Lost In Mobile

Shaun McGill

07412 655899

Lost In Mobile is the continuation of PDA-247 which, under various names, provided news, reviews and commentary on the mobile world for 10 years.

I have been writing about the mobile industry, mobile products, apps and everything else in between and beyond for more than 10 years, and currently write freelance for Imagine Publishing and also undertake one-off projects upon request.

I welcome your comments and thoughts and if you want to get in touch, please do so via the email address or phone number above.

Thanks for stopping by.

Shaun McGill

Lost In Mobile Survey 2014: the results

I didn't expect to see so many respondents to this survey so thanks to all of you who took the time to add your thoughts. Some questions received more answers than others (none were required), but overall I have been surprised by some of the percentages shown here.

What phone platform are you using?

Android: 36.84%

iOS: 54.14%

Windows Phone: 6.01%

BlackBerry: 2.25%

Firefox OS: 0.75%

Are you likely to move mobile platforms in the next 12 months?

No- sticking with Android: 39.23%

No- sticking with iOS: 54.61%

No- sticking with BlackBerry: 0.77%

Yes - moving to Android from Windows Phone or BlackBerry: 0.77%

Yes - moving to BlackBerry: 0.77%

Yes - moving to iOS from Windows Phone or BlackBerry: 0.77%

Yes - moving to Windows Phone: 3.85%

Do you use a tablet?

Yes- iPad: 45.33%

Yes- Android tablet: 20.01%

Yes- Microsoft Surface: 6.66%

No: 27.99%

Do you wear a watch?

No: 36.37%

Yes- a cheap one: 16.48%

Yes- it cost more than £200$450: 37.36%

Yes- it cost more than £500/$800: 19.78%

Are you likely to buy a smart watch in the next 12 months?

No: 73.13%

Yes- a Pebble: 2.98%

Yes- an Android Wear watch: 8.21%

Yes- an Apple Watch: 14.18%

Yes- Samsung Gear S: 1.49%

Do you use a fitness band/monitor?

No: 70.09%

No, but I use my phone to track steps etc.: 12.82%

Yes- a Jawbone: 4.27%

Yes- a Misfit: 3.42%

Yes- a smart watch with tracking: 9.40%

What do you read eBooks / digital magazines on?

Kindle: 30.85%

Phone: 22.34%

Tablet: 27.66%

Other dedicated e-reader: 7.45%

I prefer paper books and magazines: 11.70%

Is your phone battery performance acceptable?

No- it barely gets me through a day: 22.64%

Yes, I get at least a day of use per charge: 56.60%

Yes! I can get two days of charge: 20.75%

How often do you buy mobile apps and games?

A couple of times a month: 46.42%

At least once a week: 29.76%

More than once a week: 4.76%

Never: 1.19%

Rarely: 17.86%

Do you use your phone for navigation?

No: 15.46%

Yes, I use Apple Maps: 12.37%

Yes, I use Google Maps: 48.45%

Yes, I use dedicated software like TomTom: 15.43%

Yes, I use Nokia Maps: 8.24%

What phones do you see used most often in public?

iPhones: 66.34%

Samsung phones: 26.35%

Windows Phones: 0.77%

Other Android phones: 6.20%

What is the first thing you do with your phone in the morning?

Check Calendar / To do list: 0.03%

Check emails: 27.21%

Check messages: 3.70%

Check social networks: 7.59%

Check weather: 1.90%

Check RSS feed: 1.27%

Turn off the wake up alarm: 35.44%

Look at pornography (someone actually added that): 0.03%

Check web: 10.23%

I use a tablet first: 11.56%

What mobile network do you use?

Three: 11.98%

Vodafone: 8.33%

O2: 8.85%

EE: 7.81%

Other (worldwide- too many quoted to list): 64.58%

Which mobile company do you consider to be the most innovative?

Apple: 44.05%

Samsung: 26.57%

BlackBerry: 2.80%

Google: 0.70%

HTC: 2.10%

LG: 3.49%

Microsoft: 2.80%

Motorola: 8.39%

Sony: 2.86%

T-mobile: 0.70%

None: 5.59%

How do you get your mobile news?

Blogs / tech sites: 62.59%

News apps: 0.72%

Podcasts: 6.47%

RSS feeds: 26.62%

Social networks: 3.60%

Do you listen to podcasts?

All of the time!: 8.63%

Every day: 20.14%

No: 36.69%

Rarely: 34.53%

Is the content on Lost In Mobile...

Average: 5.48%

Excellent: 54.10%

Good: 39.72%

Poor: 0.68%

I bought an iPhone 6 Plus. I don't know why.

There are some things that truly baffle me and my recent purchase of the iPhone 6 Plus (128GB) is one of them. My wife and I were Christmas shopping and decided to check the Three store to see how much an iPhone 5S was on contract so that she could move up from her ageing 4S. It was far too expensive in our opinion and then she had an idea, a strange one.

Her idea was that I should try the 6 Plus and that she could have my son's iPhone 5. He would have my iPhone 6 and my daughter could have her 4S (her 3GS is just about dead anyway), and so everyone would benefit from an upgrade. The fact that my 14 year old son is now walking around with a 128GB iPhone 6 feels very strange to me, but to say he is happy is an understatement. My wife loves the 'much' bigger screen on her iPhone 5 and my daughter loves the crisper screen and better battery the 4S offers her. It is all about perception as to what makes phones feel like an upgrade and the subtle increase in size that makes the move manageable. At least that is what I thought.

When the iPhone 6 Plus was released and I first picked it up in a shop I remember thinking how incredibly ridiculous it was. What type of idiot would carry something that big around? I had tried to do so in the past with the Galaxy Note 3, but it was too big. The LG G3 was too big and even the Galaxy S4 felt way too big at the time to me. So the 6 Plus would never fit into my life, especially when the standard 6 offers the majority of the features apart from a slightly lesser-specced camera and a smaller battery. Absolutely no need for a 6 Plus and there never would be.

So I was stood in the store with my wife and we asked if they had a 128GB 6 Plus in stock. It had to be space grey and fortunately they did. The sales assistant seemed confused as to why I did not want gold, but I have forever been confused as to why anyone would want a gold phone so space grey was the option.

Financially, this purchase made sense. We would be increasing our overall monthly bill by £30, but with three of the contracts moving to SIM Only in April we would be £60 up. Also, we had the clever idea of including these upgrades as part of the children's Christmas presents and so we have actually ended up not paying much at all for the 6 Plus. But, why was I sat there and considering the 6 Plus? I had no idea what I was doing and it appears that the emotion I thought I had lost returned for 10 minutes. The emotion was the one of always wanting to try a new phone, no matter how minor the difference and how illogical the purchase would be. I could feel that purchasing the 6 Plus was a crazy move, but I let it happen and we returned home.

For 3 hours I left it on my desk and actively tried not to open the seal. A large part of me wanted to return it and cancel the new contract. I was happy with the iPhone 6, despite some recent battery concerns, and then decided to go back the next day and stay with my 6. While I was pondering this my children ran in excited by the fact they would be receiving new phones. My wife had told them because my daughter's 3GS had once again managed to lose all battery power within an hour and she thought that it made sense to deal with the issue sooner rather than later. Great!

Just like in the store, I went against my better instincts and explained that I would upgrade their phones as soon as I had done mine, and so I broke that seal and entered the world of stupidly sized phones.

I will write about the iCloud backup / restore process another day as I will the iTunes backup / restore process and instead concentrate on how the iPhone 6 Plus has felt in the first week of use. In short, it has been a revelation.

The first few hours were not as jarring as I expected and I couldn't work out why. Someone recently sent the following to me and I wondered if this was true for me as well-

"It's a new dimension on the iOS experience.  I think moving from 4s -- > 5/5s --> 6 --> 6 Plus has prepared me for each step.  In themselves, each increment in screen size is relatively small, but when you compare the 3.5" screen on a 4s to a 6 Plus, it's a shock."

At no point so far have I struggled with the size of the 6 Plus. Sure, there have been times when out and about that something smaller would be more convenient, but overall all I have seen are benefits. Can it really be that using the iPhone 6 for a few weeks prepared me for the 6 Plus? Maybe that is possible and that when I used the Note 3 it was just too much of a jump from the iPhone 5S at the time, or just maybe my deep familiarity with iOS has made the jump easier to handle?

The battery is perhaps the most impressive leap for me. I finally own a phone that will get me through the day without requiring a charge. I can still hit 30% in the evening, but it is a huge jump forward compared to any previous iPhone I have used and I truly appreciate never having to be concerned about such things. I'm not going to give Apple high praise for the battery because I believe that the company has been poor in this area on phones for a long time, but this the 6 Plus is more of a relief than anything else in this area.

The camera is super impressive to me as well. Low-light shots are often quite remarkable, even in comparison to the standard 6, and it also feels like a leap forward.

Taken in near darkness- the iPhone 6 shot was almost completely black.

The larger screen also offers a different perspective on everything I do with the phone. From much quicker data entry to enjoying films and games more, there is a sense of the tablet experience in the 6 Plus and it was jarring to use the iPhone 6 after only 1 hour with the 6 Plus. It would seem that our natural ability to cope with something bigger far outweighs our ability to go back to a smaller screen, and that if the benefits are clear we will cope with some mild inconvenience.

When I think about what I do with my phone, holding it up to my ear and looking silly is the least of my worries. I use a headset for calls anyway and make and receive so few these days that it doesn't come in to my consideration anymore. Netflix, games, email, web, social networks. eBooks, notes, news and everything else benefits from a bigger screen, and the design of the 6 Plus means that it is still manageable to carry around with me.

Some years back I was quite happy to walk around with a Psion PDA because it offered me so much and I have that familiar feeling with the 6 Plus. It is immersive for most uses and I feel that the positives of the larger screen far outweigh the downsides.

I don't know why I bought the 6 Plus, I don't know how my mind managed to adjust so quickly, but boy am I happy I did. At no point did I expect it to feel anything more than just a bigger 6, but the battery, screen size and quality, and the better camera tipped it over a bar that I had forgotten about. It's stunning.

The Interview

A cyber attack on Sony Pictures that forced the cancellation of a major film release is being seen as a serious national security matter, the US says.
A White House spokesman said the US believed the hacking was the work of a "sophisticated actor" - but refused to confirm if North Korea was responsible.
Sony withdrew The Interview, a new comedy film about North Korea's leader, after threats from hackers.
Hackers have already released sensitive information stored on Sony computers.
They later issued a warning to members of the public planning to see The Interview... More at the BBC.

I can understand why the cinemas would not show it because of the threats and I can understand why Sony had to pull it because of the cinemas, but the whole thing leaves a bad taste. So sad...


Updates could be slow for a few days, possibly until after Christmas, as I have a lot of work to complete in the next few days.

If I don't update beforehand, have a great Christmas if you celebrate and I will get some new posts up as soon as time allows.

BT in talks to buy EE for £12.5bn

Telecoms giant BT is in exclusive talks to buy EE - Britain's largest mobile network group - for £12.5bn.
It said the period of exclusivity would last "several weeks" to enable it to carry out the necessary negotiations.
In late November, BT said it was in talks to buy either EE or O2, which is owned by Spanish firm Telefonica.
"The proposed acquisition would enable BT to accelerate its existing mobility strategy," BT said in a statement.
Under the terms of the proposed deal, EE's owners Germany's Deutsche Telekom and France's Orange would take a 12% and 4% stake in BT respectively.
Deutsche Telekom would also be entitled to appoint one member to the board, BT said... More at the BBC.

Most unexpected. I was sure BT would buy O2, but I guess it does not affect the ability to offer quad-play and a network over Wi-Fi as well as masts.

Don't you just love Amazon

Amazon has refused to come to the aid of thousands of small family-owned businesses that have lost tens of thousands of pounds due to a technical glitch that caused their products to be sold for a penny.
The US technology giant, which raked in more than $74bn (£48bn) of sales worldwide last year, has ignored calls to offer compensation to its selling partners, some of whom have lost up to £100,000 in the week before Christmas.
The sellers, many of whom are operating from their garage or spare bedroom, have demanded that Amazon take some responsibility for the error caused by a third-party software glitch. Some have already instructed lawyers.
Amazon has accepted no liability for the loses suffered by its sellers, from whom it takes a slice of each sale helping it to make annual profits of $20bn... More at The Guardian.

As I said, don't you just love Amazon.

What does your phone need for Christmas?

Christmas is not far off and so a strange question seems timely. If you could give your phone a Christmas present what would it be?

Not surprisingly, I would give my iPhone 6 a bigger battery because after impressive performance in the first few weeks, it now seems to be falling back to its old limited ways.

App design

A couple of recent app downloads have highlighted to me how far we are moving forward in terms of design. The first was from DeviantArt which is absolutely stunning to look at and use. Much of the content is not to my tastes, but the design has caused me to spend some considerable time just scrolling through and enjoying the experience.

The next is Thoughtful Gift Finder which is a good example of how to present products in a small mobile screen. Some of the interface touches are subtle, but they all comes together to create a shopping experience which feels different to what I have seen before.

Hopefully these are examples of what is to follow because some developers are really pushing the boat out in terms of design which is not only great to look at, but lovely to use.

Samsung Galaxy Note Edge for £1,453

Hi Shaun,
I just wanted to let you know that the NEW Samsung Galaxy Note Edge is now available and is exclusively connected to the Vodafone network up to and including 9th January 2015. You can pick up the device on a Vodafone Red XL plan for £58.50 per month with a £49 upfront cost which includes unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 10GB of data, as well as your choice of NOW TV, Sky Sports or Spotify for the duration of the contract.  For a limited time, customers can also enjoy a 3-month NOW TV Sky Movies Pass when they purchase the device on a Red 4G plan as part of Vodafone’s Ultimate Entertainment Package.

I received the above email yesterday and was somewhat taken aback by the price. The unlimited texts and minutes + 10GB of monthly data is good, but that is still a very high price for any phone.  The marketing, however, is interesting because it is available from £39.50 / month with a, wait for it, £249 upfront price and then you only get 600 minutes voice, unlimited texts and 500MB of data. 

A further look shows the iPhone 6 (64GB) from Vodafone selling for very similar prices so maybe the whole tariff structure is creeping up for no good reason?