Technology: 5 Apps of the Week

Originally published by Entertainment.ie, Thursday 8th August, 2013. To read the original, please click here

More apps than you can shake an iPhone at…

It’s time for us to whet your appetite with the most trendy new apps on the block.

Below are 5 apps for you to download and play with over the weekend. Your mission – if you choose to accept it – is to download these apps and let us know your thoughts on how fun and useful they are.

just.me (iOS, Android)

just.me (iOS, Android)

While just.me has been available on iOS devices for some time, it’s just been made available on Android devices. Essentially a “de-cluttering” app, just.me combines messaging, emailing and social networking and reigns in all of your contacts across all platforms one, multi-layered app. www.just.me


BlaBlaCar (iOS, Android)

Perhaps the ultimate car-pooling app, BlaBlaCar is for everyone:, whether you’re someone who likes company when they’re driving long distances, whether you are conscious about the environment or if you just want to save a bit of dosh on fuel. What’s so great about BlaBlaCar is that you can connect instantly with people who are traveling in the same direction as you. What’s more you can choose travel companions based on whether or not they smoke, what they do for a living and even their musical tastes. It’s definitely an app for anyone traveling around Ireland or going to a music festival over the summer months. www.blablacar.com

Thunderspace (iOS)

The long-overdue heat wave that has blessed us with its presence, in recent weeks, has given us all cause to sit out in the sun and relax. An app that uses an Emmy-award winning nature soundtrack to suit a variety of different moods, Thunderspace creates an environment that is nothing other than chilled, calm and dreamlike. Perfect for anyone winding down after a hectic week at work. thunderspace.me

Polamatic by Polaroid (iOS, Android)

Polamatic by Polaroid (iOS, Android)

True, there are more photo apps available, now, than any one person would ever find the time to use and one app is generally all you need. For many, Instagram already offers the vintage feel and nostalgia of old photos. So what use is Polaroid’s Polamatic app? Well, Polamatic has all the filters, borders and captions that defined Polaroid’s iconic product, allowing you to choose from 24 different fonts and text customization options. If you’re as nostalgic for old Polaroid as I am, this one’s for you. www.polamatic.com

Waze (iOS, Android)

Recently the subject of a bidding war between Facebook and Google, Waze was eventually snapped up by Google for $1bn (Yes, you read that correctly). Essentially a social-sat-nav app, Waze, like Wikipedia, relies on user input to update map locations – restaurants, bars, venues, etc. – to make digital maps more accurate and more integrated with other social media platforms and other users. It also allows user to provide real-time, up-to-date traffic warnings. This app could definitely be a game-changer. www.waze.com

Technology: Can the Lumia 1020 bring Nokia back to the top of the mobile phone market?

Originally published by Entertainment.ie, Wednesday 17th July, 2013. To read the original, please click here

Nokia’s Lumia 1020: The Finnish communications firm’s latest attempt to compete against Apple and Samsung in the smartphone market

If you had a mobile phone five to ten years ago – less, perhaps – chances are that the mobile phone that you owned was a Nokia. The Finnish communications giant dominated the market like no other company in its field, leaving Siemens and many other competitors trailing far behind. Ten years ago, the Nokia 3310 (remember those? I bet that you had one) was one of the biggest selling mobile phones in the world, and Nokia’s most recognisable device.

That’s why it’s so surprising that, in recent years, Nokia was so astonishingly slow to adapt to the smartphone revolution led by Apple and Samsung. Yes, it launched the Lumia 920 Windows Phone and its successors, the 925 and the 928, but not one of these products posed any real threat to Apple or Samsung; all of this, however, could be about to change.


Last week, Nokia rolled out the Lumia 1020, its most ambitious product yet, to compete directly with Apple and Samsung in the smartphone market. The Nokia Lumia 1020 Windows Phone won’t hit our shores until September, but will retail in the US at about $299, placing it at about $100 more expensive than it’s competitors.

Here’s the spec:

– 41 Megapixel camera, which will have the potential to record video in 1080p and a Xenon flash
– 3X zoom and six-lens camera, and secondary camera with wide-angle lens
– 4.5″ AMOLED HD+ display with resolution of 1280×768
– Screen made of Gorilla Glass 3
– 1.5GHz dual-core processor supplied by Snapdragon
– 2GB of RAM and 32GB of internal memory.
– Talk-time of 13.3 hours on 3G, extending to 16 days standby time
– Available in three different colors: black, white and yellow
– Optional camera grip and tripod attachment, and dedicated shutter button

The biggest draw for 90% of potential buyers will be the 41MP camera, which will also record video in 1080p. The Finnish tech giant clearly understands that most smartphone users take full advantage of the camera on their phones. The only drawback to all of this, however, is that Windows Phones are thin on those photo and video apps that are almost synonymous with Apple and Samsung devices – apps such as Instagram, for example.

So would you be tempted in any way to buy the Nokia Lumia 1020 Windows Phone? Would you convert from the Apple iPhone / Samsung Android devices?

Let me know your thoughts.

 

Technology: How Microsoft is regaining ground from Apple and how Google fell asleep at the wheel

Originally published by Entertainment.ie, Monday 17th June, 2013. To read the original, please click here.

 

WITH Microsoft’s Surface Pro 8 just out on the market, a fierce and strong tablet- PC that aims to take on Apple’s iPad, the race between some of the big players in the market enters another new chapter. With more choice now than ever, the question that people always ask themselves when new hardware and software comes on the market is “will I be using this in X amount of years? Will anyone be talking about it let alone remember it?” Microsoft’s latest addition to the ever- increasing market of tablet-PC devices and Ultrabook devices is a win for you and me in the sense that there is now more diversity, now, on the market than there ever has been for tablet devices.

More than anything, however, Microsoft’s recent tablet- PC is a reminder of how much Microsoft allowed Apple to dominate the market in recent years. True: the world still operates and relies heavily on Microsoft products, most notably Microsoft Office, but the tech giant lost out to Apple in recent years in terms of style, creativity and innovation. Apple made giant leaps in recent years with iPods, the iPhone, the iPad and OS X Mountain Lion, its operating system for Mac computers, to the point where its competitors were struggling to keep up. Microsoft also lost ground to Google, whose Chrome web browser, along with Mozilla’s Firefox, overtook the slow, unreliable Internet Explorer 10, which has been hugely improved on Surface Pro.

That said, Google also fell asleep at the wheel when it came to social media, particular the rise of Facebook and Twitter. Google+, Google’s social media application, hasn’t made the leaps and bounds that many expected and it hasn’t had the same brand strength and impact as Facebook and Twitter. In fact, I can’t say that I know people who actively use Goolge+ nor do I know of businesses who use Google+ to market their business as they do with Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook, however, have made their own mistakes. Perhaps the leading social media platform of them all, Facebook has recently, albeit slowly, swallowed its pride and followed Twitter, Tumblr and instagram by featuring hashtags as way of targeting users with more personalized adverts for events and products.

It’s hard to know what’s next on the horizon for any of these players and this time next year, they could be either unrecognizable from each other, leading the way for new, younger players to enter into the market with fresh ideas. Whatever happens, the tech game remains one of the most exciting chess matches in business.