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How Windows, OS X, and Ubuntu are slowly turning your PC into a smartphone

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The glorious era of PC stardom is over. Once the belle of the technology ball, desktops and laptops now share the spotlight with smartphones and tablets, and the embrace of mobile devices by consumers has provoked deep changes in the computing landscape.No, PCs aren’t dying out, but they are shifting form to more closely resemble the Hot New Things. And there’s good reason for it.

“Consumers are mainly driven by simplicity and familiarity,” says Carolina Milanesi, Gartner’s research vice president of consumer technology.

In a word, people yearn for consistency. And as the industry struggles to satisfy that demand, mobile design is bleeding over to the desktop—though the Big Three PC operating systems are approaching the convergence in drastically different ways.

“Microsoft’s philosophy is ‘Okay, we want to be consistent across our operating systems,’ and the way it worked in their brains was to just make one,” says Ben Bajarin, the director of consumer technology at Creative Strategies. “Whereas Apple said, ‘Well, we’ll make two [operating systems], but we’re going to have gestures and some UI consistencies [across iOS and OS X] so that you have a consistent experience.’”

And that’s not even getting into what Linux is doing, via Canonical’s audacious Ubuntu for Android. But let’s get into it! Follow along, dearest desktop diehard, as we examine how mobile elements are creeping into Windows, OS X, and yes, even Linux.

Windows 8

Dell’s XPS 27 AIO.

C’mon now, you know where we had to start.

Determined to jump-start its mobile ambitions, Microsoft infused Windows 8 with tablet-friendly modern apps, gesture controls, and the Live Tile–infused Start screen. But hey! The traditional desktop is still around for PC aficionados. It’s the best of both worlds, right? Not quite.

Designing a single operating system to run across multiple hardware form factors has led to some glaring usability problems. Rather than feeling like one OS, Windows 8 is more akin to a patchwork Frankensystem, with the traditional desktop and the modern UI awkwardly bolted together instead of working together as a cohesive whole.

“When Microsoft first started talking about Windows 8…there was a lot of optimism around it, because we’re a mobile-first generation and mobile computing is important, and Microsoft was trying to bring unification with that to the table,” says Bajarin. “The problem is they failed at the implementation.”

Having one UI to rule them all has spurred the creation of hybrid-style Windows 8 devices, but as yet none of them have been truly compelling.

While desktop jockeys can get by in the modern UI, its large buttons and vast empty spaces were clearly built more for swiping and prodding than for keyboarding and mousing. All of that wasted space requires a ton of extra scrolling, and the relative dearth of onscreen information requires a ton of extra menu clicking—two burdens that are anathema to traditional PC users. Likewise, while hidden menus and charm bars work wonderfully on tablets, they’re far less natural-feeling on desktops.

The problem isn’t limited to PCs proper. Trying to use the Windows desktop on slates is an exercise in frustration, given the small fonts and even smaller menu buttons of classic desktop software (the millions of programs built with a mouse in mind).“Part of the problem when you use a touch device is, the second you leave Metro, you can’t even use touch,” says Bajarin.

Look at all that wasted space! (And Package Tracker Pro is one of the least-egregious offenders.)

Some crucial settings and programs work only on the desktop, and some work only in the modern UI. Because of that, Windows 8 has a bad habit of ripping you out of one UI and dropping you into the other—a jarring experience, to say the least.

On the plus side, once you’ve overcome its substantial learning curve, Windows 8’s consistent experience permits you to jump in and use any hardware the OS calls home. (Windows 8.1’s usability improvements will help.) And don’t forget—the (cough) relatively few (cough) apps available in the Windows Store work just fine across the wide spectrum of Windows 8 devices out there.

In the long term, those benefits may outweigh today’s rough patches. But in the short term, Microsoft may be forcing its desktop customers to bite off more than they can comfortably chew.

OS X

The MacBook Pro with Retina Display.

On the flip side of the convergence coin is Apple. Given the company’s strength in mobile devices, you might think Apple would be rushing to merge iOS and OS X, but thus far it has taken a fairly cautious approach.

The extensive reach of the iPad and iPhone is definitely affecting Macs, but in a much more subtle way. OS X Lion introduced iOS-like elements such as the LaunchPad, the Mac App Store, and full-screen and sandboxed apps. OS X Mountain Lion added a wider range of multitouch gestures, a Notification Center, iCloud, a Messages app that plays nice with iMessages, and some native apps that first appeared on iDevices. The upcoming OS X Mavericks drags Maps and iBooks along for the ride.

These are all baby steps, rather than a single, traumatic, Windows 8-style leap into the new and unproven. And each step of the way, Apple has tried to integrate the iOS features fully into OS X’s desktop context, rather than simply forcing a round mobile peg into a square desktop hole. The OS X Notification Center is not a mirror image of the iOS version, for example—though it feels largely the same.

The updated Notification Center in the upcoming OS X Mavericks is really, really like the one in iOS, but different. (Click to enlarge.)

The downside to this approach, of course, is that Apple doesn’t have the exact same apps and UI across all hardware, unlike Windows 8. Experts argue that that’s a good thing, though.

“[Windows 8] just feels like two drastically different operating systems and two drastically different UI paradigms struggling over the same thing,” says Bajarin. “Apple lets a PC be a PC, and a mobile device be a mobile device. Shared similarities and consistencies exist, but they’re not breaking the paradigm.”

“I like that Apple was more gentle about the ‘phasing in’ [of mobile elements],” says Wes Miller, a research vice president at Directions on Microsoft. “I’m not going to say there will never be a touchscreen Mac—but if there is, I think Apple’s going to make sure the App Store’s there, first.”

Apple
Apple’s Magic Mouse and glass-coated MacBook touchpads set the touch-enabled standard.

Both experts admired the way Apple integrated multitouch elements into Macs via the touchpad, rather via than actual touchscreens. Touchpads let you use gesture controls in a way that feels much more natural than lifting your hands from your keyboard or mouse to poke your monitor, thereby minimizing the physical impact of touch on your PC workflow. (Windows 8 technically offers the same, but most laptop touchpads just plain suck.)

Don’t expect the Mac/iPad convergence to stop with OS X Mavericks, either. As Miller points out, the iCloud website was recently updated with “a very iOS 7 look and feel. That makes me think we can expect OS X in 2014 to have a flat, new look.”

Baby steps.

Ubuntu Linux

Canonical
A mockup of the Ubuntu Edge running Ubuntu for Android.

Put down your pitchforks! I know Linux is a complex and varied ecosystem woven from a near-endless number of distributions and interfaces. But for the purposes of this article (and my sanity), I have to focus on just one Linux iteration—and that one is Ubuntu, which is making headlines with its audacious (and doomed) Ubuntu Edge crowdfunding campaign.

If anything, Ubuntu for Android and the Ubuntu Edge smartphone are even more forward-looking than Microsoft’s and Apple’s ecosystems. Ubuntu for Android functions pretty much like any other smartphone when you use it as a smartphone—with apps, gesture controls, all that. But when you connect a phone running Ubuntu for Android to an external monitor and mouse, the device seamlessly switches to the full desktop Ubuntu Linux distribution, sudo apt-get and all.

Rather than trying to merge portable and PC operating systems, Ubuntu for Android adjusts to offer the best experience for your needs, with the help of some hefty internal hardware. Contacts, photos, videos, and other files are accessible from either side of the OS wall. It’s insanely ambitious—a glimpse into a future where one device can handle all our computing needs. But it faces two problems.

Canonical
The Ubuntu Edge: Imagine a future where your smartphone is also your PC—and your socks are also your shirt.

First and foremost, no hardware manufacturers have stepped up to actively use Ubuntu for Android. And the reason they haven’t is likely tied to the second issue: We aren’t living in a one-device kind of world just yet.

“That’s a very future-centric [UI] paradigm,” says Bajarin. “I don’t think it’s something we’re going to see go big right away…I can see someday, when we’ve got so much processing power in our phone or tablets that there’s no reason why it can’t power all these other displays and be all these different PCs. And I think what Ubuntu’s doing with the dual-modal software is very interesting.

“It’s a very intriguing concept, and one could make a could case that over the next five to ten years, all the technological bits will be there to make that an equally good experience as what you get today with a notebook or a desktop.”

But again, today is not tomorrow, and it’s no surprise that the Ubuntu Edge campaign floundered.

To infinity, and beyond!

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13

Don’t let Ubuntu’s jumping of the technological gun fool you, though. Like it or not, we’re on the cusp of something different, as the computing industry struggles with a titanic shift that’s dragging the monolithic PC into a future where multiple screens and consistent, cohesive multidevice experiences are the norm. And man, has that shift come quickly!

“If you look back five years, we’re in 2008, and the iPhone is still this young thing that people aren’t sure is going to take off,” says Miller. The first iPad was still two years off at that point. “Technology is shifting so incredibly fast that the form factors [and interfaces] we’ll be using in five years we may not even think of right now. We’ll just look back and laugh at what we were using in 2013.”

Change is a-coming, friends, and while Apple’s kiddie-glove approach to merging mobile elements with desktop operating systems may be the most comfortable for consumers in the short term (sorry to break it to you, Microsoft), don’t be surprised to see Macs and Windows PCs end up in similar places a few years down the road. The strategies differ, but the goal remains the same: consistency.

Who knows? Microsoft and Apple might even wind up where Ubuntu is trying (and failing) to go today.

 

source: http://www.pcworld.com/article/2047067/how-windows-os-x-and-ubuntu-are-slowly-turning-your-pc-into-a-smartphone.html#tk.twt_http://www.pcworld.com/article/2047067/how-windows-os-x-and-ubuntu-are-slowly-turning-your-pc-into-a-smartphone.html

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Business

ONEPLUS IS GOING TO START MAKING TVS

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OnePlus is is getting into a new line of business: making TVs. Best known for its phones, China’s OnePlus also has a small catalog of really good accessories like wireless earphonesand surprisingly awesome backpacks, though nothing as complex or expensive as a television set. In announcing the news on the OnePlus online forums, company chief Pete Lau describes it as “the first step in building a connected human experience.”

Every hardware manufacturer is now looking intently at ways to monetize the smart home space. Samsung and Huawei recently announced smart speakers, Apple and Google already have the HomePod and Google Home, respectively, and Microsoft and Sony are old incumbents with their Xbox and PlayStation consoles. OnePlus has decided to make its entry point into this market the TV itself, which has always been at the center of home entertainment, though often with the help of other connected devices. Reading Lau’s teaser announcement, the OnePlus TV — which so far only has a project name, no timeline or specs have been revealed — will serve as the connectivity hub for OnePlus’ future vision of the smart home.

The OnePlus smart TV will be developed by a new division within OnePlus, led by Pete Lau himself. Still at the earliest stages of development, OnePlus is currently seeking input from its fans, as it often does, about what their priorities with a future smart TV will be.

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Finance

LAGOS TO HOST BIANNUAL AFRICA FINTECH SUMMIT FOR THE FIRST TIME IN NOVEMBER

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The Summit, organized by Dedalus Global, gathers innovators, investors, policy makers and other key stakeholders in the Fintech sector to discuss technologies transforming finance on the continent, debate regulatory policies, compare best practices, and forge new ventures
LAGOS, Nigeria, September 17, 2018/ — Africa’s premier fintech event, the Africa Fintech Summit, (www.AfricaFintechSummit.com) will be held for the first time in Lagos, Nigeria, onNovember 8-9, 2018. This event comes on the heels of the earlier edition in Washington D.C. which featured leading policy makers, c-suite business executives, start-ups, and investors.

The Summit, organized by Dedalus Global, gathers innovators, investors, policy makers and other key stakeholders in the Fintech sector to discuss technologies transforming finance on the continent, debate regulatory policies, compare best practices, and forge new ventures.

Speaking on the decision to bring the Summit to Lagos, the Chairman of the Summit, Leland Rice, said, “Lagos is an ideal host city; it’s an epicenter of Africa’s fintech revolution and the driving force behind the continent’s entrepreneurial spirit. The successes of companies such as Paga, Flutterwave, Mines.io, and Paystack have strategically positioned Lagos as the destination of choice for investors.”

“The first edition of the Summit in D.C. was a launch pad for several milestone fintech deals struck among its delegates in the months after the event. We plan to build on these successes in Lagos, with a focus on bringing innovators and policy makers together to move the needle on fintech regulation and bringing founders and investors together to facilitate further capital raises,” added Leland.

The two-day event will feature investor missions from the US, UK, and UAE, an Alpha Expo featuring the most exciting startups and entrepreneurs in Nigeria, a half-day blockchain masterclass, and an awards ceremony.

Reacting to the decision to host the Summit in Lagos, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Technology, Lanre Osibona, stated, “This reflects the progress Nigeria is making in the areas of technology and financial services. The event is very important as it comes at the heels of the Vice President Osinbajo’s trip to Silicon Valley to promote Nigeria’s tech sector. We look forward to collaborating with the organizing committee and to a successful event in Lagos.”

In similar vein, Tayo Oviosu, the founder of Paga—a payment company that recently raised $10 million in Series B2 funding—said that “the Africa Fintech Summit in Washington D.C. provided valuable insights into the fintech space and connected me with key players in the industry. I look forward to the Lagos edition.”

Speakers lined up for the event include Chief Economist of PwC Nigeria, Dr. Andrew S. Nevin; Managing General Partner of EchoVC, Eghosa Omoigui; CEO of Diamond Bank, Uzoma Dozie; Founder of Flutterwave, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji; and CEO of PayStack, Shola Akinlade, whose company recently raised $8 million Series A funding

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Dedalus Global.

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For more information, please contact:
Ridwan Sorunke
Directory of Communications, AFTS
Ridwan@AfricaFintechSummit.com
+234 (0) 8037885760
+1 2023166726

About Dedalus Global

Dedalus Global (https://VC4A.com/dedalus-global/) is an investment and strategy advisory firm focusing on emerging markets and emerging technologies. With networks throughout Africa and the Middle East, we leverage granular market knowledge to drive innovation, accelerate capital deployment, and create value for our clients and the economies where they operate.

About Africa Fintech Summit (AFTS)

The Africa Fintech Summit (www.AfricaFintechSummit.com) is a biannual event that brings together leading disruptors, tech and finance professionals, regulators, and investors from around the globe to debate policies, compare best practices, and forge Africa-focused ventures. AFTS leverages the growth of the fintech sector in Africa to bring key stakeholders to discuss the technologies transforming finance on the continent.

To learn more about AFTS, please visit www.AfricaFintechSummit.com

View a recap from the AFTS Washington: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIdDS-u0rXE

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Dedalus Global

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Business

AMAZON IS REPORTEDLY BUILDING A FREE STREAMING VIDEO SERVICE FOR FIRE TV OWNERS

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Amazon is said to be prepping an ad-supported streaming video service; it’ll be available to folks who own any of the company’s Fire TV streaming dongles and set-top boxes, reports The Information.

It’ll be separate from Prime Video, which offers a range of licensed shows and movies, as well original content produced by Amazon, to people who are subscribed to Prime.

Amazon's latest streaming device is the Fire TV Cube
Credit: Amazon
Amazon’s latest streaming device is the Fire TV Cube

Do you like good gadgets?

Those sweet cool gadgets?

Oh, yeah

The idea behind this upcoming service, which is dubbed Free Dive, is to help Amazon bring in more revenue through advertising. Ads presently account for a small fraction – about $2 billion out of more than $200 billion – of its annual revenue, but they offer higher margins than retail, and are one of Amazon’s fastest growing earners company-wide.

To that end, the company’s been selling ad space on its site, and is slated to run ads during live sporting events on Prime Video. It also turned off ad-free viewing on Twitch – its game video streaming service – for Prime subscribers earlier this month.

Free Dive could give Amazon a chance to rival Roku, which offers a similar ad-supported streaming service for owners of its devices and is expected to reach 59 million users by the end of 2018. Roku also made its ‘Channel’ service available via the web earlier this month to folks in the US, so you don’t need the company’s hardware to access it. It’ll be interesting to see if Amazon follows suit – and how it plays its cards with customers across the globe, especially in cost-conscious markets like India, where it’s expanding its media offerings.

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