Friday, August 15, 2014

Why are tablets/ereaders so important?

Sometimes I feel quite lonely in my feeling of just how gosh-durn important ebooks and devices are. Sometimes it seems that many still haven't gotten above the level of "an iPad is just a bigger iPod Touch". (That's total hogwash. Years ago I ditched my iPod Touch two minutes after trying to read web pages on it. But my iPad I use for everything, every day.)

I am not joking in the header when I say it's the most important thing to happen to reading since Gutenberg.

So.. why?
Because they are doing to long-form text and to long form video what the World Wide Web did to very short text and very short videos. Expand it, democratize it, take it to everybody, both as audience and as creators.

And that is damn important, because long form video and long form texts are our main carriers of knowledge and beauty, and so they are the main instruments for our mental and spiritual growth.

That may sound hyperbolic, but in the long run, decades, I really believe it to be true. I can feel it deep in my bones, and the logic is there too.

New devices soon

Very soon we will have new iPhones, then new iPads, then new Kindles and Kindle Fires. I can't wait. For some reason it feels like it has been soooo long this time. How long do I still have to read my books on a screen with a mere 324 pixels per inch?! How long do I have to suffer!?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Endorsement of the Fire Phone

"I am not embarrassed to say that it still seems like a good idea to have changed from the elegant iPhone 5s to this scrappy little new device." 

- Len Edgerly of The Kindle Chronicles about his new Amazon Fire Phone

I just thought that was a typically charming, inscrutable, and funny comment from Len.
As to the Fire Phone... it seems to me that Amazon needed a phone, but were out of ideas for a Unique Selling Point. It seems if not a desperate, then at least an oddly lateral business move to have the phone's major feature be an expensively developed technology to let the phone know where your noggin is at. A feature which nobody, not even Amazon, knows what it may be good for some day besides a cool demo to your friends.

I'd hoped Amazon had done more to make the phone a good ereader. Especially a bigger screen is important. I've been riding that hobby horse to death for a long time, but these days I'm not alone anymore. Just today, the MacObserver once more jumps in there.
The idea that we could function these days with a 3.5 inch smartphone display seems entirely ridiculous. It was only relatively recently that Apple, with the iPhone 5, switched to a 4 inch display and stayed there with the iPhone 5c/5s. Many think Apple waited too long, and I agree.
Along the way, we smartphone customers started doing so much more. We navigate with Google maps in a sunlit car going 65 mph. We watch Netflix in the doctor's waiting room — or read a Kindle book. We take fantastic photos and want to appreciate them right away. We monitor the local weather with Doppler radar. We do online shopping and banking. And we can even create modest text documents. All that requires serious screen real estate