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back to article Hey, Apple and Google: Stop trying to wolf the whole mobile pie

It's become a truism that the way to win in mobile is with an end-to-end, hardware-to-software-to-cloud strategy. I just wish this were as good for consumers as it seems to be for vendors. If I could get any wish fulfilled for 2013, it would be to have Apple and Google, in particular, go back to doing what they do best - rather …

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Anonymous Coward

I lost interest here:

"Apple, for example, does hardware exceptionally well but continues to stumble on cloud services "

Yes because iTunes / App Store is so utterly unsuccessful, not a single person uses it and no other provider tries to emulate it.

*Disclaimer, I don't own a single Apple device not have ever used iTunes.

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Re: I lost interest here:

"Yes because iTunes / App Store is so utterly unsuccessful, not a single person uses it and no other provider tries to emulate it." - It's hard to argue software such as iTunes is "successful" when most Apple users are forced into using it regardless of its quality.

I personally found it to be one of the worst bits of software I have ever used. Agree with the App Store though.

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Re: I lost interest here:

iTunes and the App Store are not cloud services - they are shops to buy music/films and software from.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I lost interest here:

Then what is a cloud service? streaming, off-site storage?

"Cloud computing is the use of computing resources (hardware and software) that are delivered as a service over a network (typically the Internet)."

Oh yeah. So an Apple TV streaming films from the App Store is Cloud computing, so you're wrong :)

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Re: I lost interest here:

I'm guessing you've never rented a film from Apple then?

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Re: I lost interest here:

ITunes was not the first media player and the app store was not the first app store. Apple emulated the innovators. The reason people use either is that they want apple's hardware and apple forces them to use their software and cloud service.

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Re: I lost interest here:

You're all getting tied up in definitions - if you want to take the pedantism to the extreme, by the definition quoted, you could call anything on the internet "cloud computing", because it all uses hardware and software resources/services over the internet. In fact, The Register is a cloud provider*, because we're using their hardware and software, which provide a service to us over the internet.

* it isn't, it's a fecking website

iTunes and the App Store itself, by definition, are stores. Yes, you can stream films from one or the other, or iCloud, or whatever it's called these days, but that isn't the "cloud" in the way most people who actually know about IT think of it. I agree it's a wooly definition, and actually I don't like the whole term/concept - it's giving a fancy name to stuff we've really done for years, but in a less marketable way.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I lost interest here:

Well if you have multiple iThings registered with the same account you can have your media synced across them, as well as photos and calendars, and things like iMessage work for the same user across devices too. That all sounds quite 'cloudy' to me..?

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Re: I lost interest here:

Sometimes it's not even that - it's painful to hear stories of people who'd rather use say their Android smartphone to play music, but they have to keep an Apple mp3 player around, because the entire audio industry - from speakers to in-car stereos - caters only to Apple users, with ipod-only connectors. Although it will be fun to see how that plays out now that Apple have broken compatibility with their own standard...

(I'm amused that my LG smart _TV_ is a far better audio playing/streaming solution than most dedicated audio devices, since it can happily stream from any device/OS using industry standard protocols rather than AppleSpeak, and you can plug in any USB player or other device and let it read/play the music, rather than having Apple-only connectors.)

Then there are people who don't particular like itunes as software, but simply use it as a place to buy music from (because even if there are alternatives, most people aren't aware of them; Apple's marketing campaign has put itunes gift cards in every UK shop, and so on); and because they then have all their music in itunes, they end up being locked into Apple's hardware (whilst there's no DRM, it can be a pain to transfer to other systems when things aren't tagged in a standard format, and ipods scramble the filenames).

Not to mention other myths - I recently had someone say to me that they'd rather have a standard mp3 player, but reluctantly stuck with Apple because all their music was on mp4 format. I pointed out that most "mp3" players cope with multiple formats too, but I realised how the very common name "mp3 player" has misled people, whilst Apple's devices get mentioned by brandname, making people think they're different. Noticed how many shops say "Ipods and mp3 players", as if from the Department of Redundancy Department? People end up thinking they need an "ipod", and other players don't get a look in.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I lost interest here:

>Noticed how many shops say "Ipods and mp3 players", as if from the Department of Redundancy Department? People end up thinking they need an "ipod", and other players don't get a look in.

It's like when my dad sees a feature-phone or smartphone, he asks "Is that an iPhone?"

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I lost interest here:

"Well if you have multiple iThings registered with the same account you can have your media synced across them, as well as photos and calendars, and things like iMessage work for the same user across devices too. That all sounds quite 'cloudy' to me..?"

Yes, that's the "cloud", and Apple's implementation is widely agreed to have come late to the party, and therefore is lagging behind other much more mature implementations - Google was born in the cloud, so it is it's bread and butter.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I lost interest here:

LG must be good as my Samsung telly fails to play stuff off USB and via DLNA frequently.

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Tripe...

"keeps releasing the Android operating system that is popular but not nearly as good as Apple's iOS, and its phones/tablets that are not as good as Apple's hardware."

Go buy a Nexus 4 and a Nexus 7 and you will see how ridiculous your claims are, infact buy two of each, and give out to a relative, and still have change to spare over an iPad Mini and iPhone5.

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Re: Tripe...

well put. Let's not forget either than IOS is designed to run on one type of hardware, and this led to limitations for IOS apps on the larger screens of the iPhone5, where apps that weren't recoded for the larger screen simply had black bands either side of them to fill in the gaps. That's hardly better, intuitive etc. Andriod has more comprehensive hardware support, higher adoption, and in the more recent versions has introduced features that leave Apple far behind. In my opinion, Apple have not innovated in a few years, and the iPhone5 is just a Galaxy SIII with a smaller screen and all the cool features turned off. And crap maps.

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Re: Tripe...

Apple's hardware is perfect; you're holding it wrong. And nobody with any sense wants NFC or a big-enough screen.

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Re: Tripe...

Or even a nexus 10...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Tripe...

Indeed, the voices of Android fragmentation now seem to be very faint, now that people understand it was nothing but Apple FUD.

Android can support as many or as few layouts as you want in a single APK, so you can support every device under the sun with it's own layout if you are so inclined, or you can (more sensibly) add 3 (phone, 7in tablet, 10in tablet) and have them scale to specific aspect ratios. All your business logic can be easily common to all layout fragments.

Having coded iOS and Android, not only is Android more sensibly designed, easily supporting whatever you throw at it, it's easier to code (interpreted Java and native C++), free to develop for (no need to buy a Mac - Android uses Eclipse on Win/Linux/Mac), and a once-only developer fee of $25 (not the £100/year Apple want, that when you stop paying, the apps disappear).

Google got things 100% right (eventually) with Android.

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Pint

Re: Tripe...

The markets think so to:

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/official-apple-just-niche-player-155409478.html

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Linux

Re: Tripe... - and on so many levels

Fundamentally what Matt Asay misses is that where iOS is a walled garden monoculture and an attempt by Apple to completely monopolise users', Android is open and diverse encouraging a massive ecosystem of hardware, software and cloud developers.

Just because Google are monopolistic with their search/ad business it doesn't mean that Android is monopolistic. On the contrary, its openness and diversity have simply made it extremely successful, to the benefit of all of us who choose to use in whichever way works for us. Unlike Apple with iOS, Android expands the possibilities of what we can do rather than limiting them to what we are spoonfed (and spoonfed rather expensively at that).

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Re: Tripe...

I don't like iTunes but is there any other GUI software out there which can sync to a mobile device as well as iTunes can?

I keep thinking it can't be hard, but then I see the rubbish from the phone providers.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Tripe...

Oh, but I have bought Nexus 7, and Android 4.2 is a buggy disaster. Switching input language on an external keyboard reboots the device instantly, for example.

Build quality is not too good either, on par with cheap chinese iPad knockoffs.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Tripe...

That's like say buy two Ford Focus and it's better than your Porsche. Security is the deal breaker for me and Android / their app store is far less secure.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Tripe...

What BS - BMW and Mercedes are also 'niche' players.

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The problem is...

The cat's out of the bag now, there is pretty much no other way to get a foothold in the mobile smartphone market. Apple and Google are making billions from their current strategies, so they have absolutely no incentive to change, and everyone else just wants to copy them as the system has proven to be lucrative. I wish Ubuntu and others the best of luck for trying to get into the market, but what other approach can they realistically take that will lead to any success?

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Re: The problem is...

Apple's making billions. The reality is, so far, Google has lost billions though. The cost of development, plus the cost of patent litigation (to Motorola), plus the cost of purchase of an entire company (purely for a patent defence shield which, because all the key defensive patents were FRAND is turning out to be more of a liability than a positive), plus the cost of patent license fees (paid by Motorola to MS on each and every phone sold) far outweigh the to-date paltry (not to you or I, but paltry to multi billion dollar revenue stream companies) revenue and licensing from Google play other key Android apps and Android partner status. Of course, to paper over this loss, they classify advertising revenue from Android devices as Android division revenue, but on the same basis they have a rather large iPhone division and a very small Windows phone division. Funny Google don't reference those also. Plus they are making 8 x less from mobile usage as desktop/laptop, which is of course, becoming an ever increasing portion of the pie. People don't seem to get, that despite the *market share* success of Android, it has so far been wholly a defensive play which is still, on the balance sheet, far from successful. The big question is, will Google ever see a profit from it; bearing in mind Amazon have proven forking and rebranding Android can be made a runaway commercial success (with almost all R&D costs met by Google thank you very much) to Samsung, the company that is really is making huge multi-billion dollar profits from it. So yes that's two competitors and one partner/potential-competitor making far, far more money than Google, and two of those simply by piggy backing on Google's business strategy and initiative.

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Re: The problem is...

"far, far more money than Google" I implying but should of course have said "far, far more money from mobile than Google" .

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The problem is...

I would seriously consider an ubuntu tablet....

But for now Android suits me, my phone just got smashed, and I am happy to know that all my contacts are backed up in my gmail account, I'd rather it be on my own servers.. but gmail will suffice..

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Anonymous Coward

@AC 3rd January 2013 15:40 GMT Re: The problem is...

"I would seriously consider an ubuntu tablet...."

Your wishes have been heard: http://www.ubuntu.com/devices/android

I reckon the Debian ARM port (http://www.debian.org/ports/arm/index.en.html) will follow soon with support for more ARM devices (http://www.debian.org/ports/arm/links).

Similar to replacing Windows with Ubuntu or native Debian on desktops it was a matter of time until the same "commodification" appeared on handheld devices.

Who knows, maybe it will go full cicle and some crazy dude compiles a 64bit nanokernel for Symbian (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARM_architecture#ARMv8_and_64-bit), to have a lightning speed server? Is it time for the pub....

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Re: The problem is...

Sometimes the profit is long-term, from locking out the competition, not short-term from the devices. Android keeps MS out of the market and limits Apple's reach. Otherwise, Apple/MS would get away with rubbish maps and search on mobile devices which would allow it to build its expertise in those areas, eventually threatening Google on the desktop.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The problem is...

"I would seriously consider an ubuntu tablet...."

You must be about 0.001% of people - only about 1 in 100,000 would even know what Ubuntu was let alone specifically buy a tablet based on it.

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Anonymous Coward

And what's the alternative ?

Microsoft and windows ?

Wow don't they have a great track record of playing nice.

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Re: And what's the alternative ?

I think the point is more that the market is healthier with choice, even if you don't like every option. I'm glad that the open platform of Android has won (and let's face it, it's not Google and Apple, it's Google full stop for mobile now), but as far as the niche alternatives are concerned, I'm a bit worried if iphone ends up as the only alternative. The loss of Symbian (number one platform as recent as 2011) was such a shame for this reason.

I do agree though, it's a shame that there aren't more options (same for the desktop - it amuses me when people criticise MS or Windows 8, and then you find they're using Apple as if that were some open alternative). Perhaps in future we will - e.g., Samsung-backed Tizen is an open source Linux-based smartphone OS, that also promises an open ecosystem with HTML5 apps (similar to ChromeOS, as it happens). First Samsung smartphones planned this year, according to recent news.

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Anonymous Coward

I struggled past

both AC's and Shitpeas' parts and made it as far as

"I wish Amazon kept selling everything better/faster/cheaper, including compute capacity. And that's all. I wish they'd stop trying to be something they're not."

after he'd said everyone should go back to their roots and stop treading on others' toes.

He's basically said "no-one's any good at doing anything any of their competitors do. oh, hold on, Amazon's quite good at cloud. I'll just pretend that's what they've always done"

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Unhappy

Interoperability

Ever since Apple started patching iTunes specifically to stop Palm devices from working with it, it has been going downhill.

Ideally, any piece of a system should be replaceable with that from a competitor... Fat chance of that happening, unless regulations are somehow put in place.

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Re: Interoperability

Spot on. As far as in the USA, regulations should be put in place. The good old land line carriers had these, why is the mobile market any different? They need to start regulating carriers too...but money talks (specifically to politicians).

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Re: Interoperability

You need a little more information. Apple patched iTunes to stop Palm devices from identifying as iPods and iPhones and syncing as such.

Any company can write their own software to use the iTunes library. Nokia and the N95 is a good example. Install the Nokia software and it will look at the music library, sync your existing custom playlists, it is a Nokia application not some kludge trying to pretend it is an Apple product.

Why dilute your own brand by making someone else's software treat your phone like an iPod when you can use the iTunes data in your own app?

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So what the author wants is ... ?

the only phone available to be an iPhone?

The only search engine to be Google?

The only online store to be Amazon?

What about diversity and choice?

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Re: So what the author wants is ... ?

No, for phones from all vendors to play noice with all search engines and online stores.

That doesn't seem much to ask.

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Re: So what the author wants is ... ?

It works on android. The problem is that too many opiners use apple. It's good that they're beginning to realize Idevices are shite, but it will take a while longer for them to get over their biases and accept the competition got right many of the things they now find are wrong in the apple ghetto.

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WTF?

Matt's diatribes are generally divisive, but this one is just downright bonkers.

As a long-time user of Android, I'll agree that it may still lack some of the polish of iOS, but it would be insane to argue that it isn't catching up. Is Matt really suggesting that Google dropping Android would have left Apple any incentive to continue work on iOS? I saw someone use the "new" notifications system on their iPhone the other day, which clearly draws inspirations from Google's efforts (which isn't a bad thing, despite what software patent trolls think).

Competition breeds innovation and consumers starve the garbage out of the market by not buying/using it.

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hardware

I agree with the label of bonkers

I can maybe forgive the software side, iOS vs. Android is a tough one to call and some people are always going to come down on one side of the fence, but the idea that Apple make better phone hardware is laughable. The only iPhone that had a decent set of specs across the board was the 4S. Everything else has been significantly behind the curve of other smartphones. The iPhone is sold on the strength of iOS and the Apple brand not the specs of the phone.

However there is a general sentiment in this article that I do agree with. What I want from a smartphone is one that connects to all the available services and allows me to use them all with the same level of integration.

What I don't agree with in the article is that Matt seems to be suggesting that companies should never branch out. So Nokia shouldn't do mapping? Maybe Apple should never have made the ipod, or portable computers of any kind, they should have stuck at the Apple II and a laserwriter.

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Go

I'd go further...

.....and, as a user of both iOS and Android, argue that Jelly Bean is a better* tablet operating system than iOS.

*By better I mean that in my qualitative judgement (which is far superior to yours, fellow commentard :) ) I prefer Android as it allows more flexible use of the increased screen space with widgets etc, rather than sticking to the grid of icons and stil-not-great notifications system of iOS.

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FAIL

And in a year or two, you'll be seeing iOS supporting multiple users, NFC, wireless charging etc the way Android does today.

We'll also witness the familiar drama of these features going from "not being needed by anyone" whilst not present on the iSheeps favorite toy, to "fantastic innovations" when they do finally appear right up to "Exhibit A, m'lud" as Apple starts trying to wipe out those it copied from, err whoops that should be "takes legal action to protect its innovations".

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iOS feature support

And in a year or two, you'll be seeing iOS supporting multiple users, NFC, wireless charging etc the way Android does today.

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Google, and Microsoft before them, are very good at tossing out new features but not so good at making the end to end experience polished. To be fair, that's partly the result of them not controlling the entire ecosystem like Apple does. For all the whining about NFC, there isn't all that much it is good for. Sure, you can do payments with it, but why is that better than using a credit/debit card with NFC capability? What problem does wireless charging really solve that two seconds to connect a plug doesn't? Multiple users is nice, but the way Android implements it now is terribly clunky and totally unlike the experience people are used to on PCs with applications instantly shared, not having disk space divided in half, etc.

If there were no mapping apps, Apple would not have GPS in its devices. After all, what good is GPS without maps? Android would include it because its engineer-driven development gives it plenty of features, letting someone else worry about how to make them useful. Apple wants to include only things they know can be useful and can be a polished experience without nasty tradeoffs. So you may wait a while to get 3G and LTE, but you don't get hardware using early generation chips that suck your battery dry in half a day (or require thick heavy phones to accomodate the battery)

Luckily there is choice, as Android and Apple go different directions. I don't get all the Apple hate, if Apple was the only choice I could see people wishing for something like Android, but it's out there. Choose that, and shut the fuck up about Apple. Their existence as a choice doesn't hurt you, any more than the existence of Macs hurts your ability to choose Windows or Linux on your PC. I hate Windows, but you don't see me going on all the time about how much it sucks compared to the alternatives. It is only when I'm forced to use it work wise that it even effects me - and I really doubt very many peoiple work for a company that forces them to use an iPhone against their will.

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"As a long-time user of Android, I'll agree that it may still lack some of the polish of iOS, but it would be insane to argue that it isn't catching up."

Android passed iOS in terms of features around gingerbread.

The reason iOS is more polished is because the UI basically hasn't changed in 5 years. Easy to make things shiny when your programmers aren't spending time innovating...

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Re: iOS feature support

"For all the whining about NFC, there isn't all that much it is good for. Sure, you can do payments with it, but why is that better than using a credit/debit card with NFC capability?"

Gee I dunno - convenience? Not needing to carry a wallet??

"What problem does wireless charging really solve that two seconds to connect a plug doesn't?"

Convenience again? Being able to place a phone down on your desk and have it charged when you pick it up, no faffing with cables.

"If there were no mapping apps, Apple would not have GPS in its devices. After all, what good is GPS without maps? Android would include it because its engineer-driven development gives it plenty of features, letting someone else worry about how to make them useful."

Never heard of Google Maps then? You know, the same google that releases Android have their own mapping system which uses the GPS????

That's hardly engineers gone mad, that's just you making excuses for Apple releasing behind the curve hardware, and any features that Android come up with are unnecessary.

Prwesumably until Apple comes out with them of course, then they're magical and innovative

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Re: iOS feature support

Gee I dunno - convenience? Not needing to carry a wallet??

That's great, so long as you ONLY buy from places that accept NFC payments, and never need an ID. That friendly policeman who pulls you over isn't going to accept your phone as proof of identity. Given how much Google already knows about people via their searches, they should be the last company on Earth one would willingly provide their entire purchase history to. Except those naive enough to still believe "don't be evil" means anything more than Goldman Sach's claims that they're "doing God's work".

Convenience again? Being able to place a phone down on your desk and have it charged when you pick it up, no faffing with cables.

Yes, because the 1.2 seconds it takes me "faffing" around to plug my phone into a cable is a terrible waste of time that could be better spent doing something else. I'd also love to carry a charging mat around with me when I travel. Most people charge their phones once per day - while they sleep. This is a solution looking for a problem, but geeks love it because it's "cool".

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Re: iOS feature support @DougS

I was only thinking this morning as I connected my tablet to the cable that had fallen down behind the table and I had to fish out again, and which my wife complains about whenever she vacuums, how useful it would be to be able to just put the tablet in the same place and know that it would charge.

Ditto all the cables in the car.

So yes. wireless charging would be a good thing. Even better if there was a standard, and I could have a couple of them scattered around the house, charging all the phones, remotes, media players and other gadgets wherever I wanted to be in the house.

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Anonymous Coward

iOS multiple users - is it really such a big deal - on a phone I'd say no - on a tablet a bit more but Windows has done it for years and I very rarely see any PCs in homes or even work that are shared - i.e. most just have a single user account everyone shares.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: iOS feature support

Wireless charging - does it support a 2a charge rate - if so it's bugger all use on a flat tablet. As for just putting it down on a desk - my iPhone lasts a full day anyway and if I've made a lot of calls I could drop it onto it's dock in the office or charge it in the in-car holder in the car.

Apple give you wireless streaming of music / video and people suggest it's no big deal yet give them wireless charging when most people just charge their phones once a day anyway and it's like the holy grail <not>.

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