Monthly Archives: January 2016

It shouldn’t be so hard to fall in love. An expert’s review of the Apple Watch.

Apple_Watch_OmniFocus

Late last year I let one of my friends borrow my Apple Watch and take it for a test drive.

His wife was contemplating buying him one for his birthday, but he wasn’t quite sure he wanted her to drop that kind of cash for what I had already told him was an expensive toy.

The basic issue (beyond cost) was whether the utility of the Apple Watch justified being perpetually monitored.

For him, unless the Apple Watch did something materially better than the iPhone, he wasn’t interested in having Apple (or anyone for that matter) knowing exactly where he was at all times.

And he wasn’t one of those always-on-his-phone types, so I knew that not being tracked (or trackable) was not some conspiracy theorist type objection, but a very real objection he had to this always-on culture of today.

So it was not without a bit of excitement that I handed over my watch, knowing that dude was about to go in on the Apple Watch.

You see, I’m a casual user of my Apple Watch.

I’ve never been so impressed with it that I took a deep dive to uncover the little kernels of goodness that would covert me into a fan.

My initial critiques weren’t positive.

The watch face is small.

Navigation isn’t terribly intuitive.

Doesn’t have a heck of a whole lot of utility beyond glances.

And as a casual user, I felt that my perspective was uninformed.

But now I had someone who was willing to apply a very scientific approach and take the Apple Watch through it’s paces.

Mark Hines aka “Yoda” aka “He Who Sees the Future” aka “The Brain” was going to go completely desconstruct the Apple Watch and share his feedback with me.

A bit of background on his testing is in order.

There are three (3) primary apps Mark rocks on his iPhone in order of importance: OmniFocus, Remote and Wink.

OmniFocus (which I’ve written about before) is a personal task manager that lets you capture thoughts and ideas into lists which you can then parse and organize.

Remote is the iOS app which allows you to control you iOS devices via your iPhone.

Wink is a smart home app that lets you control connected home appliances from your iPhone.

Combined with apps like Shazam, these apps were the apps that factored significantly in Mark’s daily flow and the ones he wanted to test on the Apple Watch.

One month later, he felt he had arrived at a place where he could report back.

It was not good.

His initial impression was that as another iOS device, it should have been plug-and-play right out of the box.

But it was anything but that.

It was – inelegant.

He went into excruciating detail about the level of effort required to get OmniFocus to work on the Apple Watch (similar to how he had set it up on the iPhone) and the workflow hacks he needed to have Wink work in a more streamlined fashion than was possible out-the-box.

One of his biggest hurdles was having Siri send reminders not to the default To-Do list or calendar, but to OmniFocus instead, which involved working with the cats at Omni (big ups to The Omni Group) who took Mark’s feedback and incorporated them into subsequent builds, which enabled him to hit that ‘sweet spot’.

Besides the limitations of the Watch version os most apps, the one thing that drove Mark absolutely bonkers was the fact that if you were outside the range of your iPhone, the Apple Watch was rendered – essentially – useless.

Mind you, Mark lives in a modestly sized apartment.

So you can imagine his chagrin being in another room, less than 30 feet away from his iPhone, and finding that the watch was no longer connected.

Having to be cognizant of where the phone was, relative to the location of the watch, felt counterintuitive, especially considering the Apple Watch’s promise to free the user from their phones.

The reality is that you’ve still got an invisible tether, requiring you to stay close to your phone or lose functionality.

Sure, some things still work, but none of the basic things you’d probably want like messaging, Mail, the phone, Maps, Camera Remote, Weather, and Stocks.

These features rely on an active data connections or GPS signals, neither of which an Apple Watch can do without an iPhone.

Siri also won’t work as it requires a data connection to process commands.

I could give you a watered down version of his assessment, but I’ll just share his actual written report.

Report to Stephen:

I been keeping a journal. Really hated it the 1st week. Took DUMB troubleshooting and tech support to get OmniFocus working. Then further calibration to make it behave the way I wanted…Yesterday was the 1st full day having it actually do the things I envisioned.

I don’t hate it now, but need to exercise it. OmniFocus, Remote and Wink (home automation) are the sweet spot for me. Without those, I definitely wouldn’t care for this at all. With them, I may be on the brink of something special.

No, dude, I literally hated it.

I hit an ill stride today where I can spit into it and I’m catching OmniFocus gems I have lost many times before ‘cuz I was looking around for my phone and when I found it, I forgot what I was gonna put in.

Getting stuff in my head, out and into Omni, path of least resistance, is pure gold. I’ll know in like a week what’s really hood. I know they average cat ain’t jumping thru all these hoops I am so, the thing out the box is under impressive.

You gave a totally accurate review.

Omni’s support was solid but they didn’t have the solution. I created one and shared it back with them. I couldn’t even install that shit onto the watch till Tuesday.

I don’t think a nigga should have to try so hard to fall in love.

A nigga shouldn’t have to try so hard to fall in love.

Deep.

 

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Shazam. It’s not your grandmother’s listening device.

Man uses an ear trumpet

Last week, I took the kids to see Daddy’s Home, with Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg.

During the pre-previews (the drivel that they show you before they actually show upcoming movie previews), there was an ad with a Shazam logo in the bottom left corner of the screen.

For those of you familiar with Shazam, you know to whip out our phone and open the Shazam app whenever you see that logo.

Usually, when you Shazam, you’ll get details about a particular song.

Can’t remember the name of that song on the radio? Shazam it.

Forgot which label released this song by your favorite artist? Shazam it.

Unable to recall the name of the artist pumping out of the store’s speakers? Shazam it.

You get my drift.

If you need to identify a song, Shazam was the app for you.

Although not quite as ubiquitous as “Xerox”, the term “Shazam” has essentially become synonymous with music identification.

But sitting in the theater, Shazam was prompting me to open it up and get details for some innocuous promotion or another.

You can imagine my amazement being asked to Shazam for non-music identification purposes.

Please try to contain your excitement, I’m not done.

And this was not the first time that I was asked to Shazam for a non-music discovery end.

The last time was during some weekend football preview show a few weeks ago.

The show segment was brought by Coke Zero and during the segment the Shazam logo appeared on screen as the sports casters talked about Coke.

The gist of their banter was that I could get a free Coke if I Shazamed before the segment ended.

Not to miss out on an opportunity to get some free shit, I did and got this.

Shazam was on some straight promotions shit!

Now, if you’ve ever used Shazam, you know that they’ve got ads a plenty.

No big deal.

Shazam a song and you’ll get back a result plus a bunch of music-related ads from Pandora, Rhapsody or iTunes.

Pandora, iTunes, Rhapsody Ad

Scroll further down the page, and the ads become less music-related and now you’re just being marketed at.

Salesforce Ad

Usually, these ads are a minor nuisance – an ancillary element of the result that’s being returned.

So it’s not totally unheard of that Coke Zero was leveraging it for promotional purposes.

But what made it unique was that it was only returning the Coke Zero ad and no music.

Seeing it again at the movies reinforced the fact that Shazam is looking to expand it’s utility beyond music identification into marketing and advertising.

Personally, I think it’s a smart move.

We live in an era where folks routinely rock and use multiple devices simultaneously.

We watch TV while tweeting.

We surf the internet while shopping.

Folks are already used to Shazaming to get song info.

Why not Shazam to get a free Coke, or enter a sweepstake, or even schedule a test drive while we’re at it?

The possibilities are limitless.

I’m curious to see where else that Shazam logo is going to show up.

Have you seen a noteworthy implementation of Shazam recently? Feel free to share in the comments below.

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