What you need to know about 64 bit Processors

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As silly as it might sound but Samsung has committed itself to a slew of new mobile processors after being told by Apple to buckle up. This was after the launch of iPhone 5S where it was announced that 64 bit is where the A7processor stands today. The A7 is so new that no games or apps has been tailored to meet the new 65 bit requirements…oppss….requirement is the wrong word. Let’s back track a little.

Android Can’t talk 64 Bit

This is true. All the current line of Processors for the Android platform run on 32 bits. Even the code from Jelly Bean, the current OS from Google refuses to talk in 64 bit. Samsung promised that it will have a 64 bit processor ready….soon. Well, soon maybe a bit too early. Try next year when Android releases Kit Kat and find out for yourself if that is truly 64 bit . Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3, which is suppose to take on the Apple devices this year has only a 32 bit processor! So does it mean anything?

iPhone’s Spiffy new Processor

iOS 7 and the A7 are both 64 bit compliant. That’s crazy if you asked me. Too damn fast for something that small. But how is that going to add up in terms of performance? Guess, what…..its zilch!. Here’s Why it won’t work.

Where’s My Gas Tank Dude?

Did you know that Apple claims that it has a 10 percent larger battery? Yup. If you are lucky, it is suppose to give you a further 10 hours or talk time, that’s provided you use it for talking and not playing games and other stuff. With any luck, your new iPhone will tank out  an hour later than previously assumed if you had all the connections made thru WiFi, IM, FB, Instagram running all at the same time. 64 bit processors are very thirsty to run. If you don’t have the fuel for it. You won’t go the extra mile.

Where is the Extra space Dude?

Apple never claimed anything extravagant about RAM, and that’s where it will give you the most problems. The iPhone 5 only has 1GB of RAM. The Galaxy Note 3 has 3GB of RAM. And guess what? For a 64 bit processor to show its true prowess, you need a minimum of 4GB of RAM! So if you unwrapped your new iPhone 5S, and find out that you only have 2GB of RAM tops. You are not going to seen any difference! Apple has been mum about the whole affair hoping that you won’t know the difference.

WTF is the Upgrade in plain English Dude?

There are no apps that are optimized for 64 bit processing but it will come later in the year. Then you have the problem of another kind, seeing some speed gain or superficial speed gain, which at this moment is negligible. Google doesn’t think you need 64 bit processing as yet for one simple reason. There is no reason to!

Apple has technically sold you a car with a fantastic new engine but without the necessary hardware to make it move faster than it was originally claimed. WTF is Apple doing? It can only be pointing in one direction. All of Apple’s processors for their desktops are running 64 bit. This new A7 will fit into the Apple TV Games Console that has yet to be announced. It will run iOS, and you’d be able to play games designed and developed for the iPhone and iPad. Makes perfect sense if you asked me. Games and software can be ported to iOS and then to its future TV device once it is ready for prime time.

In short, Apple has asked you to invest in their future. You bought into some redundant firmware and hardware which won’t run on that multicolored iPhone but heck, you have paid Apple to develop their spiffy new console device with your kind patronage. That kinda sucks doesn’t it?

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Custom Themer for Android

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My ColorScreen is a launcher developer that is about to release a really cool beta app that promises to change your home screen.  Now most of you know that there is one thing that sets Android apart from iOS device is that the former has loads of customisation options. There is always one popping out of the Google Play store that garners legion of followers only to be flatten by less than stellar performance on any Android device.

Themer from My ColorScreen is seems pretty slick but then again, this is just a intro video to their launcher. The candy colored theme is probably a bit too sweet for many of you.

Not too long ago, one particular theme launcher that debut on Kickstarter was asking for a 30K of funding and got double that. But since its launch, the theme has been panned by users and critics for being bug infested and laggy.

The Chameleon theme looks fabulous. You can’t deny it. It has a touch of sophistication which unfortunately did not materialise in the final product.

Chameleon Launcher for Android

Chameleon Launcher for Android

And to add insult to injury, the problems still persist even now though I suspect not all of the problems are entirely their fault.

Where’s my RAM Dude?!

Not too long ago, we all had only 1GB of RAM on our devices. This is the storage area used by the device’s CPU and works more like a “warehouse” than a storage room. Apps that needed to work move in and out of this warehouse, and those you leave on your device to run operations like launchers and persistent apps reside here. Each time an app is launched, it is moved into RAM to do its work.

Persistent apps such as those like IM and apps that have push notifications require a fair bit of space in this warehouse to serve you. They work in the background so you won’t see them much until they receive a work order to generate a notification to display. You can view how they occupy RAM by going to settings>applications>running apps.

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One of the problems with limited RAM is that you really don’t have much room to move about once you have manufacturer type bloatware home screen TouchWiz and Sense UI. When you install a custom theme launcher, it squeezes the resident home screen launcher into the background. This means even more RAM is used up. The only way to remedy this is to go for a total removal of resident bloatware home screen launchers but this means you have to root and flash your device with custom ROM. These often work better and faster but at the expense of app compatibility. Some Google play apps may not work once you root your phone.

I have installed several popular launchers on my 1GB RAM devices and all of them behave like they had too many rounds at the buffet table. It’s just not happening. Custom launchers just do not have the sort of room to move about even when you have loads of internal storage (as opposed to RAM). What’s more, there are launchers are very resource intensive, those which checks for regular updates and new notifications are prime suspects. These have custom widgets that give you social media updates, galleries of your flickr photos, animated backgrounds or news feeds make it worst. It is this sort of stuff that will eventually kill your appetite for launchers.

Solution is just over the Horizon

More RAM, that’s one remedy, with a faster processor. That’s provided that the bloatware on your device has not been increased, or would you want to increase them with all sorts of social media feeds and IM apps like KakaoTalk, Line, Viber, Skype and Whatsapp.

The new generation devices have up to 3GB of RAM and with quad core processor to boot, running custom launchers would be smoother.

iOS doesn’t have this problem even with limited RAM as they don’t have custom screens. The concept behind the no nonsense UI is that you can get to any app you want from home screen. Android launchers on the other hand are supposed to decorate your home screen and give access to information you deem as important, hence the time, notification updates, calendar and newsfeed widgets. The new iOS 7 look does not address the issue of launchers so they are in a different league.

There is no right or wrong to this approach. It is just that Android home screens are built differently and with newer devices with loads more RAM, custom launchers will be the way forward for people who want a tad more personalization than what you find on iOS.

Nokia’s Lost Android Dream

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So it was a missed opportunity, and it is all in the news. Before Microsoft bought out Nokia, the latter had already been testing a slew of Android enabled phones with a dedicated eco-system similar to Amazon’s take on Android.

Looking back, I have to admit that I loved all the Symbian phones and two in particular were my personal faves, the Nokia 3660 and Nokia 6600. Now, we hear that Nokia might be no more, at least in Spirit, once Microsoft assumes control of the entity.

Before I got my iPhone, I had a N95—which I adored, and after that the Nokia 5800 before moving into iOS and Android. That said you could see how Nokia got it all wrong.

As much as I loved my phone, Nokia was destroyed by Elop, the CEO who abandoned all Symbian efforts and Meego initiatives for something he knows well…Windows Mobile.

What Went Wrong with Windows

When you are late to market, you sometimes have to pay to learn. And Microsoft is NOT  learning this one bit. For the record, Windows Mobile 8 & RT are significant departures from previous Windows Mobile OS systems. I once owned an O2 version of the XDA Mini. It didn’t work like a charm and faltered. Then I bought into the Samsung Omnia, a ridiculous Windows mobile OS killed it. Times were changing and Microsoft still didn’t get it right.

Windows Mobile 8 & RT with its slick Metro interface is fantastic. The concept on how it works is simple, just like iOS, the approach is flat. You can’t go wrong with something like this but Microsoft did screw it up. It was priced too close to Apple’s own iPhone. When the RT tablets came out, they priced it too close to the Apple iPads. Stupidity is indeed contagious if when you consider that Microsoft had a lot of catch up to do in the market.

The Japanese know that to command the attention of the masses you need software. And to get the people to develop software, you need to sell the hardware for cheap.

This sort of Loss Leader approach is what made the Playstation and Nintendo machines of their day the top of the heap. Remember that when the PS3 was launched, Sony sold it at a loss to encourage consumers to buy it, with that, they went into the software business with the numbers they needed to justify selling it at a loss. It worked. Nintendo did the same and corner the console market.

Dude, Where’s My Software!?

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The pathetic list of software on the Windows Mobile Marketplace is a sign of something gone wrong and here it is. Do you know it cost you US$1200 a year to sign up to be a Windows Mobile 8 Developer and have access to the MSDN support?

There is a free plan which includes the use of Visual Studio Tool Express but the developer license must be renewed monthly, at no cost. The highly restrictive free plan is limited to 5 PC  stations.  You can only list 5 free apps on the mobile appstore in one year and after that, it cost US$20 a pop for each additional free app you add to that list. MSDN is the developer network which you won’t have access to unless you pay that $1.2 grand a year.

In recent past, Microsoft charged US$99 for a windows mobile developer account but decided that it already makes enough money from the professional developers to forgo this part of the fee. Blackberry developers probably get the best deal with free membership and free listing with free tools. Blackberry also gives you the porting tools you need to make your Android app totally Blackberry compliant though I don’t see much benefit since you have Blackberry fragmentation to deal with.

Apple developers and Google Android developers have access to free software support as well as forum support without an afterthought. Google doesn’t charge you anything but a flat US$25 as an entry free to their domain. Apple’s iOS Enterprise Developer Program  maxes out at US$300 a pop. That’s a far fry from the US$1200 that Bill Gates Inc. charges. For smaller companies, you can subscribe to list any app on the Apple Appstore for US$99 a year.

Emulate Google Play Success

Sorry, Microsoft didn’t hear that. Google’s Android has garnered so much interest and success is due to one thing and that it’s devices are priced below that of iOS. The fragmentation that came along with it didn’t worry it as much as there was mass market appeal.

iOS was first to market, even though Nokia had for some time had its own store for Symbian apps, it never took off because it was in decline. Elop killed Nokia after taking it to Windows and that’s the end of the story.

The iOS success story is simple. Steve Jobs needed software for iOS and he made the tools freely available on the Mac when you sign up to be a developer. And the tools are pretty good too. When the hardware prove to be a hit, he had legions following him.

Google’s Android SDK is nothing to shout about but it works. Blackberry has the lowest point of entry for developers who want to go into Apps creation. Everything is free, to join and to list an app.

Microsoft: Penny wise and pound foolish

Microsoft thinks it needs a hardware manufacturer like Nokia to succeed in the mobile campaign. Sounds like a dream but they are thinking it might just work for them. Seven billion is small change for Microsoft. Nokia’s mobile business isn’t worth that much after the damage Elop did to the company. But Nokia held the trump card with 80 percent of the Windows Mobile Phone. No other manufacturer came close.

Even though Nokia is achieving limited success with its Lumia phones, it faces an Android onslaught. Elop could have done a deal with Google if he wasn’t reputed to be the Trojan Horse that Microsoft sent in. He could also have taken up MeeGo, a Linux based OS (which evolved to be Tizen OS). Instead, he took the backdoor route, that is move it back to Windows.

Looks like Microsoft is going to crash and burn in the mobile apps market, and they might as well take Nokia down that road with them. Sad end to a really great Brand and marks the end of Nordic entrepreneurial engineering prowess and design.

BBM on Samsung Galaxy: Too soon or too late?

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Apparently BBM is going to make its debut on Samsung Galaxy phones in Africa after its long promised launch of iOS and Android. But who would want to use that now? Word out is that Apple is evaluating the BBM app. Should they even be afraid?

For one, I firmly believe that the only way out for Blackberry is to die a natural death, just like the Palm Pilot with it’s later resurrection WebOS that came with a crash and burn effect.

BBM is as fashionable as wearing inch high shoulder pads with all your attire. There are so many more ways to skin a cat than to have BBM on Android.

Same old Same old…

Who in their right mind would pay for the BB World service is beyond me. In the past, BBM was king. No one could touch it. Talk anytime you want, anywhere you want and chat with friends from all over the globe. Today, if you need IM, why not consider the likes of LINE, WECHAT, KAKAOTALK, or ChatON? BBM was part of the BB  service, you pay a monthly fee just to chat and all data connected with chatting is covered by the fee. Big deal. Even if you chatted all day and all night for 30 days, I doubt you’d rake up enough bandwidth to move a movie through P2P. With the move to BB10 operating system, the new open platform herald a free BBM service that rides on your data plan but legacy users still had to PAY to get BBM. Why not make it open for everyone? But of course they didn’t.

Blackberry made IM chic, but you have to pay to access this service as it was their business model….which is suppose to be premium for those Exec types. However if you take a look at the landscape for IM, there is no reason to go BBM even if your friend can only be found on BBM. There are IM services like Viber, WeChat, Skype and Whatsapp, all of which are available on some of BB’s devices. You also need to thank BB for fragmenting its hardware to the point of no return. With so many different processors, hardware configurations and touch screens, mobile app developers clearly do not want to make an app work on just ONE platform.

Where is my BBM now?

“BBM Me” used to be a buzzword. Wow. You’re a blackberry user. Today, it has to be whispered just to avoid being labeled “old skool”. BBM will make its debut in Africa, a land where poor data bandwidth dwells. The limited infrastructure makes perfect sense if telcos aim to make money on data bandwidth rather than SMS. All you need is an EDGE connection and you can be text messaging all day till the Lions come home.

Samsung’s spearheading the attack into Africa is well planned but for BB, they need to either sink or swim. BBM is tied to BB devices, so if you want to be flooded by messages placed through your server by Android and iOS devices, what are you going to do to make money? You don’t have to look far to see the business model that both LINE and KakaoTalk are subscribing to. It is not in the billions but with some creative foresight, it might work out for the better.

Facebook already has a separate Messaging app that runs outside of the Facebook App, they know where they are going with it and how that will make money for them. BB just has to emulate that. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure it out.

I haven’t the faintest idea on when BBM will land on iOS but Apple isn’t pleased either.  Its own iMessage and Facetime has proven to be an abject failure for users and is now buried in the message pane, hopefully forgotten until rediscovered while you are out cleaning  your apps. Yes, Apple’s own iMessage is a fucking disappointment. Worst still is the Facetime function which was sold to many as a game changer on desktop Macs. It clearly doesn’t work as well and if you paid money for the Desktop version, you have been had.

Facetime and iMessage was suppose to revolutionise the messaging platform but it just didn’t handle the calls placed as quickly or efficiently even when you have over 50 million people who are said to be subscribers. Apple probably feels these folks are freeloading on their servers and since they don’t pay to have the service, well the service has got to suck.

BB should learn from this mistake. Just because you have mass, it doesn’t mean you got the muscle to manage it all.

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BBM is very secure. So secure that the NSA can’t hack into it.

What are my Options?

Got sakes, just take a look around.  IM has replaced SMS and if you are still using SMS, then you are truly a 20th century kid. You can virtually connect through ANY of your friends via Skype, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangout, LINE, WeChat, KakaoTalk or the lesser known KiK messenger. I am sure if your friend on Windows, BB, iOS or Android will be on one of those and as long as you have three of them working on your device, it should cover the entire spectrum of friends.

There was a time, a long time ago that is, when people used BBM. Today, it is as dead as the Dodo and yes, you may think that it is sexy but I can assure you that times has changed and that bell bottom trousers you been saving since the 70s isn’t going to come back into style anytime soon.

Who would be the future users of BBM? Well, these should be drug dealers, human traffickers, terrorist, paedophiles. arms dealers, the Taliban, communist Insurgents, Neo Nazis, North Korea and criminals from the world including dictators and their henchmen. Blackberry does a damn good job in keeping the BBM messages secret so if you happen to fall under those guises, please stay on BBM. Your life depends on it.

Avast’ ye Pesky Virus!

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For the longest time, Android users were put in the same boat as Windows PC users where malware and Trojan horses on the Net would make their way onto the trusty computer to wreck havoc onto your daily lives. This vulnerability gave rise to an industry where major players designed firewall apps to protect you from malicious code.

Google had for some time refused to parse the code contained in apps which gave Android a bad name and only  started doing so after grudgingly admitting to its own faults in the design of the operating system. This meant that some of the exploits had to be plugged but that is by no means a thorough job. Still, malware code can slip through the cracks thanks in part to its open nature.

Apple never had this problem due to it’s Nazi like approach to code validation. If anything is suspicious, and falls outside of their parameter for common decency, it gets booted out. Baby gets thrown out with the bathwater too.

Bring in the Big Guns

Malware, as it appears, is pretty easy to sort the problem out with Avast, which it has been dutifully doing for the last six months on my devices . So without further ado, let us welcome the new Avast Security & Anti Virus premium which unfortunately is more a hit or miss affair.

All Security programs do one thing and do it well, that is to monitor each app and check it for malicious code—something that Google has been far too lazy to do. To detect such code, the app checks it against a background list of malicious code found on a data base and reports back to you if such a program has indeed been infected.

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Most of these features are already given FREE to users who install the app as can be seen from the above list. I have this running on my Android devices without any noticeable lag and works well even for smartphones and tablets with only 1GB of RAM. Those with far less RAM (512MB and below) will probably skip this as there won’t be enough RAM left to run your apps. So what’s the beef with the Go Premium feature?

Go Premium?

Here is the list of features that you will have to pay for….or so it seems.

★ App Locking: Locks an unlimited number of apps.

★ Ad Detector: Detects ads and provides full details of their tracking systems.

★ Password Check: Automatically locks after 3 wrong attempts to unlock.

★ Geo-Fencing: Phone performs specified actions (e.g. lock, siren, send location) when outside of some set perimeter (e.g. you go to a cafe and enable it with a 500m perimeter, so if somebody steals your phone and takes it beyond this perimeter, it activates your specified actions).

★ Remote SMS: Remotely send SMS from the phone.

★ Remote Data Recovery: Remotely retrieve data from the phone.

★ Remote Identification: Take picture of the thief when he/she tries to unlock device (use front or back camera, with face recognition). Record audio, with voice recognition.

★ Backup Features: Allows backup of video, audio, and apps (including settings and data for rooted phones, e.g. game progress).

★ Premium pricing (auto-renewal): $1.99 monthly, or $14.99 yearly.

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Curiosity killed the cat and the Ad detector feature is just another way for you to know which are serving up ads in-app versus those which desecrate your notification panel. But you know that already don’t you? In Jellybean, you can find out the offending app that sends out ads onto your notification panel by just holding down the ad that pops up to annoy you. This means there isn’t any use for this if you are already running on Google’s latest OS. It might come in handy if you are on ICS, and this is probably the only feature that will make sense if you don’t plan on upgrading the OS.

But on Jelly Bean,  games like Angry birds already tell you outright that it is ad supported and as such, why would you want Avast to tell you that? And yes, it blindingly does that….and you have to pay just to know this.

Password Check is quite useless as you can already install another app to do that one function. I have Cerberus installed so it takes care of that function if I ever got my device stolen. With Cerberus, I can already remote wipe my device if it came online and take a picture of the culprit—negating the feature offered in Avast Premium.

The only two features in premium that has any form of justification for its cost is the Remote Backup and Geo Fencing.

For Remote Backup, you can take back all your home-made porn before remotely wiping out the data to prevent getting blackmailed  for a million dollars by the pimply faced  kid that stole it. Geo Fencing is great if you happen to lose your device as often as you change underwear as it sets up a parameter (with the help of GPS) should it get stolen. So if your device starts to wail loud enough, be sure to run faster than Usain Bolt if you want to get it back.

Both these premium features don’t mean much in my book coz all devices can be turned off  the moment it is stolen, as the hardware switch will be used to shut the device, failing which they would pry the battery out.

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Now paying US$15 for an app that is going to help protect your device is well worth the cost but if you can already do so for free, it becomes really difficult to justify going premium. That said Avast is still a great app and I would highly recommend it even if you have no intention of going premium.