So after all the hype last night about a possible HTC tablet running Ubuntu OS (even though John put that one to bed) both companies released their news on the world. HTC unveiled a new handset and Canonical announced Ubuntu for Tablets without any hardware. How did the two match up, and did either live up to expectation. My view on the day is as follows.
My take on today’s countdowns from @HTC and @Ubuntu
HTC One – HTC fights back
It’s no secret that HTC have not been enjoying the most profitable time of late, Samsung has come and dominated the Android market to a point where just last week there was a survey stating that many consumers don’t even know that Samsung run on Android, but instead believe their handsets to just run a Samsung OS. In face of being so far behind in the race, HTC really had to pull out something special to try and win back the hearts of the Android community that had abandoned them over the last couple of years.
For me HTC got the pre launch hype pretty much spot on, they didn’t start too early, and didn’t flood social media streams too much that the date became a turn off rather than a turn on. They also fed some little details out to whet the appetite, most noticeably being the way they planned to change how the camera quality was measured. As usual there were the obligatory image and render leaks, but these days they don’t mean too much as they have bean wrong too many times.
After the perfect set up the event itself didn’t start quite as well. Firstly there were a few audience members spotted with the new handset on the way into the auditoriums taking the shine off of things for those a little less fortunate. Secondly the New York gig seemed to kick off a few minutes before the London one, so while waiting for the live stream to start we started to get bombarded with facts and images of the one, again somewhat tarnishing the wow factor of the actual show. Once started it was the usual routine. Company CEO, designer, and the obligatory media partner all came out and did their thing. Nothing new, and nothing offensive, just a well rehearsed presentation by folk who should never really be on a stage.
Now onto the product. I have seldom read my social media streams being so positive about a new phone. HTC really brought the goods to town today, they hit every target and surpassed almost all of them. Obviously without having the phone I can’t say if the claims turn out to be true, so I can only go on the information I have seen, read and heard today. It looks beautiful, both silver and the matte black have character and elegance in my eyes. The stereo speaker on the front give the handset a nice balance with the 4.7″ screen sitting perfectly between. All of this is seated in a metallic uni-body design that HTC have championed through a multitude of handsets. If it sounds like I am gushing, it’s because I am. I don’t think I have coveted a phone just by seeing the launch this much before. I won’t go through the full phone specifications as that’s not what the post is about, but I will leave this link here for Slashgear showing a quadrant benchmark for the device (and yes I know benchmarks prove nothing).
Another part of every HTC phone is Sense, some love it and others hate it. I myself have a One X and I prefer to run AOSP on it so that shows my feelings. HTC have not just given Sense a little upgrade for the One, they have turned it on it’s head and shaken it about. They have added features by the bucket load, to the extent that it almost unrecognisable. Again this is not a product review so I will just run through the main features – BlinkFeed, BoomSound and Zoe. BlinkFeed is a full on social feed on your home screen it connects to all your social media accounts, images, music and videos as well as on-line content from the AOL group. Constantly updating it is best described as taking HTC’s current FriendStream and pumping it full of Bane juice, normal steroids don’t even come close. A lot more self explanatory is SoundBoom which HTC claims use a dual microphone linked into the stereo speakers to give you best mobile sound available. The technology is also used for making calls to give clarity no matter where you are calling from. Lastly is Zoe. Zoe is an intelligent three second imaging manager that is meant give another dimension to how you interact with your media, I guess this is one you really need to try for yourself. The Camera uses HTC’s UltraPixel technology, and I am sure we will get to see image comparisons over the next few days.
So all in all HTC had a great day today with only minor hiccups along the way.
Canonical take a step closer to Ubuntu on everything
In another part of London Canonical were pulling back the curtains on their own little bit of news. This time we were introduced to Ubuntu on Tablets, to compliment the recently announced Ubuntu for phones OS. This time there was no mass media meeting with stages and massive video backdrops, instead canonical followed the exact same pattern they used for much anticipated phone OS. Once the webpage timer reached zero, the site changed to showcase the latest part of the Ubuntu plan to take over all your computing hardware.
Ubuntu really laid it on thick regarding the tablet UI. It is obvious that along with integration on all platforms and shared apps, the actual interface is seen as a major strategic battle in the war for your tablet. On the whole the information has been presented in an exiting and interesting way with images of the OS in action scattered everywhere. With an integrated voice controlled HUD a lot of thought has been put into this. Like the phone OS the tablet edges are where control lies, with each side being allocated it’s own function throughout the OS.
The first Mobile OS I used which applied this technique was on the BlackBerry PlayBook, but this goes above and beyond what BlackBerry ever did. Everything follows on nicely from the Phone OS, but expands to make full use of the size of a tablet screen to the point where it has a split screen mode similar to Windows 8 and phone apps can run above tablet ones. Full information can be found at the Canonical Ubuntu website. the full press release is the and available to all to download.
The tablet announcement while well received has also thrown up a host of questions regarding the OS both on technical and marketing fronts. While it will be a long time before the current Canonical strategy can be considered a success or failure images for the Tablet OS will be released along with the Phone OS on Thursday.