3 reasons you should upgrade to an iPad 3

Is Apple’s next iPad worth the upgrade? That’s the question on a lot of consumers’ lips lately, just as they mulled the step up to the iPhone 4S ahead of its fall release, and although details of Apple’s latest tablet have yet to be officially disclosed, we think there’s enough known about a few key specs to take a crack at it.

In our estimation, yes, the third-generation iPad is worth your time and money, and here are three reasons why:

The iPad 3’s ultra-high-resolution Retina display isn’t just a pretty face. It’s a game-changer.

ipadretina 3 reasons you should upgrade to an iPad 3

 The iPad 3 will join Apple’s Retina ranks alongside the iPhone 4 and 4S, with a resolution of 2048×1536, or twice the current iPad’s. That resolution means several things, and each makes a convincing argument for an upgrade:  

  • Text will be crisper and considerably more pleasant to read on the iPad 3. If you’re accustomed to reading e-ink or have been spoiled by the iPhone 4/4S’s beyond-sharp screen, this is an overdue development, and one that could see many folks ditching their e-readers.
  • Apps will soon be optimized for the iPad 3’s Retina graphics, just as they are for Retina iPhones. Sure, scaled-down versions will persist, but who wants to deal with a developer’s blurry afterthought?
  • Video optimized for the iPad 3’s double-resolution display will make you wonder how you ever made do with less. Think we’re exaggerating? Think back to the first time you fired up your 1080p flatscreen and drank in the difference. Night and day, right? Well, the iPad’s Retina upgrade is nearly as significant, with four times the pixels. (HDTV has fives times as many pixels as SDTV).
  • With twice the resolution, the iPad 3 will cater to graphic artists and photo editors in a pinch. In fact, the higher-resolution iPad was originally thought to target those professionals.
  • The next Apple TV, expected to release simultaneously with the iPad 3 or soon afterward, will welcome 1080p streams over AirPlay. At least, that’s the thinking. But there’s a catch: You’ll need a device capable of pushing that many pixels – a device like the iPad 3. Sure, the iPad 2 can mirror its 1024×768 display in 1080p, but it can’t decode 1080p H.264 videos.
  • We have reason to believe Apple will put its entire lineup on the Retina bandwagon before long. Not that such trends are the greatest argument, but, well, do you want to be a straggler?

The iPad 3’s processor will be significantly faster, but more importantly, the iPad 2’s A5 will be significantly slower.

Apple A6 Processor1 3 reasons you should upgrade to an iPad 3

Rumors for the next iPad’s brain range from a dual-core A5X to an all-new, quad-core, ARM-based A6, but either way, the new tablet’s processing power will leave its predecessor in the dust. How can we be so sure? Because it has to. The iPad 3’s Retina screen will require a processing powerhouse to render its graphics, and the current hardware falls well short of that task.

But if you’re not convinced by a quicker CPU, consider this: developers will be. Just as they optimized apps for the A5, found in the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S, they’ll tweak future apps to take advantage of the newest processor’s capabilities, meaning holdouts will be left complaining about stuttery games and programs that weren’t designed with them in mind.

4G LTE connectivity will allow so-equipped iPad 3s to realize their portable potential.

 3 reasons you should upgrade to an iPad 3

Half the appeal of an iPad is its extreme portability. Unfortunately, Wi-Fi isn’t available everywhere, which presents a problem when most things you’d ask of your iPad require an Internet connection. iPad 2 owners have a but a single, often frustratingly slow alternative to Wi-Fi (assuming they’ve sprung for a carrier-backed model): 3G, supplied by Verizon or AT&T. iPad 3 owners, on the other hand, will be able to fall back on the much-faster 4G LTE, provided by those same carriers.

With 4G in their corner, iPad 3 users could access the Internet as if their router were in sight, and though 4G isn’t available everywhere, it’s fast becoming ubiquitous.

And for those of you who are understandably wary of blowing through any allotted data or are unimpressed by wireless speeds that are sure to be throttled, chew on this: AT&T is at work on an arrangement that will allow app developers to cover any data consumed by their users. Translation: Down the road, it’s conceivable that an iPad 3 user could watch, say, hours of Netflix from his 4G-connected tablet and not worry about anything but his battery life.

Samsung pinning its tablet hopes on Galaxy Note

headline3 Samsung pinning its tablet hopes on Galaxy Note

“Honestly, we’re not doing very well in the tablet market.” That was one Samsung executive’s candid take on his company’s recent misfortune. Product Strategy Executive Hankil Yoon told media gathered for a roundtable at Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress that Samsung’s Galaxy Tab line of tablets has fallen flat. But Yoon and Samsung aren’t ready to throw in the towel – they’re confident the recently launched 5.3-inch Galaxy Note and its just-announced 10-inch brother are the shot in the arm Samsung needs to succeed in a market dominated by Apple and Amazon.

According to Yoon, the Notes will succeed where the Tabs failed because of their novel S-Pen stylus. “Even if the design is similar, how you use the [Note] is totally different,” Yoon said. As for criticism that Samsung’s 5.3-inch phablet is awkwardly sized, Yoon told listeners that it’s just a matter of getting used to it: “One I used [the galaxy Note], the Galaxy S II looks too small. I don’t want to go back to any other smartphone or tablet.”

Source: CNET

10 pictures from an iPhone prove smartphones’ potential

If you’ve kept up with my posts, it’ll come as no surprise that I’m obsessed with photography. I’ve written at least a handful of articles on the subject, and most recently reviewed two sets of lenses for the iPhone. And that last piece got me thinking: How capable is a smartphone’s camera? It’s certainly more convenient to tote than its bulkier cousins, and I’ve speculated that smartphones and their on-board optics could eventually replace point-and-shoots, but can it really stack up against dedicated hardware? Today’s most powerful smartphones certainly have impressive spec sheets, but the proof’s in the pictures. That’s why I’ve decided to sift through the thousands of pictures I’ve taken from my iPhone 4 (yes, a nearly two-year-old phone with a measly 5-megapixel camera) and pick out the best examples. After all, if its once-great camera can produce killer shots, surely later models with better optics can go toe to toe with just about anything the entry-level camera market can throw at them.

The 10 pictures that follow were taken by my iPhone 4. The phone didn’t have any help from aftermarket hardware, nor have I cropped or adjusted the shots with anything that can’t be found in the App Store (Instagram and Camera+ were most often used).

Can smartphones truly stand in for dedicated cameras? You decide.

101 10 pictures from an iPhone prove smartphones potential

Location: US 101, Northern California. Story: This stretch of Northern California highway seemed to dead-end in a wall of mountains. Fortunately for me, it was also all but empty.

 

photo 2 10 pictures from an iPhone prove smartphones potential

Location: Santa Monica. Story: These watermelon-size metallic balls hang from the Santa Monica Place mall and reflect everything that passes. If you look closely, you can make out the cables suspending each ball.

 

photo 4 10 pictures from an iPhone prove smartphones potential

Location: Laguna Beach. Story: Beachgoers milled about as the sun set on a beautiful Southern California day.

 

surfer 10 pictures from an iPhone prove smartphones potential

Location: Del Mar Beach, San Diego. Story: This surfer soaked up the San Diego sunset from his board. Careful not to disturb him, I captured the scene. Afterward I offered to email him the picture. His response: “That would be rad, bro.”

 

tomatoes 10 pictures from an iPhone prove smartphones potential

Location: Hillcrest Farmers Market. Story: Organic tomatoes not only taste better, they make for better pictures, too.

 

scripspier 10 pictures from an iPhone prove smartphones potential

Location: Scripps Pier, San Diego. Story: Standing beneath Scripps Pier, you’d swear it goes on forever.

 

beach 10 pictures from an iPhone prove smartphones potential

Location: Santa Monica. Story: This Santa Monica scene caught my eye as I drove along the 101. If you couldn’t already tell, I’m pretty fond of the beach.

 

sky 10 pictures from an iPhone prove smartphones potential

Location: Somewhere above San Diego. Story: As my plane descended into San Diego, capping off a cross-country flight, I was struck by the point where clouds met sky.

 

modernart 10 pictures from an iPhone prove smartphones potential

Location: Los Angeles. Story: The Walt Disney Concert Hall reflects the midday sun in stunning fashion.

 

innout 10 pictures from an iPhone prove smartphones potential

Location: In-N-Out. Story: If you can look at this picture of the country’s best fast-food burgers (Sorry, Five Guys. It’s true) without salivating, you’re probably a vegetarian.

Apple developing dual-core and quad-core chips for tablet duty, source say

9to5Mac reports that Apple is working on two new chipsets: an A5x, a powerful, enhanced version of the A5; and an all -new quad-core A6. 9to5 speculates that the A6 will power the upcoming iPad 3, said to sport a 2048×1536 Retina display and LTE, while the A5X may be reserved for a cheaper or smaller 8-inch iPad. Though dissension persists, Apple’s March 7th announcement ought to clear up any confusion.

Winners and losers of the gaming rat race

Gaming consoles are here to stay, but their market is ruthless and defined by bloodshed. With each successive generation, new competitors come on the scene, but there’s only so much elbow room in this club, so stragglers are inevitably left for dead, victims of an industry that takes no prisoners. Atari was the first to get the axe, a blow delivered by upstarts Sega and Nintendo. Then Sony made its gaming debut and helped seal Sega’s fate. Next Microsoft entered the fray followed by Apple, and it’s only a matter of time before another body, likely one we’ve come to know and love, hits the floor (thanks, Drowning Pool).

A place at the table is anything but assured in this game, and that’s never been truer than today with so many companies vying for relevancy — and two major players setting a break-neck pace.

Apple’s ahead of the pack

Apple’s one of those movers and shakers, and it’s had a massive, game-changing (literally) effect on the industry lately. In just five years, the Cupertino-based company has pushed casual gaming to the forefront (Nintendo’s Wii gets some credit here, too), breaking sales and transaction records again and again with its App Store and iOS devices. And its formula for success is striking in its simplicity: A majority of consumers want to tote as few devices as possible, so of course they’ll embrace all-in-one-type devices like iPhones, iPads, and iPods over separate, more-limited handhelds like Nintendo’s 3DS or Playstation’s Vita. Sure, the latter provide a richer gaming experience, but convenience trumps that in the minds of most, the company rightly figured, especially when those people have dedicated gaming consoles at home.

But Apple’s gaming reach goes beyond the casual, solitary crowd, and its Xbox Live-like Game Center, though half-baked and hobby-status for the moment, is a sure sign of the bigger, more-social things to come. And I mean soon. When Apple’s next operating system, OS X Mountain Lion, debuts this summer, it’ll introduce Game Center to Macs, not to mention Airplay Mirroring. The combination could be devastating to Apple’s competition.

apple gamecenter Winners and losers of the gaming rat race

In just months, hardcore gamers, a group mostly neglected by Apple, will be able to download a title from the App Store to their Mountain Lion-powered Mac, connect with other gamers through Game Center, and beam the whole experience to their AppleTV-equipped big screen. And if they want to take that experience on the road, there’s reason to believe the upcoming iPad 3 and its Retina displaywill oblige.

Before long, and once it partners with game publishers, Apple could go head to head with the likes of Steam. And I wouldn’t be surprised if such a deal is struck in the near future. In fact, I fully expect a gaming-specific media event from Apple down the road, and I can easily imagine a future where the company counts on gaming as much as music for revenue.

Redmond’s nipping at Cupertino’s heels

But Apple’s not the only big dog around. Microsoft casts an equally huge shadow, and for my money, it’s more in tune with gamers’ ever-evolving tastes than anyone. Consider the way it’s pioneered two distinct niches with Xbox Live and Kinect — models Apple and Sony later seized on and ran with. And as former class leaders Nintendo and Sony struggle for position and beat one another bloody with handhelds, Microsoft has floated above the fray, steering clear of portable gaming and riding higher than ever on the power of Xbox 360 and Xbox Live.

It’s also reinvented itself as others seem to stagnate, most recently introducing a tiled UI for the 360. Not only is that UI better than anything the competition has come up with, it’s soon to be very familiar, too.

microsoft ui Winners and losers of the gaming rat race

When Windows 8 debuts for PCs, tablets, and smartphones later this year, and as more of the company’s Windows Phones are snatched up by consumers, Microsoft will have established the type of unified experience that only Apple can rival, and one that’s sure to help lock in existing consumers while attracting still others.

Speaking of tablets and smartphones, if Microsoft fleshes out its Xbox Marketplace with games that each can take advantage of, it could conceivably go toe to toe with Apple’s bread and butter. And that’s not a long shot. Windows Phone 7 already has built-in support for Xbox Live, so it’s not unreasonable to think its successor will take the concept even further.

Can Sony and Nintendo keep up?

And this spells trouble for Nintendo and Sony. Where once they reigned supreme, their dominance largely unquestioned, suddenly the West with its measly decade-long gaming resume is leading the charge. Sure, the Japanese duo will stick around for another generation on the power of their brands, but if they hope to stop the bleeding and carve out a more permanent place, they’ll have to get with the program and target the phone and computer markets.

mario graphics evolution Winners and losers of the gaming rat race

Sony gave it a shot with its Xperia Play phone, a sort of PSP-smartphone hybrid that does neither job especially well, but it needs to try harder. Meanwhile, Nintendo is putting all its eggs in the Wii U basket, which hangs its hat on a tablet-like controller that promises to provide a bit of gaming on the go. I say a bit because the company has neglected to bake in a phone, and I seriously doubt the casual gaming crowd will bother lugging around a bulky, relatively one-dimensional peripheral when they could get a similar experience from an average smartphone, albeit on a smaller scale.

Not only do I think Nintendo missed a major opportunity to reinvent itself, I fear that by failing to do that, my old friend, the one that has carried on valiantly through multiple console wars, may have punched its own ticket to the console graveyard.

And that’s not to say the company would evaporate into the ether. Like Sega before it, Nintendo could retire gracefully as a game developer. In fact, regardless of how the Wii U shakes out, the company ought to explore offering some of its wildly popular titles on the competition’s hardware. With Microsoft set to release a version of Office for Apple’s iPad, it wouldn’t be the first to supply the enemy, and it could ensure years more of relevancy.

Whoever goes the way of Sega or Atari, gaming’s not going anywhere. It might come in an unfamiliar digital package, or be peddled by newcomers, or be more portable than ever before, or branch out with strange new hardware, but it’s here to stay, even if it’s evolving every step of the way.

Google hires former congresswoman to head up lobbying efforts

Google, the subject of congressional inquiries and a White House-penned privacy policy in recent months, has hired a big-name former lawmaker it hopes will help the company navigate Washington’s political landscape. The New York Times reports Google selected Susan Molinari, a former Republican congresswoman from New York, to head up its lobbying efforts. Molinari replaces Alan Davidson, who last year said he’d be parting ways with Google after growing its lobbying arm into a $11 million-a-year operation.

Source: The New York Times

Netflix has no plans to support BlackBerry devices

More bad news for RIM. A few hours ago, Netflix took to Twitter to let the world know it has no plans to support any BlackBerry devices, including RIM’s dud tablet, the PlayBook. This clearly won’t help already-ailing RIM in a competitive space where Android and iOS continue to steal marketshare from its once-dominant handhelds. However, with rumors of BlackBerry 10 on the way, the company’s fortune could change. In the meantime, this is yet another reason why consumers will continue to move away from RIM’s devices.

Source: Reuters

Facebook sends nearly 60 million visitors to 3rd-party apps each month

Today, James Pierce over at Facebook’s development blog posted some staggering statistics about how much traffic the social network sends to 3rd-party apps. According to the post, Facebook is responsible for nearly 60 million monthly visits to 3rd-party apps and games. “BranchOut, for example, a social-professional networking web app, sees more than 350 thousand visitors from Facebook mobile every day. This traffic has already grown by a factor of twenty since the start of the year.” The massive sum speaks to Facebook’s ability to become much more than just a place to check out your friend’s profile.

Source: Facebook

Biggest act of Mobile World Congress will be a no-show

applestage1 Biggest act of Mobile World Congress will be a no showNext week Barcelona, Spain, will brim with the who’s who of the tech world. Sony, HTC, LG, and Samsung, to name just a few on the guest list, will each make appearances at the Mobile World Congress, where they hope to dazzle consumers and journalists alike with their latest hardware. But one company won’t pop in, and despite its absence, that company and its plans will surely drown out whatever its competition reveals.

If you haven’t already guessed, that no-show is Apple. Its thunder-stealing development? The iPad 3, now just weeks away from an official announcement. Apple, you see, has perfectly timed its invitations to that announcement to coincide with the start of the Mobile World Congress. As those make the rounds, talk will inevitably turn from whichever gadgets are being shown off to what Apple has in store with its latest tablet. It’s a master marketing stroke from a company renowned for them.

Just last week, Apple wrestled headlines from the likes of Google and Microsoft and dominated the tech blogosphere with news of its upcoming operating system, Mountain Lion. And next week will be no different. Apple will offer a whiff of its plans, and suddenly all else will fade into the background, reduced to a footnote against the biggest story around.

And that’s the point. After all, what better way to take the wind from your competitors’ sails than to upstage them, all without ever taking the stage.