Tag Archives: Apple

How Smart is the iPad 2 Smart Cover?

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Would you be smart to buy a iPad Smart Cover? Apple designed the cover with the same brilliance they approach hardware design. The case will fold back to act as a prop when watching movies and videos. It folds up to tilt the screen when you need to type. The case was created to work with your device… the iPad will wake up when the Smart Cover opens and goes to sleep when the cover is closed. All of this sounds fantastic… but does it really stand up to the hype?

What’s interesting is that the magnets on the Smart Cover automagically home in on where they need to be when they come close to your iPad. They lock in place lickety-split. There’s no snapping, sliding or cursing involved when you add your cover like you see with other offerings on the market.

By having the cover control the sleep cycle of the iPad, you’re potentially saving on your battery life. Additionally, it can provide a thin layer of security. Let’s say you are in a coffee shop working on a top-secret presentation and a casual acquaintance walks over to say hello. Slide your Smart Cover in place and your screen won’t be seen by whomever may be nearby. You don’t have to fold your arms over the top of the screen or turn it upside-down. Just let your cover do its job and carry on your conversation.

One issue I’ve had with the Smart Cover is that it takes much more to push buttons – especially the Home button – than it does without the case in place. You have to actually grip the iPad before pressing the Home button, instead of just tapping with a finger. That isn’t really a huge deal, but it is slightly annoying. The device just isn’t as touch-responsive as it was before.

This little cover is definitely worth some money. Is it worth as much as Apple is charging? That is something only you can decide. Who am I to say how much any gadget or item is worth to you?

What are your thoughts? Have you gotten a Smart Cover yet? What are you looking forward to in the near future in terms of other cases and covers that will be released in stores?

Apple Digital AV Adapter for the iPad

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The Apple Digital AV Adapter allows you to mirror anything on your iPad 2 screen to an HDTV or computer monitor with HDMI input. Use this compact little cord to show your apps, presentations and more right on your big-screen television or computer monitor. While most displays render in full 1080p, movies will play at up to 720p.

Watch your movies and slideshows simply by connecting your iPad, iPhone 4 or iPod touch 4th gen using this av cable. A second 30-ping adapter allows you to charge and sync your device while it is connected to your HDMI display.

As you can see in the video, I can view nearly everything on my iPad right on that television. Audio and video both come through very clearly. My device is not jailbroken in any way: I simply used the av adapter. Being able to output your files onto a much larger screen is nearly priceless in some instances. It has certainly made the iPad even more useful than it already was!

I’m sure by now you’re wondering why – exactly – you would even care to do something like this. After all, you bought the iPad because it is small, light and portable. However, there truly could be instances where you would want or need to see what’s on the device on a much larger screen. Perhaps you have put together a presentation you need to share for work. Instead of praying anyone other than the person next to you can see it on the iPad screen, why not plug it in to an external HDMI display?

Use your iPad to create a slideshow for your parent’s anniversary dinner and share it on a bigger screen with everyone gathered together. Shoot a video on the device to propose to your significant other and broadcast it on the television when she (or he!) least expects it. There are so many things you could do with this one tiny little white cable that it boggles the mind.

Go ahead – grab one for yourself and watch as I grin quietly instead of saying “I told you so.”

iPad 2 Initial Impressions

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I like to give new gadgets a little bit of my time before giving initial impressions or reviews. Too many tech “reviewers” don’t give objects their full attention prior to posting their supposed thoughts. They don’t get to know the ins, outs and quirks of a new device. You have to really USE your new toy quite a bit before you know for a fact that you are giving an honest opinion. This is why I waited a few days before even recording a video about my initial impressions.

After playing around with my iPad 2 the other day, I spent a few hours playing around with it. I’m pretty happy thus far with the upgrade. The speed differences are a little noticeable. There’s not a huge jump in speed, no.. but you can definitely tell the difference. The outside looks great. I happen to like the new design!

One of the noticeable differences in the design is the way that the port is exposed, much like the iPod touch. I’m not sure I really thrilled about this part. I can certainly lock the cable in properly. Since there’s nothing flat for the cable to sit up against, it’s easier for the cable to be jarred.

It’s nice to have a camera on the iPad, yes… even though they don’t work all that well. I’ve written my thoughts about that in a blog post, so I won’t bother to go into it again. I don’t feel the camera is going to be used as a primary one for any of you, anyway. It’s more there to use FaceTime or whatever other online type of video chatting you may need to do.

In terms of graphics capabilities.. they work well enough. They seem to run a bit more smoothly than on the older iteration. As the apps are optimized for this new version, we may see even better differences.

The iPad 2 suffers from the exact same problem as iPad 1 – fingerprints! I cannot wait to find a matte screen protector that will work well for this new device. I can’t stand to see a dirty screen. It just freaks me out. I can’t help it!

The Photo Booth built-in app is a lot of fun. There are many seriously cool effects that you can do with just a few taps, pinches or flicks of a finger. I don’t know about you, but I enjoy making myself look freaky. I saw this event based photo booth people may be interested in.

I did particularly enjoy not having to reorganize this new iPad. When I plugged it in to sync for the first time, it asked me if I wanted to restore from a backup. Uh – yes please! All of my apps and folders magically appeared the way I wanted them.. including many passwords!

As I said the other day, Zen Viewer HD is the best document reader. I’m more than happy with it, and not only because we gave away five copies of the app! There are a ton of excellent features, including easy management of nearly every type of file and media you can think of.

Even with nearly 400 apps, my iPad 2 runs smoothly. Thus far, I’m very happy. Are you?

My iPad Best Buy Adventure Was Not a Good One

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Today was a good one due to the fact that I was able to get my iPad 2. However, the events leading up to the device being placed in my hands were NOT so great. Earlier today, I uploaded a video discussing how I was waiting in line at Best Buy to get the new iPad. After waiting in line for several hours, I was informed that Best Buy wasn’t carrying the 3G model that I wanted.

This really upset me, as the company never bothered to tell people that they wouldn’t be carrying that model. Nothing was said about it on their website or in print ads. I am not sure that this is the fault of the store, though. The blame likely lies with Apple themselves, since no one was allowed to discuss inventory. This is doing a serious disservice to customers, though.

Had I known that this store wasn’t carrying the 3G model, I would have gone elsewhere – perhaps an AT&T store. After being disappointed at Best Buy, I walked across the parking lot to an AT&T store, only to find they were only given SIX total 3G units. Since so many people were in line ahead of me already by this point, I knew it was fruitless to join them.

I didn’t want to “settle” for a WiFi only model. The GPS capability in the 3G version alone is enough to have made me want that particular iPad. Also, if I happen to be traveling and (God forbid!) something happens to my iPhone (or it loses battery), I can easily switch over to the iPad for my online needs.

I went back to the Best Buy store to pick up the unit that had been secured for a friend. I called another friend – Reza – who I knew was waiting in line at another store. He indicated he got the iPad models he wanted and he was shocked that I wasn’t able to procure mine. He was kind enough to swap one of his iPad tickets for the 64GB black WiFi 3G model I wanted so that I could still have my device today. I’m beyond grateful to him for doing this.

This was the first product from Apple that I have ever waited in line for. I was upset with Best Buy due to not being forthcoming with information on what they would have in stock. I’m also disappointed in Apple for not allowing stores to give us this type of heads up.

While waiting in line at the original Best Buy, I finally get to the front of the line and was asked by the manager what I do. I explained about the video and live streaming, and indicated that I wanted the model they ended up not having. This made me angry, knowing that many hours of my time was wasted. They could have treated their customers better. Had I known this ahead of time, I would have spent more time in the Apple store line, knowing I would get the unit I wanted.

This isn’t the way to treat people, folks. People will remember things like this the next time they will make an impact on buying decisions.

MacWorld Expo 2011 – Worst of All

This is a guest post written by Imei Hsu as a follow-up to her MacWorld 2011 – Best of All post.

When I do something wrong, I apologize. Making errors can be embarrassing, which probably has something to do with why I’ve taken so long to share with the community my Macworld Expo 2011 Worst of All post, a.ka. face palm edition. I don’t like people to feel ashamed for what might be experienced as anything between, “WTF?” to “I don’t get it.” But here are my thoughts on this year’s MacWorld “Worst of All” picks.

Worst of All

iFusion – OK, I get that for those who work in an office space with more than ten employees who have iPhones, being able to turn your iPhone into a desk phone via Bluetooth using the iFusion could be a viable solution. I do not understand how a business owner would justify paying $169 per unit so you as an employee could enjoy a charging station and your music over the speaker without getting a neck cramp. Nor could I understand that the unit is only for iPhone, and not for other kinds of mobile phones, because what is the likelihood you’ll know what employees have iPhones (unless you bought them yourself)?

I also could not see the home market taking off with this either. I hardly know anyone who uses their landlines much. I could see a much older market finding this product useful, but I was left scratching my head. The handset phone market is dying, isn’t it? Do we really have use for the iFusion? Call it iConfusion.

Yet one more iPad case with a strap. – Anyone who has used an iPad and tried standing or walking with it immediately discovers that typing with one hand while holding it steady with the other takes a little practice. If I recall, that might have been what caused Chris Pirillo to drop my first iPad [BTW, I may already have a buyer for that one when I get the iPad2, hee hee]. However, at Macword Expo 2011, there were quite a few vendors specializing in iPad accessories dedicated to that strap issue. How many iPad case strap vendors does it take to cover a conference? Really?

I’ll admit there were just as many iPhone case vendors as well, but to their credit, quite a few of them had some interesting offerings, including one that made your iPhone look like an old cassette tape, and another that put more bling bling on your iPhone than Zsa Zsa Gabor and Queen Elizabeth combined. At least they were interesting. No picture here. To include one would be flog you with the one corner of the Expo I didn’t wish to revisit.

HatTV. – Or is it TV Hat? Apparently, they are one and the same! Debuting in 2009, the 2011 version comes in all black, converting outdoor mobile phone movie watching and gaming into a mildly pervy, voyeuristic, claustraphobic, and definitely morbid (a la guillotine hood) experience. Inside the hat is a magnifying custom lens and a mobile device holder; outside, the dark material keeps out the sun so you can watch your porn anywhere. But now, the vendor will suggest you to watch your porn while fondling your mate in bed in a seamless user experience. It was declared one of the weirdest products at CES 2010. When the vendor suggested one could cut a hole in the front so the camera could be used to film others for up to six hours of uninterrupted use (yes, he actually did say that in front of me), I laughed so hard I thought I might just throw up. Strangely, I imagine this product would do well in an elephant gift exchange or as a novelty gift in a Mac-centric adult toy store.

Spotty wireless coverage. – The two times I mentioned the spotty wireless coverage (you can get on for a few seconds, but like a speedy merry-go-round, everyone eventually falls off), my friends shrugged their shoulders and smiled. Apparently, this problem isn’t going to be fixed any time soon. But if you wanted to try out that new app you just downloaded, better remember to increase your data plan before attending MacWorld 2011, or it’ll cost you.

Thought: couldn’t vendors raffle away free wireless coverage for the day through their routers if we stood on our heads or flapped our lips about how much we LOVED their product?

Unimaginative booths with even less function. – My parents took us to some conventions back in the early 1980’s, and booths look about as boring then as they do now. I don’t need to remind you how much these spaces cost, and what great lengths some companies go to in order to build ceiling banners and structures to make their booths stand out. Problem: to make a temporary structure not look so temporary. Solution: be creative.

Rather than show you example after example of really plain and sometimes downright ugly presentations of booths, I’ll show you the one that did it “right”. Pictured here is the backside of the structure Gelaskins built. It reminded me of an urban street corner with planned art, and the front side looked like a bar where you could slide up and select from a menu of devices and designs. The fact that Violet Blue and Ben Metcafe are standing in front of it just makes it all that much more attractive.

Gelaskins got it totally right at the conference. At least no one dared to cover their entire vending space with brown paper and leave crayons behind (I won’t tell you what conference I saw that offering in).

The mini kioks were nice, but I had wished the entire thing was arranged a bit more like Disneyland and a bit less like a backyard carnival. Kudos to the small business owners who prepared for purchases by using Square. Boo to those who resorted to carbon-copy receipts (are you kidding? really?).

No road signs and no escorts

The big “face palm” of the Expo isn’t what you’d expect. Isn’t the live demos, panels, and presentations supposed to be the crowd gatherers? Didn’t we come here to learn something new? Instead, I heard some disappointing feedback about the workshops and presentations. Some complained how the presentations barely scratched the surface of the subject, lacking depth or direction. Some were in rooms tucked away from the main floor and poorly advertised. While the MacWorld App had up-to-date information on the locations and times of presentations and panels, I would have missed the best if people hadn’t grabbed me to come along.

I admit I missed a demo that sounded interesting. Some time ago, I had downloaded MorphWiz on my iPad, but I never really used it all that much. The app seemed to draw more “mehs” from other casual users. A man sitting next to me during a music demo started asking me a lot of questions, and the flirt-dork that I am, it took me a few moments to register that he was hitting on me. He wanted me to check out a presentation about to start in another room. I said no, simply because I was uncomfortable. Later, he returned to where I was still seated, saying, “You missed a really good presentation.You should have come,” and he walked away.

That evening, several attendees mentioned they had sat in on a “fascinating” music demonstration by the one of the creators behind the MorphWiz app, Jordan Rudess. Oops. That was the presentation the man had wanted me to attend with him! While I might not be a fan of MorphWiz because I am simply not familiar with the potential of the app, I am smart enough to know that you always start with the inventor if you really want to know the soul of an application. [Ladies: do not ask me if the man was cute. It’s a room full of geeks. They’re ALL cute.] Now, if there had been an indicator of what the actual presentation was going to be, I might have made a different decision. Redemption: I pulled out the app for the ladies and let them play on my iPad, which they had only seen in the demonstration. Score!

Will any of these things in the Face Palm edition of Macworld Worst Of All keep me from attending next year? Doubtful. But I hope next year’s offering continues to inspire, improve, and wow us in the same way as the Apple products themselves. While Macworld doesn’t have the kind of money Apple does, I am confident that Macheads the world over will think of ways to make it work. I am counting on it as a newbie to the world of all things Apple. If I didn’t believe this, I wouldn’t have changed my brand motto to got iMei?

B. iMei Hsu is a nurse psychotherapist, performance artist, guest blogger on Lockergnome, and writer for Lockergnome’s Psycho Nurse as well as her own webblog Hips For Hire. Her visit to MacWorld 2011 included a field trip to the Mothership, where she ended up coming home with a Mac-mini and a second iPad for Dj’ing. When she’s not playing Battlestar Galactica reruns for her Applehead iCat Siamese Charles-Monet, she’s heating up the dance floor and pouring the red wine in her art loft in Seattle, WA.

10 Reasons I Don’t Like the Mac App Store

I realize the Mac App Store workflow is designed for the “average” Mac user, but I happen to download Mac apps from across the Web. Does that make me an edge case?

I’ve just found the Mac App Store to be a bit… disappointing. Yes, I like that Apple is making it a bit easier to discover vetted software, but there are some places where the Mac App Store just falls short in my book.

You can’t expect something to get better if you do nothing but praise it.

  1. What’s up with that interface? Seriously? If this is what we can expect in 10.7, fine – but give it to us then, not now. Is this where iTunes is headed after a much-needed overhaul?
  2. You’re not surfacing my apps directory / subdirectory for updates on apps you know are already listed in the App Store. Why? I would have to “re-download” the app from the App Store in order for you to recognize that there’s an update available. You have a “Purchases” sheet, so why not a general “Installed” sheet, too? Bridge the gap, man.
  3. You don’t give me a choice as to where I might install the app. Most people would choose the Applications folder, but I’ve reinstalled and moved computers one too many times to keep things in there. I created a “Tools” subdirectory, and you can (obviously) see that.
  4. You always place an icon for an installed app in the dock. Do you not see that I keep killing them as quickly as you create ’em? Finding an app quickly is what Spotlight is there for.
  5. Sometimes you tell me that I’ve made no purchases, even though I have – and I’m still logged in. Baffling.
  6. Why do I have to launch the App Store app to find out if any apps have been updated? Maybe Sparkle has spoiled me, maybe the App Store app needs to be more proactive?
  7. You show me that I have apps installed, but… why not go a step further (for the every-man, in particular): make it easy to uninstall an App’s traces from your system, including cleaning up preferences that AppZapper usually has to get?
  8. In the “Purchases” sheet, my inclination to get more information about an app is to click its name. But that doesn’t do anything, here. Sure, the clickable icon is right there – but what’s keeping you from hyperlinking the title, too? Seems more than a bit unintuitive.
  9. It’d be nice to be able to browse changelogs, or see a zeitgeist of how often an app has updated (and when). Unfortunately, most developers are horrendous at marketing or revealing information, so if you’re really trying to boost the ecosystem, at least put yourself in the user’s shoes.
  10. Still no clear software refunds policy. I’ve been burned a few times (not through the App Store, but if the App Store doesn’t provide me a blanket of security – what’s the point of using it over a developer’s own Web site).

Dunno. It has promise. But, as far as scanning my system for software updates is concerned, I’m just as inclined to use AppFresh (while imperfect) over anything else.

Can Apple Survive Without Steve Jobs?

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Over on the Lockergnome Q&A site, someone recently asked if Apple would die without Steve Jobs. What a timely discussion to be having, in light of the news spreading today about his health. There is no doubt that Jobs was instrumental in building the company into what it is today. But that doesn’t mean it will shrivel up and die without him.

Apple has been based on Steve’s eye for product for many years. I don’t think the company will go to hell in a handbasket though. I’d like to believe he’s imparted enough insight and foresight to his employees that the company will carry on just fine. It won’t be the same, no. If Apple doesn’t maintain its course in the way it does things, it will slip into obscurity.

Some people like to claim Apple is “dead” anyway. They’ll tout “Windows this” or “Android that.” I don’t know that Apple has ever tried to be some mythical “number one” at anything, though. Let’s take a look at money made just from handsets alone. That number – for Apple – is so high, my hand went off the screen during the video. As an operating system, Android could be “number one.” But they aren’t making as much money as Apple is.

For me, it’s about having the best-working device and experience possible. I wasn’t an Apple fan up until just a couple of years ago. I shifted when Apple began to shift. It’s about quality and elegance. That’s something that isn’t rivaled by any other company. Everyone else is just a kluge. I’m saying that with all due respect, but no one has the style that Apple is throwing out the door every day.

Apple has a fine attention to detail. That’s what makes them the power company they are. The hope is that the same attention to detail has permeated every employee. The company will succeed just fine without Steve Jobs. Does that mean we won’t mourn his loss? Of course not. He’s a leader… a visionary. But he’s not the only person who possesses those qualities.

Steve Jobs’ Cancer is a Call to Action

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Today, word came across the wire that Steve Jobs was undergoing treatment for his pancreatic cancer. It’s possible that he only has weeks to live, which would only cast a dark cloud over the entire consumer electronics industry.

We need a Steve Jobs – just as we need every other tech visionary. He may not always play ball, but that’s PRECISELY WHY we need him.

When I Tweeted this news yesterday, I said that if Steve Jobs were to die, a piece of me would die with him. Many people responded with their agreement, but one kid in particular sparked this video. He replied and stated that if the worst happens to Jobs, he (the kid) would celebrate. I forgave him that, because he IS a kid. The problem is, this kid is also a geek – in a big way.

Even if you don’t like Steve Jobs or Apple, you cannot deny the ways in which they have influenced you. Losing that inspiration is not something to celebrate. The way the world works is through inspiration. Art inspires art. Technology inspires technology. People inspire people.

Speaking as someone who didn’t care too much about Apple or Steve Jobs himself until recently, you should pause before saying something so incredibly short-sighted. Even though it was a kid who Tweeted that, I’m pretty sure there are plenty of adults who would say something similar regarding the loss of this man who is a visionary and a great leader. You cannot deny his influence and inspiration.

At any point in the future – no matter how long it takes – when it happens, keep in mind that Steve Jobs inspired something in your life… directly or indirectly. To celebrate the loss of his life is making you look like a moron. I wouldn’t consider you someone worthy of my respect were you to say something rude about any visionary leaving this Earth long before their time. I’d be saying the same thing if we were discussing Steve Ballmer right now.

Like it or not – Steve Jobs is a leader. That’s the type of leadership that every single one of us geeks has been inspired by. He is the type of leader we need more of, folks. We need people who can step up to the plate and take on the challenge of leading a technology generation into the future. It’s not something that everyone could do, obviously, but it’s something that needs to happen.

Instead of spending your time trolling and doing nothing with your life, why not do SOMETHING? Take this as a call to action. Become the next Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. You have that power in you. Fifty years from now, the world could mourn your loss and be inspired by the things you did.

Don’t just sit there. DO SOMETHING with your life. Realize that you don’t have to be the next Torvolds or Gates or Jobs – as long as you’re doing something. There are small ways you can inspire others… small ways you can leave your mark on the world. But by God – get off your butt and make that mark. Stop being afraid. Stop holding yourself back with excuses. Stop whining about how everyone is against you and there’s nothing you can do about it. Many others before you have blown those excuses out of the water, and so can you.

If you have a dream – make it happen. If you have an idea – turn it into a reality. If you have passion – act on it. Your life is going to be what YOU make of it. Make it something good.

Edited to add: After this video and post had gone live, I received the following email from Jamo. He has given me permission to post his words verbatim. If what I had to say didn’t touch you in some way, perhaps Jamo’s words will strike a chord within you.

Something possessed me to type up part of your monologue from your “Steve Jobs’ Cancer – Dying Soon?” video. If I had to say why I did, it would be because it struck a chord with me in one way or another. I am only an 18 year old kid (I say kid and not adult because I feel I am not yet mature or wise enough to call myself a true adult. And I am sad to say that I also don’t believe that a good amount of ‘adults’ should call themselves that either) so I still feel I have time to wise up and make the world a better place and I will most certainly do my best to do so. I am so glad that you are using your unique position in the world to tell people that they really need to do something. I also applaud you being so direct and not fearing the backlash that may come with it. I think that people need to hear this. I decided to bold the parts that really stuck out to me:

“Unfortunately, I would go as far as to say, unfortunately, 90% of the people that comment on this video have done nothing with their lives, nothing. And sadly, they will likely continue to do nothing with their lives. So take this as a call to action. Become the next Steve Jobs. Become the next Bill Gates. You have that power in you. So that 50 years from now the world would mourn your loss and be inspired by the things you did, because if you’re not providing inspiration, quite honestly, you are taking up space; you are wasting your life.

I very much agree with this and I want you to know that it has done nothing less than strengthen my testimony of the importance of doing something of use in life and not just being a stagnant lump on society’s butt. I wanted to make aware that what you said has strengthened at least one person that listened to it.

So I would like to end this by saying thank you for making this video, taking you time to read through this email and doing your part to inspire the world.

Dismal Turnout for Verizon iPhone

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Kelly was on the scene at Seattle-area Verizon iPhone launch locations early this morning. Here she talks to the first person in line at the Seattle University District Verizon Wireless store, then travels a few blocks to the University Village Apple Store where 1 person was in line.

Seattle mirrors similar lackluster turnouts for the Verizon iPhone launch, suggesting that a Verizon iPhone may not be the big deal everyone expected.

According to the USA Today, Seattle definitely wasn’t the only store with smaller than expected turnouts. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster tracked the turnout at several other stores, including New York City’s Fifth Avenue Apple Store. That location saw 1400 people waiting in line for the iPhone 4 release last summer. This morning saw only 40 people waiting for the Verizon version.

Many analysts are “blaming” the cold weather and online pre-sales for the disappointing numbers. Will Verizon really sell 1 million units by the end of the weekend as predicted? I am starting not to think so. What are your thoughts?

Android Takes Over as Leading Smartphone Platform

According to new research by Canalys, Google’s Android platform has taken over the top smartphone platform spot from Symbian in the last quarter of 2010. Global sales of Android phones during this time period was 33.3 million. This is in comparison to Symbian’s 31 million. Apple came in at third place with 16.2 million iOS smartphones shipped, followed by RIM with 14.6 million and Microsoft with 3.1 million.

Android is being used by manufacturers such as LG, Samsung, Acer and HTC. All of these companies has seen excellent sales results with devices based on this platform. Is it fair, though, to compare something like Android to iOS? Apple’s operating system only appears on one smartphone, whereas Android shows up in more devices than we can count. In light of that, I’d say that the iOS numbers are nothing to sneeze at.

The change at the top doesn’t come as much of a shock. Nokia reported not long ago that they are having weak sales. The company claims this is a result of their struggles to transform the Symbian platform into something that can truly compete with iOS and Android.

Which smartphone platform are you using? What do you love about it?