Apple Music first impressions

Apple Music - sign-up, 01, AL (1366x729)The iPod wasn’t the first MP3 player, but its design, and the digital download store that followed it, revolutionised the music industry. Some 15 years later, the world’s richest tech company is looking to turn the tables once again with its newly launched maxi service: Apple Music.

Apple Music launched on June 30, 2015, to a customary media hubbub. After updating to iTunes 12.2 and signing up for the three-month trial of Apple Music, I thought I’d share some initial thoughts about the service: what it gets right, what it needs to improve and, most importantly for some, how it stacks up against well established alternatives, such as Spotify and Deezer. Continue reading

Apple Watch: why it may struggle to become essential wristwear

Apple Watch launch, Apr 10, 2015, by Shinya Suzuki, 01 (3264x1836)Some of my previous assertions about Apple products have been, um… mistaken. When the iPhone originally came out, I had no idea what it was or what all the fuss was about. Three-and-a-half years later, I was singing the praises of Apple.

Of course, 11 months before that, I was ready to decry the iPad. Having inherited an iPad 1 in 2012, which I still use for entertainment purposes, work and occasional adventures out and about, I’ve realised the benefits of tablets over laptops in certain situations. In both cases, these products fill needs in the connected age, and can make life simpler (when coupled with self-discipline) in our increasingly busy society.

The Apple Watch, however, I’m not so sure about. Continue reading

Conservative consoles: probing the shortage of original exclusives on PS4 and Xbox One

Xbox One / PS4 comparison, Nov 20, 2013, Mark Farrell (1280x720)The complexities of the modern console game have not had a positive effect on the number of original or exclusive titles for PS4 and Xbox One owners to play, so far, this generation.

This week, Naughty Dog told PlayStation fans, via the PlayStation Blog, that Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Sony’s flagship PS4 release for this holiday season, has been delayed until 2016. Giant Bomb’s Jeff Gerstmann wrote an article about how scant both PS4 and Xbox One’s 2015 retail release lists currently look. Granted we’ve not been hit with the annual dollop of E3 announcements, but, despite grand promises, the current generation of game consoles have been plagued by a dearth of specially-created software worthy of their processing power and feature sets. Continue reading

Are you wired for hi-res audio even if the world’s not ready for it?

Sony Walkman ZX2, lifestyle photo (1102x620)Your favourite tunes as you’ve never heard them before. That’s the promise of high resolution audio. Deeper bass, sharper riffs and vocals with greater presence for a fuller, richer musical tableau.

While that’s all well and good, the arrival of hi-res audio is long overdue and, right now, most of the world is far from ready for it. Continue reading

How do you stay focused in the digital era?

Weapons of mass distraction. Mar 27, 2012, by birgerking (720x404)How do you stay focused in the digital era? Discipline. There, that was easy, wasn’t it?

No, actually. Today we’re bombarded by so many distractions – on our phones and on the web – that it’s all too easy to wander off-task at work or at home. And one way or another, the consequence usually ends up impacting your own wellbeing.

Following BBC Click regular Kate Russell’s advice on tools to give yourself a digital detox, the question of how you stay on-task seems especially apt to me right now. Continue reading

The trouble with Facebook and bad news

Facebook Like cut out, 26/05/2011, by Thomas Angermann (1920x1080)Perhaps one of the worst aspects of social media’s attempts to replicate the richness and vibrancy of human communication is the ‘Like’ button.

Initially, a button to ‘Like’ things you see on your social media feed – status updates, emojis, hyperlinks, videos, photos of friends, comments you agree/disagree with, cat memes – might seem useful. Millions of us certainly enjoy the digital dopamine effect it has when we log in see that x number of people ‘Like’ what we share. But, as someone who has also slipped into Facebook’s coercive churn of ‘scroll, Like, scroll, Like some more’, it’s become clear to me that the ‘Like’ button, and its everywhere-on-the-page nature, actually serves to generate a culture of casual engagement. And it’s ruining our communications. Continue reading

Not-so-simple fitness gadgets

Runner in New York, 31072011, by Ed Yourdon (1448x815)What are New Year’s resolutions if not renewed commitments to the pursuit of happiness? The trouble is technology designed to help you on your path to that better, simpler life still tends to cause disruption and sleepless nights.

Fitness gadgets, such as wristbands, trainer sensors and apps, are sold on the promise of convenience and ease of use. Their usefulness lies in the idea that if you can track your progress you’ll be more motivated. Latterly, sports brand Nike has struck upon the bright idea of syncing your data to the web so it can be compared with an entire network of global fitness fanatics. Great, huh? Well, maybe when it works. Continue reading

Inside the Barbican’s Digital Revolution

Barbican - Digital Revolution, Pyramidi 02, 20140715 by Aaron Lee (1448x815)Digital Revolution is a celebration of computing and all things interactive. By bringing together artists, filmmakers, architects, designers, musicians and game developers, it hopes to give you a sense of the breakthroughs that digital creatives are making across culture, as well as remind you just how dramatically digital technology has changed all our lives in less than 50 years.

What follows are some of the moments that fascinated me most as I explored the chambers of this computing archive and its digital delights. Continue reading