iphone

3

MultiTouch coming to WM? Yup.

Looks like Flick Software has made a program that successfully emulates the iPhone's patented "MultiTouch".

For those curious, even devices like the HTC Touch line (including the Diamond) all use resistive touch screens i.e. less cool than capacitive like in the iPhone.

The two programs, iSwish and iZoom, are still in testing and unfortunately looks like Flick Soft's website is down: www.flicksoftware.com

We'll keep you posted on any new info.

Via: Electricpig

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Oh when will the HTC Diamond hype stop? Luckily it's a slow news day so this will fill the gap nicely. As Dieter last week called the Diamond properly an "iPhone killer", it's only fair that some snaps of it next to said phone should appear.

This is all well and good, but what happens on that fateful day in June when that new 3g iPhone drops? Oh well, this will keep the fanboys on both sides happy a bit. Head over to Engadget Chinese for some more shots.

In more tangible news, a nice shot of the Diamond's charger base/dock (extra, not included) has popped up. Sure it's nothing great--USB sync plus headphones, but you have to admit it makes one slick package and would look awesome next to your lava lamp. Expected price is a pretty high $49--guess they really are competing with Apple.

Actually, if you want really cool...check out the quick vid of the Diamond's fantabulous LED notification system. Now that is something some of us have been wanting for a long time. Nice HTC, nice.

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After all the HTC and Treo 800w craziness last week, it might be difficult to believe that there are, you know, other platforms out there. Inferior platforms, of course, but out there nonetheless. So while we here at WMExperts were busy scooping Treo 800w news left and right, our sister site CrackBerry.com had what, we have to admit, was a full week of the top smartphone scoopage anywhere on the internet. They had a pre-release unit of what turned out to be the BlackBerry Bold, aka the BlackBerry 9000.

The 9000, as we ruefully admitted last week, is hawt. A 480x320 screen, a very fast (for a BlackBerry, at least) processor, GPS, WiFi, 3G, the works. It even has a Gig of on-board storage.

This week is also going to be a big one for CrackBerry.com as they cover WES2008, a big ol' BlackBerry convention with a special focus on the Corporate crowd. Yours-truly will actually be helping out at the convention, so posting might come in short bursts and odd times here on WMExperts, just FYI.

Meanwhile, one of our other sister sites had a big announcement of its own: The iPhone Blog Merges with Phone Different.

The merger means a new design and new features for those crazy iPhone folks. It also means a little less of their trash-talk in our own forums, but that's ok because we can still take it to them directly: head on over to The iPhone Blog and tell 'em you'd rather have an HTC Diamond.

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You may have heard the news. Here's our live color commentary of the iPhone SDK event. There's a lot of information to parse out with regards to how this will shake out with Windows Mobile -- including how the applications on the iPhone looked stunning compared to most WM apps. More on that later. For now, let's talk about this: Apple licensed Exchange Active Sync.

What's it mean? Read on!

So the iPhone will gain push email, contacts, and calendar. That's big news for Microsoft - they'll pick up a lot of new users for their server products. In a lot of ways it's a bigger attack on RIM than it is on Windows Mobile. First - Apple denigrated the NOC during their presentation - just like Palm did - saying that a 3rd party in the middle is a Bad Idea. It's also a big attack on RIM because now two platforms do their push email via Exchange - Windows Mobile and the iPhone. Together the two might actually have a bigger marketshare than RIM for enterprise in very short order.

But now that the iPhone will support Exchange, will we see an exodus from WM to the iPhone? We'll definitely see some movement in that direction, yes. On the other hand, I am fairly confident in two things.

First, Exchange Active Sync Features on Windows Mobile will always be more advanced.notice, for example, that Apple seems to be writing their own management program instead of using Microsoft's RIM-Server-Killing Microsoft System Center Mobile Device Manager. So lock down, provisioning, and other management features will be more advanced with Windows Mobile. Yet that's the smaller point.

The second point is the bigger point: Apple's licensing of Active Sync is very likely to grow the overall Exchange pie at a much faster rate than their slice of it will steal from Windows Mobile. Which is to say, yes, some WM users will defect, but there will be even more new Windows Mobile users by dint of the ever-growing standardization on Exchange for mobile push email for enterprise.

...Or so it seems to me. Microsoft has until the release of the Apps in June to come up with something that looks like a response to the new features that will appear on the iPhone. Will they be able to deliver?

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4

Vito Threaded SMS: Now Available

Well, looky here. With the first screen shots of WM 6.1 and the subsequent Mogul ROM, lots of WM users are finally gearing up for native-based threaded SMS, long the hallmark of PalmOS and the Treo 750.

And who has come to steal their thunder? Maybe Vito Technology and their http://iwindowsmobile.com/ suite. Read on for a first look at Vito's new SMS-Chat app for WM Professional!

A couple months back, Vito launched their iwindowsmobile website, dedicated to their growing selection of (cough) iPhone-inspired software. One app that has been curiously under the "coming soon" banner for too long was "SMS-Chat" and now it's finally available.

Nate Adcock over at PPC Mag got his hands on a few promo screen-shots of Vito's long awaited chat-style app. Our verdict? Looks mighty tasty, in fact just from the visual aspect, it seems to smoke Redmond's conspicuously, yet not unappreciated attempt.

Features Include:

  • Threaded messaging
  • Send multiple SMS
  • Forward, resend or delete messages
  • Quick contacts look-up

Eh, whatever your choice at least you'll have more of them in a couple of months.

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I had a chance to get a demo of the upcoming SkyFire browser (over Skype) last week and I gotta tell you - it's hot. Here's the skinny - it's currently in private beta (sign up here) with a public beta planned for later this quarter. It works on Windows Mobile Pro and Standard (and Symbian, hush), and it's really, really awesome. As in, “my envy for the iPhone's browser may soon be coming to an end” kind of awesome.

Here's how it works - it's a server-side solution (more on that inside) based on Gecko (same bits behind Firefox's rendering). Basically everything gets rendered on the server and then sent out to your phone. That solves some of the processor / speed issues, but it also adds more benefits, like full AJAX, Flash, Javascript, you name it. I watched the browser instantly load an embedded YouTube video (from a random page on our site) and start playing with nary a jag and nary a lag -- this over a UMTS connection, mind you.

The SkyFire teams told me “Our goal is that if Firefox can render it, then your Windows Mobile phone will render it the exact same way.”

There more, including a screenshot gallery, after the break!

For the first time ever, smartphone
users can experience the “real Web” to access and interact with any Web
site built with any Web technology, including dynamic Flash, advanced Ajax,
Java and more - at the same speeds they are accustomed to on their PC -

Screenshots

Server Side is Awesome / Not Awesome

So the benefit of having 90% of the work on a server is you get snappy rendering, full support for basically any web standard, and fast downloads. You get the desktop browser pushed out to your phone.

The downside - that server best stay up, hey? It also best keep your data secure and private (SkyFire says that's been their #1 priority, even in their early betas). Lastly, though, server's ain't free. SkyFire hasn't settled on a pricing model yet, but they're leaning towards ads before subscriptions to keep the service free. The company was keen to show me their portal - which pulls from multiple search engines - so that's probably going to be part of the model.

The Software Itself

One .cab file for the browser, that's all you install to get full Flash, AJAX (the thing can handle the craziest of Google Maps/Apps AJAX), etc. Since it's all handled server-side

The SkyFire browser has all the necessary zoom and bookmark features you'd expect from a browser of this sort. It also has a “fit to screen” feature -- but with a neat difference. Instead of re-rendering the entire webpage to fit your screen, it actually just renders the different sections of text to fit your screen in place. So you still get the basic layout of the site, but when you zoom into a piece of text to read it you know it will be set to the right width for comfortable reading at your mobile's resolution.

...It's about time we had a browser that's not only competitive with the iPhones, but that beats it in several categories. The fact that it's all server-side is the real story here, though, as that's SkyFire's greatest strength and weakness.

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3

Gmail IMAP Works for Windows Mobile!

When Google offered up free IMAP for their Gmail service, there was much rejoicing. When we discovered that it send Windows Mobile blank emails instead of HTML emails, there was much lamentation. We we discovered that the iPhone handled Gmail IMAP with aplomb, there was gnashing of teeth and tearing-out of hair.

We're back to rejoicing now, as per XDA (via JAMM), Gmail's IMAP service doesn't seem to be sending out blank emails anymore. Huzzah!

We're testing it out now, we heartily invite y'all to do the same. How goes it, are you back in the blessed IMAP land?

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Covering Macworld yesterday the only big iPhone news was a minor feature update - we still get to look down upon its lack of 3G and the fact that it's handcuffed to AT&T like a cliché sitcom episode where the two adversaries become best friends forever after 23 minutes (plus commercials) of being chained together.

Ahem. There is one new iPhone feature that we need to tell Microsoft about, but fixing the same problem on Windows Mobile turns out to be a very thorny issue. Read on for much more on this after the break!

Envy the Jiggly

We still have to envy that iPhone browser and now there's one more thing to envy - iPhone users can easily re-arrange their home screen. Yes, on WM Pro devices, adding, deleting, and re-arranging the Today screen is a relatively simple affair. On WM Standard devices, it's a freaking nightmare trying to customize the Today screen. On both - not only is it darn near impossible to re-arrange the Programs folder, in many cases that Programs folder is cluttered with carrier-sponsored “crap-apps” as well. Let's not discuss that items in WM Pro's Start Menu don't appear under Programs, because it's just too painful.

The bright light at the end of this customization tunnel is that Microsoft may finally be learning that they can control the user experience themselves a bit more - and thus let us control it at well. Someday that time may come, but that day is going to be a long way off.

Whither Windows Update

Here's the essential problem. Because AT&T has managed to cow AT&T so effectively, they have kept AT&T off their home screen. More to the point, they can seemingly push out updates with little-to-no interference from AT&T, testing-wise. This may not be the case at all -- AT&T may just fast-track iPhone updates -- but I think it is. Compare the relative ease with which Apple can develop and distribute an update with the situation with Windows Mobile.

On nearly every Windows Mobile device that has needed or deserved a serious update of some kind, there seems to be a delay. There are a few counter-examples, but they are few. Compare that to the situation with updates to Windows Mobile 6, or even AKU updates and critical bugfixes. Microsoft has to develop the update, the manufacturer has to try it out on their device, the carrier has to have their say, it all has to get tested and run up and down that three link chain a few times, and then the update gets out to the user -- who so rarely applies these major patches that he or she is usually unaware of the patch, afraid to apply the patch, confused about how to do it, and so on. And all that assumes we're talking about a single device here, for updates meant for all WM devices you need to iterate all of the above across the hundreds of different WM devices out there.

Nightmare.

Now, Microsoft has included a Windows Mobile Update app in Windows Mobile 6, but it's unlikely (bordering on impossible) that we'll ever see that little bugger offer us any new updates. There are just too many hoops that updates have to jump through.

3rd Party Apps to the Rescue

In the meantime, however, we the users can fix this situation -- with 3rd party apps that extend and improve upon the Windows Mobile interface. On Windows Mobile Pro we're all still very fond of SPB Mobile Shell (especially for the new user). On WM Standard.. well, I'm still looking for my favorite solution and haven't found it yet. I would love to hear suggestions for non-touchscreen devices.

So while the fact that Microsoft knows they need to offer simple features like rearranging icons is the light at the end of the tunnel, that tunnel seems very long right now. Yet, while stuck in the dark tunnel of WM's user interface, you can use a 3rd party app to light your way. Nice, eh?

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40

iPhone #2 in the USA?

So on Friday afternoon, Mike over at our iPhone Blog stumbled across this primo piece of linkbait over at Roughly Drafted. It's not good news:

In its first full quarter of sales, the iPhone has already climbed past Microsoft’s entire lineup of Windows Mobile smartphones in North America, according to figures compiled by Canalys and published by Symbian.

Ok: some context. You can't get Canalys' number's without paying a lot of money, so instead what many folks do is find some sucker who's willing to pay for those numbers and publish them. Symbian is often that rube, and so we have the numbers and they show something startling: in one quarter (maybe two, we're working secondhand here), the iPhone had garnered 27% of US marketshare in the smartphone category. Ouch.

Now we're going on record saying that we're not believing the numbers 100%, but we can't tell if the fishy smell of the numbers is coming from the fact that the report is fishy or the fact that we're living in De Nile. It might be the denial thing, since we've already seen numbers claiming that the internet sees more Mobile Safari users than it does PocketIE users.

So now what? Well, like Morning Paper (thanks for the link, there, pals!), we're taking the news philosophically. Well, philosophically with a side of “we don't believe it yet.” Look at the bright side - if it's true, we're suddenly rootin' for the underdogs, which is more fun and more gratifying. Plus: it looks like the platform that lost the most to the iPhone is the PalmOS. We're not saying, we're just saying.

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5

iPhone-up your WM Device

So we obviously heart Windows Mobile, but some folks on our platform-of-choice have a little space carved out for the iPhone. Can't blame 'em, it does bring the shiny UI better than anybody else. Well, VITO Technology is apparently one of those latter folks. They've been around developing Windows Mobile software for a long time (here's a roundup of their offerings back in March), and with the ability to crank out great apps like the following they should be around for a long time to come.

They've started up a new site, iwindowsmobile, which features some of their software that does a good job emulating (or bettering) the iPhone's interface. My personal favorite (at least until SMS-Chat is available) is probably ZoomBoard, which gives you a soft keyboard with a big old magifying-glass type zoom on the top so you can see just which button you're hitting with a quickness.

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Mike over at Phone different link-baited called me out with this little nugget-o-news, Net Applications appears to show that the iPhone's browser is popping up on the web more often than Windows Mobile devices:

The iPhone came in at #10 with 0.09%, whereas Windows CE weighed in at 0.06% for #11. You read that, Dieter? We're #10! We're #10!

Read: iPhone Web Stats - Phone different

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics, we say! Read on to find out why.

Even if we grant that HitsLink uses reliable methodology (“data from the browsers of site visitors to our exclusive on-demand network of live stats customers”), part of the problem is a bunch of WM browsers (and users) don't properly report themselves to the sites they visit. Yes, that's generally a bad thing, but sometimes it's nice to be able to force a site to think you're on a Windows Desktop.

Really, the point is driven home when you see that Series60 is way down at 0.1%. That either means that hitslink is only looking at the US or that there's something seriously wrong here. Even in my wildest dreams I wouldn't believe that Windows Mobile devices access the web more than Series60. Outside the US Series60 (and even more so with Symbian generally) enjoys a marketshare so outrageously big it boggles the mind.

Still, can you smell the fear in the above debunking? Because if we're really honest with ourselves, we'll admit it's there. Not a genuine fear that the iPhone will beat Windows Mobile in marketshare (in the US or globally), mind you. No - if nothing else take it as a sign that using the web browser on the iPhone is a soul-uplifting, joyful experience that keeps you coming back for more. PocketIE, on the other hand, is beginning to crush my spirit just a little bit. Thank god for Opera, but it's still no Mobile Safari.

Microsoft, Opera, Wake3 (with webkit), Mozilla, JB5, Access (NetFront)... somebody... ANYBODY: please make a browser for Windows Mobile that's competitive with Mobile Safari.

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I've often expressed jealousy about the iPhone's web browser. It makes me green with envy and gives me a bad attitude overall - Think Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Raphael on a bad day. After using mobile Safari, Pocket IE makes me want to drive a Sai into my screen. Green. Angry. Chip on my shell shoulder.

I digress. A lot.

The point is that Mobile Safari is based on WebKit, as are desktop versions of Safari (Mac and Windows), Linux's Konqueror (basically), Nokia's browsers, future Trolltech Linux Smartphones, and others. It's a great rendering engine and it's been proven to work well on mobile devices. Soon we'll be able to add another mobile device category to that list: Windows Mobile. Wake 3 is in the process of developing a WebKit-based browser for Windows Mobile.

The video below, besides offering some fun music (turn your speakers down, cube-dwellers), shows that the browser already works. It has a ton of promise - it just looks like they need to do some UI tweaking. First on my list would be making it more iPhone-like: add the tap-to-zoom feature (and make it smarter than Deepfish) and I'll pay you an unreasonable amount of money for this, Wake3.

WebKit is the world's best mobile web browser, used on Apple's iPhone and Nokia’s Series 60 handsets.  Now it runs on Windows Mobile--brought to you by Wake3. 

Read: Wake3 via WindowsForDevices

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4

The First Device

I'm in the midst of writing Part 3 of my iPhone vs HTC Touch series (Part 1 here and Video Part 2 here), partially because my comrade Mike over at the iPhone blog, Phone different has said that he's going to call me out on our iPhone podcast because I recently used the phrase "iPhone killer" in my Sprint Touch Hands-on Impressions. The upshot of this link-heavy introduction is that I have a new concept in my arsenal of smartphone punditry that I learned from the Foleo and its curious absence (of all things): The First Device.

It's an awkward name for an important thing, which I'll explain after the break.

Foleo Cancellation One Last Time

As I wrote after the Foleo was 86'ed, the Foleo was interesting not for itself (it was underwhelming itself), but because it was an attempt to create a 3rd category of mobile devices, it was an attempt to "go back to formula" when it comes to mobility. It failed, sure, but what was exciting about it was that it made all of us step back and rethink mobility just a little bit. It's not about specs, or form factor, or even User Interface, but some mysterious combination of everything that makes up a gadget that makes it compelling.

This is another reason that the Foleo was a bit of a tech journalist dream - it gave us a chance to rethink the categories we use to think about gadgets. That was clearly Palm's intention - to shake up our preconceptions about what gadgets are. But the idea of a "Mobile Companion" was complicated from the start. Unlike the original Palm and also unlike the Treo, the Foleo didn't have an instant "AHA" moment when you saw it.

The initial "AHA" moment only lasts a little while, though. It gets the money off your bank account, sure, but it doesn't keep the gadget out of the drawer and in your pocket (or in the case of the Foleo, your gadget-bag).

I need to talk about the First Device in the context of the Foleo because it was the Foleo's creator, Jeff Hawkins, who planted the seed in my head. He clearly understands the concept very well. In our conversation at the Foleo launch event, Hawkins again and again spoke about how important instant-on was.

He spoke about how previously, if he wanted to Google something quickly, he'd go to his Treo. With the Foleo available, it supplanted his laptop and he'd use that instead. The point was that the Foleo became his go-to for quick information. It became his First Device.

First Device

That, in a nutshell, is that the "First Device" is: your go-to gadget that you grab first when you want to "do something." That "something" is different for everybody

  • a quick search
  • YouTube
  • SMS
  • getting directions
  • checking your To Do list
  • jotting down a quick note

...these days it could be pretty much anything.

A "First Device" is what smartphones are to most of us. You have this thing that you grab right away to Get Things Done or Be Entertained. You need it to have a few compelling features:

  • Instant On
  • Easy to Use / navigate (software-wise)
  • Aesthetically Pleasing (in other words, fly)
  • The right size

It's not just about immediacy, though that's important, it's also about filling a need that you have. After you've used your First Device, you want to feel like you got your thing done with a minimum amount of hassle, you want to feel like you accomplished something cool.

A gadget becomes your First Device over time. You have the initial "AHA" moment, then you come back to it, and eventually you learn whether or not a given gadget gets your thing done without getting in your way. Eventually you build an affinity for that gadget and it becomes your First Device or you learn to loathe how it keeps you from doing your thing and it becomes an eBay auction.

Different devices are better at being different kinds of First Device. Blackberries, for all their faults, are great email First Devices. Feature phones are great phone call First Devices. PalmOS devices are good catch-all First Devices, though it's hobbled these days by its looks and speed. Windows Mobile... more on that below.

It's not enough to make a Smartphone that's able to do anything. What a Smartphone needs to do is be a compelling First Device in the category that matters to you most.

iPhone vs. Windows Mobile as a First Device

For me, the iPhone is a good media-First Device. That's to be expected, given Apple's institutional experience with the iPod. But the iPhone is a shockingly good Web-First Device. If I want to check the web quickly (and I'm in a WiFi zone) and I have a Windows Mobile device, a powered-down laptop, and an iPhone sitting on the coffee table before me, I'll usually grab the iPhone. Words can't describe how much better Mobile Safari is compared to anything else out there I've used (including the Webkit-enabled Nokia devices).

Windows Mobile can be a great First Device in nearly every category. The problem, in my opinion, is that it's very personal - you need to do some work to make Windows Mobile become a First Device for you. A Windows Mobile device I've set up is a killer First Device for me in 85% of the uses I want. But were I to hand it to somebody else, it makes a terrible First Device.

Afternoons and Coffee Spoons

Doctor, every time I drink coffee I get this horrible pain in my right eye.
Take the spoon out of the coffee.

Apple made a perfect cup of coffee, web-browser-wise, and then took the spoon out. Everybody else has made a mediocre cup of coffee and left the spoon in -- just in case you want to add more sugar or cream or whatever.

The spoon in this metaphor is the ability to customize your device. It's wonderful to have, but it often pokes you in the eye. It also means you'll be less likely to be able share your coffee with somebody else.

At the end of the day, I do want that spoon in my coffee cup so I can adjust the coffee to my tastes. That's why the iPhone can only be my First Device in a couple of categories. Windows Mobile isn't nearly as pretty, but I can stir in some hazelnut flavor or whatever (Captain, the metaphor is breaking down!) to make it fit my tastes.

I just have to remember to take the spoon out sometimes.

What's your First Device? Sound off below!

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I'm talking to my Windows Mobile peeps here: the gauntlet has been thrown down and thrown down hard. Everybody's atwitter about the iPod announcements yesterday and here's what I think it means for WM:

First - that iPod Touch, if Apple ever decides to get serious about adding PDA functionality, is serious competition for the non-smartphone PDA market. It's a market that's been shrinking fast (one of the reasons we here at WMExperts basically avoid it altogether) and I foresee it shrinking faster.

Second, and most importantly, I'll let Mike at Phone different have a word here from his "Phone different: 8GB iPhone: $399, Ringtones" article:

Holy smokes! Apple has put a $200 price cut on the 8 GB iPhone, and dropped the 4GB version altogether. That's right, the 8GB iPhone is now $399. Where do I line up for my $200 check? I'm equal parts filled with rage for paying a $200 early adopter fee, and equal parts filled with glee for a $200 price cut. I'm glad that it makes the iPhone that much more accessible for everyone else. I just feel a little sore when I sit, that's all.

Holy smokes indeed. I'd like to crow about how the price drop means the iPhone hasn't been moving as well as Apple hoped, but I don't really think that's the case. Instead, I think that it clearly means that Apple is serious about bare-knuckled fighting in the smartphone space1. I also think it means that we can expect a hardware update to the iPhone sooner than we may have previously expected - mayhap price drop to clear inventory?

In other words, Microsoft knew the iPhone was a threat before, now Apple's made it a big, spiky threat. I know this will ramp up the recent rumors of a Zune Phone, but I'm still of the opinion that Windows Mobile 7 / Photon will feature radically improved media (and browser, pretty please) functionality. Windows Mobile will absorb Zune functionality, not the other way around.

1 Yes, I'll admit it's basically a smartphone, at least it is now that you can hack it to get native apps. It's no true SDK, but I suppose it's enough. Yes, that's a turnabout. No, I don't want any to hear any guff about it.

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Here's the original How-To: Full YouTube on Windows Mobile post. The thread to download the necessary files that zbop created is here. You'll need to be a registered member of the forums in order to download, I'd recommending starting that here.

Hat tip to Mike over at Phone different for making the joke that inspired this video. As long as I'm referencing the iPhone, I should mention a couple things just so I don't get flamed into oblivion: Windows Mobile browsers stink compared to the iPhone's, as I've mentioned before; also - you'll need either a fast processor or to do some tweaking on a device with a slow one; yes, it's aggravating to have to deal with those sorts of settings; and yes - there's more lag than is strictly ideal.

So many caveats, so little time. Note how I artfully restrained myself from an infinite regression beginning with posting a video of me watching this video on a Mogul - that way lies madness.

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