Posts

Chromebooks Dominating PC Market With 75% Annual Growth Internationally 

According to reports from Canalys, Chromebooks have been outperforming the rest of the industry product categories thanks to a 75% annual growth and shipment of over 11 million units last quarter. 

Overall the worldwide PC market has seen a 10% rise in shipments this past quarter with over 121 million units sold, according to data from Canalys. Growth in the tablet market has decreased slightly in Q2, with a total increase of just 4% with 39.1 million units sold. 

After its success in Q2, vendors of Chromebook continued to invest in the brand. HP came in second with a 116% increase in shipments for Q2. Lenovo came right after with an 82% increase in shipments and Acer was right next to them with a growth of 83%. 

Embed from Getty Images

Brian Lynch is a research analyst at Canalys who claims the success of Chromebooks is showing that the PC market is remarkably resilient, and its growth will likely continue after the pandemic as well. He explained that “the company has cemented a healthy position across all end-user segments in the industry.” 

“Even as key markets like North America and Western Europe have seen schools begin to open up, shipments remain elevated as governments and education ecosystems plan for the long-term integration of Chromebooks within digital learning processes.”

“With Chrome’s hold over the education space relatively secure, Google is set to bet big on the commercial segment this year. We expect to see a strong focus on attracting small businesses with updated services, such as the new ‘Individual’ subscription tier for Google Workspace and promotions on CloudReady licenses to repurpose old PCs for deployment alongside existing Chromebook fleets,” Lynch explained. 

Lynch also noted that Apple is looking to expand its M1 success into the commercial space that companies like Microsoft have successfully been running. Microsoft is also gearing up to release Windows 11 this year, which will likely lead to another massive spike in sales. Lynch claims the race between Apple’s OS devices and PC devices has never been tighter thanks to overall advancements in personal device technology. 

Embed from Getty Images

Tablets have been dominating the personal device market within the past few years, as more consumers are attracted to the lower price point, and touch capabilities that allow them to do even more than what they could on a traditional laptop. 

Apple has been leading the tablet market for quite some time, last quarter they sold 14.2 million iPads, and vendors in general saw a massive increase in buying once the pandemic started. 

Canalys research analyst Himani Mukka says this past quarter was the fifth consecutive one in which the tablet market has seen an exponential increase within the personal device market. 

“Even as consumer demand for tablets undergoes an inevitable slowdown in the coming quarters, there are exciting developments to be seen in commercial deployments. Canalys expects to see stronger integration between the tablet and PC, allowing for smoother workflow transitions between multiple devices, which is especially attractive to those operating under hybrid and on-the-go work styles.” Mukka said. 

“This will certainly be the case for iPads and Macs, but the introduction of Windows 11 on cloud, and its usage on devices that can run Android bodes well for tablet vendors, users, and developers beyond the Apple ecosystem.”

Man Reading Email on iPad

The Best iPad Apps To Have For Work And Productivity

The digital workplace is an atmosphere that’s taking over every company in the world. The image of the average 9-5 workers desk used to be one of chaos; papers everywhere, a chunky desktop modem, thick planners stacked up, and files in every drawer. Now, that image is more so just a picture of a personal device that has the capability to fully run any given workplace obligation. Many office workers are making the transition to a tablet as their digital means of working. 

What’s so great about a device such as the iPad is the fact that you can download an app for every office need you could possibly have, and the portable nature of a tablet makes it much easier to share certain documents or emails with co-workers; you can simply get up and show them yourself. However, to make the transition to a digital workplace, one needs to know and understand the standard apps to download in order to give them the smoothest work experience. 

Emailing has been the most common office practice since the creation of the internet. In order to run your work life on a tablet, you need a solid email app that can help you organize the dozens of incoming messages you get daily, and filter out all of the spam. Apple or Yahoo Mail, for example, are two great applications that make organizing your inbox super simple. Both apps flag any mailing list items you receive and make it easy to unsubscribe from them if you so desire. In addition, you can compose multiple emails at once, multi-task through your inbox while composing (in case you need a specific reference from another message), and you can keep all your current domains and simply log-in through the third-party systems. 

Embed from Getty Images

The next basic necessity you’ll need is a solid calendar app that will help organize every appointment, meeting, or lunch that you have during a given month. Fantastical 2 is a popular paid option (it runs for $9.99) that syncs up your tasks and calendar entries. It allows for simple entry and navigation, for example, you could enter “lunch with head of HR next Friday at 4” and Fantastical will automatically place that event at the proper date and time. Google Calendar is a free alternative that’s also widely popular, mainly for its social feature. Google makes it easy to sync up your appointments and events with friends, families, and co-workers so that you all can easily see when each other is most available.

An unexpected need that you should have on your device is a password protection app. There are plenty of free options that offer a password-protected space for you to store all of your accounts many passwords, however, with cyber-security being one of the largest threats in the world currently, you might want a more secure option. 1Password is a paid app ($3.99) that creates and stores all your passwords for you. Because the app creates a password for you, it automatically enters it as well when you open the specific app or website. If you’re a little skeptical, no worries, 1Password offers a 30 day free trial, so you can test how secure you feel about it for the month. 

Embed from Getty Images

Depending on what specific “suite apps” your company uses, you can go one of two ways with how you want to transfer and create all of your documents on your new tablet. Microsoft’s Office 365 is a subscription based app service that offers programs like Word, Excel, and Powerpoint on your tablet, and makes them all easy to use. However, if your company is more on the Google Docs wave, have no fear, as all of the Google Suite Apps (such as Docs, Sheets, Drive) are also available in the app store and, unlike Microsoft, most of them are free. 

PDF’s are another one of those foundational aspects of any workplace. The amount of PDF documents that come in and out of our inboxes on a given day can be staggering. What can be even more staggering is how to edit and annotate these documents once we download them, especially on a tablet. PDF Expert is an app that goes beyond that of a traditional PDF reader. You can edit text and images, annotate documents, fill out forms, sign contracts, etc. It has all of your possible PDF needs in one spot and makes it easy to download them from other third-party apps. 

Finally, we have an app for one of the more popular means of office communication as of late. Slack is like Twitter and LinkedIn combined, but specified to fit your specific companies needs. The app, and service in general, allows you to easily DM your connections/co-workers, send reactions and GIF’s, and mute certain threads or channels. It’s perfect for large offices with dozens of workers. 

Making the switch to a digitized platform for your job can be tough, however, with the right apps, organizing your entire career on one device becomes just as easy as hitting send on that last email of the week.

Kids using technology

Excessive Screen Time Can Stunt Children’s Brain Development, Study Shows

The use of personal devices by kids has been a debate since the birth of iPhones and growth of technology within the past decade. Parents everywhere have often found that putting a tablet in front of a screaming toddler’s face will most likely get them to be calm, even if it is for a fleeting moment. Onlookers can judge, but unless you’re a parent yourself, you probably wouldn’t understand how much of a saving grace and distraction these devices can be. However, most parents are also aware that screen time needs to be done in moderation as to not create too much of a dependency with the technology. Now, a new study conducted by pediatricians at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital shows that excessive unsupervised screen time can stunt a child’s brain development when they’re the ages of 3 – 5, according to Chicago’s WGN-TV.

“This is the first study to document associations between higher screen use and lower measures of brain structure and skills in preschool-aged kids. We found that those who used screens more than the recommended one hour a day without parental involvement had lower levels of development in the brain’s white matter — an area key to the development of language, literacy and cognitive skills. This is important because the brain is developing the most rapidly in the first five years. That’s when brains are very plastic and soaking up everything, forming these strong connections that last for life,” said lead author Dr. John Hutton, a pediatrician and clinical researcher at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. 

Embed from Getty Images

The study also discussed how an excess of screen time can cause children to have issues with paying attention, developing basic language skills, sleep patterns, and engaging with their parents. These patterns can be caused by a myriad of things. Families in general often are in homes with multiple personal devices. While a child may be getting a couple hours of general screen time every day, their parent or guardian most likely gets double the amount of time, leading to an overall decrease in interaction and connection. In addition, parents who use their devices specifically to take pictures of their kids constantly are indirectly showing their kids that the excessive use of a phone is definitely normal, and often rewarded. 

The study used a special type of MRI machine that pays extra attention to scanning the white matter of the brain. This piece of the brain is what’s responsible for the lines of communication between the grey matter of our brains. The grey matter is responsible for pretty much everything. It contains a majority of our brain cells and those cells are what communicate with our body and tells it what to do when we want it to. 

“Think of white matter as cables, sort of like the telephone lines that are connecting the various parts of the brain so they can talk to each other. A lack of development of those ‘cables’ can slow the brain’s processing speed; on the other hand, studies show that reading, juggling or learning and practicing a musical instrument improves the organization and structure of the brain’s white matter,” Hutton said.

Embed from Getty Images

The study worked to measure the specific scenarios of 27 girls and 27 boys all five years old or younger. They recorded the frequency these kids were exposed to screens along with what they were specifically engaging with on the devices. Pediatricians only recommend that children of this age get a maximum of one hour of screen-time a day. The kids in the study who exceeded that had scans that showed their brains were less developed and were often more disorganized. Saying that children aren’t developing their brains at the proper rate is a hugely loaded statement, so the doctors involved with this study emphasized how preliminary their findings were, and not to worry about your child’s brain function, but definitely be aware of how much screen time their getting daily, and if you find it to be excessive, cut it down. 

Slowing down the brain development process can stunt how quickly your child picks up basic skills such as proper communication, social cues, organization, etc. So the pediatricians who conducted this study also laid out how to properly divide up screen time for children five and under. First, for any infant that’s 18 months or younger, no screen time at all is the way to go. Babies that young need to be interacting with their family, and environment. They need to become comfortable with their new world outside of the womb and get used to basic human interaction, a screen will completely stunt that development. By the time the child is two years old, that one hour of screen time can begin to be incorporated into the child’s routine. Screen time at that age should always be monitored and strictly for educational purposes. There’s plenty of resources online that children can use to help develop their language skills, and tactile ability through touch screen interaction. Hutton recommends whatever your two year old learns from their screen time should be immediately worked through again without the screen afterwards with a guardian. 

Once the child is in the 3 to 5 range, they can go unsupervised with their device use, however, screen time should remain at one hour a day, and strictly for educational purposes, which can include watching hit TV Shows like Sesame Street. This is the time in your child’s life where brain development is imperative of them learning basic skills they need to be a human. Don’t delay it with excessive use of a tablet.

Microsoft

Microsoft Hopes to Revolutionize Computing with Surface Neo and Duo

Though its Windows line of products has represented by far the most popular choice of operating system for decades, Microsoft is relatively new to the hardware space, as the cornerstone of its business has long been its software offerings. Barring their Xbox series of video game consoles, the company has only been manufacturing mobile computing devices for a few years, starting with its innovative Surface 2-in-1 laptop/tablet hybrid in 2012. With the original Surface tablet, Microsoft intended to directly compete with Apple’s iPad line, but also aimed to innovate on the form factor by offering a keyboard accessory and a kick stand as well as compatibility with the Surface Pen, for precise touch input. While the Surface line of products has been a moderate financial success for Microsoft, the products have received acclaim from critics and consumers alike, and the Surface products have a very high favorability rating among customers.

Building on the success of its Surface tablets, and iterating on the philosophy of enabling different types of functionality that inspired the design of these tablets, Microsoft recently announced an entirely new suite of Surface products, many of which will not launch until Holiday 2020. The most notable of Microsoft’s announcements are the Surface Neo and the Surface Duo, which are a folding tablet and a folding smartphone, respectively. These two products have  a form factor which is fundamentally unlike any product that has since been announced, marking a bold new direction for the company. The two products, the latter of which resembles a smaller version of the former, feature two displays placed almost directly next to one another, separated by a hinge that allows the device to fold 360 degrees.

Embed from Getty Images

When closed, the devices resemble notebooks or journals, but constructed with a sleek and sturdy-looking metallic finish. When opened, the devices can be used in the form factor of a traditional laptop, with the lower screen acting as a software keyboard, or held sideways like a book. They can be opened further at 180 degrees to allow the two screens to work as one for a widescreen viewing experience. If the devices are opened further, they can sit on a table, with one screen allowing for a viewing experience from a distance. Finally, if the devices are folded all the way, they can be held in the hand like a traditional tablet or smartphone, with displays present on both sides.

Microsoft intends for these devices to enable a level of creativity and productivity not possible on other devices by allowing them to assume what they call different “postures.” As the devices can be unfolded and positioned in a variety of ways, each of these postures also enables different software opportunities, as the operating systems of the devices are able to detect how they are being held and offer options to the user accordingly. For instance, the Surface Neo can be used with a magnetically-attached keyboard peripheral, which can be placed on top of half of the lower screen, allowing the remainder of the display to be used as a trackpad. Additionally, both devices are compatible with styluses, allowing for precision input for a variety of applications, but perhaps most notably for digital artists.

Embed from Getty Images

During the keynote in which these devices were announced, representatives from Microsoft envision the current decade as being one in which devices are used for consuming content, and see the following decade as being one characterized by using technology to create things, hoping to lead the industry in that direction. By announcing these devices so far ahead of their release dates, Microsoft intends not only to give developers time to work on software applications that take advantage of their unique form factor, but also to give consumers an opportunity to invest in the Microsoft digital ecosystem in advance of the release of these groundbreaking products. 

Perhaps the most surprising feature of Microsoft’s announcement is the fact that the Surface Duo runs the Android operating system, leveraging software from Google, a direct competitor to the software giant. After the failure of Microsoft’s Windows Mobile operating system, which failed to gain traction in large part because of the absence of support from third-party developers, Microsoft has seemingly given up on creating mobile operating systems. However, the company’s decision to go with Android, currently the most popular mobile operating system around the world, is a clear advantage to consumers, who will have access to a wide range of already-existing apps. The extent to which third-party developers take advantage of the unique form factor of the Neo and Duo, however, remains to be seen, and this factor likely will predict the long-term success of the products overall.

Apple Arcade

Apple Arcade Creates a Niche for High-Quality Phone Games

For years, games for smartphones have broadly fit into one of two categories – either they were free-to-play, oftentimes packaged with obtrusive advertisements and microtransactions built into an experience designed to get you to fork over real money, or they were premium titles, requiring players to invest a nominal up-front fee. While the latter category usually offers more polished and fun titles, few smartphone users are willing to spend money in the App Store, making the former category substantially more profitable for developers. As a result, the number of premium games on offer for both Android and iOS devices has dwindled in recent years, and smartphone users looking to play video games on their devices are often left with titles that subtly encourage them to part with real money for in-game advantages. Looking to address this problem in the gaming environment on their devices, Apple announced the subscription service Apple Arcade, which for $4.99 per month provides iOS users with a selection of high-quality, ad-free mobile games with no microtransactions present.

The service, which launched just a few days ago, is already being praised by media outlets for offering a solution to the dearth of quality games available for smartphones. For the price of a typical premium smartphone game per month, Apple Arcade gives access to more than 70 titles, many of which were custom-designed for the service. This wide selection of titles, which subscribers have unlimited access to for the duration of their subscription, ensures that gamers can find titles that match their specific interests as well as explore other genres of gaming without investing money in titles they’re not sure if they’d like. Apple has leveraged the service to fund the development of indie titles that otherwise would not have been realized, as their designs aren’t conducive to the free-to-play model that currently dominates the industry. As an example, Card of Darkness, a game which combines dungeon-crawling mechanics with a virtual card game, was developed by a ten-person studio paid directly by Apple to be featured exclusively on the Apple Arcade service.

Embed from Getty Images

Card of Darkness has already received rave reviews, as media outlets praised its dynamic and addictive gameplay unencumbered by ads or in-app purchases. The success of this title, in addition to the others on the platform, bodes well for the future of the service, whose innovative approach to game development is likely to produce titles of similar and even greater acclaim as time goes on. Because the funding of titles is handled up-front by Apple on a per-app basis, developers don’t have to worry about generating a return on their investment, freeing them to explore risky but unique game design options and package them into a visually appealing and polished product. 

Developers creating experiences for the Apple Arcade platform have to contend with a number of rules and restrictions that Apple places on developers, though. Game creators are required to ensure that their titles function well on a variety of devices Apple offers, many with radically different form factors, and must localize their games for 14 different languages to ensure that all markets have access to the same selection of titles. For many developers, however, the trade-off is worth it, as the service makes possible titles that wouldn’t be financially viable under the standard App Store model. Where Cards Fall, for instance, has been in development for long before the announcement of Apple Arcade, but seeing as the game offers 20 hours of narrative-driven content, the developers would have charged roughly $20 for the title, which is a substantially greater cost than the vast majority of App Store titles. Apple Arcade ensured that the title, which otherwise may never have seen the light of day, would be financially viable.

Embed from Getty Images

For Android users, Google offers a competing service called Google Play Pass, which for an introductory price of $1.99 per month grants access to a collection not only of games, but of other apps, like weather and photography programs. While the competing service is superficially similar to Apple Arcade in its structure, the selection of games available on Google Play Pass is not as strong. Android is a more difficult operating system to develop games for, as a staggering variety of hardware combinations need to be taken into account as different manufacturers support different features. Additionally, Google Play Pass pays developers based on users’ engagement with their apps, meaning developers who create titles that users play for long periods of time make substantially more money than developers who create short titles. As not every game has to be long-lasting to be fun, this practice discourages developers interested in creating shorter experiences. It’s unclear exactly how Apple decides how much to pay developers for titles on their service, but developers have expressed satisfaction with the deals they’ve made with the software giant.

With the advent of Apple Arcade and Google Play Pass, the once-bleak market for smartphone games seems to be making a resurgence. As consumers shift towards preferring a Netflix-style of content delivery generally, wherein they pay a monthly fee for unlimited access rather than paying for titles individually, services like these take advantage of this change in customers’ mindset. Given the surprising early success of Apple Arcade, and the introduction of similar services from Nintendo and Sony for their respective platforms, the subscription model of video gaming seems poised to reshape the industry as a whole.