not smell.
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