Sunday, October 5, 2014

Boot Up: Google+ optional, iPhone benchmarked, Phones4U by an insider

A barrel of 10 links for you to chew over, as picked by the Technology team

While we're still working on the full review, I want to get out some preliminary results for the iPhone 6. For now, this means some basic performance data and battery life, which include browser benchmarks, game-type benchmarks, and our standard web browsing battery life test. There's definitely a lot more to talk about for this phone, but this should give an idea of what to expect in the full review. To start, we'll look at the browser benchmarks, which can serve as a relatively useful proxy for CPU performance.

If you like benchmarks, here are some.

Rumours of the decoupling of Google+ and Gmail first surfaced in the spring. Google, unsurprisingly, hasn't exactly gone out of its way to shout about the change from the rooftops, instead choosing to quietly shelve the mandatory integration which had previously been in place since 2012. Although the change means that new Gmail users will no longer be forced to sign up for Google+, they'll still have the option to do so, as you can see in the image above.

Conscious uncoupling?

Paul Thurrott:

Regarding the camera, I went to Twitter yesterday and foolishly announced that "it's easily and readily apparent that the iPhone 6 Plus camera is no match for the Lumia 1020, 1520 or Icon/930." I'd like to clarify that statement now. I was referring to overall camera quality there: With their superior 41 megapixel (Lumia 1020) and 20 megapixel (Lumia 1520, Icon/930) cameras, Microsoft's high-end Lumia handsets can produce better photos than can the iPhone 6. But camera quality isn't just about picture quality. And the iPhone 6 Plus's camera in particular can take excellent photos while offering a number of advantages over the high-end Lumias. In fact, it's pretty clear that the iPhone 6 Plus is the better overall choice for most people.

Gregg Keizer:

Essentially, iCloud Drive is Apple's response to Dropbox and other services, which show the cloud-based storage and its files in an OS's file manager.

When users upgrade to iOS 8 today and after, they'll be offered to update iCloud's current storage structure to iCloud Drive. (Anyone who has tried OS X Yosemite, either the developer previews or the public beta, has seen the same message.) Several iOS app developers told their customers not to take Apple up on the iCloud Drive offer, as doing so will make it impossible to synchronize with their apps on devices not running iOS 8, or with Macs running OS X Mavericks or earlier.

Mavericks is the current latest production version of OS X.

"When you upgrade to iOS 8, you need to ensure that you choose the right iCloud Drive option to ensure that Clear for iOS continues to sync with Clear for Mac," said Realmac, the maker of the to-do app Clear, in a blog post today. "If you upgrade to iCloud Drive, you will only be able to sync with devices running iOS 8 or OS X Yosemite."

If iCloud Drive isn't backported to Mavericks, it's going to cause problems.

My experience and from others I have spoken to is that the service by Phones4u was abysmal. Having worked at a Phones4u call centre briefly. I can only confirm what I saw to be completely broken. If you weren't buying a new contract today, you would be fobbed off and quickly too. You know you have a broken, strange culture when a sitcom [Phone Shop] can be made about your industry and be cringe-inducingly accurate. Some people who have walked into a Phones4u store will have experienced something out of Phone Shop at some point. The aggressive sales tactics and selfish agenda gave Phones4u the reputation of being a place to avoid. Rightly so. The networks had now got their own slick sales processes in place and knew what tricks they were up against. The public knew it too and joined in with the in-jokes of Phone Shop. Getting locked into high-tariff contracts and being offered insurance that you can cancel in 3 months (so the salesman got their commission). It all happened.

The FBI is investigating death threats and online abuse that Feminist Frequency's Tropes vs Women in Games creator Anita Sarkeesian says drove her out of her home last month, a San Francisco police spokesperson confirmed to Polygon. San Francisco police public information officer Albie Esparza told Polygon that Sarkeesian had filed a report with the police department about the threats she received online and that the police department handed the information to the FBI for investigation. Esparza declined to release any other details, saying that doing so could compromise the investigation or the safety of the victim. He also noted that the FBI is the primary agency handling the case. An FBI spokesman told Polygon that the bureau's policy is to neither confirm nor deny any investigation they may be conducting.

Other parts of the story suggest the FBI is taking a lot of notice of what's going on.

A conflict between Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics is escalating. The row was triggered last week by alleged vandalism by LG executives on Samsung's washers during an industry fair in Berlin, Germany earlier this month. In a new twist, the prosecution said it is investigating allegations that former LG executives pocketed Samsung's confidential air-conditioner business plan related to a government-run project.

It's like something out of a film. Possibly the film that comes on before the film you actually paid to watch.

Shipment volume of global PC systems - comprising of notebooks and desktops - is forecast to reach around 299m units in 2014, down 0.1% on year, according to Market Intelligence & Consulting (MIC). The global PC industry has been bolstered mainly by the PC replacement demand in the commercial market in 2014. Looking at the performance by sector, with the majority of desktop PCs shipped being commercial ones, desktops have played a significant role to bolster global PC shipments in 2014. Global desktop shipment volume is estimated at 130m units in 2014, up 3.1% on year. Though continuing eroded by tablets, the notebook industry has seen its shipment decline slowly in 2014. The notebook shipment volume is anticipated to top around 168m units, down 2.5% on year. Notebooks' share of total PC products is expected to slip to 56.2% in 2014, down from 57.6% in 2013.

Neither Asustek Computer nor Gigabyte Technology is likely to be able to achieve their 5.8m motherboard shipment targets for the third quarter, as demand in China remains weak and the retail channel's orders ahead of China's National Day holidays have been also worse than those of previous years, according market sources. Asustek and Gigabyte are expected to ship around 5.6m motherboards each in the third quarter, the sources said.

Now the PC squeeze is hitting the replacement/self-build business too.

As an article in the new issue of TIME reveals, Bono, Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr believe so strongly that artists should be compensated for their work that they have embarked on a secret project with Apple to try to make that happen, no easy task when free-to-access music is everywhere (no) thanks to piracy and legitimate websites such as YouTube. Bono tells TIME he hopes that a new digital music format in the works will prove so irresistibly exciting to music fans that it will tempt them again into buying music--whole albums as well as individual tracks. The point isn't just to help U2 but less well known artists and others in the industry who can't make money, as U2 does, from live performance. "Songwriters aren't touring people," says Bono. "Cole Porter wouldn't have sold T-shirts. Cole Porter wasn't coming to a stadium near you."

The point about songwriters is valid (and generally overlooked by those who say "play live gigs!" is the answer), but a new music format? DRM on music keeps failing because people like sharing music. (The article also contains U2's reactions to the social media reaction to their album release.)

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