At the auto show which is being held in Los Angeles, General Motors announced that Siri, Apple's voice assistant that is available to users of the iPhone 4S and 5, iPad Mini with Retina and the fifth-generation iPod Touch, will be integrated into models of Chevrolet Spark and Sonic at the begining of next year (2013).
It is almost every Android phone owner’s headache and one of Apple’s bragging points about their products; battery life. If you own an Android phone we can bet the one thing you are probably the most disappointed with it how long the battery lasts. We have now gone through two Android phones (the EVO 4G and the EVD 3D) and while the EVO 3D that we have now is much better than the original it still cannot compete with what the average iPhone 4 (or 4S) gets. However, unlike the iPhone with an Android phone you can always grab a larger battery. Today we are taking a look at one from a company called Ontrion. This extended battery comes complete with a new back (so we do not have to worry about it being an external case) and almost doubles the capacity of the stock battery from HTC. So let’s take a look at what Ontrion has to offer and just how much more life this battery gives our EVO 3D.
In the weeks since the iPhone 4S announcement and then launch we have read all kinds of articles and heard all kinds of stories. It has been somewhat difficult to sort through much of what is out there and come to a conclusion general or not. The iPhone 4S launched to a less than underwhelmed crowd. Normally the press gets all lathered up when a new Apple product launches, but this time things were not the same. Even with this lukewarm reception the consumers line up to buy them. The after seeing the reception from the consumers the press worked overtime to make up for its stance on the iPhone 4S. They came out with articles about Siri, The new UI, the Speed of the new Dual Core A5 and more. Still there are issues with the iPhone and due to the much wider audience and customer base they are coming out faster than ever.
This is what we know so far. On launch day the iPhone 4S hit the market and within days the troubles began…
The first up is poor 3G speeds when on the Sprint network. Both Apple and Sprint have acknowledged the issue with Sprint being the first one to come out about the issue a promise a fix. We are fairly certain that Apple was not pleased with this, but are also just as sure that Sprint did not want to lose any new customers to that 30 money back policy they have. So the issue was out on the table and now a solution needs to be found. Comparing even an older Android Phone to an iPhone on the Sprint 3G network shows a remarkable difference. Apple wants to say it is iOS5, but the issue is not present in every phone so this one may actually be related to a bad lot of 3G radios. I guess we will find out once Sprint and Apple release their findings.
On top of (and possibly related to) the 3G speed issue are the reports of exceptionally poor battery life. These reports are possibly exaggerated, but some are claiming as few as 4 hours of life. One thing that we have found in common with all of the reports of poor battery life are reports of overheating, signal scanning (when the device continues to try and find a signal even if it has one) and, as listed above, poor 3G and WiFi speeds.
Now, at this point it is important to note that Apple has made some small overtures to the effect that this is an issue with iOS5 and have released iOS 5.0.1 to developers for testing. Here is my problem with this, the symptoms of this all point to a problem with the Radio on the phone. It is either defective and cannot complete the connection to the cellular or WiFi networks it is trying to talk to, or there is a MAJOR flaw in the baseband coding in iOS5 that is causing the system to continually drop the connection instead of keeping it alive.
Personally our feeling is that this is a bad lot of 3G/WiFi radios that managed to get through Q/C (quality control). It might be possible to “fix” this with software, but in the end the device will still have the flaw and its lifespan will probably be shorter than it should be. We are waiting to see if the new iOS update will do anything for this issue and will let you know what we find.
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There is a report tonight that Siri’s Co-Founder, Dag Kittlaus is leaving Apple. According to the report he is leaving to spend more time with his family and also to possibly found another company. This sounds like a great idea after all of the hard work he put in at Apple getting Siri ready for the iPhone 4S launch; which is the thing that bothers me. If you built a company (or co-built) a company and then you just walk away from it after a major launch? That really makes no sense. Of course there could have been a clause in his contract after Apple bought Siri for an undisclosed but rumored $121 Million that stated he had to leave after the initial launch, but I really doubt that.
Instead I think there is a little more to this. One thing that stands out is the constant claims from people who originally were involved with Siri that there is almost nothing this API can’t do. It also is not a power crazy API; you do not need a ton of memory or CPU power to run this thing. So here is what we are thinking (and this is only speculation, but it seems to fit some of the facts). We know that Apple bought up Siri and at one point had plans to release this for product other than the iPhone 4S. At some time, during the pre-production phase of the iPhone 4S it was decided that there was not enough to get people to buy the phone. Apple was sure there would be Sprint purchases, but without a major feature there was not much to motivate people to pick up the new iPhone. Someone decided to remove the capability to run Siri on anything other than the iPhone 4S. With that decision and no future plans for Siri until sometime in 2013 Kittlaus decides to leave.
Apple’s culture of xenophobia and control was probably too much for Kittlaus to deal with. However, we are fairly certain that Apple made sure they had a clause that prevents Kittlaus from immediately going back into business. The probability of a non-compete or delay compete clause accounts for the vacation time he plans to take (not to mention he probably does want some time off). We have a feeling we will see Mr Kittlaus in the future, possibly within a year of today with a new company making something that will turn out to be what Siri could have been… maybe this time it will end up with Android or Microsoft.
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Well you can now pre-order your less than impressive refresh of the iPhone. The new iPhone 4S pre-order sites went live around 3am this morning. However, despite several years of launching new phones none of the companies in question appear to have been ready for this. For some unknown reason Apple decided to perform maintenance on their Apple.com servers right around midnight.
According to many this caused the servers to be unavailable until almost 45 minutes after the pre-ordering frenzy began. Reports are that both Sprint and AT&T servers are overloaded and will require multiple attempts and patience to get to. Meanwhile other carriers are having similar issues. I have to wonder if some of this is not staged. After all, how can we see this with EVERY iPhone launch unless either Apple and their carriers are completely incompetent (which I do not believe) or they intentionally fail to prepare for this and want to spin the server downtime and other connectivity issues into their reports of how much in demand their new phone is. We know that Apple has overstated numbers before often including shipments to retailers in their initial sales reports, so why not leave things like this and make the claim that demand brought down their networks. It is all good press in the end really.
It should be an interesting day no matter what the real reasons are.
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So Apple had their little press event yesterday. The Hype was there, the buildup was there, and even the usual plethora of rumors was there. However, sadly neither Steve Jobs nor an exciting new product was there. We watched a little bit of the event, but after a while when we did not see the normal euphoric responses from the press we got bored and moved on to something else.
This morning we decided to check out the “morning after” reports and were rather surprised to see that the majority of analysts felt the same way that I did. The reactions went from mildly disappointed to one headline that stated that people should not bother waiting in line for this one. The impact was also felt in Apple’s wallet as their stock prices several point before rebounding, but leaving Apple a little over 1% down from their normal lofty height. In fact at one point during the trading Apple lost close to 13 Billion (with a B) in market value.
Why all of the antics and the sour grapes? Well here is the deal, remember that yesterday we talked about how Microsoft runs on the “build it and they will come” school of business? Well we are actually seeing Apple fall into that. Instead of launching a device that is truly revolutionary Apple gave us a phone that matches the core specifications of phones that have been on the market for months. Yes Apple has caught up to HTC, Samsung, and others in terms of CPU (the dual core A5) and memory. However, Apple failed to match any of them in terms of connection speed. So you are buying a phone that will have an average speed slower than many other phones on the market.
Some of the Apple fans have chimed in with comments saying Apple left of 4G to preserve battery life and other things of that nature, but in reality these are excuses to cover the fact that Apple did not have anything real to offer at this time. The iPhone 4S is a kneejerk reaction to the success of phones like the HTC Evo 3D, the Samsung Galaxy IIS (which Apple is desperately trying to bury) and others. These phones are gaining in popularity for their speed, style, and flexibility. This is driving Apple nuts as they have been used to being the only game in town.
All hope is not lost though. Apple did do something very smart; they are partnering up with Sprint. Before you scoff at that statement I want you to think about one of the biggest complaints about the iPhone in recent years; data plan caps. Anyone remember the outcry when AT&T capped their data plans? Or when Verizon did right after they started offering the iPhone? Both times the actions of these carriers angered their customers. Sprint has already announced that they are going to maintain unlimited data for their new iPhone 4S customers. This is sure to bring in some customers from AT&T and Verizon that are tired of watching their data each month. It will also convert a few exiting Sprint customers that are looking to upgrade from their older Android phones (like the Original EVO and its horrible batter life).
Apple will gain a few new customers and will sell the iPhone 4S to its existing fan base, but in the end this is not a magical or revolutionary device and Apple may find it harder to spin this one and charm the press into thinking it is something more than device to play catch up with the competition. We have our own review (on Sprit) planned for this one and will let you know how it fares against the Dual Core HTC Evo 3D. For now, let’s all sit back and see what Apple does to compensate for the less than stellar response from the press and the market.
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