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You are here: MacNN Forums > Community > MacNN Lounge > The mobile OS war - does it still matter?

The mobile OS war - does it still matter?
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Phileas
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Dec 4, 2012, 07:22 AM
 
I get to play with every major mobile OS out there - iOS, Android, now Windows8. And while at the beginning there were noticeable differences between the makers, I feel that we've now reached a state that's close to feature parity.

Yes, the Windows app store is a bit barren, yes the google Play store is full of spammy garbage and parts of Android are still damn ugly, but the main players (for me) are all well developed across all platforms.

I use:

dropbox to access my files from anywhere
Evernote for shared notes
gmail for domains for all my email accounts
iTunes match has been supplemented by a google mirror, so all my music is everywhere, without any manual input from me.
RSS is google reader, twitter is hootsuite, etc, etc.

Whether I am using a Lumia, an iPhone or my Lexus 7, everything I could possibly ask for in a mobile device is always available. I am gettiing closer and closer to a place where I'd be hard pressed to express any preference for any OS.
     
ort888
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Dec 4, 2012, 07:29 AM
 
Not according to the comments on most sites.

From what I understand, you cannot do anything at all on an iPhone. It's basically a status symbol for shallow morons. In fact, when you push the buttons, all it does is make honkey-honkey clown noises and flash colors at you.

Apple's marketing has convinced the pathetic sheep of the world that this is what a high tech device is.

Anyone who has done an ounce of research knows that the Samsung Droid Xyborg 4G Extreme Maxx 2 flashed with Cyononomoginide 4.12.2 with 14 screens of dynamic rotating widgets is the only way to go. I spent 80 hours tinkering with my phone so that I can get the weather 2 seconds faster than you can. Beat that brainwashed iSheep.

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knifecarrier2
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Dec 4, 2012, 10:42 AM
 
^ slow clap
     
Spheric Harlot
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Dec 4, 2012, 12:36 PM
 
I think we can all all agree that comments on Internet articles and forums aren't representative of reality.

See blahblahbber's comments on Logic over in the news thread on this site for proof. Logic is obviously outdated and in need of an overhaul because the color scheme doesn't match his socks, and he wasn't able to turn out a "great track" within minutes.
     
jmiddel
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Dec 4, 2012, 04:55 PM
 
I am sure there is feature parity, but what is the experience of using these features on each OS? Just looking at the Windows tiles makes my eyes hurt, because they are straining to see the non existent depth dimension that my iPhone screen has, icons floating over a background that has perspective in it. And these days do I really want an Android with all the hacking it's subject to?
     
Phileas  (op)
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Dec 5, 2012, 06:54 AM
 
That's what I am questioning. For as long as one stays away from the murkier parts of the Play store (HEY< GRAB THIS FREE BOOBIES APP) then there's no real difference in experience.

The big apps have all arrive at feature and design parity. Using Evernote on my Nexus 7 feels the same as using it on my iPad - apart from the fact that screen is smaller, obviously. I am not trying to say that we should not have personal preferences, that would be silly, but there seems to me an age of parity on the way.

It will be interesting to see what the next big gamechanger will be - I am putting money on wearable computers.
     
mindwaves
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Dec 5, 2012, 07:08 AM
 
I think it matters a lot.

I also think Windows 8 probably has the best mobile OS out there. Those tiles are amazing after I spent five minutes playing with them. Over the long term, I do not know but they seem nice. Kind of what I imagined Steve would do since he always was talking about typography back in his college days. This is coming from an iPhone 4S user. I would never go Android. That is just a big mess complete with monster sized phones.
     
ort888
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Dec 5, 2012, 10:23 AM
 
In all seriousness, and back to the original post...

Yes, we've basically already achieved parity. But there is a pretty big difference in the way all 3 OSes work, enough that it's easy to understand why they appeal to different people.

I do think we've hit a wall of sorts, and that the mobile device market has matured to a point where we will no longer be seeing massive improvements year-over-year.

And it still matters a lot to the companies involved, because while there are a lot of people with smart phones out there, there are a whole lot more, a whole whole lot more, without them. Especially in non 1st-world countries. The potential for growth in this market is pretty mind-boggling. Even compared to the growth we've seen in the last 5 years.

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Waragainstsleep
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Dec 5, 2012, 11:38 AM
 
The mobile OS war has a long way to go and at least one more paradigm shift to make in the not too distant future. Check out the Youtube video of Google's Project Glass. Thats where I see things heading.

The trick is going to be how you interact with the information on your heads up display glasses. Assuming you can't use some kind of thought control, you'd look daft talking to yourself moreso than you already do on hands free kits, and a whole room full of people talking to their glasses would be a bizarre sight. You could use some kind of magic trackpad type device on a wrist strap to control a pointer but that seems a step backwards to me. My best guess without thinking about it a whole lot is to restrict menu options to a limited number of different shaped buttons on your wrist pad that correspond to the same shapes in the same relative positions on your heads up view. You could also allow some kind of swiping and/or scrolling. Maybe it could be done with eye tracking and some kind of blinking code though. I'm thinking as I type.

What do others think would be the best interface to control your heads up glasses?
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
Spheric Harlot
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Dec 5, 2012, 12:17 PM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
What do others think would be the best interface to control your heads up glasses?
A socket at the back of the head.
     
ort888
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Dec 5, 2012, 12:18 PM
 
Right now I think you navigate google glass with super subtle head movements and nods.

I'm not convinced it's a real viable product. Not in the next 5 years anyway.

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Eug
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Dec 5, 2012, 01:09 PM
 
? I thought there is no Dropbox for Windows Phone 8.

Anyways, I just ordered a Nexus 4, mainly because it's a high end phone for $360, and I like Jelly Bean. I was comfortable doing that because you can sync iCloud (iCal, Address Book) to Android, as evidenced by it working just fine on my Nexus 7. I don't think there is any way of doing this on Windows Phone 8 though, so I'm not willing to consider the Lumia 920. IOW, Windows Phone 8 is still too poorly supported at the moment IMO.

I don't think Android has achieved parity with iOS yet though. Jelly Bean is still more rough around the edges than iOS, and it is more bug ridden IMO. It's also not as user friendly overall. However, it's way, way better than it used to be, and finally with 4.1 it's truly Good Enough for many users, including myself.
     
Waragainstsleep
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Dec 5, 2012, 01:39 PM
 
Originally Posted by ort888 View Post
Right now I think you navigate google glass with super subtle head movements and nods.
I'm not convinced it's a real viable product. Not in the next 5 years anyway.
I think any version released in the next five years will have room to polish it but the only thing missing is the wireless video glasses. If you are only overlaying basic shapes and text in limited colours, you don't need massive bandwidth between the glasses and the handset. Curved transparent LCDs already exist to quite high quality so a lower quality version should be doable. As a first version, you wouldn't need the whole lens to be a display. You could just start with the top 10-20mm or so. Now I think of it, I'm almost surprised it hasn't been done already.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
Waragainstsleep
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Dec 5, 2012, 01:40 PM
 
Navigating with head nods will make you look like you have Tourette's Syndrome.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
Eug
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Dec 5, 2012, 02:42 PM
 
Well, maybe it's less crazy looking than talking to Siri on an iPhone.
     
Phileas  (op)
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Dec 5, 2012, 03:42 PM
 
Eyeball tracking already works. That's how glasses will be controlled IMO.
     
ort888
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Dec 5, 2012, 06:24 PM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
I think any version released in the next five years will have room to polish it but the only thing missing is the wireless video glasses. If you are only overlaying basic shapes and text in limited colours, you don't need massive bandwidth between the glasses and the handset. Curved transparent LCDs already exist to quite high quality so a lower quality version should be doable. As a first version, you wouldn't need the whole lens to be a display. You could just start with the top 10-20mm or so. Now I think of it, I'm almost surprised it hasn't been done already.
From what I understand Google Glass only displays information in the top 10% of your vision. It does not put magical floating graphics all over the place. I'm sure they can fix this at some point down the road, but for now, it's only in the peripheral.

That demo video they put out a while ago is probably setting expectations too high.

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mattyb
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Dec 6, 2012, 07:40 AM
 
It does still matter for those that care about control of the OS. Apps, like Phileas said, are all the same across the OSes.

I love Apple's OS X. I don't love Apple's control of iOS.
     
Waragainstsleep
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Dec 6, 2012, 01:27 PM
 
Originally Posted by ort888 View Post
From what I understand Google Glass only displays information in the top 10% of your vision. It does not put magical floating graphics all over the place. I'm sure they can fix this at some point down the road, but for now, it's only in the peripheral.
That demo video they put out a while ago is probably setting expectations too high.
I don't see why. Most of the tech exists to build it already one way or another. Its just a matter of shrinking it a bit so the glasses don't end up looking like one of those 90s VR helmets.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
ort888
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Dec 6, 2012, 01:35 PM
 
The tech exists, but I don't think it exists in a way that can make a reasonable eyepiece.

I can't seem to find a link, but I remember that during the initial wave of Google Glass hype, I read a long article that featured several different companies that were working on very similar technology and they were all saying that where we are today is nowhere near where that video is. Most of the things the other guys were working on looked like big fat ski goggles.

There isn't a good way, today, to get images flying around all over your field of vision.

Especially in a package that has a reasonable price and looks like something someone would actually want to wear.

Now, I don't know, maybe Google is light years ahead of the rest of these guys... maybe it's just sour grapes from the competition.

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knifecarrier2
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Dec 6, 2012, 02:13 PM
 
I think screens that can adapt in shape to provide tactile feedack around buttons will be the next big thing. My iPhone is okay... but from a user-machine interface it kind of sucks. You have to be looking at it, and even then the buttons are often so small you can't tell what you're pressing. I saw some prototype with inflatable sections, I'm not sure that is the answer either... Flexible touchscreen might work, if you had stuff that could move behind it. Idk.
     
exca1ibur
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Dec 6, 2012, 02:38 PM
 
As someone who wears glasses, I am NOT buying into wearing eye pieces to view my phone or any type of interactive device. So Glass for me personally isn't even on my radar. 3D glasses are bad enough as most don't even take into account of designing them to fit over glasses as it is.

Tactile feedback on a touchscreen has been around for a while, with the limitation that the entire screen basically feedback not specific region. My Alpine media deck in installed in my car about 5 years ago has this. This would be nice to have in a phone but the biggest problem with that will be to assign it to regions of the screen. Since the UI can be anything the UI would have to control the contour of the 'button' area to ID by touch only. The only thing I can thing of that would work presently is the corners of the screen. Those areas are easy to find by touch, but for regions of the screen we are looking at expensive solutions, of and adaptive screen.
     
Waragainstsleep
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Dec 6, 2012, 02:42 PM
 
Thats a good point. There was a lot of buzz around haptic displays a while back. The first ones were supposed to simulate the feel of buttons by stimulating nerve endings with tiny electric 'shocks', then I recall a patent that was able to raise sections of the screen surface to use as buttons. Not sure how that one actually worked. Nothing really seems to have come of it though.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
   
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