The future of tablets

I was reading this piece on Android Police about the slow demise of the Android tablet. While reading I realized that my own iPad Air has ben doing little more than sitting on my desk and gathering dust for the past year.

Back when the iPad first came out it made sense. It provided a larger canvas for things that the relatively small screens of smartphones back then weren’t suitable for and at the same time it was more portable and easier to use than a computer. This was pretty much Apple’s marketing pitch for the iPad, a device that sits in the gap between the iPhone and the MacBook.

With the passage of time, the displays on the smartphones kept getting bigger and laptops have gotten increasing smaller and lighter. Due to this, the gap that tablets once inhabited has turned into a slit. 


Review: Pixel XL

Google may have started its Android journey with the T-Mobile G1, but it wasn’t until the Nexus One that it started selling the phones itself. The Nexus One was a major departure from how Android phones were being sold until then. In the US, you would get your phone directly from the carrier, as you had been doing for many years, and elsewhere you’d buy it from the OEM making it, whether it was Samsung, HTC, or Motorola. But even though the phones were running Google’s operating system, they weren’t exactly Google phones.

This was what was so different about the Nexus One. Although the hardware was made by HTC (it was nothing more than a slightly retooled HTC Desire) this was the first phone directly sold by Google from its website. And that was the beginning of the Nexus brand, a series of phones from Google running a pure version of Android, with the promise of quick updates and support directly from Google.

The Nexus One was followed by the Nexus S, which was made by Samsung (again, just a redesigned Galaxy S), which was then followed by the Galaxy Nexus, then the Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nexus 6, and last year’s Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P. Over the years the designs changed, the manufacturers changed, but the basic principle remained the same.

Unfortunately, 2015 will be the year that we got the last Nexus device as Google has since shuttered down the brand. In its place comes the Pixel.

Now, to be fair, Pixel has been around for some time. The first device was the Chromebook Pixel, which also got a second generation update. Then there was the Pixel C tablet from last year. Each of these devices maintained some of the principles of the Nexus series: devices sold by Google with the latest version of the software. The Pixel devices also went a couple of steps ahead, and aimed to be the best possible in their respective product category without worrying about the price, which was often a criteria for Nexus devices. Also, Pixel devices were actually being manufactured by Google itself.

This year we get the first two phones in the Pixel lineup, the simply named Pixel, and the larger Pixel XL. Like the other Pixel devices, these will be made and sold by Google itself, come with the promise of quick software updates, and will also be supported by Google. These are also flagship devices in their category, and are priced as such. If you came looking for yet another Nexus phone, then these are not the droids you are looking for. If you want the best possible Android smartphone out there, then you might be at the right place. 


Review: Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange is the latest in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, featuring the character of Doctor Steven Strange, a neurosurgeon that gets into an accident, loses the ability to operate with his hands, and then seeks out a group of people in the East to heal himself.  During this he also gets tangled into their world of magic, eventually finding himself in a position where the fate of the world kinda rests in his hands.

Being an origin story, ‘Doctor Strange’ spends a lot of time building the main character. There are also some training montages where you see him learn magic and develop his skills, and then eventually use that to take down the main bad guy. In that it is not too different from other origin stories, like ‘Iron Man’ or ‘Batman Begins’. 


Some thoughts on the new MacBook Pro

Last Thursday, Apple announced the new MacBook Pro line. This has been a long time coming and people have been waiting to update their old models to the new ones. For a lot of people, the MacBook Pro is their only computer, and doubles up as a home entertainment and professional editing machine/workstation. Understandably, a lot of people were looking forward to this event.

And then it happened. And it was The Worst Thing Ever™. Or so some people say.


Review: iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus

It’s been nine years since Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone. Back then, the most sought after phone looked like this, and the company that made it was actually relevant. It would be an understatement to say that the iPhone turned the smartphone industry on its head. No one had seen anything like it, and it went on to change the way we used our smartphones, much like it changed the smartphone itself.

Along the years the iPhone introduced us to several innovations. Things like a large capacitive touchscreen that didn’t need a stylus to operate and fluid UI that scrolled like physical objects with kinetic motion. These are the things we take for granted today but were groundbreaking back then. Then there are other things as well, such as the Retina display that resulted in phones now having more pixels than your average HDTV, or the App Store that provided customers a unified platform to find new and interesting apps for their phone, and provided a source of income for millions of developers. I would even go so far as to count Siri, which, for all its faults, was the first of its kind and something others have been trying to emulate since.

As the years went by, the groundbreaking revolutions gave way to more measured evolutions. The iPhone’s success meant that competitors were no longer releasing sliding phones with physical buttons but were actually pushing pretty hard on innovating on their end as well. This meant it was often the iPhone that was left behind trying to catch up with what everybody else was doing.

This year’s iPhone 7 is no different. Sure, there are plenty of improvements over the last year’s iPhone 6s but very little of it is new on paper when you look at what other manufacturers have been offering over the years. The question is, does it really matter anymore and should the iPhone really reinvent the wheel every time instead of just focusing on being a good phone? And more importantly, is it even a good phone? The answer to the first question is no. As for the second, let’s find out.