I'm not so much interested in this particular service, but the fact that someone has finally seen the potential of bundling various media into one subscription. Will we at some point see a subscription service from the likes of Apple or Google that covers films, TV shows, books and music? It sounds incredibly difficult to achieve at this time given the way licenses are handled, but it could happen. More about DisneyLife here.
I recently purchased a Moto G (3rd generation) from Vodafone for £99. It required unlocking, which was completed on eBay in 3 minutes, for £3 and I then had a phone that ticks almost all of the boxes for almost all of the users.
The camera isn't great at all, but for everything else the performance is great. The battery is better than most other Android phones I have tried recently, the screen is good and the performance is easily smooth enough to never create a feeling that this is a budget phone. Decent build quality, a sparse interface and some subtle software touches by Motorola round off what is a brilliant smartphone for anyone who does not want to spend a fortune. And you can even change the battery cover to add some extra personality to the look.
It highlights why choice is so beneficial in the Android market and why choice is causing it so many problems. Why would I spend £500 on a Samsung Galaxy Edge when I could buy one of these which ticks 95% of the boxes a phone needs to tick?
Over the past 12 months I have read review after review of the latest Android phones and sat bewildered at what people are trying to do here. I understand geeks always wanted the latest and greatest thing, but it has become quite hit and miss in the Android world. The newest Samsung offerings are nothing special, the latest HTC phone is crazily priced and LG can't seem to catch a break despite some innovative hardware. The Nexus devices are pretty good, but each and every one has a drawback that puts some off.
Choosing what to buy in the Android world has moved from "Which one of these amazing phones shall I buy?" to "Which one doesn't have a big problem that will annoy me?" Seriously, with so much differentiation and so many problems it does not feel like Android is moving forward at all, and this may explain why the iPhone is selling better than ever.
It is brilliant that Apple offers little choice when it comes to buying an iPhone, brilliant for Apple. We are left paying a lot for a phone, but at least it is a phone that genuinely does tick every box for the majority of people and it will still be worth some money in a few years.
When I use the Moto G, I realise that I am extremely unlikely to buy a high-end Android device in the forseeable future. And if I did want to spend that much money, I would buy an iPhone. This the big problem Android manufacturers face at this time.
This feels really strange to me. I genuinely have no device that can play a CD, I subscribe to a subscription service so I don't want to buy a digital album when it will hit that service at some point. I am confused. You can read the full article here.
I decided to give it a try and after 24 hours I have decided to turn off my Apple Music auto-renewal. To be honest I was dithering anyway because Apple Music is slow very often, we have had to reboot and sign-in many times because it keeps forgetting we exist and the interface is a jumbled mess.
It didn't take long to realise that Deezer is everything Apple Music is not; super fast, organised and a complete pleasure to use, with the free 6 months offer too good to say no to. Sadly, it appears that a family plan is not coming any time soon which means that the service will be cancelled on all 4 phones in our house within the 6 month period, but it does highlight how un-special Apple Music really is.
If Spotify or Deezer is able to match the Apple Music family plan pricing then we will move to that in May next year, but as it stands Apple Music simply cannot compete in all of the ways a music subscription service should.
Tag Heuer took on quite a challenge with the new Connected smart watch, but at no point did the company stray from a marketing strategy which has been present in the watch industry for decades.
When it comes to watch marketing, imagery is all important. There are many watches for which the specifications will form a large part of the selling process, ranging from budget timepieces to high-end mechanical works of art, but ultimately the photos spark the initial interest of the buyer. That has always been the case and it always will.
Take a look at the Tag Heuer Connected image below. Notice how it looks like a high-end mechanical watch and how there is no sense that it is in fact a screen rather than a dial.
Now, the image below shows what the screen actually looks like in the real world without special filters to reduce the screen effect.
There is no doubt in my mind which looks best and I find it strange that the marketing is trying very, very hard to make it look like a real watch. Not one of the images on the official site shows the Connected watch as it really is which is somewhat perplexing.
Then again, this is far from unusual and is demonstrated in the images below-
It may be subtle in some cases, but time and time again I see smart watches marketed as though the screen is not actually a screen. The problem is that they are using screens which never look like a real watch no matter how intricate some of the watch faces are.
I'm not sure that I can think of another technology category that advertises itself so blatantly as trying to be something else, something that it is not and I'm not sure that this is a good move at all.
As it happens, the Apple Watch is marketed to look exactly as it does in the real world and despite not being a fan of that particular device or the design, some credit should be given to Apple for not trying to pretend that it is something it is not.
I admit to not being a fan of modern Tag Heuer watches, 80% marketing and 20% watch if you ask me, but I am interested in what the company is trying to do with the Connected Watch. The premise of trading in this watch for $1,500 after 2 years to get said discount off a mechanical Tag that looks exactly like the connected watch is a curiosity. It suggests that this is an experiment and that many will want to dive back into the world of 'real' watches after that period. Surely it would have made more sense to offer a discount to trade up to the next connected watch?
Whatever, it is a novel approach, but the nicer a watch looks, the more strange a smart screen looks on it. Just like with the Apple Watch, I am convinced that luxury smart watches are the strangest combination of all and I just don't see where the future lies in them at this time. It would be a different story if smart watches were ubiquitous because adding luxury makes all the sense in the world, but while they remain a niche product, the luxury watch should remain as it should be; exclusive, traditional and a piece of art which only needs looking at, wearing and nothing else.
You can read more about the watch here and I would suggest watching the launch video as well. Jean-Claude Biver is just great, especially when cutting the cheese.
Look at the image above. It is a screenshot of iPlanner from 2012 when I first started using the app to note down my wife’s shifts, annual leave and other important events that needed to be referred to from time to time. My wife uses the app as well and we keep the schedules synchronised so that each of us know where the other is if a hospital appointment for the kids or something else pops up. It is easy to use, completely familiar in every single way and 4 year’s later we are still using it without ever thinking about how seamless the experience is.
The same is true of TomTom, PocketMoney, Awesome Notes, MiCal, Evernote, PocketCasts, Notefile, Kindle, Instapaper and so many other third party apps that have been installed on my iPhone for a very long time. Add to this my over-familiarity with Messages, Photos, Clock, the Camera, Safari, Mail and most of the other defaults and it has become a ‘no-think’ device that I just pick up and use multiple times a day to get things done.
I don’t think about processor speeds, customising the interface, other phones which may do things a little better and all of the other aspects that used to capture my imagination when I was heavily into phones. I watch people still trying phone after phone and wonder what the end game is there. I get that it is a hobby and can understand that, but even they must know that it is a futile one that is driven by looking for the perfect phone, something that will never exist. If you stick with something for a long time and it becomes incredibly familiar, and if it is very reliable of course, that perfect phone will come to you and you will save a lot of money.
So, for many of us the iPhone is ‘the’ phone and the chances of moving away from it in the future are close to zero. It is embedded in our lives, it works every single day and it is just there. Why would I change?
Despite owning more than a few Android devices, and I still have some here for freelance work, I have never felt that way about an Android phone. They feel temporary, as if something much better is around the corner, and they do not give that same sense of permanence I get with the iPhone.