Gary Saggu's Tech Blog

Latest trends in mobile technology, tech startups and coding

2013 key technology retrospective

Here are some of the developments in technology that caught my attention in 2013.

iOS 7

Featured fantastic advances that brought iOS to the forefront of mobile OS market. (Can you tell that I am an iOS developer:)?). The design aesthetic, the ability to easily and reliably (finally!) integrate with iCloud especially for developers, Airdrop to share with data with people around you, iTunes radio, a more advanced Siri, Core Motion advances including M7 and camera advances including face and smile detection.

iPhone 5S and iPad Mini Retina

This phone rocked with its 64bit capable A7 processor and the M7 motion co-processor with fast networking and LTE along with a better camera. The Touch ID was a bold attempt in finally bringing fingerprint based technology to the mass market and it works quite well. With the iPad Mini Retina, Apple did the impossible - pack the same processor and power as an iPad Air with the Retina display into the mini iPad footprint. Need I say more?

M7 Motion Coprocessor

The M7 deserves separate mention because of its step counting features and activity monitoring in the iPhone 5S without burdening the A7 and draining too much battery. No additional devices to purchase for these features. New iPad Air and iPad Mini Retina have the M7 but only Activity monitoring is enabled in them.

If you own an iPhone 5S, you may support the author(me) by checking out these 2 cool new apps designed exclusively for the iPhone 5S utilizing the M7 motion coprocessor. They track your steps indoors and outdoors without GPS, record your walking history and enable you to reach your daily step goals with no other devices to buy other than your iPhone 5S. Read about them by clicking the links below

BeWalking

10k Steps

Glass from Google and wearable technology

It is undeniable that the Google Glass is a fantastic technology and will be more available to the masses in 2014 and beyond. Sure, there will be privacy concerns etc. but wearable technology is IN! Lets also get more bags with solar panels and jackets with lightning connectors and start using them, really!. I worry a lot about the EM fields that these devices(phones, computers) generate and look forward to innovative devices that provide protection from these fields like the Pong cases for iPhone.

Pebble

Pebble did it ! They started as a Kickstarter project and they were able to mass produce a full-featured smart watch for a reasonable price. Sure, there are more apps and upgrades desired but nevertheless it is a fresh and innovative product. The last release of the Pebble OS supports iOS7 notifications and more features.

4k Displays

With the new (and powerful) Mac Pro supporting upto 4 4k displays, this is quickly becoming the new standard for advanced graphics displays. 4k tvs from Sony, Samsung and LG were out there and personally, I am waiting for their prices to come down a bit in 2014 and beyond. 8k displays soon? Believe me there is a spec out there.

Full frame DSLR within the reach of the prosumer

With the Canon 6D and Nikon D610 priced as low as in the 1500s (body only), there is hope that this was the year these cameras are putting this technology within the grasp of the consumer. 2014 may usher a sub $1000 full frame DSLR? Maybe:)

Mac Pro

Amazing features like compact design, graphics, 4k display support out of the box. Pricey but worth it if you need the graphics and processing features that this machine uniquely offers in a durable, compact design backed by Apple.

Voice Recognition becomes standard and more useful

Google voice and Siri as well as Xbox One all deserve a mention.

Other notable tech events/happenings in 2013

First lab grown meat burger was "produced" and eaten. 3D printers became more mainstream and cheaper.(esp. when a Makerbot store openend near my apartment). Crypto currencies like BitCoin accompanied with all the advanced mining hardware and volatility were certainly more in the public eye. Smart gadgets including the Nest learning thermostat, Jawbone speakers and Philips app enabled bulbs etc. More devices with built in smarts coming our way in 2014. Sony Playstation PS4 and Microsft Xbox One put gaming on a new level but with limited available games. I played Call of Duty: Ghosts on PS4 and it was quite an experience. On a 4k display (note PS4 does not support 4k yet) it would be out of this world. Maybe in 2016:). Ouya Android based gaming console(another Kickstarter project) broke into a market dominated by Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo. Lastly, crowd funding stood out (again) as a force in 2013 and will continue too in 2014 and beyond.

Happy holidays and a happy new year!

And thank you for your support! See you in 2014!

--Gary Saggu

Select fall, winter and holidays new gadget(tablets, gaming consoles) release dates

Note: This list will be updated frequently...

iPhone 5S, 5C - Available now

iPad Air - Available now

iPad Mini 2 with Retina display - Available NOW (update from Nov 12, 2013)

Ouya Gaming Console - Available now

Pebble Smartwatch - Available now

Sony PS4 - Release date November 15, 2013

Microsoft Xbox One - Release date November 22, 2013

Nikon D610 - Unbelievable full frame DSLR - Available now

These are great choices that any techie or not would love to find as a holiday gift.

- Gary Saggu

http://www.garysaggu.net

http://www.garysaggu.com

iPad 5 (and mini) wishlist

What is to be expected from the Apple event on October 22, 2013?  There are so many iPad rumors going on at this time.  What would we likely be seeing in this announcement? Well, here is a wishlist of features...

- iPad Processing : 64 bit on par with the iPhone 5S; new A7x processors with many cores and GPUs.  Sounds like a no-brainer.  This will be "the device" and set new standards for mobile gaming or tablet gaming rather.

- iPad Display : On Mini a retina display would be fantastic. A Larger screen perhaps on the iPad?  Not needed.  There was a rumor I read about an iPad Maxi.  Unlikely in my opinion.

- More memory : Those new 64 bit processors can definitely open up to (address) larger memory.  

- Network : WiFi 'ac' support a possibility although iPhone5S(only supports upto 'n') does not have it but the new iMacs do. Bluetooth 4.x for sure.

- Finger print sensor : The mini and the regular iPad may have it similar to the iPhone 5S, iMHO.  No more long pass codes on the iPad as well possibly.

- Cameras : How many people funnily enough hold out their massive iPads to take photos in not so commodious of places? Well I have seen many! This is probably not going to change when both the iPads have better front and back cameras. Again being wishful wishful...

- Lighter, smaller form-factor : Both iPads could be lighter and smaller and slicker as per Apple's constant commitment to the aesthetic and design.

- Gold version of iPad and iPad mini: This might be the incentive for me to upgrade my iPad if it happens.

Well, with bated breath we look forward to the Apple event on the 22nd of October, 2013.  I will summarize the revelations in this blog.

Meanwhile, lets enjoy our Gold iPhone 5S's.  Has anyone received theirs?  My expected delivery end of this month (October 25-28).

- Gary Saggu

http://www.garysaggu.com - My other blog

http://www.garysaggu.net - Tech Blog

 

iPhone 5S - the skinny

Following are some of the top features of the new iPhone5S :-

  • New Gold finish in addition to Silver and "Space Gray".  Gold looks great and is my choice of iPhone.
  • New fingerprint identity sensor built into the home button.  Fantastic technology that enables no more annoying passcodes to remember.  Where do the fingerprints go?  They are saved in a secure place in the CPU(more on this later).  This topic is so vast that I will publish a new article for it in the future.
  • Memory 16GB, 32GB or 64GB.  I am suggesting the 64GB option for developers and hard-core users for the HD movies and 64bit code that carry a larger footprint.
  • Dimensions are pretty much the same as the iPhone 5.
  • New A7 64 bit CPU for running 32 bit and 64 bit applications.  HD Movie editing on an iPhone, any takers? Apps that use floating point arithmetic like 3D and graphics (memory) intense applications will benefit immensely.  Games too (especially from the Open GL-ES 3.0 support)
  • New M7 Motion coprocessor aids in all the motion related activity monitoring (including gyroscope, GPS, accelerometer, compass etc.) unburdening the powerful 64 bit A7 with more meaningful tasks and saving power thereby.
  • Supports all the major 802.11 a/b/g/n for WiFi.  I was hoping for 802.11ac support but I knew that was asking a lot. Maybe next release iPhone 6? Definitely going on my wishlist.
  • Apps:  Lots of new 64 bit apps.  iTunes has a radio option.  Pages, Keynote and Numbers are free now! (for new buyers of iPhones)
  • Display: Same retina display as iPhone 5.
  • Camera: Enhanced with 8 megapixels with 1.5µ pixels.  So much larger pixels thereby resulting in better photos.  Also, aperture of f/2.2 means more light control and again better low light shots as well.  The try-tone flash is a big improvement over the iPhone 5.  I will present some photos soon to compare and contrast.  
  • Front-side Camera features 720p HD and 1.2MP photos with video stabilization.
  • Video features for HD 1920p, 30fps and cool features like slow-motion.

In short, it is a great phone.  64GB Gold is my choice.

Enjoy,

Gary Saggu

http://www.garysaggu.net http://www.garysaggu.com

iOS 7 thoughts and musings from the Apple WWDC 2013 keynote presentation and demo

My thoughts and opinions about this presentation/demonstration as well as exciting features of iOS 7:-

- Simpler, sleek UI with a redesign of icons.  Very flat, 2D and noticibly absent was the gloss effect in the current version of iOS.  Does that mean app developers have to redo their icons?  I doubt it, IMHO.

- New light fonts are used extensively for that clean, graceful look that Apple is known for.  The light typeface may pose some difficulty in the readability with certain backgrounds but that remains to be seen. The fonts reminded me of a Windows Phone look but still a little different and cooler (of course!)

- COOLEST FEATURE (IMHO) is the feature that achieves depth in parallax which makes the icons almost move (as the background shifts ever so slightly) as the device is moved so as to giving the effect of looking under them. Very, very cool.  Lets hope this feature in the future matures to the UX in general and not remain just a novelty in the top level screens.

- Unlock the phone by swiping in more than one way; a new beautiful, translucent Control Center can be swiped in from the bottom at all times;  some features here a bit Android inspired but welcome nevertheless.  Control center controls WiFi, Bluetooth, Airplane mode as well as music playing and more. Flashlight is included in iOS 7. Ahhhh just when I was thinking of writing my own cool flashlight app:).

- New Home screen "Today" with notification can be swiped from the top. Also, includes weather, reminders, birthdays and appointments.

- Revamped weather app shows dynamic weather animations - I have seen this on Android but still good to have it on iOS.

- iTunes improvements including new iTunes Radio (ad free for customers of iTunes Match I believe).  Look out Pandora and other music streamers:)

- iCloud photo-sharing and iCloud keychain remembers sensitive data like passwords etc.  improvements in photo organization and sharing with others' photo streams.

- Phone, FaceTime, and iMessage blocking from unwanted callers is quite a welcome feature that I am looking forward to using.

- Activation lock to protect against theft was really cool as even after a reset an iCloud authentication needed to use the phone.

- Showed improved Maps. Nice 3D view of Paris at the demo.  More navigation support for use in cars etc.

- Push notifications from iOS apps could be received by the new OS X Mavericks.  Cool option to have in some cases.

- Airdrop for peer to peer proximity sharing is quite useful. Only on Wifi I believe.

- Multitasking features as all apps run in background. Battery implications remain to be seen :).

- App updates in the background automatically.  What a fantastic option this is as I will not be clicking on update all apps each time to get all latest copies of installed apps.

- More advancements and improvements in Siri, including a new male voice and search results from Bing! (No Google here).

- And many many more features...

The SKINNY: During the demo it was mentioned that there were more than 1400 new API calls for developers.  While the UI is redesigned and some features appear to be improvements inspired by what is on Android and Windows Phone, IMHO iOS 7 is quite an amazing leap forward.  Furthermore, I want to check under the hood as there are many new features for developers - especially Xcode 5 Preview and iOS SDK 7(Beta).  Cannot wait to play with these asap. 

Happy dreaming of iOS 7 until the Fall when it is released!

 - Gary Saggu

My Other blog

Ouya - A cheap, interesting and feature packed gaming console for developers and users

Ouya - the game console

I am excited about this new console so I decided to blog about it.  It started as a kickstarter funded project that was oversubscribed very quickly.  I was not able to catch it in time but I would definitely be interested in getting a new console that is Android based and has a fairly open policy for developers to write software for it.

Key features(Hardware):

- Form factor: Small with cool wireless controllers;  Dimensions: (2.9in x 2.9in x 3.2in)

- CPU : Tegra 3(Quad-core processor)

- RAM: 1 GB RAM , 8 GB on-board flash

- Full HD (1080p) with HDMI connection

- Network: WiFi 802.11bgn

- Other technologies: Bluetooth LE 4.0

- Did I mention a $99.00 price? Wow!  As per Amazon, Ouya is being released to all on June 4, 2013. 

Software and SDK features:

- Java based development environment; Eclipse with ADK is what I would use for it.

- Supports Android Development Kit 4.0 (API 14).

- Ouya Development Kit released under Apache License.

- I read somewhere about using Unity to write 3D games for it as well.

- No fee to develop on Ouya.

- Easy submission and fast approvals so I have heard  and it sounds good. Pros : makes happy developers  Cons: Loss of quality control.

Looking at all the hardware and software features Ouya offers (mentioned above - I am sure there are more) makes me very excited about this platform.  What about non gaming apps?  I will investigate further and blog about it.  Time to download the Ouya Development Kit.

Very excited about this, A bientot!

- Gary Saggu

My Other blog

iPad 5 and iPad mini wishlist of features

With Samsung taking the hood of their latest Galaxy S4 specifications, what can we expect in the next release of the iPad devices this year? I have compiled a wishlist of features that will come sooner or later into this next generation of bestselling Apple tablets.  Here is my personal wish list:-

  • Faster processing - Based on the Galaxy S4 boasting upto Octa-cores - more cores, bandwidth and speed may be expected in the upcoming iPad/iPad mini.  Maybe more configurations - for high end use to low-end.  We always need more power for more sophisticated apps.
  • Better graphics ( faster GPU ) - iPad mini might get the Retina display although being a proud iPad mini owner, I am quite satisfied with the display.  As a developer, it might be nice one day to ship an app with only Retina graphics resources.  
  • HD display - I think new devices may have full HD (1080p) support.  I would love to watch my blu-rays in 1080p/3D on my iPad streaming from some wireless storage box. What about a 3D display? Maybe next year on that one, IMHO sans the glasses.
  • Thinner, slicker, cooler - That is a "no brainer" for each generation of Apple devices.
  • Better front/rear camera since the Samsung is already at 13MP rear camera.  I prefer the front camera on the iPad to have better resolution as I use it to FaceTime and it would be nice to have some HD capability.
  • Wireless charging maybe? I did see some gagdet in BestBuy that allows for cell phones to be charged "inductively" using wireless charging.  Would be a nice feature on the iPad.
  • Air gesturing - Well, the S4 has ways by which one could scroll using air gestures in front of the phone.  Why not on the iPad?  I know one day we will have face gesturing when the device will recognize each grimace or snarl on our faces.  Well you heard it here! What about eye scrolling? :)
  • More antennae and better networking support in the form of 802.11ac implementation (upto 1.3 Gbps speeds).  This feature will need a faster router that supports this protocol :) and a fast enough provider to keep up with this hi-speed to see faster streaming.
  • I am sure iOS 7 will be amazing.  There will be a separate wishlist blog entry for that. Improved Siri and more Cloud integration maybe coming.

Will add more to my wishlist as I think of newer and better things.  I am already looking forward to getting these new devices packed with some fantastic features.

- Gary Saggu

(My other blog)

Samsung Galaxy S4 features are finally out

Here are the key features of the latest and greatest Android smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S4

  • 5 inch Super AMOLED display 
    • 1920 x 1080 resolution 
    • Full HD 1080p capability
    • 441 ppi pixel density not edge to edge though
  • Processor 1.9GHz Quad-core or 1.6 GHz Octa-core(wow)
  • Memory: 64GB with microSD 64GB max
  • Camera
    • Rear facing camera an amazing 13 Mega pixels
    • Front facing camera is 2 Mega pixels
  • Lighter and thinner than the S3 but slightly larger and same look as S3
  • Battery capacity higher than S3 at 2600mAh
  • OS: Android Jellybean 4.2.2
  • Extras
    • Tiny IR blaster on phone turns the phone to a TV remote control
    • Voice assistant and something called Voice drive (navigation etc. while on the road)
    • Smart Pause and Smart Scroll are 2 features controlled by the eye.  One pauses the video etc. when you look away and the other allows scrolling by tilting the phone while looking at it.
    • Hovering features (Air view) for gestures. 
  • And many more features that I will cover later (once I get my hands on this phone even though I love my iPhone 5)

More later as I am tired (but this post was important!)

Good Night!

- Gary Saggu

(My other blog)