Many people can’t live without their smartphones as they rely on them for managing their social lives and organising their meetings, etc. but at the moment there are still a few flaws with them that hold us back from saying that they are perfect.
Pretty much every other aspect of smarphones has improved over the years: from the processors, the flash storage, and also the basics like speakers and microphones but one thing has always stood out as an issue for when people buy a phone: the battery. Instead of developing new battery technologies, many companies have opted to use the standard Lithium-Ion batteries (Li-on) which are relatively good but over time (about two to three years) they lose their ability to hold charge.
But hold on for a moment, why has the battery life stayed roughly the same (lasting for one whole day and needing to be charged in the night) if the processors and other components are more demanding? Well, that’s where the software comes in; the operating system, whether that is Android or iOS, is developed so that it is efficient and uses less power. On Android, the system only allows apps to check the internet (for example checking for mail) every so often, instead of whenever they like. The system also goes into a deep sleep mode when the phone is stationary for a while, such as resting on a table. On iOS there are also such mechanisms trying to push the battery to its limits.
In the days when most people had a “brick” phone such as a Nokia, there was no worry of battery life as they lasted weeks. However the battery industry isn’t completely stagnant: a new technology called Lithium-Oxygen batteries is being developed which uses the much abundant oxygen as a part of the battery. The main issue of lithium is that it is very reactive and forms useless compounds with substances in the air which means it loses its capacity, therefore oxygen is there to prevent this.
Using your phone as a computer
Smartphones are great, they allow us to do many things without needing to resort to using a computer, such as writing a quick email, however there is always something like a macro or a large document that our phones tend to struggle with. Programming and other jobs such as video editing just have to be done on a dedicated machine with expensive video cards and high end CPUs. For the rest of us a dock to put our phone in that would transform a screen into a computer is perfectly adequate.
There are cloud services such as Google Drive which aim to bridge the gap but there’s still a physical difference which means we still have to carry around a phone and a computer. Microsoft already has a solution: Continuum for Windows 10 which allows you to plug your phone to a screen and use full Windows 10. However that requires that you have a Windows 10 Mobile phone, which is relatively rare nowadays due to the lack of apps (it has about 2% market share worldwide). Canonical and Ubuntu also has a solution: Convergence for Ubuntu, which does the same as Continuum for Windows but this is for Ubuntu a distribution of Linux. At a glance, both of these look like viable options.
However, across the world Android and iOS together hold 92% of the market share of mobile phones and both of these operating systems do not have an official alternative to this. For iOS there’s no unofficial alternative while for Android there’s a custom operating system (a ROM) which when a Nexus 5 is connected to a screen turns into Debian, another Linux distribution. (Here’s a link if you’re interested). For most of us though, we’ll just have to wait for an official solution to this.
It’s an often occasion: we see something and we want to quickly take a picture to remember that occasion. However that usually meant bringing a dedicated camera such as a DSLR. Eventually manufacturers started adding back cameras for taking pictures and a front facing camera for video calls and selfies. But like the battery standards of phones, the improvment rate has just plateaued.
Manufacturers just tend to add more and more pixels which allows them to boast to unknowing consumers. Unfortunately they rarely use good sensors and they often don’t perform very well in low light. Only a few phones such as the iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy series have been able to get a good point-and-shoot into their phones.
There has been an improvement though, a few years ago, the cameras were terrible in just about every phone while nowadays most phones can take at least a decent picture in normal lighting conditions, though as I said most phones struggle with low light.
In conclusion, I feel that in areas such as the processor and the flash storage, phone technology development is stagnating – which is a good thing as they are generally pretty good now. However areas such as the battery, camera and a continuum like service still need a great deal of improvement.
Thanks for reading!
I do not think so. There are a lot of things that are still very difficult to do in a mobile or touch based OS. For example image editing is painful to do well on a touch device, especially if you are looking for accuracy. Imagine trying use Photoshop on a smartphone! However, I have seen people use Photoshop on a Surface but they always use another tool such as a stylus or a mouse.
On the other hand touch OSs do a lot of things better such as low power consumption and being fast most of the time but these can never be trade offs for a lot of the things that desktops do a lot better.
Slightly off the topic here, a powerful device which was touchscreen but also had capabilities to connect to a mouse and keyboard would be a great option for many people. Also when you plugged a mouse in, the UI would change to better suit a mouse. Surfaces have a lot in common with this imaginary device but they are still very heavy and do not have much RAM.
I am very excited about Windows 10 as I have written about in this post here. Unfortunately, I do not own a good computer which I am prepared to take the risk of installing it on as there are still many bugs and Windows 10 crashes quite a lot. However VirtualBox is always there for this specific problem! Here’s what I did:
Windows 10 was recently announced which they dubbed their “best operating system yet”. It’s due to come out officially some time in 2015 but with the Windows Insider Program, you can try it out for yourself now. Here are some of the new features that I’m quite excited about:
- The start menu is back!
This isn’t really a new feature, it has been in Windows for a long time but since they removed it in Windows 8 and 8.1 (no, just having a button that takes you to the start screen does not count!), it stands out as one of the main reasons for upgrading to Windows 10 when it comes out. Personally this is exciting as I missed the start menu in Windows 8 so much that I added it back through the Classic Shell Program.
- The start screen is not gone
For those who preferred the start screen to the start menu will be happy to know that Microsoft have decided not to remove the touch-oriented start menu but have added as an option to choose between when you right click the task bar and go to “Taskbar Properties”.
- “Metro” apps can now be windowed
Finally! What is the point of the name “Windows” if some apps don’t apply? When the start menu is enabled rather than the start screen, “metro” apps open a first in a window that can be resized, maximised and minimised to the task bar. At the time of writing the “metro” windows look slightly different to normal windows as they have an extra settings button on the top of the window. This button shows a menu which allows you to go into full screen mode and also gives you access the app’s settings which would normally need a swipe up from the bottom. I think this feature is exciting as there are a few “metro” apps which I have wanted to use but as they wouldn’t appear in the taskbar and wouldn’t show up as a window, I have strayed away from using them and found alternatives instead.
- More “desktops”!
Many people would say that this has been copied from Linux (and possibly Mac OS X (not really (they copied it from Linux…))) but to be honest it doesn’t really matter. You will be able to create multiple “desktops” full of open programs, for instance, one desktop with your work programs (email client, word processor, internet browser, etc.) and another for leisure (music player, video player, internet browser, etc.). This is good as it helps you to stay productive as distractions are kept away from work programs. I’m not sure if this has a name yet, though.
- Home in Windows Explorer
This is quite a small feature but it is quite helpful as all of your favourites, drives and recent files are all in one place when you open Explorer. It has been possible to do this before in other versions of Windows but I’m excited as this is the default.
- “Snap Assist”
Again, a small-ish feature but potentially very useful and a great time-saver: when you snap a program to the side of the screen, in the remaining space you will be given the option to add other minimised programs. This will save you from minimising everything and then snapping each program individually.
These aren’t all of the new features in Windows 10 (I have excluded touch-orientated features, for example) but the ones that are most interesting and exciting. I’ll tell you how I tried/installed it in my next post!
Well, my quest seems to continue! (It seems like a quest, but really it’s just a bit of fun)
After testing a few (not really a few) Linux distributions I have concluded what seems to be the best for this 1001 MB RAM computer. I have tried Linux Mint (KDE desktop version), but even though it is supposed to be lightweight, it ran rather slowly. Read More…
Ubuntu is a Linux operating system that I have been playing around with on my old Windows XP (got it in 2004 probably). Windows on the XP got slow within 3 years of having it. Some people would say that that is pretty good for a Windows computer, but anyway, because Ubuntu is free, I decided to install it. You can get the latest version of Ubuntu here: www.ubuntu.com.
My first expectation was well… nothing. I had no idea what was going to happen! It loaded up and looked quite promising. I set it up and then, “Please select a partition” stared at me in the face. What’s a partition? I asked myself. After a bit of looking up I downloaded “Mini Partition Tool” and made a 40GB partition for Ubuntu. I can’t remember if I gave it free space or EXT4 (the file system that Linux mostly uses) but then I finished installing and I had successfully installed Ubuntu. It asked me to restart and lo and behold Ubuntu started up.
Currently working on:
More macro photography (people seem to like it!)
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