Published
Comments None
Categories Consumer technology |

There’s still some ten weeks until Christmas, but with all the new smartphones having been released recently, you may think it’s come early.

I’ve been using three handsets in the past while, and have found that they all have their advantages and cool aspects.

The party’s only just begun, though. LG’s new flagship phone, the V30, releases in Canada next Friday. Google’s next versions of its Pixel phones are also due soon, with the Pixel 2 getting into hands next week, and the larger Pixel 2 XL arriving on November 14.

And there’s this other phone from Apple you may have heard about. The iPhone X will have devotees lining up well before the morning of November 3 (you can place a preorder in two weeks).

Apple iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus

While other phones have been supporting wireless charging for a few years, it’s new to Apple’s iPhones, and it’s quite the convenience. Being able to charge your iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus without having to plug in is one reason that the new handsets are made with glass on the front and the back, with a ring of aluminium.

The battery life is somewhat improved, too, and the True Tone colour feature changes the colour tone and brightness of the screen based on the colour and brightness of the light in the surroundings you’re in. So you don’t have to worry about being blinded by your screen when you’re in the dark.

The cameras are more versatile, with the front-facing camera able to shoot 4K video and providing high dynamic range (HDR) with every photo.

The technology in the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus was also designed to support augmented reality experiences, like the new Ikea Place app that let’s you virtually place Ikea furniture in your living space.

Pricing

  • iPhone 8: $929 with 64 GB storage or $1,139 with 256 GB storage
  • iPhone 8 Plus: $1,059 with 64 GB storage or $1,269 with 256 GB storage
  • iPhone X: $1,319 with 64 GB storage or $1,529 with 256 GB storage

OnePlus 5

Even though OnePlus has only been on the scene since 2013, the OnePlus is the company’s fifth handset.

The killer feature of these phones is that they support two SIM cards. In some countries, India is one, customers have one provider of cellular phone service, and another provider for data.

Here in Canada, this can be convenient if you regularly travel to the United States because you could have one SIM card with a Canadian carrier, and a different SIM card in the phone for when you travel to the U.S. It’s a system you could use for travel anywhere, in fact.

The OnePlus 5 is one of the fastest handsets available, too, due to the powerful processing chip aided by a lightweight operating system. This is one reason the OnePlus is favoured by some tech savvy developers.

While OnePlus started out as a budget smartphone manufacturer, the company has been upping the production value which comes with an increase in price point. But the OnePlus 5 is still cheaper than many other high-end smartphones with similar features.

Pricing

  • $649 with 64 GB storage
  • $719 with 128 GB storage

Samsung Galaxy Note8 handset

Samsung’s latest handsets, the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus, were joined by the new Galaxy Note8 this summer.

Like it’s cousins, the Note8 has a lovely wraparound screen, support for wireless charging, and improved Bluetooth (Bluetooth 5 to be exact). And they can all be used like computers using the DeX dock connected to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse.

What sets the Note8 apart is that it comes with the S-Pen stylus, which enables a bunch of cool things like Live Messages, which are animated GIFs of your handwritten message. And Screen Off Memo, which lets you to write notes on the screen when the device is sleeping.

My one complaint is that the fingerprint sensor, on the back of the phone, is beside the camera lens. This is also a problem with the S8 and S8 Plus. But for now, the Note8 is the best Android phone available.

Pricing

  • $1,300 with 64 GB storage

Which phone is right for you?

The Verge has put together a handy comparison chart with all the technical specs on the handsets, if you want to get into the details.

For me it’s a bit easier to make a recommendation.

The iPhone 8 (and 8 Plus) are for most users who want a device that works as expected and is reliable. If you’re already in the Apple ecosystem and need a new handset, this is what you want. If you can spend a couple of hundred dollars more, though, wait for the iPhone X. By all accounts it’s a game changer.

If you’re doing any traveling to other countries where having a phone that can accommodate a SIM from another provider, or if you want a cheaper device and are willing to sacrifice some of the photo capabilities, the OnePlus 5 is your best bet.

If using a stylus is built into your smartphone use, you need the Samsung Galaxy Note8, but if you’re just looking for the best Android handset, I suspect that Google’s Pixel 2 will become the best option soon.

Published
Comments None
Categories Consumer technology |

This week, some of the new features in Apple’s new operating systems, and Telus has come up with a way to get all your cars connected. But first, Google shows off lots of new gadgets.

Okay, Google, tell us about all the new hardware

At a press event in San Francisco earlier this week, Google held a press event to show off the new hardware the company is rolling out in the coming months.

The tech company is really doubling down on its hardware presence as indicated by the recent acquisition of part of HTC’s mobile division.

The new Google product line is anchored by two new smartphones, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL.

As Apple did with the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, Google has dropped the headphone jack from the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, so you can get the Pixel Buds instead, which feature real-time language translations.

There’s also a new tablet/laptop, the Pixelbook that is more like a Microsoft Surface tablet than any Chromebook before it.

Rounding things out are two new Google Home devices, the Mini and the Max which are designed to work with Google Assistant, and a new virtual (VR) headset in Daydream View, which works with the Pixel 2.

Telus wants you to have a connected car. Or truck

If you are interested in having a connected vehicle, you can retrofit your existing car or truck to get the same kind of functionality as newer automobiles.

Telus Drive+ is a device, service, and smartphone app that modernizes your car.

For now, it’s free to get started. You’ll get a device that plugs into your vehicle’s on-board diagnostic (OBD-II) port. That device will allow you to get diagnostics on your vehicle and it also connects to Telus’ cellular network, so you can track your car’s location and turn it into a Wi-Fi hotspot.

This is all enabled by Vancouver tech company, Mojio.

You’ll need a Telus plan with shareable data to participate. Adding your vehicle to your plan only costs $15 a month.

Apple’s latest operating systems roll out and make your devices faster

This week, Apple released the final versions of the operating systems for its computers (MacOS High Sierra) and mobile devices (iOS 11). Here are some of the best features.

Changes in iOS 11

One of the most significant additions to the mobile operating system is a “do not disturb” function that disables your device while you’re driving. You can even set up a response to let people know that you’re driving so they understand why you didn’t respond to their last text message.

The new Control Center might take a bit of getting used to – it’s packed with information – but it’s also customizable, so you can put the tools you use most in there for quick and easy access.

You can use the Notes app as a document scanner that operates using the camera and saves things as PDF files.

You can take screenshots and mark them up, too.

The iPad becomes much more productive with iOS 11, with the ability to drag-and-drop things like images, links, and files that are open in split view mode.

Changes in MacOS High Sierra

Some of the most significant changes with the new computer operating system are under the hood. This includes a new file system and updates to Metal 2, Apple’s graphics technology.

Other changes include a new video standard to support 4K video playback and support for virtual reality content.

There are also incremental changes to Mail, Photos, and Messages to make them work better for you.

Changes to Safari

You don’t need to upgrade to High Sierra to get Safari 11, which you are going to want on your Mac computer. Built in to the new browser is some ad limiting features. Safari now automatically blocks audio and video on websites unless you either whitelist a website, or interact with the media intentionally (as opposed to mousing over a video).

Safari will also block websites from tracking you as you move through the Internet.

Changes to iTunes

Apps for your iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch are no longer managed in iTunes, which has been refocused on audio and visual entertainment. You’ll now manage your mobile apps on the devices themselves.

Published
Comments None
Categories Consumer technology | Film, television

This week, James Dyson is expanding his company’s portfolio and Twitter is doubling its size, in a way. But first, Netflix likes what Canadians are creating.

Netflix wants more Canadian content, and is willing to pay for it

This week, Netflix committed to investing “a minimum” of Can$500 million over the next five years on original Canadian film and television productions. This includes specific support for French-language content.

It’s an investment that was made with the support of the federal government, and all but assures that there will be no “Netflix tax” in Canada; it also suggests that Netflix will not be expected to follow the same Canadian content rules that traditional TV and radio broadcasters do.

It’s a smart move for Netflix. We’ll see how well it works out for Canadian content makers.

I believe there is a place for Canadian content rules. Similar rules exist in many other countries that don’t have the same clout, in terms of demographics or money, to compete with the American entertainment juggernaut.

With this deal, Netflix is saying it believes in Canadian content and content creators, too.

Netflix has admitted it spent well over Can$100 million on Canadian productions recently, so committing that amount over the next five years is pretty much business as usual for the company.

But Netflix might also be reducing its total development spend in the coming years, so this amount isn’t exactly insignificant. While Netflix has spent as much as US$6 billion a year recently, the company has started to cancel series, which may be a sign it’s tightening the purse strings a bit. If that’s the case, then Can$100 million a year is nothing to sneeze at.

It’s true that Netflix doesn’t pay tax in Canada, and doesn’t have a Canadian operation. It’s part of this new world economy that we’re all trying to figure out.

Dyson is developing an electric vehicle and wants to have it ready by 2020

James Dyson wants to clear the air. Literally.

The British inventor, and the founder of the company that bears his name, said this week that a battery electric vehicle is being developed at Dyson with a projected launch date of 2020.

In a memo to employees that was provided to media, Dyson said, “We’ve started building an exceptional team that combines top Dyson engineers with talented individuals from the automotive industry. The team is already over 400 strong, and we are recruiting aggressively. I’m committed to investing £2bn on this endeavour.”

For Dyson, the man, this initiative comes out of an interest in reducing air pollution. His memo states World Health Organisation statistics that air pollution led to the death of 7 million people worldwide in 2012.

He claims that in 1993, engineers at the company had a prototype to capture particulates from diesel exhaust, but that the project was shelved because auto manufacturers had no interest in trying to solve the problem.

The Dyson EV will solve that problem and will, he says, be “something quite unique and better.”

With Twitter, will double the character count mean double the fun?

Twitter has begun testing messages that are up to 280 characters in length, double the existing 140 character limit.

“We understand since many of you have been Tweeting for years, there may be an emotional attachment to 140 characters – we felt it, too. But we tried this, saw the power of what it will do, and fell in love with this new, still brief, constraint,” wrote product manager Aliza Rosen.

It’s also an attempt by the company to keep the network relevant.

Twitter is rolling out the change over time. When using Twitter in a browser, I’m getting 280 characters, but in the various Twitter clients I use (like Tweetbot), I’m still limited to 140.

As Charles Adler noted in a response to my test tweet, though, it takes longer to read tweets that are longer.

I’m not sure that is a user experience that Twitter tested.

← Older Newer →