About the Author

Jeremy Horwitz

December 8, 2015

I’ve been an iOS user since day one — back when it was called “iPhone OS” — and haven’t had any reason to leave Apple’s camp. Each day, I use iOS devices and apps, and for the most part, they “just work.” You could offer me a cheap Android phone or tablet and I wouldn’t have much use for it.

Or so I thought. Just in time for the holidays, 9to5’s publisher Seth Weintraub sent me an unexpected gift: a $99 Motorola Moto G (2nd Gen), also available on Amazon. That price isn’t a typo — for under $100 (half the price of the recently released sixth-generation iPod touch), Motorola is selling a full-fledged smartphone with a larger, higher-resolution screen than the $199 iPod, and for that matter the old iPhone 5c I decided to replace it with. You’ve probably heard that Amazon is trying a similar tactic with its $49 7″ Fire Tablets, which so radically undercut the price of Apple’s iPads that you can buy five for the same price as an entry-level iPad mini 2… and still have change left over. Since these products were developed by well-established companies, they’re budget-priced, but not junk.

I wanted to see whether the Moto G would have any value in my life, and how it would stack up against lower-end iOS devices. What I found was exactly the reason Apple leads the cellular industry in profits yet continues to lag behind Android in market share: the Moto G offers a more than “good enough” alternative at a price that anyone can afford. From my perspective, the existence of a good $99 smartphone is precisely the reason the iPod family has all but disappeared, and why even iPad mini pricing is arguably unsustainable…

expand full story

October 30, 2015

Following through on a threat made earlier this month, Amazon has pulled Google’s Chromecast hardware from its online stores, regardless of whether it was being sold by Amazon directly or third-party vendors in Amazon’s Marketplace.

Amazon notified third-party merchants that it planned to remove Chromecasts and Apple TVs from its listings, claiming an interest in reducing “consumer confusion” over streaming media players that don’t “interact well with Prime Video,” Amazon’s streaming video service. Chromecast and Apple TV pages currently lead to 404 Document Not Found error pages, while attempts to search for the products now redirect to Amazon’s own Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, PlayStation TV, and a collection of off-brand alternatives. Certain Chromecast accessories remain available for purchase, however…

expand full story

September 2, 2015

By now, Nest’s story is quite well known: founder Tony Fadell left Apple after co-inventing the original iPod, founding Nest to re-imagine neglected home devices with modern designs and features. Nest started with the Nest Learning Thermostat, which made HVAC programming and remote management easy — really for the first time — then released the Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide alarm, and after acquiring Dropcam, the Nest Cam home security camera. Now owned by Alphabet and linked to Google, Nest has closely followed Apple’s strategy of refined iteration upon past designs, releasing the Nest Learning Thermostat 2nd Gen and Nest Protect 2nd Gen as modestly but meaningfully tweaked sequels to address rough edges and omissions.

Yesterday, the company announced and released the Nest Learning Thermostat 3rd Gen ($249), which looks familiar at first glance. Still shaped like a metal-clad circle, Nest’s latest Thermostat is a hint thinner than its predecessors, yet sports a larger, higher-resolution screen that can optionally be used as an analog or digital clock. As a satisfied user of the 2nd Gen Thermostat for my home’s downstairs heating system, I bought the 3rd Gen Thermostat to replace the old control panel I had upstairs. Here are my thoughts on Nest’s latest product…

expand full story

April 9, 2015

snapseed2

Snapseed, the excellent free photo editing application, today received its first major update since Google purchased developer Nik Software back in 2012. Version 2.0 arrived in the Play Store with a brand new user interface and a huge collection of new features, most notably including spot healing, lens blur effects, perspective transformation, and a non-destructive editing system that can copy edits from one image to another. The app has been refreshed has a minimalist UI with Material Design influence on Android.

Snapseed’s unique ability to selectively fix small parts of photos — such as improving the brightness level of one dark face in an otherwise bright image — has kept it relevant as a key photo editing tool for years. Snapseed 2.0 expands upon that feature, letting you apply filters and brushes selectively with a brush tool. You can also go into individual layers and make adjustments to changes that were previously applied during the editing process.

Snapseed 2.0 is available for free from the Play Store now, although it’s still rolling out so it may not be available for your device just yet. Additional details are after the break…

expand full story

March 17, 2015

icloud

Numerous complaints in Apple’s discussion forums have spotlighted a problem preventing iCloud.com and me.com email addresses from receiving Google Gmail messages, with delays lasting hours or days. expand full story

Powered by WordPress.com VIP