XBOX ONE

I am not a gamer, but I have an Xbox 360. I got it when Kinect was introduced and when they shifted the focus to entertainment. I am a happy customer, paying for Xbox LIVE Gold, and cannot wait to get the XBOX ONE.

Update: Found this amazing Kinect video at Wired. Watch it all the way. It is awesome.

Wow, how misguided and ignorant can someone be?

(I must admit, I took this MG Siegler set of posts a little bit too seriously. I had sworn off that guy, but since his nonsense was being discussed by others I follow on twitter, I had to peek.)

First issue I have is why is he concerned that Microsoft actually updated the OS after RTM and before GA? It is a *great* thing, as I said on twitter. Not sure why it is being spun as a negative.

Second, after Ed Bott brings it up and appropriately schools him on how Windows works within the OEM ecosystem, MG goes out and shoots himself in the foot by arguing (like a kid, nonetheless) that OS X was only updated after it became generally available to the public. Well, that is bad, isn’t it? That would mean Apple let a buggy OS out to the masses and only fixed issues a month or so later.

Oh, and that nonsense about calling Ed an “Apple malware blogger”? Sigh. More childishness.

As my friend Amir pointed out on twitter, Highlight is not going to be considered magical anytime soon and is nowhere near the Square atmosphere :-)

Could this household be done with the iPad?

As you may or may not know, we just relocated from the US to Bangalore. While we wait for our stuff to come (shipped by sea), we are living a somewhat nomadic life. The latest temporary residence happens to be a decent hotel, but before that we spent a few days in a guest house and before that, with my uncle and aunt.

For the past week or so, for one reason or the other, both our iPads have not come out of the suitcase. The kids have started going to school so they don’t need entertainment during the day, there was no wifi at the guest house earlier, and there is good wifi here in the hotel but we have a PC that we use a lot and for quick email triage and Facebook/Twitter/ADN, I end up using my phone more than anything else.

As a result, not only have the iPad not been used, more importantly, they have not been missed. We have not once felt like we would rather use the iPad. The kids used to play random games (dress up Barbie or restaurant manager are current favorites) but they have the TV to entertain them after the come from school. For the past several months I have noticed that my use of the iPad has strictly been Twitter, Facebook and the browser. Between the phone and the laptop, I haven’t needed to get the iPad for any of those uses.

This could very well be because we are not settled into “our house” yet. In other words, if the iPad were there on the coffee table, we would of course pick it up than open the laptop. However, I am seriously thinking, if instead of a laptop, I had a Windows RT “device”, I would be absolutely ok and in fact would prefer it. That would take care of the thin-and-light thing that is lying around on the coffee table, and also fits well as a “better computer” than the iPad when hooked to the dock at the desk. So that casual Excel or Word files that I may need to edit on-the-go, can actually be done without fumbling with pinching and zooming to no end.

The kids have enough “entertainment” options outside of the iPad, and even today, there are plenty of games and game-like apps in the Windows Store to keep them busy (and educated at the same time) so they won’t miss the iPad.

There you have it. I am ready to get a Surface RT to replace my iPad 2. At least one of the two that I own.

Priyanka Chopra conducts the “Blown Away by Lumia” competition

If you are not aware of the “Blown Away by Lumia” contest, it is the Nokia’s version of “Smoked By Windows Phone” contest started by Ben Rudolph of Microsoft, at the 2012 Consumer Electornics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Nokia took that contest global, and here are some videos of former Miss World Priyanka Chopra competing with challengers with various smartphones and beating them. Quite cool, although she comes off as a bit too chirpy.

Plex for Windows Phone is out

Plex, the “media center” software application built for a multitude of devices, has a Windows Phone app now. They wrote up a blog post about it and while I am excited that there is a WP7 app now, it was heartening to see the praise they had for WP7 both from a user’s perspective as well as from a developer’s perspective.

There are so many gems in that post, I felt compelled to not only write this blog post, but highlight a bunch of the gems from the post:

Android phones never managed to capture my interest. They just looked and felt like bad photocopies of the iPhone, and didn’t offer anything new I was interested in, like the ability to install a custom theme that looked even uglier than the default, or download torrents on my phone, or play a Matrix animation in the background, or remove my battery, or spend time killing random processes, or over-clock my CPU, or any other beardy sort of thing.

Fast-forward to this January, I ordered a second hand Samsung device to help with development, and promptly fell in love with it.

As much as Android felt like (poorly) recycled ideas and bad new ones, Windows Phone felt original, well designed, and fun to use.

The performance was great, really smooth in a way iOS is and Android isn’t even in ICS.

[Ice Cream Sandwich, or Android 4.0, from a Windows Phone User's Perspective (my Techie Buzz post from earlier)]

The “pivot” and “panorama” UI concepts were fresh and a great way of making good use of a small screen in portrait mode. The typography was clean and brazen.

The integration of Facebook and Twitter made them feel like first class citizens, not an afterthought.

The live tiles on the home screen were a great way to make the phone feel alive.

But the iPhone felt staid, for lack of a better word. I wanted to be able to pin a few email folders to my home screen and watch them update live. I wanted to see all my social updates in a more integrated way. I missed being able to go to a contact (which I could also pin to my home screen), and easily see the conversations (Facebook, or SMS) I was having with them, and recent photos they’d uploaded.

The iOS development environment is quite good, with the weakest link being Objective-C, which has a steep learning curve and feels like it stepped out of the 80s with a cocaine hangover.

Android, oh, Android, I don’t mean to pick on you once again, but your edit-build-deploy cycle is long enough to make a grown man cry, and then stab himself in the eyeballs, and then cry some more. Java is fine, but the surrounding environment and piss-poor emulator makes it much harder to develop for than it should be.

So how is the Windows Phone development environment? It’s scary good. C# is a great language, .NET is a solid framework, XAML is a really nice way to design user interfaces, and the edit-build-deploy cycle is fast.

We were able to write the [WP7] app from start to finish in two months, between two engineers working part time, which is almost an order of magnitude faster than it took for the iOS and Android app.

Related (linked to from the blog post):

My last thought on Windows Phone is that it’s got all the ingredients it needs to be successful: It’s a fun, useful, well-designed platform, with sexy (Nokia) hardware, and it’s as good for developers as it is for users. It deserves much more marketshare than it has, and Microsoft seems to be making most of the right moves (about time).

Since I use WP7 all day and follow a bunch of WP7 developers on twitter, I am very well aware of all these benefits. I am glad the folks at Plex thought of putting all these thoughts on their blog.

Hope to see many others release their WP7 apps. Are you listening, Instagram?

Windows Phone and iOS pound Android in PCMag’s Readers’ Choice Awards

Wow. Just wow. PCMag’s Sascha Segan just tweeted some astounding results from their Readers’ Choice Awards for smartphone OSes:

As you can see, I was a bit skeptical about the Android bit because Verizon Wireless, especially, has sold a ton of Android phones, of all shapes and sizes. Turns out, Android owners don’t quite like their phones/OS. It’s not surprising, most Android phones start out cool (or “not iPhone”) but they deteriorate over time with battery issues, lags, etc.

Windows Phone and iOS on the other hand, have extremely high satisfaction rates, and it shows through these Readers’ Choice Awards. Another interesting thing, on AT&T, the Samsung Windows Phones rated higher than the iPhone. Whaaaa?

Regardless, as an unabashed fan of Windows Phone, I am delighted with this!