The Huawei Mate 40 Pro camera is great with a few gotchas

Ever since the Huawei P20 Pro came out with its 40 megapixel main camera, Huawei has been killing it with some of the best cameras on phones since the Nokia Lumia 1020 from 2013! How's that Mate 40 Pro camera doing these days?

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Here’s why I’m not upgrading to the 2021 iPad Pro

The-Editors-Desk

I’m using a lot of devices throughout the year, which comes with its pros and cons. On one hand, you get to carry the latest tech all year round, more or less. On the other hand, it’s a constant move, a nomadic lifestyle, if you will, of your data from one device to the other, irrespective of how much the cloud might help you out or not.

Despite all of that, I do, as do most reviewers, have a personal daily driver, a favorite if you will, which sticks around throughout its lifecycle as the main device. It can be a device I reviewed, or a review unit, or, as is the case with my iPad Pro, a device I personally purchased for my private usage. The iPad Pro is my main, personal tablet.

I purchased it in October of 2020, around the time I purchased my personal iPhone 12 Pro Max. I knew a refresh was fairly around the corner, but I just needed to fill in that gap in my home ecosystem.

Usually, when a new device, a successor, is announced, I get “the itch”. We all know it, and as I was sitting and watching the Apple Spring Loaded event, I was looking down at my 2020 iPad Pro, and I was like “Nah, I’ll pass”. Here’s why I’m not upgrading to the 2021 iPad Pro.

iPad Pro 2021 vs iPad Pro 2020

The specs factor

Just to clarify, I own the 2020 11-inch iPad Pro, Wi-Fi only, 128GB. Since I only use my tablet within Wi-Fi range (or, at worst, I tether to my iPhone), I have zero need for a 4G version, let alone a 5G variant, like the 2021 iPad Pro. That’s one point, right there, in favor of my current device. Yes, I am aware that there’s a Wi-Fi-only model as well! Feel free to disregard this point if you want. I’ve got plenty below.

I deliberately opted for the 11-inch model last year because I simply consider the 12.9-inch variant to be too big. Apple did introduce a brand new mini LED display for the iPad Pro this year, however, only for its larger version. The 11-inch still packs the good old IPS panel, with which I’m fine and satisfied. Here’s one (more) point in favor of keeping my current device.

I have never taken a single picture using the iPad Pro (or any other tablet, save for review purposes, and even then, I cringed). For my personal use, I couldn’t care less about the camera improvements on the 2021 iPad Pro, and, since I also don’t do video calls on the iPad, the new wide-angle FaceTime camera doesn’t faze me. I’ve got the iPhone for the 3 FaceTime calls I receive during the year. One more point in favor of my 2020 iPad Pro.

…and here comes the big one, that takes it home in favor of my current iPad. The incredible performance delivered by the M1 chip. But wait: how can 1,500 times higher performance and 2 times faster storage (according to Apple’s claims) be an entry on your Cons list?

2021 iPad Pro

The OS and apps factor

The 2021 iPad Pro is, on theory and on paper, as fast as the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and the Mac Mini (lately the new iMac). This, in and of itself, is awesome! But there’s a caveat. Nothing (or nothing useful to me) takes advantage of that tremendous power.

It’s like installing a fine-tuned supercar engine into a chassis and feeding it low-octane fuel, just enough for it to start, but unable to rev at speeds that deliver torque and horsepower. It’s like crawling in Drive mode without a gas pedal.

This is something I alluded to in my previous commentary when I said I would easily purchase the MacBook Air over the 2021 iPad Pro.

Is the 2021 iPad Pro faster than my 2020 iPad Pro? Absolutely! Would I be able to perceive the speed increase? Probably not. For me, at this particular point in time, there’s absolutely no need to upgrade to the latest iPad. This, however, could change in an instant, if Apple allowed the iPad Pro to run macOS instead of iPadOS (which is pretty much a phone OS for all intents and purposes), but that’s a different conversation. Then I’d be able to run full-fledged Photoshop and Final Cut Pro on it. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Yes, a different conversation, one in which Apple would create a new product family, turn the iPad Pro into a convertible, allow it to somewhat eat into both the iPad Air and MacBook Air segments, and create one of its own. That, however, is an iPad Pro I would definitely consider. However, right now, my stance is this: if you don’t have an iPad and you’re planning on getting one, get a MacBook Air instead. If you do have a 2020 iPad Pro, keep it for one more year.

But that’s just me, and, as always curious about what everyone else thinks. Drop us a comment below and let’s talk about it. My colleague Adam already chimes in. He said “pass” too. Read his reasons!

Thanks for reading! Welcome to The Editor’s Desk!

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I have no interest in the new iPad Pro, iMac, or AirTags

Earlier this week, Apple announced a bunch of new stuff on a video live stream. We’ve got new commercials for Apple TV shows, a purple iPhone, Podcast stuff, an Apple TV remote that actually makes sense, some AirTags, new iMacs, and a new iPad Pro. 

AirTags 

The first really new Apple product for 2021 was the AirTags, and I immediately said, “Welcome to 2013!”  AirTags are little battery-powered Bluetooth things that connect to your iPhone and help the iPhone’s “Find My” software keep track of the locations of the tags. Sounds familiar because these kinds of things have been around for many years. A company called Tile was one of the first to release this type of gadget back in 2013.

Nokia released a similar Nokia Treasure Tag in early 2014 that had similar functionality. I had a bunch of Nokia Treasure Tags attached to my Nokia Lumia 1020 and they certainly worked as advertised… just the same as today’s Apple AirTags. I stopped using them after getting a new phone because they were kind of a hassle. I mean, how many batteries do I have to keep around and keep replacing? Sure, the removable battery can be replaced pretty quickly, but still, it’s another thing to manage, and I never lost anything while I was using the Treasure Tags anyway. So what’s the point? It costs more cognitive energy paying attention to the battery levels of all of these tags than it costs to remember where whatever it’s attached to is in the first place.  

iMac 

The new iMacs are bringing back a rainbow of color options like the original iMac had in 1998. It has Apple’s new M1 processor, an extra thin form factor, and it comes in 7 colors. That’s cool and all, but the front has a big pastel-colored chin and a white bezel that looks really bad to me. What’s more, is that the white bezel is going to interfere with your white balance perception since that will reflect the color temperature of your ambient lighting instead of the color temperature of the display.  Looks like the display is still pretty reflective too, so glare will still be a problem. That’s not so good for creative professionals.  

Having the computer really thin is nice I guess, but how much does that really matter?  The stand is still pretty thick, so it’s not going to save a whole lot of desk space. Maybe it makes the iMac easier to move, but if I’m going to put a computer on a desk, that’s probably where it’s going to stay until I replace it. That being said, I have seen iMacs that need replacing kind of frequently, so maybe that is a good thing since we’ve had to carry them to the car and then to the Apple store for repair kind of often. That’s in contrast to the HP workstation where a repair person just comes to the office and replaces parts right there under warranty the next morning.  

iPad Pro 

Apple’s new Center Stage feature for video calls on the iPad Pro is probably the most impressive feature, but again… “Welcome to 2010, Apple!” This awesome feature was something that first appeared 11 years ago in Video Kinect for Xbox. Honestly, it makes way more sense having this feature plugged into a big screen TV than it does an iPad. You’ll need to set the iPad on a stand to make any use of it, and as you move away the people on the screen will look so much smaller. With Xbox Kinect and a big TV, I could walk around the whole room and the video call camera would follow me beautifully.  It was even cooler when the person on the other end had the same thing in their living room… we could both walk around doing other stuff and it was like there was a camera crew focusing on our faces on the TV.  

The iPad Pro does have a new mini-LED display now that’s supposed to display color better, but it’s still a glossy screen that’s going to have a lot of glare when using it in real life. Apple’s video looks to be extremely processed to remove or hide the glare of the environment completely. It looks super fake because it is. That’s not how the screen is going to look in real life.  

I’ve never thought that the iPad Pro deserved the “Pro” moniker. It’s not great for creative pro stuff anyway. See “13 Reasons why I don’t use an iPad Pro & Apple Pencil for graphic design“. The M1 processor and 16GB of RAM options in the new iPad Pro seem like kind of a waste since it won’t run really high-end programs like those available on macOS. 

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Here’s why I’d grab a MacBook Air over the 2021 iPad Pro

The iPad Pro was the highlight of Apple’s Spring Loaded event last night, not to rain on the parade of the iMac and the other products. Why? Because the larger, 12.9-inch iPad Pro got the most upgrades. From the mini-LED display to the M1 chip and Thunderbolt support, it is now a really beefed-up tablet. Much more powerful than the previous generation, and the iPad Air.

When it comes to spec-for-spec comparison, it seems to be a no-brainer to go with the new iPad Pro. However, to me personally, seems an even bigger no-brainer to just go ahead and buy a MacBook. Air or Pro, up to you. Why?

The horsepower factor

For the sake of this argument, we’ll compare the specs with the MacBook Air. Both the 2021 iPad Pro and the MacBook Air are powered by the M1 chip. In the case of the laptop, you have the choice to opt for the cheaper model which takes away one GPU core or go with the other model which features the same chip as the iPad Pro.

Both memory and storage options can be configured to match the iPad Pro, so, what we basically have here is two identical devices in two different form factors. The difference in display size is negligible, from 12.9-inches on the larger iPad Pro to 13.3-inches on the MacBook Air.

Apple M1 chip

However, it’s what you can do (or can’t, in this particular case) with all that power that tips the scales in favor of the MacBook, at least for now. We’ll tell you why the word “now” is crucial in the segment below.

Right now, from a pure specs perspective, what’s the M1 iPad Pro able to do that its non-M1 predecessors aren’t? Nothing. Will it do it faster? Probably, but you won’t notice as the A14 chip, as well as the A12Z, are no slouches.

With the M1 iPad Pro, it still runs, for “now” the same version of iPadOS with the same apps.

The Operating System factor

…which brings us to the OS factor. As mentioned above, the 2021 iPad Pro doesn’t have a real upper hand over the other iPads in the line-up, software-wise. But, the MacBook (Air or Pro, doesn’t matter) does have a very important upper hand on the similarly specced M1 iPad Pro: it runs macOS, with Mac Apps, instead of iPad OS and iPad apps.

iPadOS

Furthermore, the MacBook is able to run iPad apps, but that’s not valid the other way around. That, right there, is the dealbreaker for me, and, as my colleague Jaime touched upon the matter, it seems to be an idea we both share.

What’s the use of having all of that MacBook horsepower on the iPad if it can’t run Final Cut Pro? Or Photoshop (the full-fledged version)?

Right now, as it stands, it a lot of computing power that’s being held back, and hence, unutilized, by software. And this is where we get to the “now” part we mentioned earlier. Everything I wrote so far stands unless Apple “saves” the iPad.

How can it achieve that? There are two potential options here: 1. Either have the iPad Pro run macOS (which it can easily do), or 2. Find a way for the iPad Pro to run Mac Apps.

Yes, that would create a new product family for Apple – the company doesn’t currently have a convertible – but it would instantly make the iPad Pro more appealing to customers. Whether that would bite into the MacBook segment’s sales is something to debate.

iPad Pro with Magic Keyboard

The financial factor

This one comes down to simple math. You pay $1,099 for the base 12.9-inch iPad Pro ($2,199 if you max it out), and an additional $349 for the Magic Keyboard, for a total of $1,448 (or $2,548 maxed out).

The MacBook Air will set you back $999 for the base model and $2,049 for the maxed-out configuration. Obviously, you don’t need to spend on a keyboard.

That’s quite a lot of price difference between two machines that are basically similar in specs, with the MacBook clearly being the superior one due to its desktop operating system and apps.

Conclusion

Because of all the above reasons, for me, personally, there is no incentive to buy or to upgrade to the 2021 iPad Pro. If I was on the market for one, I would definitely pick up a MacBook Air today. The conversation changes if Apple can do something with the iPad Pro that would leverage its true potential.

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Google’s starting to learn about Smartphone User Interface Design

The latest Google Android app to drop the hamburger button is now the Google Play Store. Thank goodness Google is finally learning about better smartphone user interface design. Google Photos removed the design element last year and Google Maps removed it in 2019. The YouTube app removed it as well. Hopefully, the Gmail app, Google Drive app, and Google Calendar apps are next.  If only we could get that awesome experimental Google Chrome user interface back too!

Why is the hamburger button such a bad design?

Oh my! There are so many reasons! Your first clue is in the name. If we have to make up a ridiculous name to describe an interactive element, that means the designer failed miserably in creating a button that clearly communicates its function. Every time you call it a hamburger button, you’re insulting whoever put it there.

We’ve actually talked about this before numerous times, (see: What’s wrong with hamburger buttons?), but we can summarize again.

  1. People don’t know what it does. There’s no indication as to what it’s supposed to be and what it’s supposed to do other than “something”. This is because people don’t understand icons. They do, however, understand words, because we learned about words at an early age and almost all humans have been taught about words for hundreds of years. It’s a really good way to communicate.  See:
  2. It’s often used inconsistently. The hamburger button might be used for one type of thing in one app and another type in another app. There’s no consistency and therefore no way for a user to predict what’s it’s going to do. I’ve seen some apps with multiple hamburger buttons, maybe one at the top and one at the bottom, and they both do completely different things. That’s not user-friendly at all.
  3. Placement at the top is the worst possible location for interactive elements.  Also, see:

Our 2014 & 2015 articles about this were mainly targeted at Microsoft for implementing hamburger buttons in Windows 10 Mobile and Windows 10. I believe this poor design decision is part of what contributed to the fall of Windows 10 Mobile as all of the data seems to show that hamburger button-based user interface designs have reduced engagement and reduced usability. See:

Okay, okay… I know what you’re saying, “But Adam, the Pocketnow mobile website has a hamburger menu at the top! Hypocrisy much?”  I know, I know, but my excuse is that I didn’t design this site, and the person who did doesn’t read my articles about user experience design or the advantages thereof. It looks like Google does read them though since they’re definitely moving towards a better user experience design among their apps.

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Is it too late for the Google Pixel Watch?

The-Editors-Desk

The alleged Google Pixel Watch recaptured the headlines yesterday, after a rather long hiatus. Remember, a smartwatch made by Google has been rumored for years, and, if the recent chatter holds any truth to it, we might soon see it. Who knows, maybe Google will show something off at the upcoming Developer Conference, so we can get more clarity.

Even though it’s been a long time coming, where would the supposed Pixel Watch sit and rank on a market that is saturated?

There are currently three major smartwatch categories out there: on one hand, we have the Apple Watch running on its own watchOS, and on the other hand (pun intended) we have all the Google Wear OS-powered devices. In between, we have the HUAWEIs, the Samsungs, and the FitBits (to name a few), running on a different platform, proprietary or not.

The Apple Watch is really no competition for the other two categories as it’s only compatible with the iPhone, and, to be honest, an iPhone user will likely only purchase an Apple Watch rather than a third-party solution.

Pixel Watch and its competition

Now that we knocked the Apple Watch out of the proverbial ring, the Pixel Watch will have to compete with devices in the other two segments. Whether Tizen, HarmonyOS, or another platform built upon RTOS, these devices have already established themselves on the market.

Both HUAWEI and Samsung have some really compelling models on shelves, for every look, and for every wallet. The Pixel Watch will indeed have the advantage of having notifications you can actually do something with instead of just dismissing, but you simply can’t beat the outrageous battery life these watches offer. HUAWEI comes to mind, and HONOR, with their monstrous, more than one week-long runs.

…and then we have all the other offerings running Wear OS, from Louis Vuitton to Mobvoi, and everything in between, designer or not. These are some heavyweights that, in the absence of a Google watch, have established themselves on the market using Google’s own Wear OS.

We also need to mention that, if the rumors are true, Samsung will likely embrace Wear OS for its future models, making the competition even more cutthroat.

Pixel Watch competitor

Not all is lost for the Pixel Watch

Now, before we write the pre-launch obituary for the Pixel Watch, it makes sense to acknowledge the probable future customer. Just like in the case of Apple users, the most likely buyer for a Google Pixel Watch is a Google Pixel smartphone owner. Yes, being invested in the Google ecosystem is possible across many brands, but purists will likely flock to the online stores to complete their Google hardware collection. 

And this, I believe, will be the entire raison d’être for the Pixel Watch. It will likely be a niche product not necessarily aimed at the masses. Google might knowingly target a specific chunk of the user base – the purists and loyalists – and by doing that, on a smaller scale, it could offer the Pixel Watch a chance of finding its place on the market, and growing. Sounds familiar? Just think of the Pixel phone line-up, where it began, and where it is today.

Which begs the question: is it too late for the Pixel Watch or is it going to be just right, with the proper pricing and targeting? Let us know in the comments below: would you buy a Pixel Watch? Why?

Thanks for reading! Welcome to The Editor’s Desk!

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