One of the many websites we subscribe to and visit almost daily is LostInMobile.com. It is not your usual technology news website, rather Shaun, who runs it, gives you his opinions on everything. A man with plenty of experience, and knowledge, he is not afraid to speak his mind. We were lucky enough to interview him, and here it is.
Do check out his website, and engage in conversation with him. You can also follow him on Twitter: @stmcgill
1. A bit about yourself, and LIM?
It’s not that exciting. I work in telecoms, and have done so for the past 15 years, and have a huge fascination with mobile technology and what can be done in such a small space. I also write freelance for a selection of magazines and a couple of other blogs. Lost In Mobile started many years ago as CliePlanet which then became ClieWorld and the name changed many times (PDA247 etc.) until I settled on Lost In Mobile. It is generic enough that I should be able to stick with this name for all time.
2. You seem to have owned a lot of devices. Can you give us a run through your history, and some of the devices you miss / highlights?
A fairly accurate run through of my devices is here- http://www.lostinmobile.com/how-did-we-get-to-the-iphone. I still miss the Psion devices and feel that in some ways they have never been beaten; battery life, reliability and sheer ease of use etc. It’s remarkable to think that in 2 decades they still stand up to this day. As for Palm OS and Windows Mobile I don’t miss any of the devices because they have largely been consigned to history by the smartphones of today.
3. With all the many devices, and your knowledge of all the platforms, why has the iPhone brand kept you hooked?
I use it for so much every day and its ability to let whatever I am doing at the time become my main focus is very clever. The ‘It just works’ phrase has been mocked by some when they consider signal problems and the software glitches that tend to appear when iOS is updated, but no other OS comes close to allowing the use to manage multiple tasks and apps with almost no effort. The fact that it is incredibly smooth and that it has the best app selection only adds to the affinity I feel towards the platform and hardware. AirPlay is another bonus and so is iTunes, believe it or not. It gets a bad rap, but name me another solution for mobile devices that brings everything under one virtual roof as effectively. There isn’t one.
4. What would it take for the other OSes for you to shift over?
Quite a lot. Part of the problem is that I have reached a point where I don’t want to change. I could put this down to my age, but I have read lots of feedback from iOS users who say the same thing, and users on some other platforms. I have no need to change because I have got my GPS, camera, music player, games console, personal information manager and so much more on my phone, and it all works very well. It would take something completely new, different and ‘better’ on another platform to make me change and I am not seeing that from anyone at the moment, Apple included.
5. Your pros and cons for iOS/Android/WP/BB?
iOS pros: hardware quality, app selection, reliability, ease of use, huge content library and that special something that I cannot quite find the words for.
iOS cons: closed ecosystem and a concern that my content (movies etc.) has to be used on Apple hardware. What happens in the future as my content library grows? Some silly decisions by Apple like not letting us buy Kindle books or Amazon MP3s without having to go through a longwinded process. Cannot assign my preferred default apps. iCloud is a joke.
Android pros: hardware choice, large app library, customisation ability, general stability and speed. Also, Google services are very impressive.
Android cons: hardware choice- some very good devices and some very poor phones and tablets are available. App quality tends to be lower compared to iOS, even for the same titles, but it is an improving situation. Potential for malware cannot be ignored. The OS itself feels slightly disjointed to me.
Windows Phone pros: good hardware (Nokia), smooth interface and very easy to use.
Windows Phone cons: apps, apps, apps. The current selection is simply not good enough to compete with Android and iOS.
BlackBerry pros: good hardware (the Q10 is lovely), elements of the OS are still better and more efficient than any other platform.
BlackBerry cons: app selection is terrible, both in quantity and quality. Almost all of the previous unique advantages have gone- such a shame.
6. BB has been struggling for a while. Do you think it will manage to get back?
At the start of the year I was hopeful, but not so now. Despite some decent phones being released, the gap between the platform and iOS / Android is huge in terms of apps, popularity and everything else. I suspect that by this time next year BlackBerry will not exist under the current ownership. It will either be bought out or try to concentrate on becoming multi-platform (BBM etc.), but the latter would likely kill off the company completely. I can see no eventuality where the company survives.
7. Will WP ever become mainstream?
Microsoft will continue to market it and push it as hard as they can, but we could be witnessing a major shift which greatly affects the future of computing. The Surface tablets, Windows 8 and Windows Phone- not one has managed to be successful based on just the Microsoft name and that must be a worry for the company. At this time, I don’t see Windows Phone becoming mainstream unless Google (Samsung) or Apple seriously trip up and let the competition in.
8. What operating system do you use for computing, and why?
I use an iMac (2 years) and before then used a Mac Mini (2 years). Prior to that I was a Windows man, but Mac OS X has been a breath of fresh air. It never falls over, is always very quick and I can run countless programs without any problems. No tweaking, no viruses- IT JUST WORKS!:)
9. Your favourite apps/softwares/features? Top 3
1/ Tweetbot- the best Twitter client I have seen anywhere.
2/ TomTom with HD Traffic- I use it every day and it has saved me so much time and fuel over the past few years.
3/ Notefile- the simplest of notes apps and one which has the most immediate sync I have seen anywhere.
10. Do you think the way things are progressing in the mobile world, all the numbers and features will start to lose their value?
Potentially yes. However, mobile will likely come to dominate computing at all levels and we will take such features for granted. That is not necessarily a bad thing because once you take something for granted that is the moment the inventor succeeded. It goes back to what I was saying about the iPhone- I don’t think about using it and just do things. Despite not valuing such features consciously, they add a lot of value to me.
11. One hardware feature that you think will change the game in the future?
I don’t think we will be using ‘phones’ as such and that some form of wearable computing will take over. I have no idea what it will be, but it will be completely different to what we understand today. I remember a concept from Orange many years ago which showed an earpiece that sat in the ear and which could be used as a phone and connect to the internet. That is the very least we should expect.
12. You have made your books available for free on your website. Did you try to get them published in paperback, or via the new methods such as Kindle/etc. ? If so, what was your experience? Do you think they can be money making ventures?
I did think about charging for them and if I remember correctly I think I tried that, but I decided the free route made more sense. If you are a very, very good writer it is of course worth trying to make money out of the process, but like music, apps and other forms of media in the internet age, a huge amount of luck is required to make a living out of it. Quality should always win out though, hopefully. I write freelance for some magazines these days and that offers variety and also pays quite well.
13. Since you have kids, what do you think works best for them in the world of technology/mobiles?
Watching my son use his iPhone 5 in a mature manner inspires me a little. He actually talks to his friends using voice and FaceTime. As adults we have become immersed in conversing via pixels on a screen and that is not always healthy. We have to remember that what we see as damaging, because it is new to us, is perfectly natural to our children. It is the world they have grown up in and I get more than a little tired of people moaning about social networks and modern technology as somehow damaging just because they did not have access to such things when they were young. Progress is with us forever and our children will adapt perfectly, just like how we (eventually) understood how to program a VCR.
14. Do you think, as a parent, there are certain aspects about the fast pace of technology that can be scary?
Nope. If you look back through time, the pace of change has always sped up. From cars to TVs to airplanes- once we have something successful it grows exponentially and that is how life will always be. In fifty years time, my children will likely be saying “I only had 64GB on my phone and it had to connect to towers. Why do you need 2 million TB’s and a phone that reads your thoughts?” To not embrace change is to miss out on all of the good technology can bring and I encourage my children to jump in and make the most of it.
15. Anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks for the opportunity and sorry the answers were so long. I’m tired now…