1. So who actually is the best company today?
2. Who is going to win going forward?
Let’s do a quick comparison on product innovation, CEOs and leadership, brand and design, ecosystem, giving customers what they want, and profits and growth. Have included my view at the bottom.
Historically this was a no-brainer as Apple leapfrogged everybody with its new product breakthroughs: iPod, iPhone and iPad. However, since Tim Cook took over as CEO in 2011, the charge is that Apple has become more of an iterator rather than an innovator.
For years, the Apple rumor mill has forecast (wrongly) the imminent arrival of the iWatch and the iTV, while Samsung has brought these products to market, with the Galaxy Gear and Smart TV. Google too is pushing ahead with new product categories, like the Google Glass smart-glasses.
Jong-Kyun Shin, the Samsung President/CEO who runs its mobile division, said: “Innovation is what will get consumers to buy new devices… The Galaxy S4 has features unique to Samsung like Air Gesture that detect hand gestures. In the process of developing and making the Galaxy S4, we have filed around 120 patents related to user interface and software. We’ve also hired a number of software engineers from India, Russia, China and Europe to develop unique features internally.”
Is this innovation strategy working? Reviews of the hand and eye gestures in the Galaxy S4 suggest that they are not “fully-baked”, actually slow the phone down and are more like gimmicks. Critics’ reviews of the Galaxy Gear smart-watch have also not been great, and it has only sold 800,000 units since its launch two months ago. However, Interbrand’s Moon Ji-hun argues that its more about positioning: “Probably Samsung knows better than anyone that Gear will not become a mainstream product. Still, they are trying to convey the message that ‘we are first with such technology,’ which they hope will help build their brand as an advanced technology firm.”
By contrast, the fingerprint sensor unique to the new iPhone 5s has been well-received and is thought to have been well-executed. In what Apple claims to be “the most forward-thinking iPhone ever”, the iPhone 5s is also the first smartphone to market with a 64-bit processor, the A7, which ironically is manufactured by Samsung.
“Product design, marketing and complex supply-chain management are the trifecta of success in consumer electronics. Excelling at all of them simultaneously is a rare feat, much like throwing a no-hitter in baseball. Akio Morita did it at Sony with the Walkman and Sony Trinitron. Steve Jobs did it with the iPhone and iPad. With the Samsung Galaxy, Oh-Hyun Kwon joins those business giants. Kwon’s first principles of leadership are remarkably simple and clear. Galaxy phones have a signature design feature: big, beautiful, highest-definition screens; an integrated supply chain allows for a family of products at more price points than competitors’; and their brand advertising is bold, tasteful and executed with a cheeky self-confidence equaled only by Apple’s.”
Apple’s recent ‘This Is Our Signature’ ad is very much a restatement of the core Jobs philosophy: its strapline states, “We simplify, we perfect, until everything we touch enhances life.”
So it seems we have a battle between perfection and getting it out new products fast and refining them later. If it continues on current product feature trajectories, then I would favor Samsung.
But what Apple fans and stock analysts alike are crying out for are bold, new product categories which could rest the game back in Apple’s favor.
CEO & Leadership
Samsung Gets The Medal: 3 CEOs vs Tim Cook
You may be surprised to learn that Samsung has not just one but three CEOs. In post since June 2012, Dr. Oh-Hyun Kwon is Vice Chairman & CEO. Then in March 2013, Samsung also promoted two of its presidents to CEO: most significantly for this discussion, Jong-Kyun Shin, who heads up Samsung’s mobile division, and also Boo-Keun Yoon, head of the appliances division. They do still both report to Oh-Hyun Kwon though, so he maybe the more dominant player. As is common in the culture of Korean companies, Samsung hasn’t provided anything more than minimal bios for these executives, so we don’t know a huge amount about them beyond a handful of interviews that they have given over the years.
We do know that before he become CEO, Kwon oversaw Samsung’s components business, which makes displays, chips, memory, processors, etc. Kwon helped lock down one of his division’s biggest customers, Apple. Apple uses a lot of Samsung components in its mobile devices. Under Kwon, Samsung became the second largest chip maker in the world.
Mobile chief Jong-Kyun Shin has been the most outspoken, telling analysts last month that Samsung’s tablet business is growing rapidly and the company aims to topple Apple as the biggest maker of tablet computers too. He is equally ambitious for the Samsung brand, saying, “Our product innovation and marketing strategy have made Samsung the world’s most preferred smartphone brand. Now we’ll move from the most preferred brand to become one of the world’s leading aspirational brands.”
At Business Insider’s IGNITION Conference, David Eun, executive vice president of Samsung’s Open Innovation Center, shed some light on how the company has been able to see such great success despite such heavy devotion by Apple fans and customers: “Samsung is a very entrepreneurial story. The company set large goals for itself and has been bold in its execution.” He adds, “Seven years ago there was no iPhone or Samsung Galaxy phone. It was all about Nokia and Motorola. It takes entrepreneurial ideas and execution. The leaders at Samsung are people who have risen and made their mark by being entrepreneurial.”
And it is still in the shadow of the visionary Jobs that Tim Cook is currently judged. Cook was a very competent logistics man and COO, but as Jobs himself expressed, “Tim is not a product person”. I see him as a ‘professional manager’ who risks managing processes rather than putting the next dent in the universe. He has done some good things, like improving internal collaboration and corporate governance, but he is not the great showman like Jobs and the jury is out on him.
It will be interesting to see the impact next year when Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts joins Apple as SVP Retail & Online Stores – will they create more of a fashion and customer focused Apple? Maybe Angela will be Apple CEO in the future?
Overall, currently Samsung’s leadership has more momentum, as they are executing at speed, picking up customers, gaining market share and widening product range. Yet there are still big challenges.
Last week, amid investor concern and lower than hoped-for sales of the flagship Galaxy S4, Samsung called a “crisis awareness meeting”. Samsung has invited 600 management staff members to attend a four-day “global strategizing meeting” in mid December, where the main topic is ‘Crisis Awareness’. According to a report by ZDNet Korea, “As people are foretelling that downfall of Samsung is coming, they are trying their best to prevent such crisis from happening.”
While “crisis” at Samsung doesn’t sound great, it is good that the co-CEOs are facing reality and involving the wider management team. It contrasts favorably with Steve Jobs’ famous “reality distortion field”, which helped move mountains in product development, but often meant that he was abrasive and slow to acknowledge problems and challenges (e.g. iPhone 4 ‘Antennagate’).
Wonder whether Apple has a ‘reality distortion field’ on its top team’s leadership performance?
Apple wins the medal but Samsung closing the gap by massive spending
The Apple brand and logo are currently more recognized around the Western world, and in London and New York, you cannot walk down the street without seeing a sea of white headphones and people playing with their iPhones. The Brand Finance Global 500 2013 puts Apple and Samsung right at the very top of the best brands in the world, ahead of Coca-Cola and Google.
Samsung smartphones are broadly comparable, feature-for-feature, with competitors like HTC, Sony, LG and now Nokia, so why has it become so dominant? A big part of the answer lies in its sheer marketing muscle – Samsung spends a bigger chunk of its annual revenue on advertising and promotion than any other of the world’s top-20 companies by sales – 5.4%, according to Thomson Reuters data. Apple spends just 0.6%, and General Motors 3.5%.
Adverts mocking Apple fans, and heavy investment in product placement and in distribution channels have strengthened its Galaxy mobile brand. Samsung now sells one in every three smartphones and has more than double Apple’s market share. Is this enough to make Samsung loved?
Samsung’s Galaxy S4 launch in New York came under fire for being sexist, showing giggling women chatting about jewelry and nail polish while the men discussed the new phone. Oh Jung-Suk, associate professor at Seoul National University business school cautions: “Samsung’s marketing is too much focused on projecting an image they aspire to: being innovative and ahead of the pack. They are failing to efficiently bridge the gap between the aspiration and how consumers actually respond to the campaign. It’s got to be more aligned.”
Moon Ji-hun, head of brand consultant Interbrand’s Korean operation, adds: “When your brand doesn’t have a clear identity, as is the case with Samsung, to keep spending is probably the best strategy. But maintaining marketing spend at that level in the longer term wouldn’t bring much more benefit. No one can beat Samsung in terms of ad presence, and I doubt whether keeping investing at this level is effective.”
Samsung has told Reuters that it will “continue to leverage our brand power to maintain growth momentum, while focusing on optimizing the efficiency of our marketing activities.”
Apple may sit in top position now, but has lost its mojo over the last couple of years through lackluster product releases and perceived lack of innovation. Samsung is catching up and is already no. 2. The Samsung brand can be improved and it isn’t loved by some like Apple, but I am impressed with the leadership team for seizing the opportunity to leapfrog all its other competitors, through investment and execution with conviction.
Apple wins the medal, but do simplicity and beauty still trump a bigger screen?
Apple has long placed design at the heart of its product development policy. Steve Jobs famously used to obsess about details that nobody would ever see, such as the look of Apple’s factories and the internals of products… this trend was taken to its logical extreme with the launch of the translucent plastic iMac in 1998.
When the iPhone was launched in 2007, its all-touchscreen and single-button front was distinctive and simple. Apple has honed the design over the years with glass casing and then unibody aluminum, but fundamentally it remains unchanged. The iPad takes the same design cues and it gets ever lighter and thinner. Apple’s aluminum MacBooks and iMacs are widely considered to be the most beautiful, slick and minimal.
Sir Jony Ive, Senior Vice President of Design, keeps the Jobs design obsession alive at Apple. His biographer Leander Kahney recently called him the “soul” of Apple, adding, “Ive has a mad, total, one-hundred-and-ten-percent commitment to making the best products humanly possible.” Sir Jony once flew to Japan to watch a sword-maker forge a katana, in his quest to make the MacBook Air even thinner. His remit has now been expanded to software as well as hardware, leading to the flatter, cartoon-like and generally well-received iOS 7 iPhone software update rolled out in September.
However, now that nearly all smartphones have an all-touchscreen front, the differences between them are less striking. Samsung’s current flagship the Galaxy S4 in some aspects has a less polished look than the iPhone 5s, with a polycarbonate plastic backing. However, it has a singular design feature: big, beautiful, highest-definition screens, that dwarf the iPhone and its “Retina” display. The design is “good enough” for consumers who are more focused on features, price and a bigger screen canvas.
Overall it feels that Apple still has the design edge.
Ecosystem & User Experience
Apple wins the medal with its “walled garden”.
This is where Apple still excels. Tim Cook likes to claim that, “Apple has unique strengths in products, software and services”. I think it’s a bit simpler than that. Apple products still broadly have the reputation that they “just work”, and indeed they have made technology more accessible and made us more connected. Add to that the 1,000,000 apps available to download in the App Store and you have a very powerful platform that is seamless across multiple devices. People (willingly) get locked in to Apple’s “walled garden” and it is difficult to persuade them to make the move outside it.
Samsung on the other hand is highly reliant on Google’s Android mobile operating system for smartphones and tablets, and on Microsoft for Windows PCs. While the apps on the Google Play store have caught up in number with the Apple app store, they have historically been slower to come to market and less reliable due to the large fragmentation of Android devices. The Android tablet apps were thought to be just blown-up smartphone apps rather than iPad-style apps fully reimagined for a larger screen, although this is changing. Where Samsung adds onto its devices its own user interface, this is sometimes considered to be “bloatware” that gets in the way of the user experience and duplicates or slows down the core Android or Windows operating system. So here Apple’s obsession with control does pay a dividend for ordinary users wanting stable and intuitive devices.
Principal CEO Oh-Hyun Kwon has publicly acknowledged that this is a weakness and important area of development for Samsung: “A particular focus must be given to serving new customer experience and value by strengthening soft capabilities in software, user experience, design, and solutions.” He also believes that to secure an “an absolute lead” the company, “must have dominance over new technology and global markets”.
John Sculley adds, “As Samsung builds a campus in Silicon Valley, all eyes will be on Kwon to see if the CEO with a Ph.D. from Stanford can be as successful with software as he has been with hardware.”
Looking at buyers of new smartphones, the above chart shows that not many users switch from Apple to Samsung, at only 11%. This is critical to Apple’s long-term survival since Apple users are sticking with iOS and not defecting to Samsung. Apple is having about one-third of its users coming from Android. It is interesting to note that similar to all buyers first-time smartphone buyers favor Samsung by about a three to one margin, approximately 6% vs. 2%, over Apple.
Apple still ahead.
Giving Customers What They Want
Samsung wins the medal.
Customers within Apple’s walled garden broadly get what they want in terms of a seamless user experience across iPhones, iPads and Macs, but they have a much more restricted choice when it comes to variations of new devices. There is only one top-end iPhone (the 5s), and only a big or a small iPad (the iPad Air or the iPad Mini). Steve Jobs famously liked to make these kinds of decisions for customers rather than bother them with a confusing array of options.
By contrast, Samsung makes a much wider range of devices in all shapes and sizes, at a range of price points. They can even go bigger than the Galaxy S4, with a Galaxy Note smartphone known as a “phablet” that blurs the distinction between phone and tablet. Samsung also makes a range of hybrid PCs that fuse tablet and laptop, as well as TVs, kitchen appliances and the new Galaxy Gear smartwatch. The bigger screen in particular seems to be the biggest draw over Apple, although it is something that Apple is likely to correct with the launch of a bigger iPhone 6 in 2014.
Profits & Growth
Growth now with Samsung so wins the medal, but Xmas showdown ahead
The most recent Fortune 500 Global rankings of worldwide companies (based on revenue in their fiscal years ended on or before March 31st, 2013) shows that Samsung topped Apple with revenue totaling $178.6 billion, compared to $156.5 bn. However, with $41.7bn in profit, Apple was beaten only by ExxonMobil. This was more than double Samsung’s $20.6 billion annual profit.
This might be changing – this graph from Business Insider shows that, for the last two quarters, Samsung’s profits were actually higher than Apple’s. Having settled into a pattern of releasing new iPhones and iPads in September/October, Apple is now highly reliant on the holiday quarter in Q4 – although Tim Cook may have a point when he said, “I think it’s going to be an iPad Christmas.”
For now, Apple’s iPhone business is holding up well – it sold 150 million iPhones in its last fiscal year ending in September, as well as 71 million iPads. Indeed, Apple can still claim 70% of the profits in the smartphone sector. The gloss has come off slightly off Samsung’s sales machine – it fell far short of initial estimates that it would sell 100 million Galaxy S4 units, and it is instead now predicting of 100 million total Galaxy S and Note series phones, phablets and tablet devices up until the end of the year.
Apple’s share price has had a tough fall from its all-time highs of $700, although it has since recovered a lot of the ground as stands at year highs of over $560. This is partially fueled by rumors that it is finally about to do a deal to get carrier coverage for the iPhone with China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile carrier and potentially a big source of growth. But for me, this is again an example of a deal that should have happened years ago and which has been hampered by poor execution. Another question mark is the recent launch of the iPhone 5c, with the ‘c’ being variously said to stand for “color”, “cheap” and “China”. It had been hoped that a lower end model would help Apple to gain share in emerging markets, although is it only $80 cheaper that the iPhone 5s and Tim Cook has said that it is a mid-tier rather than low-tier model. This does however give Apple pricing flexibility for the future and, in a market subject to increasing commoditization, I quite admire Apple for standing firm on its high profit margins.
So overall today they seem to be neck and neck but I do see the growth of Samsung to be steadier and more sustained. We’re all fascinated by Apple, but so much of what we hear turns out just to be rumors. Right now it remains a profit generating machine, but long-term that will change if it fails to recapture the public imagination and innovate into new product categories. Samsung has weathered years of legal action, and having initially copied parts of the Apple playbook, it is now starting to innovate into new areas.
In the future I am torn: my head currently says the 3 mystery CEOs of Samsung will prevail, but my heart really wants Apple to come back and leapfrog them, with innovation that changes our lives again. Maybe in future both will remain big beasts, and we will have an Apple and Samsung duopoly
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These are some tips on how to improve the battery life of your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch running iOS. Some of these tips apply to just iOS 7 but many can be applied to older versions of iOS as well.
Let us know how much your battery life improves in the comments!
Disable Background Application Refresh
iOS 7 brings the ability for apps to refresh their content when on Wi-Fi or cellular and even use location services. To preserve battery life, we recommend disabling Background App Refresh completely. Note that doing this will kill location services for your applications, so you won’t be able to use Navigation in the background – therefore you may want to fine-tune this setting based on your preferences. In addition, you may want to close applications you aren’t using via the Multitasking Switcher (Double press the Home button and swipe an app preview up and out of the list).
● Settings > General > Background App Refresh
Turn Off AirDrop when you’re not using it
You should turn off AirDrop when you do not need it. This prevents you from using Bluetooth and Wi-Fi when not in use when the device is in “discoverable” mode. Simply swipe up on control center to turn it off.
● Control Center
Turn Off Automatic Downloads and Updates
iOS 7 brings the ability to automatically update apps, however that works in the background and can take a toll on your battery life. Tap the settings icon, scroll down to iTunes & App Store and turn off all automatic downloads. If you still want automatic app updates, try enabling them while turning off cellular data.
● Settings > iTunes & App Store
Brightness is the most obvious battery-draining cause on the iPhone. Obviously, try to limit and reduce your brightness at all times. Going a step further, you can disable automatic brightness to improve battery life since the phone will no longer check the ambient light and determine the “best” brightness.
● Settings > Wallpapers & Brightness
Control your Push Notifications
Apple’s iOS is designed to in a way preserve battery life when using push notification. That is, the number of push notifications you receive have a minimal effect on battery life. However, when receiving notifications that cause your screen to light up and phone to vibrate, your battery life will be affected. We recommending setting some notifications to not show any alerts. You can set alerts to ‘None’ on a per app basis.
● Settings > Notification Center
Disable Email Push
Push emails immediately send an email or ‘push’ from a server to your phone, rather than requiring you to manually refresh the mail app. You can set the mail application to fetch instead of push, or even better, set to manual for best battery life. You can fine tune this setting for each email account, but for best battery life performance, set all accounts to “Fetch Manually.”
● Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Fetch New Data > Push
iOS 7 brings a new “Frequent Locations” feature. While this new addition can be great for your “Today” tab in Notification Center by giving you an estimated time of arrival to your most visited locations , it can affect battery life. To turn this off, visit
● Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services, then toggle the Frequent Locations to the off position.
iOS has many system location services that check your location to improve compass calibration, cell network search, and more. We recommend turning off most of these system services to improve battery. However, if you use the compass often, or travel often, some settings should be left on such as “Compass Calibration” or “Setting Time Zone.” We leave “Cell Network Search” on as well.
Apps must request approval from you as well. If you really need location services for an app, obviously leave them on. However, you might not want some applications to fetch your locations, so feel free to toggle them off here as well. For instance, if you don’t care for Twitter tweeting your location, turn it off!
Disable Wi-Fi & Bluetooth when not in range, Turn on Wi-Fi when in range
Be sure to always turn off Wi-Fi when you’re out of range of a known network. This prevents the iOS device from constantly checking for known networks in range. Whenever you can use Wi-Fi, use it! Wi-Fi is much more efficient than cellular data so you can save battery this way. Be sure to set Ask to Join Networks off to stay connected to that network. Similarly, be sure to turn off Bluetooth at all times that you can.
● Settings > Wi-Fi
● Settings > Bluetooth
Disable Cellular Data
If you don’t care for using cellular data for some apps and services, turn them off. iOS has many different toggles for cellular data use and some are hidden, so be sure to check all of them listed below!
iOS 7 brings a nice parallax effect on icons and alerts, but this constantly tracks your motion to provide the effect. Reduce motion to prevent this and improve battery life.
● Settings > General > Accessibility > Reduce Motion
Don’t use Dynamic Moving Wallpapers
iOS 7 comes with dynamic wallpapers that move around based on the movement of your device. These moving backgrounds consume much more battery power than regular wallpapers so we recommend that you stay away from them and use Still wallpapers.
● Settings > Wallpapers & Brightness > Choose Wallpaper
Disable Siri Raise to Speak
Disable Siri’s raise to speak function to prevent the iPhone from constantly checking the proximity sensor to see if the device has been raised to your ear.
● Settings > General > Siri
Turn Off Spotlight Search to prevent file indexing
Spotlight indexes your entire device’s filesystem to provide instant search results of your most used contacts, apps and more. Indexing can cause a strain on the battery life, so try to turn OFF any items on the list that you don’t use to prevent the OS from indexing that type of data.
● Settings > General > Spotlight Search
Having your phone constantly vibrate can affect battery life as well, but having a vibrate feature is extremely useful. Try to disable vibrate for some contacts/notifications/text messages.
● Settings > Sounds
If you’re in a 4G Area only, we recommend turning off LTE connectivity. Leaving LTE on actually drains the battery by constantly checking for an LTE signal (and if your carrier does not have LTE in your area, this is a waste). Similarly, if you’re in a 2G area only, disable 4G/LTE connectivity as well.
However, if you are in an LTE area, we recommend leaving LTE on since Apple actually cites better browsing (in hours) on LTE versus 4G connectivity.
Set Auto-Lock to 1 Minute to reduce the amount of time it takes for the iPhone’s display to shut off. Better yet, always lock the device immediately after use to prevent the ~1 minute your display would be on.
● Settings > General > Auto-Lock
Use Airplane Mode when in an area without cellular service
If you’re in a known dead zone that has no cellular service, turn on Airplane mode until your reach an area with cellular service. This prevents the phone from constantly checking for a signal, and can be a main cause of battery drain.
Turn off iTunes Wi-Fi Sync in iTunes
If you don’t use Wi-Fi Sync, and often leave your iTunes open on the same network as your iPhone, turn off Wi-Fi sync.
Turn off Home Sharing
Streaming a movie or song from a computer to your iOS device can cause a huge battery drain. We recommend not using home sharing at all unless it is a feature you really like.
● Settings > Music
● Settings > Video
Set up as new iPhone
If you previously had a jailbreak, and no longer have one, try setting up an iPhone as new instead of restoring form backup. This way you don’t restore unnecessary files.
Some users claim that turning off iPod equalizer will improve battery life, but in our tests (and others across the web) this does not seem to be the case. But if you really want to, turn off equalizer.
● Settings > Music > EQ
Limit Ad Tracking
There are some reports that limiting ad tracking might improve your battery life. You may want to experiment with this setting to determine if it makes a difference on your device.
● Settings > Privacy > Advertising > Limit Ad Tracking
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Each week, there are dozens of Apple rumors, reports, and patent filings that hint at what’s coming out of Cupertino next. Some are legit, but most are totally bogus. We’ve parsed the week’s rumors, ranking them in order from “utterly ridiculous” to “duh, of course.” First up…
ASK AGAIN LATER: Apple Inventing Solar Charging Accessory Apple’s been dabbling in the solar power game for a while — at least according to its intellectual property filings. The company’s latest invention to come out of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is a solar panel accessory that doesn’t need a power converter and would work with a MacBook, iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch via USB or a power connector. They key part of the patent is the power management circuitry, which could be embedded in the device itself. Could we start seeing partially solar powered devices or accessories from Apple in the not too distant future? It’s definitely possible.
ASK AGAIN LATER: Retina iPad Mini Could Launch November 21 Target.com let slip in a product listing that the iPad mini with Retina display would be released November 21, a week before Thanksgiving. This particular release date is interesting — Apple usually releases products on a Friday (like the iPad Air, which just went on sale today). However, with holiday travel, Black Friday, and all that jazz, it could make sense for Apple to give iPad mini admirers some extra time before the weekend officially lands to get their hands on the new tablet. Or maybe the 21st isn’t the real date after all.
SIGNS POINT TO YES: Job Listing Indicates Apple Working on Maps’ Transit Directions It’s about time: Two job listing seem to show that Apple is working on adding transit directions to Apple Maps. The positions are “Maps Public Transit Engineering Manager” and “Public Transit Software Engineer,” and both would (logically) work on the Maps team to improve its “Transit Routing” platform. If it wants to be competitive with mapping app leaders like Google, transit directions are a must. It makes complete sense that Apple would want to beef up its team on this front.
WITHOUT A DOUBT: Apple Experimenting With Curved Glass Wrist-Worn Devices According to The New York Times, Apple is exploring a wristwatch-like device made of curved glass. Between the company’s recent wearables-related hires, other whispers from employees and suppliers, and CEO Tim Cook’s frequent teases, it’s almost a given that Apple is working on some sort of wearable device. Apple has also patented a means for bending glass, providing evidence the company is taking some time to explore the curved glass space. (Corning has been working on curved Gorilla Glass for a while now too). As for when we’ll see these devices and what they’ll look like, that’s still anyone’s guess
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With all of the running apps available for smartphones to track your distance and pace you might ask yourself do you really need a separate running watch?
The type of data recorded and what you can do with it is similar between both apps and GPS watches. Both options will provide you with core functionality of your current pace, distance traveled, elapsed time, a map of your route and other metrics to measure your performance over time.
It is the actual functionality of the two options while running that makes a separate running watch the preferred choice.
Two Tests of a Phone App vs. a GPS Watch
I performed this test on my road bike instead of running so I could have an accurate control distance with the bike computer attached to the wheel so the actual ground covered was recorded. This is the same method used to issue USATF running race course certifications (wheel measurement).
Only the Garmin matched the bike computer within a margin of .01 miles. The iPhone and Samsung Galaxy Nexus both over reported the distance traveled and pace substantially.
Bike Computer (Wheel sensor): 5.00 miles Garmin Forerunner 210: 5.01 miles iPhone 5 (with Runkeeper): 5.32 miles Samsung Galaxy Nexus (with Runkeeper): 5.29 miles
For runs of a mile or two this may not be a big deal, but if you run longer distances over 10 miles the results can be running over a mile or more less than the phone has reported! That 20 mile marathon long run you might do could end up being more like 18.5 miles.
What’s worse, your pace is being reported incorrectly. You will have a false sense of your performance capability and learn of this on race day when you run a measured course only to find your phone has betrayed you!
In another test, I wore both my Garmin Forerunner 210 and used RunKeeper on my Samsung Galaxy Nexus during the 2012 Chicago Marathon. The phone was strapped to my upper arm with a clear view of the sky. Downtown Chicago presents tough challenges for GPS devices. The tall buildings can bounce signals or block them entirely causing measurements of your location several blocks away or zig zagging across the city.
Extended underpasses such as the one at the beginning of the race block GPS entirely for nearly half a mile.
Garmin Forerunner 210: 26.58 miles Samsung Galaxy Nexus (with RunKeeper): 27.93 miles
I personally believe the Garmin recorded my actual distance covered due to any weaving or not running the exact course line over the course of the marathon. If there was any error due to the buildings or other obstructions it was minimal. The phone was not even close.
There is nothing worse than finding out your pace is not what you think it is or how you trained on race day when you discover your phone has over reported all along.
Issues with Running Apps
Reduced Accuracy The GPS sensors vary greatly between different phones. But the one thing that holds true today is they are less accurate than a dedicated GPS running watch that is specifically designed to capture precise movements. While this is reported universally among runners I wanted to see for myself.
Phones are less accurate than a GPS watch for a variety of reasons. The most common reason is due to the compact form factor of a phone along with all of the other antennas and circuitry inside there just isn’t enough room to include a more accurate GPS sensor. In some phones, the type of sensor used might also vary, but that is beyond the scope of this discussion. GPS watches have a larger GPS sensor as a critical component.
For a phone, the GPS is designed to give a very good indication of your location, but not a pinpoint. Compounding the problem, phones do not take a continuous recording of your location but rather frequent “snapshots” in time. These data points are then connected by the shortest distance between the two points. This is why quick movements, turn arounds or tight turns are often cut off when reviewing phone GPS data on a running app.
Finally, the algorithms used to calculate distance traveled also vary in phones.
Phones are not designed specifically with accurate GPS distance measurement in mind the way a running watch is. A phone is a Swiss Army Knife. It can do a variety of things, but not all of them very well.
Tracking Progress While Running A big issue with running applications is viewing your distance, pace, time elapsed and possibly heart rate while you are running. Typically your phone is strapped to your arm or on a waist belt out of easy sight. Running apps have tried to counter this shortfall by having computerized voices periodically announce your pace and splits over your earphones if you are listening to music. But what if you don’t listen to music?
You will have to physically wake up the screen and make a concerted effort each time you want to check your progress. Even if you do listen to music I find the announced intervals are not often enough to stay on track if you are monitoring your pacing.
A running watch is always within easy view without altering your running form and provides immediate feedback of your run. Pacing is easy to determine at a glance. It is always on and nothing to fiddle with. There is a reason a phone’s screen turns off while running which brings up the next issue.
Battery Life Today’s smartphones can do a lot, but battery technology has not kept pace for their energy demands. A running app is not only constantly using the GPS of your phone, but also the data plan in order to update maps and sync data.
Other features such as social network sharing or uploading to websites can use even more battery. I haven’t even mentioned the draw of the battery for that big screen and any other applications the phone is running either such as your music player and countless apps in the background.
If you plan to run longer than 2-3 hours your phone may not make it through your run leaving you without a way to call for help if needed and leaving you flying blind for the rest of your run. Not good!
GPS running watch batteries can reliably capture 8-10 hours or more of activity and can remain on standby over a week. In other words, more than you will need!
Data Plans Use of a running app requires a data plan on your phone. With many carriers limiting data use or families sharing plans this can add up. While a running app may not consume a lot of data, it consumes more than a GPS running watch that uses no data plan!
Indoor Use If you want to record your running on an indoor track or even a treadmill forget it with a smartphone. Your phone’s GPS will do you no good indoors.
GPS watches are equally useless indoors, but many can be paired with an optional footpod that can record everything with a good degree of accuracy, except for plotting on a map where you ran. You simply keep on running!
I’ve owned both Polar footpod devices and Garmin footpod devices and find the Garmin devices perform really well compared to Polar.
Even better, for instances where GPS may be blocked (such as the half-mile underpass at the beginning of the Chicago marathon), a footpod serves as a secondary data source that is automatically tapped so you are never running blind waiting for the signal to return. Other runners will be in the dark.
It is our recommendation that if you are serious about your running and want a tool best suited for the job it is a great decision to invest in a GPS running watch. If you are just starting out and want to get a feel for the type of data you can record about your runs you can start with an app and then transition to a watch later.
Running apps are powerful but are just not accurate enough to be used to train reliably. This again is no fault of the app designers, but limitations of phone hardware. They also are inconvenient for measuring real time progress while you are running.
The watch I personally train and race with, along with many elite marathoners such as Ryan Hall, is the Garmin Forerunner 210.
In considering a running watch, there are a lot of features, functionality, styles and form factors to consider. I use the Garmin Forerunner 210 as it has just the information I need and enough functionality to train effectively. It can be enticing to have a running watch with more bells and whistles but in the end it is just different ways of reporting the same data.
All you really need is distance, time elapsed, pace and possibly heart rate and cadence if you use those to train. When you get home you can easily upload all of the data and analyze your run and progress while recovering!
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Get in-depth guidance about developing for iOS 7, learn practical coding tips and tricks, and obtain valuable one-on-one programming and design assistance in our lab. Choose which day is best for you — app developer day or game developer day. Apply now.
App Developer Day:
Reimagine your apps on iOS 7 and take advantage of the new multitasking APIs, dynamic motion, iBeacon, and much more.
● San Francisco: Tuesday Oct 8
● New York: Tuesday Oct 15
● Tokyo: Wednesday Nov 6
● Shanghai: Tuesday Nov 12
● Berlin: Thursday Dec 12
● London: Tuesday Dec 17
Game Developer Day:
● San Francisco: Wednesday Oct 9
● New York: Wednesday Oct 16
● Tokyo: Thursday Nov 7
● Shanghai: Wednesday Nov 13
● Berlin: Friday Dec 13
● London: Wednesday Dec 18
To apply, you must be an iOS Developer Program member or iOS Developer Enterprise Program member, 13 years of age or older, as of the announcement of the iOS 7 Tech Talks (10 AM PDT, September 25, 2013). Attendees will be randomly selected from qualified applicants. There will be two events per city, one devoted to app developers and the other focusing on game developers. You’ll choose to attend either the app developer day or the game developer day. You may only apply for one day at the iOS 7 Tech Talks.
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We have confirmed through early analysis that the device is fabricated at Samsung’s Foundry and we will confirm process type and node later today as analysis continues. That being said, we suspect we will see Samsungs 28 nm Hi K metal Gate (HKMG) being used. We have observed this same process in the Samsung Exynos Application processor used in the Galaxy S IV. Our engineers will be deprocessing the Apple A7 as soon as they can to confirm this or to provide different information.
You can check out the external die, package photo, top metal die photo and package markings below…
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Within a few hours after its release, ‘drop tests’ for the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s have already surfaced on the web.
Check the video out below to see how the new iPhone 5c’s plastic shell holds up against the iPhone 5s’ sturdy aluminum casing.
We’re sure more of these will come through during the day, so we’ll add anymore we find below.
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Check out this video that compares the boot speed of the iPhone 5 vs. iPhone 5c vs. iPhone 5s.
The counter was started from the exact moment each device received USB signal and stopped as soon as the lockscreen was loaded.
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Check out the first unboxing video of the new plastic iPhone 5c posted to youku via hdblog.it.
To prove you are new photographs and even a first video unboxing of the iPhone 5c, appeared a few hours on the net. The material has been realized within a branch of China Unicom, the second largest telephone company in the country. An employee did not miss the opportunity to open some of the boxes delivered, and show the world the packaging and sale of the iPhone 5s 5c.
We’ll post a clearer video once one becomes available. The iPhone 5c is set to arrive to pre-order customers on September 20th.
In the meanwhile, take a look below!
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Apple’s little September get-together is over. As expected, the iPhone- and iOS-centric event produced a line of colorful iPhones, a new flagship…and, well, that’s about it. So what about all the stuff that wasn’t announced? We’ve parsed the patents and rumors that didn’t materialize this week, and ranked them in order from “utterly ridiculous” to “Duh, of course.” First up…
DON’T COUNT ON IT: Text-to-Speech Capabilities Coming to Notes App A European patent filing from Apple shows that the Notes app could be getting a text-to-speech function that supports multiple languages. According to the filing, Apple will add a “speak” button to the app’s option menu. This function seems useful, but somewhat out of place for the Notes app.
ASK AGAIN LATER: A New Apple TV Box for October? Apple is reportedly working on a new Apple TV set top box, and it could arrive as soon as October. After a series of rumors and reports over the last few weeks, it seemed likely that some big Apple TV updates are in the works. None of them happened Tuesday, but it’s possible an updated Apple TV set top box could make an appearance at Apple’s next event, which may be in October.
ASK AGAIN LATER: The iPad Could Get an Anti-Reflective Display A recently published patent filing shows that Apple could be developing a new anti-reflective display for the iPad. Apple would add another process to its display manufacturing, an anti-reflection layer, and a layer of UV absorption film. This could be something Apple is getting ready to implement, or it could just be a process the company is exploring and what to put some IP behind.
SIGNS POINT TO YES: Redesigned iPad and Retina iPad Mini at Apple’s October Event A number of us were surprised that iPhones and iOS were the only focus of Tuesday’s media event. But not to fret. All those rumors of a slightly redesigned iPad and Retina iPad mini still carry some weight. Apple is expected to hold another media event in October, and at it, we’ll likely see new iPad models, as well as the release of OS X Mavericks and new MacBook Pros. These are products that will definitely be released before the holiday season. The only thing up in the air is when (and if) Apple will hold an event to debut these guys.
SIGNS POINT TO YES: Apple TV Refresh Coming September 18 A number of us were surprised Apple made no mention of the Apple TV in Tuesday’s keynote. But apparently that update is scheduled for September 18 according to AllThingsD. This is the same day Apple is opening up iOS 7 to the masses, so this could mean that Apple TV is getting updated with something iOS 7-specific like iTunes Radio, as well as an AirPlay update.
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