Monthly Archives: December 2014

Expected Apple Releases In 2015: A Roundup

As another year draws to a close, we take a look forward at the products/platforms that Apple Inc. is expected to launch in 2015. Watch, the first Apple product to have been created by the Tim Cook-Jonathan Ive combination, has already generated interest among techies all over.

2014 has been a big year for Apple Inc. The Cupertino company finally ventured into the phablet market with the ambitious iPhone 6 Plus (released along with the flagship iPhone 6) in September. The Apple-Beats deal earlier in the year also made the headlines. On the mobile payments front, Apple Pay was officially released on October 20 – and going by early adoption rates – it is almost certain to do better than its primary rival, Google Wallet. What more is expected from the stable of Apple next year? On this the final day of 2014, let’s try to take a few informed guesses:

 

  • Apple Watch – The only guesswork involved about Apple’s very first smartwatch (announced at the September 9 event) would be regarding the actual date when it would hit the markets. On its part, Apple has promised an ‘early 2015’ release, which is being considered to be equivalent to the launch happening this spring. WatchKit was released for developers in mid-November, so that they could start making apps for Apple Watch. Although the smartwatch and the first set of apps for it will be heavily dependant on paired iPhones – there are reports that native app development for Watch might be possible later on next year.
  • Beats Music subscription service – The offer to distribute the latest U2 album to customers has not exactly worked as CEO Tim Cook must have hoped for. In general too, the total volume of music downloads from the iTunes store have dropped off by almost 15% over the last year. To ramp up downloads and get music-lovers interested in iTunes once again, Apple might start a separate Beats subscription service in the online music store. The company had forked out $3 billion to purchase Beats Music – and it’s high time that investment served some fruitful purpose.
  • iPad Pro – It took several years for those up top at Apple to finally realize that a ‘larger screen smartphone’ can be really profitable (a glance at the first quarter sales of iPhone 6 would confirm that). The company won’t make any such delays with its flagship tablets though, with a 12.2”-12.8” iPad Pro rumored to arrive in the second half of 2015. It would be powered by the new A8X processor, and would have Touch ID features (underlying platform would be iOS 8, unless Apple comes up with its successor earlier). The worldwide tablet market has slacked off in recent times – and the new, bigger iPad (also known as iPad Air Plus) might just give it a fresh boost.
  • iPhone 6S/iPhone 6S Plus/iPhone 7 – It has only been three months and a bit since iPhone 6/6 Plus started shipping, and iOS app developers and general Apple enthusiasts are already buzzing about a new set of iPhones. The expectation is not really unrealistic, particularly given how quickly Sony has upgraded its Xperia series of smartphones. iPhone 6S and 6S Plus are likely to be launched sometime in the second/third quarter next year, with probably a better camera (13 MP, maybe?) and even more robust CPUs/motion processor. In case the flagship iPhone 7 also arrives, Apple might power it by its much-anticipated A9 processor. One thing is for certain though – Tim Cook won’t be too eager for budget smartphones, after the iPhone 5C debacle!
  • A smaller iPhone – Probably the least likely of the expected Apple products on this list. However, there is a buzz in mobile development communities that Apple is indeed working on a 4”-iphone. There are absolutely no design specs or tech details available till date – and it is unclear why Apple would go back to a smaller phone, after having tasted success with the latest larger varieties. We have to wait for the time when (and if!) such a small iPhone indeed gets a mass launch.
  • New Apple TV – This was something everyone had expected, and did not get, this year. However, it is almost certain that a remodeled Apple TV, with more channel-browsing options and (hopefully) video gaming support would be announced by the Cupertino tech giant, in the festive season of 2015. There is an outside chance that the new TV would be an ‘UltraHD’ set, and would have its very own App Store too (‘yay’ for app and game developers). There has also been news that the internet support on the new Apple TV would be better than that on the older model. The developers are also working on improving the functionality of TV’s set-top box.
  • MacBook Air Retina – The undisputed success of MacBook Air has given Apple ample leeway to consolidate its position further in the PC market. The best (and the most likely) way the company would do it is by releasing a revamped MacBook Air with Retina Display. The advanced chips included in the Air Retina would give the device a strong 10-hour battery life (in fact, battery problems prevented it from releasing in 2014 itself). The display would be a whole lot richer than the 1440×900 max resolution on the existing MacBook Air, and Apple would reportedly be offering the new Air Retina in 3 alternative body colors. Nopes, no black MacBook Air in the pipeline though!
  • iPad Air 3 – Given how well-received the new iPad Air 2 has been, gadget analysts and mobile app developers feel that the upcoming iPad Air 3 would be a relatively minor upgrade on it (the spotlight would be more on the larger iPad Pro). There is scope for improving the hardware specifications of the tablet, while battery performance might also get a lift. The thickness of iPad Air 3 would hover around the same 6-6.1 mm range.
  • Customized enterprise apps – It has been nearly six months since Apple entered into an unprecedented collaboration with IBM – and suspense has been building as to how the Cupertino giant would leverage this partnership. Professional mobile app developers feel that custom enterprise applications could be a likely channel for this purpose. Direct sales and integration would also be offshoots from the Apple-IBM partnership we would see in 2015. The industry verticals that Apple gets into/acquires next year will be able to use these customized integration services, for which IBM has the necessary expertise.
  • OS X 10.11 – The adoption rate of Mac OS X 10.10 (Yosemite) has been more than encouraging, and Apple has already started on the next version of the operating system. The concept of ‘Continuity’ and ‘Handoff’ – introduced in Yosemite – are likely to be ramped up in the upcoming version, which would work even more closely with iOS devices. Mac experts are not expecting too many design/display changes in OS X 10.11, however.
  • iOS 9 – Most iPhone app developers agree that iOS 8 has been the most troublesome version of Apple’s mobile platform till now. The release of iOS 8.1.3 and iOS 8.2 are already in the pipeline – but the recurring bugs and user-problems are yet to be completely removed. Tim Cook and his team would certainly hope that iOS 9 proves to be a much smoother, problem-free platform. In case iPhone 7 indeed sees the light of day in 2015, iOS 9 might be the platform it makes its debut on.
  • New processor for iMacs/MacBooks – Apart from bringing MacBook Air with Retina Display to the market, Apple would provide improved processor support for its existing line of MacBooks as well as iMacs. If the rumors in online Mac hardware and app development forums are anything to go by, Intel Core M would be an integral feature in the new set of Mac processors. There has never been much of complaints regarding the speeds of Apple computers and laptops, and the new processors would make the iMacs and MacBooks a greater delight to work with.
  • Further development of HomeKit – If and when Apple releases the iOS 9 platform, it has every chance of pre-loading it with a fine-tuned ‘Home’ app. Separate home appliances/tools would be detected and linked up by the new HomeKit via wi-fi networks, and there is a chance of it being integrated with iOS-in-the-car (so that users can stay in touch with Apple products at home, at office, and even on the go). The only roadblock would be in the form Google’s Dropcam and Nest – which have precious little chance of ever opening up to HomeKit.
  • An iMac with 21.5” Retina Display – Apple has done a grand job with the new 27” iMac with Retina. In 2015, the company would look to keep up the good work with a smaller 21.5” iMac, also with Retina Display. iMacs with Retina 5K displays are likely to find acceptance among individual users as well as businesses, and can very well turn out to be a major profit-earner for Apple.

In addition to the above, the Thunderbolt Display would, in all likelihood, get a rejig in 2015 (it has been the same old for three years now). The new spaceship campus of Apple might get completed towards the fag end of next year. There might be a couple of other surprises on offer as well. All in all, 2015 is going to be a real exciting year for Apple fanboys, general gadget lovers, and iOS app development experts alike.

 

14 Things To Be Wary Of While Requesting Free App Quotes

The fact that an app development company offers free app quotes should not be enough to convince you that it is best-suited to handle your project. Before hiring the services of any developer, you need to pay attention to the following factors as well.

Planning to create a personalized mobile app? The first thing you need to do is look for a company that offers detailed free app quotes, based on your precise specifications. In fact, many companies highlight the fact that they offer prompt and free quotes on iOS/Android apps as one of their USPs. There is a catch in this though – since there are often hidden clauses and conditions, that negate much of the apparent advantages of getting free app quotes. We have here underlined some factors you need to be careful about, while contacting an app company for the first time:

 

  1. Is the free app quote really ‘free’? – Shady companies often tag a little ‘conditions apply’ statement with their promises for free app quotes. In such cases, potential clients are only offered free (and brief!) consultations, following which remuneration is charged for detailed quotes. You need to select a company that would actually provide the entire quote for free. Ideally, requesting a free quote should be possible from the company’s website itself.
  2. Does the company respond in time? – A mobile app company does not earn anything by giving out app quotes (at least they shouldn’t). That, in turn, can have an adverse effect on the promptness with which the required quote(s) are delivered. Find out the maximum time-span you need to wait for the quote, after your first interaction with the company (either via phone, or email, or its website). The last thing you want is to wait for weeks on end for the app cost estimates. A good iPhone or Android app agency generally provides quotes within 24 hours of the query being registered.
  3. Will there be charges on app upgrades? – A favorite way of many app developers to earn some additional money. They provide the app quote for free, but include a clause that every update on the concerned app would be chargeable. Steer well away from these fraudsters. The very term ‘free app quotes’ means that there won’t be any payments required for either the first estimation, or for any subsequent updates. Carefully read through the terms and conditions of an app company before hiring its services.
  4. Are there options to share your own concepts? – Newbies in the field of mobile app development often end up selecting companies that have static, incomplete templates for app quotes. All that the clients get to specify is the platform(s) for which the app would be developed, and its basic nature/purposes. Your focus should be on finding a firm that would allow you to share app layouts, design concepts, and other additional inputs. The best case scenario would be if you had the option to give a proper description of the app you wish to be developed.
  5. Can you select your budget? – The online form for free app quotes might not give those who are filling it up this feature. While nothing is charged for the quote itself, the client is FORCED to select the cost figure stated by the company representatives. Once again, that’s the mark of a bad company. An app quotes form should have alternative cost slabs, so that people can frame their app development plans as per their budgets. There should at least be 4-5 budget options available.
  6. How much money is being charged as advance payment? – A rather common practice amongst iPhone app development companies is to charge hefty advance payments from clients. This clause sticks out like a sore thumb in an otherwise neatly designed form for free app quotes. It is not uncommon for companies to charge over 50% (at times, more than 70%) of the total app development costs in advance. Steer well clear of such firms, and do not select any company that asks for more than 30-35% of the total payments in advance. What is the point of a ‘free’ quote if you have to cough up a huge upfront amount, anyway?
  7. Who will be handling the project? – Consider this scenario – you wish to make a mobile app, get in touch with a company, receive a detailed free app quote (which you approve)…and then find out that your project will actually be delegated to some obscure third-party firm (or a freelance app developer). Not quite what you wish to happen, right? Sadly, there are many tricksters in the mobile app business at present – who follow precisely this policy to get as many clients as possible. The quality of the apps take a backseat in such cases, and there is every chance that the third-party developer would not be able to create an app that justifies your investment. Make sure that your selected app company will work on your entire project in-house. There should not be any other developer/external agency involved.
  8. What about the intellectual property rights? – At the time of providing app quotes, many companies shrewdly bypass the issue of intellectual property rights on the applications that would be developed. If you are negligent about this issue as well, you can expect problems to crop up at the time of app delivery and submission at store(s) – since there will be confusions in establishing the ownership of the app. A mobile app studio should be ready to sign valid non-competing documents at the very outset. Remember, the app is your property – you have merely hired a company to get it developed.
  9. Is there a FAQ section you can refer too? – It would be way too naive to ask for app quotes and delegate your app project to a company before you have resolved all your queries. The FAQ section on the website of most mobile app companies is your best reference point in this regard. If the company of your choice does not have a FAQ section/page, you can rest assured that there is something amiss in the transparency of its operations. Move on, and start looking for another company.
  10. Can you contact the developers anytime? – There are companies that provide free app quote, specify a deadline, and deliver the app at that time. All that happens during the interim (the actual development stages) remains a mystery to you. When you hire an Android/iPhone app developer, do ask whether you can see the app wireframes and prototypes as and when they are being prepared (even if you are not a techie, you should know how your app is shaping up). Thankfully, any app development company worth its salt actively share the details of apps with clients, and seek feedback and suggestions from them.
  11. Is the quoted app development cost inflated? – This is where the importance of comparing the app quotes from at least 4-5 companies come into the picture. One company can very well offer a free quote, and then state a higher-than-standard cost figure for making an app (to make up for that ‘free service’ it had provided earlier). Ask for quotes from multiple companies for the same app, and if you find any of them is charging an abnormally higher price, simply cross its name off your shortlist.
  12. Can you verify some of the user testimonials? – Every mobile app company has plenty of positive reviews and client testimonials – highlighting its service excellence. The problem is, in many cases these testimonials are written by the company officials themselves(!). Don’t be swayed by the fact that free app quotes are being handed out, and take time out to check the authenticity of these positive testimonials and feedback. How to do it? Simple – ask for the contact details of some of the erstwhile clients of the company. If the latter is reluctant to divulge such details, you will be better off looking for another app developer.
  13. How varied is the company’s scope of operations? – Take this as a rule of thumb – the more limited an app company is in its operations, the less user-friendly it tends to be. It’s all very well to wish to develop an iPhone app and get a free quote from a company that specializes only in iOS app development – but what if you need an Android version of the same app later on? Always be on the hunt for companies that are into cross-platform mobile app development. In the long run, they are the ones that offer the maximum benefits.
  14. Will there be any hidden costs? – Additional charges on mobile app testing, app upgrades, bug-handling, app marketing – all of these can be clubbed together under the head of ‘hidden charges’. When you zero in upon a company, make sure that you won’t have to bear any of these unnecessary expenses. After getting the free app quote and agreeing to the pre-specified development costs (to be paid in 3-4 installments), there should not be any other unnecessary expenses involved. Be very thorough while reading through the service statements of the app company of your choice.

If you wish to include in-app purchase (freemium) features to your existing app, the developer should not charge anything extra for that. You should also be able to request for free consultations, if and when necessary. At the end of the day, availability of free app quotes is a necessary, but far from a sufficient condition, to prove that an app development company is actually worth hiring. You have to be vigilant about the above factors too.

 

Apple Pay vs Google Wallet: Which One Is Better For Mobile Payments?

More than 3 years after the launch of a mobile digital wallet by Google, its arch-rival, Apple, has come up with a rival feature – Apple Pay. Over here, we have done a brief comparison analysis between the two mobile payment platforms.

Within 72 hours of the launch of Apple Pay (at the much-publicised September 9 event), more than 1 million credit cards had been registered on the platform, for making mobile payments. Retail biggies like McDonald’s and Whole Foods have reported that more than half of their total transactions are currently being conducted via Pay. The scenario is in stark contrast with that of Google Wallet, whose adoption rates have remained lacklustre – even though it had nearly a three-year headstart over Apple Pay. In the following discussion, we will compare the two mobile payment platforms on the basis of a few key factors:

 

  1. Ease of use – Online transaction analysts and mobile app developers agree that Apple Pay has won out big-time on this count. The platform works with Passbook – and every new iPhone has that application pre-installed. Hence, speed and/or compatibility is never an issue. On the other hand, Google Wallet suffered from unreliable carrier adoption. The fact that the Wallet app had to be separately downloaded and installed did not find find favor among many users. In fact, Wallet faced unexpected competition from Softcard and Isis.
  2. Device compatibility – Google Wallet has an edge in this round. It can be used on any Android (2.3 or higher) device that has the NFC (near field communication) feature. However, Apple Pay can be operated only on the flagship iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and the new iPad Air 2. On older iPhone models, Pay cannot be used – even if those devices have NFC and Passbook. As is the case with most things Android, the potential user-base is higher for Google Wallet.
  3. Speed and complicacy – Hardly anyone is interested to spend hours on end – simply to learn how a new mobile feature works. Sadly, that’s what Google Wallet forces many users to do. General users as well as experts from mobile app companies have agreed that the online Google Wallet page (on Google’s website) does not really explain how the platform works (at least for laymen). Instead, more information is given on stuff like loyalty cards and barcode scanning. Unlike Apple Pay which allows people to make payments simply by holding their devices in front of a contactless terminal (via Touch ID), using Google Wallet requires swiping the device, ‘waking’ up the phone, and inserting the unique Wallet PIN. Understandably, these are viewed as extra, unnecessary hassles.
  4. Data Privacy – Both Apple Pay and Google Wallet ensure that merchants do not have the opportunity to access users’ credit card information. In the former’s setup, all the transaction details are stored within the iDevices themselves. Wallet is slightly more lax in this regard – since the payment data gets stored in the cloud (i.e., on the Google servers). After the much-publicised iCloud hack of celebrity photos, Apple has truly ramped up the security features of all its mobile services.
  5. Setting up the platforms – Not much to choose between the two here. After downloading the Google Wallet application, people have to register a card on it, take images to capture the requisite card information, provide the CVV number, and confirm that they wish to use to use a secure code with that card for making payments. The procedure is roughly the same for Apple Pay too – although many smartphone users and app development professionals feel that the option of opening Passbook and selecting the ‘Set Up Apple Pay’ option to be slightly easier. Cards already existing on files in iTunes accounts can also be registered in Apple Pay. Passbook automatically draws in all the card information.
  6. The fee burden – The mobile payments platforms from Apple and Google are not free services. There are certain charges involved in both – but there is a difference regarding the people who have to bear these expenses. Since Google Wallet puts the charges on the merchants, many companies have stayed away from it – since the fee often comes across as an avoidable expense. Apple has adopted a smarter route, by getting the per-transaction fees of Pay from the corresponding banks. Neither the user nor the merchant feels any extra cost-burden, which helps in boosting adoption figures. The charge per transaction, of course, is the regular processing fee of credit cards.
  7. Need for more details – The greater the number of steps involved in using any mobile feature, the less popular it is likely to become – feels mobile app development analysts worldwide. The Google Wallet vs Apple Pay debate is a classic example of that. While the former requires users to fork out their Wallet PINs for each transaction, Pay, on the other hand, lets people use their credit cards in the regular manner, without having to worry about PIN numbers. And of course, credit cards can be used at places where contactless payments are not (yet) available.
  8. Card and Bank support – Google Wallet is more than three years old, Apple Pay has been in existence for less than a quarter. Rather expectedly, Wallet is supported by the debit/credit cards of more banks – compared to Apple Pay. However, with the Google platform failing to excite potential users, and Pay getting excellent reviews – experts feel that the latter would bring many more banks and cards under its hood over the next couple of quarters. Till now, both Pay and Wallet are available only in the United States. While the former should soon become available to more countries, the chances of Wallet getting such expansion appears bleak.
  9. Handling security breach threats – The developers of Apple and Google have taken every possible precaution to ensure that data thefts and security breaches do not occur on their respective mobile payments platforms. Separate virtual MasterCards (prepaid) are created by Google Wallet, every time a transaction takes place via that medium. Apple Pay, on its part, uses the state-of-the-art Secure Element data encryption method. The chances of unauthorized access of card data on either of the two platforms is minimal.
  10. Loyalty points and gift cards – Finally, a solid ‘Yay’ in favor of Google Wallet. The platform doubles as a debit card, that is being used with the Wallet account. Loyalty points are accumulated and gift cards can be redeemed on it. On Apple Pay, there are no receipts required after the ‘tap and pay’ process is completed. There are no provisions of reward points or gifts/other incentives for users though.
  11. Availability of tap-and-pay – Any retail merchant or mobile app developer would agree that ‘tap-and-pay’ is the most convenient feature of the two payment platforms. Google, however, seems to have shot themselves in the foot by announcing that this feature would be available only on handsets powered by Android Kitkat (and of course, Lollipop). What that means is, phones powered by older versions of the Android platform would get only an incomplete, half-baked form of Google Wallet. Apple Pay at least makes sure that it can be used on all new iPhones and iPads.
  12. Tokenization – This refers to a method of generating unique security codes for each transactions, and it is used by many European credit card companies. Apple Pay and Google Wallet both come with this technology built into their setups. Since the codes are meant for one-time usage, hackers do not have the opportunity use them to actually breach the users’ bank accounts. Most individuals have security-related fears regarding mobile payment channels – and both Google and Apple have done well to dispel such apprehensions.
  13. Confirmation notification – Apple brings an extra element of assurance to users, when it comes to confirming payments. Once a transaction is successfully completed, the device of the user vibrates as well as beeps. Payments done via Google Wallet also cause device beeps and light-flashes, but there have been some reports of delayed confirmations.
  14. Challengers – At the moment, hardly any. Microsoft tried its hand in making a mobile payment platform with ‘Wallet’ in 2012 (meant to be used on Windows Phone 8), which failed miserably. CurrentC, from MCX, is currently in the news – and although it has an outside chance of catching up with Google Wallet, Apple Pay is likely to stay at the top spot rather easily. It remains to be seen whether any other company takes up the challenge of devising another device-based payment platform.

The popularity of Apple Pay would receive further boost with the release of Apple Watch early next year. The second-PIN setup of Google Wallet is also no match for the fingerprint sensor support of Pay. Both the platforms are good, safe, and relatively fast for making mobile payments. It’s just that, all things taken together, Apple has done a better job with Pay than Google has done with Wallet.

How Does iPhone 6 Stack Up Against Its Main Rivals?

The competition level in the worldwide smartphone market is higher than ever at present. Although iPhone 6 has got off to a great start, there is no dearth of competing (really good ones at that!) devices. We here take a look at some of them.

Say what you will about the technical glitches and issues that still remain in new flagship iPhones (both 6 and 6 Plus), there is no denying that they have been huge hits. From the smartphone markets in the United States and Great Britain, to those in France, Spain and even China – the sales figures have been record-breaking. Although the adoption rate of iOS 8 on older iPhones is still low, iPhone 6 is well on its way to set a new benchmark in terms of first-quarter sales. The feat is all the more remarkable, since Apple had to fight it out with several impressive rival devices to capture this market leadership position. Here’s a roundup of how Apple iPhone 6 holds its own against its principal competitors:

 

  • iPhone 6 vs LG G3

The LG G3 handset is a direct rival of both iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The Quad high-definition display of the G3 is remarkably good – and it supports resolutions of up to 2560×1440 – which is significantly higher than that on Apple’s offerings. The quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor is also a high point of LG G3. According to smartphone market analysts and mobile app developers, where the G3 lags behind the iPhone 6 is the built-in storage space (128 GB vs 32 GB). Also, the lackluster record of LG in the smartphone sector till date is not helping matters.

 

  • iPhone 6 vs Samsung Galaxy S5

This was billed to be the biggest fight of them all – and suffice to say that the S5 is not trailing iPhone 6 by much. Apart from the handsets, this is also a fight for supremacy between iOS 8 and Android 5.0 Lollipop. The Apple device has an advantage due to its smaller dimensions and lightweight nature (4.55 oz vs 5.11 oz), while Galaxy S5 gets a leg up in terms of better battery performance. The latter also supports the downloading of a large number of Android apps – thanks to its extendable microSD option. Interestingly, Samsung has persisted with a plastic case for its high-profile S5, which is no match to the aluminium body of iPhone 6.

 

  • iPhone 6 vs HTC One (M8)

HTC One can, in the long run, become the strongest competitor of iPhone 6. The high-end quad core processor of the handset is, if anything, just a tad faster than the Apple A8 chip – while the unibody aluminium design ensures that it is a treat for the eyes too. The only issue with HTC One (M8) is its 5.1” screen size – which does not make it a like-for-like alternative for either iPhone 6 (4.7”) and iPhone 6 Plus (5.5”). The audio features of HTC One (M8) are excellent too – thanks to its front-facing speakers. There is a Harman Kardon edition of HTC One (M8) available as well.

 

  • iPhone 6 vs Sony Xperia Z3

Be it general users or mobile app development experts, everyone has been going ga-ga over the 20.7 MP camera of the Xperia Z3 (compared to the apparently ho-hum 8 MP camera of iPhone 6). Even the front ‘selfie’ camera of the Sony handset is more powerful than that of the Apple flagship phone. However, megapixels aren’t everything about phone cameras, and iPhone 6 edges ahead in terms of focal length, aperture size, and the camera sensor size. Neither device has the option of battery-replacement. The smaller dimensions and the higher default phone memory of iPhone 6 tilts the balance in its favor ever so slightly.

 

  • iPhone 6 vs Microsoft Lumia 930

The last Nokia handset (before the brand name permanently changed to Microsoft) also puts up a stiff fight to Apple iPhone 6. Where the latter wins hands down is the number and quality of available iOS apps at iTunes. The Windows Phone store has a lot of catching up to do in this regard. The A8 chip is probably a tad faster than the Qualcomm Snapdragon processor of Lumia 930. The latter’s Pureview camera is definitely a high point, however – and the wireless charging option comes in handy as well. The million dollar question is – at a time when iOS and Android phones rule the roost, does a new Windows phone (however good it might be) stand a chance?

 

  • iPhone 6 vs Samsung Galaxy Alpha

There has never been any love lost between Apple and Samsung – and it is hardly surprising that the South Korean technical giant launched Galaxy Alpha as a direct competitor of iPhone 6. The screen sizes of both the devices are same (4.7”), and the Samsung phone borrows generously from iPhone 5S, as far as its design features are concerned. To combat the ‘thinnest iPhone ever’ feature, Samsung has made this handset ultra-slim (6.7 mm thickness) as well. There remains some doubt over the long-run performance of the octa-core Exynos processor though, and the fact that the Galaxy Alpha is not a flagship device might lead to it being crowded out by other Samsung handsets.

 

  • iPhone 6 vs Moto X (2nd Generation)

The battle royale between the ‘most advanced iPhone’ and the ‘best Android phone’. Moto X is available in a wide range of colors – giving the picky buyers a much larger choice set than what the iPhone 6 does. The leather/wooden casings ensure longevity, and the Snapdragon 801 processor – while not something out of this world – is at par with most other similar devices. The default OS on the second-generation Moto X is Android Kitkat, although Android app developers have confirmed that the handset can be easily upgraded to Android Lollipop. The Apple vs Samsung fight have always drawn the maximum attention of mobile marketers – and this year, the new Moto X might just steal a march over either. The poor track record of the earlier Moto X phone can turn out to be a problem, however.

 

  • iPhone 6 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 4

The cutting-edge active stylus input feature of the Galaxy Note 4 has contributed to its uniformly positive reviews. Unlike the iPhone 6, this Samsung offering is slightly clunky though (it is nearly 50 grams heavier than the Apple flagship), and physical dimensions are also significantly larger. The camera features are comparable (the megapixel count, at 16 MP vs 8 MP, is skewed in favor of Note 4), but iPhone 6 has the better camcorder options, with 240 frames-per-second (fps) recording feature. The screen resolution and pixel density of the Note 4 are both higher than that of iPhone 6. Most device analysts feel that the IPS LCD screen of the Apple phone has greater appeal than the Super AMOLED screen of Note 4. There is nothing to choose between the two devices in terms of mobile app availability (both iTunes and Google Play Store has 1.3 million+ applications).

 

  • iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5S

With iOS 8 running into one trouble after another, many Apple fans are not feeling motivated enough to move over to iPhone 6. That, in turn, has made its predecessor – the iPhone 5S – an unexpected rival. The new flagship device has a bigger screen (4.7” vs 4.0”), the multi-touch feature (as opposed to the regular touchscreen feature) is a major advantage, and the battery capacity has been significantly boosted up in it. As soon as the Apple developers manage to iron out all the bugs of the new platform, iPhone 5S should cease to be a competitor of iPhone 6. The Cupertino company would certainly not want one of its devices eating into the sales figures of another.

Mobile analysts and app development experts feel that Samsung Galaxy S4 is still a worthy-enough rival of iPhone 6. Although iPhone 6 Plus is positioned as a phablet, it can also put buyers in a dilemma as to whether they should go for it, or settle for the smaller iPhone 6. The brand name of Apple Inc. has helped iPhone 6 get off to a rollicking start – but all the above rivals are almost equally good, and it would be interesting to see whether any of them can actually trump it over the next few quarters.

13 Apps That Should Never Be Used By Kids

There is no dearth of enjoyable, instructive and engaging Android and iPhone apps for kids. Unfortunately, there are also many that are totally inappropriate for young users. In this piece, we have mentioned some of the apps that your child should not have access to.

An early acquaintance with gadgets and technology has become rather common among kids all over. The charms of watching cartoons on the tele, or simply playing outside with their buddies are being gradually overtaken by snazzy gadgets, video games and mobile apps for kids. However, responsible parents are probably aware that there are plenty of apps available at stores that are thoroughly unsuitable for kids and teenagers. We have here listed some such so-called apps for ‘young people’, which are nothing of the sort:

 

  1. YikYak – A mobile app that has got parents and teachers across the United States worried. Via YikYak, kids can post potentially hurtful, insensitive comments on their classmates – and that too, anonymously. Offensive messages towards teachers can also be sent through YikYak. In fact, YikYak’s influence is not limited to school campuses, since anonymous messages to anyone within a 5 mile radius can be sent along (a maximum of 500 recipients). The fact that YikYak’s popularity has led to smartphones being banned at many educational institutions underlines its dangerous nature.
  2. Puff – A child blows on the mic of a smartphone, and the skirt of a lady on the screen automatically gets lifted! Not quite the best iphone/Android app for kids, right? Also known as Blow Skirt on some platforms, this app sends along all the wrong signals to a young, impressionable user – and the perverted humor (if you can call it that) is in really bad taste. There is no nudity in the Puff app, but that is scarce consolation.
  3. Whisper – Among all the online dating apps for kids and teenagers available at present, Whisper is probably the worst. According to mobile app developers, the very premise of sharing ‘secrets’ on the app anonymously is shady enough. A grown-up person can easily lie about his/her age and take a young child for a ride (in fact, a criminal case of this type has already been registered). What’s more – Whisper lets users know the location from where others are posting. You certainly don’t want your child wandering off in the search of unknown friends!
  4. ChatRoulette – Users of this mobile app have to be over 18. There is no hints of nudity involved. Sounds good enough, right? However, ChatRoulette remains a strict ‘no-no’ for kids, simply because there is no way of checking whether a young child is using it. More disturbingly, the no-nudity rule can also be easily bypassed. The mobile app development methods used to make ChatRoulette are snazzy enough – but it is definitely not meant for a child.
  5. Poof – Have you done an iOS jailbreak and then handed over your iPhone/iPad to your son/daughter? If yes, there is every chance that the notoriously bad ‘Poof’ application is being used by him/her. With single swiping gestures, a child can hide all the apps that (s)he has downloaded, and does not want his/her parents to see. All that s(he) has to do is open ‘Poof’, and select the apps that need to be concealed. If your child has started to think beyond mobile games and storytelling apps for kids, Poof is the perfect place for him/her to hide apps with more mature content.
  6. Down – This app was previously known as ‘Bang With Friends’ – and that should give some idea about its nature. Teenagers can find the idea of looking up partners to ‘hook up’ and ‘get down’ with (all via this app) interesting enough – and the onus is on you to ensure that your child does not get to use this. Objectionable is an understatement for ‘Down’, which seemingly encourages blind dates for the night (ahem, we all know what that means, right?).
  7. Kik Messenger – There are hundreds of funny as well as learning apps for kids, which your child can use on his/her own. Kik Messenger offers the extra lure of connecting with strangers and chatting with them (yes, even ‘sexting’ is possible) – without having to worry about the phone log recording these activities. You do not want any random person sending friend requests to your unsuspecting child – and that’s something very frequently done on Kik.
  8. Omegle – If only there was no video-chatting option, and the app could not be connected with Facebook – Omegle might very well have passed as a moderately interesting mobile app for kids. However, things are not so – and this application also encourages anonymous chatting with people of unrevealed age and gender. Your child will only be able to see that (s)he is chatting with a ‘Stranger’. The way in which Omegle uses information from your child’s profile to match/him her with random unknown people is definitely not right.
  9. SnapChat – A cool alternative to WhatsApp or Gtalk for grown-ups maybe, but SnapChat is far from being a suitable Android/iPhone app for kids. Many app critics and professional mobile app developers have highlighted that since all images transferred via SnapChat get automatically destroyed after ten seconds, the app becomes absolutely ideal for no-traces-left sexting. In addition, within those ten seconds, the recipient of a photo can cause a lot of damage with the latter too.
  10. Vine – Porn videos and kids are not things that should ever be mentioned in the same sentence, right? Well, Vine is an app that offers ample scope for little children to view and share such vulgar video clips. The option to look for explicit videos is not the only dangerous feature about Vine either. Mentally sick users can use the app to ‘hunt out’ the location of your child, and start sending him/her other disturbing apps. Not an app on which a small child can happily chat along!
  11. 9Gag – Another example of a potentially good mobile app for children ruined by sick-minded users. On first glance, the colorful Disney toons and pictures of pets might seem harmless enough – but a more careful look-through would reveal crass humor and horrible profanities being mouthed by the seemingly cute cartoon characters. There are plenty of suggestive material in the ‘day’s favorite’ section as well. Suffice to say, 9Gag brings with it a degree of crudeness that your child can definitely do without!
  12. Tinder – Instead of the minimum user-age limit being 13, Tinder should have been an 18+ application (like most of its spinoffs). What’s more, hardly anyone bothers to verify that the person chatting with their sons/daughters is a kid as well. Like most other hookup applications, Tinder serves as a free playing ground for psychos looking for young and innocent preys. The app is about connecting with new friends on the basis of how they look (users can tag people’s photos, and can get a tag back in return). It would be a bad idea to let your child use this app.
  13. Frontline Commando – This one is a Mac OS X app, and is almost equally unsuitable for young users as the ones listed above. There is blood and gore aplenty in this first-person shooting game, and the 3D views and realistic graphics make it all the more disturbing. You can encourage your child to read tales of adventure and bravery – but watching bloodied screens on a computer is not something to look forward too.

iFunny is yet another mobile app that parents should not let their kids use. Among other OS X applications, Samurai vs Zombies Defense (the name itself tells a story!) is not suitable for young users. Surveys have shown that nearly 70% of kids and teenagers worldwide hide the type of apps they use on their smartphones and computers. The onus is on you to ensure that your son/daughter is not using any of the above ones.