Apple kicks off its annual 12 Days of iTunes Giveaway! From December 26th to January 6th, Apple will be giving away free media on iTunes! Gifts include rare singles, exclusive live tracks, music videos and classic TV programs. Not all of the gift giveaways will appeal to everybody, but there is likely to be something of interest for the typical consumer (I mean who doesn’t love free media?).
So the question really is: why is Apple being so generous? The crafty design behind this generous promo is a sneaky way to encourage new Apple users to understand how to use their downloading services on their new iPhone or iPad. Smart thinking, Apple. The digital giant also wanted to voice a little altruism, thanking it’s many loyal users for their years of fanatical love.
Gifts can be redeemed either through iTunes, or through the 12 Days of Christmas app. If you’re like us and have a hard time committing to a daily check, register for push notifications on the app so that you can be alerted when a new freebie is available for downloading.
Just a reminder – as soon as the day is over, so is the offer! Don’t miss out on some great stuff still up for grabs, get the app here!
It has been over a year since Samsung released a flexible smartphone prototype. The Galaxy Skin looked really cool and very bendable but we haven’t heard much about it since.
The Wall Street Journal posted a video with an editor from Asia Today, which discusses the durability and light weight specs of the Galaxy Skin prototype. This display technology will differentiate them from other large competitors – a.k.a. Apple – if they can pull it off. Currently, mass production is set to happen in mid 2013, but so far they aren’t having much success.
There is no doubt that this would be one of the coolest mobile releases of the decade. Even if the flexi-phone turns out to be a bit of a gimmick or a failed fad, a product like the Skin would show incredible engineering and technological innovation.
Either way, we can’t wait to see Samsung role the Galaxy Skin out in 2013.
Would you buy this? What are some interesting ways you would use a bendable smartphone? Tweet below to let us @PlasticMobile.
In the past months there has been a lot of tension in the world of smart devices. We’ve been kept on the edge of our seats. Apple vs Samsung. The fall of RIM. Misleading maps in iOS 6 and new Jelly Bean 4.2.
Well, the consumers have spoken and the numbers are in on mobile device purchasing. It looks like Samsung and Android are in the lead.
Q3 results show that while the total sales of cell phones fell 3% from this time last year, smartphones are still booming. In fact, smartphone sales have risen 47% to 169 million units this quarter and accounted for 40% of total mobile sales! That is a serious percentage. These stats show that people aren’t spending quite as much on phones these days, but when they do they are very likely to invest all the way and get a new smartphone.
Amidst these results Samsung holds the top spot in devices sold, and Android is the most used operating system. Samsung holds 22.9% of the market share, with Nokia following behind with 19% and Apple with 5%. Of course it makes sense then that Android is the leading operating system since Samsung and Nokia are both big users of the Android OS. However, it is almost shocking that 72% of smartphones operate on versions of Android, while 13.9% run on iOS.
It’s easy to forget about Android with all the Apple buzz, but these numbers speak for themselves.
On a similar note, the Nexus 4 8 and 16 GBs sold out in 30 minutes in the US during it’s first day on Google Play yesterday.
Are these numbers what you expected? What type of phone or OS do you use? Let us know @PlasticMobile or comment below!
Apple’s autumn release blitz continued today with the much anticipated iPad Mini, a new MacBook Pro, iMacs and the iPad 4.
Out of the shadow (literally) of it’s predecessor, the iPad Mini has all the functionality of the standard iPad in a smaller package. Features like 1080p HD video, LTE, faster WiFi and an A5 processor are jam packed into a 7.9 inch frame. Consumers can get all of Apple’s great mobile capabilities in a device as thin as a pencil.
During the event, presenter and Apple VP Phil Schiller emphasized the fact that the iPad Mini is not just cross between a speechless smartphone and a tablet. In fact it’s probably handier than you’d think. At $300 less than the standard iPad, the Mini gives consumers an option of how much they want to shell out for the newest Apple technologies. It offers the same capabilities as the iPad which are – as Schiller reminds us – everything from browsing to educating and gaming and is still easy to tote and type on.
Shipping starts November 2nd.
Finally, a Bagel Wednesday that’s not all about Apple.
Today the Japanese telecommunications operator KDDI introduced the new HTC J Butterfly. Google’s latest offering is halfway across the world and is quite a few miles ahead of devices in North America.
Underneath the HTC J Butterfly’s exclusive 5-inch 1080p HD “Super LCD 3” screen is a device jammed with great features. Running on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, the Butterfly has 16GB and microSDHC expansion, an eight megapixel camera is set up for NFC and can be used globally. And, oh yeah, it’s waterproof. The only speculated problem so far with the HTC device is its battery which may be too small to power the only 1080p screen on the market.
Battery issues and tech bragging aside, it is refreshing to see waterproofing included as an integrated feature and not as a hokey marketing position. We’ve seen waterproofing before from phones like the Samsung Rugby Smart, which is as durable as it is unattractive and low-tech. Sony’s Xperia is better looking and more capable as a smartphone but is still relatively mid-range and lackluster.
Why can’t we get high performance and all around UX at the same time? It seems that consumers have been sacrificing some common sense for the latest and greatest technology. Waterproofing seems like the biggest no-brainer necessity for consumers who are investing hundreds of dollars in something they rely on all day, every day. Improvements in durable UX that fix your phone’s phobia to water and prevent its screen from shattering are functions that companies should be making standard.
Just like us, our smartphones are exposed to wear and tear. Companies from HTC, Samsung and Apple alike claim that with their phones you can have it all. But the HTC J Butterfly seems like the first of its kind that really does.
The Butterfly will not be released in Japan until early December and there is no word so far on its arrival into the North American market. But when it does get ready for the whole package: a high-operating smartphone with durability to boot.
When the iPhone 5 finally launched last month Apple and Android fans alike rejoiced.
Apple supporters eagerly bought out its entire stock at break-neck speeds, soaking up the benefits of a modified redesign and added capabilities. Android fans laughed, pointing out that they’ve already been enjoying these capabilities for some time and carried on basking in the warm glow of their wider screen and multitasking powers.
Since its launch, the iPhone 5 continues to be massively popular but certain flaws in physical and design updates have trickled into the light. Issues with the new Google-independant Maps app have users in an uproar as 3D views and street maps leave off important landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and do not give travel times for walking, biking or public transportation. The improved camera on the iPhone 5 was also touted to be bigger (smaller) and better, but delivers only a slimmer look, minimal resolution gain and a purple glare from direct light sources.
These mistakes have opened Apple up to a world of scrutiny never before faced. Comparisons between the iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy III GS flood worldwide online and print forums, causing the user respect metre to rise for Android devices. Apple’s response to accusations and complaints have been both apologetic and defensive and are in turn being simultaneously applauded and ridiculed by the media.
While Apple is redesigning the Maps app and teaching us how to take photos on our phones let’s keep something in mind:
Despite its flaws, the iPhone 5 is still great. Most of its new features are great. Like Passbook, which will implicate enormous change in the way we use phones for personal convenience and retail capabilities. But, with its mistakes and anticlimactic product arrival, two things have become abundantly apparent: Steve Jobs is greatly missed, and Apple is, after all, just like any other company.
Since this round of iPhone was not Apple’s best foot forward, we can only expect that the next version iPhone will be amazing next time around. But, only time will tell.
While many mobile players are racing to come out with a mobile payment solution, the launch of iOS 6 and Apple’s new Passbook mobile application is giving retailers, airline carriers and others looking to best leverage their mobile marketing efforts a new way to engage mobile users via location-based offers, time-sensitive offers and upgrade the traditional paper based coupon.
Passbook works to enhance the mobile shopping experience, but does not (at this point) include a mobile payment aspect to it. Passbook provides Apple a means to get digital wallets in the hands of consumers now while it waits to see which mobile payments solution rises above in the growing competition.
The expectation is that Apple will eventually enhance Passbook to include mobile payments. The initial interest and partnership from some consumer brands (Fandango, United Airlines, Target and Starbucks) suggests Passbook is shaping up to be a significant new mobile service with a solution that provides utility, and that could potentially see some uptake. The basic benefit here is the ability to enhance the paper coupon for many brick and mortar retailers. Consumers will be able to store (did you catch our pun?) all their coupons, offers, boarding passes, vouchers, movie tickets, etc. in one convenient location, slimming down wallets everywhere!
With Apple’s new mapping features and GPS functionality, retailers can easily offer in-store and location-based rewards to shoppers. Passbook offers a location/time based element where consumers can be reminded when a coupon is about to expire, or if they walk past a store, they can be notified they have a coupon available to be used. Any offers or coupons stored on the app are tagged by location/time, so retailers can create coupons that are time-sensitive in order to engage and entice their customers to redeem these coupons in a certain time frame and increase in-store traffic.
Ultimately, Passbook is an interesting step forward in mobile coupons, and here at Plastic Mobile, we are really excited to see which retailers will be the next to jump on board with passbook.
Any retailers looking to connect with Apple’s ever-expanding base of smartphone and tablet users should consider developing Passbook solutions. The opportunities at this point are significant as wherever paper coupons, loyalty cards or vouchers once existed, Passbook now applies.
Are you excited about passbook? Let us know what you think of Apple’s latest endeavour to push the space forward by tweeting us @plasticmobile.
The recent release of Apple’s iOS 6 marks the end of YouTube as we iPhone users know it. With the five year licensing agreement between Apple and Google not being renewed, users running iOS 6 will no longer be seeing YouTube as a pre-installed app on their devices.
I for one couldn’t be happier about this. You see, Google has released it’s own version of the YouTube app and it addresses my biggest problem with the old app, very limited video selection.
Not only does the new YouTube app offer more in terms of video selection, it also offers some new functionality, and much better experience. The app is currently available as a free download in the App Store and, not surprisingly, it’s also sitting comfortably in the #1 spot of the Top 25 free apps’ list.
When I launched the new YouTube app, the first thing I noticed was a cleaner, sleeker and far more aesthetically pleasing design. Only when I saw the new app in all its glory, did I realize how outdated the old YouTube had become.
The new YouTube sports an overhauled menu, larger images for your viewing pleasure, an alternative to full screen landscape viewing and a search function that not only reduces taps, but also allows users to search for videos without even typing.
The new YouTube app utilizes a familiar menu style used by many other popular apps, most notably the Facebook app. The new menu also improves browsing by providing users with more categories to browse by and allowing them to do so efficiently. Users can find more content that interests them in a shorter amount of time. The previous app only allowed users to browse “Featured” or “Most Viewed” videos, which only go so far at keeping users engaged.
Larger Images For Better Browsing
The new YouTube app displays much larger images than its predecessor. I find, and I’m sure most will agree, that larger images make for quicker browsing. In fact, with the new design I find that there’s less of a need to stop and read a video description, because a picture is worth a 1000 words.
I also find larger images much more enjoyable to browse through. Especially, when the app displaying those images is quick and responsive as the new YouTube app is. Take a look at the below screenshots of the old and the new, then decide for yourself.
Improved Search Functionality
If you remember, the older, pre-installed YouTube app had its search function tucked away in a tab menu. This meant that if a user wanted to search for a video while browsing the “Featured” list, they would first have to tap “Search” from the tab menu, and then tap the text field to enter their query.
The new YouTube places the search function in the app’s header bar, as an icon resembling a magnifying glass. The function is available throughout most of the app and the placement is consistent, making the function highly accessible and easy to find.
When a user taps the search icon, the keyboard slides up and a pre-selected text field appears. Because the text field is pre-selected, the user can begin typing right away, saving them a tap.
A cool piece of additional functionality comes in the form of the ability to dictate a search. By tapping the microphone icon next to the search text field user can simply dictate what they wish to search, then select their video from a list of search results.
When I first saw this feature in YouTube, I was sure I had seen it somewhere else, but simply couldn’t remember where. Shortly after, it hit me. It was another Google app we reviewed here, Chrome.
A Huge Improvement
There is no comparison! In my opinion, the new YouTube app is better in every way. Probably because the old app never really saw any significant updates and was essentially the same app for as long as I can remember.
In case you’ve been living underground, in a bomb shelter, with no access to the outside world, the Apple / Samsung case was finally decided in a Californian court room. Apple was awarded more than $1Billion and their Korean rival was found to have infringed on six out of seven Apple patents. It was ruled that Samsung’s designs conflicted with interface specs such as the “bounce-back” feature, which occurs when one reaches the end of a page, zoom finger tapping, finger pinch zooming and scrolling patterns, as well as design features like the grid icon setup, edge to edge glass and rounded corners. All of the infringements were deemed willful with the exception of the rounded corners – so, just an honest mistake?
Finger scrolling? Grids? As a company that prides itself on making accessible and intuitive designs, it seems odd that Apple would be so adverse to other companies using the same or similar functions. Why not go after the engineering or mechanics? Because this fight is not about interior it is about exterior, and for Apple the biggest part of its brand identity is its appearance. While a lot of these patent infringement claims may seem a little farfetched and petty, they are key elements to the Apple brand.
Apple is now seeking to set immediate bans on eight of Samsung’s mobile designs that are in blatant use their patents. Popular models such as the Galaxy S2 and the Droid Charge are in the line of fire for shelf removal in the US, though Apple is sparing Samsung’s top seller, the Galaxy S III (for now).
Despite the fact that the company recently won a battle on its home turf in South Korea, the ruling for the American market is, of course, a serious setback for Samsung. The Korean company will now have to work with US carriers to modify existing designs, and will have to head back to the drawing board for redesigns, and postpone any upcoming releases.
While the short term for Samsung may look bleak, the new restrictions set by patent law may serve to open up new doors for the company. In an industry that seems to be moving by the guiding force that is Apple, there is definitely room for more innovation, more design and new ways to use technology in our lives. Now it is just up to Samsung to create something great.