iPhone 5s Review

I queued for the first iPhone. I have never queued for any of the subsequent models but I have always had a new one within a few days of launch. Each new model introduction delivered a big enough leap forward that upgrading was, for me, a no brainer.

This means that I have paid full price for many phones bought out of contract in the second year of a 2 year UK contract. I have only once felt short changed. GPRS to 3G - worth it. 3.5 inch screen to 4 inch screen- worth it. Only the 4 to 4s felt wrong. There was no LTE in the UK at the time and (as we now know) Siri didn’t (and doesn’t) really work.

The 5s was the first iPhone that I decided to pass on. Partly, protest was my motivation. I, like many people, want a bigger screen. I know that I don’t need a 4 inch phone and a 7 inch iPad. I just want a 5 inch phone and then that, with an 11 inch MacBook Air, is all I need to take with me any where in the world. And partly, I couldn’t get excited about the 2 new features - the finger print reader was cool but I didn’t use a pass code so was superfluous and the improved camera was … meh… the old one was good enough. So, I decided not to get one.

Last week I was walking down Oxford street in London on my way to a meeting and my carrier store (EE) had a sign outside saying “iPhone 5s in stock - special double data bundles”. Turns out that I could reduce my monthly payment, increase my data allowance, give them £250 and walk out with a 64Gb space grey 5s. I bought one.

I don’t feel short changed.

I put the phone in one of the leather cases, for the first time - I had always gone naked before. The case takes away non of the functionality, adds no tangible volume and actually adds just enough weight to make it feel right again. The 4s felt solid and industrial -professional even. The 5 always felt a bit too light. In the case the 5s v’s an un-cased 5 feels like a Leica v’s a Samsung point and shoot. It’s a bugger to get on and off but once it’s on you never have to take it off.

The camera is cool and slow motion video is a real novelty (I am flying to Toronto today and took so some slow-mo video of people running through Heathrow airport, late for the plane - amusing) but I suspect like the panorama feature, I will use it a couple of times and then forget it.

The fingerprint reader works. If, like me, you couldn’t be bothered with the hassle of a pass code before, it is still more cumbersome than not having a code but not much. I will probably stick with it. It does have some cool side effects - for example, if you use your fingerprint to log on, then when you go into find my iPhone to find out what time your wife will get home, the phone doesn’t ask for your iCloud password.

Otherwise it’s pretty much exactly the same as a 5. iOS 7 is an amazing upgrade but (a) that works well on a 5 and (b) we’ve all had the beta since WWDC in June.

Why then, don’t I feel short changed? It is hard to describe. Let me try.

When I was 29 I got my first Jaguar car. It was a 3.2 litre XJ6 sport and it was a million times better than any other car I had ever owned or even driven. It was almost perfect. I had two in a row and then, 6 years later, I got promoted at work and my car was upgraded to to a 4.0 litre Jaguar. The 3.2L accelerated just as fast as I needed. The 3.2L had a top speed much faster than I’d ever drive on a British motorway so I couldn’t quite see how my new 4 litre car could improve on it in a way I’d appreciate. But, once I drove the 4.0 litre, it felt like night and day. It was the same car but every thing just felt so much more effortless. Using the bigger Jag, I always has this feeling that I was well within its capabilities, nothing was a strain. I had at my finger tips a machine that at 30/40% of it’s max could deliver every thing that I asked of it. That is such a powerful, engaging and relaxing position to be in.

And so it is with the 5s. It never hesitates or strains. It never pauses or over heats. It does everything you want without even breaking a sweat and for some reason that I find hard to understand or describe, it makes it a total the pleasure to own and use.

If you are lucky enough to be able to own one. Don’t hesitate.

London Waste Bins Secretly Tracking Phone MAC codes

The BBC reports

The bins, which are located in the Cheapside area of central London, log the media access control (MAC) address of individual smartphones - a unique identification code carried by all devices that can connect to a network.

A spokesman for the City of London Corporation said: “Irrespective of what’s technically possible, anything that happens like this on the streets needs to be done carefully, with the backing of an informed public.”

While the collection of anonymous data through MAC addresses is legal in the UK, the practice has been described as a “grey area”.

This story has generated less momentum and outrage than might have been expected.

Is the new normal for privacy - If you leave something open that can be detected without surreptitious activity - then that’s ok?


Royal reaction

Of the almost infinite coverage of the royal birth - the best one page.

Woman has baby


Tim Cooks’ next challenge

The FT said the same as most commentators on Apple’s latest no profit growth quarter

Apple’s shares will probably remain in a holding pattern. At 11 times trailing earnings, with a dividend yield of 3 per cent, they trade like shares in a huge, slow-to-no-growth tech company. And until that next revolutionary product rolls around, that is precisely what Apple is.

The leader of Apple biggest challenge right now - Having the taste, self control and discrimination to stop the organisation from rushing to a false dawn of ‘the next revolutionary product’.

If it is the next iPhone, it doesn’t matter if it arrives this fall or in three years time but if it’s a dodo - it would matter a lot.


"Phil Hughes chased a wide one like a puppy going after a crisp packet, got an audible edge and decided to burn up the remaining review. Usman Khawaja, in his first Test innings since his recall, decided the cleverest course of action was to attempt to slog Swann into Neasden, and instead barely made it to mid-off.
Michael Clarke at least fell to a decent delivery, pinned lbw in front of leg stump. But Ashton Agar’s run-out? No wonder the travelling support looked both mystified and miserable. This was Lord’s, against England, on a balmy summer’s day. It was supposed to be a celebration. Instead it became a funeral procession."

— Tom Fordyce bbc cricket correspondent.

I love the Ashes

BBC Kills 3D TV - Time to wake up audio.

The BBC has decided that 3D TV is dead or as they prefer to say, on hold indefinitely.

The BBC said 3D viewing figures for the Queen’s Christmas Message and the children’s drama Mr Stink were “even more disappointing”, with just 5% of potential viewers tuning in over the Christmas period

Last month, US sports network ESPN announced it was to close its 3D channel in the US due to a lack of uptake.

Recent figures from the US suggest no more than 120,000 people are watching 3D channels at any one time.

Here’s the thing. Between 1960 and 1999 the same TV technology was viewed as perfectly adequate and TV’s seen as an appliance with a 15 year life cycle. In the 21st century hardware makers have tried to drive sales through innovation. Digital, 720p, internet enabled TV, 1080p, 3D and 4K have all been muted as the next big thing but the truth is that most households with a flat panel at 720p or above are perfectly content. They’ll probably keep it as long as their washing machine. Innovation is being welcomed in terms of content consumption but that innovation is happening on different form factor devices - mainly iPads and phones and to a lesser extent laptops.

My advice to the big hardware manufacturers (sony et al). Think of this. The TV in most peoples lounges today is better than the one that was there in 1979 by a factor of at least 100. The Hi-Fi however is probably worse by a factor of 100. That’s where there is room for driving more sales.


Overlook Hotel

Pretty sure, I have actually stayed here:

Via Theresa Couchman



Tags on the Macintosh - more than you think

Most people dismissed the introduction of tagging to the file system in OS Mavericks as an interesting but ultimately a “file and forget” feature in Apple’s latest Mac operating system.

It may be more than that - it could be the precursor to two, maybe three, things.

1) Tagging could be the first (easy) way to access iCloud documents outside of their own app’s sandbox. i.e Tag your iA writer’s file as “blogposts” and then access it in text editor by searching for that tab.

2) This could mean - not only cross app access but also, cross platform (iOS and OSX) access to all your iCloud files.

3) Maybe, this helps get over one of the key hurdles to creating the dream product. An 11 inch Mac Book Air that has a touch screen that rotates through 180 degrees so that it’s an iPad when closed and a standard MBA when open like a clamshell. A device such as this wouldn’t work without a joined up file system. Maybe tagging builds this bridge.


Alex Salmond’s Divorce Negotiations

Imagine that you are the husband in a long term marriage. You have been married as long as you can remember and it’s been a successful partnership that’s created enormous strength, power and influence, some would say the forth best in the entire world. One or two would even say - the best.

Your wife though starts to want more independence from you, she knows life will be tougher on her own but somehow believes that the benefit of being in sole control of her destiny makes up for the loss of power, influence and the hardship of going it alone.

She tells you that she is trying to decide whether to go it alone and that she’ll make her mind up in the autumn of 2014. You ask her if you have a say in the decision but she says, no - it’s a matter for her alone.

Then she says she thinks she wants to leave you but she expects to keep your money, use you for security and be able to come and go whenever she pleases. She is not saying that she has fully decided yet but this is what she is minded to do and you’ll just have to lump it.

Of course there comes a point in this sort of dialogue when the Husband says, enough - actually I’m deciding that I don’t want to be treated like this so you can bugger off and by the way I’m keeping my own money and you can work out your own security.

The Scottish people need to be very careful right now as this is the way the SNP’s dialogue is starting to feel to the rest of the UK. Citizens outside of Scotland have so far been very patient in allowing the people of Scotland to have a rather selfish rumination as to whether they wish to divorce the UK for two real reasons; 1) Because most feel it’s unlikely that the majority of Scottish people would want to do such a foolish thing and 2) Not may folks outside of Scotland really care.

But things are changing as the debate evolves. The rest of the UK is getting a growing sense of unease at being excluded from the decision about the future of their nation. More importantly, the arrogance of thinking that anyone (or nation) in a long term partnership can chose to keep the best bits of the relationship, reject the rest and have it their own way is starting raise anger outside of Scotland and there is a real danger here.

I hear increasingly voices along the lines of:

I don’t really care whether Scotland is independent or not. I’d rather things stayed as they are but I’m not that fussed. However if they do want to be independent then they can sort out their own currency, not piggy back on Sterling (good luck with Euro by the way), they can re-apply for EU membership but if that involves having to join the Schengen agreement then it means a physical boarder to the rest of the UK. They can sort out their own security and we’ll relocate Trident back to Devonport but don’t expect UK or NATO support if you are not prepared to take your fair share of Army and Nuclear responsibilities and finally, the clue to who is accountable for the 50 Billion in remaining liabilities of Bank of Scotland and Royal Bank of Scotland is in their names, so don’t expect any of the UK’s financial might to help you with that.

In short if you want to go, then Bugger off but don’t expect any love, help or support - that’s what happens when relationships end in the real world.

There is just a danger that as the sensible majority of Scotland vote to remain in the UK - the rest of UK (and remember that outside of Scotland - that has been a Tory majority UK for more than 20 years) will decide that they are fed up with such selfish behaviour and ease them toward the door anyway.

I love Scotland, I love the UK. I’m proud to be Scottish and more proud to British, so let’s hope not.

With the latest polls showing more than 70% of us want to stay in the UK, it might be wise for the sensible majority of Scots to have a louder voice in helping the our fellow UK citizens understand that Mr Salmond’s selfish demands are not representative of the nation as a whole.


Taxing questions

In the UK the debate around what to do with large multinational corporations that make plenty of money but don’t pay any corporation tax in the UK rumbles on. Apple, Amazon, Google and Starbucks have been in the firing line with politicians lining up to criticise the practice of domiciling a European operation in the lowest tax location and then using inter-company charging to ensure that profit is only materialised in the lowest tax domain (normally Ireland or Luxembourg)

The Daily Mail reports today:

Ex-UK [Starbucks] boss Cliff Burrows who now oversees the firm’s Americas operation and has shares worth £7.2million, earned £6.5million. UK director John Culver was paid £3.8million over two years and owns £4.7million in shares.

Last week Starbucks, Amazon and Google were slammed over measures they have taken, within the law, to reduce their tax liabilities. Bosses of the three giants were grilled by MPs over how they managed to pay little or no corporation tax on their UK operations. All three denied they were engaged in aggressive tax avoidance.

Business secretary Vince Cable yesterday indicated that action can be expected from Chancellor George Osborne, who delivers his Autumn statement on December 5.

Speaking on BBC1, Mr Cable told The Andrew Marr Show: ‘Our own tax authorities have got to be very tough on things like royalty payments, which is where a lot of the subterfuge takes place.’ He said it was ‘completely unacceptable where there is systematic abuse taking place’.

It would be great if one politician had the courage to come forward with the truth. We live in a globalised economy. If you want the tax income, you have to reduce your tax rates to beat the competing countries - otherwise moan all you want but the world’s biggest and best will just locate (and pay their taxes) elsewhere.