Category Archives: iPhone

Resistance is futile. Confessions of an Apple Watch owner.

Stephen's Apple Watch

A few days ago, I got the email I’d been waiting for months to receive.

It said, “your apple watch has arrived.”

I was in Bermuda at the time, installing a music library in Marcus Samuelsson’s eponymous restaurant, Marcus‘ at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess, so my glee was tempered by distance.

But over the next few days, I fantasized non-stop about how amazing my life was about to become.

My watch and I were about to become the best of friends.

I knew, I just knew, that my Apple Watch was a game changer and my life was going to be infinitely richer as a result.

But as I headed into Manhattan on a dreary Monday morning, I started to have misgivings.

Would I become one of those people constantly checking their wrist, desperate to see the source of the latest ping or buzz?

Was I trading up to yet another useless gadget full of sound and fury, yet signifying nothing?

My Shakespeare folks will appreciate that.

I digress.

We’re already a tethered society.

We can’t seem to put our phones down.

Every ten seconds we’re reading our emails, responding to texts, checking Facebook or engaged in some other inane activity involving a mobile device.

And that’s with a device we can put down.

What happens with that device is inextricably tied to our person?

What then?

I can’t help but think of the Borg.

The cybernetic beings from the Delta Quadrant that assimilated their victims, making them part of a collective or hive mind.

You know, the big cube thing from Star Trek, The Next Generation.

the-borg

Each cyborg (hence “Borg”) was a undifferentiated part of the whole, sharing their thoughts and sensory input with them.

When you were captured by the Borg, they didn’t kill you.

Mechanical components were added to your anatomy, stripping you of your humanity and making you a part of the collective.

Hence “assimilated.”

I know I’m probably being dramatic, but this thought keeps popping into my head: “Resistance is futile.You will be assimilated.”

I mean, sure, the Apple Watch can collect data on its wearer.

And it can share that data with Apple or the app developer, which then knows information about the wearer, but that’s not so bad. Is it?

Wait a minute…

Am I being assimilated?

Is resistance futile?

Once I put on the watch, is there no turning back?

Only time will tell.

Four days in, and I’m fighting the good fight.

I do not automatically look at my wrist whenever a haptic alert beckons.

I shall not fall prey to your Siren song Apple Watch! Damn you to hell!

But resist as I may, I can already feel the endorphin rush whenever my wrist buzzes.

Each vibration draws me further down the rabbit hole.

And once I glance at her, even for a moment, I’m infatuated.

“Her?” It’s a fucking watch! WTF is the matter with me?!!

I mean really. I’ve only really checked out a few functions.

Like the activity monitor, which I clowned, is actually quite useful.

activity monitor

After plugging in your gender, age, height and weight, you can set daily fitness goals, and the watch will prompt you to stand, or exercise in order to keep you on track.

Yesterday, I hit my fitness goal of burning 720 calories. I actually burned 932 by walking 7.5 miles, exercising for 75 minutes and standing for sixty seconds once every hour for twelve hours.

I’m pretty awesome, says my watch.

Or the Remote app, which lets you control your other iOS devices when you’re on the same wi-fi network.

Last night, I got in four episodes of Game of Thrones on HBO Go on Apple TV, all controlled through my handy dandy Apple Watch.

game-of-thrones-hbo-go

Or Chat, which lets you read and respond to text messages right from your wrist.

I’ve had numerous chat conversations without typing a single character.

I just speak into my watch, Dick Tracy style, and my words magically appear on the screen.

And I can choose to send my voice memo or the text equivalent.

dick-tracy

I can even send emojis to spice things up a bit.

Wait…have I already been assimilated?

Nah!

Just taking it for a test drive so that I can tell all of you.

Yeah. That’s the ticket!

Anywho, I have not (yet) been assimilated, although I suspect it’s not far off….

Damn Apple!

Haven’t had enough of my ramblings? Check out my video review of the Apple Watch below!

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Filed under Apple Watch, iPhone

Book Book is for the birds. Unless you want a cracked iPhone screen.

iPhone 6 Plus + Book Book = Cracked iPhone 6 Plus

I was soooo happy when my Book Book iPhone 6 Plus case first arrived.

You know, the phone case that looks like an old book from Twelve South.

I made several videos illustrating my unbridled glee before settling on this.

I had slits for my credit cards, a clear panel for my license and could hold a couple of dollars nicely.

There was no way to keep it closed, but laying on a surface, the cover stayed firmly on the screen.

After all kinds of iPhone cases – Otterboxes, bootleg LV wallet, Targus, this one, that one – I felt that I had arrived.

With the Book Book, I had stepped up my phone case game.

I’d matured.

My iPhone was nestled snugly in a case that protected it from the elements and looked stylish to boot.

Oh! The compliments I received!

Each new outing brought hordes of admirers, cooing at my case, remarking on the weathered look of my Book Book comme iPhone case.

My glee was short lived however, the first time the phone dropped.

My pride turned quickly to horror as my phone slid off my lap and (in slow motion) opened up like a small black bat taking flight.

But instead of darting off herky jerky, it made a beeline to the hard unforgiving ground, landing with a resounding slap.

Nauseous I reached down, confident I would see the telltale sign of iPhone owner neglect – the spiderweb crack.

Luckily, I dodged the bullet and my screen was intact.

I thanked the iPhone gods (Steve Jobs and Jony Ives) and swore I would never treat my iPhone so shabbily in the future.

But that exact same scenario has occurred no less than five more times since then.

Sometimes landing on a rug, or a shoe or car mat.

Each time face down, but intact.

Until today.

You see, today, it slipped out of my hands, as I was trying to navigate a subway turnstile.

I keep my Metrocard in one of those handy slits on the inside cover, and as I went to move through the turnstile, my forward momentum came to an abrupt halt.

Apparently, my Metrocard had not been read.

And as a result, my Book Book went flying, opened face down, and SLAP!

Everything went black.

I knew, I just knew that this was the end.

I had mocked the iPhone gods with my empty promises, and it was my day of retribution.

You’ve been in the NYC subway system.

There’s nothing soft about it.

I prepared for my accounting as I swiped my Metrocard (correctly this time) and stooped to retrieve my baby from the cold concrete.

Amazingly, no spiderweb.

Praise Jobs!

Wait…what’s this?

There.

On the lower left edge.

A crack.

Slight.

Like a hair caught in two places along the edge, forming an elongated reverse capital “C.”

Barely perceptible, but there nonetheless.

I cursed the culprit for my suffering under my breath.

Fucking Book Book!

At this moment, I realized what an absolute liability the Book Book iPhone 6 Plus case was.

Despite the mounds of empirical data I had to the contrary, I operated under the delusion that my phone was safe in the case.

Aliya King's Nightmare on Instagram

Aliya King’s Nightmare on Instagram

Not less than a week ago, I had told my girl Aliya King, that I felt her pain when she posted a selfie with her spiderweb sporting iPhone 6 Plus in what?

A Book Book.

What else?

I had even replied that I was going to swap my Book Book for an Otterbox or LifeProof for the very same reason.

Did I?

No.

Do I regret it?

Yes.

But more than regret, I’m angry.

Book Book, you need to either (a) increase the depth of the iPhone holder or (b) figure out a way to keep the case from flying open face down when dropped.

But either way you owe me a new iPhone.

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Filed under advocacy, iPhone

Sorry Verizon Wireless. But you suck.

no verizon

As a long time AT&T subscriber, I’ve had mixed feelings about my cellular and data service.

Some times, I could browse the Internet on my iPad or iPhone at blazing speeds.

At other times, content would load at a snail’s pace.

And some times, not at all.

Occasionally, calls would drop, if they even connected in the first place.

Being in the Northeast, I took it for granted that getting a strong cellular signal was a challenge with all the tall buildings jamming the airwaves.

I also accepted the fact that AT&T didn’t have the largest cellular or data network, and that was okay.

For the most part, in the connected world in which we live, I was usually able to jump on wifi and took signal or connection shortcomings in stride.

In the back of my mind though, I wanted something better.

Folks with Verizon service always seemed to be the ones whose phones always seemed to work regardless of circumstances or surroundings.

If I lost my signal on the train or in a tunnel, Verizon customers were still yapping, texting or surfing away.

I would watch those Verizon Wireless commercials with a certain degree of envy.

From the “can you hear me now” featuring the bespectacled geek to the coverage map comparisons, I marveled at how good Verizon customers had it.

I wondered what it must be like to always get a signal and be able to surf the internet regardless of a wifi connection.

So it was with unbridled glee that I received the news that my company was switching from AT&T to Verizon and getting us all iPhone 6s to boot!

You can imagine my excitement when I powered up my 6 Plus for the first time.

Man was it fast!

I was browsing and calling, texting and apping away!

The world was my oyster and Verizon’s blazing fast network, my playground.

At least so I thought.

You see, I had been using the 6 Plus in the office, where I was rocking wifi.

However, when I hit the mean streets of NYC…

Let’s just say, I’m calling bullshit.

Verizon sucks.

Full stop.

Their connection may be robust in West Jablip, but here in the city, their shit is fugazee.

Things that I thought would be a cakewalk for the company with the largest cellular network in North America, ended up being serious challenges.

I dare say Verizon was actually worse than AT&T.

To add insult to injury, things that I could formerly do with my iPhone on AT&T, I couldn’t with my Verizon device.

For example, before Verizon, I could talk, surf the internet, check my emails and text all at the same time.

Not literally all at the same time, but with certain things running in the background, while I worked on other things…

You know what I mean!

But today, if I’m not on wifi, there’s no multitasking.

Anything that requires a cellular signal to complete is blocked until I get off the phone.

C’mon Verizon!

What kind of shit is that?

I’m so pissed that I forsook (the past tense of forsake – get with the program people) AT&T and coveted another carrier.

How could I have been sooooo wrong?

Verizon can kick rocks for all I care.

I want my AT&T back!

How about you? Are you suffering from regret after switching from one carrier to another? I’d love to hear about your experience, so please share in the comments!

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Filed under iPhone, mobile

They call me Stephen. And five more reasons I love Uber.

uber

If you’ve ever been a Black man in New York, you know what I speak of.

But trying to catch a cab in the city can be a bitch!

If there aren’t long lines outside of the station, or club, then there’s some dude further up the block hailing them earlier.

Better yet, you think that you’ve spied an empty cab coming your way, only to see a slunked down passenger in the back as they pass you by.

Or you could be passed over all together by completely empty cabs just because you’re HWB.

Hailing while Black.

A minute ago, someone put me up on Uber.

You know, Uber, the whole ride sharing app.

I had been using other apps, like Curb (formerly Taxi Magic), with varying degrees of success and never really tried Uber out.

Until recently, that is.

Ya see a few weeks back, I found myself stuck in the city late night, trying to get back to Jersey.

I had just missed my train, and I was totally NOT trying to wait on NJ Transit for another hour for the next one.

As I stepped out of Penn Station to hail a cab, I was totally dismayed to see the long line of folks waiting for cabs.

Then it dawned on me – Uber!

A few minutes later, a shiny black SUV pulled up, with an “Uber” sign in the passenger window.

As I got in, the driver said, “Hello Stephen,” and I knew I had found my steady.

Thirty minutes later, I disembarked in front of my house, with a “Good night, Stephen.”

No scrambling to find cash or swiping my card, just a “good night” and off.

Lest you think this was a one-off, I’ve used Uber at least a half-dozen times since then.

And each trip was as pleasant as the first.

With the exception of the talkative “Marilyn” who got lost and arrived late, which in turn made me late to my appointment.

But speed bump aside, here are the top five reasons I love Uber (and why you should too).

1. They call you by your name.

The first time I got into an Uber car and the driver called me by my name, I felt like a bonafide celebrity. It’s not like I’ve never had a car service pick me up before. But it’s an entirely different thing to be greeted in such a friendly and familiar manner when you’re not rolling in duckets. I don’t know what Uber tells it’s drivers, but that calling me by my name thing works.

2. No fuss or fumbling with money or cards.

When you set up with Uber, you associate a billing method with your account, and your fare is automatically deducted when you arrive at your destination. There’s no haggling with the driver, pulling out cash, tapping or swiping required. Arrive. Disembark. Done.

3. You don’t have to fight with other commuters.

Unlike hailing a cab on the skreets or calling up a cab company to request a ride, with Uber, there’s no fighting with other commuters. Open up the app, see the available drivers around you, request a driver and voila! Now just sit back and wait.

4. WYSIWYG.

The acronym, WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) is totally apropos for Uber. The Uber app is totally transparent. You can see where your driver is, how long it will take to get to you, and the fare you can expect to pay. Now sometimes, there’s a glitch in the matrix and you’ve got to refresh your connection to actually see where your driver is (and the app doesn’t do a great job of recalculating the estimated time to get to you), but with Uber, there are no surprises. And if you ever have an issue, you can instantly contact the driver (via text or call) or even cancel your ride altogether. No muss, no fuss.

5. Super easy to use.

There is nothing – NOTHING – I hate more than a complicated app. All I want to do is get a ride. I shouldn’t have to solve a Rubik’s Cube to do so. Uber makes it über-simple to do so with their app.

  1. Open the app.
  2. Set pickup location.
  3. Request uberX.
  4. Wait.

That’s it!

Now, there is one thing that you do need to know about Uber.

Surge pricing.

What’s “surge pricing” you ask?

It’s the price you pay trying to catch a ride with Uber during peak traffic.

It’s usually quoted as a multiplier of the regular rate, say 1.5 or 2.0 of the regular rate.

If you get a ride at that time, expect to pay more than you regularly would.

Now they’ll tell you when the surge pricing period is over and there’s usually a brief window within which it expires – but it’s the one thing about Uber that I don’t love.

Anyway, the next time you find yourself jockeying for position on the curb to get a cab, take a chill pill, whip out your phone and hit Uber up.

Have an Uber experience you’d like to share? Leave me a comment!

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Filed under apps, iPhone, mobile

Five signs that you’re a Fanboy

Have you seen this person? Looked in the mirror lately?

Have you seen this person? Looked in the mirror lately?

With the release of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, the inevitable phone wars have begun afresh.

Don’t act like you don’t know what the phone wars are.

The ongoing comparisons between Apple and Samsung or iOS versus Android.

Invariably, these little skirmishes arise whenever Apple drops a new product (and never the other way around).

But that’s beside the point.

Or is it?  Hmmmm….

Anywho, every so often users on both sides take to the interwebs to pronounce their allegiance to (or disdain for) one side or the other.

Your’s truly is no exception.

I’ve been known to malign an Android owner or two in my day.

No. I don’t own stock in Apple, and no Samsung owner ever kicked my dog (I don’t even own a dog).

“So why the hostility?” you ask.

Well, that’s easy.

Usually, I’ve got a cogent argument supporting my pro-Apple stance.

Sometimes, not so much.

My blind allegiance is often questioned, and I’ve always assumed it was because Apple simply made a better product.

But with the release of the iPhone 6, which is really Apple’s version of the larger Samsung family of devices, the questions of my blind allegiance are….well…valid?

So I’ve done a little introspection and I think I’ve got it.

I’m a fanboy.

Like millions of others, when it comes to anything Apple, I go balls to the wall.

I readily admit my fandom, but others can’t seem to self-identify (as I have).

So today, I’m going to share with you the top five signs that you too, are a fanboy.

1. You wait in line the day a new device drops.

More accurately, you camp out for days leading up to the release of a new device.

Only true fanboys place such importance to being the first ones to own a device that they’re willing to risk their lives, brave poor weather, take time away from the families or jobs to sit on a line and wait.

Will they win a prize?

Receive an award?

Be recognized for their achievement?

No. No. And no.

So why do they do it?

For the visceral feeling they get holding a brand spanking new device that no one else (yet) has. That’s why.

Oh. And they’re fanboys.

hundreds-line-up-in-front-of-an-apple-store-in-central-berlin-germany

Now y’all know you’re supposed to be at work! WTF?!

2. You take pro- (or anti-) device claims at face value.

If anything that Apple (or Google) publishes in anticipation of a release gives you wood and you regurgitate the features and capabilities as fact, sight unseen, you’re a fanboy.

So what you’re getting all your information from the rumor mill?

If Apple says it, it must be true. Right?

town crier

3. You take criticism of your device personally.

Everyone knows that Apple’s battery life is notoriously horrible. Or that Android devices routinely freeze, crash and drop calls.

But if you’re a fanboy, and someone utters a word against your favored device, all you hear are fighting words – and you’re literally ready to fight.

I remember when the Samsung Galaxy GS3 dropped.

Several of my so-called friends copped it and were all ga-ga over it.

I had one of the first GS3s in my office and had a chance to take it for a test drive.

Needless to say, I wasn’t impressed.

I posted a blog with my two cents, and was immediately set upon for posting negative reviews.

I had to unfriend a few folks after that.

iPhone-5-Android-Market

Don’t know why the illustrator decided to cast the Android as the Jedi. Android is definitely the dark side of the force. Hello?

4. You’ve never owned the competing device.

As a result, you’re totally ignorant about what an iOS device or Android can or can’t do.

It’s hard to offer any legitimate critique of a competing device if you’ve never owned one.

But that doesn’t keep fanboys from making far-reaching pronouncements about the inadequacies of the opposition.

Wouldn't you rather hate in ignorance than admire with full information?

Wouldn’t you rather hate in ignorance than admire with full information?

5. You still rock Blackberry.

There is no more profound evidence to the existence of a true fanboy, than Blackberry owners.

Despite the obsolescence (or near obsolescence – they’re clearly on life support) of Blackberry devices for several years now, there are still legions that swear by these blocky, keyboard bearing pieces of antiquity.

blackberry passport

Will the Blackberry Passport help to revive the dying brand? Not likely. But we have a new device to make fun of!

Now if you have any doubt whether or not you’re a fanboy, ask yourself, “When was the last time you owned <input name of device you don’t currently own here>?”

If you can’t remember, you’re a fanboy.

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Filed under advocacy, digital advocacy, iPhone, mobile

The iPhone 6 got me so excited I peed myself.

To pee or not to pee

It’s true.

I know I usually title my posts with outrageous statements sometimes, in an effort to distinguish myself from the blogging fray.

But a trace amount of urine actually escaped my urethra as I waited excitedly for the start of Apple’s September 8th announcements.

To be precise, I didn’t exactly pee on myself.

I was trying to hold in my pee.

It was a matter of not missing the live stream or relieving myself.

Ultimately, my desire to avoid soiling myself further won out and I was able to dry the small spot of wetness on my trousers with the hand dryer.

I kid. I kid.

But I (like millions of other fanboys and girls) watched as Apple announced the iPhone 6, 6 Plus and Apple Watch.

If you’re an Android user, technologically daft or live under a rock, and Apple products don’t give you a rise in your nether regions, stop reading now.

If however, new Apple products give you wood, cause spontaneous orgasm or premature ejaculation, read on.

I can’t front, I’ve been jealous of all those Android users with their tv phones.

When the GS3, the Note, the S5, and all those large form Android Phablets came out, I was green with envy.

While I can’t stand the “commonness” of Android devices or the randomness of features which are on certain phones and absent from others, I do dig how much content you can consume on their large(r) screens.

Of course, I was happy when the 5 dropped and we gained those 100 or so extra pixels at the bottom of the screen, but the 5/5s was still kinda wack, when compared with the Android tv phones.

And ‘yes’, I mocked Android users as they pulled out their massive screens from their suitcases pockets.

Sure, I maligned them for lugging around phones larger than their heads.

But I was really just masking my pain.

I wanted a massive tv phone to lug around too.

But one made by Apple, with a reliable OS that I trusted.

Not some open source foolishness cobbled together by sweaty geeks huddled together in a cave.

If I was going to lug around a tv phone in my pocket, it was going to be a sleek, elegant, uber thin Apple tv phone.

My every commute was filled with angst, as the Android horde pulled out their tv phones, watching House of Cards, or True Blood, 30 Rock or Amy Schumer on crystal clear HD screens, and I pulled out my monocle to read on my not-a-tv-phone iPhone 5s.

Sure, I had the latest and greatest Apple had to offer, and I was happy with it.

But I often found myself unconsciously peering over the shoulders of Android users, giggling at their screens, before catching (and cursing) myself for the lapse.

As much as I despised Android, the lure of their large screens was hard to resist.

Why didn’t Apple make such a glorious device?

WHY!!!!???

But like Zeus’ mighty lightning bolts forged by the Cyclops, Apple has forged not one, but two mighty iPhones to beat back the savages.

With the arrival of the large form phones, Apple is squarely in competition with Android.

Soon, I will be the one envied by the Android horde, as I unsheath my iPhone 6 Plus (you know I’m going large – and it’s not to mask any inadequacies!)

No longer will I be looking over shoulders, staring at the screens of savages.

They shall spy on me!

I’m sorry, was I frothing at the mouth just now?

Anywho…

Now, I’d love to give you my hands on review of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

But, alas, my invite from Cupertino must have been lost in the mail (umm, Apple, get your mail room in order).

So, rather than regurgitate someone else’s hands on assessment of the wonders of Apple’s latest devices, check Mashable, whose write ups and videos are pretty good.

In fact, they’ve got a really good side-by-side comparison between Apple and the others.

Not to worry.

I’ll have the 6 Plus as soon as it’s released, and you’ll have my hands-on assessment straight from the source.

Until then, I’ll be wearing diapers.

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Messenger says your shit is not secure. Now what?

IMG_0663.JPG

Today the interwebs were all a twitter over the fact that Facebook was requiring users, who wanted to message each other via the Facebook app, to download Messenger.

The issue with Messenger, is the fact that by installing the app onto your mobile device, you’re giving Facebook the right to do things that many consider a violation of basic privacy rights.

By way of example, installing the Messenger app allows Facebook to collect data on who you call and the length of the call, the other apps you use and how frequently you use them, the content of text messages and various other on-device activities that have nothing to do with Facebook Messenger interactions.

Among the more draconian things that Messenger will purportedly be able to do, is access your camera and microphone, essentially turning your device into a surreptitious spying device. To spy on you!

I find it humorous that folks are all up in arms over Facebook’s attempts to track it’s users, as if it’s a case of first impression.

The truth of the matter is we’ve long since given up any reasonable expectation of privacy.

The day you visited your first website, you allowed cookies into your life.

Cookies promised faster load times, the instant recall of previously identified preferences, and a host of behind the scenes functions to take place, all to make your browsing experience better – and to know where you browsed (and what you did when you got there).

When you got your first cell phone, you agreed to be tracked.

All those cell towers helped to ensure call quality wherever you went – and kept track of wherever you went.

Today, when you install apps, you agree to let them access you contacts or calendar or Facebook profile, or whatever innocuous piece of information they request.

We think nothing of letting some application vendor post on our behalf, or access the data on our devices.

Instinctively, we click “Accept” and happily tap away on our devices like assimilated members of the Borg.

The outrage we feel about today’s Facebook Messenger revelation is feigned.

Can’t believe Facebook is mining your personal data?

So what do you do?

Update your Facebook status and let all your friends know.

You’re an ass.

If you’re really not trying to have Big Brother in your business, stay off of everything.

No internet.

No cell phone.

No wifi.

No Facebook.

Nothing digital at all.

If you’re not prepared to do that, then STFU about Facebook’s (or any other technology provider’s) invasion of your privacy.

Because privacy in the digital age is a fallacy.

You’re either on the grid, and none of your shit is private.

Or you’re off, and all the privacy in the world is yours.

And “off-the-grid” is relative.

Once you leave your house, you’re subject to the constant glare of the innumerable cameras dotting our city streets, stores, office buildings, gas stations, buses, trains and cabs.

As well as your YouTube crazed citizen i-reporters with camera phones on the ready looking for their 15 minutes of viral fame at the expense of some unsuspecting fool’s gaffe.

Unless you’re prepared to live like someone the run, with burners and throw-away phones, or a hacker, with fake online aliases, and constant IP-masking, accept that cats are collecting data on you constantly – and be good with it.

Today’s takeaway?

If you were among those alarmed by the recent Facebook Messenger revelation, the choice of what to do is really quite simple: red pill or blue?

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Filed under apps, iPhone, mobile, technology

Wanna be first at something cool? You better Brabble.


It’s not every day that you’re the first to do something.

That’s especially true in the tech space.

The minute you think you’ve got an original idea or stumbled onto the next big thing, someone drops it or says that they’ve already heard of it.

Got a great idea for a social media network?

Oops! Some kids at Harvard thought about that a minute ago.

And by the time you were up on it, you were far from a first mover.

You were on it – eventually.

And it probably took you a minute before you even were comfortable using it.

The same was probably true of Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest and any of the myriad other social media trends that were once obscure platforms you never heard of, and are today the targets of billion dollar acquisitions – if not technology behemoths themselves.

And even though you may not have been there at the beginning, you probably fancy yourself “hip” when it comes to being able to spot and adopt social media trends.

Vine. WhatsApp. Snapchat.

You do that.

You may not have been first, but you were up on it by the time it became vogue.

And you were probably first among your friends or network for some things.

Shoot, I’d heard of Pinterest, but my wife actually put me on.

And now she can’t get off the damn thing.

But I digress.

Anywho, I’m about to put you up on the next ish.

What if you could have Facebook, Twitter, Instragram and Vine/Snapchat in one?

Where you could capture something in the moment.

Tag it up.

Decide who you wanted to share it with.

And post it in an instant.

See who’s posting.

Like.

Comment or respond to directly.

Share.

All from a mobile or web dash.

Well now you can.

It’s called Brabble.

And it’s barely a year old.

So you’re not exactly first first.

But you’re damn near close.

And it’s that next thing.

Trust me.

“What do you know Stephen? You couldn’t spot a trend if it walked up and bit you on the ass.”

Sure, my bum is a bit tough.

But I knows my nose knows.

What’s so great about Brabble?

It’s just another social media platform like Twitter.

Right?

Wrong!

It’s better, and I’ll tell you why.

For one, think of it as a dashboard.

Even though it IS a social media platform, what it DOES is give you the ability to manage multiple social media activities, within one place.

Sure, you can take a picture with your iPhone’s camera, and email, text or post it to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr or Instagram.

Yes. You can shoot a video and upload it to Facebook or YouTube, and share it.

But once you’re done, your plopped back into your camera or photo album.

If you start from inside an app, say Instagram, and shoot a picture or video you’re stuck where you are.

And the user interface and experience for most social media platforms leaves much to be desired.

Especially on your mobile device.

Buttons are too small.

Items located too close to the edge of the screen are virtually inaccessible.

At the end of the day, you’re simply scrolling through an endlessly loading stream of posts, or pictures.

But not with Brabble.

For one, you start off with a Flipboard-like grid of images.

My Feed

You can elect to view content in either a grid or basic view.

Grid or standard view.

Clicking any image immediately pulls you into the thread of that Brabble (their version of “conversation”)

Second, the UI is basic.

Your primary navigation is found at the bottom of the screen, titled (quite simply) Menu, My Feed, Explore, Notifications and a big “+” sign to add a post (Brabble) of your own.

Like, love, Brabbleback.

Third, “liking” (one heart press/click) or “loving” (two heart presses/clicks), something, responding to or commenting on a Brabble (“Brabbleback”), is as simple as clicking on an icon and typing.

Finally, Brabbling (posting) is also super basic.

Brabbling. I think I just made up a term – must be sure to trademark that.

Hitting the big “+” sign opens up an overlay, with a large dialogue window to enter text, radio buttons you can select if you want to post to Facebook and Twitter, and icons above your dialogue box which lets you select which type of media you want to share with your post (or not).

A simple drop down next to the “Post to..” button lets you select whether to share your content with the World, your Followers, your Friends or Privately.

Brabble overlay

You can even save your posts to your Feed to send later.

This is not to say that there’s no room for improvement.

If I were going to make any changes to Brabble, they’d be few (and I could live without them).

But if I were, I’d make a persistent footer.

Generally, whenever you’re on the app, the footer is present.

Mine too deep into any individual piece of content, though, the footer goes away.

And you lose your bottom navigation.

If you go back, it returns, but there should be a persistent way to get back to “start” without having to repeatedly hit the “back” button.

It looks like the deeper you go into the app, there’s a transition from native to mobile web pages (which may account for the loss of your footer).

I could go deeper, but you get the picture.

Brabble is a cool app, which seamlessly aggregates all the things you like to do with your mobile device, into one app.

It’s not perfect, but it’s enough to make me take the leap.

And recommend it to all of you (my 42 readers).

I’ve been on the platform for three days now, and it’s pretty cool.

There isn’t a heck of a lot of traffic right now – and if you sign up, consider it part of an extended Beta.

Now go and Brabble, and be the first among your friends to be up on the latest and greatest tech trend.

And remember who told you about it when it tips….

 

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Lift. I wanted to be inspired, but now I hate you. An App review.

lift logo

Live long and prosper?

Last week, I was having one of those days that started off as a drag and I just need a boost.

Some inspiration to get me going.

I may have been raggin’ on Facebook or something, and someone (seeing my plight) recommended Lift to me.

If you’re not up on Lift, no worries. Neither was I.

Apparently, Lift is a platform that is supposed to “help you succeed at everything.”

According to their website, Lift “employs coaching, community and data, to help you be your best.”

Sort of like a cheerleader in your pocket, inspiring and motivating you.

Happy for the recommendation, I  Googled “Lift” on my iPhone.

Sure enough, it came up.

I followed the link the App Store and eagerly downloaded the app, confident that I had found the thing to put the (missing) pep back into my step.

And then…nothing.

The app was open on my phone but that was all.

No “Welcome to Lift.”

No “Let’s get started.”

No video or animation to guide me.

Nada.

Not one to be daunted by poor UX, I searched for clues for how the app was supposed to work.

There were three buttons in the footer: “Goals,” “Activity,” and “Me.”

Hit each one in succession.

Nada.

Nada.

Nada.

Hmmmm…

Maybe there’s a FAQs link around here somewhere?

Nope.

Perhaps there’s additional info in “Settings.”

Wrong.

I started to have serious misgivings about my people’s recommendation.

I finally realized that I had to set up an account online, which would then ‘unlock’ all of the app’s magical features.

Duh. It would have been nice if they had said that somewhere.

But rather than go on an exhaustive profanity-laced rant about all the things I found wrong with Lift, I decided to give it a good old fashioned review.

So without further adieu…Lift.

Pros

Simple, easy to remember name. Lift. How can you go wrong with that?

Basic UI. Many apps go wrong by trying to cram too much content in a small space. Banners, buttons, drop downs, arrows and menus all vying for some attention from your fat fingers.  Lift doesn’t suffer from button overload. The three buttons in the footer (Goals, Activity and Me) are widely spaced and easy to access.

Singular objective. Lift isn’t trying to be all things to all people. It’s goal is to provide its users with a clear path to success, by helping them to establish habits that, if followed, will improve health, focus and productivity.

Reminder alerts. If you’ve got Lift set up on your iPhone’s notification center, you’ll get a daily reminder to perform your task or tasks for the day.

Cons

Indistinguishable logo. The first time I saw the Lift logo on my phone, I thought I was looking at the Telegram logo. But I could have been looking at Remote. More than once, I’ve opened Telegram, when I intended to open Lift. Lift you should fire your designer.

One of these things is just like the other.

One of these things is just like the other.

Too few options. One of the main criticisms I have of Lift is that you can’t set your own goals. I wanted to be able to establish unique goals and milestones instead of using Lift’s narrow predefined ones. But Lift doesn’t let you customize goals.

Fixed frequency. Lift lets you establish “streaks” – consecutive days of accomplishing your goals. But you can’t set the frequency of when you’ve accomplished goals. If your goal is to work out three times a week, and you work out every other day, Lift won’t acknowledge that you’ve achieved your goal since you didn’t work out on three consecutive days.

No privacy settings. Lift is community based, so everyone can see the goals you’ve set. But I don’t necessarily want to share all of my goals with everyone. I want the ability to create groups (like Google Plus) or define which people see which goals. Unfortunately, with Lift, it’s all or nothing. So if I want to stop flatulating as a goal, everyone will know that I have gastrointestinal issues. No bueno.

‘Discussions’ are flat. Too few of the discussions offer anything meaningful, aside from individual reflections or impressions of the particular goal or exercise.  I don’t know about you, but I can read this type of mindless drivel only so often. Perhaps I’m too jaded, but reading the discussions for “Setting Priorities for Your Day” or “Meditate” made me want to kill myself.

No “how to’s.” When you’re launching something new, it’s typically best practice to assume that your user knows nothing and provide them the tools with which to get started. Otherwise, you get this

Zoolander

All in all, Lift is just okay.

After almost two weeks of Lift, I’m not convinced that it the app for me.

And (unlike my friend) I couldn’t in good conscience, recommend this app (in it’s present state) to anyone.

I’m not gonna be able to do.

Lift, if you’re interested in my opinion, I’d suggest you take a look at the reviews in iTunes.

I’m not talking about the glowing ones that you had your friends write when you first released the app.

I’m referring to the ones where people are complaining that your app sucks, like this one:

App review

Sure, it’s blurry.

But you get the point.

Lift, you’ve got some work to do.

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Why the rumored iPhone 6 gives me wood.

Concept art courtesy of Minyanville.com

Concept art courtesy of Minyanville.com

I’m a sucker for anything Apple.

It’s true.

I readily admit I’m a fanboy.

Mind you, I’ll still hate on some crappy Apple shit (i.e. “flat design” of iOS 7).

But my first reaction upon hearing about some new Apple this-or-that is usually one of unbridled enthusiasm.

It should come as no surprise then, that my heart palpitations started when I heard the latest Apple rumors.

What Apple rumors?

The iPhone 6, of course.

That’s right.

Let it sink in.

iPhone. 6.

The Chinese are simply the worst at keeping secrets, and as a result, we’ve been privy to all Apple’s so-called secret developments for years.

Think about it, which iPhone release haven’t we known about well in advance?

9 times out of 10, when images of prototypes, spec sizes and talk of technology acquisition rumors start swirling about, and the source of these rumors is Chinese, you best believe it’s true.

Its no wonder, then, that folks are posting up their theories of what the latest iPhone will or will not be, with unmitigated zeal and images to back it up.

You’ve got pictures of the casing? Really? C’mon China!

Your’s truly is no different.

Like I said, I’m an Apple whore.

Anywho, with the iPhone 6, Apple will supposedly go where no iPhone has gone before: the land of the phablet.

If the rumors and prototype photographs are to be believed, Apple is working on the next generation of iPhone, that will be bigger, stronger (as in more durable) and faster than anything they’ve ever created.

When I say bigger, Apple wags speculate the screen will be somewhere between 4.7 (the current size of the 5s) and 7.9 inches (the size of the iPad Mini).

Size comparison chart courtesy of MacRumors.com

Size comparison chart courtesy of MacRumors.com

Whoa.

Screens that size will put Apple directly up against it’s Galaxy and HTC rivals, which have already dropped large screen phones on the market.

The claims that Apple will be introducing a more shatter-resistant screen lifts many a heart.

We’ve all witnessed (or experienced) the spiderweb cracks with Gorilla Glass.

Lord knows you’ve got to protect the screen like it’s an eggshell or risk slicing your fingers on an intricate lattice of cracks.

Apple’s acquisition of sapphire technology, points to a desire to make the next generation phones more durable.

As usual, there are claims that the next iPhone will last longer than it’s predecessors.

Even with the new lightning charger, the iPhone 5s’ battery dies notoriously quickly.

The next generation’s quad-core A8 or an evolved A7 should mean more power, better energy conservation and a longer battery life.

Other tantalizing rumors for the iPhone 6 include an improved camera (or at least enhanced capabilities), a thinner profile, wireless charging, and an updated OS (iOS 8).

I could go on ad nausaem, but I shan’t bore you.

MacRumors and TechRadar.com (among others) do a far better job detailing the minutiae, and I’m more of a broad strokes sort of fellow, ya know?

In any instance, I’ll be keeping an eye out for more information and sneak peeks of the device as the Fall (?) 2014 release date approaches.

And if you see me in the streets, and notice a slight bulge in my nether region, “no” I am not happy to see you.

I’m probably reading another article about the iPhone 6.

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