Saturday, December 31, 2011

Best of 2011

           So here's a look at the most memorable moments of 2011.

1. The Death of Osama - President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and members of the national security team receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House May 1, 2011 in Washington, DC. Obama later announced that the United States had killed Bin Laden in an operation led by U.S. Special Forces at a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

2. The Royal Wedding - An elegant, tiara-bedecked Kate Middleton swept down the aisle to marry Prince William at Westminster Abbey as fans packed the streets of London, hoping to snatch a glimpse of a historic Royal Wedding expected to revitalize the British monarchy. William and Kate received their first wedding present from the Queen: the titles Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

3. World Cup - It was a script, 28 years in the making. Skipper MS Dhoni and his team executed plans to perfection as 2011 began with a bang for Indian sports. The cricket team conquered the world and delighted a billion to lift the trophy of the biggest event in 50-over cricket.

4. Viru slams 219 - India's Virender Sehwag blasted past records as he tormented West Indies like never before. He slapped boundaries and sixes galore in Indore to race past Sachin Tendulkar's record and become the highest scorer in ODIs

5. The year of Steve Jobs - When Jobs unveiled the second iteration of the iPad in March, he predicted that 2011 would be remembered as the year of the iPad 2. He was wrong. 2011 was to prove the year of Steve Jobs, beginning with his frail appearance at the Apple keynote on March 2 2011, to his sudden and shocking resignation as CEO in 24 August 2011 and then his death on October 5, just a day after the launch of the iPhone 4S. He leaves a gaping hole in the ranks tech titans, but also a rich legacy of innovative products to remember him by.

6. Google+ takes on Facebook - The launch of Google+ was a shock, coming, as it did, out of nowhere. Perhaps that was Google's intention. Initially met with scepticism, given Google's track record with social networking (ahem, Orkut!), Google+ quickly proved itself a worthy Facebook competitor. Launched on 28th June 2011, it featured an unique sharing interface called Circles and it introduced a 10 person video chat called Hangouts. Unlike its predecessors Buzz, Wave and Orkut, Google + featured a sharing interface called Circles which was designed by former Macintosh guru Andy Hertzfeld, this in-particular enabled the social network to take-off at the speed of light. Over the months, there is no doubt that its appeal has diminished, especially as Facebook rises to battle with new features, but if there is going to be a social network that will take on Facebook, then Google + is it.

7. Apple iPhone 4S – The much anticipated iPhone 5 proved elusive this year, but Apple did come up with the iPhone 4S. This iteration retained the original design of the iPhone but bumped up dual core specs and introduced a revolutionary voice recognition based artificial intelligence called Siri. Siri pretty much does everything a virtual personal assistant could be expected to do. The iPhone 4S was announced on October 4, a day before the passing of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. It started selling in India from November 25th

 8. Why this Kolaveri Di?? - The song was officially released on 16 November 2011, and it instantly became viral on social networking sites for its quirky "Tanglish" (portmanteau word of Tamil and English) lyrics. Soon, the song became the most searched YouTube video in India and an internet phenomenon across Asia. Within a few weeks, YouTube honored the video with a Recently Most Popular Gold Medal Award for receiving a large number of hits in a short time.The song was named the Best Song of 2011 by CNN 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Most Amazing iPhone Yet!!!

                     The iPhone 4S caught many by surprise, with Apple expected to release the iPhone 5 - but instead we got an iPhone 4 with overhauled innards. While the masses were initially disappointed, the iPhone 4S features a glut of top-end tech that is designed to put it on a par with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S2 - but does it manage to do that? The changes to the iPhone 4S are easy to document - the camera has been upgraded to 8MP (with an improved aperture ratio), the CPU is now the same dual-core A5 processor as seen in the iPad 2, and a seven time increase in graphical processing power. 

Check out the video of the iPhone 4S in action - is it the phone for you?

     Also we've got Siri, Apple's voice recognition service - will this be a game changer for mobile phones or will it be nothing more than a gimmick?

        As we've mentioned, the iPhone 4S is almost identical in outward design to the iPhone 4, which might irk those that like to show that they've got the most up to date device from Apple when out and about with friends. However, the flip side of this is that things like the plethora of iPhone 4 covers on the market at the moment will still fit.

               Apple has slightly changed the design of the iPhone 4S somewhat though, by changing to a dual-band aerial design, making sure it doesn't encounter an embarrassing repeat of antenna-gate we had to endure with the iPhone 4. For all those that haven't seen the older version of the phone, we'll take you on a tour of the new handset: the top of the iPhone 4S houses the power/lock button, as well as the headphone jack, plus a microphone for noise cancellation. The right-hand side of the phone is devoid of any buttons, but holds the slot for the micro SIM card, which pops out using the included tool (or a paperclip).

     The bottom of the phone is pretty standard, with the Apple connector and dual speakers which pump out the (actually quite decent) sound. The left-hand side of the phone sees the rounded volume keys, with the top one of these also acting as the camera shutter button to make it easy to snap with the new iPhone. We've also got the silencer switch too, which has been slightly moved upwards from the previous iteration. As you can see, Apple has altered its antenna band technology to move the gaps that plagued the iPhone 4's reception to a less-touchable location.

The iPhone 4S is the flagship model for the new iOS software from Apple, making it much snazzier once more. We'll walk you through the big changes to start with - and Notifications is up there with the best of them.

                  The new system apes Android by using a drop down menu from pretty much anywhere in the phone to let you see all manner of updates, weather news and messages, plus new notifications will now ping across the top of the screen rather than plopping straight into the middle of the screen like before and disrupting whatever you were doing. It's not revolutionary by any means, but it's well-integrated and makes the whole system feel a whole lot different to iOS 4. The lock screen is now called into more use than ever before too, with new notifications sitting on top to be easily accessed without needing to mess about inside the phone.

                                         We quickly got to grips with this new system and can see a lot of people really enjoying being able to open the camera quickly too, which you can do by simply double tapping the home button on the lock screen. The original system we're fans of is also back in full force, with swipable home screens filled with icons for apps, which you can easily sort into folders or edit by long pressing on the screen. Double tapping the home button will let you see all your open applications, making it easy to multitask on the go, and swiping to the left gets you to the iPod menu to quickly access the controls. It's the closest we get to widgets with this phone, and we're still hankering after more... but that's the choice Apple is making in the face of the widget-laden Android opposition. We would like to see contextual menus throughout the interface, for instance being able to change the settings for an app without having to jump out of the main menu - we're sure this has to be coming soon in a future release.

                    As we've mentioned before, the iPhone 4S now comes with the dual-core A5 processor, which means battery life is meant to be better and the rest of the phone should operate even more snappily.

                                In our tests, we barely noticed that much of a difference in speed with the iPhone 4, as there was never really a problem with opening and closing applications. With the animations still present, it still seems like the iPhone 4S is a little slower than other dual core handsets on the market (although we mean a tiny amount) but in general use it works perfectly. It's the most intuitive system on the market in our eyes - we're fans of the complexity of Android, but not everybody is a power user and for the person that wants a simple smartphone that's easy to pick up and start using, the iPhone 4S is one of the best.

 Final Verdict :

                               The iPhone 4S is a great piece of kit, and one of the best devices Apple has ever produced. It's easy to find things that will make you coo with excitement, and the way the phone is packaged makes it very easy to use from the beginner to the expert smartphone user. Every time we write a new iPhone review we wonder if it's enough of an upgrade to warrant being heralded as the next greatest phone (aside from the iPhone 4, which was a real step forward). We are left with the same feeling with the iPhone 4S - is an upgraded camera, new processor and voice recognition enough to encourage phone sales on a record breaking scale? In all likelihood, yes; Apple has never failed to create an update to a phone that just manages to sneak over the line of being desirable enough to update to, and the iPhone 4S is no exception.

We liked

                                What do we like about the iPhone 4S? Everything we loved about the iPhone 4 and more. The Retina Display is still one of the best on the market, and even in 16 months very few phones have managed to come close to the eye-popping quality. The new camera is fantastic, and as we said: a genuine alternative to a compact point and shoot. We know that's been said before, but we were mightily impressed for a day-to-day snapper. The upgraded processor is going to be a real winner in the future when more heavy-duty apps and games start coming to the market; right now there's not a lot going on that can really draw on the improved graphics and CPU, and the phone was already pretty snappy anyway. Siri is a fun tool - we're undecided about its use in day-to-day life, but there were enough useful options to play with to make it genuinely worthwhile.

We disliked

                              The gripes we have with the iPhone 4S are the same ones we've had for years with Apple's iPhones, and despite the record number of sales for the phones we still think they need to be addressed by Apple. Flash video. We know it's a tired thing to keep talking about, but if Apple isn't going to allow it to work on its phones then it needs some kind of strategy to rid us of the annoying 'You need to download the latest version of Flash player' notifications on websites. The price: it's still way too high in our opinion on contract, with the upfront cost for the iPhone 4S way in excess of anything else on the market on the same tariff. When you see that the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S and HTC Sensation can be bought off contract for the same cost, you have to question where that up front fee is coming from. The contacts list needs an overhaul too, as it's still too spartan for our tastes. Some sort of social networking integration, message history or album connectivity seems right up Apple's street, so we're still wondering why the firm has yet to improve this section.


                                  Let's make no bones about it: the iPhone 4S is one of the best phones on the market at the moment, and the best thing Apple has ever created. It's got all the right bits right: good camera, slick web browser, quality screen - and made it all work together in the way we've come to expect. Some people might be disappointed not to have seen the fabled iPhone 5, with the larger screen and new design, but the iPhone 4S is more than enough to keep Apple fans happy. Simply put: if you've got an iPhone 4, you don't need to upgrade (as long as you update to iOS 5) but for anyone else on an older device, or hankering after finally making the jump to an iPhone, you should run down to the shops and pick one up now - you won't regret it.