February 24, 2018 brianradio2016

The trickle of smart glasses entering enterprises on the faces of employees this year will become a flood in the years ahead.

As the use of smart glasses becomes more ubiquitous in the workplace, the challenges for IT departments and, indeed, for enterprises generally will grow.

And while the future of smart glasses is just now coming into focus, the unexpected consequences of this trend remain unclear.

What I believe is certain is that smart glasses are coming, they’re going mainstream, and very few organizations are ready for what’s coming. Let’s take a look.

February 23, 2018 brianradio2016

Video: iPhone X review: Face ID, the notch, and a new screen

Nearly four months after buying the Apple iPhone X, my primary T-Mobile SIM card remains inside. In its wake lies a long list of returned or shelved Android smartphones.

Read also: Best Qi wireless chargers: Charge up your iPhone X and iPhone 8

If you follow me on Twitter, you will see me question the sanity of buying the latest iPhone, often stating I am not going to buy it. Spoiler: I always end up buying one.

However, you will also read there and on ZDNet that I typically give up on the iPhone after a month or so — as I grow bored with iOS and its terrible notification system, or as I find a flashier Android phone with newer technology, a bigger battery, a unique colour scheme, or some other feature I think is better than the iPhone. Apple’s iPhone X has changed that perspective for me, and I’m almost ready to admit I prefer an iPhone and am a member of the flock.

Hardware: Feels like the future

The moment I picked up iPhone X, I knew I was holding something special. Rather than the focus on minimal side bezels, the fact that there are no measurable top and bottom bezels either has set this phone apart from everything else I have tried. It feels like I am viewing all display with no hardware around the display, and it feels like the future.

Speaking of the display, the OLED panel is made by Samsung and improved by Apple. It’s stunning, and I cannot find a single fault with it, not that I ever really found a problem with Apple’s previous LCDs either.

The iPhone X has hardware features I loved using in Android phones before, including wireless charging, a high level of water and dust resistance, and good-sounding stereo speakers.

Apple brings Face ID to the mobile world, and my iPhone X never even feels like it is locked. I pick it up and 98 percent of the time it is ready to go.

I can honestly say that the only thing I miss from the hardware aspect is a headphone jack, but thanks to Apple’s ecosystem, that is really not much of an issue either.

Software: A welcome breath of fresh air

I lived through the days of Palm WebOS, Nokia’s MeeGo, and BlackBerry 10, so the gesture-based UI of iPhone X is a welcome breath of fresh air to me. As I mentioned before, I also tend to give up on iPhones after a month, so I am not so beholden to the iOS experience that the gesture-based UI upsets me at all.

I love swiping around to get things done and have no issue with the battery indicator not being present, as the battery gets me through a day, especially with a convenient plop down on a wireless charging pad positioned around my office and house.

Read also: iPhone X tips and tricks

The more I use iPhone X, the more I enjoy the press-and-hold actions. Applications continue to be just a bit better in iOS than on Android, and there are still occasionally some apps that launch first on iOS.

Apple ecosystem: The closest thing to magic

While I don’t use an Apple computer, the Apple Watch Series 3 and Apple AirPods make the iPhone X experience full and complete. You won’t find a better smartwatch than the Apple Watch, but you need an iPhone to use it. The Apple Watch has a brilliant display, provides useful and functional notifications, works well as a GPS sports watch, and is the activity tracker that does well at motivating you to perform.

Read also: Apple Watch Series 3 review: Always connected, just without the guilt

Apple AirPods work with Android and other Bluetooth devices, but the absolute best experience is with an iOS device. I never think about charging my AirPods or about how to enable a reliable connection every time. They just work, and are the closest thing to magic that Apple has created.

Android phones: The ones left behind

On my journey to the iPhone X promised land, the following Android phones lie on the side of the road:

  • Samsung Galaxy Note 8: The Note 8 is a stunning smartphone, and I used it for a few months before trading it in at T-Mobile for the iPhone X. It ended up being a bit too large and still doesn’t have the Android 8 Oreo update. Samsung is doing a great job keeping the security updates current, and the tech in the device is awesome.
  • Google Pixel 2 XL: I ordered and then cancelled this device four times before finally committing to the black and white model. The Pixel 2 XL arrived, and I loved it. The camera is fantastic, the software rocks, and the hardware is great. I missed wireless charging, found the phone a bit too large, didn’t care for the rounded corners on the visible display, and wasn’t ready to commit over $900 to it. I returned it to Google.
  • Honor 7X: At only $200, the Honor 7X is cheap enough to keep around as a spare phone. I still have a review unit, but rarely use it. It’s not going to challenge a flagship, but it’s tough to beat at that price, and I know a few friends who bought and love this phone.
  • OnePlus 5T: I did not buy a OnePlus 5T, but did test one. It offers most of what you find in a flagship Android phone, but for hundreds less. I’m still not sure about the company and its practices, but I’ll continue to keep my eye on it and its devices for a possible future Android phone.
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro: Despite the US government concerns, the Mate 10 Pro is one I still want to use regularly with my secondary T-Mobile DIGITS SIM, because the AI aspect takes time to learn your usage patterns and provides you with the optimal experience. The dual cameras are great, the hardware is awesome, and the price is decent for a flagship. There are nagging software issues, though, which keep it from being used as a daily driver.
  • Google Pixel 2: I went ahead and bought the Kinda Blue Pixel 2 to see if I could get by with a smaller Pixel 2 and enjoy that fantastic camera and always up-to-date software. It’s a great device, but the design is a bit dated with large top and bottom bezels, and I just miss out on the convenience of wireless charging. I recently returned it to Google, too.
  • Essential Phone: I bought a white Essential Phone a couple months ago and last week sold it to buy the new Ocean Depth green color. The color is stunningly gorgeous, but as I’ve been using it as my daily driver, I realize the software experience doesn’t stack up to the Pixel 2 flawless performance. There is no high level of water resistance either, so I can’t run with it in the rain, and there is no wireless charging or headphone jack. And the premium $599 price for this special color just may not be worth it. I am likely to initiate a return for this one to Essential.

Read also: The 10 best smartphones of 2017

MWC is being held next week, with Samsung kicking things off with the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus, followed by announcements from Sony, Huawei, and others. Given the latest Android update report card from JR Raphael, it is likely I won’t be forking over my own money for a new Android phone until later in the year when Google rolls out the Pixel 3 XL.

Previous and related coverage

Best gifts: Top iPhone X/iPhone 8 accessories from $6 to $200

Kit out your new iPhone X or iPhone 8 with some the best accessories available without breaking the bank.

iPhone X’s screen doesn’t like sudden cold but Apple’s working to fix the bug

Rapid drop in temperature causes some iPhone X screens to become unresponsive.

February 23, 2018 brianradio2016

Video: Apple Watch Series 3

Last week, I canceled the data plan associated with my Apple Watch Series 3.

It’s not that I didn’t find the added service useful or beneficial. It’s the exact opposite.

Enjoyed the connectivity

Until I canceled the plan, I enjoyed random trips to the grocery store with only my AirPods and Apple Watch. With just those two gadgets, I could call my wife to ensure my shopping list was complete or listen to music while I shopped. And with Apple Pay built into the watch, I was still able to pay without using my debit card.

Read also: Apple HomePod review: Leaves a stain but not a strong impression

Once, I randomly had to chase my dog down the block and into the middle of the field, and the unanticipated moment meant my iPhone was left at home on the table. I then had to rely on the ability to place a call through the watch in order to get a ride after I had tracked my dog down.

It all boils down to cost

The problem with the cellular plan on the Apple Watch isn’t connectivity, battery life, or that it’s missing any features. It all boils down to the monthly cost. The going rate of $10 per month, before taxes and fees, is just too much.

Read also: iPhone 8 review: More of the same, but better in just about every way

The going rate of $10 per month, before taxes and fees, is just too much.

I did the math, and I realized I’m paying way too much for the amount of data the watch uses. Taking into account the launch promotions and a total of $55 of credits from AT&T, which made the first three months of service free, and the waived activation fee, I’ve still paid an average of $13.82 per month for my Apple Watch to connect to AT&T’s network.

Over five months, I used a total of 19.53MB of data. That averages to 3.91MB of data per month.

Is peace of mind worth it?

Once I realized how little data the watch used — compared the amount I paid — I canceled service. It’s hard to justify the cost, even when taking into account the peace of mind that comes with an always-connected gadget on my wrist.

Read also: Apple iPhone X review: This is as good as it gets

For the past week, I’ve contemplated a fee I would feel comfortable paying, and I don’t have an answer yet. Perhaps a one-time activation fee — and then the watch would use data from an LTE data plan I’m already paying.

Keep in mind, at one point, overage fees were $10 or $15 per gigabyte of data. Using just under 4MB of data a month is practically nothing.

And, right now, I’m not willing to pay for it.

Previous and related coverage

Apple Watch Series 3 review: Always connected, just without the guilt

Apple’s newest smartwatch is smarter in that it’s always connected, but is it worth the cost?

Apple Watch Series 2 Review: A smartwatch I have no qualms recommending

After learning to live with the struggles of the first Apple Watch for far too long, the Apple Watch Series 2 puts Apple’s wearable ambitions on track.

February 23, 2018 brianradio2016

A series of Apple whispers suggests a series of interesting launches this spring.  Essential software updates, the introduction of AirPower, an important HomePod improvement and new devices appear to be in the frame.

Let’s look at the evidence

Apple has already told us what to expect in iOS 11.3. This exciting software update introduces a host of useful improvements, including:

  • The Battery Health tool, which enables customers to take control of sneaky device throttling.
  • Huge improvements in ARKit, including introduction of the vertical surface recognition and image recognition for signs, posters and artwork. This will accelerate ARKit development.
  • Health records for iPhones. Doing this right and at scale may actually enable some of the efficiencies electronic health records have promised but seemingly failed to deliver so far.
  • iMessages in iCloud.
  • Business Chat, an enterprise feature that connects customers with brands
  • New Animoji’s for all you karaoke fans out there.
  • Advanced Mobile Location (AML) support.

Apple Music enhancements?

There is one other iOS 11.3 enhancement that I think may turn out to be quite significant, particularly as the company continues to invest deeply in producing original video content. Apple Music will soon offer music videos.

This good improvement means Apple Music will begin to fill the space left behind by MTV. I think it could also help generate a little more interest in Apple Music’s social features, and may turn out to form part of a wider Apple Music upgrade.

February 23, 2018 brianradio2016

A resume filled with typos from an applicant who said he had no phone and probably no way to get to work normally wouldn’t end up anywhere else but the trash can, but in this case, it might fetch as much as $50,000 at auction. That’s because it’s the…

February 23, 2018 brianradio2016

Microsoft last night released a flood of unexpected patches. Yes, that’s a Thursday night dump. No, there weren’t any pressing security fixes – at least, none that were advertised. I have no idea why Microsoft’s pushing this offal out the Automatic Update chute.

In addition to a scattering of Preview patches for Win7, 8.1 and Server 2002 – which are usually posted on the third “Week C” Tuesday of the month – and the Surface Pro 3 firmware patch that was announced, but not delivered, Wednesday, we have two new cumulative updates: one for Win10 Anniversary Update (version 1607) and one for Win10 Creators Update (version 1703). Susan Bradley has a full list with links on the AskWoody site.

The two cumulative updates are:

  • KB 4077525 – The Feb. 22 cumulative update for Win10 version 1607 and Server 2016 brings the build number to 14393.2097. This is the second cumulative update for 1607 in the past nine days. There’s no mention of any security patches. It looks like a big, big bug fix.
  • KB 4077528 – The Feb. 22 cumulative update for Win10 version 1703 brings the build number to 15063.936. Again, it’s the second cumulative update for 1703 in the past nine days and, again, there don’t appear to be any security patches. It’s a relatively small bug fix.

It isn’t at all clear why there’s no fix for Win10 Fall Creators Update, version 1709. That’s the Windows version that had all sorts of problems with this month’s first round of cumulative updates.

February 23, 2018 brianradio2016

For the first time ever, Google has established a baseline for what constitutes an Android smartphone that’s ready for use by enterprises.

“Some of the top concerns we’ve heard from customers include the need for frequent security updates, reliable and consistent software experiences and simplified device selection,” David Still, Google’s director of Android Enterprise, said in a blog post.

To address those needs, Google this week launched the Android Enterprise Recommended program, a global initiative that raises the bar for what passes as an enterprise-level device and service.

While all mobile devices have inherent security risks, Android has more vulnerabilities because of its inherent open-source nature, the slow pace with which users and carriers update the OS – creating fragmentation – and a lack of proper app vetting.

February 22, 2018 brianradio2016

I’ll go ahead and end the suspense for you now: Android upgrades are a big, hot mess — and the situation with Oreo is the worst we’ve seen to date.

It’s kind of embarrassing, actually. But it’s important. And that’s why I take the time to track manufactuers’ performance in this area so closely year after year — because software matters. It affects your experience more significantly on a day-to-day basis over the life of a modern mobile device than any other feature or element. And yet, it tends to get the least amount of attention.

To wit: Over the coming days, Samsung and other Android device-makers will take the stage to show off their latest and greatest wares. Their new phone models be plenty impressive, no doubt — gorgeously designed works of gadget art. We’ll hear about every ever-shrinking bezel, every fresh feat of engineering, every new “smart” feature that sounds wildly impressive (but is bound to mostly fall flat in reality).

You know what we won’t hear a peep about, though? The manufacturers’ commitments — or lack thereof — to supporting and updating all those smartphones after you plunk down your hard-earned cash to buy ’em. Most Android device-makers don’t like to draw attention to that area, and for good reason.