DigitalOutbox Episode 4

DigitalOutbox Episode 4
In this episode the team discuss the iPhone 3GS again, Michael Jackson, some other phone news and a little bit on games. A digital smorgasbord. Listen out for the Fighting Talk homage!

Playback
Listen via iTunes
Listen via M4A
Listen via MP3

Shownotes
– iPhone Sales
– 1 million in 3 days – http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2009/06/22iphone.html
– Steve Jobs quoted in press release – he’s back
– YouTube mobile uploads increased by 400% one week after 3GS launch
– issues with icons since 3.0 upgrade?
– some apps displaying icons from other apps
– sometimes app icons not displayed, get a grey box placeholder instead
– 3GS uses more powerful PowerVR SGX 535 GPU. Pre uses 530, 3G uses 520
– for comparison:
520 = 7 mill polys
530 = 14 mill polys
535 = 28 mill polys!!!!!!!
– Sony designing mobile/PSP (again!) to give iPhone better competition?
– if they can provide a quality, user-friendly interface then with power of PSP it could work
– cos they already have a huge back catalogue of games
– BUT, iPhone is a success mainly due to apps, not just games
– where does XMB, Sony’ baby, fit in to this?
– designing a phone around a console doesn’t quite work. Apple got it right by giving us a phone with good enough hardware for supporting games, which came later once the hardware had already become established
– form factor – current PSP just not suitable, again Apple got it spot on, not too small not too big, durable(ish)

– New MacBook Air
– slower than previous model despite clock speed increase?

– Windows 7 prices
– http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8118749.stm
– Microsoft is in the middle of another epic battle during its long war with the European Commission over the alleged abuse of its monopoly position. This time the issue is the bundling Internet Explorer with Windows, the subject of complaints from rival browser makers. Earlier this month Microsoft came up with a ploy it thought might satisfy the Commission, promising that Windows 7 would be released in Europe without any browser.
Today we learned that this would mean that European users who wanted to upgrade would have to install the full version – if they’d been offered the simpler upgrade, that would have simply imported their existing browser, almost certainly Internet Explorer, into their new setup.
But Microsoft says it’s giving European users that full version for the same price that it would normally charge for an upgrade – £79.99 in the UK.
But here’s the problem. You upgrade from XP or Vista to Windows 7, and then find you’ve got no browser. No problem, I hear you say, you just go and download one – say Firefox, or Chrome, or Safari or maybe Internet Explorer 8. Using your browser. Ahh…right.
Microsoft told me “we will have some answers” to this issue, but admitted there were “challenges and complexities” involved. But the company pointed out to me that the vast majority of Windows 7 users were likely to be people buying new computers, and the manufacturers were likely to pre-install a browser on those machines.
– America – Those with Windows XP or Vista already installed can start pre-ordering Windows 7 upgrade discs, costing $50 for Home Premium and $100 for Professional. Those deals are for a “limited time,” with no specifics given, from Microsoft directly and most computer retailers, and Ultimate may or may not see an upgrade pre-order deal. Vista and XP users will need to pony up $119.99, $199.99, or $219.99 on October 22 to score their Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional, or Ultimate upgrade, and those of you who want a full retail disc will need to roll up with $199.99, $299.99, or $319.99

– Google Voice
– http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/google_voice_is_opening_up_today_here_is_what_you_can_expect.php

– Vodafone Access Gateway
– http://online.vodafone.co.uk/dispatch/Portal/appmanager/vodafone/wrp?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=templateCClamp&pageID=PPP_0061
– Gives you a great 3G signal through your house
– Need a broadband line and Vodafone gateway
– makes use of femtoecll technology
– Offloads calls onto broadband network
– Hits your broadband performance?
– Interference with other femto cells?
– 1st July Launch – £160 to buy outright, or for monthly fee as part of a plan

– Safari 4/Firefox 3.5
– Safari 4 is very fast, like Top Sites and Coverflow for history is nice but….
– Ian – crashy, Google Reader failures, can’t connect to local router
– Couldn’t customise toolbar, changes wouldn’t be saved, home/library/preferences and delete com.apple.Safari.plist file. Then it worked.
– Looks like a rushed release.
– Using SAFT to get more out of Safari – http://haoli.dnsalias.com/Saft/
– Firefox 3.5 RC3 out this week, proper release rumoured for this coming week
– Improved speed, support for HTML5, private browsing mode, Location Aware browsing, tear tabs off and move them from one firefox window to another, history – recently closed tabs and windows, downloadable fonts
– http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/video/firefox-3.5.html
– Just hope it’s more stable on Mac

– HTC Hero
– http://www.htc.com/www/product/hero/overview.html
– 3rd android phone
– Looks a bit fugly
– Too many buttons
– Uses own UI called Sense – won’t be available on other android platforms
– T-mobile and Orange in the UK next month, no prices yet
– Teflon coating on the back which is seemingly very good at keeping the phone clean
– Has flash support – love the adverts – take that Apple fanboys

– Michael Jackson/Iran Uprising
– Massive impact on social sites – twitter, facebook, google etc
– News as it happens – BBC relying on twitter and youtube for much of it’s Iran coverage
– How do we know it’s true? Volume doesn’t lead to accuracy
– Jeff Goldblum death for example – http://searchengineland.com/jeff-goldblum-is-not-dead-despite-what-google-says-21588
– MJ music dominates iTunes music downloads
– currently 8 albums in top 10
– Jackson’s death impact:

– Spotify
– planning on introducing 320kbps Ogg Vorbis streaming for subscribed user. Could this be the biggest challenge to the ‘purchase and download’ business model for music? £9.99 a month,

– Quickies
– Zune HD 16/32GB due September
– Tekken 6 wireless arcade joysticks from HORI $150
– http://www.gamecriticsawards.com/winners.html
– Uncharted 2 – best of show
– PlayStation
– Final Fantasy VII on PSN store
– Original Final Fantasy coming
– Zen pinball coming in May
– Firmware 2.8 soon, nothing special

Picks
– DropBox
– XLD – http://tmkk.hp.infoseek.co.jp/xld/index_e.html – Lossless audio decoder for Mac OS X
– (Ogg) FLAC (.flac/.ogg)
– Monkey’s Audio (.ape)
– Wavpack (.wv)
– TTA (.tta)
– Apple Lossless (.mp3) [10.4 and later]
– AIFF, WAV, etc

Real Racing

I’ve shied away from other racing games on the iPhone as I always felt the lack of physical controls plus the screen size and potential performance issues would mar the experience. However the video’s and reviews for Real Racing were good so I made the purchase and I’m glad I did – it’s an excellent game.

You have a number of control methods – use either touch or accelerometer to steer, auto acceleration or touch to accelerate and there’s braking assist too. Thankfully they are disabled. I prefer to use the accelerometer to steer with touch to accelerate and break. You can also change the sensitivity to suit which is a nice addition.

Graphically the game is very polished with up to six cars displayed on screen. Viewed from in car or out the game keeps up a good speed, although in car looks a lot better. There’s quite a bit of track detail too with speed penalties for going off track and trying to cut corners. There are a number of different game modes – a career mode with a total of 57 events, time trials with online scoreboards, local wi-fi multiplayer (hopefully an update with peer to peer multiplayer will drop soon) and online leagues. Very impressive for a game on the iPhone that costs £5.99.

What makes it special though are the controls. They are excellent and really make the game. It’s also pretty challenging although the AI is not the best and very much on rails the whole time which can lead to some off putting moments. It still feels quite arcadey to drive but your not going to get Forza-esque physics in an iPhone game…yet. With 12 tracks and many online challenges Real Racing offers great value for money too. One more thing….you can upload laps to YouTube.

DigitalOutbox Special Edition – iPhone 3GS

DigitalOutbox Episode 3
In this episode the team discuss the iPhone 3.0 release and also discuss the iPhone 3GS.

Playback
Listen via iTunes
Listen via M4A
Listen via MP3

Shownotes
– iPhone OS 3.0
– Features?
– MMS
– Cut, Copy, Paste
– Spotlight
– Voice record
– Push Notifications
– peer to Peer for gaming
– Landscape keyboards
– Testing – forward, multiple recipients
– Tethering
– In app purchases
– Shake to shuffle
– Youtube – account support
– Note syncing
– Find my iphone
– Media scrubbing: 30 secs repeat
– Speed
– Safari much improved
– Speed
– Autofill (need to enable)

– Verdict?

– iPhone 3G S
– Early thoughts
– Performance
– Camera
– Video
– Compass and Maps
– Voice Control
– Mains adpater

– O2
– Better sales than 3G – more stock surely – http://dnc.o2.co.uk/home/2009/06/iphone-3g-s-o2-launch.html

Picks
– Paper Toss
– Real Racing

So you want an iPhone 3G S

After last weeks iPhone 3G S announcement there has been a lot of heat, not so much around the product itself, but around the costs involved in purchasing one. This is especially true in the UK, where the cost of the handset and the upgrade costs have sparked a lot of controversy.

Firstly, the iPhone 3G S – worth the cost if you’ve already got a 3G? This is a hard one to call. The improvements are:

  • Jump in size from 16GB to 32GB (assuming you buy the 32GB version)
  • Improved camera – 2 to 3 megapixels
  • Camera functions improved – auto white balance, better low light performance, macro
  • Touch to focus
  • Video recording
  • Video editing
  • Digital Compass
  • Voice control
  • Much improved chip speed
  • Double the RAM to 256MB
  • Screen has oleophobic coating

Not exactly ground breaking but for me it’s enough of an upgrade. We see the future of iPhones, much like the iPod range, to be evolutionary rather than revolutionary apart from a platform reboot ever 3-4 years. So assuming you agree and decide an iPhone 3G S is for you, how much will it cost? This is the real burning issue for 3G owners in the UK. For the iPhone 3G launch O2 allowed existing iPhone owners to upgrade to the iPhone 3G for £100. Everyone was happy and most also assumed that this was the model for iPhone’s upgrades in the future. Wrong!

Like every other mobile phone contract in the UK you would need to buy out your existing iPhone 3G contract before you could upgrade to the new 3G S. This announcement, made first on twitter, caused a bit of meltdown with #o2fail jumping into the trending topics on Twitter for a couple of days. Initially disappointed, in the cold light of day it was fairly obvious that this was the same rules for everyone else, so why not the iPhone – a bitter but expensive pill to swallow and if you don’t like it, don’t buy the 3G S. For me though, a purchase is likely so is there a better way to purchase than to buy out existing contract and start on a new fresh 18 month deal?

The spreadsheet above lists out costs assuming you buy off existing contract. Not cheap. Highlighted in blue is what we think is the typical option for most users which assumes that you will get £230 for your current iPhone 16GB 3G. There’s a few places that will buy your iPhone:

  • MazumaMobile.com will buy your phone for £200
  • Carphone Warehouse will buy it for £160
  • eBay – forums quote £300 for your phone but it’s more like £250-£270. Remember those eBay fee’s too

Considering the potential flood of iPhone’s then £230 for a phone in great condition sounds fair. The issue with this method of upgrading is the new 18 month contract. Assuming that Apple will release an upgrade every 12 months, buying in to an 18 month contract will give you this hassle every year. Taking a 24 month contract will force you into upgrading every second generation which might not be too bad a thing if the theory on product evolution is sound. However there is another way which involves going down the Pay As You Go route.

It’s this route that offers the best cost and flexibility in our opinion. The table above assumes a 32GB purchase on Friday. You then swap the contract sim from your current phone to the new 3G S. Take the new sim from the 3G S and use that in your existing phone which you can then sell on for £230-£250. Let the 18 month contract expire then sign up for either a monthly or 12 month Simplicity contract from O2. This takes monthly costs down from £35 to £20 although you do lose visual voicemail and unlimited wi-fi on this tariff. You can also make a further saving by signing up to the Simplicity contract via QuidCo and you should also be able to leave the 18 month contract at least a month early so that’s another saving.

The monthly average via this route is slightly higher than opening a new 18 month contract but the benefit comes next year and the next iPhone. No contract to pay off and a tidy sum to be made on selling on the 3G S. Well, that’s the theory at least. If you don’t upgrade next year then another 12 months on Simplicity will be a significant saving over the iPhone contracts.

Hopefully that helps spell out some options for this coming Friday. All you need to do now is queue up on Friday morning, pre-order from O2 stores or make an appointment at a local Apple store which is the option I’m doing. Alternatively, chortle at the amount of money this is all costing and enjoy OS 3.0 which has just come out. The choice is yours.