First thoughts of the Apple Pencil

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International iPad Launch

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Well it’s that time – the iPad is about to be launched in 9 countries outside the USA and the question on everyones lips is “should I care?”. Whether or not you have an opinion you can be sure that it will be coming up in many conversations.

Though I have followed the announcements with interest and have played with the devices in person my opinion has not changed. This opinion is as follows: “There is no doubt that the iPad will be a huge hit but I am still not going to buy one. I know I want one but can’t figure what I would use it for or how I can justify the cost.” Fact of the matter is that the device is just a very pretty, high resolution iPhone (without the phone part). Yes that is simplistic and does not convey the “magic” of using the device but there is basically no feature that justifies owning yet another gadget.

My netbook which is more powerful, has a full keyboard and boots faster than the iPad (or iPhone for that matter) can perform for more tasks than the iPad will ever be able to and runs a selection of operating systems. Add to that the fact that it was under half the price and it’s hard to see how owning an iPad is justifiable.

Like I have said to many people – this will be a hit gadget but I don’t quite know why. Who knows, maybe I am just jealous of those lucky enough to own one.

First impressions of the iPhone

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OK, so the iPhone is not really new news as it has been out in the ‘States for 4 months now but that did not stop UK Apple fanatics from being excited about the UK iPhone launch.

The queue at the official Scottish launch in Edinburgh was only around 30 people at 6:02 when the store opened, and some of them were just there to buy normal mobile phones. Nevertheless there was still a buzz in the atmosphere, a calm sophisticated excitement which I have learned to associate with Apple launches. The promotional goodies at the main Edinburgh O2 store included free chocolates, muffins, water and hand warmers. However, in London there were giving away sweatshirts, coffee and pizza! The London queue probably deserved it though as some of them had been there for over 24 hours whereas in Edinburgh the queue only started to form at about 4.30pm.

Apart from the selection of goodies packed in the O2 bag the iPhone box looked like any other well designed phone box such as that of the XDA Orbit. However, when I went to the till to pay that was all I had to do! There was no contract to sign, no monthly rate haggling, no sales banter. All you had to do was pay your £269 and then you could wander out of the shop with your shiny new iPhone. It was more like buying an iPod than a mobile phone.

It is not until you get home that you start the activation process (or rather when you plug it into your MacBook Pro on the move!). This is a pain-free process which took around 15 minutes of my time and about 30 minutes to sync my data and music to the new device. And that includes the time it took to transfer my current number to my new iPhone. So, in around an hour the iPhone was entirely ready to use. That’s impressive in my book – last time I tried to transfer a number it took a week!

However, after I had completed the activation process I noticed a problem. The EDGE network had not been discovered. It was most confusing, annoying and disappointing for a device that seemed to work perfectly in every other way. I followed the advice on the Apple site and did a post-activation reboot (aka turn-it-off-and-back-on-again) which seemed to sort the problem.

Since then playing (sorry working productively) with my iPhone has been a breeze. It’s a joy to use and a wonder to behold 🙂 I’m not surprised that O2 is reporting over 8000 activations on launch day!

Apple iPhone… NOT any day now

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So, today Apple had their fancy press release and yes, as everyone suspected, it was regarding the iPhone. Are we all psyched? Hardly.

All week they kept us on tender hooks about what was going to be announced. The Apple store in London was going to be kept open late. The store windows had been draped in black. The staff were being given advanced training about an exciting release. Rumors on the internet were flying far and wide: apple TV pay-per-view movies, UK starbucks ipod touch integration or even the release of the iPhone.

And what were we left with? They told us the iPhone release date. But not the “iPhone” that we had hoped for, not any time soon …

So what’s wrong with the new iPhone?

Firstly there is the problem of the mobile broadband. The new iPhone uses EDGE which O2 are actually pushing to support. Wait a minute – isn’t EDGE old news in the UK? Someone needs to tell the Apple guys in the states that we’ve moved on. In the UK the faster slicker better 3G is used not the outdated EDGE technology.

Secondly there is the price. Price was always going to be an issue with the new iPhone as it is with any new techology release from apple. But the cost of the new iPhone is staggering. The tariffs start in the high £35/month bracket and spiral to the heights of £55/month. But what is even amazing is that you have to buy the phone on top of this. At a whopping £269 – practically unheard of for a high street phone. For those of you who haven’t checked out the price of the iPhone in the states this is a cool 30% extra for the privalege of owning an iPhone in Britain.

Thirdly there was the other “privilege” of buying an iPhone in Britain – we have our own unique TV advert. Well not exactly unique. Did no one notice that the advert was simply the American advert dubbed with a British voice? How dumb do they think we are?

Fourthly, why do we have to wait another two months? It’s out in America. They have the technology to support it here? So why do I have to wait till November. The obvious answer is the crass comercialism of Christmas shopping which Apple and O2 are determined to cash in on as much as possible. I remember the days when companies announced products that you could actually buy, not ones you still had to wait for.

I feel a bit sorry for the O2 guys really. On top of having to re-invest in old technology there is the cruel twist of the iPod Touch. No-one told O2 before they signed of the impending Apple announcement of the new iPod Touch which has as most of the iPhone features (except the phone part obviously). I bet O2 were not happy that they had not been told about that one!

So will I be rushing out to buy an iPhone on the 9th of November. Hmm, probably not, but I do want an iPhone – I will likely be importing mine for the US, unlocking it with now widely available software and use it with my current contract. This way will I not only save a fortune, I will get my I phone 6 whole weeks earlier!