#mobile

Finally got around to reading most of the initial reviews of Amazon’s Fire Phone. Brutal. Really brutal.

Not that I’m surprised. At all.

I just hope Amazon isn’t surprised. Because if they are, they would seem to have a fairly large problem on their hands. That is, they’re completely out of touch with reality — or more importantly, with their customers. No one wants to have to tilt a phone to use it. It’s a gimmick gone rogue. 

As I asked back in April, when the 3D (“Dynamic Perspective”) functionality was still just rumored:

The question you have to ask is: at the end of the day, does such a feature make for a truly better user experience? Or is it just a novelty trying to mask itself as a differentiating feature? Or worse, does it actually make the device harder to use?

Now we know the answer.

Tim Moynihan on the  Vertu Signature Touch, which starts at $10,300:

It has a very pleasant odor. The Vertu Signature Touch is easily the best-smelling phone I’ve ever used. The “Claret Calf” version I tested had a stitched calfskin backing on it that emitted a rich, intoxicating leathery scent. I didn’t get any nose-on time with the lizard- and alligator-skin backings, so I can’t speak to their olfactory qualities.

This strikes me as the real-world equivalent of the old $999 app.

Mat Honan on the rise of cheap smartphones, everywhere:

Clearly great features are trickling down. But what’s more interesting is how these cheap phones are going to trickle up. Put Internet-connected, app-capable smartphones running the same major operating systems the rest of us use and there will be all sorts of unforeseen ripple effects on us that we can’t even anticipate.

We tend to think of the ways our technology will affect them. That’s arrogant. We’re the minority. It’s incredibly likely that they’re going to have just as big an effect on us.

A really smart way to think about this — and exactly right, I imagine.

Chris Welch: 

Verizon has officially announced XLTE. Rather than a new wireless technology, XLTE is basically just a consumer-friendly buzz term for speed and capacity improvements that Verizon has made to its network with the help of AWS spectrum.

After I announced my intention to ditch Verizon’s shitty network for AT&T’s slightly-less-shitty one, a bunch of folks suggested I should wait and pointed to XLTE as the future.

Yeah, there was zero chance I was going to change my mind over marketing bullshit. ”XLTE” is essentially the Verizon version of what AT&T did with “4G” in the past. “4G” was really just a slightly pumped up “3G”.

Takashi Amano:

Apple boosted iPhone shipments in Japan to 36.6 percent of the market in the year ended March, up from 25.5 percent a year earlier, according to Tokyo-based MM Research Institute Ltd. The Cupertino, California-based smartphone maker shipped 14.43 million phones in Japan the past fiscal year, the researcher said.

The number two player, Sharp, has 13 percent of the market. It’s really too bad that the Japanese hate the iPhone, or Apple could probably control 100 percent of the market. *Snicker*

Reuters, reporting the news that Samsung has gotten rid of its mobile design chief, Chang Dong-hoon:

The Galaxy S5, which debuted globally last month, has received a lukewarm response from consumers due to its lack of eye-popping hardware innovations, while its plastic case design has been panned by some critics for looking cheap and made out of a conveyor belt. The Wall Street Journal said the gold-colored back cover on the S5 looked like a band-aid.

At first I laughed. Then I searched. Sure enough, it looks like a damn band-aid.

Ellis Hamburger on the latest Tumblr design tweaks:

Picking an accent color also changes the interface surrounding your blog for anyone who visits it. When I tapped Save after editing my blog’s appearance, the app’s Compose button turned pink and its navigation bar turned white to match my chosen Accent Color and background. The effect is particularly stark on iPad, where tapping into a blog dresses up the entire app in a new color. “There are 3.3 billion combinations,” says Vidani, “[but] the biggest part of this is that we’re using it everywhere. This is going to be you.” The company says 80 percent of active Tumblr users have customized their blog in one way or another.

Some really nice tweaks, but I wonder how much impact they have. Do people visit other’s blogs within the Tumblr app that often? I know for me, it’s all about the feed and/or visiting my favorite Tumblr blogs on the web. Maybe the aim is the change that? Or maybe I’m weird?

To that end, I’d still love to see Tumblr do some sort of analytics product for how many people saw my post in the main Tumblr feed (versus visiting my site, which, of course, I can track). I know the emphasis has been on tracking indirect metrics such as “likes” and “reblogs” but I’d happily pay for a more pro product in that regard.

Corey Kilgannon:

New York City prohibits students from carrying cellphones in public schools, but many are reluctant to leave their phones behind. As a result, the rule has created a modest side business for shops near some schools that allow students to store their phones for a fee.

But along one commercial stretch in Queens that is close to a cluster of schools, storing cellphones has become almost a matter of economic survival. Not only do the merchants reap a small but welcome source of income, but they have also come to rely on the ancillary sales of food and drinks they make to the students dropping off their phones in the morning and picking them up in the afternoon.

The times we live in… Local markets are turning into cell phone storage units that sell produce and candy on the side.