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AT&T to Unleash the HTC Titan II on April 8th at $199

Photo: Engadget

AT&T is preparing to unleash one beast of a Windows Phone. On April 8th, the nation’s second biggest carrier will be releasing the HTC Titan II. Boasting a 16 megapixel camera and a 4.7-inch super LCD display, the phone will arguably be AT&T’s best Windows Phone to date.

The phone was shown off at CES earlier this year and stunned many with the inclusion of the 16 megapixel shooter.

HTC’s Titan II will be available for $199.99 on contract.

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Is Facebook Against Employers?

In the world of the ever evolving social network, one issue remains prominent: one’s employer sifting through their Facebook, which is home to a lot of private information nowadays.

Many employers almost use one’s Facebook as a type of pre-screening, judging a person by what they post, what’s posted on their ‘Timeline’ by friends, what they like, what kind of activities they do in their free time, etc. Keeping this in mind, when an employer is judging a person based on their Facebook, they are not looking at the entire picture. Often times, many will find themselves in a situation where they have less than admirable photos of which they are tagged in, wall posts and comments posted on their wall. Sometimes one’s past can be so bad that a potential employer who would have hired them had they not been on Facebook, does not even get a chance.

Facebook looks to be taking a rather proactive stance on the matter. The social network said the following in regards to employers use of Facebook data:

In recent months, we’ve seen a distressing increase in reports of employers or others seeking to gain inappropriate access to people’s Facebook profiles or private information.  This practice undermines the privacy expectations and the security of both the user and the user’s friends.  It also potentially exposes the employer who seeks this access to unanticipated legal liability.

Facebook reiterates throughout the blog post that sharing of passwords is a very risky activity and should be avoided at all costs. The problem here is if your potential employer wants to check your record as a form of background check, what are you gonna do? Deny it? And then what? You get no job and they turn you away.

Facebook does not like this practice and is strongly voicing its opinion against it. Facebook goes on to describe an interesting part of the study:

The most alarming of these practices is the reported incidences of employers asking prospective or actual employees to reveal their passwords.  If you are a Facebook user, you should never have to share your password, let anyone access your account, or do anything that might jeopardize the security of your account or violate the privacy of your friends.  We have worked really hard at Facebook to give you the tools to control who sees your information.

In regards to how they feel towards employers, Eric Egan says, “We don’t think employers should be asking prospective employees to provide their passwords because we don’t think it’s the right thing to do.” While Egan admits further problems could arise from not showing your employer, he also states that it is a violation of Facebook’s Statement of Right and Responsibilities to be sharing passwords with anyone. Of course that alone will not stop people, but it is sure to turn some heads.

The social network has taken a stance in support of its users stating the following:

“We’ll take action to protect the privacy and security of our users, whether by engaging policymakers or, where appropriate, by initiating legal action, including by shutting down applications that abuse their privileges.”

The issue of whether employers can use one’s Facebook profile information could become a legal one before long. According to The Verge, Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal is in the process of drafting up a bill right now that would prevent employers from asking for your password.

Personally, I do not see how an employer should be allowed to screen based on profiles. How a person is on Facebook and how they are in real life can be a drastic difference.

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Unnecessary Criticism of ‘The New iPad’

The iPad was released to the public in its current generation (3rd) on Friday. Yes, the ‘new iPad’ as it is called. Maybe not the most impressive tech toy name known to mankind, but hey, it still better than some of the Android naming schemes… DROID Xyboard, I’m looking at you.

What am I talking about you might ask? Well, the fact that “the new iPad” has faced what I seem to think is some rather unwarranted criticism. I get it: the most popular products on the market are those that receive the most noticeable criticism, yet some of the complaints about Apple’s latest iPad are still just mind boggling to me.

Excuse me if I go on a rant here, but I will be naming names. Two prominent tech websites stand out to me: TechnoBuffalo and CNET. Each of these websites posted similar critiques of the latest iPad and for the most part, I did not understand the logic behind either website’s thinking.

I will start with CNET’s article first, as I find it the most ridiculous of the two. Let’s begin with the A6 processor complaint. CNET says the following about the Apple processor-to-be:

“Prior to launch, there was lots of chatter about what kind of chip would power the next iPad. After the iPhone 4S got a modified version of the A5 processor found in the iPad 2, many presumed the new iPad would get the A6 processor. Instead we got the A5X, which integrates a dual-core processor with “quad-core” graphics. Apple says the A5X offers “four times the performance” of Nvidia’s Tegra 3 chip. Great as that all sounds, it’s still no A6.”

Are you kidding me? How much more power do you think an Apple mobile device needs? My iPhone 4, not even 4S, still runs silky smooth and is purring right along with its single-core 1 GHz A4 processor. The desire for a quad-core processor is not yet justified at all. Simply put, Apple’s mobile products do not need quad-core yet. What’s more, Apple is still having a tough time with power management on the iPhone 4S and its dual-core A5 processor.

I had a hard time choosing the next bit, but CNET’s argument about iOS 6 ultimately won the second place position. CNET says the following in regards to iOS 6:

“Ars Technica reported that it was seeing devices running iOS 6 in logs, sparking hope that Apple might release–or at least tease–iOS 6. Alas, we’re only getting iOS 5.1 now. Expect more iOS news to emerge in June at Apple’s World Wide Developers conference.”

CNET, did you forget iOS 5 was released not even a year ago? Apple has traditionally released iOS on a once a year schedule and that should not be expected to change in the near future. Furthermore, Apple tends to announce iOS upgrades at WWDC in June. You could not have possibly expected a new iteration of iOS all together.

Third and last place for CNET is their complaint about the lack of a 7-inch “iPad mini”. They said the following on the matter:

“While we thought the chances were slim that Apple would introduce a smaller iPad at this time, rumors continue to swirl that it will happen sometime this year. After the release of the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet (both now cost $199), we’d like to see what Apple could do at this size. We’ll have to wait.”

Yeah, that’s right, you will be waiting a pretty long time. In case you’ve forgotten, Apple still sells the iPod touch. With the addition of a so called “iPad mini”, Apple would be blurring the lines and potentially introducing an issue that Android has struggled with over the past few years: fragmentation. I simply do not get CNET’s logic on this one.

Of course, CNET had a few other points that made little sense to me, such as lack of a 128 GB model, lack of a descriptive name, increase in weight, etc., however some of these wishes I can understand a little more.

Moving onward to TechnoBuffalo’s complaint list, first place goes again to the processor complaint. TechnoBuffalo says the following on the matter:

“The A5X with quad-core graphics processing is a much-needed upgrade, especially in light of what Cupertino envisions this device doing soon. And yet, there are still users who won’t care because it’s not quad-core — which has become akin to a “designer name” in mobile tech. For now, it’s like the Gucci of mobile processors. Will prospective customers wait another year for it? Some might, but others will jump ship and satisfy their tablet needs elsewhere. Even if the A5X performance is stellar, it’s still a perception thing. I genuinely think Apple made a mistake by not including a quad-core here.”

Yup, I can tell others are “jumping ship” to “satisfy their tablet needs elsewhere” when Apple just sold three million third generation iPads the first weekend it was available to retail. I had to laugh at this statement upon reading it, thus making it number one on the list of unwarranted critiques by TechnoBuffalo.

Second on TechnoBuffalo’s bad complaint list is increased weight and thicker body. Talking about the increase in size and weight, TechnoBuffalo proclaims the following:

“It’s 9.4mm now, up from the 8.8mm of the previous model — which means any close-fitting iPad accessories have suddenly become obsolete. Again. And the weight’s going up 50+ grams? Um, aren’t devices supposed to get sleeker over time? Instead of unveiling a sexy new take on the Apple design aesthetic, it pretty much gave us the same old thing, but fatter.”

You could not have possibly thought that 4G-LTE connectivity was supposed to come with a more complex chipset, increased battery to support it, and still maintain the same weight and depth, could you TechnoBuffalo? Something has to be sacrificed here and it is not like we are talking about pounds of weight being added on to the device.

TechnoBuffalo’s final spot goes to their complaint about the lack of a higher storage option. The following is TechnoBuffalo’s take on the matter:

“Let’s take stock for a second. Apple just launched iPhoto for the iPad along with a sweep of updated iWork and iLife apps (including the popular iMovie), which are guaranteed to use up space. It also unveiled 1080p video capture, as well as a beautiful new Retina Display that’s just waiting for RD-optimized (read: huge) iOS apps to take advantage of them. But despite all that, there’s no way to up the built-in storage? What’s up with that? That there’s no 128GB version to go along with all these changes just doesn’t make any sense. I guess there’s still iCloud, though ongoing fees for upgraded cloud storage will cost you. And good luck if you have LTE — of course AT&T and Verizon both have LTE data caps.”

This product is not replacing your iMac or PC, and heaven forbid Apple adds weight or depth to the device (see above)! Simply put, if you are going beyond the 64GB cap Apple currently offers in flash storage, you might want to consider cleaning out clutter or using the conventional desktop, not an iPad.

I could not help but address these seemingly nitpicking complaints about Apple’s latest tablet offering.

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RIM: BB10 OS to PlayBook… Too little, too late?

Can RIM get anything right? Photo by The GameWay on Flickr.

BlackBerry OS version 10 will indeed be coming to the PlayBook according to RIM executive Rob Orr. In his quote to website TechRadar he states, “We’ve said publicly a number of times that our first BB10 handset will be available towards the end of 2012, and that’s still firmly the case”. As with most other BlackBerry software update announcements, there is no date tied to this one and to who’s surprise? RIM cannot seem to hold up to their dates anyway.

I hate to bash RIM, but seriously, let’s get real here. This company is in dire need of a turnaround and they need it fast. 2012 looks like it will be a dismal year for the company that has already announced it only expects share prices of around 80 to 95 cents and profits of $4.6 billion, which falls way bellow the analysts expectation’s of $1.16 a share and sales of $5.1 billion.

When things are looking this bad for you, you need to get into high gear. RIM has a serious problem on their hands and this “end of 2012” talk just seems like that of a company not taking things seriously. How much longer do they think they have? RIM’s ship is sinking and it is sinking fast.

The company is only expecting to ship 11 to 12 million handsets this year as consumer interest turns to high end gadgets such as Apple’s marquee iPhone 4S and Google’s slew of Android offerings. Compare this to Apple’s number of shipped handsets.

The technology giant, worth roughly $500 billion, shipped 4 million iPhone 4S’ in the first weekend the device went on sale alone and forget Apple’s Q4 2011 sales of the 4S. That number is a staggering 37 million 4S devices… in Q4 alone! That is approximately four times what RIM plans to make this entire year. Are you listening RIM?

RIM’s continuous carefree nature and lay low attitude will indeed catch up to them. Changing CEOs should have been the least of this failing company’s concern (although yes, Jim Basillie and Mike Lazardis were the head clowns running a clown show). What RIM really needs to focus on is time management. This is a company that can no longer suffer setbacks and delays. The heat of the consumer wants should be breathing down the hairs on the back of RIM’s executive’s necks.

The mobile industry is no longer a game of sit back and put it in cruise control. Just because RIM was once the leader in a loyal smartphone market does not mean they still are now, yet they seem to have this notion that their “loyal customers” will stick around. People will only stick around with a boring OS and even more boring hardware for so long. While yes, BBM was my main reason for owning a BlackBerry at one point, that lost its appeal quick when I saw how sleek my friends and fellow colleagues iPhone’s were. What we want as a consumer is a polished, friendly, easy to use UI, not the same clunky junk that was cool for business professionals in 2004.

RIM better hop on the bandwagon and they better do it quick. Time is running out…

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iOS 5.1: Did it Help Battery Life or Not?

Photo by Brett Jordan on Flickr

Last week, Apple released iOS 5.1 alongside the announcement of “The new iPad”. Apple’s release of iOS 5.1 came as a much welcomed and to some, a much needed update to the iPhone. With reports of horrendous battery life since the debut of iOS 5, disgruntled customers were looking for every fix in the book.

Those such as myself were left without any answers from Apple. Resorting to measures such as turning the location features off in some apps, attempting to increase the window of time my phone would fetch for emails, and turning off push notifications did not seem to alleviate the issue. I found myself frustrated and annoyed at times.

I had originally bought my iPhone 4 in June of last year because the six hour battery life on my original DROID just was not cutting it for me anymore. Switching to the world of iOS, I knew I could count on getting much better battery life and a more polished user interface with higher quality apps. I certainly was not disappointed and I found iOS 4 (as it was at the time) to be very user friendly and intuitive. Being able to take my iPhone off the charger at 8AM and still having juice left in the tank at 10PM was something I grew to love. Mind you, I do not consider myself a “light user”; constantly checking Twitter feeds, Facebook updates, reading tech news on the go and so much more. My original DROID just could not manage power efficiently and it was as if the charger needed to go with me anywhere I went.

My love affair with the iPhone’s battery life was hampered upon the release of iOS 5. Of course, who doesn’t like all the new features Apple brought to the table? Everything from the Notification Center (something I missed being a former Android user) to iMessage was welcomed. iOS 5 added a new angle of simplicity to the already incredible iOS ecosystem. Here, approximately five months since iOS 5 debuted, I have a hard time believing there was once an iPhone without these intuitive features. As they say though, “Anything good comes with a price”. iOS 5 came at the cost of battery life, but does it have to be that way?

Fixes in iOS 5.1 include:

  • Japanese language support for Siri
  • Photos can now be deleted from Photo Stream
  • Camera shortcut now always visible on Lock Screen (iPhone 4S, 4, 3GS, iPod Touch 4G)
  • Camera face detection now highlights all detected faces
  • Redesigned Camera app for iPad 2, iPad (new)
  • Genius Mixes and Genius playlists for iTunes Match subscribers
  • Audio for TV shows and movies on iPad optimized to sound louder and clearer
  • Podcast controls for playback speed and 30 second rewind for iPad
  • Updated AT&T network indicator
  • Addresses bugs affecting battery life
  • Fixes an issue that occasionally caused audio to drop for outgoing calls

Seeing “Addresses bug affecting battery life” in the list made my eyes glow. Finally, Apple might have actually gotten it right this time, as opposed to the joke of a fix iOS 5.0.1 was.

Now, a week later, the update seems to have worked as promised… but not for all (more on that in a moment). My iPhone 4 is back to having the battery life I have come to expect from an Apple gadget. No more of this depleting at a rate of 3% every ten minutes. Unfortunately, iPhone 4S users have not been saying the same.

Two of my 4S wielding friends, both of whom updated to 5.1 the day it was released, have not seen any improvement. My one friend tells me that her 4S will not even fully charge anymore, stopping at 97% and upon taking it off the charger, it’s downhill from there. Normally, she takes her iPhone off the charger at 6:45AM. 9 out of 10 mornings, by 7:25AM, her 4S is at 85%. That is an incredible 15% drop in 40 minutes. This is AFTER she updated to iOS 5.1, mind you. Forget making it to 5PM. The only fix that seems to make it last is turning 3G off while the phone is not in use. This works, but what kind of smartphone has no 3G connectivity?

Hopefully Apple can find a way to contain the power hungry A5 chip found within the 4S before people start getting really upset.

Does your iPhone 4S have better or worse battery life since updating to iOS 5.1?