Connect with us

Research

2019’s Best WordPress Hosting Providers (Number #1 is Awesome)

Published

on

WordPress is easily one of the best content management systems out there—by many metrics, it is the content management system. Just about everyone has heard of WordPress—though many consumers might know WordPress.com better than WordPress.org.

WordPress.org is an incredible tool and it’s free to use, but it doesn’t come with hosting. If you can take care of your own hosting (and presumably your own domain) you can use WordPress to edit the site itself.

WordPress is so popular that many hosting companies offer plansspecifically geared towards WordPress. Now, a couple things need to be explained here.

First of all, some of this is a bit exaggerated. You could use normal shared web hosting plans to connect to WordPress most of the time—so companies that offer shared/web WordPress hosting are basically offering dressed up web hosting. It’s something to be wary of.

At the same time, some of these options also have extra features or decent prices, are still worth looking into. Plus, some companies offer managed WordPress solutions that are on the pricier side, but also provide more premium, WordPress-oriented services.

Now there’s a lot to sort out here. Most individuals can install WordPress on a normal web hosting account and it will work fine—so some of the items on this list are here because they offer web hosting prices for WordPress-oriented hosting.

Other items here offer managed WordPress solutions that are better for businesses. And of course, some companies here do both.

Another quick note for this list: there are some things that are very common for WordPress Hosting products.

If something makes the pros and cons list here, it probably means it’s special—for example, many WordPress hosting products come with some form of customer support, but I’ll make a note when companies provide particularly good WordPress-trained customer support representatives.

There’s one last thing I’d like to say about this list: all the options here are solid. Yes, they’re ranked for a reason, but the truth of the matter is that companies have gotten the hang of WordPress hosting these days.

That’s not to say any of these options are perfect WordPress hosting solutions…just that they’ve managed to do a great job somehow. Particularly, the last three options are close, and you’ll need to look hard at what you want specifically before you start ruling names out.

Here we have given rank based on our experience.

2019’s Best WordPress Hosting:

WORDPRESS HOSTINGPRICESPEEDUPTIMEUSABILITYMY RATING
Bluehost$2.95/mo346ms100%BEST★★★★★
DreamHost$2.59/mo1103ms100%GOOD★★★★
SiteGround$3.95/mo586ms100%GOOD★★★★
HostGator$5.95/mo1166ms99.99%GOOD★★★★
A2 Hosting$2.96/mo1328ms99.96%GOOD★★★★
InMotion$4.99/mo326.29ms99.98%GOOD★★★★
Liquid Web$49/mo576.32ms99.92%GOOD★★★★

Without further ado, let’s dive into a detailed review of each WordPress hosting.

7: Liquid Web

liquid web banner

Liquid Web is one of the more unique hosting companies here on this list.

While the other names here do a mix of shared hosting and managed hosting for small to medium needs, Liquid Web specializes in managed hosting. It’s specifically intended for web professionals and agencies—people with heftier needs but who aren’t huge companies either.

So there’s the gist for Liquid Web: it’s pretty solid, but probably not for individuals running personal sites. It’s an overall good option for businesses (including smaller ones), however.

Pros

  • Enterprise Plans are available for managing upwards of 100 sites.
100 sites
  • iThemes Sync is included for all packages. iThemes Sync is a tool that lets you manage many WordPress sites at once, from one dashboard—it tremendously streamlines things.
  • Unlimited traffic, and guarantees you won’t be charged with overage fees.
  • Staging sites included with all packages (lets you do more extensive testing before making your site go live).
  • Developer tools and full server access give you/your team more control over your hosting.
  • Liquid Web’s customer support is very good. This is to be expected because part of offering a good managed hosting product is having really helpful staff and representatives, but it still makes Liquid Web stand out. In the example chat, it took about 30 seconds for me to get my question answered.
chat 2

Cons

  • If you’re an individual, or otherwise running a small site and not anticipating much traffic, Liquid Web isn’t the most affordable. Pricing starts at $100 a month, for 10 sites.
  • This is not a major flaw, but storage is a bit limited for the price range (granted, it’s SSD storage). The starting option gets you 50GB of SSD storage for 10 sites: it’ll be enough for most, but if you used each site you’d only get an average of 5GB.

So, do I recommend Liquid Web?

I’d say yes, but with a few qualifications. I do not recommend Liquid Web for anyone who’s a hobbyist, or a small-time freelancer. I don’t even recommend it to every small business—I’d recommend only to those small or midsized businesses (SMBs) that have very stringent hosting needs and want really high-quality management.

If you’re not in that niche, then you can find less expensive managed products or unmanaged products that are significantly cheaper that can still get the job done fine.Visit Liquid Web

6: InMotion

inmotion banner

InMotion is a well-respected name in hosting. It’s not necessarily the biggest provider, though it’s still quite a force, but it just has a solid reputation. This reputation has been well-earned—I think WordPress hosting is one of InMotion’s strengths, and shows some of the more unique approaches of InMotion.

InMotion offers quite a few WordPress plans, so you can most likely find one that can accommodate your needs. These plans are all pretty well-stocked, and perform highly, but for individuals they start on the pricier side.

Pros

  • Free domain
  • Wide range of pricing options, from roughly $4.99 to $114.99 (for the first terms).
  • Fairly generous allowances for starting or second-tier packages: 20,000-50,000 monthly visitors, upwards of 40GB SSD storage, unlimited bandwidth, and unlimited email accounts. True, some providers have unlimited storage, but few people will really need ‘unlimited’ storage—40GB is more than enough for most entry-level options.
inmotion wordpress hosting
inmotion wordpresshosting
  • BoldGrid is included for free with all WordPress packages. BoldGrid is basically a plugin that makes WordPress even more user-friendly (if it isn’t enough already). It also makes content management a little more aesthetically pleasing. It’s not for everyone, but that’s okay—it’s optional.
  • With a couple exceptions, most of the renewal prices aren’t significantly higher than the first-term prices.
  • Money-back guarantee is 90 days, not 30.

Cons

  • The cheaper options are on the more expensive side—a few bucks over normal, and even for the first year (though renewal prices are pretty normal). Small businesses will probably be unaffected, but some individuals can save money by going to other providers.
  • While customer support is overall solid, I had some slight issues with the live chat. They’re pretty minor, but basically I found the person I was talking to difficult to understand, and the wait time was about 2 minutes for a real answer, not 1. Though having said that, it’s a pretty minor point of concern because overall I got my question answered within minutes.
im chat

Would I recommend InMotion?

Yes for most people, but my main qualification is this: no, for individuals with lighter needs looking to save money. There are cheaper options with similar quality.Visit InMotion

5: A2 Hosting

a2 hosting banner

A2 is a name that’s managed to keep a fairly strong reputationwithout being an overbearing force in the hosting market. A2’s been around for a while—it was first founded in 2001 and has been independently owned since then, which is a bit unique.

As far as WordPress hosting goes, A2 offers both managed and web options. It’s decently priced and decently featured, and while it isn’t the best ever, it doesn’t have much to complain about either.

Pros

  • Quite a few web and managed options, with a rough price range of $4 to $40. The first tier of managed plans is relatively affordable. Additionally, you can choose between Linux or Windows hosting for these options.
  • The second tier shared WordPress hosting option is not much higher than the first, but has significantly more features and resources allocated.
a2 hosting shared features
  • Entry level option has 5 databases, unlimited storage, SSL certificate, 25 email addresses,
  • A2 has some speed boosting options. One of them is called Railgun Optimizer, which is an additional dollar a month for entry-level plans and significantly boosts HTML load times, and then other things such as CloudFlare and A2 Optimized can significantly boost performance (but are usually reserved for higher tiers).
  • A2’s cPanel is uniquely efficient and powerful, though I must admit the aesthetic is not my taste.
  • Live chat is overall good, even if the service is nothing to write home about.
a2 chat 2
a2 chat 3
  • Uptime is great. (You can see A2 hosting’s latest uptime here)
a2 uptime

Cons

  • I wish the response times were a bit higher, but admittedly I haven’t made full use of A2’s available performance upgrades.
  • It’s not that A2 is difficult to use, but the other services here can be a bit more user-friendly (as far as shared WordPress hosting goes).

So, do I recommend A2 Hosting?

Unequivocally, yes. A2 has enough power and flexibility to accommodate bigger clients with larger needs, as well as individuals, plus its performance is consistently high.Visit A2 Hosting

4: HostGator

hostgator banner

HostGator is one of the biggest names in hosting, and it’s a name well-earned: HostGator has serviced over 8 million sites, which is pretty darn impressive.

So, what’s the deal with HostGator’s WordPress options? Their website makes this a bit confusing, but HostGator offers two types of WordPress hosting: the first is WordPress web hosting, and the second is Managed Cloud Hosting. Both are good, but HostGator is a particularly strong option for its Cloud plans—they perform very highly.

Pros

  • Unmetered bandwidth, disk space, a free SSL certificate, and unlimited MySQL databases for all shared hosting accounts, which includes shared/web WordPress hosting.
free ssl certificate
  • 45-day money-back guarantee (as opposed to 30 days).
  • An email marketing tool is included for free with entry-level accounts upwards.
  • If you use HostGator’s shared hosting products for WordPress, the prices are naturally lower. However, HostGator’s managed WordPress offers aren’t too bad either, in a $6–$10 range (for the first terms at least).
  • HostGator has WordPress experts available for support. In general, HostGator has very good customer support anyway (as proof, this is a live chat sample I did when logged out, as a “prospective customer”).
hg chat
hg chat

Cons

  • Although my uptime with HostGator has been good, the response times have been higher than average for me, over several months. However, that’s on WordPress web hosting: using WordPress Cloud hosting is much better.
hg uptime
  • HostGator’s managed WordPress plans don’t allow users many sites—a maximum of three. This is common for managed WordPress products, but some people might be willing to pay for more than 3 sites…sorry, no dice!

Does HostGator get my recommendation?

Yep. It’s without a doubt one of the best hosts around today, and it does a very good job with WordPress hosting—I just wish a couple minor things could be made better.Visit HostGator

3: SiteGround

siteground banner

SiteGround is another of hosting’s big names. What makes SiteGround stand out, however, is that WordPress actually recommends SiteGround (along with the next two options, which is why they’re ranked this way).

Here’s the gist for SiteGround: the service is just overall high quality for very standard prices. Moreover, even the entry-level tiers get high quality customer support and features.

Pros

  • In my experience, SiteGround has had some of the best uptime.
sg uptime
  • Free daily backup is included from the cheapest tier upwards. Higher tiers get free daily restores.
  • The installation process is incredibly easy.
  • Unlimited MySQL databases from the cheapest tier upwards.
  • Customer support is phenomenal, especially because SiteGround has specialized WordPress support. Even better, this advanced support is available to first tier users as well. Like some others here, even their normal customer support is good.
sg chat
  • SiteGround has CDN included for many packages.

Cons

  • Although SiteGround’s uptime has been excellent in my experience, the response times can be a little higher than ideal. Having said that, they’re still smaller than a lot of other companies on this list.
  • Although the first year of hosting is normally/affordably priced, the renewal prices can be significantly higher.
  • Storage isn’t unlimited, no matter the tier. This isn’t the worst thing, but other providers have unlimited storage for similar or lower prices.

As SiteGround is in the top three and recommended by WordPress, you can probably guess that yes, it has my recommendation as well. You’d be right. I would just like to reiterate my word of caution to the individuals looking for affordable WordPress hosting: beware the renewal prices!Visit SiteGround

2: DreamHost

dreamhost banner

DreamHost, like SiteGround, is one of the three hosting providers recommended by WordPress itself. DreamHost is a veteran in the community of hosting companies: it’s been around since 1996.

In the last two decades, DreamHost has grown to become a major hosting company. They claim to have served over 400,000 customers and 1.5 million websites. Most impressively, DreamHost has powered over 750,000 WordPress installs—clearly, many customers use DreamHost for WordPress.

So what’s the run-down? DreamHost is definitely one of the best hosting companies for WordPress, with a really seamless installation and management process, as well as solid features for decent prices.

Pros

  • Seamless installation process.
  • DreamHost also has CDN.
  • A low entry level price makes DreamHost a good option for individuals looking to save, and those with lighter hosting needs.
  • Very good uptime (at least recently), though response times could be a bit better.
dh uptime
  • SSD storage, unlimited traffic, a pre-installed SSL certificate, and daily backups are all available for the first tier.

Cons

  • As shown, the response times could be a little better.
  • Although the entry price is a little lower, you really only have two tiers, and the second is significantly higher. It’s essentially a basic WordPress option, or a full WordPress option, without any middle ground.
  • DreamHost was hit by a DDoS attack in the summer of 2017, which reduced uptime. This has led some to conclude DreamHost’s security isn’t too great when it’s actually tested.
  • Email is not included for free, and requires an upgrade.

As with SiteGround, yes DreamHost has my recommendation. It’s hard not to get that when WordPress recommends it! My caution is the price jump—some people might be caught in the middle, and some small or midsized businesses might want a greater variety of options.Visit DreamHost

1: Bluehost

bluehost shared wordpress hosting

Ah, Bluehost—probably one of the most famous hosting companies out there. Bluehost is also strongly associated with WordPress hosting. Just like the previous two options, Bluehost is recommended by WordPress and combined with its massive name, Bluehost is a good-looking option.

The gist for Bluehost? There isn’t too much going wrong with it, and while it’s not the cheapest provider, the shared hosting WordPress plans are still pretty good deals.

Pros

  • Free domain name registration, and some tiers include free domain privacy.
  • Free SSL certificate and Free Domain (for 1 year) for entry-level tiers upwards. Higher tiers allow for unlimited sites and storage.
  • Choice of both managed and shared WordPress plans, in a wide pricing range.
  • Free CDN (for certain tiers).
  • Overall, very solid uptime (though one month wasn’t great for me) and fast response times.
bh uptime
  • Renewal prices aren’t too high, and sometimes the first year can be significantly cheaper.
  • Like SiteGround, Bluehost’s support includes WordPress experts. As I’ve said a couple times here, a good marker of that is live chat quality pre-purchase.
bh chat
bh chat

Cons

  • Some of the managed WordPress hosting plans might be a bit on the pricier side, but for small businesses it probably won’t be a major setback.

For being one of the best all-rounder hosting companies, Bluehost still manages to excel in WordPress. I’ll give credit where it’s due: Bluehost of course gets my recommendation, and for just about everyone.Visit BlueHost

Conclusion

So what’s the best WordPress hosting? Naturally, none of these can make every single reader happy. For small businesses, Liquid Webhas the best specialization but, HostGatorA2 hosting, or even Bluehost are good at accommodating heftier WordPress needs as well.

For individuals looking to run their own blogs or personal sites, most of the options here will be decent enough, but DreamHost is particularly good for those looking to save money (and especially for the first year).

Bluehost is one of the best all-rounders.

Of course you should consider what your own priorities are, but these are some of the best names in hosting, and definitely leaders in WordPress hosting. And hey—all of these have money-back guarantees.

So if you’re not sure…try them out!

Source: https://hostingpill.com/best-wordpress-hosting/

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Research

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max’s AnTuTu result shows minor performance gains

Published

on

By

Even though Apple didn’t announce any new iPhones during its September event, the company detailed the heart of the future phones – the Apple A14 chipset. Based on Apple’s claims at the announcement we estimated it to have a 17% faster CPU and 8% better GPU than its predecessor and a newly surfaced benchmark shows these numbers are close enough.

An AnTuTu benchmark run on the iPhone 12 Pro Max, reveals 16% higher CPU score and 4% better GPU result. There’s however a more pronounced boost in memory speeds – 22%, but overall the performance gains are clearly minor.

iPhone 12 Pro Max surfaces on AnTuTu with Apple's A14 chip

The combined result of 572,333 points might seem low, considering the Snapdragon 865+ Android competition goes above the 600,000 mark, but cross-platform benchmark comparison isn’t really a level playing field because there are differences in how the tasks are executed.

iPhone 12 Pro Max surfaces on AnTuTu with Apple's A14 chip

However, the comparison to the A13 should be fully relevant and it shows that the world’s first 5nm chipset won’t bring the performance leap many were expecting of it. There are three explanations that come to mind.

For one Apple might have prioritized battery draw over outright performance making the A14 use less power, while achieving what is roughly the same performance. That’s most likely it since the A14 Bionic pioneer – the Apple iPad Air 4th generation – has the same battery life as its predecessor despite packing an 8% smaller cell.

Alternatively, the move to 5nm chipsets might not yield the gains that we all hoped. While the almost 30% smaller process should theoretically deliver great efficiency boost, it may take time until it’s fully utilized.

Finally, this could be an engineering sample and the performance of the final units can be far better. However with Apple itself claiming modest gains close to these results that seems like a very long shot.

Source: https://www.gsmarena.com/iphone_12_pro_max_surfaces_on_antutu_with_apples_a14_chip-news-45343.php

Continue Reading

Research

HOW MICROSOFT BUILT ITS FOLDING ANDROID PHONE

Published

on

By

Microsoft is returning to making phones this week, as part of an ambitious project to usher in a new era of dual-screen and folding devices. The company has spent around six years developing Surface Duo, its Android-powered device that folds out to be a phone or a miniature tablet. It’s taken Microsoft years to get the hardware and software right, but the company firmly believes now is the ideal time for something new. When it goes on sale tomorrow, we’ll see if the company got it right.

This is the story of how Microsoft’s new folding Android phone came to be.

Microsoft’s Panos Panay with a Surface Duo.
 Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

POCKETABLE AND MINI SURFACES

Panos Panay, Microsoft’s chief product officer, is known for his onstage energy and for constantly feeling pumped, but when it came time to build his dream Moleskine-like device, he spent months walking around in secret with a peculiar piece of hardware in his pocket. “We literally had two pieces of metal and a hinge that we put together,” explains Panay in an interview with The Verge. “We had this piece of metal that I carried around in my pocket for months.”

It was the early and primitive form for what eventually became the Surface Duo, and Panay spent months analyzing things like “fidget factor” and measuring how often he opened and closed the device. “Does it fit in your pocket? Can you sit on it? How big would the screen have to be if it wasn’t a traditional slab you were holding every day?” were some of the many questions he and his team were looking to answer.

Panay has been thinking about a pocketable or a small Surface device for years, even describing the idea as his “baby” at one point, but it was a painful journey to get to the Surface Duo. Work began on the Duo just after Microsoft had canceled the Surface Mini, an eight-inch tablet running Windows. Microsoft had been planning to launch this smaller Surface, but it ultimately wasn’t the right time back in 2014.

“It was emotional to stop,” says Panay. “Products are a reflection of the people that make them, that’s how we talk as a team. These products become who you are at work, and we spend a lot of time at work.”

If there’s anything that Microsoft has learned from trying to harmonize Surface hardware and software, it’s that timing is everything. “One of things that we’ve really developed a strong muscle for is the ability to know timing for when a product is right,” explains Steven Bathiche, who oversees all hardware innovation for Microsoft devices like Surface, Xbox, and HoloLens. “Timing is a thing I’ve learned is the most important thing, it’s more important than the idea itself in fact. All the ingredients really have to be right. This is probably why in the past you haven’t seen some of these ideas really make it through.”

Microsoft’s Surface mini.
 Image: Windows Central

That’s why the Surface Mini never launched. “Mini just wasn’t right because it didn’t have the apps for the form factor,” explains Panay. “There were a lot of challenges for Mini. I still have my Mini, it’s running Windows RT, but it didn’t have everything it needed for that form.” Surface Mini would have run Windows, which meant apps would have needed to be updated for the form factor, and the size and OS choice meant you’d still have to carry around a mobile phone.

While the Surface Mini cancellation was painful, it was an important part of the history of the Surface Duo and influenced what hardware choices were made. Microsoft moved on to a device codenamed “Andromeda” before shifting to the Surface Duo. While the Surface team is reluctant to talk about Andromeda in detail, sources tell The Verge it was a similar dual-screen device that was thicker and bulkier than the Surface Duo. Microsoft had planned to run a custom variant of Windows on Andromeda, and the camera hardware was also different to what exists in the Duo.

“At that time, it was different hardware, it’s not the same hardware… it’s not even remotely close,” says Panay. The key principles of Surface Duo existed in Andromeda, though: two screens side by side, with a hinge that allowed the device to fold out into place. “We’re in so many generations later of development [with Surface Duo], we understand how thin it is, we understand reliability, we understand the robustness of the screens. It has been generationally made, it’s years in the making.”

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

FOLDING HARDWARE

Surface Mini and Andromeda helped Microsoft experiment with the idea of a pocketable Surface device, and the learnings have helped. The idea of a foldable display, like what’s found on Samsung’s Galaxy Fold, was quickly discarded in favor of the reliability of two flat screens. “It wasn’t difficult for us to realize that taking a screen and folding it wasn’t the right option for this product,” explains Bathiche. “We wanted glass. We wanted glass that wouldn’t scratch because we also wanted to give you a pen. We also wanted a 360-degree hinge, and we wanted to be able to do that without compromising the thickness of the device.”

Microsoft decided early on that there wouldn’t be a cover display, meaning you have to make an intentional choice to unfold the Duo to see the displays and even notifications. These fundamental choices allowed Microsoft to focus on important hardware aspects like keeping the device thin, creating a reliable hinge, and the idea of bringing the dual-screen computing you’re used to on your Windows desktop PC into your pocket.

“One of the things that we learned on Surface Mini that was actually really valuable for us is when you’re designing these super thin structures you want to come up with a mechanical architecture,” says Pavan Davuluri, a distinguished Microsoft Surface engineer. “You’re coalescing and condensing a lot of the mechanical components — structural, thermal, and RF pieces — into a single internal frame.”

This internal frame has allowed Microsoft to spread the Surface Duo components across both sides, while keeping the device just 4.8mm thin. “Most phones are buckets essentially, it’s a bucket that you fill with parts and put glass on the backside,” explains Davuluri. “That’s not how Surface Duo was built. Duo was built with an internal frame that really is the development scheme for integrating all these dual-system components.”

Microsoft experimented with a few different internal architectures. One didn’t even have dual screens, and another was just a phone powering a second screen on the opposite side. “We had another variant where we were using wireless connectivity vs. wired,” says Davuluri, so the second display wasn’t physically connected.

Microsoft’s early Duo experiments.
 Microsoft
Microsoft

These prototypes would have meant the Duo would end up being thicker or one side would be heavier. “It was definitely easier to make one side thick and put everything on one side, and then make the other side super thin,” admits Bathiche. “We chose the hard way from an engineering standpoint, but we’re really proud of the result of the design… the device is symmetrical, which evokes its function as well.”

These hardware choices weren’t always easy, though. LCD displays would have made a lot of sense over OLED, but they would have added to the thickness of the device. There were intense debates inside Microsoft around the hardware that went into Surface Duo. “The whole LCD or OLED debate was a real one,” explains Bathiche. “I was really worried about it, because I knew some of the challenges we’d have to overcome that OLED didn’t really solve.”

Microsoft created a prototype Surface Duo with OLED displays, and the first hardware sample shocked Surface engineers. “When we got our first prototypes back… we opened it up and looked at it for the first time and realized ‘Holy cow, there’s a color shift that we didn’t essentially account for that happens when you look at OLED offscreen,’” recounts Bathiche. “Displays are like snowflakes, there’s no two alike.”

OLED color shifts aren’t easily noticeable on a single display, but when you put them side by side, it’s a different story. Microsoft had to work with display manufactures to widen the color viewing angles, and configure them to have the same contrast, color uniformity, and timing.

There were also intense debates over the thinness of the Surface Duo. “People wanted to violate thinness every which way, across the board you can pick any of the tech that went into it,” explains Pete Kyriacou, a senior director of Microsoft’s Surface team. These debates and internal tension ultimately led to Microsoft creating an incredibly thin device.

“This is the most emotional product we’ve ever created,” says Panay. “A lot of that comes from tension. To get that diamond out, there had to be a lot of it. Microns mattered, not millimeters, microns. I remember being in meetings and being like ‘Come on, Pete, we’re talking less than a millimeter tradeoff that’s all we need to solve this product.” Kyriacou didn’t move on the thin focus, and the team had to find other ways to solve problems. “Maybe that’s why it took years to get to this product,” admits Panay. “There were moments like those because we pushed so many boundaries.”

The original Surface Duo prototype that Panay carried around.
 Microsoft

Some of these hardware choices for dual screens and the device thinness have also led to the Duo missing things like 5G connectivity or NFC support. The camera isn’t what you’d expect to find on a flagship Android device in 2020, largely because of how thin the Surface Duo is. “We had to stay maniacally focused on the weight, the symmetry, and the battery life of the system,” reveals Davuluri. “That, in turn, drove the choice of what kind of sensor we picked, and what kind of optics system had to live in that footprint, and how we had to optimize the camera software experience.”

The camera module inside the Surface Duo is one of the smallest on the market to make sure it fits inside the 4.8mm thickness. Microsoft has optimized for both front and rear photography, but it’s obvious the camera will have some serious limitations.

Microsoft also experimented with other enclosure materials during its early Surface Duo mockup phase. Some prototypes included fabric or metal, similar to what we’ve seen on Surface keyboards. “We liked that fabric enclosure material because it gave us some properties in Surface Mini like our speakers were built out of fabric on that product at the time,” says Davuluri. “There were things we really liked about fabric… but it didn’t meet all of our requirements for our current generation and future generation products.”

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

GOOGLE SOFTWARE

Beyond the hardware experimentation, the software and OS powering the Surface Duo were also incredibly important. Microsoft had been experimenting with a custom variant of Windows for its Andromeda device, but the company switched directions and moved to Android. It wasn’t an easy decision to make.

“Bringing Android into the fold, that wasn’t the most simple of conversations all of the time,” admits Panay. “You have to explain that and you want your team on board and people believing it.” Apps were a limiting factor for a Windows- or Windows Phone-powered device, and Panay has previously admitted it’s the key reason the Surface Duo runs Android. Apps and even the Android software running on Surface Duo won’t be perfect just yet, as Google hasn’t fully optimized the OS for this type of hardware, but Microsoft is working with Google to improve Android.

“As we got into working with Android, it wasn’t about just doing things specifically for Duo,” explains Kyriacou. Microsoft has created a dual-screen architecture, drag-and-drop APIs, screen-aware APIs, and even hinge APIs that all make apps light up across both screens. “We wanted to make sure we were working with Google to get that back into the ecosystem, so it’s not a forked version of Android. This is about working with them to make sure this all accrues to app developers and Android.”

Microsoft hasn’t heavily modified or skinned Android with the Surface Duo, either. “Our goal from the beginning was to stay as true to Android as possible,” says Kyriacou. “Mainly for familiarity, but also to make sure the changes we would make for windowing or hinge angle / postures would be part of the Android operating system going forward.”

Software updates and OS tweaks are a lot easier to roll out than hardware changes, so expect to see the Duo improve regularly, especially when Android 11 arrives. Microsoft is also promising three years of Android updates for the Surface Duo, so it will benefit from any work Microsoft and Google are doing to improve Android for years to come.

Microsoft has been working on improving gestures and the keyboard experience on Surface Duo in recent months, and more improvements are on the way. “In addition to our normal fixes, we’ll also be updating features that drive a great dual-screen experience,” adds Kyriacou. “We will be on future versions of Android when the time is right.”

THE FUTURE

Microsoft’s folding and dual-screen ambitions don’t end with just the Surface Duo. The company is still planning to launch a Surface Neo device, powered by Windows 10X. Microsoft unveiled the Surface Neo last year alongside the Duo, complete with two separate nine-inch displays that fold out into a full 13-inch workspace. It was supposed to launch later this year. “Neo is delayed,” says Panay. “I wanted the right time to bring that product with the right experience. We believe in that concept and form factor and size. It will be a beautiful complement to Duo with Windows and I’m excited about it. It’s a product that’s near and dear to my heart.”

Surface Duo and Neo won’t be the only dual-screen devices Microsoft is creating, either. “I believe that different sizes will happen, and I actually believe different companies will make different sizes too, and I think they should,” says Panay. “We want dual-screen architecture to be prevalent, we want every app to work on these screens, and we’re fundamentally committed to that. It includes a roadmap of multiple sizes.”

Surface Duo and Surface Neo.
 Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

How Microsoft balances the choice to run Windows or Android on different sizes will be interesting in the years ahead, especially as the company has been pushing Android closer to Windows with its Your Phone app. You can now run your phone’s Android apps beside Windows apps on a desktop PC, and it’s easy to imagine Microsoft may go further with this integration in the future.

“The next natural evolution is different [dual-screen] sizes,” says Panay. “Whether the larger moves into Windows where it’s appropriate to use the Windows codebase and software, and the smaller form factor uses Android, I think you can safely say that’s the right path with what we’re doing right now as a team.”

Panay believes Duo and dual-screen devices are here to stay, and the hardware will clearly evolve in the future. “Two screens matters. I believe when people start using it they’re going to adapt to these products, they’re going to fall in love with them.”

We might have to wait until foldable glass is a little more reliable before we see it on a Surface device, though. “I think it’s an exciting era of research, it’s one of the things we’re really on top of,” explains Bathiche. “We know all the physics problems that need to be addressed to deliver the experience that we really want to go after, but for us, not yet.”

Microsoft truly believes that the Surface Duo, and devices like it, will change the way people use mobile devices. That belief is rooted in the work the company has been doing in Windows for more than 30 years, allowing PC users to window apps, drag and drop content, and support multiple monitors to multitask.

Bringing that to mobile devices won’t be easy, and Microsoft is hoping the third time’s the charm after Windows Mobile and Windows Phone failed to make a dent in the mobile market. Just like Microsoft had to prove Surface tablets made sense in the first place, the company will once again have to demonstrate that there’s even a need for a device like the Surface Duo.

The future of mobile devices could go in a variety of different directions. Not everyone will have a need for a device like the Surface Duo immediately — or maybe ever. But then not everyone needed to check their email on the go or browse the mobile web when the first stylus-driven smartphones appeared. Microsoft is betting that behaviors will change, or as Panay puts it: “it’s a product that I believe is transformative for the future.”

Source: https://www.theverge.com/21426955/microsoft-surface-duo-folding-android-phone-history

Continue Reading

Research

New Apple Leak Reveals iPhone 12 Design Shock

Published

on

By

Apple’s redesigned iPhone 12 line-up is getting more troubled with every new leak. And now the alarm bells are ringing.

In a shocking new report, Fast Company has revealed that the iPhone 12 Pro will come with lower grade 5G capabilities usually reserved for midrange 5G smartphones, while the iPhone 12 Pro Max will only get premium 5G functionality in a handful of countries. Considering the increased prices already leaked for these models, Apple’s design decision may backfire.

09/05 Update: new iPhone 12 release news has now all but confirmed further delays to the range. Picked up by Reuters, major Apple supplier Broadcom has published its fourth quarter revenue guidance and admitted that its performance will be affected by a later-than-usual ramp up of its smartphone chip components. Apple is by far Broadcom’s biggest customer and iPhones are the only range yet to launch in 2020, which could impact its bottom line significantly. Broadcom had strongly hinted at this possibility back in June, citing potential launch delays from “our large North American mobile phone customer” – which really couldn’t be more clear. This further confirmation only rubber stamps the complex iPhone 12 launch ahead.

09/06 Update: acclaimed Apple insider Jon Prosser has revealed that Apple will hold a press briefing for new products on Tuesday, September 8. Some have speculated that the iPhone 12 lineup could be announced as early as this (though not launched until some time later). Apple also teased an early September event on its YouTube channel last month – though it was hotly disputed whether this was simply an error. Apple’s typical iPhone release schedule is out the window with the company already admitting the new iPhones will be late, though it was unclear whether this refers to their announcement or retail availability. My personal opinion is September 8 will not be iPhone 12 launch day, but all bets are off in this most unprecedented of years.

Breaking this down, Fast Company explains that Apple only intends to offer premium (mmWave) 5G with iPhone 12 Pro Max models sold in Korea, Japan and the US. Everywhere else, the iPhone 12 Pro Max will be sold with the cheaper, slower Sub-6Hz 5G while the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Plus and iPhone 12 Pro will only ship with this standard. As Fast Company notes, “If Sub-6 5G is a Camry, millimeter-wave 5G is a Mercedes S-Class.”

For the entry-level iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Plus, this makes sense. Sub-6GHz 5G is typically about 50% faster than 4G in real world tests, travels a long way and makes up the majority of 5G coverage. It’s a solid speed bump for midrange phones. But mmWave 5G represents the cutting edge. It is short range, ballistically quick (up to 1Gb/1,000Mbit per second) and is primarily rolled out in major cities. If you buy a ‘Pro’ level iPhone, you should expect pro level 5G – every Galaxy S20 model has this option.

So what could’ve prompted this baffling decision? I suspect another poor decision: Apple is downgrading the batteries in all iPhone 12 models. mmWave increases power drain, so it looks set to be just the latest feature culled after equally power hungry 120Hz ProMotion displays were also placed on the chopping block.

But there is one big upside. And that is Fast Company’s source has corroborated earlier leaks that Apple will release a 4G-only iPhone 12 Pro, early next year. Not only will that model now have a smaller cellular speed gap than expected, it will have considerably better battery life on 4G while Apple is understood to be pricing it at up to $200 less than its 5G counterpart.

Throw in the fact that the 4G iPhone 12 Pro will enjoy every other benefit (including the new chassis designbig performance gains and a radical camera upgrade) and it looks like the standout upgrade option. Especially with Apple’s iPhone 12 release date slipping further and further.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonkelly/2020/09/06/apple-iphone-12-pro-max-mmwave-5g-release-date-iphone-11-pro-max-upgrade/#6327f4b92e10

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Trending

Copyright © 2020 Inventrium Magazine

%d bloggers like this: