Tag Archives: Editorial

Are Chromebooks about to become awesome? – Editorial

Several tech websites are reporting that Google is about to introduce some new updates to Chrome OS to allow around 1 million android apps to work on Chromebooks. This is likely to be introduced at Google I/O.

Is this happens, the Chromebook will become the most compelling laptop type device in ages. I have used several Chromebooks and for 95% of my workflow they worked beautifully. Super fast and cheap and easy to wipe clean and pass on to another person too. And with just a few of my android apps a Chromebook would take on a new lease of life.

Would android apps working on a Chromebook make you re-evalate purchasing one?

Camera Focusing Speed is Everything – Here’s the Proof

The Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge camera only has a 12mp rear camera, but it comes with the fastest focusing speed in the house. And sometimes, this is the only point that matters. Lots more detail is irrelevant if you miss the moment.

I have loads of examples to prove this point but below are 3 shots snapped last night.

First up my 2 female labradors, Fury and Tiggy. They were running at the time. I slightly cropped the photo to bring the dogs more in to the frame.

Here come the girls - Tiggy & Fury with big happy faces #Dartmoor

Next up is George. Looks like a selfie but actually he was running at full force. I was able to crop this shot slightly to focus more on George and lose more of Tiggy’s body on the right.

George Selfie on Dartmoor - drenched in water #Dartmoor #dog

And lastly just to prove how fast the S7 camera is, Fury photobombed this macro. The camera still got her chin and tongue. This shot was completely untouched.

Photobomb Macro - Fury bombs in #fastdog #Dartmoor #macro

I really like the shot above 🙂

What’s going wrong with the world’s tech press?

Yesterday evening I read a few reviews and articles from a cross section of well known tech websites. Within all the headline was a controversial word or statement.

I read a review from Arstechnica covering the LG G5. It was a scathing headline grabbing review. It was also clear not much real life usage had occurred. Now take for example Android Central. Phil Nickinson published his review of the LG G5 and was also not happy with the G5 and also had a headline grabbing title. However, at least Phil justified why he was unhappy with the phone, and that was a good thing.

Android Authority had 2 articles up regarding the HiFi DAC for the LG G5. One was a review of the HiFi DAC. This was a well constructed piece so therefore people would probably believe what was written. Except it was factually incorrect. And then there was an attention grabbing headline re it not coming to certain countries. LG have never said that. The accessories need to pass various regulatory departments.

I could go on as BGR and Engadget also had articles that didn’t sit well with myself in terms of standards. Unfortunately, we live in the world where sensational titles and articles create more web traffic and in turn more income.

What Smartphone should I get next? – Editorial

Approximately twice a year the mobile industry announces major smartphones but the decision as to which phone to choose is becoming harder and harder.

I think Samsung were wise and got their new Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge phone out of the blocks early and in the process they lapped out millions and millions of £££’s. The expression timing is everything might be what helps Samsung sell more android phones than any other manufacturer this year. It also helps that the S7 range is a very polished device in a multitude of ways.

However, the world also has other manufacturers releasing new phones from Huawei, Asus, Xiaomi, Meizu, LG, HTC and a whole host of other Chinese companies. The notable new phones currently include the LG G5, Huawei P9, Xiaomi Mi 5 and tomorrow the HTC 10 will be announced.

The Huawei P9 on paper looks like a decent piece of kit with its rear dual lens Leica branded camera technology. The P9 also features a whole host of other technology too. This phone was originally on my short list, but I have seen so many out of focus shots. I put this down to the lack of optical image stabilisation with the users not realising they had to hold the camera still for a split second longer. Whilst some of the photos from the P9 are stunning, consistency and sharp focus needs to be spot on more times than not.

That leaves the Xiaomi Mi5 and LG G5. The Mi 5 has a good camera, looks beautiful but is let down slightly in low light versus the competition. The shots are good, but not at G5 and S7 level.

So my next phone will be the LG G5 and my retail version should have arrived a few weeks ago, but production delays have impacted the delivery date. However, I am also interested to see what HTC announce at 1pm UK time tomorrow on http://www.htc.com. HTC are claiming that their rear 12mp sensor will feature Ultrapixels and will be class leading. Boom sound, great battery and more are all meant to be included in this phone.

Will HTC be the one to watch?

The Beauty of iOS Apps – Editorial

Here I am about one month into my ownership of the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge thinking about some of the apps on iOS that I used to use daily and trying to find alternatives on android.

The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is all about the camera and to get the most out of the camera you really need to use the official Samsung camera app. Camera FV-5 has just been updated to work with the newer Samsung phones from the S6 onwards. But really there aren’t any other sophisticated camera apps that work on these newer android phones. If you own an iPhone, camera apps and decent camera apps are in abundance.

And that’s the beauty of iOS. In any specific or specialised category you will find a couple of class leading apps. On the camera app front on iOS there are at least 5 decent camera apps, but my personal favourite that add some extra value are Nightcap Pro and ProCamera+ HDR which have nothing even close on android that offers the full range of functionality. Photo editing is another league on iOS.

The gaming catalogue on iOS is huge. Often android apps and games are ruined by adverts. A good example is Scrabble. On android game play is ruined totally by adverts. But not on iOS.

So apart from the photography apps, do you have any specialised favourite iOS or android apps?

Is the LG G5 flawed? – Editorial

I took this photo below yesterday on the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. It is a panoramic shot inside Foggintor Quarry, Dartmoor.

Panoramic inside Foggintor Quarry #Dartmoor

This got me thinking about the LG G5 camera setup with one normal 16mp lens and the other a 8mp wide angled lens.

(I will have the LG G5 to compare with the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge very shortly, and I will have initially the LG Cam and LG HiFi DAC modules to review.)

Quite simply why bother with the wide angled lens. Firstly it’s only 8mp and secondly its f stop is f/2.4 so photos will appear darker. If you flip over to the panoramic mode you can create a high resolution wide view shot without much effort.

The LG V10 and LG G4 took fantastic panoramic shots so this really makes me wonder if the second 8mp a flaw in the design and a waste of time?

Personally, I am in two minds and will reserve judgment until I have had time to test the setup accordingly. My thoughts at the moment are that a wide angled lens takes away the fiddling or sweeping the phone slowly across the screen and level while taking a panoramic and then waiting for the number of photos to be stitched. With a fixed lens you will see before you take the shot what you have captured and might produce some more dramatic looking results. Another bonus is the ability to not have to step back to capture everything in the frame. Sometimes you can’t step back.

Stay tuned for some more coverage.

HTC’s revenue is dropped again – So its shares rose 10%

So HTC’s revenue dropped again to a mere $129 million, thats over 50% lower than revenues for February 2015.

And yet their share price rose 10%. Is the stock market bonkers?

Well actually HTC’s shares rose on the news that its partnership and new fitness products with Urban Armor sold well and the new HTC Vive VR headset was off to a strong start.

From the leaked rumours of the new HTC 10, I cannot see this flagship saving the day, so it is quite likely we will see HTC shift its future more towards the wearables/fitness sector and Virtual Reality later on. Virtual Reality is still several years off from becoming the norm, despite its coolness.

So do you think there is a future with HTC in the next 12 months?

Taking Android Photography to the next level – Editorial

Over the last week I have shown examples of 2 camera apps from iOS, ProCamera+ and Nightcap Pro. Both these apps produce excellent results. Nightcap Pro makes light work of long exposures to create silky water, or shoot the stars and much more.

Scenes around Dartmeet, Dartmoor #iphone6splus #LongExposureMode

ProCamera+ is all about multiple exposures to get the perfect shot, from 3 to 64 exposures to create that perfect photo. It works best shooting buildings. Below an example of a black and white HDR shot.

Architectural Porn #TamarSciencePark #iphone6splus #HDRBracketed

So many of you use android and have asked me what are the equivalent apps for this platform. The bad news is that I cannot find any app that is identical to those above. However, I am testing a few that show promise.

A Better Camera – I have a Huawei G8 and with A Better Camera I was able to produce much better quality photos than using the standard camera app. A Better Camera does have a HDR mode along with a host of other options. These include –

* HDR+ photo and video
* Panorama
* Multishot: Group portrait, Sequence shot, unwanted moving objects removal
* Night mode
* Video recording + pause
* Time lapse (video and photo)
* Pre-shot: negative shutter lag
* Burst and Expo-bracketing
* Self timer
* RAW capture (depends on device)
* Timestamps
* Manual controls (focus and shutter speed priority)
* full access to all Camera features

I will be receiving the LG G5 and Samsung Galaxy S7 soon so will wait to reveal my results once I can test this app with these new flagships to see what benefit a flagship phone can bring to A Better Camera. Currently it is on sale on the Google Play Store for £1.99 which is 70% off its normal price.

Camera FV-5 is another app I have been testing with some success. The key features of this app include –

* All photographic parameters are adjustable and always at hand: exposure compensation, ISO, light metering mode, focus mode, white balance and program mode.
● DSLR-like viewfinder display: see exposure time, aperture and stops display with EV and bracketing settings, in real-time!
● Full fledged exposure bracketing: from 3 to 7 frames, unlimited stops spacing, plus custom EV shifting.
● Built-in intervalometer: make stunning timelapses (even bracketed/HDR timelapses) and time-controlled picture series.
● Program and Speed-priority modes.
● Long exposure support: take beautiful night photos and light trails with long exposure times up to 30 seconds**.
● JPEG, true 16-bit RAW in DNG format*, and lossless PNG photo capturing formats, perfect for post-processing.
● Manual shutter speed: from 1/80000 to 2″, or the range available on your device*.
● All camera functions assignable to volume keys. You can adjust EV, ISO, color temperature and more using volume keys. Devices with hardware camera shutter key are also supported.
● EXIF and XMP sidecar metadata support.
● Autofocus, macro, touch-to-focus, true manual focus* and infinity focus modes. Autofocus lock feature (AF-L).
● Autoexposure (AE-L) and auto white balance (AWB-L) locks in Android 4.0+.
● In background photo and RAW developing and processing allows a smooth, uninterrupted camera operation.
● Digital zoom using multitouch pinch gesture. Also shows 35mm equivalent focal length!
● The most advanced electronic viewfinder: live RGB histogram, 10 composition grid overlays and 9 crop guides available.

Again, testing Camera FV-5 with the Huawei G8 improved upon the quality from the default camera app, but again I really want to test this app with something better and so will put this through its paces with the new flagship phones.

There is the possibility that these apps will not function with the new flagships due to the manufacturers not providing the proper camera API support. Fingers crossed this is not the case.

So my question to you all, can you name any of android apps that offer the functionality, or part of, to that of Nightcap Pro and ProCamera+ on iOS?

Apple takes a stand against the FBI & Your Privacy – My Viewpoint – Updated

Apple went on record to publicly inform its customers in writing about its position on your privacy and the request from the FBI to unlock an iPhone. The iPhone the FBI want unlocked belongs to a terrorist who let off a bomb.

Below is an extract from Apple’s letter to its customers –

A Message to Our Customers

The United States government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers. We oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand. This moment calls for public discussion, and we want our customers and people around the country to understand what is at stake.

The Need for Encryption

Smartphones, led by iPhone, have become an essential part of our lives. People use them to store an incredible amount of personal information, from our private conversations to our photos, our music, our notes, our calendars and contacts, our financial information and health data, even where we have been and where we are going.

All that information needs to be protected from hackers and criminals who want to access it, steal it, and use it without our knowledge or permission. Customers expect Apple and other technology companies to do everything in our power to protect their personal information, and at Apple we are deeply committed to safeguarding their data.

Compromising the security of our personal information can ultimately put our personal safety at risk. That is why encryption has become so important to all of us.For many years, we have used encryption to protect our customers’ personal data because we believe it’s the only way to keep their information safe. We have even put that data out of our own reach, because we believe the contents of your iPhone are none of our business.

This case is a case on principle and it has far reaching implications if the FBI win. The FBI are trying a new tactic. Rather than asking for legislative action through Congress, the FBI is proposing an unprecedented use of the All Writs Act of 1789 to justify an expansion of its authority.

It is a difficult situation. Emotional thoughts say this phone belonged to somebody who killed people with a bomb. Maybe in some circumstances there might be a justifiable reason to break and unlock this iPhone?

However, that is not what the FBI want. Specifically, the FBI wants Apple to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.

What if Apple made this an exception for the FBI. Next step would be countries demanding the same. So my view is Apple are correct to stand firm regardless of the emotional angst that might be attacked to this case. Apple aren’t ignoring the FBI either, They have assisted the FBI with information requested by legal means and assigned Apple engineers to help them. But what Apple won’t do is create a special version of iOS for the FBI. I agree with Apple’s stance.

Update – Google has gone on record supporting Apple.  

Why Apple Pay is so much safer than a Contactless Bank Card?

This tweet was doing the rounds on twitter yesterday.

What’s special about this tweet is the person is in possession of a point of sale card reader, that means with this POS reader, it could authorise payments of £30 from your contactless card without you knowing. The reader could process payment of a bank card even if it was in a wallet or purse.

Apple Pay is so much safer as you need to authenticate the payment with your fingerprint, secondly nobody gets to see or read your actual credit card data, each transactions creates a random card number to protect your actual card number and lastly the data is secured into the secure element/chip inside your iPhone.

Contactless cards are quick and easy but as you can see above, if you’re unlucky you could get scammed quite easily.

Apple Pay is a securer option.