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Is the Pixel Perfect? We ponder the new Pixel by Google

Is the Pixel Perfect? We ponder the new Pixel by Google

Is the Pixel Perfect? We ponder the new Pixel by Google

Did you know Google launched a new smartphone device last week?
It was a surprise on the day, but now you can't miss it.

The new Pixel Phone by Google has arrived and it means business.

Set to replace their Nexus range of products, Pixel is "the first phone built by Google inside and out".

Regular readers will know that we at iASP Central are difficult to please.
We aren't the types to jump ship to the latest gear, only to the greatest gear.

In the past we've liked the Apple iPhone 6, loved the Apple iPhone 6S, laughed at the Apple iWatch, and didn't even review the iPhone 7.

So let's find out if the Google Pixel will stick, or if it looks to be a dead Pixel.

The Hardware

Just like the Apple iPhone, the Google Pixel is available in two sizes - The Pixel and the Pixel XL - with the Pixel XL being the iPhone Plus equivalent.

And on paper, the new Google Pixel defeats the Apple iPhone 7 hands down.

Just the presence of a headphone jack will be enough for some to consider the argument over, but there are more important things to consider.

When you compare the two side by side, the Google Pixel is always slightly better than the Apple iPhone. Not surprising really.

This means the biggest differentiator will be between the operating systems and their ease-of-use.

The Software

As you know, Apple's iOS has won the global market in terms of usability.
The simplicity in learning how to use an iPhone for the first time is the root of the iPhone's success.

And while the Android OS has been available on several different devices (most notably the Samsung Galaxy), Android devices still haven't reached the benchmark set by the iPhone.
Nobody is walking around saying "I want it to be as simple to use as an Android".

Google's latest phone might just change this perception however.

And as always, it's the little-big differences.

For example, the Pixel is the first phone that has Google Assistant built into it.
And when you look at it, this could be a game changer.

Google Assistant is more than just a voice activated bot that you give commands to.
Imagine Siri, but with AI learning capabilities that enable it to remember past conversations, and understand you better each time you use it.

Plus, Google Assistant can be used in everything from your smartwatch, to your smartphone, to your car, to your home. It isn't just limited to one or two devices like Siri or Cortana. So you can ask Google Assistant to turn on your TV and start playing a Youtube video, from your car as you're pulling into the driveway.

Apple doesn't appear to have anything close to this capability... yet.

As Google's chief executive said during the launch, "Our goal is build a personal Google for each and every user."

This might be a little spooky for some people, but it does seem to be the future we are heading towards.

And what might just be the final nail-in-the-coffin, is the Quick Switch Adapter that comes standard with every Pixel phone.

One long-standing excuse for iPhone users to stay with iPhone was the excruciating task of transferring "everything" from an iPhone to an Android device.

Not anymore.

The Quick Switch Adapter allows you to transfer just about everything from any device running Android 5.0 and up, and iOS 8 and up, across to the Pixel phone.
And it doesn't involve any great depth of geek knowledge to do it.

The Verdict

The new Pixel Phone by Google is definitely a new challenger in the smartphone market. With features and functionality that is on-par with the Apple iPhone, the line that once clearly separated the iPhones from the Androids is becoming blurry.

If you do have an iPhone 6 or an iPhone 7, you won't find much reason to go out and get yourself a new Google Pixel today.

And if you aren't across all of Google's latest technologies (you're still a way off buying your first smart car, and building your first smart home), you probably won't get much more out of a Google Pixel phone than you would from an Apple iPhone.

But if your smartphone is getting on in years, and it's time to upgrade, you might want to give the Google Pixel a test run.

The Google Pixel is very comparable to the latest Apple iPhone.
The differences between the two for the average person will come down to your personal preferences.

Smartphone users now need to start considering the other smart-devices they use, and put device compatibility at the forefront of their buying decisions.

You'll either be an Apple user, or a Microsoft user, or now perhaps, a Google user.

What do you think about Google's new phone? Let us know on the iASP Central Facebook Page, or Get in Touch.


We Review Two iPhone 6's

We Review Two iPhone 6's

We Review Two iPhone 6's

The Apple iPhone 6s (and 6s Plus) were released last week, along with the highly unexpected Apple Pencil and new Smart Keyboard for iPad Pro.

The initial response has been largely positive from both the tech industry and the ever-faithful iFollowers.

I invested in an iPhone 6 last year, so I thought I'd compare the pair to see what extra features and benefits I would now be enjoying if I had waited for the iPhone 6s.

To cut to the chase, in my opinion both models are more or less the same but for a handful of small improvements. So while I won't rushing out to replace my iPhone 6, there is a case to justify the investment. Jump to the bottom to see why.

According to the Apple website: the only thing that's changed in the new iPhone 6s is "everything".

At face value however, the iPhone 6s it looks strikingly similar (in fact identical) to it's predecessor, which you may recall "everything" was also the only thing was changed when the original iPhone 6 hit the streets!

Before we look at the new features of the iPhone 6s in more detail, let's start with a straight comparison to the iPhone 6.

Capacity: Both models are available with 16GB and 64GB of storage capacity. The iPhone 6s also has a 128GB option for those that can't fit enough Youtube on their current model.

Display: The original iPhone 6 has a 4.7" LED-backlit widescreen Multi-Touch display with IPS technology, 1334-by-750-pixel resolution at 326 ppi, 1400:1 contrast ratio (typical), 500 cd/m2 max brightness (typical), Full sRGB standard, Dual-domain pixels for wide viewing angles, Fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating, Support for displaying multiple languages and characters simultaneously, Display Zoom aaaannnnddd Reachability...whatever that means!

The new iPhone 6s comes with all of that PLUS: next-generation Multi-Touch display with IPS technology and Taptic Engine!

What is a Taptic Engine? It's a new form of feedback from the screen in the form of subtle taps.

That's right, you don't tap iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s taps you! Cool.

Weight & Dimensions: A real let-down for the iPhone 6s is it's size and weight compared to the iPhone 6.

The iPhone 6s is 0.2mm taller, 0.1mm wider and 0.2mm thicker! And it's significantly heavier. A good 14g heavier than the iPhone 6.

Processor (Chip): As with most new model releases by Apple, the new iPhone model comes with the latest A chip - the A9 chip - Embedded with the M9 motion coprocessor, it's a step up from the A8 chip that only has the M8 motion coprocessor (and it isn't even embedded).

Cellular & Wireless: In this category, both models are almost exactly the same.

You have your usual UMTS/HSPA+, DC-HSDPA, CDMA EV-DO Rev. A, GPS and GLONASS, VoLTE and NFC.

The iPhone 6s takes a small step forward however, as it comes with 4G LTE Advanced (over iPhone 6's plain 4G LTE), Bluetooth 4.2 (over iPhone's Bluetooth 4.0) and 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi with MIMO (over iPhone's MIMO-less 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi).

Touch ID: The iPhone 6 brought a brand new feature to the table with it's Touch ID finger print sensor built right into the home button that allows users to spend minutes trying to get their thumbprint to match correctly so they could unlock their smartphone rather than the excruciating seconds it took before to tap in 4 digits.

The iPhone 6s ups the ante however, with it's Second-Generation fingerprint sensor, also built right into the home button.

iSight Camera: The camera is where the iPhone 6s starts to shine over it's former model. Again, we see only slight improvements in most of the camera's features, but the iPhone 6s is improved by a 12-megapixel iSight camera with 1.22µ pixels (formerly 8-megapixel iSight camera with 1.5µ pixels).

Video Recording: Video enthusiasts will be happy to find that the new iPhone 6s comes with 4K video recording (3840 by 2160) at 30 fps (something the old model doesn't have at all), as well as Slow-motion video support for 1080p at 120 fps, and 720p at 240 fps, and playback zoom! Everything else is the same.

FaceTime Camera: Apart from the higher megapixel photos and Retina Flash, the FaceTime Camera on both models are exactly the same.

Everything Else: Everything else that the iPhone has - Battery Life, Audio Playback, Video Playback, Siri even the headphones... they're all the same across both models.



The New Features

The new iPhone 6s does come with new features that the iPhone 6 does not have.

New Aluminium: The new iPhone 6s is made from a new aluminium alloy, the same grade used in the aerospace industry, so it's fit for re-entry into the atmosphere.

Fun Fact: Compare the Australian Apple website to the US website - it says aluminum on the US site, and aluminium on the Aussie version - now that's catering for your local audience!

New Colour: With this new aluminium alloys comes a new aluminium colour: Rose Gold, which I think looks more like sunset salmon copper, but that's just my opinion.

3D Touch: 3D Touch is a flash way of saying that the iPhone 6s screen, like it's little brother the iWatch, now has pressure sensors and behaves different according to "how deeply you press the display".

3D Touch now allows you to Peek and Pop - the next dimension in functionality - that also provides you with feedback so you can feel what you've done.

Here's a prediction: iHipsters will now rank and file based upon how many alerts they can "peek" at before tapping too hard and "popping" instead.

Live Photos: The stand out new feature on the iPhone 6s, without doubt, is Live Photos.

Touted as "An entirely new way to bring your still photos to life."

I won't try to explain it any better than Apple already have - "At the heart of a Live Photo is a beautiful 12-megapixel photo. But together with that photo are the moments just before and after it was taken, captured with movement and sound." - OK, maybe I can explain it better: it's a 3 second video...


The Final Review

The iPhone 6s is, without a doubt, exactly what the iPhone 6 should have been when it was released... There is still reason why I suggest you strongly consider the iPhone 6s however.

It's not because I'm a rabid iFollower that upgrades to every model the week it is released.

No, I suggest you buy this model so you can get into the 2-year s-model rotation instead of the regular model rotation.

Then, instead of waiting weeks for your new iPhone 7 to ship after it's predicted September 2016 release, 12 months later you'll breeze into your local Apple store and grab a new phone with all the features lacking in the previous model!

Genius or what?


The Apple, the Watch and the Wardrobe

The Apple, the Watch and the Wardrobe

The Apple, the Watch and the Wardrobe

Earlier this month, Apple launched the latest version of the iPhone. Alongside the new iPhone, Apple also launched the newest of their products, the highly anticipated Apple Watch.

Will the latest Apple gadget follow in the footsteps of it's world-changing ancestors: break the competition and dominate the market? A week after the launch (but months before it actually hits the streets) and the Jury is still out.

Forgetting and dismissing all of the rumours of what the Apple Watch would come with, lets look at the base specs, and then find the nearest competitor to compare against.

To begin with, the Apple Watch comes in 3 versions - The Apple Watch, the Apple Watch Sport, and the Apple Watch Edition.

The difference between the 3 models is: The material of the casing, the material protecting the display, and the band (which is interchangeable on the Apple Watch and Apple Watch Edition).

The Apple Watch is cased in polished stainless steel or space black stainless steel, with sapphire crystal over the display.
The Apple Watch Sport case is made from anodized aluminium in silver and space grey (think Mac Book look), making this model much lighter than the other two, and has Ion-X glass over the display.
The Apple Watch Edition case is crafted from 18-carat gold (available in yellow or rose gold), and the display is protected by sapphire crystal as well.
While the Apple Watch Sport lucks out with choice of bands (only the sports bands is available, but in a range of colours), the other two models have a selection of different bands to choose from that will suit most everyone.

Apart from this, the 3 models are identical in features and technology.

The Apple Watch will allow you to receive notifications, as well as send and receive messages, phone calls and e-mail all through the device's User Interface. A new level of communication is added through the new Digital Touch feature, which allows you to share a sketch, a tap, or a heart-beat with another Apple Watch user - which they can view or feel (as is the case for a tap or heart-beat). The Apple Watch also features an integrated fitness tracker to monitor your movements and activity (or lack thereof), and can help you to set and achieve your fitness goals.

The Apple Watch, as we've come to expect from Apple, has been designed to be intuitive and easy to use. The face of the watch is touch-screen that functions just like touch-navigation on other Apple devices, but also has new ways to get around. On the side is the "Digital Crown", which allows you to control the zoom of the display and doubles as the home button. On the bottom of the watch is the recharge contact point, as well as sensors that can detect your pulse, and a vibration unit that allows the watch to let you know when something needs your attention...and you can use Apple's voice command platform: Siri.

From our perspective one of the most exciting features of the Apple Watch is Apple Pay, a new generation of tap-and-go payment technology. Apple Pay is part of iOS 8, and is also on the iPhone 6, but having an Apple Watch will not only save you the need to carry credit cards, it will also save you having to even get your phone out! The system launches in the US first and we expect it here in Australia some time later in 2015 - as one of Australia's leading providers of e-commerce and m-commerce systems, here at Hub Com Digital we can't wait for it!

Perhaps what lets the Apple Watch down however is that the device must apparently be tethered to an iPhone 5 or 6. Everything the Apple Watch requires from GPS or Internet is provided by the iPhone, which apparently improves the battery life. This might seem trivial now, since every smart watch available at the moment has this same requirement; but the Samsung Gear S, which was unveiled in Berlin recently and is set for release shortly after Apple Watch, will come with its own SIM Card to remove this dependence. When you take into account everything that both devices offer and had to sacrifice, only time will tell how damaging this exclusion will be.

The Apple Watch also drew criticism from some who claimed it could not be used by Left Handers. As has since been found however, the watch does have a left-handed mode, and the crown does flip the User Interface around; so "Mollydookers" need not despair!

The only competitor that is markedly comparable to the Apple Watch at present seems to be the Samsung Gear 2, however Samsung will be releasing the latest version of the Gear - the Gear S - very soon. For the sake of the argument, we'll only compare the latest from Apple with the latest from Samsung, keeping in mind that both will become available to buy around about the same time, and both are keeping very mum about the finer details.

The Samsung Galaxy S has a 2" (51mm) curved AMOLED screen, a dual core 1.0GHz processor with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal memory, and comes with WiFi, BlueTooth and USB 2.0 connectivity. Compared to the Apple Watch, with a screen that is 42mm or 38mm (give or take a millimetre) and an industry first computer-on-a-chip. Processor speed, RAM and internal memory are not mentioned anywhere yet, but the S1 chip in the Apple Watch is said to be comparable to the new A8 chip in the iPhone 6.

Both smart watches come with a heart-rate sensor, and accelerometer. The Samsung Gear S kicks it up a notch by also coming with a gyroscope, a compass, light and UV sensors and a barometer (for when you're outside and want to know if a storm is coming).

Both smart watches go at lengths to show how customisable their device is, allowing you to change this part and that part to suit your style. On both, you can change the band of the watch, the clock face, probably even more. So no real notable differences on that front.

The only notable exclusion with the Samsung Gear S is an Apple Pay equivalent, but it is safe to assume that there'll be an app for that soon enough.

It seems that what the Apple Watch lacks, the Samsung Gear S makes up for; and what the Samsung Gear S lacks, the Apple Watch makes up for. The final decision is really going to come down to what smart phone you already use (or are willing to change to). Despite being able to use the Samsung Gear S on the go without needing to be within cooee of your phone, chances are that you're going to have your phone with you most times anyway to cover the gap between what the phone provides and what the watch doesn't (games, apps, video, etc). But it would be nice to duck out for a walk or a run without needing to have your phone strapped to you somewhere.

If you have an iPhone, you'll love the Apple Watch and won't miss the features that the Samsung range will offer. If you have a Samsung Galaxy, you'll love the Samsung Gear S, and will be willing to overlook the clunkiness that Apple seems to remove from their products.

Having said all of this, rumour has it that Microsoft are working on their own smart watch, that will be compatible with Windows, Android and Apple devices, just to make the choice even more difficult.

What are your thoughts? Watch the (very impressive) films of the Apple Watch. Let me know if you found it just as difficult to not be swept up in the awe. What is your first impression of the Apple Watch? Does it compare to the Samsung Gear? Let us know on the iASP Central Facebook Page, or Get in Touch.


Apple Launches Biggest Advancement in History.. of iPhone.

Apple Launches Biggest Advancement in History.. of iPhone.

Apple Launches Biggest Advancement in History.. of iPhone.

Many Apple fans around the world despaired as Apple's servers crashed under the global embrace during their new product launch event on September 9th.

As much as I planned to resist, I too was taken in by the innovation and overall fabulousness of the 2 new Apple iPhone 6 models: the 4.7" iPhone 6 and 5.5" iPhone 6 Plus.

You can compare iPhone 6 and iPhone 5 models together on the iPhone model comparison page of the Apple website.

The boss has already pre-ordered his new iPhone 6 - he's upgrading from an iPhone 5, and after using that phone for a couple of years and having a large-screen Galaxy Note II as his back-up, he reckons the new 4.7" version with 64Gb of storage will suit him perfectly...the 5.5" version is just that little too big, and he carries a full size tablet most places, so really had no need for a "phablet".

I too will be in the queue to get the new iPhone from the 19th (and reckon since I'm still sporting the now doubly-redundant iPhone 4, I should get priority).

Along with the 2 new iPhone 6 models (and the Apple Watch, which we'll look at next time), Apple also announced the release of the next generation of their mobile operating system: IOS8, which will open the door to a new level of innovations from the App Development community, along with the US introduction of Apple Pay - a technology that turns Apple devices into a virtual credit card - that has the potential to finally replace the fundamentally flawed "plastic" cards we now use as virtual currency.

Our US payment gateway partner Authorize.Net announced integration with Apple Pay within 24 hours of it's launch and we expect our local payment gateway partners to all over this exciting new innovation. Watch this space!

Rather than rewrite what has already been written over 9000 times across the Internet, instead, we will save you the search and list the best resources about Apple's latest offering to the Gods..

Got an opinion? What do you think about the new iPhone range? Does it stack up to the competition? Let us know on the iASP Central Facebook Page, or Get in Touch.


4 Current Super Über KickStarter Projects

4 Current Super Über KickStarter Projects

4 Current Super Über KickStarter Projects

KickStarter is creating a global buzz as a powerful way to gain funding to get new projects off the ground. 

Since the website's launch in 2009, over 60,000 projects have been funded, with over US$1 billion being pledged by over 6 million people around the world. 

A couple of  notable projects that have been kickstarted:

  • The Oculus Rift, a Virtual Reality headset famous for being bought out by Facebook owner Mark Zuckerburg, which received almost US$2.5 million in pledges from backers

  • Reading Rainbow, a project restarted by LeVar Burton (the actor who played Geordi La Forge on Star Trek: Next Generation), a free for schools digital library project to teach children to read. This project smashed expectations when it reached its US$1 million target in just 12 hours!! The project currently has over US$4 million with 6 days to go. Check out the project on Kickstarter

While Kickstart may be better known for projects in creative industries such as fashion, design, art, music, games or theater, there's plenty of notable projects in the Technology category that caught the eye of the Hub Com Digital team.

Here's a few Technology projects we think are great ideas...

  1. Umbrella USB: A little USB jack that you can plug in between your USB charger cable and a USB port which eliminates the threat of data theft via "Juice Jacking". The is especially handy if you use computers on public networks to charge your devices.
    This project has pledges of almost double it's US$10K target with another week to go.

  2. Sherlybox: The Sherlybox is described as a cloud without the cloud. It allows you to manage and share your files securely without the need for a public cloud service like DropBox or Google Drive; and the software with it allows teams to work on the same files without over-riding one another. Pretty cool.
    This project has pledges of almost US$120K, nearly double it's target with 8 days left.

  3. iFind: Keep losing things? Stick an iFind tag on it and you'll never have trouble finding it again. iFind is battery free, and communicates with your smartphone device via BlueTooth to help you locate an item that has been tagged, or to notify if a tagged item is out of range. And if you lose your phone, you can find it with an iFind tag. Perfect!
    This project has attracted more than 20 times it's target pledges with more than US500K raised with 4 days to go.

  4. The 360cam: Billed as the world's first full HD 360 degree camera. This uber-cool device allows image and video capture of full 360 degree panorama's from the palm of your hand.
    No wonder this project has attracked over 3,000 backers who have pledged nearly US1.2M a whopping 800% of it's goal - and the best news is there's still 8 days to go to get on board!

What's the best Android smart phone on the market?

What's the best Android smart phone on the market?

What's the best Android smart phone on the market?
If you're like us, you're torn between the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC One. Both have powerful components and run Google Android's Jelly Bean OS, but are suited to different needs.

The HTC One hit the market in March 2013 and the Samsung Galaxy followed on it's heels in April 2013. In terms of design, the HTC One takes gold. Machined from a solid block of aluminum, it has a more square look but is visually softened by it's rounded corners and convex back.

Although slimmer and lighter than the HTC One, the Samsung S4 closely resembles its predecessor and appears cheapened by the plastic backing. In sharp contrast to it's cheap external appearance, its photo capabilities are far superior to the HTC One. The Samsung S4 has a 13 megapixel BSI Sensor and 2MP user face sensor meaning that it produces a clearer shot.

If you're after a sturdier sleeker looking phone, the choice is definitely the HTC One, but if you rely on your phone for quick quality photo production, you'll want a Samsung S4.