Why the Microsoft Surface Duo is a big deal

In early October 2019, Microsoft borrowed a page from Apple’s keynote playbook and gave us a “one more thing” that nobody expected: a dual-screen Android-powered smartphone. Microsoft announced its return to the smartphone market with the Surface Duo (although they officially said “it’s not a smartphone, it’s a Surface”).

The reveal was surprising given that this is the first Android device ever produced by the software giant. It is not supposed to go on sale until late 2020, but the few minutes of footage that were shown mean a big deal for Microsoft. Here’s why.

A user receiving a phone call on the Surface Duo
Continue reading “Why the Microsoft Surface Duo is a big deal”

What’s on my phone’s home screen?

2017 is almost over, so I wanted talk about the apps that have taken the most important space on my phone during this year, and whether or not I think they’ll still be there next year.

Let’s start with a screenshot of my home screen:

I place apps in my home screen based on the frequency in which I use them. I try to minimize the amount of times I have to go to other pages of the home screen, so these are truly the apps that keep me going. But are all of these apps equally important for my daily tech routine? Will they stay in such a prominent position next year? Let’s break them into categories.

Connecting with friends & family

Messages, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Mail are absolutely critical to stay connected with family and friends, especially those in other countries. I’m convinced that I’ll keep these around since they are literally the first thing I check every morning.

Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat have been part of an interesting migration during 2017: most of my friends stopped posting on Facebook and became more active on apps where their posts have a 24 hour expiration date. So far, most of my friends are choosing Instagram, probably due to the fact that it has a classic profile of everlasting posts; Snapchat will have a hard time recovering after the aggressive takeover from Instagram, so I would not be surprised if Snapchat didn’t make it on my phone through the next year.

Consuming entertainment content & news

I don’t see Twitter or YouTube as simple social networks anymore; I use these apps to consume news and media content. I can see what’s trending in the world or I can follow the creators that I want, and get content directly matching my interests. Twitter is not dead (even if you don’t use it to connect with friends) and YouTube is not getting substituted by Snapchat (not in the next year at least) as my main video provider.

Feedly, LinkedIn and MSN News (which I use to read many Spanish newspapers in one single place) also keep me informed, but they are usually secondary sources in my daily routine. Feedly is there because it’s where I keep my old RSS collection (rest in peace, Google Reader), and it’s the app with the highest probabilities of not making it one more year.

Now, about the Podcasts app: I acknowledge this might sound weird, but the first time I ever listened to a podcast was just a few months ago. Considering that podcasts are a relatively old form of audio broadcasting, this may be surprising, but I had not found a compelling reason to try it until I found this amazing podcast. I then turned to Facebook asking for podcasts recommendations and my friends gave me enough titles for the rest of my life. This app is a keeper.

Tools

This category is also critical, but individual apps can easily be substituted if a better alternative appeared in the market. I use many Apple stock apps due to their integration within iOS, but I’m not too attached to them. In fact, I have already substituted some 1st party apps: Notes with OneNote, Calendar with Google Calendar or Music with Spotify.

I have a love-hate relationship with Apple Maps: Google Maps has better content, but I like Apple’s design and it usually finds what I’m looking for. I have switched back and forth between Google Maps and Apple Maps at least twice during 2017, so we can officially call this an unresolved situation.

WordPress and Medium are my basic blogger tools: even though geekonrecord.com is hosted in WordPress.com, I also publish in Medium on my own account and on Medium publications like Hacker Noon. It’s safe to say that these apps will remain in my home screen as long as I keep writing.

Work

This might sound like the most boring part of my home screen, but as a Microsoft employee I enjoy using apps like Outlook, which is a way better email client than the Apple Mail app (I use both to separate my personal and work email), or Teams, which is Microsoft’s response to Slack.

What’s next? Which new apps will appear on my home screen next year? With the popularization of augmented reality (AR), I hope to see new and exciting apps in 2018: a successful crossover between social media and AR could dramatically change which apps stay in that valued home screen. The future can’t come fast enough.


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Image taken from my own phone, with a wallpaper provided by Marques Brownlee

The curious case of the expanding smartphone

It all started like this: mobile phones were big, heavy and difficult to hold. Fortunately, my first mobile phone was a Motorola that looked a lot like this one and it was small enough to fit in my pocket; however I still remember how uncomfortable was to walk with it given its bulky antenna and thick body.

As time passed by, mobile phones got smaller, lighter and more powerful. Any phone today is more powerful than the computer that brought us to the Moon. It felt like the microscopic mobile phone was closer than ever. That was the dream, those were the good times.

Then the world went crazy… and this happened:

Continue reading “The curious case of the expanding smartphone”