Sunday, October 07, 2012

BLUNDERS - A Request to Hindustan Times

Vidit Bhargava

Hindustan Times was recently crowned the most read Newspaper in India. Perhaps its the most read. Perhaps its got many brilliant writers, but throughout the year, I've seen a few massive blunders from the most read Newspaper of all time. Some of them, are misleading Headlines. Some of them are serious factual mistakes, others are mistakes that cannot be forgiven.

I can remember three major blunders that the Hindustan Times Made Most Recently. I'd Like to highlight them here:

23rd September 2012: A Rather funny mistake. Looks like the writers were half asleep, or this section was handed to someone who hadn't watched cricket in his life.
Just Goto the Sports Page on 23rd September 2012. 

10th July 2012: A rather small piece of mistaken journalism or misleading headlines. The Date is 10th July 2012. The Headline: Apple Releases Mac OS X Mountain Lion, which is misleading because the OS X Mountain Lion didn't come out before 25th July. However, the content explains it was a Gold Master release for Developers. Forgivable Yes. But, Nonetheless a Fast class example of Misleading Headlines. Targeted to Attract Visitors.

1st July 2012: This is rather a matter of national disgrace. HT Brunch the Magazine Hindustan Times gives out to its readers reports. The Year, of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks is mentioned to be 2006. What does one do with such journalists?

Official Link (the Official isuu account of HT Brunch) : - The news is on Page 8 of 24. 

A Sincere Request to Hindustan Times. You guys are the most read Newspaper in India. You shape country's opinion. Such blunders just mislead/ misguide and perhaps anger the audience too. 

P.S. Perhaps I've made a few grammatical errors in making this post. Forgive Me.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

OSX Mountain Lion Review

Vidit Bhargava

Software: OS X Mountain Lion
Device Tested on: MacBook Air (June 2012)

10 Minutes of using OSX Mountain Lion and you'll realize that it's the 200+ tiny invisible new features that are making your experience so lovable and not just the 10-12 new things that have been advertised.

OS X Mountain Lion is an extension of what Lion was. It's a sequel to the previous OS which introduced various iOS elements like the Launchpad, and new management tools like Mission Control. Mountain Lion betters that experience and adds a few more iOS elements in the decade old OS X which just gets better after every software update.

Among the little things that have been improved in OS X are the multitouch gestures and the overall scrolling experience. There's a simple intuitive gesture from almost every task you'd be performing. You can tap with three fingers to launch a quick preview of any file in the finder. A pinch inwards with your thumb launches the Launchpad and a pinch outwards cleans everything up and you get a clear view of your desktop. OS X maintains its love for gestures and they just get better by the day.

Notice the Search bar at the top, its just brilliant!

Launchpad is easily the quickest way to get to your applications in OS X but it can get tiresome sometimes, to navigate pages of applications only to find something essential. Come OS X Mountain Lion,  the problem is ingeniously solved. Perched at the top of application icons is a search bar which activates as soon as you start typing with Launchpad open. Doesn't look anything awesome, isn't it? But it does make app launching significantly faster and is one of the neatest improvements you'll see in an OS (These things just get ignored most of the time.). Launchpad is something we saw in OS X Lion too but it gets more meaningful with Mountain Lion.

iCloud Integration with iWork: At the time of its launch the iCloud was criticized for its Mac implementation. It was clearly obvious that iWork would get an iOS like document browser for iCloud documents and people were really disappointed when it didn't come at its launch in October 2011. Well, it has come now. And it's a blessing! You can save / open files from your iCloud Documents and access them on almost any iOS device you own (Will need iOS 5 or later) and all your mountain lion macs. It's clearly a win-win situation for those who own multiple Macs or iOS devices.

Gatekeeper: It's a tool that gives you the power to pulldown a shutter on any outside apps and converts your Mac into a closely guarded walled fortress. You can then download applications from the Mac App Store only or choose an option to download apps that have are signed with a genuine developer ID. This is quite a disappointment. The Mac App Store doesn't have a really good selection of apps to choose from and the sandboxing of applications is still taking a little time, even though most developers have done that. It's better to keep the gates open for now.

Apart from these little additions, almost everything has undergone changes which improve the user experience and provide more functionality in most cases.

Apple's update to the new OS is more productive at many fronts. For Example, you get all your Mails, tweet replies, news updates, reminders and very soon, Facebook notifications on the notification center, as soon as you switch on your Mac. The great part is that all you need to do is a simple two finger swipe from the edge of your track pad to reveal the notification center. A Notification Center on any device is extremely helpful. At times I find my self 'switching on' the computer only to check for mail and news updates and i end up doing all kinds of un-productive work most of the times, but having a notification center really helps curbing that to a great extent. The only thing that bothers me here sometimes is the lack of weather and stocks widget in the Notification Center. Both the iPad and Mac lack them. But these widgets on the iPhone are extremely helpful and it's a disappointment not to have them on the OSX.

There are things Apple has done to build a stronger Eco-system between iPhones, iPads and Macs, With this update. Some of them are very powerful (iClouds Documents and Data) others like Reminders and messages are cool additions but I can hardly find any common uses of them when using a laptop, compared to using a phone. I'd rather have my self notified on a phone about my grocery shopping every time I'm near the grocery store than be reminded on the move on a Mac when in all probability I'll be doing some extremely urgent or important work (hence even using it on the go).  But it works just about fine the other way around, say I set up reminders to take certain things or drop a package to my friend, on a mac. I can then receive notifications on my iPhone and iPad whichever device I have. The restriction of course is that you need to be a part of the eco-system. And to do that you must have at least two iOS/ Mac devices.

The other ecosystem loving app is the Messages application app that comes as a replacement to the old iChat. Messages maintains a good balance between your IM chats and the others that you do with your friends having iOS / Mac Devices. Its just ideal for Mac-Mac conversations. And  There are many more uses of such an app, including the fact that you are actually receiving chat notifications as soon as you are on your computer. Moreover messages could benefit in the future with a PC app to. That'll then create a definitely powerful and successful chat client for communications between computers (something like an SMS service for a computer). But that seems to be a far fetched dream for now.

There is also the notes application which is quite snappy when referring or creating quick notes but handles image formatting quite badly. Notes also lacks options to attach audio or video to the notes and has a very premature image embedding option. In short Notes is behind a lot of competition when we look at how others like Evernote provide such features but in simplicity Notes for OSX beats all other apps including Evernote. There is no immediate revolutionary use of this app but it's not bad to have something like this.

Sharing is big in OSX Mountain Lion. You can share links, photos and videos on the two biggest social networks Facebook and Twitter (and of-course Seina Weibo too) and you can also upload photos and video to Flickr and Vimeo. You can just about share anything from any where. A single swipe to the notification center brings up the share via tweet option (and will soon have share via Facebook too), everywhere else you'll either find a share button or will have a share option. Everyone's on a social network these days. And sharing options make it easier to be more active on them and a good implementation just makes the experience more snappier.

Safari's Offline Reading lists and the new tab view are little gems. The unified search and address bar was inevitable, but the reader icon that stays there at all times even when there isn't Anything to "read" is a bit irksome and feels a little out of place at sometimes. Safari feels quite fast on OSX and hence gains a lot more audience than chrome (running on a similar engine) ends up getting.

The New Tabbed Browsing loves the trackpad but has a strong aversion to the 'mouse'.

Safari's Reader Button, stays there, even when there is nothing to read.

Dictation on OSX is quite average, it's hardly able to recognize the Indian accent without making mistakes. But Having said that dictation on OSX ranks among the best speech to text tools available in the market. Dictation actually gets better over the time, it learns how you pronounce certain words, it gathers the speech data to do this. In our tests speaking in an Indian accent, Dictation showed only 44% accuracy but when tested on American accent the accuracy was pretty good. We may just be a step away from Siri on Macs. And that, would be amazing.

And the last thing that makes this OSX experience filled with sublime awesomeness is the AirPlay compatibility, with AirPlay built-in you can now listen to audio on your AirPlay speakers from any source not just iTunes or QuickTime. This is a really going to be helpful for those who've got either an AirPlay enabled TV or speakers, it makes the experience of using Airplay much better.

The dock Is an area of concern On OSX Mountain Lion. They've now put a grayish, more opaque than translucent dock with tiny lights that indicate whether an app is running or not. Compare that to the dock in OSX Lion or Snow Leopard and you realize how bad it is, it's not the grey color thats so appalling but the tiny lights which leave you with a sour feeling.

The Battery Life on the MacBook Air that I tested was quite appreciable and was quite unaffected by the upgrade. It runs a respectable 6.5 hours during heavy app Development hours and crosses the 7 hour quote sometimes, when you're just doing casual browsing or chatting on Messages. My tests on the software end seem satisfactory their doesn't seem to be any drastic change in the battery life ever since the MacBook Air was upgraded to mountain lion.

Summarizing the OSX experience, Apple's OSX Mountain Lion is a "massive upgrade" and perhaps the first truly social operating system. Having said that we're still in the OS 'X' era, and Mountain Lion maintains all traits of a typical OS X update and not something completely new. OSX is lovable to use and there aren't many glitches. It's perhaps the best update to OS X ever since Leopard. It's super cheap at just $19.99 and it'll be unwise not to upgrade your OS.

Rating: 9.1/10

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Podcasts App: Quick Review

Vidit Bhargava
Skeuomorphism is at its best when it generates a neat and interactive experience between the user and the touch device. Apple has recently implemented Skeuomorphic Design very  deeply in most of its Applications, be it the Contacts App on the iPad or the iBooks Application for iOS. Its struck the right chord many times but has also gone overboard with the idea quite a few times. Podcasts for iOS falls somewhere in between.

Just a few days back Apple quietly rolled out a Podcasts application for iOS Devices. The application appreciated by many puts the wide range of podcasts on the iTunes Store into a live streaming application which more-or-less works like a radio of sorts. Apart from that, the Podcasts discovery is also very easy. With a “Popular Stations” Tab on the home Screen you can easily browse through the best in All Categories of Podcasts. And Listen to a Live Stream or Download by the tap of a button. Its a perfect utility for those looking for a quick and snappy news read, or a casual listening to the favorite podcasts.

But What Holds back this app, is its “Now Playing UI”, Its over-flooded with Skeuomorphic elements like a retro style high-speed scrubber, or crammed together square play, rewind and forward buttons. This UI turns out to be so sluggish sometimes that I end up closing the app. Scrubbing is the worst part. The experience is worse on the iPhone / iPod and ever more irritating on an A4 Device. They could have easily gone with the old Music app UI which is quite neat or gone with the new Music Layout, the one that’s coming out with iOS6. Both of them are much better than the Podcasts’ app.

The Podcasts app can indeed do a spin-around for Podcasts, with this update But only if they get some key UI Elements right.

Rating: 3/5

Friday, June 22, 2012

How Apple Passbook Works

Vidit Bhargava
Apple released their latest iteration of iOS, last week at the WWDC 2012. Amongst many enhancements (which included a completely new vector based maps tool too) the announcement of a new inbuilt app called Passbook was slightly side lined. What exactly is Passbook? Or How is it going to change our Wallets?

Passbook is a pre-installed iOS 6 Application which will let you view your digital gift cards, coupons, boarding passes, shopping cards, etc. You can then use them instead of their offline counterparts.

Say you book a travel ticket, and receive an online boarding pass via email. Now at the airport you’ll have to search through your emails for that boarding pass and then get it scanned. Apple simplifies this task with the Passbook tool. The Airlines can create a Passbook based boarding pass and share it to you via email, which you can then open in your passbook application. Once in the passbook app, your new digital boarding pass will be updated real time. Also when you are near to the airport a push notification will come up at your lock screen, through which you can instantly access the pass!

Passbook can also store your movie, sports tickets, gift cards, store cards or whatever that qualifies as a coupon, pass or ticket.

Here’s how it works: The developer creates a passbook pass using Apple’s Pass-Kit API and then shares it to the user via Email, URLs or an iPhone App. The User then opens up the pass (ticket, coupon or card) on his phone, which takes him to the Passbook app and the pass is stored. Now the user can get push notifications for his pass. (For Example, if a certain store whose store card is in your passbook is near by, a notification will come up on your phone telling you that a certain store is in the vicinity, you can then open it to use it, as you enter the store)

Passbook is sure to provide a very productive future to the iOS Users. Almost certainly the weight of wallet is going to drop a bit, as you get rid of all those membership cards and gift coupons and instead store them on your phone.

But Passbook is a little far from perfect. There is a certain lack of availability of advanced 2D Bar Code Readers at many places. Currently Passbook Passes are restricted to embedding 2D or QR Bar Codes only, this is going to demand inputs from the companies to install the new and more expensive 2D Code Scanners at their shops. Here Developers might have to step in, by providing necessary hardware for many of their clients. The same is going to be a problem with many other countries all over the world. So if major outlets are willing to provide these services, they’ll need to actually have proper hardware first.

The success of the Passbook depends on how companies take steps to utilize it and how fast they install the necessary hardware. With Passbook Apple is not trying to digitalize your wallet but its creating a tool for online Passes. Much like what Adobe Reader is to PDF files, Passbook is to Digital Passes (only those created via Apple’s Pass-kit!)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Microsoft Surface First Impressions

Vidit Bhargava

Filled with gloss, covers, lights and music, Microsoft Surface made an appearance in a pressure sensitive magnetic cover’s ad today. Or was it the other way round? Well at least that’s what I felt when i first saw the Microsoft Surface Teaser Video. It’s evident that they are stressing on a part of the tablet which is neither unique nor uniquely designed. And since one generally tries to highlight the best of a device in his video, we may safely presume that this is the best they can offer us.

So, lets start with this new pressure sensitive keyboard attached to a smart cover like polyurethane (or a similar substance) ‘cover’. At first glance this pressure sensitive keyboard cum smart cover looks amazing. Some way even think that it’ll be their best typing experience on any device. But the final product may just act opposite to what you think its going to be. Microsoft’s protective cover is a razor thin keyboard. It’s razor thin and its flat. Which means, that it is more than likely that you’ll get a sprain in your hands than type comfortably for hours. This thing is quite ergonomically unfit. Moreover, you are going to need to touch the screen for any assistance while typing. And using multitouch on any screen which is perpendicular to your hands is a cumbersome experience. That’s the  ergonomic issue number 2. The third and the final issue which comes when you try to use this cover is the option to use it as a laptop and start using a track pad. Windows 8 is a dual minded software. It wants to be in your tablet as well as at your desk. History tells us, that its a bad idea. Microsoft itself has created and failed at this task. They’re trying again. My experiences with Windows 8 so far, tell me that its going to be a uphill task to actually stay at one UI and work efficiently. You can’t use the old UI efficiently with a Tablet and there aren’t many apps for Metro UI on the Windows Marketplace / Store.

In terms of hardware, Surface provides just about what all other tablets do. Its got a Tegra 3 Processor and 32GB and 64GB of Storage options + an SD Card Slot. There is also a USB Port which is a slight stroke of brilliance, since it may allow you to use your controllers and keyboard and mouse and everything and convert it into a notebook, if you get too annoyed with the touch experience or want a slightly better gaming experience. But then its just one USB Port and games that run on traditional PCs might not run on Windows 8 RT tablets. Also unlike as advertised, charging your phone on a tablet might not be the best idea if its own battery life is short (Microsoft is still to give a word on battery life). While the Magnesium casing is new and on first impressions looks sturdy, The back of the tablet is particularly uninteresting and slightly clumsy on design. There is a “Stand” that you can kick to put it at a good angle for watching movies, which is a good tool (only if its strong enough to not keep flapping every-time we hold our tablet), but it seriously harms the over all feel of the device since now you are left with a very bad looking back, with screws and stands all over. The tablet is just as thin as the new iPad (9.3 mm) and it weighs about 603 grams. A lot depends on how this hardware will eventually perform.

Surface runs on Windows 8. Windows 8 RT to be precise. While its a nice experience with the metro UI placed on the screen, its not going to be as good when you try to run some of the old UI software. Its going to be a little annoying. Having said that, there are a lot of pre-installed apps on the Metro UI too, and they look beautiful. Since I haven’t used the tablet my self I might not be able to tell you exactly how good or bad it is. (My experience with Windows 8 on a laptop was quite miserable)

The Microsoft Store however, is  yet to take any flight and with Microsoft’s ultra-strict app approval policies, tedious development standards and slightly inferior SDK and APIs its going to be tough to lure new developers to create apps solely for Windows 8. As of now iOS remains their preferred choice.

Well that’s pretty much it about the Microsoft Surface. We don’t have any pricing details or launch dates or even battery life quotes. All we have is a promo promoting the Touch Type Cover.

Microsoft Surface will have quite a task at eliminating internal competition with other tablet developers who are creating Windows 8 Tablets. Of what we have seen today at the unveiling the Microsoft Surface is not even close to be in competition with the iPad. The iPad sits firmly at the top with a well grounded operating system which is in its sixth edition and a huge developer database, Something which all other tablet Operating Systems lack.  Also Its got a massive head-start and Apple has so-far only improved the Tablet experience per upgrade. Which has left no-room for the aping competitors to step in. Surface is hardly a killer to the iPad.

Having said all that, we are still to get our hands on a Microsoft Surface Device, and it isn’t coming before Fall (That’s when Windows 8 is likely to be unveiled for Consumers), till then its hard to say if its going to be a success or not. I have given my impressions on the Tablet, the numbers will do the talking now.

And Did I forget to mention that there is going to be a second variant of this tablet, too. Its going to be called Surface Pro. They are adding an Ivy Bridge Quad Core i5 Processor into it, A USB 3.0 Port and a Mini-Display Port into it. There is also going to be a stylus for that tablet. And its going to be heavier and thicker. And it’ll have Windows 8 Pro (These names still remind of the prank Jobs played at them, at the launch of OS X Leopard)

P.S. I may have been  a little harsh at Microsoft Sometimes but seriously the first impressions were taken without being affected by previous experience with the Software Firm.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Being First. Does it Matter?

Vidit Bhargava
What was the world's first smartphone? The world's first camera on phone? Who was the first to come up with touch-screen technology? Who invented the light-bulb? The answers to these questions might be too trivial for you to remember. But are they important? Do you really need to care about the first in businesS? Or is it the best you want?

People and companies sometimes screw themselves by selecting a really new technology for their new gadget. Evidently they want the newest and best for their gadget. The tech-world is as it is highly competitive. Also the silicon valley giants are always under threat of some passionate Stanford or Harvard Grad who'd ace them with his new upbeat ideas. Its a cut throat battle out there and coming first, getting a patent and pushing some crazy new technology into your next gadget is sure to get a lot of attention.

But what most people overlook is the fact that being first doesn't mean that it is the best. Technology, like a life form, evolves. If you try to use it before it's mature enough to be used, you will end up with a buggy gadget that never works and no one likes. But if you wait for it to evolve, you perfect it, and then harness its technology into creating something powerful and economical, you might come up with something better that'll change the world around you.

The history of the light-bulb (much in question these days, due to Oatmeal's apotheosis of Tesla) has a lot for us to learn. It is clear that Thomas Elva Edison never came up with the first light-bulb. The first we saw something of the sort of an incadenscent bulb was when Humphery Davy created first incandescent light by passing the current through a thin strip of platinum in 1802. But then that's not how we use the light bulb in our homes, do we? Edison was the first to create a bulb which was feasable for public use. It was something that wasn't expensive nor harmful. It was the best of the many light-bulbs invented before and after his version. He became successful and trumped over the 22 inventors of light-bulb before him. Today he's widely known as the inventor of the light bulb (even though there were people before him). That's the classic example of how the best technology is the one which is evolved enough to be in a product and is feasible for the consumers. Had we all been delivered Humphery Davy's Incadencent light, well.. the future would have been darker than one could imagine.

Inventing new technology is just half the work done. Successfully implementing it into a fine product is what matters.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Kahaani Review

Movie: Kahaani
Director: Sujoy Ghosh
Story: Sujoy Ghosh, Advaita Kala
Actors: Saswata Chatterjee, Vidya Balan and Parambrata Chatterjee

Review By: Vidit Bhargava

There was hardly a moment when the audience gazed down on their cell-phones to chat with their friends in this 2 Hour movie about a woman finding her missing husband, who doesn't seem to exist. At first, this Sujoy Ghosh directed thriller may be ignored as a yet another attempt to fix in some exotic disease on our protagonist and present it to the audience in a new look. Clearly we've had enough of that non-sense. But Kahaani is a completely different thriller, with a tightly woven script and brilliantly written characters.

Even though, Kahaani has been advertised as a thriller, our characters are not put into unnecessary mortal peril or being kidnapped and being ported to different continents. This being reminiscent of most modern day thrillers, be it books or movies. Kahaani provides thrills quite differently. There is that uncanny touch to it, that puts you on the edge of your seat, thinking of what will happen next. All this is done with a very subtle backdrop and some good background music, which makes you feel as if you were along side the main leads solving the mystery.

There is little to disclose about the plot here, there are many twists and turns which are served to you during the course of this two hour thriller. The story revolves around a pregnant Vidya Bagchi (Played by Vidya Balan) who has arrived in India in search for her missing husband. But the problem is, that there are no records about the fellow at all. What follows next is Vidya's pursuit in find her missing husband, filled with appropriate twists and turns.

The Plot is original, but it is slightly inspired by popular literature like the Dan Brown thrillers. You'll find a few ideas taken from the 'Dan Brown Thriller Stencil' in this movie. There is a gruesome prologue, seemingly unconnected to the plot of the film, A hit-man answering to a unknown caller and executing murders by the confirmation of an MMS. There even is a subtle epilogue fixed into the movie. But truth be told, Sujoy Ghosh has created a thriller which is much better than Dan Brown's attempts using similar tools.

Also the screen play is slightly inspired from Satyajit Ray's mysteries. The scene about running hot-water and Vidya Balan Opening the Windows of her room and sitting on the sill to see the city-scape are an ode to Satyajit Ray. But the director never lifted stuff directly from the books. In-direct references are only a tribute to the famous director. 

Acting is top-notch. Parambrata Chatterjee As Satyaki is phenomenal. Nawazuddin Siddiqui over does a little as the curt Intelligence Officer but is fine most of the time. The scene where his bellowing at Vidya Balan suddenly changes to a polite 'plea' was done with great poise. Vidya Balan is on a roll, this is probably her best performance we've seen in years. Moreover her character was written brilliantly, keeping any question of a weak performance at bay.

One of the key elements of a good thriller is to create an element of shock and surprise at the end i.e. the point where the mystery unfolds. Sujoy Ghosh, does it quite nicely and puts the audience into a complete silence. Of course the effects on audience may vary from place to place, you may hear a sudden gasp, a loud whistle, some praises or even claps. Trust me, The mystery is that good, no one seems to have complained so far. I heard from lots of people about the movie, and all of them were spell-bound about the climax, they said it was one of the best they've seen in a thriller. Personally, I think that the climax was great but it could have been done with much more intensity and could have created a bigger impact. People sometimes go to a Hindi thriller with toned down expectations about its mystery but Kahaani is not a 'Kahaani' to be Underestimated. But all is not so good about the film, even though the mystery is more or less brilliant, it does leave a loop-hole or two, which leaves you slightly disappointed.

Anyone who has seen 'Kahaani' would really be dead scared of these words, "Namoshkar!... Main Bob Biswas. Ek Minute". Bob Biswas is easily the best hit man ever created in a Hindi Movie. Played by the talented Saswata Chatterjee, Biswas is an LIC Agent in the mornings, and a brutal Assassin after work hours. The character of Bob Biswas is exceptionally well written. The dual nature of Bob is what makes him so dangerous. He may look like a local Bengali, an every day working man with a job at one of the 'Daftars' with a tinge of charm. His polite demeanor, carefully masks his true blood and makes him look totally Harmless. Moreover, he doesn't even look like a Hit-Man, he is in his mid-ages, slightly overweight, gets tired easily and might not be the ideal choice incase of a quick escape. But that is hardly needed, since Biswas, is an Assassin of the first order, he completes his task without so much as a hint of suspicion on him. In a sequence in the film, Vidya Balan is thrown towards a speeding Kolkata Metro by our Assassin Bob Biswas , only pulled back in time to be politely asked to go away. The fear that creeps Vidya Balan and the audience is quite genuine. Bob Biswas, is a truly inspirational character. And Saswata Chatterjee pulls it off with great ease. I am sure, we'll be seeing more of him, in the near future.

Kahaani is an entertaining thriller which requires your grey-cells to be in great form. It's a blink and miss movie, you just can't move from your seats while watching the movie. It's certainty the best Hindi movie in 2012 so far and will be ranked amongst the classics in time to come. Also, the movie has a replay ability, even though most of the movie depends on a mystery. You'll still enjoy it because of its calm backdrop and awesome performances.

Rating: *** 1/2 /5 (Amazing)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

There is a reason It's Developers Only

Vidit Bhargava
Yesterday I was reading a blog post on the internet, it was talking about how early Mountain Lion users were facing issues and how the same would not have been in Steve Jobs’ era. Hardly anything different from What Apple critics would say, but it left me to ponder on something. Why do people download Developer Previews when they aren’t developers?
Of course there is a reason why developer only previews are released, they are meant for developers who want to make their apps compatible to new standards, evaluate or suggest changes which will eventually help their firms make their product better and provide ‘users’ the best experience.
Quite certainly developer previews have some glitches, errors and aren’t fit for consumers at all. There isn’t any problem with that. Obviously That’s why they are developer only, so that developers can help software companies iron out any kinks in the software, to make them bug free and more secure before the final product comes out.
The problem arises when every kid with a tech blog and access to torrents downloads these previews and berets the software for having glitches, which puts forward a negative image of the software. Why peep into the kitchen while the food is being made?
Part of this Problem is the extensive media coverage a developer preview gets. Just minutes after the arrival of a new operating system’s Developer preview, the world of tech news is filled with In-Depth Previews of the developer preview. That is bound to make users excited to download the preview and try it themselves.
Using a developer preview can be disastrous for the end-user. Me being a developer myself downloaded a developer preview of Windows 8 a few months back to help myself with web-app Development, while the preview helped me test my HTML5 apps on the New operating system, it also posed problems beyond my reach! For example the frequent blue-screen of death while shutting down was a major issue and I was hardly able to debug it from my end. Eventually I had to give up the idea of using a developer preview and use my good old Windows 7 instead. The same happened while using early builds of the iOS5, though the problems were more controlled then and there weren’t many crashes and it was a more productive outing, which helped my app Development team to be on track with the latest operating system and the latest frameworks, but A few really irritating software issues were imminent even in the later stages of the Beta Program.
Summing it up I’d like to say, Developer previews are not for download unless you are actually a developer and not some techblogging teen geek.

All About the New iPad

Vidit Bhargava
Apple finally unveiled the third generation iPad on March 7th 2012. Just about an year after it had announced the iPad 2. I’d like to start with the iPad 2 today. To make it clear iPad 2 was a major design upgrade. The new Aluminum back was just about how much Apple could change the iPad’s look in one update. And hence, contrary to what others might say, iPad 2 was the design overhaul update and not a stability update. So let’s paste Apple’s upgrade trends for iOS devices now. The first update usually brings a design overhaul while the second update becomes a stability update for the first one without any significant change in design. Therefore, The Third Generation iPad had to be a similar looking, more stable version of the iPad 2. It’s just that. And goes a little further.
Let me walk through the ‘new’ iPad’s key-features one by one now:
Retina Display: The iPhone 4 was the first device to get a retina display and so everyone had hoped that it will come to the iPad 2 also. Turns out a Retina Display on the iPad 2 was not only expensive it also had technical difficulties to overcome, and so it came an year later to the iPad screen.
You’ve got to experience a retina display in person to know how it feels, it’s not the same thing as using one on an iPhone, it’s even better and brighter. Infact the 2048×1536 pixels resolution is even better than what an HD resolution would like on a tablet. The iPad with its Retina Display and IPS LCD has the best screen any mobile device (phone or Tablet) has ever had. And takes the 3rd Generation iPad miles ahead of competition in terms of graphics and display quality. Instantly all other tablets in the world, now look dull and of ancient ages. To top it all the new iPad maintains the same battery life of 10 hours which makes it all though more difficult for competitors to catch up with the father of all tablets.
5MP Camera: The back-camera which is now called an iSight Camera has got a major tech-bump in terms of image quality, the new iSight Camera, believe it or not, takes better pictures than the iPhone 4 camera. Even though both of them are 5MP. Yes, the key to great photography is not in the megapixels but the technology involved in the camera, and Apple’s idea of adding another lens and widening the camera aperture is a good one. And adds real color to the images.
There are obviously high-expectations from the camera, given that the same technology did wonders for the iPhone 4S. The initial shots look great, but I won’t comment on the quality before I actually lay hands on one.
A5X: it’s not A6 or last year’s A5. It’s the A5X processor. The A5X processor has a dual-core and quad-core graphics. Quad-Core Graphics engine now help the iPad to get better games with console-like graphics, Apple had demoed A NAMCO developed Action Game and the Infinity Blade Dungeons by Epic Games. Both of them had looked spectacular and the iPad like an equal amongst its console rivals.
So, while A5X might not bring a steep performance update in CPU, but graphics have definitely become top-notch. Hence the name A5X and not A6.
But a word about the technical specifications over here, Apple controls it’s own hardware and software and hence your new iPad is not likely to be a slow experience in any way. You are definitely going to get a blazing fast experience and by upgrading the hardware apple allows the developers to build better apps which provide a great experience to the customer.
While we can compare Android Tablets by the processor speed, RAM or any other technical specification, we cannot do the same when comparing an Android Tablet to the iPad. So, when we compare an Android Tablet to the iPad we will also have to compare the user experience of using the same apps on both the devices, moreover an overall experience is to be compared rather than a fragment of it.
4G LTE: While Indian users might not get the 4G speeds on the third Generation iPad when it launches, users in the US have a lot to be happy about, The new iPad is a 4G LTE device which comes with AT&T, Bell, Rogers and Verizon as supported 4G suppliers. Moreover 4G LTE means that the new iPad will allow for faster web-browsing and web-experience. So this is 4G, of know use in the Indian Market but of immense power in areas it is present.
Voice Dictation: Unlike the iPhone the iPad doesn’t come with Siri built in. The new iPad however has Voice Dictation. Voice dictation is a part of Siri, which takes voice input and converts it to text. We can expect Siri once it’s out of the beta stage, though.
Pricing and Availability:
16th March 201223rd March 2012*
United StatesBelgium
United KingdomIreland
JapanNew Zealand
Hong KongPortugal
* The 3rd Generation iPad will release In 26 European countries on 23rd March 2012. Only Some of them have been listed above.
iPad WiFi$499$599$699
iPad WiFi + 4G$629$729$829
iPad 2 WiFi$399--
iPad2 WiFi+ 3G$529--
Summing Up:
In a time where the only significant tablet in the market is the iPad, And others are only catching up, even a minor update to the tablet would mean even more to catch up for the competition. The new iPad builds on the image of the  previous two versions. And with more and more tablet buyers emerging everyday, the new iPad will gain on that front too.
A major selling point of the iPad will be the Retina Display, with the Retina Display the new iPad opens up an array of improvements that graphic based content could get. And along with the new quad-core graphics, everything on the new iPad will look brighter and wonderful, specially movies and nextgen games.
Should you Upgrade? Those who had bought the first generation iPad can upgrade now. The iPad has come a long way after its 2010 release, and with the new iPad being more of a stability upgrade, upgrading from the first generation iPad will definitely turn out to be a great idea.
For Those who had bought the iPad 2, an upgrade is not recommended. The iPad 2 is nearly as good as the new iPad but sans Retina Display.
For those wanting to buy a new iPad, it is a golden period to buy one.