Apple Music review: Feel the rhythm.

Intro:
The music streaming scene is red hot now, With Pandora having left the market Which only affects (Australian customers). The stakes have never been higher.
I’ll talk about the different streaming options available, from Google Music, to heart radio.
I hope at the end of this review you’ll get a decent sense of which streaming service to go with.
Background
Way back now, many years ago, Apple released a subscription service branded as “iTunes match “.
The notion was, that one could download from the iTunes Store, but more importantly if songs weren’t purchased from said Store, Apple would upload the user’s play-list to the cloud.
I, and several users, were greatly inconvenienced by this approach, reason being that peoples purchased content as well as downloaded content was all mixed together, not to mention how buggy the initial role out was.
Apple however, is very good at correcting their blunders, hence the re-branded Apple Music service.
Without a doubt, at over 47 million songs to choose from Apple Music has the biggest range of tracks that customers can listen to.
Add to that Beats 1 radio, and you’ve got a winner.
If you don’t want to be tied in to Apple’s garden, Google Music is also worth a look.
Both streaming services mentioned, are very accessible with Voiceover.
A slight annoyance with Apple Music is that during the earlier days it tended to mix your library of purchased content and Apple Music, this is no longer the case.
These music solution’s do require an Internet connection so, if you’re on a small data allowance do take care.
Having said that, many of the Aussie mobile providers do offer unlimited streaming on post-paid plans, but make sure you read the fine print of your respective contract to avoid bill shock.
Conclusion.
With the largest collection of songs, unmatched customer service via iTunes support, and great hardware when it comes to recently released iOS devices, Apple Music is worth it 100%.
Pros:
Excellent UI, works well with AirPods, never get a repeat with over 47 million songs, great support after the fact via iTunes customer care.
Cons:
None.
Rating:
5 stars outstanding.

iPad Pro review.

iPad Pro 10.5-inch review.

Summary.

With great battery life, slim chassis, iOS 11 and up to 512GB of storage Apple’s tablet is as close to perfect as possible.

Design.

Back in 2010, when I got my first iPad I was blown away by how nice it felt, fast forward 7 years and when I hold this tablet, I’m reminded of that magical day when I unboxed the iPad 2.
Much of the border has been removed giving the allusion that you’re holding nothing but a slab of glass.
The front of the tablet, is nothing but screen.
For sighted people they’ll appreciate the larger screen.
Us blind folk will make use of larger touch points for iPad specific apps.
In conclusion the design is fantastic, and as the old saying goes “don’t brake it if it isn’t broke.”

Power, oh my!

Ever since Apple started making their own CPU’s, the power of the iPad has been amazing.
In my stress test where I ping the modem and play video at full brightness the Pad lasted 11 hours.
That’s super impressive and with less use you should be able to make it through a day at the office with some time to play games) (all work and no play is no fun).
Most apps don’t come close to taxing the processor, but it’s good that Apple is future proofing the tablet.
A note on Touch ID, if you want to use the ID, probs best to get an iPad Pro now, as with the next refreshed Apple is probs going to switch to Face ID.

Final thoughts.
The iPad Pro is an awesome piece of equipment, can’t wait to take it on my travels as I’d like to get my work done when I’m on vacation.
It’s a great addition to a PC.

iPhone 8 review.

iPhone 8 review. Looking at Apple’s 10th anniversary smartphone.
Intro:
I remember getting my first iOS device,) An iPod touch). Since then, I’ve had my share of Apple products, and even worked for the firm for 2 years as an AppleCare specialist.
I’ll try to be subjective with my review, as everyone uses their smartphone in different ways. I hope by reading this post it’ll give you a decent notion as to whether you should get the 8 or 8+. OK, let’s get started!
Design:

Since the 6 series, Apple has stuck to the same basic design, if you’ve held the 6/6s you’ll be at home. I personally love how they’ve made the design very close to the 4/4s. It’s a bit heavy, but nowhere near as large as the 8+.
What’s new?
It’s getting harder and harder to recommend these phones as there’s no real value if you have the 5/5s, go for the upgrade, and I’m sure you’ll find it refreshing, otherwise upgrade if you can payout right, or go on a plan.
What’s changed?
Not a lot, if I wasn’t reviewing the iPhone 8 I would return it and get the money back. Admittedly, it’s very fast, scoring 89% using Geekbench. To put it into perspective this device is faster than my iPad pro 10.5-inch, and a basic mid-range Mac/PC.
But my point, is you don’t need to get a new phone every year.
Most people sighted or blind, don’t use half the computing power these devices afford.
If you’re iOS device supports iOS 11, might be worth skipping this one.
Get the X I hear you say? I personally wouldn’t, as I love the convenience of Touch ID, but there are those who will buy it for business reasons, such as Jonathan mosen from the Blind side, and David Woodbridge of Vision Australia, who will be getting one from the company for testing purposes, I believe his personal device will be an 8.
I’m of the opinion that it’s to early to jump on the bus yet.
Every first gen Apple product is known to have problems.
Back in 2010, users started complaining about dropped calls, The iPad third gen had display issues, and so on and so forth. I’d highly advise you wait for the second version of Face ID, hopefully this time next year Apple would’ve had time to address the problems that are sure to plague early adopters. Of course, if you’re an Apple fan through and through, Nothing I say will persuade you otherwise.
Conclusion:
With many subtle upgrades the iPhone 8 and 8+ are worthy, But I’d think long and hard before hitting that buy button, as it’s a nice upgrade as a pose to a required purchase.
If you have anything older than a 7, go for it, but other than that there’s nothing amazingly cool to be had here.
As for the iPhone X, Apple’s just playing catch up with Google’s Android, if money permits perhaps look at what the other side has to offer.

Rating:
3.5 stars good.
Pros:
Old but decent design, fantastic camera, fast.
Cons:
After 4+ years the design is getting boring, very expensive for what you get, almost all the features except for those that are hardware specific can be gotten with iOS 11.

Microsoft Surface Book review. Form meets function.

Summary:
With the Surface line Microsoft goes head to head with Apple.
Design:
Carved out of a single block of magnesium the Surface Book is very well made. There was no flex or give when I pressed down on the body or the display.
Just under 1Kg (1560 grams to be precise, the device just about makes it into Ultrabook territory although it’s a bit cumbersome at times.
Configurations:
As the Surface Book is quite a premium device pitched at professionals and creative types it’s quite expensive. If money is no object and you want something running Windows 10 with all it’s great features it might be well worth the investment.
Starting at AUD 2299 you get a 6th generation Intel core I5 CPU, 128GB of storage, and 8GB of RAM. The second one up from that starting at AUD 2899 gives you a 6th generation Intel core I5 CPU, doubles the storage to 256GB storage, and comes with 8GB of RAM.
The system Microsoft gave me to review comes with an Intel core I7 processor running at 2.6GHZ, 16GB of RAM, and a large 512 GB SSD. The cost for this version of the Surface Book is an eye watering AUD 4200.
Touch the touch screen:
Being both a traditional laptop and touch centric device I had a lot of fun playing around with the touch screen. Both JAWS 18 and the latest version of NVDA worked well. Gestures were detected and were fluid. Most people however will be using the keyboard for productivity reasons and I found the keyboard to be excellent.
The keys have a satisfying spring with plenty of travel. A quick note on accessibility as it relates to the keyboard. Out of the box the top row of keys are set up to emulate media controls. For screen reader users, this means you must press the FN key to resume standard operation. I’m still investigating weather the change can be made permanent. A slight annoyance but I must stress after hitting the FN key all works as expected. The good thing is if one shuts down the computer or restarts the change is saved.
Conclusion and final thoughts:
For a first-generation product Microsoft has done an incredible job with balancing both portability and power within such a slick package. The combination of Windows 10 and great hardware is irresistible.
Rating:
4 stars excellent.
Pros:
Great design, exquisite hardware, Windows 10 is superb.
Cons:
Can get astronomically expensive if one chooses to upgrade specs, fan can get quite noisy under a heavy load

iPhone 7 review. Goodbye headphone jack.

Summary.
With no headphone jack, the 64 fusion CPU, a double lens arrangement for the larger 7+ this year’s iPhones make a big bold statement for the future.

Intro:
At Apple’s special event held in September CEO Tim Cook and other executives demoed the new iPhone 7 and 7+.
Most of the features this year appear to be subtle upgrades that hint at something bigger to come.
Press my home button:

One thing long term iOS users will notice is that the iconic home button is no more, rather it’s become a button controlled by software.
If the phone is turned off you’re unable to depress the button at all.

Turn it on however, and you’ll feel a gentle tap to mimic the physical click.

It takes some getting used to but is probably a nice addition as there is one less component of the phone to fail.

Design:

Apart from being a tad heavyer you’d be hard pressed to tell apart the 7 and 7+ from what came before) 6s and 6s+).
The only change is a new paint job there calling glossy black.

Sighted members in my family and some friends that have the glossy version tell me it looks wonderful.

I personally went with my favourite standard gold.

For the first time ever for an iPhone you can get the biggest storage quota 256GB an obscene amount of storage.

This will please music and movie junkies or those who love to have everything at hand.

The larger model also comes with 3GB and 2 cameras something that will be welcome for people that take a lot of pictures.

The FaceTime camera has now been upgraded to 7MP.

Optical image stabilisation is also now present in both phones.

Conclusion and overall impressions:

With Google rebranding their Nexus line Apple had to bring something to the table and as stated previously it would seem that this year there testing the waters.

If you have a perfectly working 6s or 6s+ I’d stay your hand and wait it out.

For those of you with a 6 or 6+ the upgrades will be huge.
Go for it!

Rating:

4 Stars excellent.

Pros:

The best mobile software period, feels good in the hand, new home button is interesting.

Cons:

No headphone jack is painful, no fast charging, design is getting old, can get inordinately expensive specially if you get all the cases and adapters required.