Sparrow for iPhone

I have just spotted some excellent news over at Business Insider, the Sparrow team are working on a Gmail client for the iPhone.

I’ve been using Sparrow on the Mac for over a year and it’s by far the best mail client I have used for OSX. I can’t wait to see what they do with an iPhone app. I can move all my Gmail accounts over to Sparrow, and leave the stock mail app for Exchange.

Over in the States, Google have released an official iPhone app, and apparently it’s cat-meat. Shame, the Android app is fab.

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Fanboys. Bite me

Comic Book Guy, a Tad Pensive, don't you think?

Image by Pocheco (Creative Commons).

I’ve been going to write this post for a while. It’s about fanboys. As someone who’s always been into gaming and tech, I’ve had long exposure to fanboys.

I remember just before Christmas when I was a young teen (thirteen or fourteen), I had asked my parents for a Commodore Amiga — which subsequently, they kindly bought for me. I was looking forward to Christmas morning, but every evening on the way home from school, my friend Adam would run-down the Amiga, and list all the reasons his Sega Megadrive (AKA Sega Genesis, which he had asked for) was going to be so much better.

I never challenged Adam. Not because the Amiga was inferior (it wasn’t), but because even then I knew it was a waste of time. I don’t enter debates when someone is fundamentally unwilling to compromise. This is why I no longer write a politics blog.

There was no-way I could say anything that would make Adam concede even the slightest point in any discussion, so why bother? To Adam the Megadrive was the dog’s dangly bits, and nothing I could say could make him think otherwise. Adam was a fanboy.

A year later and Nintendo’s SNES had been launched, and the second console wars had begun. If you’re a man of a certain age, you know all about the SNES vs Megadrive hostilities. I got a SNES the following Christmas and Adam switched to Nintendo, and somewhat ironically, we were “allies” for a short time. This certainly made the walks to school less combative.

I imagine the N64 vs PlayStation debate was similarity bloody, but by that time I was at Uni and more concerned with getting laid. I did get an N64 though, and we had a shared PlayStation in the digs.

As regular readers will know, I’ve been an Apple Mac user for many years. Naturally I’ve also had significant exposure to the Mac vs PC debate. At work I use Windows, at home a Mac. I prefer a Mac, but I don’t have any appetite whatsoever to get into an argument about it.

Probably the most vicious debate these days is about smartphones. You read the most ridiculous bullshit about smartphones. Most of the comments and tweets I read about the iPhone, are by people who’ve clearly not spent more than a few seconds in an O2 store with one. Likewise the idiots who claim that Android phones are over-complicated, or that there are no good apps available.

I use Macs, Windows and I have a Linux netbook. I have an iPhone 4 from work and my personal phone is a Samsung Galaxy SII rocking Android. They’re all really good devices and great operating systems. And for a long time I totally loved BlackBerry.

If you like your phone, games console or computer operating system, then great. And by all means tell people how much you — personally — really enjoy using it. But if you’re going to spend your time on Twitter or in the comments of a popular tech blog, commenting on devices or software you’ve never actually used seriously, then you Sir, are a moron of the highest order.

Fanboys are like the X-Factor or tabloid newspapers, they’re diverting but ultimately pointless.

We’re all capable and guilty of prejudice. But if you allow your loyalty to a brand (think about how stupid that sounds), to consume your ability to have a rational discussion, then you really should find a better outlet for your repressed insecurities.

This is not a blog for fanboys, this is a blog for rational geeks.

Marco Arment on Screen Size

Marco Arment on Screen Size:

As a four-year iPhone user, I’ve never thought, “You know what I don’t like about this phone? The screen’s too small. I’d like to reduce my battery life, and I’d like my phone to protrude from my pocket in a larger and more conspicuous rectangle, to achieve a larger screen that I cannot comfortably use one-handed. That would be completely worth it.”

I dunno. I’ve made my thoughts clear. I think a 4″ screen is the sweet-spot for a phone. But it’s a personal thing, I guess.

(Via The Brooks Review)

The free 3GS was Tuesday’s biggest news

Hard to write about Apple today and it not be about Jobs, but something occurred to me as I sat at work waiting for BT to restore our Citrix connection. Is the free iPhone 3GS actually the biggest story out of Tuesday’s keynote?

Let me explain…

Last month my brother-in-law bought his very first smartphone. He’s not a nerd, so one of the biggest factors was price. He got an Android phone — a Samsung Galaxy Ace. I had a look at it and it’s pretty good and excellent value for around £20 a month (the handset was free with the contact). He had the choice between the Ace and the HTC Wildfire; a phone I’m no fan of (it’s slow and the screen is terrible).

The phone the Ace reminds me of is my wife’s 3GS. Same 3.5″ screen and I’m pretty sure a similar resolution. It’s a little laggy compared to the latest Android handsets (but not slow), and it’s very similar in design to Apple’s previous form-factor. The only major difference was the OS and that the Ace had a 5MP camera.

I wonder, if my bro-in-law could have had a free iPod totting iPhone 3GS on his low-price contract, would he still have plumped with an Android?

The 3GS is now the best deal if you’re looking for a low-end smartphone. You get a good phone with a great OS, and the best media software available — the integrated iPod.

Apple also wins big with this move. It gets to squeeze even more value out of an existing model. This is no new low-end SKU. There is no R&D development and no new components to source. It can squeeze its suppliers for even lower costs. And Apple can smash into the low-end market without scuffing its brand by launching a “cheap” iPhone. Genius.

Everyone wins.

On iPhone 4S

Of course I write this now with 20/20 hindsight, but I genuinely didn’t think there would be an “iPhone 5” this time around.

The iPhone 4 was launched as a whole new redesign, rather than a spec boost. The new phone, a la the 3GS, is an internal upgrade, not a cosmetic one. And the iPhone 4 design is a classic, so why change it? It’s still the classiest looking phone on the market. And I write this as a longtime and very happy Android user.

Apple doesn’t ditch classic designs prematurely. Take the legendary aluminium Powerbook (G4). My wife had one of these, and several years later, I bought a MacBook Pro that was the same design, albeit a bit thinner. Also see the white iBook and the polycarbonite MacBook — essentially the same classic style.

Can you think of a phone on the market right now that is better looking than the iPhone 4?

*taps finger* (okay, maybe the new Nexus Prime, due in a few days…)

So with no reason to change the exterior, Apple has reserved the “5” moniker for its next big overhaul. And you can guarantee, the “iPhone 5” when it comes, will be the sexiest handset available. That’s Apple.

So what about the new iPhone? I think it’s pretty cool. I have no idea how good the implementation of Siri voice recognition is. But voice is the future for vehicle use, and I’m sure Apple’s implementation is excellent. Likewise, any improvement on the iPhone 4’s genuinely brilliant camera, must be awesome.

Faster processors and vastly improved graphical performance are par-the-course for an iPhone rev, and the 4S doesn’t miss the target. And while I prefer Samsung’s Super AMOLED screens for their punchy vibrance, the iPhone’s crisp Retina Display is by far the best for reading Instapaper.

All in all it’s a great phone and a decent upgrade. But for me at least, Apple still comes up short on one key factor — a 3.5″ screen is a little too small. I’m not sure what the sweet-spot is. My HTC Desire had a 3.7″ screen, and my current handset, a Samsung Galaxy SII, has a pretty hefty 4.3″ screen. The Goldilocks in me reckons 4″ would be just about right.

To make me move from Android (at least on my personal phone), Apple has to budge on the screen dimensions. 3.5 is just too dinky. I know that Apple will fiercely protect its Retina Display resolution, so we may have to wait for the right screen to be manufactured, and for Apple to eek out the issues with multiple iPhone screen sizes, but it has to happen eventually. Because once you’ve gone big, you can’t go back…

Laters

The Topolsky Spin

The Topolsky Spin:

The Topolsky Spin

– The act of claiming that your shitty rumormongery was correct, even in the face of reality proving you false. The most common variant is to claim that Apple (it’s always about Apple) was totally going to announce the product that you predicted, but they changed plans at the last minute.

(Via The Angry Drunk)

Sore losers

El Reg’s Tony Smith on why the tech hacks are so bent out of shape by the iPhone 4S:

Journalists being journalists, there’s no hint of an apology that all their breathless prose devoted to iPhone 5 rumours proved to be wrong.

[…]

Apple has been criticised in the past for merely making cosmetic changes to unchanged internals yet announcing the result as new product. Today, it’s been slapped down for doing, effectively, the opposite.

You think a company not doing what the pundits hope it’ll do – without any hard evidence that it will – is bad? It’s nothing compared to pundits pouring scorn on said firm because they were caught out.