Tag Archives: Apple Watch

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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Top Tech Trends of 2015. A top 5 list.

homer

As 2015 draws to a close, we’re inundated with lists.

Best of lists.

Epic fails lists.

Prediction lists.

Everyone’s trying to get in on that end of year metrics booster as people search for reports, studies and stats on how well we did this year or how well we’re predicted to do next year.

I am no different.

But I’m not particularly interested in offering any scientific or metrics-based opinions.

I’ve read no studies to support any of what I’m about to say.

No reports inform my perspective.

In fact, I’ve been told by at least one person, that my list is bunk.

Kick rocks.

I know what the fuck I’m talkimbout’.

Anywho, I think we can all agree that 2015 was a banner year for tech.

This year, we saw curved screens, wearables, virtual reality, and streaming music explode.

Everyone had skin in the game and we (consumers) benefited from all of it.

Everywhere you looked, technology was changing the way we did things, the way we saw things and the way we interacted with the world around us.

And that trend is likely to continue unabated.

So here are my top 5 tech trends of 2015 (in no particular order).

Wearables are a thing.

wearables_tech

Without question, 2015 was the year of wearables. Anyone who was anyone wanted to create a wearable device, demonstrating that they ‘got it’ when it came to wearable technology. While brands like Tag Heuer had their head turning high end $1,800 Android watch, one wearable stood out among the rest: The Apple Watch. Heralded as the device that would ‘free people from their phones’ (considering the fact that it’s a tethered device – that’s a bit of an overstatement, but nonetheless) Apple sold more than 4.2 million watches in the second quarter of this year, making it the most successful wearable device ever. I’m not a fan (be on the look out for my expert’s review) of the Apple Watch, but I’ve got to give props where they are due and the Apple set the bar for wearable lifestyle integration.

Every cloud has a silver lining.

the-cloud

2015 was the year that Cloud came into it’s own. Principally, in the form of highly publicized hacks. Who can forget last year’s infamous Apple iCloud hack. Seeing Jennifer Lawrence’s naughty bits brought the issue squarely into – ahem – focus. Ashley Madison’s subsequent hack once again showed the vulnerability of data in the cloud. But where many see problems, cloud providers and security experts see opportunity. The demand for cloud services will invariably increase due to the advantages of high computing power, low costs, high performance, scalability, accessibility and availability, and cloud vendors are reaping the benefits with 50% annual growth rates. Data breaches will continually be the bane of virtual data storage, but cloud is definitely the future and the trend clearly got a foothold this year.

Drones, drones everywhere!

amazon drone

In 2013, when Jeff Bezos introduced the planned delivery drones of Amazon Prime Air on 60 Minutes to the befuddlement of Charlie Rose, it was a fantastic and futuristic moment. Two years later, drones are an every day part of our lives. Whether it’s the small toys for kids, the more advanced camera toting variety or Amazon’s delivery drones, drones have become a defining element of 2015. Drone were so prolific this year they prompted legislators to draft bills prohibiting them and the FAA to issue regulations regarding flight ceilings to prevent their unfettered use in airspace by the general population. Drone technology continues to advance as innovative applications are constantly being developed.

Mobile became a gateway.

mobile gateway

Mobile is the gateway to everything. The explosion in social media, wearables, IoT, streaming, cloud all owe their origin to mobile. Mobile has become one of the largest contributors to retail, providing a cushion to waning brick and mortal sales. The use of mobile in stores, to scan barcodes, search for comparable items, and pay all from the same device has increased the frequency and number of touch points that can be exploited by brands to help influence consumer behavior. The sheer amount of data generated by mobile users is a treasure trove for brands interested in harnessing the value of that data. As users become device agnostic, opting to use the device appropriate for the moment, mobile will become synonymous with ‘mobility’ and not devices.

Social Media

social media

Photograph: Dado Ruvic/Reuters

Social media has become a disruptive element to virtually every space. From finance to politics to the reporting of world events, social media has helped spread information light years faster than traditional media. Breaking news is no longer coming from news outlets, but from people on-the-ground broadcasting events in real time to online followers and members of their digital social networks. Nowadays media outlets are piggybacking on stories sourced from social media, with the more savvy media outlets devoting entire units to social media listening. Social media has also grown niche audiences, speaking to its power to engage both mainstream and previously less engaged or insular communities.

The items that didn’t make this list (because I was lazy or harangued by my more critical peeps – you know who you are) include: machine to machine, 3D printing, digital pay – I could go on.

Suffice it to say, this is just an entré for a deeper discussion for 2015’s top trends.

What other trend stood out for you in 2015? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

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Filed under Apple Watch, iPhone, mobile, social media, technology

I’m sorry Apple Watch. I miss you.

Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 12.28.30 PM

It’s been exactly one week since I let my business partner, Mark, borrow my Apple Watch and my feelings of withdrawal are palpable.

His wife wanted to get him an Apple Watch for his birthday, and he asked if he could take mine for a test drive before she dropped coin.

He’d previously heard me complain that the Apple Watch wasn’t all that, and he wanted to assess it for himself.

So I unpaired it from my iPhone and let him rock out.

What did I care, it was just a stupid toy, right?

One week later, as I reflect on how much I’ve maligned the Apple Watch, as being an expensive and glorified toy, I’m starting to realize the error of my ways.

Dare I say, I miss my watch?

I no longer have the convenience of doing the simple things like glancing at my watch for the time, or more sophisticated tasks like getting turn-by-turn directions.

I’ve been reduced to pulling out my phone for these tasks, which I thought were mere trifles when performed on my watch, but I now see were much more than that.

They were convenience.

How could I have been so wrong?

You’re probably asking yourself, “what is this fool talkimbout?”

I’ll tell you what I’m talkimbout.

Ever since I got the Apple Watch as a birthday gift from my wife, I’ve been fairly consistent in my characterization of it as a glorified – and expensive – toy.

Sure, it’s cute.

Sure, it’s got a nice design.

Sure, it’s baked with apps and loads of ‘cool’ features.

But so friggin’ what?

It’s not all that!

Whenever anyone noticed my watch and asked me what I thought, I’d give them the following rundown:

“The Apple Watch is a nice toy. But that’s all it is – a toy. Since I’ve had it, I use it mostly for the alerts: new emails, text messages, incoming phone calls, the activity monitor. It’s got other features, like the ability to make and receive phone calls, but what am I? Dick Tracy? Making phone calls from your wrist is just awkward. You can also control other iOS devices, using the Remote app on the watch, but that’s also not the best user experience. Or taking photos. Unless you remember to use the time delay mode, all your shots will have you pressing your wrist. Texting? Talk to text. You can send either a voice message or the text version of your message from your watch. And you can also ask Siri to perform certain tasks, but invariably, you’ll probably use your iPhone instead. All in all, it’s cute, but I wouldn’t spend money for it.”

One week without my watch, and I’m truly starting to appreciate that I derived significant utility from my watch.

For all the things I claimed I wasn’t or wouldn’t use it for, there were a host of things that I was using it for.

Like those damn alerts.

I’ve always got my phone on silent.

No vibrate.

Not low.

Silent.

So whenever any alert came to my phone, invariably unless I was using it at the time, I missed it.

Phone calls, text messages, emails, breaking news, whatever – I’d receive well after they were delivered.

It wouldn’t be like an hour later – usually a few minutes or so.

But my response time was usually unintentionally delayed because of this gap.

With my watch, I could intentionally delay my responses or not, because I knew when the notification arrived.

The other day, a friend of mine from high school hit me up on Facebook asking if she should get the Apple Watch for her son for Christmas.

And I gushed.

Apple Watch praise

I couldn’t even help myself.

For all my smack talking about the Apple Watch being a toy, when asked, I offer an unabashed endorsement.

One week later without it, and I’m slowly realizing exactly how much my Apple Watch means to me…

If you’re in the market for an Apple Watch, then you should definitely check out the reviews out there for a less impassioned perspective.

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Apple Care+ FAIL! Geniuses my arse!

cracked apple watch

Note: You can read this long ass post or skip to the end and watch my video recap instead. The choice is yours!

This post was originally going to be a rant about the Top 10 Things I hated about iOS 9 (.1, .2, etc.), but my recent trip down the Apple Genius Support rabbit hole has me too hot to poke jovial fun at them.

Why am I all hot and bothered, you ask?

Well, because a few weeks ago, after working out and sculpting my exquisite ebony physique, I opened my locker, pulled out my gym bag and heard the distinct shatter of Ion-X glass.

A chill ran up my spine as I slowly looked down to see my precious Apple Watch.

Face down on the cold granite floor.

Even before I reach down to picked it up by one of it’s delicate rubber straps, I knew.

The sound I heard was true.

A horrible crack coursing along the length of the bottom and up the watch face greeted me as I turned it over.

Running my finger over the fissures, I could feel the splintered glass.

Damn! Damn! Damn!

Although I’ve maligned the Apple Watch as a mere toy, it was an expensive toy to which I’d become accustomed.

It’s once annoying subtle haptic taps had become welcomed reminders, alerting me to meetings, calls and milestones reached.

And it told time!

But all was not lost.

You see, I had Apple Care+, so getting this fixed would be nothing but a chicken wing.

When I got back to the office, I popped open my MacBook to schedule a repair appointment.

Alas, there were no appointments anywhere local until the following day.

So I made an appointment to take my watch into the Apple Store at Grand Central at noon.

When I arrived, I was seated by one of the Geniuses, and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

I waited for an hour and a fucking half before I had to just grab someone and be like “What the fuck?! I’ve been here an hour and a half, is anyone going to help me?”

Befuddled, the genius (notice I’ve gone to lowercase “g”) asked me my name, my appointment time, why I was there (didn’t you have all this already when I checked in?) and scurried off.

A few minutes later (I was giving her the evil eye the entire time – lest she forget her charge) she returned to advise that someone would “be right with me.”

True to her word, two minutes later a multiple-piercing sporting, gauge-earing wearing, mohawk rocking vertically challenged genius walked over to “assist” me.

When I showed him my watch, he told me that they didn’t perform these types of repairs in-house and that my watch would have to be sent out for repair.

He further advised me that it would cost me $79 (or something in that neighborhood) when the repair was done, which I would pay when I came to pick up my watch.

Finally, he said that it would take five to seven days for the work to be done, but that I would get an email notifying me of everything we had discussed.

The entire transaction took 90 seconds.

I waited an hour and a fucking half to essentially hand over my watch.

Un-be-fucking-lievable.

Mind you, did I get a confirmation email, like I did when I scheduled my appointment?

Did I get a follow-up email five to seven days later?

Did I receive any communication whatsoever from Apple regarding my repair.

Thrice, “no”.

And I was missing my watch.

So on the one week anniversary of dropping off my watch, I called Apple Support.

I actually called the Grand Central Station Apple Store at (212) 284-1800, but once I selected ANY option, I was re-routed to their general support call center.

After running the automated attendant gauntlet, I was connected with a human who established that:

  1. I was never assigned a Repair Id typically issued with every repair
  2. The Case No + Serial number combination typically used to track repair orders in lieu of the Repair No. didn’t work

When she finally pulled up my repair status, it confirmed that my watch had, in fact, been left with Apple at Grand Central for repair.

And it further showed that it had been received by the service center, assessed and that a replacement product was ‘pending’.

To figure out why I hadn’t received any notice and resolve the hold up, the operator asked me to hold for a few minutes so that she could contact someone at the Grand Central store for some answers – and presumably reunite me and my watch.

A few minutes on hold became five minutes, then ten, then fifteen before she rejoined to ask me if I wouldn’t mind waiting a little longer while she attempted to get someone at the store.

At this point, I had been on the call for over 30 minutes and wasn’t keen on holding longer.

“I gave you my number at the start of the call in the event we got disconnected, can’t you just call me back when you reach someone?”

“Oh no! We can’t call you back. You’ve got to stay on the line.”

“Well what would you have done if we had been disconnected?”

Silence.

“You know what, I’m going to go.”

By this point, I had learned that the store should have had my watch on premises and decided it made more sense to go to Grand Central and handle it personally than wait on hold for the operator to talk to someone at Grand Central.

Which is what I was originally trying to do before being re-routed to their call center.

But I digress.

Not looking for a repeat of my previous trip, I accosted the first person I encountered with a genius shirt and iPad and asked where my watch was.

Befuddled (they’re always befuddled), the genius asked for my repair id and serial number, plugged them into her iPad and reported that the repair center had determined that the watch could not be repaired and my watch was going to be replaced.

Duh!

She then traipsed off to the back to see if my watch was in stock.

Returning five minutes later, she told me that there was no inventory, but that I’d receive an email when they had more inventory.

I wasn’t going to be so easily put off.

“Can you see if another store has the watch?”

Connecticut.

“Can you ask them to send it?”

Apparently just because it showed up on her iPad as being in their inventory didn’t necessarily mean that they had it in store, and “no” they couldn’t ship it to me.

Satisfied that I was one step closer, I left on her promise that I would be notified when my watch was in stock.

That was one week ago.

Have I been notified?

Do I have my watch?

Negatory.

Oh, it’s on!

New tactic: chat.

I wanted to make sure I had a record of the tom foolery that Apple was putting me through, so I hit them up via chat.

Surprisingly, “Kathleen” was on-point.

She found my repair record, reviewed the notes, and listened to my experience with a sympathetic ear (or eye rather, since it was all being communicated via text – but you get my meaning).

Per Kathleen:

According to our Dispatch, due to a recent update in our system, the store should be providing you a replacement, directly from their stock, which is what Dispatch thought they were doing. It appears the store wasn’t aware of this, which is why I’d like to have a Phone Advisor contact the store with you on the line, to set it up so you can get it right away.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

True to her word, someone was called me while we were still on our chat.

Gratified, I thanked her profusely, let her go and continued my saga with the “Phone Advisor” who was going to get results!

Or so I thought.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

This little hussie wanted to argue with me about what they were telling her at the store.

Why hussie, you ask?

Well because I was on hold for an HOUR only to have her come back and tell me the same shit they initially told me when I called a week prior.

Every time I tried to explain why what she was telling me was pure crap, she starting taking on top of me Apple-splaining why “product replacement pending” meant “repair in progress.”

I was too through.

Too. Through.

I told her that I needed her to put someone else on the phone who could help me, and that’s when I received the coup de grace – Marlene Caldera, Apple Care iOS Senior Advisor.

Now we’re getting somewhere, right?

Wrong!

She got on the call, all official-like, promising that she would own this issue through resolution.

Impressive sounding indeed.

But it was all downhill from there.

She explained that “product replacement pending” actually meant that my Apple Watch could not be repaired, so the store had ordered a replacement watch, and that replacement was not yet in.

Confused, I advised Marlene that this was contrary to what Kathleen had explained about the store replacing my watch from inventory, as well as what the (so-called) genius at Grand Central had represented.

And then our call was promptly dropped.

Yes. You heard me correctly.

Our call was dropped.

As in dial-tone.

Luckily, Marlene had provided me with her direct contact details for just such an event.

So I called her back.

And got her voicemail.

And called her again an hour later.

And got her voicemail again.

And called her a third time an hour later.

And got her voicemail thrice (it’s my word o’ the day).

Way to own this issue, Marlene.

Did Marlene call me back.

Am I pissed as hell?

Well lets just say…

f you guys

Apple is making me very angry, and as Bill Bixby used to say…

I’ve got a few takeaways from my recent experience:

1. Apple Care+ is not the service it’s positioned to be. The service I received makes me wonder why I even paid for it.

2. Never, I repeat never go to the Apple Store at Grand Central Station. It’s one of the nine circles of hell from Dante’s Inferno.

3. Don’t drop your watch. They break and replacing them is a bitch.

For those of you who don’t like to read, here’s my video rant.

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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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It’s all about connections. And 5 Other Things You Need to Know about the Internet of Things

IoT Demystified, artwork courtesy of Dawn Riziti

I recently asked a professional colleague of mine if they knew what the Internet of Things was.

After a brief paused, they half-said, half-asked, “a marketplace of things you can get on the internet?”

Uh – no. Not even close.

Mind you, since I work in technology, I was more than a bit taken aback.

How are we, in the mobile/tech industry, not up on a rather widely used term of art – at least within the industry?

But then it dawned on me, the Internet of Things (or “IoT” as we say type in the industry) may not be as widely known as I thought.

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably never even heard of the “Internet of Things.”

Or, if you’ve heard the expression, you probably nodded along knowingly, without the faintest idea of what it meant.

Apple Watch. Internet of Things.

Nest thermostat. Internet of Things.

Onstar. Internet of Things.

Nowadays, virtually everything can be part of this amorphous Internet of Things, thing.

But that’s not quite explanation enough to help you know what the Internet of Things, actually is.

So here’s a little primer for ya.

According to Wikipedia,

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects or “things” embedded with electronics, software, sensors and connectivity to enable it to achieve greater value and service by exchanging data with the manufacturer, operator and/or other connected devices. Each thing is uniquely identifiable through its embedded computing system but is able to interoperate within the existing infrastructure.

Come again, say what?

The Cloud Computing glossary defines the Internet of Things like so:

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a scenario in which objects, animals or people are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. IoT has evolved from the convergence of technologies, micro-electromechanical systems and the Internet.

Yeah, that was a whole lot of gobletygook.

But if the concept still escapes you, here are five other things, about the Internet of Things, that may help you to wrap your head around it.

1. IoT promises connections to everything. The new rule for the future is going to be, “anything that can be connected, will be connected.” As a result, that very “connection” is going to allow you to “life hack” like you’ve never before. You’re already able to track your REM sleep patterns, your calories in-and-out, your mood and focus throughout the day. “Know thyself” will be the new thing as we become data crunching champions. No more ‘one-size-fits-all’ consumption because, at our fingertips, will be a ‘personality mosaic’ that informs all of our behaviors and consumption.  

2. IoT will impact consumptive behavior. As the leading brand in the space, Apple will continue to lead the pack with IoT. They’ve already made the biggest impacts in “at will” consumption. Their IoT will invariably provide us all with completely “tailored” lives. The Apple Watch gives developers the ability to create apps, which will enable the reading and tracking of our consumptive habits and offer more and more suggestions tailored to our interests and lifestyles. 

The possibilities for the IoT increase as the cost of technology decreases. A few years ago, you could only get feature rich smart phones with a two year contract from a major carrier. Today, you can cop an iPhone from T-Mobile or a Samsung from Metro PCS without a contact. Companies will pay you to leave your carrier. And that’s because they know that the smart phone users’ consumptive behavior is on fleek.

3. IoT promises increased efficiency and reduced waste. The IoT will to make us all more efficient, by collecting data about our habits and behaviors, and helping us to live more productive lives. Machines that order refills when supplies are low. Alarms that record how often you hit snooze and wake you up at the optimal time so you don’t have to. Cars that calculate travel time and proactively re-route you when they detect increased traffic ahead. Lights that automatically brighten and dim, based on the activity in the room. All of these advances are the Internet of Things, saving money, time, gas, and energy.

4. IoT will change healthcare as we know it. Folks are obsessed with the possibilities that Android Watch and the Google Genomic project will have on healthcare. Think about it. Through the IoT, our genomes, our diseases and our state of health can be all matched up with environmental and behavioral data fed by wearable tech. We’ll actually be able to know more about disease and what triggers certain gene expression, possibly leading to cures and disease prevention by reconciling all of this disparate data.

Lab testing on animals has proven to be highly ineffective and outdated in mimicking/predicting how humans will respond to medications and other environmental influences. But IoT provides the first truly humane opportunity EVER to virtually “test” on humans, by giving medical professionals a unique and benignly intrusive view into the relevant metadata that factors into our general health.

5. IoT has major privacy and security implications. If you follow the news, you may have heard about the hullabaloo over the new Samsung Smart TVs which ‘listen’ to you. It’s really just another form of voice-commanded technology, not unlike Siri, Cortana or Google’s voice assistant, which act on vocal prompts. So while we’re already using this type of technology, the IoT opens up the possibility that virtually every device you interact with will be ‘listening’ to you, actively and passively, monitoring and recording your every action.

The purpose of this listening, tracking and recording is to enable you to live a simpler life, but the implications include the fact that third parties will be able to access ever more granular bits of data about you, your family, your habits, comings and goings. With ‘listening’ televisions and devices everywhere, the IoT brings the very real likelihood that we are going to be sacrificing privacy, as we know it, for convenience.

But it’s not all bad.

Put simply, the internet of this is all about connections.

So let’s review, shall we?

The Internet of Things is connected devices, wired homes, smart buildings, and constant data capture.

It’s smart grids, IPv6, machine-to-machine, intelligent communication.

It’s sensors, RFID, wireless technologies, beacons.

It’s everything. Everywhere. All the time.

Welcome to the Internet of Things.

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Godsend or Devil’s spawn? Five pros and cons of the Apple Watch.

apple watchApple just held one of its infamous events, where they unveiled the Apple Watch and the newly redesigned MacBook.

And while folks (including your’s truly) were thoroughly impressed with all the updates to the Mac: slimmer profile, lightweight, no fan, etc., the clear, hands down star of the show was the Apple Watch.

Not since the release of the original iPhone has there been this much hype over a device.

Nearly every day, dozens (if not hundreds) of articles and blog posts have been devoted to speculating what types of apps are going to be preloaded on the device, it’s functionality and features.

The authors of these pieces fall squarely on one side of the debate or the other.

The Apple Watch is either a godsend or the spawn of Satan.

Let’s examine the five most telling assessments of the Apple Watch and decide for ourselves, shall we?

1. The Apple Watch will make us healthier.

giphy

Like FitBit, Nike+ FuelBand and Jawbone, the Apple Watch enables it’s wearer to monitor and track their fitness activity. Whether you’re walking or running, climbing stairs or taking your dog for a walk, the Apple Watch lets you track all your fitness activities. Apps integrating Apple’s Healthkit, allow you to track things like weight, BMI and biometric readings. With haptic responses and wireless syncing with your iPhone, the Apple Watch promises to be both your fitness diary and motivator, keeping you on track.

2. The Apple Watch will permanently shackle us to our jobs.

Apple Watch handcuffs

The thing about wearables is that they’re wearable. So if you’ve got a device that’s constantly updating your emails, your meetings, your text messages, and pinging you with alerts and reminders, the argument goes that you’re always going to be ‘on.’ No longer will you be able to say, “I left my phone at my desk or in my purse,” because that watch on your wrist doesn’t come off.

3. The Apple Watch will make us more productive.

flash

Apps like OfficeTime offer the promise of increased productivity, by allowing you to tap your watch at the beginning and end of every activity, and by the end of the day, week, month, provide an accurate record of what exactly you spend your time doing. Other apps, like Evernote, are porting their functionality to the Apple Watch, allowing users to access a slimmed down version of the app from their wrist.

4.  The Apple Watch is a distraction.

smartwatchdriver

We’re already slaves to our mobile devices, staring at them every five minutes, phantom buzzing in our pockets, on a constant search for power sources to keep precious life flowing into their silicon innards. But with a phone, it’s often tucked away, in a case, pocket, or purse, and therefore not as much of a distraction. You can leave it at your desk and walk away, put it down or turn it off and Viola! problem solved. The Apple Watch, as a wearable, will not be discretely tucked away, but a constant vibrating, beeping, buzzing distraction on your wrist, always within eyeshot.

5. The Apple Watch is an elegant piece of design.

apple-watch-paris

Few can debate that the Apple Watch is a thing to behold. Like Rolex, Chopard or Breitling, the Apple Watch is design, if nothing else. I’m pretty sure I got a woody the first time I saw it. But I’m a fanboy, what would you expect? If you want decide to buy the Apple Watch because it looks good, who could fault you? No one – but the haters of course, and we’ll forgive their pettiness, won’t we.

If you want to track your steps in a sleek, stylish way, the Apple Watch is for you. If you want to be able to check your alerts, respond to texts, read emails without having to pull out your phone, the Apple Watch is for you. If you’re and early adopter simply trying to stay up on the latest and greatest technology out, the Apple Watch is for you.

At the end of the day, the Apple Watch is just a watch. It’s not even really a watch because you’ve got to pair it with a phone, which means that it’s functionality can only truly be experienced when connected to another bigger, less inconspicuous device.

But shortcomings aside, like the FitBits, Jawbones and Nike+ FuelBands before it, the Apple Watch adds another layer of utility for folks seeking that extra edge.

 

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2015 is The Year of Mobile and 5 other predictions

crystal-ball

Around this time of year, you’re going to be inundated with “resolution” and “prediction” posts, with folks proselytizing on their views of tech trends for the upcoming year.

Your boy is no better.

But unlike these other jokers at Mashable, Techcrunch, Gawker, et al., who spend time researching, interviewing experts and reviewing industry reports, I simply comb through their work, cherry-picking the tastiest tidbits and regurgitating their work as my original thought.

I kid, I kid.

But seriously.

The end of the year provides a great opportunity to review the wins, hits or misses or the previous year and reliably forecast what may happen in the year ahead.

There have been a number of interesting developments over the past year, which give me confidence to say that 2015 will be the year of mobile.

For example, there are more mobile devices than people on the earth.

Let that sink in for a moment.

That’s significant, especially if all of these people are browsing from their mobile devices.

Even if only half of them utilize their mobile devices as the primary means for getting online, brands that aren’t mobile-enabled are going to see their bounce rates increase and revenues decline, as folks abandon them for sites that are mobile optimized.

But rather than talk about how mobile will impact brands generally, here are my top five mobile predictions for 2015.

1. Mobile payments are going to take off. With Apple Pay already being adopted by 220,000 vendors, the mobile payment trend is undoubtedly going to grow. Apply Pay joins other established mobile payment solutions, like Google Wallet and PayPal, and newcomers, like LevelUp and Paydiant, as well as a host of others scoping the mobile payment space, including Square and Swipely. With folks taking privacy and security seriously, e-commerce sites and mobile applications that allow users to avoid the necessity of having to manually input payment details over insecure wifi networks, will undoubtedly be the preferred method for completing online transactions.

This year, I predict mobile payments becoming a standard.

2.  Mobile sites will proliferate this year. As brands start to realize that customers are spending increasing amounts of time on mobile devices, getting in on this action will be a critical strategy to engagement. Last year, the average person spent almost 3 hours a day on their mobile devices. That’s more time than they spend online, and this trend will likely continue. With streaming services offering television-like abilities, mobile may eventually outpace tv. But at a very basic level, this year brands will acknowledge that the failure to have a mobile site (either mobile enabled or fully responsive) is a distinct competitive disadvantage.

I predict the number of mobile sites will invariably grow at a tremendous pace this year.

3. Widespread adoption of auto-fill. Retailers bemoan cart abandonment as the bane of their existence. Over 68% of e-commerce shopping carts are abandoned. The holy grail for online shopping involves seeing shoppers through checkout. But for mobile shoppers, there is nothing more frustrating than having to complete payment and shipping forms on their mobile device. Payment options like PayPal or Amazon One-Click save users from filling out many of the fields required to complete their online purchases, but too few online vendors are set up with streamlined payment processes. And while a fine tuned checkout doesn’t necessarily equate to fewer abandoned carts, it couldn’t hurt!

Auto fill is a simple and easily implemented solution, that can occur at the browser or native (device) level, which will enable users to quickly and securely complete online forms, typically with one click, dramatically reducing the amount of time (and frustration) required to complete payment or shipping information (or forms of any kind). Google Chrome has already implemented the ability to auto fill forms in both full HTML and mobile web browsers, and many of the mobile payment solutions described above, also include the ability to complete non-payment forms as well.

I predict widespread adoption of mobile autofill solutions, as more players enter the space and users become more conversant with these types of platforms.

4. Mobile loyalty programs will grow. Nearly every retailer I frequent has some sort of rewards program. Stores like Anthropologie, Sephora, CVS, Modell’s, Target, and ShopRite all have rewards programs tied to a keychain or wallet-sized reward card that patrons can present at checkout to earn points or qualify for rewards. But 2015 will see an increasing number taking advantage of Passbook or eliminating cards in favor of mobile loyalty or punch cards. Instead of having to present a loyalty card, users will simply whip out their cell phones flash a QR code and transmit their rewards or loyalty account info, similar to how Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts’ mobile rewards work.

I predict that 2015 will see more brands taking advantage of the convenience of mobile loyalty and release Passbook-like offerings of their own.

5. Wearables will change the mobile landscape. In the not-too-distant past, when you thought “wearables” a massive virtual reality helmet was probably all that came to mind. But with Oculus Rift making wearable headsets more like goggles, and less like NFL helmets, the concepts is more palatable. The definition of wearables has extended from virtual reality headsets, to Google Glass to fitness devices like the Nike FuelBand, the Fitbit tracker, the Apple Watch and Android smart watches. Wearables will open a whole host of smart applications, devoted to health and fitness, as well as medical diagnostics.

I predict that wearables will have a breakout year in 2015, driven primarily by the Apple Watch, but supported by advances in Android wearables, the proliferation of 3D and augmented reality applications adding rich virtual layers to users’ real life experiences.

What are your mobile predictions for 2015? Feel free to comment and share!

Happy New Year!

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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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