TataSky has launched a new DVR Set Top Box which enables customers to transfer recorded content to their devices and to watch later anywhere. This technology is similar to what Comcast offers its customers in the US. Here is how it works:
Note that you will have to subscribe to a Transfer Pack to avail this feature. The transfer pack can be added to a maximum of two devices per subscriber ID.
The new set top box with connection costs INR 9300 which is very steep in our opinion. TataSky should introduce contact based pricing plans to reduce this entry price.
Apple’s latest mobile operating system is now available for download. iOS 9 focuses majorly on performance improvements and is compatible with iPhones up to 4S and iPads up to original mini. Here are some key changes in the new version:
The battery life improvements alone make this upgrade worthy. Head to Settings – General – Software Update on your device to update to the latest version.
In addition to launching the new iPhone 6S and the iPad Pro, Apple also announced the much awaited refresh to their Apple TV. It was long due an update for the small yet mighty powerful device that has been silently gaining momentum in our living rooms.
The new Apple TV is slightly taller than its predecessor, however, it is far more powerful. Here are the specs:
The new tvOS and the Siri remote are the two instrumental changes in the new Apple TV. Together, they offer a new way to control your TV. In addition to a touch based control, the remote has dual microphones and a Siri button. You can ask Siri to do stuff and search for titles. During playback, Siri can also answer your questions about the content being played or anything else going around the world. You can also ask Siri to turn subtitles on or off and asking “what did he say?” will rewind the playback 30 seconds back. The remote can also control your TV/AVR via HMDI CEC.
Probably one of the best new features is Siri’s ability to search for titles across the installed apps. Let’s say you ask Siri to search for The Imitation Game and its available on Netflix, Amazon and iTunes. Siri will display all the options to you to choose from. Some other set top boxes have been doing that, but then again, they do not have AirPlay or the iTunes Store.
The updated processing power also lets you play high end games on the new Apple TV. You can use the Siri remote as a Wii type controller or but 3rd party dedicated game controllers (like the Nimbus Steelseries Controller).
Apple is also encouraging developers to build general purpose apps for the Apple TV. So expect to see apps from GILT, AirBnB and others. Not sure how successful these will be, but supporting all the platform using a single app package is a dream come true for developers.
There was no surprise when Apple launched a bigger iPad at its press event on September 9th. There have been several leaks suggesting that Apple was working on an iPad with a screen as big as a laptop. The iPad Pro, as Apple is calling it, is, for the lack of a better descriptor, almost a laptop. Here are the specs:
This new iPad is aimed at serious professional work. With the fastest processor and advances in the display, the iPad Pro is aimed at professionals who are looking for an optimal balance of productivity and portability. With the Apple Pencil and the keyboard, Apple deviates from its long term stand of using fingers as the only way to interact with its touch screen devices. This shows that they are willing to prove themselves wrong in order to deliver what the consumers want (and make lots of money).
We are yet to see what professionals think about the Apple Pencil and the keyboard, but they seem great from the first look. Here is a video showing the Apple Pencil in action:
Apple announced the latest iPhones at its press event on September 9th. The new iPhone are now available for pre-order and will be available in stores on September 25th. Keeping with the tradition of the ’S’ series, they look strikingly similar to their predecessor. Apple says that everything about them have changed. Here are the specs of the new ones:
Arguably the most touted feature in the new models is 3D touch. Apple is known for implementing things in the right and the most intuitive way. For years, ‘it just works’ has been their USP. While many other have already tried incorporating pressure sensitive touch and UI elements in their devices before, the reason everyone is rejoicing on iPhones offering them means that the others haven’t gotten it right yet.
3D touch enables a whole new layer of interactions with the device. With the main focus on improving the efficiency of our interaction with our devices, 3D touch enables you to peek at content (emails, messages, photos, links) by hard touching (pressing?) on it. Touching harder will open (pop) that content without the need of the previous explicit normal touch. It might sound trivial, but once you get used to it, it will become a second nature and can save a lot of taps and swipes. Another way Apple is using this technology is by offering quick actions when you 3D touch an app’s icon. This gesture opens a customizable menu giving you quick access to the features you might use more often. For example – 3D touching the camera icon may give you options to take a selfie, or record a slow motion video – something which would have otherwise taken you a few taps. It will be really interesting to see what developers are going to do with this new technology. Games are already lined up to take advantage of this.
Here is a video in the god like baritone of Sir Johny Ive explaining the 3D touch technology in the new iPhones:
And here is the new ad Apple made for the iPhone 6S:
You can pre-order the iPhones here: http://www.apple.com/shop/buy-iphone/
Intel and Micron have announced a new 3D XPoint memory technology that is 1000 times faster than the current NAND bases flash storage options. A breakthrough in computer storage, this is the first new type of non volatile computer memory created in 25 years.
Intel is already mass producing the memory and it is expected to go on sale in 2016. The technology is also more durable than the current standards and can enable a whole new set of applications ranging from real time tracking of diseases to 8K computer gaming.
Here is an interactive diagram of the new storage technology:
The storage products are expected to be expensive at first with prices going down with time.
I was one of those people who pre-ordered the apple watch at 12 am on April 10 and still got the shipping estimate of June. I had bought the Space black stainless steel with link bracelet. It cost a whooping $1195 with taxes here in California and I was praying that it better be god damn good to justify that price. Sadly, it wasn’t. When I got it on June 2nd, after the usual adrenaline rush of unboxing an apple product subsided, and after using it for about a week, I came to the conclusion that this is a product that Steve Jobs would never have let to be launched in its current state. But then again, he let 1st generation iPad to be launched. So I am not sure. Surprisingly, battery is not the problem.
One of the first things that I noticed is that it does not look as good as Apple shows it in the ads and on apple.com. Those are enlarged and processed images with reflections that make it look like something from out of this world. Turns out, its not. Don’t get me wrong. It still looks awesome and way better than all other smartwatches out there. Just not as good as it looks in official photos. Having spent a huge sum of money based on these images alone (the exact model was not available in the store I went to try it on), I was disappointed.
The second thing that bothered me was that the screen won’t activate in a lot of highly probably real world scenarios. I understand that Apple needs to keep the screen off to preserve battery life and activate it when you tilt your wrist. But for me, it did not activate in a lot of scenarios:
All the above scenarios are so common that the watch started to annoy me by not working in those. This is when I never look at my watch for finding out the current time. Imagine the horror if I do.
I read in the reviews that the watch is very slow. I still wanted to see it for myself what they are talking about. And the reviews are not lying. This is 2015 and you expect a product being launched during this time to be super fast and reliable. Apple is going to allow native apps in the next watchOS. This should have been taken care of at the time of the release. And I don’t even know if its going to solve the problem. The Watch’s processor seemed too slow to me to take the load of what we want it to do. A lot of the widgets crashed for me. That just reflects poor coding. The next release of iOS and watchOS is going to focus on performance and bug fixing. If Apple has to focus a release on performance and bug fixing, that itself is not a good sign. These two things were considered as default in any software that Apple shipped. It just reflects that the leadership team is focussing on aggressively releasing stuff even if it is poor in quality.
I rarely used the digital crown. I think it is a great invention and incredibly precise and accurate. However, with people used to touching screens so much, the 1st instinct is to always use the screen to scroll or tap buttons. And with Apple’s super accurate touch (and force touch), the digital crown is basically redundant. A problem which arises due to using the touchscreen instead of the digital crown is that you end up smudging the watch screen with your fingerprint a lot. And given that its a tiny screen, the finger prints are far more visible on it than on your phone’s screen.
The primary finger I use on my iPhone is my thumb. It is also used a lot on my MacBook’s keyboard for hitting the space bar. Unfortunately, the thumb has no use in the apple watch as there is no button on the left side of the watch. Atleast in the orientation I wear my watch (on my left wrist). This left my thumb stranded a lot of times. And its a weird feeling.
There is no way to correct Siri’s speech to text errors on the watch. With an Indian English accent, its difficult and frustrating a lot of times even with the correct accent selected in your iPhone’s settings. I also noticed that Siri did not have good enough ambient noise cancellation. When outdoors on a busy street, Siri on my Apple Watch continued to listen (the noise) long after I had stopped speaking. The iPhone’s Siri worked perfectly in the same environment. It might be because of the microphone design on the watch, but its super annoying.
Another intermittent issue I faced was that the touchscreen did not register my taps while walking or biking. So if there is an incoming call, tapping on the answer button wont do anything unless you are standing still. It looks like the watch software focuses on preserving the battery and avoiding erroneous taps and inputs which are bordering on some edge cases which need to be perfected and tested thoroughly before it is ready for power users.
There are a lot of good things like seamless handoff, quick replies, health tracking etc., but they were not enough for me to keep the watch. Even the features introduced in the WWDC keynote failed to impress me enough to buy this version again. The apple watch to me, feels like a product rushed to launch before it was ready and I will likely wait until the next iteration(s) to get my hands on one.
We earlier reviewed Nomad’s Chargekey – a key shaped USB lightning charger you can put in your keyring to always have a charger handy. The company – Nomad, has rebranded itself and have come up with an updated version of the Chargekey (now called NomadKey) and 2 new products which they claim are tools meant for the modern nomad. Essentially targeting the segment of customers who are mostly on the go. They sent us a review kit with all 3 of their latest products. I have been using them for the past few weeks and so far, they have proved to be delivering on their promise. Lets look at each one of them.
The updated version of the ChargeKey (now called NomadKey) now has a metallic USB plug and feels much more robust than its predecessor. It has a super strong and flexible stem which can literally bend in any direction. I tried twisting, turning & bending this thing and it took it all. This image should tell you what this thing is capable of:
As you can see, this thing can bend, still charge your device, and retain its shape. That is some serious tensile strength there. The idea behind shaping the charger like a key is that you usually never forget your keyring. So you will always have a charger with you wherever you go. The NomadKey measures 6.6 x 0.5 x 1.9 cm and weighs just 7g. It is also 2.5A ready. So if you have a high speed charger that outputs 2.1A, you can use it with NomadKey to charge your device faster.
The NomadKey is priced at $24.95 (Apple Lightning version) & $19.95 (Micro USB version). You can buy it here.
Carabiners are awesome. They are not just for climbing. They are useful everywhere to hold things. And people use them a lot to hold keys – lots of keys. NomadClip is a carabiner with a hidden USB charging cable. Weighing at 53g, the NomadClip is sized at 8 x 4.2 x 1.3 cm and is 2.5A ready. It is made with some really tough materials and has an amazing build quality. The USB & charging plugs are located on the opposite side of the clip and you have to pull the corners out to reveal them. They are connected via a tough flat cable, so you can move them in case you need to plug them to a recessed port.
Keep in mind that taking out the ports will require some strength. But that’s a good thing considering what this thing is meant for. You do not want to have your USB port pulling out every time your carabiner is dragged against a wall or something. This thing is tough. And thats what makes it awesome.
NomadClip is available in Apple Lightning & Micro USB versions and is priced at $39.95. You can buy one here.
We have all seen portable chargers. They are battery packs shaped like cigarette lighters or portable USB drives which you have to charge using a USB cable. Most come with a pouch to keep the charger and all the cables together. Nomad has thought out of the box in making their version of the portable charger. Apple’s USB chargers are iconic in shape. You insert your Apple USB charger in the NomadPlus which has an appropriately sized compartment with a male USB port. Once the charger is inserted and flush leveled with NomadPlus, you can plug it in any wall outlet.
The NomadPlus is a 1800mAh portable charger weighing only 60g. Its decently sized with dimensions measuring 5.3 x 5.3 x 3.1cm. Its slightly larger than the Apple Charger that comes with the iPad and outputs 5V/1A. When its plugged into a wall outlet, it charges your device first and then charges itself. When not plugged in, you can use it to charge your device on the go. The Nomad logo next to the USB port doubles up as indicator of the amount of charge remaining in the battery.
Note that NomadPlus is built to house the Apple Charger tightly so that it doesn’t come out accidentally or while pulling out of the wall outlet. This means that its rather difficult to take out once you get it inside. You will need to insert a paper clip in the holes in the pins and then pull it out. In my last few weeks of usage, I have actually never felt the need to take it out. Its overall small size lets you easily carry it around wherever you go.
The NomadPlus is priced at $39.95 and is available here.
Huawei has announced its Android smartwatch at the Mobile World Congress and it is the best looking android a yet. Huawei claims that they surveyed various potential customers and based on their feedbck of the current smartwatch options in the market, they have come up with one that looks like a luxury watch and caters to what people are looking for in a smartwatch.
The watch has a round display and comes with some beautiful watchfaces which does give it the sophisticated look of a luxury watch. It works with Google Now to let you issue voice commands.
Here is how the watch looks:
Yup that dial is a beautiful watch face rendered on the screen. The watch sports 4GB storage, 512MB RAM and a Qualcomm 1.2 GHz processor.
Here is a video Huwaei has release detailing the design process: