TataSky – Everywhere TV? Not Really!

After having tried the TataSky “Everywhere TV” for almost two months, I would like to share my experience so far. I will be giving it up for the following reasons.

  1. The quality and usability
  2. The broadcast is crippled, not all programmes are available even on channels that are listed in “Everywhere TV”
  3. Does not work all the time. At times the video feed just does not come through at all
  4. The last, but not the least, is the customer support for this service. I have had TataSky since it came on the scene and have been quite satisfied with the customer support for DTH, but, not for the “Everywhere TV”

So, here goes the story of my experience…

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BBM for iOS and Android…Bypass the Queue!

Despite the scaling issues BBM has, it also has one open loophole to bypass the queue system. This is very similar to PasswordBox earlier.

The only pre-requisite is that you have an active BBM account, just like with PasswordBox earlier. You enter the email ID for your active BBM ID and then you get the option to create a new BBM ID. Thats it!

Really, it is that simple, provided you have at least one active BBM ID on iOS/Android.

Another Nothing Event from Apple in October 2013!

Excepting for the MacPro, which has been in the works for quite some time, this was yet another “nothing” event from Apple.

Seems that all the presenters were in a hurry to get home. There was no interest and nothing captivating about the presentations. Apple has not only forgotten all about innovation and design, they also seemed to have forgotten all about captivating presentations and pride in their products. It was mechanical words all over again.

To be fair, can one actually blame just the presentations? In reality, there was nothing to present excepting “customers wanted this and we did that (since we could not think of anything more or better)”.

Take the MacBooks for instance. Intel has a better processor, nVidia has better graphics, etc etc. All these innovative companies made progress and Apple put these together in the same old box. That’s innovation for Apple!

Mavericks will be a free upgrade because it’s the worst OS X upgrade ever made. But, to make it look better, a nothing demo of Safari and iBooks was on. Oh, BTW, let no one find out the next great feature for the next OS X release…cut-n-paste. It’s a top secret and Apple has been working on it for years to make the technology available “for it’s customers”. In a few years from now, OS XX will have a brand new feature which will allow you to cut-n-paste files right from the finder…another few years later, that would be expanded to the ability to cut-n-paste directories, full of files, at one go!!!

Personally, I doubt if people at Apple actually use their own products anymore. If that was not the case, how come they never ran into all the issues that my colleagues and I ran into with Mavericks? Perhaps this article is true.

Now that Mavericks is on the AppStore, there is an interesting line on it…the iCloud keychain requires iOS 7.0.3, which is also just released. I guess no one at Apple realised that this feature needed a future version os iOS 7 at the earlier presentation of iOS 7 and Mavericks! The only logical reason for Mavericks to be a free upgrade would be to get the majority of OS X users onto a current version, which would make the overall ecosystem even more powerful. I doubt if the current release of Mavericks is going to cut it.

Also, more more stuff will roll out for free, since Apple already has more money than it can actually spend. Hold on…Apple can always offset the free stuff by making more “official” accessories in “gorgeous” colours and can start charging the original .mac and .me paying users. Yep, sounds like an excellent strategy since Apple cannot do more than to create “innovative” accessories anymore!

Interestingly, this is the first instance where Apple will be cannibalising the sales of the iPad Air with the iPad Mini since they have the same specifications (supposedly). I think they would have crippled the Mini in some way that we will find out about once people get their hand on both.

Once again, unless there are more updates/changes to the formal Maverick release, than the current GM, it would not be an advisable upgrade for any normal user. Even the techies would have issues with figuring out work-arounds. So, unless you have a default OS X installation with a single partition and do not have multiple user accounts, do not have a time capsule and do not use multiple networks, stay off Maverick till Apple fixes the critical issues. Also, for good measure, you local HDD access will also be a nightmare using Finder. The command line in Terminal will come to your rescue most of the time. Of course, the overall UI/UX remains the same from the good old *nix and Solaris days…nothing changes there!

More on the official Mavericks once I download and check it out…although, I have very little hope of any improvement in this “free” upgrade.

BBM available for iOS and Android…Again!

Well…once again, Blackberry has made the BBM available for iOS and Android. The interesting fact of this rollout is that Blackberry has a queue system like MailBox and PasswordBox for iOS earlier. It would seem that a company that catered to millions of users should have been able to deal with the traffic caused by the new BBM users, but, like many startups, it chose to go the queue way.

Unlike the other startups that queued up users and scaled slowly to provide a better end user experience, Blackberry has major issues even with existing users like my account. It keeps telling me that I am in queue on my Android device. So much for end user experience.

Blackberry, like most others, seems to have missed the point of releasing BBM for iOS and Android. They have completely ignored the tablet segment. While this might seem okay for the Android part, ignoring the iPad is not a very wise idea.

Let’s see how the multi-platform BBM shapes up. For now, it does not look very encouraging.

Apple iOS 7, iTunes, iPhone 5x and OS X

As already mentioned in an earlier post, I believe that Apple has lost it. The design, the innovation, the ease of use, the relatively stable software…it’s all been thrown out of the door. Jobs put Apple light years ahead of the competition with the iPod and then the iPhone. Apple continues to make money because of this legacy, despite the current state of affairs.

Let’s take iOS 7 to begin with. The radical re-design is more like a kiddy project with garish colours and the overall UI being harsh and the UX almost completely destroyed. The maps disaster remains intact, the UI/UX almost completely destroyed, the ease of use and the visual clues gone. The release contains security bugs as before. The interesting part about the “maps” is that Apple continues to use Google Maps on the web site for “Find my iPhone” rather than it’s own, so called, non-existent, Apple maps. This, itself, shows the complete disconnect in Apple today.

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Apple iOS 7 – GM & iPhone 5C and 5S

Well…after trying to come to terms with the “nothing” Apple event of September 10th and a day with the GM of iOS7, I can probably echo the thoughts of many Apple device users and the stock market…Apple has lost it.

While most people would agree to the fact that Apple has some of the best talent in terms of developers and designers, they alone, cannot really do much. The current Apple “leadership” has to shoulder the responsibility for this.

They legacy that they (Apple) inherited is so strong that the momentum will continue to make money for some years to come. Given the fact that the other mobile OSes are not really anywhere close to the iDevice ecosystem, the current Apple “big guns” will continue to make money while the company faces a downtrend.

In an earlier post, I had mentioned the fact that if Apple brings out another cheap variation of the iPhone, then, we could be sure that the company had lost it.

When the rumours of the iPhone 5C (I still call it cheap, even though it’s not) surfaced, it was disturbing. Then, there was the thought that…why not? People who had not used an iPhone because of the price barrier, would probably go for it. The drawback might be that Apple might not be able to deal with the massive traffic caused by a cheaper iPhone variant.

Alas, that was not to be. The Apple “leadership” had other ideas. The iPhone 5C is not cheap by any standards. Then, one has to wonder as to why the 5C was even created…? Logically, it would seem that the 5C was created to make a lower end iPhone 5 so that the 5S would look like a premium option. If we compare the iPhone 5 and 5S, I have serious doubts that the majority would pay a premium for the 5S. To be honest, I would wonder why people would pay a premium for the 5S since the 4S would be free on contract. If all I wanted was a faster device to play games, I would not be purchasing a phone.

Again, I already mentioned in an earlier post that for the majority, a phone is a phone. People who go after the latest and greatest will pay for the 5S, but, people who use the iPhone as a “smartphone”, will probably skip it.

If we look at the track record of Apple since Jobs, it has gone just one way…down. The iOS 6 and the so called Apple “Maps” disaster continues even in iOS 7 GM. iOS 7 itself, was a disaster to begin with. Although somewhat toned down to be just about usable now. The UI might be acceptable just because it needed a change, the UX remains terrible. The built-in apps are completely inconsistent in terms of UI and UX. The calendar app remains unusable. The choice of colours is absolutely atrocious, specially in the case of calls.

While some people, myself included, would have accepted any incremental change in the UI simply because it was needed, the iOS 7 UI was not it. It lags iOS 6 in terms of usability and consistency.

While Apple claims to have added “n” number of “new” features, they forget to mention the fact that all of these “n” number of features existed in the 10+ year old Nokia phones. Of course, the usability of these “new” features is questionable. For example, none of the lists in iOS 7 GM are indexed even now. You can keep scrolling up and down even in the notifications under settings and spend a lifetime there. The block list is scattered across 3 different locations with no navigation/grouping or anything to make it usable…not even stats of blocks! Pathetic!

The entire history of Apple devices, since Jobs, reflects the same pattern. The same applies to the laptops and OS X. A company, once known for it’s attention to detail, design and innovation, seems to be going off on a tangent now.

For example, take iTunes. Even though the iOS 7 has reached GM, there is not even a beta that supports the folders in iOS 7. Never before, in the history of iOS or iDevices, has this happened.

To summarize, given the fragmentation of Android, the state of affairs of BlackBerry and the similar state of the Microsoft-Nokia combine, the iDevices and iOS, despite their faults, will continue to rule the premium segment for sometime to come. The only hope of something better, might come from Microsoft, if at all. Of course, there is a slim chance that it could come from a completely new source.

Lastly, like most iDevice users, I can only hope that there is some serious re-jig at Apple which would change it’s current direction and go back to being the company we all admired and invested in. Not a company that goes into selling leather jackets/covers and docks for devices just to try and make some more money…

iMessage, WhatsApp, Viber, Tango….which one to choose?

Now that WhatsApp has reverted to a yearly subscription model on the iPhone, it is no longer free on any platform. So, what are the other options that we have to communicate across devices and even desktops that are still free?

iMessage and FaceTime

Well, for all iDevices, simple messaging and sharing can be done easily using iMessage. With the upcoming iOS 7, FaceTime will also be available as a voice only call besides video calling. So, while most of the current iDevice owners have no real issues of communication between other iDevice users, a choice has to be made for friends and family that are not using iOS based devices.

WhatsApp

While WhatsApp gained popularity by virtue of being pre-installed on a huge variety of Android based phones, it is no longer free on any platform and lacks voice (VoIP) besides other features. The fact that WhatsApp is essentially a “Telephony” app, it does not support tablets or any device that does not have basic telephony capability like SMS and voice calling.

Fring

Fring is yet another option. Like WhatsApp and some others, it is a “telephony” only app. Fring, like Skype, also allows you to make phone calls globally for a charge. Fring is primarily a Skype rival with better features and quality.

Skype

Skype needs no introduction. It has been around for quite some time and is best known for it’s VoIP calls to normal phones. Skype has bounced around from company to company and is currently a Microsoft product. Skype does not support many of the features of the messaging apps mentioned here. It also retains the legacy mode of having a user ID to log into the app and add “friends” manually. This legacy mode allows Skype to support phones and tablets.

Viber

While Viber remains a multi-platform, free favourite for many, it is not as well known as WhatsApp. Like WhatsApp, Viber is also a “telephony” app and only supports devices that have basic telephony features like SMS/voice calling. Viber has all the features of WhatsApp, plus voice calling and desktop support. It also has a nifty feature of being able to transfer a voice (VoIP) call to and from a desktop to the phone. Viber is also adding video calling which would make it even more complete.

KakaoTalk

KakaoTalk is a Viber rival. It is possibly even lesser known that Viber. It also includes group voice calls.

Tango

Tango is somewhat different from all the above in the sense that it is not a “telephony” only app. It supports Tablets/iPods as well. It has all the features of the above messaging apps, plus some. The most recently added feature being “friend discovery”. It will show you a list of all Tango users around your location allowing you to discover new friends. Like the above apps, Tango has text/group messaging, voice and video calls and more.

Conclusion

While there are plenty of other options, these are some of the older and more stable applications around. So, which one is right for you?

The answer is simple, all of them are free, try them and use all or one that you like most. Personally, I prefer Viber for the most part, even though I have all of them installed on my iPhone.

WhatsApp for iPhone – Free for a limited time

Want to have a common chat platform with people on the Android platform? WhatsApp is currently free for iOS for a limited time. Get it here.

In case you are looking for a better alternative, check out Viber. This is free on all platforms including desktop versions. Viber also features great voice calling quality with the ability to transfer a call from the desktop to the phone and vice-versa.

Apple iOS 7 – Beta 3 – Finally some UI changes

After a day with iOS 7 B3, I do see some changes to the eye jarring UI. Although the changes are minor, it does show. The UI is somewhat less hurting on the eyes, but, it still needs a lot of work. Some of the completely atrocious icons remain as they were as also the colours in various apps. Most of the “translucent” nonsense of the UI are gone including in the notifications and the control centre making them more visible. All “visual” UI elements, like buttons etc, which are actually non-visual in iOS 7, still remain in the form of plain text.

The UI and the UX remain as inconsistent as earlier. If I go into the normal spotlight search, I see a dark background keyboard, but, if I am typing a message etc, it’s still the white background keyboard. The inconsistency shows even within a single app. For instance, if I search for an app in the AppStore, I get a white background keyboard, but, when entering the password for the AppStore in the same app, I get a dark background keyboard. Interestingly, it did not ask me to switch stores this time, only the password for the other store.

I got a couple of calls while the iPhone was locked and this part of the UI seems to have become worse. I simply could not see any visual clues. The text on the “slide to answer” was invisible. The only reason I could pick the call was because I am used the overall iPhone UI.

Still no photos in the contact list, only in the favourites. iMessage, and perhaps other apps, have a changed drill down to reach the actual contact detail. I was not able to send/share a vCard on iMessage even though typed text messages went out fine.

Some more apps now work with B3, although a lot of the beta kind of bugs remain. The notifications can still be a bit off at times. Still no “home” or “lock device” or any custom options for the control centre which would would make it far more useful. No notifications for GMail as yet either.

The overall UI remains the same, talking up far more space than iOS 6 to display the same amount of data. The visual clues still remain absent.

The biggest, acknowledged disaster, of the so called “maps” by Apple remains as it was, nullifying most of the applications dependent on location and actual maps.

Let’s wait and see if B4 has any more improvements in the UI/UX and if Apple will actually try and fix the first biggest disaster to hit iOS…the so called “maps” from Apple.