Google Updates Sync Service for iPhone and iPad

Google Sync is a service from Google that keeps your phone’s native mail and calendar apps in sync with your Gmail, Calendar and Contacts.

An update to the service today has added three new features;

1. The ability to search all emails on Gmail, not just locally stored mail by iOS mail app.

2. Ability to send mail from a different account other than Gmail.

3. Accept, edit and decline calendar events from the iOS calendar app.

Both Gmail and Google Apps email users will benefit from these updates. You can follow this guide to set up Google Sync for your iOS device.

Unlocked iPhone 4 Goes on Sale in the US

Apple has somehow quietly started selling the iPhone unlocked to customers. Aimed at those who don’t want a ties to a single carrier or travel outside the US and would like to use their phones with local carriers, the 16GB model goes for $649.00 and $749.00 for the 32GB.

If you don’t want a multiyear service contract or if you prefer to use a local carrier when traveling abroad, the unlocked iPhone 4 is the best choice. It arrives without a micro-SIM card, so you’ll need an active micro-SIM card from any supported GSM carrier worldwide.

This sale is only GSM model, with the CDMA model still firmly remaining Verizon only for now. This move is going to be very interesting and we wait to see how it’s going to impact on the already declining market share of the iPhone in the US thanks to Google‘s Android OS.

Apple 0 – Nokia 1

The long running battle between Apple and Nokia has ended with a scoreline pleasing to Nokia. Cuppertino has been charged to one-time payment and royalties to the Finnish handset maker.

“We are very pleased to have Apple join the growing number of Nokia licensees. [T]his settlement demonstrates Nokia’s industry leading patent portfolio and enables us to focus on further licensing opportunities in the mobile communications market.” Stevem Elop, Nokia CEO

This ruling comes after an epic battle in European and American courts between the two handset rivals, with Apple to a large extent, being the strategic cause of Nokia’s woes following the introduction of the iPhone.

As Florian Mueller said on his blog, “other companies that Nokia will ask to pay royalties will have to think very hard whether to pay or pick a fight.” The amount of settlement is rumored to be in the millions of Dollars. 

It’s also not clear how this ruling is going to impact on Android handset manufacturers like HTC and Samsung, with Apple equally embroiled in a court battle over IP infringement claims. For now however, the scoreline is Nokia 1- Apple 0. Nokia fans can rejoice. Below is a map of the patents in question 

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Ubuntu Linux – Not yet a Pariah but heading there

Yes, the most popular Linux distro is working hard to become the pariah of the FOSS community. To give you a typical example, take the case of the GNOME / UNITY switch.

If I were Shuttleworth, I’d not ship Ubuntu with my in-house DE just yet. I’d rather ship the usual GNOME but put a small script somewhere to inform users that “look, we’re planning on shipping our own DE but think it’s not ready yet. We’ll need all the feedback we can get from you before shipping it as default. Click here if you want to install Unity and help us test.”

That is how you ship something as default that digesses radically from the norm. How much testing can be done between now and April? Why the rush to ship Unity when the effort used to develop it can be contributed to GNOME? Of course I know there’s always been a not so cordial relationship between Ubuntu and the upstream GNOME devs, but that is still not an excuse.

Then there is the case of that bloated music player called Banshee. A player that virtually crawls on my 1GB laptop is going to be shipped as default, and even that choice was also mirred in controversy. Did Canonical think because Apple can get away with whatever percentage it charges app devs using its app store so they can as well?

Oh but I forgot! Ubuntu takes a lot of inspiration from Apple? Remember the window button switch? Or the default themes? Ah yes Mac OS. I really like Ubuntu. It’s the only distro that I’ve used consistently on my personal computer and really admire the philosophy upon which it was founded. Hey the word Ubuntu is from my continent Ok? :-D.

That not withstanding however, I honestly can’t just understand why Canonical keeps committing one blunder after the other. Yes I’m aware the company must eventually make profit, but the strategy used to attain that goal should not be such that will alienate it from the community that is its lifeline! Errors are bound to be made, but are we learning from them as we ought to?

Apple- An Unsafe Bet

In as much as I am an anti-Apple fanatic, I really do appreciate the company for raising the ante in terms of user experience and thus helping in bringing about the current ‘UX race’ we are currently witnessing.

During the start of this week, news filtered in that Apple CEO Steve Jobs is taking a medical leave of absence (if it’s just not part of an Apple marketing strategy ahead of the launch of a product) and thus having the COO run the company’s day to day affairs.

Given the fact that Jobs has come to represent the company’s persona, I wondered how his absence will impact the company. The first place I turned to was the stock market where the price of Apple share fell by about 4.2 percent. This is really interesting because hitherto, the company’s stock was among the best performing ones out there, if not THE.

Again, this piqued my curiosity in the sense that here’s a company that has some of the most loyal and vociferous users in the world but yet has it’s entire charm, charisma and ‘lifeline’ vested in one man. The natural question that comes to mind here is, can Apple survive the demise of Jobs someday?

There’s also an interesting contrast here between Apple and arch rival Google in that the persona and charm of the latter is almost entirely represented by those six alphabets, completely omitting founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

I am no Apple user nor a Jobsian, but I’d really not like to see the company lose its market ‘potency’ someday in the absence of Jobs. More competitors generally work in the interest of end users and thus seeing that Apple has apparently invested so much in Uncle Jobs to me is an unsafe bet.

Dear Nokia, I was not completely right

I used to be one of those people that actually believed Nokia still has no device to match the iPhone. But it apparently turns out that I was consuming too much news from American journalists who mostly get free iPhones and thus have to justify it by singing the hell out of it.
The view I actually hold now is that Nokia has a device that Apple will never match. Yes. Apple will never produce a device to match Nokia’s N900 running the legendary Maemo OS. It’s not that Apple can’t produce the hardware or software, it’s that it’d be against their business strategy.
A portable netbook, with phoning functionalities, and everything in between, right in your pocket. That’s the N900. Apple is a company that makes money by selling incremental things to people that love to buy things in bits, well sort of. The first iPads did not have camera, USB and other things. The next gen ones will spot all of that. That’s the Apple game. Extract money from customers through the sale of ‘dysfunctional’ things and then charge them extra to make the thing whole.
Also, I’ve now come to the realisation that it’s really pointless comparing the N900 to the iPhone. One is a device that knows you bought it with your hard earned income and so it completely submits to your will. The other is a device that has been told that you loaned it from Cupertino and thus it only obeys what it’s told by Uncle Jobs. That’s a huge difference between the two.
Then again, on the issue of price, buying the N900 for approximately $442 beats the iPhone hands down, which goes for between $1000 and $1300. That’s a small fortune in my part of the world. I could go on and on. The bottom line is that Nokia has a completely different market strategy from Apple. One aims to satisfy a broad range of users with varying budgets. The other aims at the cream of the market with half baked but well marketed and highly hyped products.
So yes, the iPhone is a nice, well polished phone with some computing capabilities that resides in a nicely walled garden. The N900 on the other hand, is a portable computer with phoning capabilities that asks you, “what next do you want to do with me?” Perhaps the Oatmeal explains better what it’s like to own an Apple product.

What Is Happening to Technology Reporting these Days?

Copy and paste, App Store for desktop machines, multitasking. What do all these have in common? Pat yourself on the back if you answered they’re news. Yes, they’re news, in 2010/2011!

I never cease to be amazed at how tech journalism/blogging could be so shallow. Apple introduces the Mac store and it’s headlines almost instantly. Like seriously? The ability to manage programs on a computer from an integrated control centre is really news? Or multitasking for the iPhone?

Or take Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 upcoming update that is said to be coming with copy and paste. In 2011? And this is really news? Anyone who has used a feature phone from Nokia in the last Lord knows how long will really laugh at this. And yet we have writers falling over each other to report these mundane and almost anachronistic news.

In all honesty, I think tech reporting is fast falling into the gutters. Rather than critically questioning the status quo, techno journalists/bloggers rather swallow all the crapolla from companies like Apple and Microsoft and regurgitate to the mostly uninformed masses. We end up applauding companies for introducing things competitors had long ago and make it seem like a novel thing.

Thanks to blind fanboism of tech bloggers, iPhone users smile because they now can multitask, Mac OSX users because they now have an app store and Windows P7 users because they’ll be getting copy and paste soon. Let’s keep getting people enslaved to archaic platforms through our writings. That’s the new definition of journalism/blogging right?

Is Facebook the new Apple?

The ‘fanaticism’ with which Apple loyalists follow the company has always boggled my mind and I’m sure that of those who live outside most of the company’s reality distortion field. Nowadays however, Apple seems to have a competitor for unrelenting loyalists: Facebook.
The coverage of the recent announcement by the company (Facebook) of its new messaging system was a typical example of the Apple fanboyism in overdrive. Suddenly there were headlines screaming how the Facebook all in one messaging was going to be a Gmail killer and all sorts of hyperboles. 
Honestly, nothing Facebook has announced recently deserves all the media headlines it’s been getting especially from the North American giant tech blogs. But a service with a supposed more than half a billion *registered* users, every word from them is news. 
This brings me to the question, is Facebook the new Apple? With unrelenting press coverage and a desire by some bloggers to see everything get killed by Facebook, are we witnessing a new ‘cult of Facebook’ in the making?

Then too with a desire on the part of both companies to control every facet of your interaction with their respective platforms such that you only take what they think is right for you, I see a growing resemblance between the two companies.