Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Would you trade quite literally all of your friends (and $49 shiny Canadian dollars) for a shot at a probably-mediocre virtual reality experience? AirVR, a Canadian company with an entire Kickstarter page all to itself, is thinking yes.
Simply put, the AirVR helps you strap your iPad Mini (or iPhone 6 Plus) to your face, and then (thanks to two lenses) lets you focus on the iPad's screen, and thus wander around in a virtual reality, whilst you walk into furniture and get laughed at by your now-ex-friends in the real one.
It's far from the first attempt to use smartphones (or even phablets) for a cheap shot at VR — but chances are, it will suffer from the same problems of minor lagginess and not-quite-sufficient resolution as most of the other attempts. All in all, you're probably better off waiting for the Oculus Rift to finally arrive — and not just to preserve your social standing. [Kickstarter]
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FirePOWER can be licensed into existing kit
Cisco has taken the next step in wrapping the technology it acquired along with Sourcefire, by putting its Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA) next-gen firewalls and the FirePOWER technology into the blender and giving it a good spin.…
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The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus stretch Apple's formula to much greater sizes than ever before, while bringing a potentially game-changing mobile payments option alongside typical upgrades like processors and cameras. They've got a slick new design, and boast the latest version of iOS as well. What do the critics with advance access think of all these changes?
Behold, the meta-review.
After using both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus for a week, I can report that Apple has successfully addressed its size deficiency, and much more. The $199 (with contract) iPhone 6 packs a 4.7-inch screen, big enough to get down to business, into the most comfortable smartphone I've ever held. And while the iPhone 6 Plus feels too big for my taste, for $100 more its 5.5-inch screen offers an option for road warriors who don't want to carry a tablet.
With only a couple of small exceptions, this is the right way to build a larger phone. It's thinner, more comfortable, more friendly to the touch. But what Apple didn't do was come up with a way to take advantage of the new screen real estate, or make it easier to navigate. Other devices have clever screen-unlock mechanisms, or stylii, or split-screen multitasking, or always-on voice control. (The iPhone 6 does let you yell "hey Siri!" to give voice commands from across the room, but only when it's plugged in.) Apple is clearly saying a big phone is better, but it doesn't answer the critical question: how is it different?
The 6 Plus at least gestures in this direction. A few apps work in landscape, with handy two-pane modes, and even the homescreen rotates on its side. On the "smaller" model, though, the only concession to gargantuanism is Reachability, in which you double-tap (but don't click) the home button and the whole screen just slides downward. It does the job, I suppose, but it just looks like you broke something when there's only half an app on the screen and the rest of the display is just empty.
From the start, Apple has never attempted to make its phones do everything; it's just tried to make them do the things they do as well as possible. It's not an approach designed to please impatient types. But by keeping people waiting for much-requested features, the company bought the time to do them right in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. iPhone fans, your life is about to get better—and the smartphone wars are going to get more interesting for everybody involved.
The iPhone 6 is the best smartphone available. It offers improvements in almost every way that matters, and it delivers those in a striking new design that balances consumer demand for larger screens with a thin, light and durable case. It's Apple's most attractive phone, visually, and the 4.7-inch size is going to be more generally appealing than the iPhone 6 Plus' larger proportions.
...overall the sense you get of the iPhone 6 Plus is one of extreme high quality, which is not something that can be said for the rest of the 'phablet' field. Apple has managed to make the very first well-designed smartphone of epic scale, regardless of your thoughts on the merit of the category as a whole.
If you want a phablet, the iPhone 6 Plus is a very good one. That big screen is especially well suited to movie watching and game playing, but also packs in a lot more info from web pages and emails than you'll get from the iPhone 6, 5S and other, smaller smartphones.
There are a couple of reasons why the Apple iPhone 6 Plus might also be too big for me to purchase. But I have to admit it: I'm tempted. I really like this phone. And to people who actually prefer huge smartphones: You are going to like this phone, too.
That's mostly because it's not just a smartphone; it's a statement phone. What Apple is doing isn't even especially innovative — "Us, too!" the company is shouting, as it chases after that flatbed truck filled with phablets — and yet, they've made this big phone feel fresh and desirable.
Though I must say, while the iPhone 5S stood out in a crowd of Android smartphones with its chamfered edges and Leica-esque controls, you might not know the iPhone 6 next to the latest Galaxy S5 or the HTC One. And while the design is still impressive, some details feel a bit off. The bold antenna lines that run around the back of the devices and the protruding camera lens make the phones seem slightly less disciplined compared with the company's previous work.
While consumers are already clamoring for the larger of the two phones, I found the iPhone 6 Plus too large and unwieldy to use as my daily driver. It does offer better battery life and an improved camera stabilizer compared with the iPhone 6, but its size proved to be more than I wanted to grapple with on a regular basis. Think of it this way: The iPhone 6 Plus is only slightly smaller than an iPad Mini, which means one-handed use is messy even with Reachability, and holding it up to a normal-size head looks slightly absurd.
Watch this space, we're updating with more.
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