June has been a busy month for computer and mobile techies. Apple and Google held their developer conferences. Both events were as much about software as they were about new hardware announcements. The gadgets did not stop there. Microsoft unveiled their Surface Tablet, and Samsung also contributed some excitement with the availability of their flagship Galaxy S III (SGS3) just prior to June.
It’s definitely been an exciting and busy month. So, if you feel like a mountain tortoise who’s just emerged to check out what the world has been up to recently, let me give you a quick rundown. It’s not ordered chronologically. It’s sorted from the most impactful (in my opinion, of course) event fist.
Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference ran from 11th June to 15th June.
- Tim Cooks announced the immediate availability of updated MacBook Pros (MBP) and MacBook Airs (MBA). The Retina Display that everyone had been looking out for arrived in a new slimmer MBP, and across the board, the MBA and MBP families were updated with new Ivy Bridge processors.
- Mountain Lion will show up in July, and it’ll cost just US$19.99. It’s cheaper than the Lion upgrade, in case you’re wondering. I think, eventually, OS X should just be included free-of-charge, just like how iOS is always a free upgrade on the iPhone and iPad. Seeing how Apple is trying to iOS-ify everything, this isn’t too farfetched.
- There’s also the new iOS6 being previewed. It won’t be available until later this year. Siri will be available on the new iPad. There’s a whole complicated matrix of what’s going to work where, and not where else, etc. Talk about Android fragmentation, Apple has just made iOS6 more complicated than ever.
- Apple will do their own maps. They currently depend on Google Maps. But that’s going to change. There’ll still be turn-by-turn navigation, 3-D buildings, etc. To the user, nothing much as changed, I suppose. But the underlying data source and technology is getting an overhaul.
Google I/O is still underway (27th to 29th June), but I think all the major announcements are already out:
- Android 4.1 Jelly Bean was announced. Seriously, nothing spectacular. When Android supporters boo new versions of Apple’s iOS for being dated and uninteresting, well, guess what, I think Google is not doing any better with Jelly Bean. Sure, there are a bunch of interesting new features, but truly, nothing stands out as being spectacular. Oh, yes, it will run smoother and better than ever. Of course, it better do that. Check out Engadget’s review.
- The Nexus 7 tablet was announced, starting at US$199 for 8GB of storage. Reasonably cheap, competes well against the Kindle Fire, but not exactly in the same league as the iPad. Check out Engadget’s hands-on.
- There’s also the Nexus Q, a media streaming gadget. It costs US$299. I cannot understand why it has to cost US$299 when the Apple TV costs US$99. Like PCWorld says, I think it’s dead on arrival.
- A new Chromebook (via PCWorld). It has updated specs, but nothing like the MBA, in case you’re wondering. Personally, I think that while the Chromebook might have some interesting use cases, it still doesn’t compete with ultralight notebooks. It’s competitor will be the iPad and the new Microsoft Surface Tablet.
- Google Drive and Chrome web browser (via PCWorld) is now available on iOS. Yeah, if you have an iPad but want to use these Google products.
Samsung’s Galaxy S III (SGS3) flagship:
- Samsung announced the SGS3 in a much anticipated event in London on 3rd May. The smartphone became available for purchase in several countries on 29th May.
- The marketing pitch about being “designed for humans” and “inspired by nature” didn’t quite impress me all that much. In fact, I initially thought the phone was quite ugly.
Microsoft announced their new super duper Surface Tablet on 18th May.
- Check out my own blog post. The most exciting thing about this tablet is its Touch Cover. It’s sort of like the iPad’s Smart Cover, except that it also doubles up as a virtual keyboard. Yup. That thin piece of cover, just like that, has become a keyboard.
Busy month, isn’t it?
Google I/O is, arguably, the most value-for-money conference even a non-techie. Attendees get so many goodies. This year, they take home, at the very least, a Galaxy Nexus phone, the new Nexus 7 tablet, the Nexus Q streaming media player, and the Chomebox. Well over US$1000 in value.
I’d want to attend Google I/O next year on my own money too, if only I didn’t also have to pay for a plane ticket to get me there. Freebies are ruining Google I/O, so says ZDNet. But I do count as a devloper.