I was sceptical when the first stories appeared claiming Apple was losing its way. Styling the modest improvements in the iPhone 5 as evidence of a company on the slide seemed overblown. Yet recent experiences suggest that Apple products are becoming unreliable – the curse that Apple fans have long attributed to Microsoft products.
Take the iLife suite. A bargain, as it comes with every Mac. But Apple hasn’t updated iLife for two and a half years – an eternity in the IT world. And many of the iLife apps are showing their age in frustrating fashion.
I loved emailing iPhoto images to Dad. But no matter how many tweaks I make, iPhoto has stopped emailing. No point checking email account settings – it just doesn’t work.
iPhoto won’t email photos any more
It’s a similar story in iMovie. Sometimes it will post movies to YouTube. Usually it won’t. It seems to be related to the Mac going to sleep during the upload.
This kind of frustration is par for the course with Microsoft, but Apple claims higher standards. But as the Maps fiasco showed, Apple’s attention to detail is failing. It doesn’t mean that Apple is in crisis, but it is a warning sign. Apple needs to pay more attention. Otherwise we’ll hesitate to pay premium prices for below premium products.
Jadu CEO Suraj Kika explains Weejot Donate at today’s launch
The smartphone has changed our lives. We shop, share and pay on the go. And we’re increasingly giving to charity on our mobile and tablet – with almost 60 per cent of PayPal donations to this year’s Comic Relief Red Nose Day being made in this way.
Today’s launch of Weejot Donate will make it far easier for charities of all sizes to take mobile donations. It allows them to create ‘web apps’ – apps that are just as easy to use as apps made specially for platforms like iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch) and Android, but run in the web browser on almost any device. This means a charity’s supporters don’t need to download anything. And the good cause can create a personalised app in under an hour, with no technical expertise. They can even let donors to share news of their contributions on social networks.
The service has been created by Weejot, Jadu‘s web app publishing service, with PayPal enabling its fast, secure donation payments. Alzheimer’s Society is the first charity to create apps using Weejot Donate.
You can find out more at Weejot.com. And Jadu’s chief executive Suraj Kika has blogged about it here. (Suraj created an app in three minutes at today’s launch in Westminster.)
PS: I was intrigued to learn from Alzheimer’s Society’s Liz Monks that many people with Alzheimer’s use Facebook to keep track of family and friends. As Liz observed, it’s remarkable that a social network created for students is now helping alleviate some of the effects of dementia.
Disclosure: I am head of PR for PayPal UK.
As I blogged on Saturday, I’ve just joined the 4G revolution with a Huawei E539 mifi device from EE. I was very keen to give it a test drive.
So far, so good, although I can’t say I’ve been overwhelmed – so far. I’ve not noticed a transformed experience compared with my Three 3G service. And EE’s website claim that they have 4G coverage in my street and the surrounding area proved plain wrong.
I shouldn’t be too harsh. You can see from the speed test below that EE was dramatically better than Three’s 3G service in London’s Green Park yesterday. (The top two results in the screenshot.) EE 4G scored 8.30 Mbps compared with Three’s 0.80 Mbps. And just look at the upload speed: an impressive 12.82 Mbps. I can’t dispute the figures; it’s just that I’ve not yet noticed a wild difference in my day to day online experience on the go. I’ll let you know if that changes after I’ve given it a more comprehensive test drive.
EE speed test: 8.30Mbps v 0.80Mbps on 3G
Quite an entrance: the London Web Summit
Friday’s London Web Summit in London was an eye-opener. The most striking contributor was Saul Klein from Index Ventures, a major UK tech investor. Klein pointed out that Britain has the world’s largest internet-based economy by population. The UK’s digital businesses now make up 8 per cent of the economy. He added that London is the world’s top English language city on Facebook.
But he argued that the British government and too many UK companies aren’t doing enough to understand and embrace the online revolution. He pointed to Kodak and HMV as examples of brands that had been destroyed by their failure to come to terms with the internet. Klein said that the media and retail industries aren’t dying – they’re just changing. Smart brands recognise this and embrace change.
Mashery‘s Oren Michels also shared some striking trends. While mobile is booming, the growth in usage is in apps, not mobile browsing. (Mobile web traffic actually fell last year.)
It was intriguing to watch Wall Street Journal Europe’s Ben Rooney interviewing Mike Lynch, the former chief executive of Autonomy, bought by HP for $10 billion in 2011. The deal has become hugely controversial after HP’s new chief executive Meg Whitman accused Autonomy of inflating its earnings. Lynch told Rooney that HP, the UK’s financial reporting regulator and the US financial regulator have not been in touch over the issue.
PayPal’s John Lunn at London Web Summit
Few tech events these days are complete without a discussion of payments, and John Lunn from PayPal took part in a discussion panel with Stripe‘s Patrick Collison and Sebastian Siemiatkowski from Klarna. John announced that PayPal was making available APIs for PayPal Here, enabling developers to create opportunities from the face to face payment service, which is being launched in Britain this summer. He also reminded us that 2016 is likely to be the year that you won’t need a wallet to go shopping on the UK high street – a smartphone or tablet will be enough.
Finally, it was good to hear from Matt Mullenweg, the co-founder of WordPress.com, given that I joined WordPress last year.
Disclosure: I’m head of PR for PayPal UK.
As I blogged earlier, I’ve just joined the 4G revolution with a Huawei E589 4G mifi device from EE.
The device is a lot bigger than my Three 3G Huawei E586, but opens up the possibility of superfast mobile internet.
The first thing I wanted to do was to change the device’s SSID (the name it broadcasts) and network key (password). To do this, I had to access a web management page. According to the Huawei E589 user guide, this involves typing http://192.168.1.1 into your web browser.
This didn’t work for me, on a 2012 MacBook Pro or 2007 HP Windows laptop.
Then I cracked it. I switched my laptop’s wifi connection from my home broadband’s wifi router to the mifi. (The mifi was connected to the laptop by USB cable.) I then typed the web management address, above. This opened the web management page. I was able to change the SSID and network key to something more meaningful.
It’s a shame that the E589 doesn’t come with any instructions. Or that the online manual is far from clear. I hope this post will help you get started.
EE to go
I’ve just joined the 4G revolution, through a Huawei E539 mifi device with EE, Britain’s first 4G network. It was the cheapest and most flexible way of going 4G. And 10 months with a Huawei E586 mifi device with Three convinced me that mifi is the best way to get internet-on-the-go.
It was a pleasant surprise to find that EE had a shop in Amersham, so we popped in after our regular Saturday coffee-and-smoothie break after Owen’s football class.
I knew what I wanted, so it should have been simple. But thanks to a simple misunderstanding, the shop set me up with a USB mobile broadband dongle. Luckily, I asked the shop to put the SIM in. At that point, we realised the mistake.
We’d been there for almost an hour by now, and the shop fell silent as the staff consulted in the stock room. They emerged to share the bad news: the shop only had 3G, not 4G, mifi units in stock. But they made a very generous offer: if I wanted a 4G one today, Ben, the person who served me, would go to the EE store in Harrow, London, to get one and bring it back in time for me to collect it later. And that’s exactly what happened.
This was outstanding service. I was resigned to not getting my mifi today, and didn’t complain at all. So the offer was prompted purely by concern not to disappoint a customer.
It has been a brilliant introduction to EE. Thank you Ben and colleagues.
Mobile World Congress is quite a show. Over 70,000 people descend on Barcelona for the annual mobile industry expo. It’s not just about handsets: it’s about everything related to connected commerce, from phones and tablets to payments and even connected cars.
PayPal president David Marcus explains PayPal Here to Sky TV
For me, MWC 2013 was memorable for the huge interest in the UK version of PayPal Here, PayPal’s flexible and affordable way for small businesses to take credit card payments face to face. The PayPal Here demos were mobbed by everyone intrigued by the way PayPal had reinvented the original Here concept for countries like Britain where paying by Chip & PIN is standard. The UK version is a pocket-sized card reader that connects to a trader’s smartphone via Bluetooth.
Greedy Goat’s Craig and Mark at MWC with PayPal’s Narik Patel
The fun bit was having Mark and Craig from London’s Greedy Goat ice cream on the stand, serving their delicious goat’s milk ice cream. (I recommend the honeycomb flavour…) Greedy Goat is one of the businesses that have been helping PayPal design the UK flavour of PayPal Here. It trades at Borough Market, and it will be one of the first businesses to take card payments through PayPal Here in the next month or so.
Here’s the video showing Greedy Goat trying PayPal Here at Borough Market.
But there’s more to PayPal Here than just card payments. The future probably lies with something rather more 21st century than a card. PayPal is pioneering payment via ‘check-in’: a quick tap in an app to check into and pay a local business. This opens up so many possibilities for making life quicker and easier: for example, ordering your drink or lunch ready for collection, beating the queue. PayPal is pioneering ordering ahead with Jamba Juice in the United States.
Anyone interested in finding out more about PayPal Here can register their interest and get all the facts at www.paypal.co.uk/here.
PS: we served the best coffee at MWC.
Disclosure: I am head of PR for PayPal UK.
I wrote last November that Apple’s Newsstand app was seriously flawed. It promises to deliver your daily (digital) newspaper to your iPad overnight ready for your commute. It’s never worked well – now it never works.
Britain’s News International has just launched a combined Times and Sunday Times app within Newsstand. Judging from today’s performance, this is the worst Newsstand experience so far. I saw glimpses of the Sunday Times front page – but never got any further as the app crashed every time.
Must do better…
I was intrigued by a BBC story this week suggesting that by 2014 every new car would be connected to the internet.
Readers were quick to rubbish the idea. To take just one example from Ziggyboy:
“I want to drive a car not a computer. If I want to use the internet I sit at my desk and if I want to go somewhere I drive my car. Will there be a new law about using your computer whilst driving. Not that it would make any difference as lots of people still use their mobiles at the wheel and are not caught. I for one won’t be interested I just want a car that get’s me from A to B that’s all.”
Yet I can see real benefits in having a connected car. I’d love my car to pay the Severn Bridge toll for me, saving time at the toll booth. What about a satnav that shows traffic on the map and updates to show diversions if the M4 is closed? A car park finder that will find and pay for a space for you?
Gimmicks? Perhaps. But I’m pretty sure that in 10 years we’ll take all this for granted.
I used to love Flickr. I didn’t use it regularly, but I liked being able to see great photos of my favourite places. And it was nice to share my own photos, although I wasn’t a regular photo sharer.
Then Facebook came along. I gave up on Flickr, and started sharing my photos on Facebook. It shared far more images – after all, most of my family and friends were already there, so sharing photos on Facebook made more sense. Especially when it was so easy to do this on the go on my iPhone and iPad.
But Flickr still has many strengths. As Wired pointed out, Flickr is great for keeping high resolution copies of your photo collection. And with a new Flickr iPhone app, it has finally recognised we’re living mobile lives.
So when I saw the Wired article (via a friend’s Facebook link…), I downloaded the app straight away.
That’s when the problems started. It’s almost two years since I last used Flickr – I couldn’t remember my user name. The app has an account recovery process, but it’s horribly badly thought out. It kept asking for an alternate email address. It rejected my correct secret answer. After finally resetting my password, it rejected it the first time I tried to log in. Oh, and Yahoo added a new twist to the usual Captcha frustration: on my Mac: the pop up screen was cut off at the edge (below), with no apparent way to resize it.
Yahoo’s captcha confusion
To be fair, when I got through this frustration, I found the app was excellent. It’s very easy to share and search for photos. It’s much nicer than Facebook’s app for photography. Recommended – but don’t forget your user name or password…