Samsung releasing a “Jet Black” Galaxy S7

11/22/2016  •  Filed under Technology

Via Redmond Pie:

After Apple’s Jet Black iPhone 7 got huge popularity, Samsung is rumored to be doing same for Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge, by offering its flagship 2016 smartphones in a shiny/glossy black color of its own, according to a new report.

Shocking. That’s not like them at all.

Google Play Music design overhauled, machine learning added for better music discovery

11/18/2016  •  Filed under Design, Technology

Via Business Insider:

Play Music’s latest update blows up the concierge in favor of a new array of recommendations that pull from not only relevant activities (e.g., “focusing”) but also recent listening and recommended classics, new releases, and customized stations. In short, it’s pulling from a much wider range of sources. It’s also getting more use out of Play’s carefully curated stations, many of which where buried in some dark corner of concierge.

And the whole thing adjusts based on context, giving you different recommendations on your phone, on your computer, at the gym, and in the office.

[…]

The new Play Music is not only smart but also wonderfully simple, putting it all on one neat page. If you scan the recommendations without seeing anything that excites you, you can always click “I’m Feeling Lucky Radio” for a unpredictable custom radio station based on something it knows you like. Not feeling that, and you can sort by new and top releases, create custom radio stations, and more.

Google Play Music has long been my music streaming service of choice and it just got even better. This is a great update, both aesthetically to the design of the service and technically to helping find that next great song or album too.

Update

Also mentioned in this piece:

Spotify has excellent playlists, including the personalized Discover Weekly, and it’s great at surfacing hot new music—and for some that will make it the best. It remains a step behind Play Music on contextual recommendations, however, and if you ask me, it’s lagging in interface too, especially after Play’s update.

Apple Music? It has a clunky interface, even after a big update, with often contrived playlists.

Nailed it.

It’s not about who has the better library of songs anymore. They’re all practically identical. Now, it’s all about how easy it is to navigate and bring the most relevant music to the surface. I’ve switched back and forth through the different services over the past year or so and, as mentioned, Google’s interface, features, and ease of use have for a long time made it the clear winner in my books. Now, with this new update, it’s not even close.

Google has finally updated the Gmail iOS app

11/18/2016  •  Filed under Technology

Via TNW:

Gmail for iOS is getting a big revamp today in what Google calls “the biggest overhaul of the app in nearly four years.” While it’s largely an aesthetic change, there are a few interesting new features to note.

First up, that new look: it’s a lot more like the Android app, with ample use of red for a more Material Design.

Feature-wise, the main addition is Undo Send, which means you now have a life-saver for those times you email the wrong person and notice immediately after.

While it’s nice to see Google updating one of their biggest apps on iOS and adding the option to undo send, I’ve noticed a handful of issues and features that appear to be either missing from the previous version of the app or from the Android version.

These include being able to toggle sender images on and off (currently always on) and, much more importantly, force images to display in emails. While you were prompted at the top of the incoming email in the previous version, that option is missing in the new Gmail app which has left me with empty or broken emails on more than one occasion. Another issue I’ve been having is being constantly routed through the “unread” inbox. I never use that. Just show me everything when I open the app, read or not.

This is a much needed step in the right direction for the Gmail app but it looks like it’ll be a while before it replaces a much more feature-rich and stable experience you’ll get from something like Spark for iPhone or even bring it back on par with the previous version in terms of reliability.

Razer attacks Apple with awful tweet

11/01/2016  •  Filed under Technology

Via Razer (Twitter):

You call yourself Pro? S my D.

— RΛZΞR (@Razer)

If there’s a better way to win over the professional (SD card loving?) crowd than a childish, offensive tweet, please let Razer know. I’m sure they’d love to hear what it is.

Update

Razer has since deleted the tweet. This one, right here.

The touchscreen MacBook

10/30/2016  •  Filed under Technology

Via Engadget:

Why should you scrub through a video timeline on your keyboard when you could manipulate it directly on the display? Many everyday activities, such as choosing emoji in Messages or playing music in iTunes, practically beg for direct finger input. This isn’t to say that Apple’s Touch Bar implementation is clunky. So far, it appears to be very thoughtful. It’s just a perpetual reminder that there’s a more direct way to meld touch with conventional computing, and Apple is passing up the opportunity.

Scrubbing through a video on the screen itself sounds frustrating and horrendously imprecise. Apple’s solution with the touch bar makes so much more sense to me.

Apple passed up the “opportunity” to turn the macOS UX into a clunky, laggy, Frankenstein of an experience currently found on most Windows PCs. While you’d have to believe that Apple’s got a touchscreen MacBook prototype sitting in a lab somewhere, it’s clearly not a real product for good reason.

In all, the hate for the new MacBook, or even the previous generation of MacBooks for that matter, leaves me at a loss. My MacBook Pro from late 2014 can still wipe the floor with many of the best PC notebooks you can buy right now, let alone back when the machine was new. The people complaining at no end for a new laptop from Apple make me think that nothing the company would announce could have made them happy.

Update 1

Via 9to5Mac:

Ive explained that Apple had opted for the Touch Bar after exploring a number of possible approaches, taking several of them to prototype stage before real-life use determined which concept offered the greatest value.

You don’t say.

Update 2

Via 9to5Mac:

Speaking with Backchannel, Schiller has now stated that a multi-touch display on a MacBook “wouldn’t be enough,” because it would begin a divide between MacBook and iMac. But, if the company implemented the same touch screen on a desktop it would “become absurd,” due to the iMac’s main source of user interaction — the keyboard and mouse or trackpad — residing too far away from where users would raise their hand to interact with the screen. Ultimately, Schiller said this line of thought is “lowest common denominator thinking.”

Sounds about right.