Apple, it’s time for iPhone Pro!

Being long time keen observer of mobile tech industry, I have seen how iPhone has evolved over the years. Till the launch of iPhone 6, apple has taken almost all the right steps for betterment of their iconic product. But, with force touch, apple has introduced a borderline gimmick tech in their product. Many tech blogs have compared the force touch with pinch to zoom tech. This comparison is total bullshit!

Pinch to zoom:

Mobile touchscreen is a 2D interface. It was very logical and intuitive to introduce a 2D gesture like pinch to zoom. Not only pinch to zoom, but consider other gestures used in different apple devices. For example, in iPad when you pinch with three or more fingers  all the open apps are shown in thumbnail format. In MacBook, two finger swipe will scroll the page as if you are sliding a paper. All these things are very intuitive. And that’s where apple scores! Bringing human interactions to work properly in machine interface. But this human interaction is not intuitive in case of Force Touch.

Force Touch:

I agree that it is an interesting concept. Giving 3D feel to 2D interface in itself is great achievement. But it does not and will not be anything more than niche market. There are several reasons for that:

  1. Biggest reason is, it is not intuitive.
  2. Everything which can be done by using force touch interface can be achieved through long press. When you think of Force Touch, it’s hardly any better than older method of long press.
  3. For slow learners it becomes a task to differentiate between long press and force touch.
  4. Very limited applicability: Consider how limited the scope is for implementation of force touch. Mainly cause mobile screens are basically 2D interfaces (I simply can’t emphasise it more :p)

In spite of all these, Force Touch is not a completely useless tech. There are some amazing things which can be done with it. One top of the mind example is of an app that measures weight of ingredient put in spoon. Just imagine how useful will this be for day-to-day activity like cooking, or special activities in medical field. This is exactly why there is the need of iPhone Pro.

Decades ago, Steve Jobs introduced famous grid for desktop and laptop. Now is the time to introduce similar grid for iPad and iPhone. Following are the two compelling reasons behind that:

  1. Saturation in processor speed: 3D Gaming, Research Analysis, Cognitive learning, Audio and Video editing etc. These kind of disciplines will continue pushing the boundaries for technological development. But common people normally “consumes” the media and hardly go beyond applying various filters in Instagram or playing candy crush :) For these activities 4 years old iPhone 5 is also a great device.
  2. Niche tech: Technologies such as force touch, 4K video and screen. While these have wow factor to it, it just doesn’t make sense for mobiles. (It’s humanly impossible to differentiate between 1K video and 4K video running on 4-5 inch screen.) If we just let go of such niche technology for normal iPhone, this will also increase the battery backup for device. This is very important factor as we have reached physical constraints over the battery density capacity. Just imagine getting couple of hours of extra from your phone without compromising on quality (refer the 1K vs 4K screen comparison).

Following is the grid which I created for Base and Pro model of iPhone and iPad:

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This way, the artists, scientists can continue to enjoy the top of the notch products like iPhone Pro and iPad Pro while normal consumers don’t have to break bank but still enjoy the base model of their favourite device.

Recently apple has come up with iPhone SE which is almost like base model I described. But, front camera of 1.2 MP is just ridiculous. I wish iPhone SE (2nd Gen) bridges this gap to give us a kickass iPhone Base model.

Couple of weeks and iPhone 7 will be launched by apple. I wish they scrap so many varients of their products and stick to grid pattern envisioned by Steve Jobs. Simple. Elegant. Effective!

Gaana vs Wynk Music vs Saavn

I love Music! I believe once you love music you can (and should) buy the music but, to try there is nothing better than streaming music.

When one considers Indian market there are three powerhouses Gaana, Wynk and Saavn. All these three music providers have their strengths and weaknesses.. Let’s consider them one by one.

Gaana

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Gaana along with Saavn is one of the oldest streaming music provider. One of great strengths of Gaana is its music database. Part of Times music group; they have one of biggest music database. They have many records which are exclusively available on gaana only. Other strength of gaana is understanding of pulse of market.

On the weak side; I have to say that gaana is just populist. They have decent playlist and explore option for bollywood and hindi music, but when it comes to regional languages, it neither has good collection nor curated playlists. Not only regional languages but in hindi music also, playlist is not that well curated. Other weak point of gaana is, like Saavn they don’t have entire collection available on all platforms. Many songs are available only on web interface, but you can’t access those from mobile phone app.

Wynk Music

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Biggest strength of wynk music is mobile only approach. Since there is no web player available, all songs are available on mobile app. When I closely observe music consumption trait, it turns out that me and most of my friends listen music on the go only, and hence prefer listening it from mobile. Even after getting home, bluetooth speakers and aux input for speaker system are way to go to listen music. Bottom line is, it is not that big of the hindrance not to listen music on computer. Second strength of wynk music is its unified browsing experience. Wynk for android has this great feature that you can browse both, streaming music and offline music in one single app.

On weak side, music collection is not as comprehensive as gaana or saavn. Adding to this, wynk needs to tweak its searching capabilities. Right now, it doesn’t give relevant results. Also, it is strange that, even though wynk is just app only, still its mobile application is not that smooth. For example when you go to My Music section and see all downloaded songs. Even though songs are offline, it keeps on refreshing the screen. as if streaming from net.

Saavn

Being one of the oldest player in streaming music market they have pretty big music database and unlike gaana it is not restricted to hindi. I feel Saavn is the best music application in India right now. I believe there is only one reason for that. They “love” the music!

When you are passionate about something everything gets aligned properly. Saavn is passionate about music and it is visible through their app, their marketing, their playlists.

I don’t know if there was change in top management or what but since the time they have launched “here’s to the music” advertisement they have undergone major change and this change has been great. When you see the ad, it becomes quite clear that it is inspired by apple’s epic ad “here’s to the crazy ones”. I am not drawing direct parallel, but you see, it was this ad campaign which changed perception of apple. People expected great things from apple and they delivered only the high quality products there after. So far, I am seeing similar thing with Saavn.

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Just have a look at their Charts and Playlists section and you would understand what I am trying to tell. Each of the playlist is so well curated, and they don’t stop there. Even the playlist display pic is such well thought, it adds character to playlists and improves the overall experience of listening music to another level. This quality of content and presentation makes Saavn a truly great music service. The best part is, this experience is not restricted to bollywood, change settings to any other language and Saavn doesn’t disappoint you. Saavn gives equally good experience of music for regional languages.

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Thank you Saavn for giving such a great music experience. Hope you continue to get better and better.

This post is part of good design series.

P.S.: I understand that some of the reader would be thinking about Hungama Music. Well, I would just say that, when biggest music collection meets horrible interface and most stupid search capabilities, then Hungama happens!

“Good Design” Series

Browse the internet and you will see huge number of posts complaining. Complaining about their mobiles, complaining about different apps they use, complaining about how something “suck”. It is human tendency to exaggerate something they hate and underemphasise something they like. I have decided to give small push for something good!

Starting today, I will keep on adding blog post on something I genuinely feel thankful for. You can find all these articles in “Good Design” category.

Intention is to celebrate good design. I speak specifically about design cause, it is often neglected. Good design is normally non intrusive. Because of this nature, it is almost invisible to not-so-keen people. It takes special efforts and bit of craziness to appreciate small things in good design which make big impact in overall experience.

Best Android Mobile Phones in India: July 2016

Updated: 2016-07-06

Hi there, I’m back with best android mobile phone section. In last 2 years there has been lot of new things happened in mobile world. Chinese companies like Xiaomi and OnePlus have proven their mettle and have forced traditional companies to rethink their strategy. It has become even more difficult to choose a perfect android.

But some of the things have still not changed. I still believe that if you have heart on some of particular mobile.. just go for it, no need to search and prove if it is right for you or not. More on this is mentioned here.

Please note that, I don’t compare mobiles on stupid specs. I compare mobile devices as overall package. If specs is something you looking for then there are plenty of other websites. Also, if you are looking for detailed review on particular mobile, GSMArena is good site.

Lets start with ranking:

1. HTC 10: Around Rs. 50k

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Keyword: Best android mobile phone in India irrespective of Price

Pros: Design, UI, Sound output, Camera, Display, Battery

Cons: Price

HTC 10, a device which aims to make perfect 10 in all the aspects. And it does! Look at beautiful rear design with clean industrial lines. HTC has always been at forefront when it comes to design. It’s design has been heavily copied by apples and Sammys of the world. When it comes to sound output, HTC has set new standard in acoustics. It has best sound output in market. No! not even iPhone comes close. Regarding Camera; with 10, HTC has also addressed the only gripe of low resolution rear camera. So, here you go, everything is covered.

Sometimes I feel bad for HTC. Here is the company which keeps on producing best mobile one after the other, but every single time something or other goes wrong. For most of the time in past, it was the awe full marketing department which could not bank on the amazing htc devices. This time, while HTC doesn’t have any problem in its den, but the problem is from outside; Competition.

Something interesting: Just to show how well built the HTC phone is, have a look at this video of drop test: HTC 10 Drop Test

2. Samsung Galaxy S7: Around Rs. 45k

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Pros: Design, Camera, Display, Battery.

Cons: Price

I have mentioned about Competition as one of the problem for HTC 10; well, S7 is best example. S7 is such a solid device from Sammy that I would say it is actually worthy of tie for 1st rank with HTC 10. One department where S7 lost the race was sound output. Not that it is bad, but it is just not as that good as HTC 10.

3. OnePlus 3: Around Rs. 30k

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Keyword: Best android mobile smart phone in India under 30 thousand (INR 30,000)

Pros: Price, Design, Display.

Cons: Audio output is good (not Flagship Killer!).

Never Settle!

OnePlus had very clear aim when it came up with OnePlus One. To make “one” heck of a mobile. At the time of OnePlus 2, they came up with one more mobile OnePlus X. This resulted in bifurcating the focus. And hence both OnePlus 2 and X were not that great mobile.

Now, they have understood (rightly so!) that, “one” mighty mobile at competitive price is what people want. Result is beautiful OnePlus 3. When you consider overall package OP3 is really a flagship at budget price. I would confidently put my hard earned money on OP3.

4. Moto G Plus (4th Gen): Around Rs. 14k

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Keyword: Best android mobile smart phone in India Under 15 thousand (INR 15,000)

Pros: Reliable, Display, Battery

Cons: Uninspiring design

Despite of changing several houses (Motorola to Google to Lenovo), Moto has stayed true to its DNA. Moto G Plus (4th Gen) like it’s ancestors is no nonsense mobile for good price range. Specially for budget conscious people who want a mobile which will last long Moto G is very good option. It has played out design, but it is very good design. Sound output is decent so is the camera department. All in all, a safe bet!

5. LeEco Le 2: Around Rs. 11k

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Keyword: Best android mobile smart phone in India for 10 thousand (INR 10,000)

Pros: Decent All rounder for price point.

Cons: Questionable Business Model

If at all I am curious about any mobile company’s future, it has to be LeEco. I really want to see how many years this company will go with their business strategy. Unlike similar Chinese companies like OnePlus and Xiaomi which work on thin margins, LeEco incurs loss on each device they sell. Their idea is to make profit by entertainment services bundled with mobile. I believe this is totally flawed strategy, specially for Chinese and Indian markets which happens to be their biggest market. In India, we don’t have ubiquitous fast internet. Even if it was available we prefer to share music, movies in offline fashion.  Shareit being in top 10 of Google Playstore and Apple AppStore is testimony of that.

All this doesn’t stop LeEco 2 from being an awesome mobile specially for the price point. If you don’t want to spend much but want a great android experience,  LeEco is the mobile you have been searching. Anything less, and you will get half baked android experience.

6. Xiaomi Mi5: Around Rs. 23k

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Pros: Form Factor, Weight, Screen, Sound, Camera

Cons: Fast Aging

I like Xiaomi. It is one company which puts quite a lot of effort in Research and Development. They implement their research to make top notch products. Xiaomi Mi5 with very high charge density at very low weight is some achievement! Mi5 is great device with excellent Screen, Sound output and 4 axis camera technology. The only thing bothers me is, Xiaomi devices tend to age faster. They tend to have more problems say about charging port, sluggishness, speaker problem etc. quite quickly. This, on plus side means that you must upgrade mobile in a year or two. (Yey! New mobile :p)

There! We are done with best of androids available in market. I know, there are some of the heavy weights missing from the list, but those are not there for some reason.

Let’s talk about Sony and it’s amazing X series.

Sony has done with Z series and have come with X series. All of the X devices are superb. The only problem is they are horribly overpriced and there are many (all mentioned in ranking) mobiles which give a better experience for half the price.

Coming to LG.

For once, I was pleasantly surprised by the modular approach LG took with it’s G5. What let me down was there was nothing else they offered apart from modular approach. I do like G5’s friends. But then think again, if you consider only the mobile, even two year old G3 is as good as G5. Why should I spend extra if I can spend less : )

Meizu M3

A perfect iPhone copy with even better home key button. Meizu surprises us with it’s great photo quality and good sound output. It has near perfect take on home button with tap to back, press to home and gestures in built to that tiny capacitive button. BUT, it is not an inspiring thing to copy iPhone and iOS so much as to lose it’s own identity.

That’s all folks!

The Classification Dilemma

How do you classify whether a gadget is mobile phone or tablet or phablet?

Pretty stupid question one might think. May be it is or.. may be it is not. But it becomes pretty difficult to compare devices if you don’t classify in these three categories. And it is unfair not to appreciate efforts of OEM.

It is much easier and hence cheaper to make a large screen device with particular specifications than to put best of technology in smaller package. For example, it takes better technology to make 5 inch 1080p screen than to make 10 inch screen with 1080p screen. Reason being, you need to pack more number of pixels in smaller area.

This is precisely the reason you should not compare mobiles with phablets.

Let’s begin!

Smart Phone OR mobile : 5 inch screen

Observe your palm. Measure the length from the point of thumb joint to first knuckle joint of index finger. This would be roughly 7 cm. This is the line where you fold your hand in order to grab something and hence it plays important role to decide if you can hold device comfortably in one hand. In short it decides whether your mobile is mobile enough :p

Now observe your hand. Measure the width from first finger to pinky. Surprise surprise, it will also be 7 cm. So, when you put gadget to your ears which are bigger than 7 cm, it looks as if someone is slapping you.

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7 cm width translates to 5 inch (diagonal) screen with 16:9 aspect ratio and hence in smartphone ranking you will see 5 inch screen. LG G2 is my ideal phone when it comes to maximising screen size yet honouring our natural geometry. Though this phone has 5.2 inch screen it’s overall body width is 7.09 cm.

Phablets: more than 5.5 inch and less than 7 inch screen

Phablet is essentially Smartphone with bigger screen. But, I never understand why such a device exist in first place. It doesn’t fit properly in your pocket. It is difficult to manage with single hand. Still I am amused by y-o-y growth of these devices. Though, for girls who carry small purse, it is perfect device. It fits in their purse. It shows their selfie more clearly. Easy to watch movies or songs on the go. They anyways use both hands to use phone :p

More than screen size or anything else, Phablet size is governed by social acceptance. No matter what, putting 7 inch tablet to your face looks stupid. Any smaller size tablet you feel comfortable putting to your ear is Phablet. And as of now, it means 6 inch.

Tablets: larger than 7 inch

It’s no brainer.

How to make android easy for your parents

Here is the case, you bought a shiny new android for your parents so that you can WhatsApp them, share photos, may be talk free using Viber. But it is getting difficult for them to get hold of home screens, widgets and notification screen. They often miss notifications as they forget to swipe from top of screen. No more!

Meet Wiser. A nice simple launcher for home screen.

This launcher has basically four screen.

1. Default Home screen has selected 6 icons which are big enough to press and have different colour which make them easily recognisable.

2. Left screen acts like Notice Board which acts as Notification tray.

3. Right screen is fast dial to favourite people. People can be added easily and user interface is made super easy to either call or text that person. Further more, this app uses big fonts everywhere. So text are easily readable everywhere.

4. Right most screen is for apps. You can pin few selected apps which they normally use. (The only apps my mom uses apart from those in default screen are two games Solitair and Shoot Bubble :p )

All in all, best launcher for minimalistic use.

Here is the link of that app in play store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.wiser.home

P.S. Don’t forget to press home key and make wiser launcher default action for home key

Best tablets in India: July 2014

Updated: 2014-07-08

I was going to post “Best _android_ tablets of 2014” post. But if you do bit of search, you will get to know, hey there are not many good tablets available. So here is combined post for android and iOS tablets.

Before we proceed, we should be clear on what exactly we achieve by tablet. From my observation I can say that tablet is mostly content consumption device. It is used to browse internet, play games, listen songs, watch movies, read books, read mail, stay updated with news, social networking, occasional photo editing (mostly for uploading on social networks) and occasional document editing. So, to do all these things, I need something which is very light, has great battery life, has good screen and potent enough processor.

Here is why apple is ranked above android: When you consider pure hardware, android has slight lead over iPad. When you consider only software, here also (with kit kat) android has slight edge over iOS but when you consider complete ecosystem along with build quality, accessory, ease of use. apple iPad is just a better product than androids and hence they are ranked above android tabs. The reason behind you not finding any windows tablet in this post is, I don’t find any reason apart from MS Office to go for windows tabs. And now, since office is available in android and iOS, it looses even that advantage. That’s it.

1. apple iPad mini: Rs. 18k

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Browse on 7 inch tablet with aspect ratio 16:9 for an hour and then browse on iPad 8 inch with aspect ratio of 4:3. You will notice the difference in a minute. It is so easy and comfortable to browse on iPad that you will not get 16:9 tablet at all. And best part is, you can get brand new iPad mini (without retina display) just for 20k. That is a great product you can’t say no to.

Pro: Price, Build quality, Sound quality, UI, accessories (easy to find for iPad than any other tablet)

Cons: speaker should have been front facing

2. apple iPad air: Rs. 33k

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apple has raised bar little further with iPad air. android OEMs will catch up fast no doubt. But I believe this year’s launch of updated iPad will again give apple breathing space for some time. iPad air is for those who want bigger screen for enjoying movies and who want to replace laptop with iPad air + keyboard case (it works like charm). Apart from these two reasons, I don’t think I will prefer iPad air over oh-so-comfortable iPad mini.

Pro: Display

Cons: speaker should have been front facing

3. Nexus 7: Rs. 17k

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There are android tablets available for as low as 5k but they will give you crappy experience of android to the point that you will start repenting the decision of buying tablet. Here is the tablet which will give you amazing performance at competitive price. Though it is not better than iPad it is best one amongst the android tablets for sure. And hey, you will get fastest software upgrades for sure.

Pro: Display, fastest software upgrades

Cons: Speaker should have been front facing

4. asus Fonepad 7: Rs. 12.5k

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There is price war going on in tablet arena. This tablet is excellent example of that. This is decent little tablet in budget segment which will let you use android and enjoy it as well unlike those cheap android tablets which you will regret in short while after buying.

Pro: Price

Cons: Finesse, speakers should have been in front

5. adam II: Rs. 13.5k

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There are so few tablets which actually bring something new to already existing plain old tablets. Notion Ink has done it again. adam II is an excellent product, with a different fresh look at tablets. It has unique book like shape with one side of bezel thicker to hold it comfortably. You can read more about it at: http://adamstore.in/

Pro: Build quality, Front speakers, Unique

Cons: Screen resolution could have been better

Honourable mentions:

I am pretty skepticle of selling tablets for as low as 7k (HP Slate or Dell Venue 7) So, I have not ranked them none the less, they look promising.