30th September 2016

Last week in the first issue of my new Column/Newsletter, I shared my thoughts on diversity in tech. Not the people in the tech industry, the actual technology that surrounds us every day (usually in our pockets).

I’ll start off by asking you to look at your phone, most likely it’s a large rectangular shape with slightly rounded edges, a display that nearly covers the device, and a few buttons. On top of that, there’s a good chance it’s black as well.

So, could they be any different? Or have we reached simply reached peak phone design?

I personally think that we should be moving in the opposite direction. Companies now know how to develop decent operating systems, and with Android being open-source, and other manufacturers providing a lot of the components, you’re really just putting it all together with a nice design.

I remember when a phone store had endless amounts of different models, which came in different colours, sizes, functions, and even completely different shapes. You could get a flip-phone, a phone for music, a phone with a physical keyboard, or even a really weird square Nokia phone.

You had a choice.

These words may seem odd, especially coming from an Apple enthusiast myself. But I too sometimes think to myself would I be better off moving to another ecosystem, It’s just that there isn’t much choice available. And when something does pop up, it never gets far enough to stabilise and catch up with the current technology in the market.

It could be that as technology is advancing, the step for a new phone manufacturer/company is too high, and the risk just isn’t worth it.

I was actually searching recently to see how many (reasonably modern) “smart” phones had a physical keyboard. I found one, the BlackBerry PRIV, and while it seems to be a very well made device, it’s still just the one phone.

So when companies like Microsoft are thinking, “how can we grow our mobile phone business?”, why not take a leaf out of Apple’s book, and just think different (not that I’m saying they are the exception) . Nothing needs to be the same, and as much as the Android adverts say it, the devices may have a slightly different screen size, or curve radius, they’re still pretty much the same phone.

Because there are very few big phone manufacturers, the average consumer will most likely buy either an iPhone, or a popular Android phone (usually Samsung). And because of this, people expect the same amount of innovation and diversity they used to get, but from a way smaller amount of companies. In my opinion, we need less market dominance, and more choice.

I can’t say what differences the phones need, as I’m not a product designer. But as a consumer it certainly does get boring looking at all the “innovation”, which has really just been years of iterative design. It’s not just your mobile phone either, most laptops nowadays look like the MacBook Air, game consoles are just black boxes, and I’m sure there’s a ton more.

I do however see a few companies taking the first step towards my ideal of technological diversity, with Nextbit and their Robin phone, the new “Moment” wearable, and you can even squeeze Tesla in here as a company striving to do things differently.

The big hurdle I think the tech industry needs to overcome, is when a company does do something different, not to directly copy them. Because that’s not really helping anyone. If someone comes up with something original, great, so should you.

I’ll end the first issue with a slightly modified version of Apple’s well known slogan:

“Think Different. And when you’re done with that, do it again.”

People deserve choices.

Every week I send a new issue of my newsletter "Chris’ Column", where I write about technology and everything related. I try to keep it short, and only one story per week.

You can subscribe to this via the Column page, or on TinyLetter (where you can also find the full archive).

Every Friday I send out the new issue, and also the previous issue will be posted to this blog at the same time.

27th September 2016

And a Dewgong!

27th September 2016

I just found a Sandslash!

26th September 2016

Back in March this year, Rich Stanton wrote a piece on the development of the classic game, Lemmings. How it came to be, and also what came after.

Somehow this ended up in my Pocket to-read collection, and I’ve only just got round to reading it. Lemmings was one of my favourite games when I was growing up, and I was so young when I was playing it, that I don’t even remember what platform I played it on!

Here’s a snippet:

Mike Dailly had seen tiny 5-pixel high sprites in games like , a popular Atari ST shooter where the player’s ship rescued little android slaves, and thought that somewhere between this and a 16×16 sprite would be a sweet spot – where the small size made the Walker look big by comparison, but the animations were still good enough to impart character. One lunchtime he made an image of little men being crushed by weights, and shot by a laser gun – everyone loved it, and Gary Timmons added a few more traps. While everyone was laughing, Russell Kay was the first to say ‘There’s a game in that!’

If you’re interested in video games, then I highly recommend it, and if not, then you should probably still give it a try.

Read the full post on ReadOnlyMemory.vg.

25th September 2016

That escalated quickly.

22nd September 2016

Big Issue?

21st September 2016

For all of you pixel loving people, I’ve created a sticker pack just for you!

Starting with over 30 different stickers, and a little animation thrown in as well, there’s bound to be ones you’ll enjoy. Not to mention that this is the initial amount, and I very much plan on adding loads more to this collection.

You can get Pixels from the App Store, and I hope you have fun sending these cool stickers to your friends!

If you have any queries, or even sticker requests, then you can contact my on twitter or by email.

20th September 2016

I’ve just released a Sticker pack for iMessage!
Featuring 30+ pixelated stickers!
(Link in bio)

Stickers #pixel #pixelart #retro

19th September 2016

Rene Ritchie along with Serenity Caldwell, has put together a quick video review of the new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.

When Serenity Caldwell and I took a look at how we wanted to shoot our iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus review video, we new we couldn’t just spout the specs in a room or street set. We had to take to the streets. So, we took the iPhones 7 out and shot with the new wide angle and telephoto cameras, tested the new water resistance, abused the better battery efficiency, tried out the new Home button, and otherwise put them both through their paces and then some — on the streets of New York City!

I don’t really ever get around to reading long reviews, so this video was perfect.

If there’s one iPhone review you’re going to watch, make sure it’s this one. Either watch it below, or follow this link to YouTube.