Tag Archives: Siri

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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Siri take the wheel. Digital life hacking for dummies.

digital life hack icons

I just saw a commercial for the Apple Watch (the device that promises to usher in a whole new world) alerting its wearers to “stand up.”

“Hey you fat lazy bastard! Time to get off your rotund keister and exercise those pathetic extensions you call legs. Stand up!”

As appalled as I was at the thought that folks need reminding (to stand up??!) I had to acknowledge the pure utility of a reminder from your wrist watch to perform important (or mundane) tasks.

You see, I’m all about efficiency.

If there’s a way to do something in fewer steps, shave time or save money, sign me up.

And I’m not taking about being cheap, skimping on quality or reducing efficacy.

I’m talking about shortcuts for improving performance economically, whether it be incremental or exponential.

In the tech world, we refer to such ‘shortcuts’ as hacks, often crude, but effective solutions to specific programming, coding or computing problems.

The concept has moved beyond the binary world to the real one, where these crude but effective shortcuts can be applied to every day problems.

In modern vernacular – life hacking.

What’s life hacking?

Quite simply, life hacking refers to any trick, shortcut, skill, or novel method that increases productivity and efficiency, in all walks of life.

Everywhere you look, folks are life hacking.

Carpooling? Life hacking.

Teleworking? Life hacking.

Bulk shopping? Life hacking.

Virtually every task we perform in our daily lives, from the mundane to the complex, can be life hacked.

But life hacking also applies to our digital lives as well.

There were several early movers in the digital life hacking space, although we probably didn’t consider them as such back in the day.

Hootsuite comes immediately to mind.

Think about it.

Back in the heyday of social media, you had to have an account with everyone to participate in their closed universes: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, LinkedIn, etc. – you get the picture.

Keeping up with them all was a nightmare.

Before there was the ability to cross pollinate your feeds with the same information from a single account by connecting them, you pretty much had to log into each one individually if you wanted to post or publish content.

And then Hootsuite came along with their social media dashboard, and you could hit most of your social media spaces from one convenient place.

Life hack.

Or TweetSpinner.

You remember them, don’t you?

TweetSpinner was essentially part CRM, part DM manager, part scheduler and part profile manager.

With TweetSpinner you could manage your followers (and follow folks back), schedule your tweets, update your profile and send broadcast direct messages from one place.

TweetSpinner consolidated four discrete activities into a handy dashboard where at a glance you could assess and manage all your Twitter-related tasks. 

Life. Hack.

Alright Stephen, enough with the digital life hacks of antiquity. What about today?

Well today, digital life hacking is a veritable art form.

And the Apple Watch is at the forefront of this movement.

Sure, there were the earlier movers – the Android watch preceded Apple by well over a year.

And there’s FitBit, Nike Fuel, and a host of other wearables that provided a certain amount of utility to their wearers.

But none holds the promise of the Apple watch for the sheer breadth of potential.

Wait…this wasn’t supposed to be a post about the Apple Watch.

It’s supposed to be about digital life hacking.

And all the ways in which digital tools can help you to life hack with aplomb.

Beyond tracking your fitness progress passively, just by wearing a device on your wrist, this same device can locate your car (so you don’t actually have to remember where you parked), find your phone, pay for your purchase – the list goes on.

But rather than bore you (any further), here are my top 5 digital life hacks.

1password

1Password – in this age of hackers, identify thieves, and wifi spoofing apps keeping your personal information secure is critical. Most people have multiple accounts for the various spaces and places they visit online, each with login credentials. Most people don’t take the time to create different logins for these multiple accounts, opting instead to use the same easy-to-recall password for everything. We know that it’s notoriously unsafe to do that, but who can remember a buttload of different password for all these accounts? With 1Password, you don’t need to. Ever since I downloaded the 1Password app, I’ve felt infinitely safer whenever I have to log into or onto anything online.

paypal

PayPal – as a consultant, getting paid is of the utmost importance. It used to be that you had to send a physical invoice and wait for a check to be cut, usually ‘Net 30.’ If you had a physical establishment, you had a card scanner to take payments at the point of sale. Electronic payments were the exclusive purview of online retailers. But today, PayPal gives consultants like me the ability to send a digital invoice, take ‘point of sale’ payments with a plug in card scanner, and accept online payments.

basecamp logo

Basecamp3 – working on projects with remote teams is always a challenge. Being able to communicate information uniformly and efficiently, share assets, collaborate and share ideas fluidly is critical to the success of any project. Before Basecamp, online collaboration took the form of shared online folders and VPN tunnels to access them. Version control, permissions, visibility and accountability were not standardized and managing projects was fairly complex. Today, things like Evernote, Slack, Google Drive, have made remote team collaboration commonplace eliminating much of the complexity of old. 

mytix

MyTix – We’ve all been here before: You’re queued up in a line to purchase a train ticket from the ticket booth or vending machine, train pulls up and you’re left with the option of abandoning your place in line and purchasing the ticket on the train with a surcharge or missing the train and purchasing the ticket without a surcharge. With the New Jersey Transit MyTix app, those days are over. Rather than having to purchase physical tickets, the app allows you purchase single rides, weekly or monthly tickets for all of NJT’s routes. You can buy tickets for other passengers riding with you as well.

siri

Siri – I used to be very anti-Siri. Why would I want to talk to my phone? If I need to do something on my iPhone, I can simply open the app and perform the activity. Case closed. When I first tried to use Siri, nine times out of ten she couldn’t/didn’t understand what I was saying and the whole process was very frustrating. But then I was exposed to the best practices for using phone assistants and my whole world changed. From setting reminders, scheduling meetings, and getting directions to sending texts, reading text messages, and placing hands-free calls, Siri ushered in a whole new world of utility that had previously been closed to me. Siri put my digital life hacking on steroids building countless efficiencies into my daily routine.

 

 

 

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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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iPhone 5s. The “s” stands for sucka.

iPhone 5 sucker

Apple is notorious for making us want things we don’t need.

Think about it.

A few weeks ago, they dropped the kaliedascope 5c and the FBI-inspired 5s with fingerprint recognition.

And who bought those phones?

Were they iPhone newbies eager to own their first iPhone?

No.

Invariably, they were iPhone veterans stepping up to the latest and greatest.

Although if you copped the 5c you were actually stepping down.

I digress.

Folks who stood in the long lines or pre-ordered a new iPhone probably had nothing wrong with their current devices.

The only thing wrong, was that a new iPhone had just dropped.

More likely than not, they were salivating over all the features the 5s had to offer, and looked upon their current phones with disgust.

Why can’t you be more like the 5s?

But if they were already on the 5, which countless millions were, the 5c and 5s were nothing more than Apple’s oft-rehearsed slight of hand.

A shell game as it were.

Seriously, how many times have they run this play?

Get us all hot and heavy for the latest iPhone.

Queue us up like lambs to the slaughter, waiting in long lines to pay a pound of flesh for our shiny new bauble.

Let us bask in its shiny newness for a hot minute.

Only to drop a better, shinier, more feature-filled device immediately thereafter.

And the cycle begins anew.

Why do we fall for it?

Are we stupid?

Is obsolescence that quick?

Do their upgraded devices simply work so well that we can’t live without them?

Or is Apple’s marketing that persuasive?

I’m going to go with “Apple knows a mark when they see one.”

That’s right.

We’re all a bunch of hopeless marks.

Seriously.

What is the 5s anyway?

A new OS?

No. They released iOS 7 and you didn’t need a new phone to get it.

A new shape?

Nope. It’s the same body shape as the current 5. Buttons, ports, everything’s in the same place.

Fingerprint recognition?

Not likely, since it’s universally acknowledged that its the most nonsecure method of protecting your device.

I can’t imagine that we’re falling over ourselves to cop a new phone for that useless feature.

The “gold” back plate and accents?

Nah. Sure that little gold “O” around the home button is kinda sexy, but not everyone likes gold or could get that limited edition.

And the vanity factor is quickly eliminated once you drop it in a protective sleeve (like I do).

So what Made Apple so sure of themselves?

One little letter: “s.”

Adding an “s” to any of their phones makes us crazy.

Think about it.

3gs. 4s. 5s.

Every time they released an “s” phone, cats queued up.

We didn’t know that that effin’ “s” meant, but we knew we had to have it.

It’s got an “s” in it’s name, damn it! Get out of my way!

While some surmise that the S stood for Siri, Apple’s voice assistant, that theory fails to pass muster when other iOS devices also have Siri – and no “s”.

Others suggest that the “s” could stand for “special” or “super” or even “speed.”

No. No. No.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret.

It took me months of clandestine research, bribes and subterfuge to uncover this information.

“S” is a highly classified designation at Apple.

It applies to a select subset of products.

Ready?

The “s” stands for “sucka.”

Which is what you are for falling for Apple’s little tricks time and time again.

Present company included.

Damn you Apple!

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iOS 7 for dummies (like you)

There has been a buzz of activity over the upcoming release of iOS 7 to the public.

Brands are scrambling to make sure that their apps will be compliant with Apple’s latest operating system, but what does that mean for we regular folks, with no skin in the game?

Why do/should we care?

I mean, what is iOS 7 doing for me?

Well, that’s a good question.

And the answer is: a lot.

For one, if you own an iPhone 4, 4S or 5, upgrading to iOS 7 is free.

But that’s not all.

Apple’s latest OS comes chock full of UI/UX changes that will make your iPhone look sleeker and run better.

You don’t have to take my word for it (although you should), as I’ve compiled a rundown of the cooler iOS 7 upgrades to be on the lookout for, in a short list I like to call:

iOS 7 for Dummies.

And since this is iOS 7, I thought it apropros to focus on seven features.

1. New icons. The tech sphere is all agog over the new “flatter” icons being used by Apple. Jony Ives really dug deep for this. Not.

iOS 7 screenshot courtesy of BusinessInsider.com

2. New phone. Gone is the two tone dialer keypad. Gone are the square buttons. In their stead is a clean white background with blue circular buttons. So purty.

Screenshot courtesy of BusinessInsider.com

3. New control center. No more looking for that gear icon to get at your most-used functions. By simply swiping up from the bottom of your screen, you can access the control center. Handy, huh?

Screenshot courtesy of BusinessInsider.com

4. New keyboard and search. Swipe your finger down the screen and voila! you’ve opened up Search. And they’ve put one more icon in the bottom row, so that instead of mistakenly opening Siri, you can mistakenly open the Internet. What will they think of next?

Screenshot courtesy of BusinessInsider.com

To open search, simply drag your finger down the middle of the screen.

5. New browser. If you’re not fond of being unable to see all your open browser tabs/windows, then this is your lucky day. With the new tab display, you can simply scroll through your browser tabs like index cards. Can you say “Android”?

Screenshot courtesy of BusinessInsider.com

Thumbing through open browser windows seems very…Android-like. Hmmm…

6. New notification center. Notifications on iOS 6 is cute, but on iOS 7, its received a complete overhaul. Add the ability to categorize your notifications and you’ve got alerts on steroids.

Screenshot courtesy of BusinessInsider.com

7. New multi-tasking mode access. Double-clicking the home button will not longer simply expose apps running in the background. It will show you the screens themselves, which you can swipe up to close.

Screenshot courtesy of BusinessInsider.com

Double-clicking exposes both the icon for apps running in the background and the screen.

Now this is really just a short list of all the aesthetic changes you’re going to see when iOS 7 formally rolls out.

Apple has changed virtually everything: maps, mail, calendar, iTunes, the camera, weather, the App Store, search, Siri, the settings menu…everything.

They’ve even made it easier to upload pictures and video, by adding Flickr and Vimeo integration.

I could go on and on, but I’ll spare you my loquacity and send you to the definitive source for your iOS 7, BusinessInsider.com, which does a great job breaking it down.

I’m sure you’ve been waiting with bated breath for the release.

But now, you’re at least prepared for what Apple’s going to come with.

Don’t you feel less dumb better?

CD, you’re welcome.

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The iPad 2. My “new” favorite device.

Stephen and iPad sitting in a tree, w-o-r-k-i-n-g.

Stephen and iPad sitting in a tree, w-o-r-k-i-n-g.

Have you heard?

I’m in love!

No. Not with my wife.

I mean, I’m in love with my wife.

Don’t get me wrong.

She’s a sweet chick that doesn’t get on my nerves too much.

Just kiddin honey. You don’t get on my nerves at all.

The point is, I’m in love but its not the wife.

No. Not the kids.

Love the kids (by default, not design).

But I’m not talking offspring here.

My job? Gimme a break!

Check in with me when I’m clocking seven figures.

For now, negatory.

Alright, last guess.

Wrong!

I do love sex.

But it’s an act, not a thing.

You suck at this.

Remind me never to pick you as a game show partner.

It’s my iPad 2!

I am head over heels in love with it.

I recently got it from wifey for my birthday.

I was, in a word, verklempt.

Why all the emotion?

After all, this is my second iPad.

I had the original for three years.

Mind you, I was pissed when Apple dropped the 2 within months of my copping the 1.

But I wasn’t going for the okey-doke and buying into Apple’s manipulative bait-and-switch (and rape your pockets).

So for three years, I made do with my camera-less, FaceTime deficient, slower iPad.

Don’t get me wrong, we had our run.

But when the 4 was released, followed by the Mini, and talks began about a 5 and a retina display Mini, I realized enough was enough.

I had to step up my game.

Then came the dilemma.

Do I cop the 2, 3, 4 or Mini?

The Mini was out of the question.

I tooled around with it in the office, and it was so not a tablet.

I mean it is a tablet, but its not a tablet.

Knowhatimean?

You’re daft.

Try to keep up with me, please?

Anywho, the debate really centered around the 2, 3 and 4.

Do I just go for it and drop coin for the latest and greatest, the 4 with its retina display, 4G LTE and all the bells and whistles?

Or do I settle for something less bells and whistley from an earlier generation?

The decision was easy.

The 2.

Same (general) features and functionality of the (now defunct) 3 (and 4), less price.

Sure it’s maxed out at 16GB.

And there’s no Siri.

Lower resolution photos and video recording.

But for all intents and purposes, its the same thing.

Truth be told, my love affair with the 2 started the day I beheld it in the wild for the first time.

My man’s girl had one in Miami, during Art Basel.

And before I knew what was happening, I was one of those dorks shooting video with a big ole tablet in my outstretched arms – Frankenstein’s monster-like.

Get it right. Frankenstein was the man, not the monster.

The foolishness of my appearance did little to dampen the unbridled affection I felt – and presently feel – for it.

Even today, well after the novelty has worn off, as I cradle my very own 2 lovingly in my mitts, affection wells in my chest.

Why the love affair, you ask?

Well, nothing in my arsenal impacts my day-to-day productivity more than the iPad.

My iPad helps me get shit done.

Shout out to Moses.

If you’ve every tried to work on your iPhone while out and about, or even on your laptop, you quickly realize there are – limitations.

One’s too small and cramped.

The other’s too big and bulky.

But my iPad is just right.

I power through emails.

Schedule appointments.

Knock out to-do’s.

I’m generally bout-it-bout-it.

Bout-it bout-it=handling one’s business in a professional and thorough manner.

When I’m rocking with my iPad, you might as well give me a cape and call me the Black Superman.

I gets that busy.

So if you see me out and about, fondling or kissing my iPad, and it makes you feel…uncomfortable…

Avert your eyes.

Nothing’s going to stand in the way of my love.

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Google Now and Siri. Friends or Enemies? Frenemies.

There can only be one!

There can only be one!

Didja hear?

Google Now is now available on iOS!

Aren’t you glad?

No?

Are you saying you’re not up on Google Now?

Google’s version of the personal assistant.

Well let me disabuse you of your ignorance.

About a year ago, when Google introduced it’s intelligent personal assistant for Android , many prognosticated the end of Siri.

Although Google Now wasn’t available for iOS, it was compelling and differed starkly from Apple’s PA offering.

For one, there was no Q&A.

You didn’t have to ask Google Now anything in order to get information.

Simply dial up the app, and it presented you with multiple options, all gleaned from you.

No questions asked.

More importantly, Google Now was intelligent.

Siri is stupid.

No learning curve.

No matter how many times you ask Siri a question, she’ll never intuit that you may be asking her to repeat a function she’s performed in the past.

Dumb dumb. You make me sick.

On the flip side, Google Now takes all the information it already knows about you and serves it back to you before you’ve even thought to ask.

The more you do (within the Google suite), the smarter it becomes.

Sounds bananas right?

How the heck can it tell you something about something you haven’t even asked about?

Magic, duh!

No seriously.

Google Now is an ‘intelligent assistant’, because it learns about it’s user based on that user’s activity and their previous history in other Google applications and services.

Say you’re heading out and start searching for a restaurant, Google Now will show you theaters and night clubs around you to hit afterwards.

Are you a fan of sports? Google Now will automatically update you on the latest scores from all the NBA playoff games.

That was then.

This is now.

And the feared rivalry is no longer conjecture.

Google Now for iOS is here!

Don’t look for it in the App Store though.

It’s not a stand alone app.

It’s an update to another app, Google Search.

I’ve got the Google Search app on my iPhone.

And lo and behold! There’s an update for it.

Update the app and Google Now is front and center with a little informational video.

Google Now on the iPhone 5

Click through the navigation buttons, and Google Now walks you through the various utilitarian ways that it can help you.

From traffic alerts on your commute to work.

To flight information when you travel.

Google Now places a bunch of ‘cards’ at the bottom of the search screen, which you simply swipe up from the bottom to access.

My initial foray into Google Now served up the weather and a bunch of restaurants around the office.

There was also a card with an upcoming conference call.

Snorelax!

I’m sure folks with more exciting lives – or who live in Google – have infinitely more exciting stuff popping off.

If you’re (justifiably) paranoid about the privacy implications of yet another Google service, rest easy.

You’ve got to authorize the app to use your personal information.

But once you do look out!

Not really.

There are a bunch of things you can do on an Android which you can’t on your iOS device.

So that clever little swipe up from the bottom of the phone to activate Google Now – deaded.

Things like Fandango, Boarding Pass, and Events are all off limits too.

Not much of a rivalry.

I doubt I’ll remember to use the search app to look for shit anyway, even though its on my device.

So I probably won’t get much out of Google Now.

But the rest of you blokes should use it and tell me what you think.

Is Google Now the right information at just the right time?

Or will this be just another unused app icon sitting on your phone?

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Sorry Siri. But you suck. Siri-ously.

siri

I was struck by a really good idea the other day, driving home.

Ordinarily, I’d just whip out my iPhone, tap a few notes as a reminder and keep it moving.

But since I was driving, I couldn’t.

I’ve got a voice memo app on my phone, which I could have used.

But I’ve never gone back to listen to any recording I’ve ever made, and this time would be no different.

So I quickly deaded that idea.

But immediately, another, more intriguing solution sprang to mind.

Siri!

Since my previous phone was the 4 and not the 4S, I never got caught up in the whole Siri frenzy.

Martin Scorsese, Samuel Jackson, and Zooey Deschanel did nothing to convince me otherwise.

But driving along the other day, I was compelled to give Siri a spin.

I just couldn’t lose this train of thought.

Sitting at a light, I pressed my home button, bringing Siri to life.

“Siri take a note.”

“What would you like the note to say?”

Dictated a few lines.

“Noted.”

And then, gobbledygook.

'Woodfon' Siri? 'Fandor'? What are these words you're making up?

‘Woodfon’ Siri? ‘Fandor’? What are these words you’re making up?

No punctuation.

A few made up words.

Oh well, I could clean it up later.

Having captured the essence of the thread I wanted to build upon later, I then tried to get Siri to email me the note she had just created.

“Siri, email me my last note.”

“I don’t know who you are. But you can tell me…”

“In Siri settings, tap on ‘My Info’ and then choose yourself from your contacts.”

Seemed reasonable.

Except for the fact that I was driving and couldn’t!

Not to be deterred, I did as she asked at the next red light.

Done.

Back to Siri.

“Siri, email me my last note.”

“What would you like your email to say?”

An email dialogue, with the subject line “My last note” opens up on my screen.

Bitch! I don’t want to send an email about “My last note”.

I want you to email me my last note.

“Siri, show me the last note you took for me.”

“Ok, I found this note.”

What pops up is NOT the last note that she took for me, but some other random note.

“Siri, show me all the notes you have made for me.”

“Ok, I found at least twenty-five notes.”

Heifer, I’ve only made one note with you!

“Siri, show me the notes from today.”

“Okay, I found this note:”

Finally, we’re getting somewhere.

“Siri, email this note to me.”

“I’m not allowed to share your notes, Stephen.”

WTF?

“Siri, why can’t you share my notes with me?”

“I didn’t find any notes matching ‘Siri why can’t you share my notes with me.'”

I was done.

When I got home, I tried to run Siri through a few paces, while I wasn’t driving.

And could focus.

It was a fool’s errand.

Now, I consider myself a fairly intelligent person.

But for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out the right combination of words to get this broad to do anything.

Aside from the most basic shit, Siri was pretty useless.

And from a purely assistive perspective, Siri sucks.

There are too many things that are common parlance that Siri completely flubs.

And if one is required to go through all kinds of linguistic and mental gymnastics to make one understood by their digital assistant, what the fuck good is it?

Don’t mind me.

I’m just venting.

I’m sure that Siri is really good for some folks.

But if that bitch ever crosses my path again…it’s on.

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Six day review. The iPhone 5 is really just okay.

I wanted this post to be an effusive endorsement of the latest iteration of the iPhone.

I would love to be able to deflate Samsung Galaxy SIII users with a glowing review of my most recent gadget acquisition.

To prattle on about this amazing feature or that.

But six days into stepping up to the iPhone 5, my opinion of it is decidedly….nyah.

“Nyah” is the sound you make when asked about something that is neither good, nor bad.

It is typically accompanied by a non-committal shrugging of the shoulders, and perhaps a slight cocking of the head.

It is by no means an endorsement.

But let’s examine the five reasons the iPhone 5 gets a ‘nyah’ from me to date.

1. Maps to nowhere.

There was much ado over the replacement of Google Maps (good) with Apple’s map offering (bad).

In the days immediately after the iOS 6 and iPhone 5 releases, the blog and Twittersphere were ablaze with sharp criticism of the map, which many complained led you effing nowhere.

Not one to take criticism at face value, without testing myself, I didn’t jump into the fray. I hadn’t upgraded nor did I have the 5.

But yesterday, using Apple’s native map to find a Radio Shack on a major roadway, was an absolute fail. Even though the pin drop showed the proper address, where the pin was located AND the directions to the location it subsequently provided, Apple’s map still had me literally driving in circles like an a**hole.

2. That damn microphone button!

I text a lot.  In the past five years since the iPhone’s debut, I’ve used the keyboard thousands of times. I’m familiar with the layout and have long since compensated for the fact that I suffer from ‘fat finger syndrome’.

Imagine my dismay, if you will, the first time I tried to get to the number keys and saw a purple voice recording screen pop up where my keyboard has once been.

Flummoxed, I quickly hit “Done” and watched as three purple dots appeared next to the text I had been typing.

WTF?!

Who designed that? Helen Keller?

I’m not really happy that I’ll need more fat finger typing classes to acclimate myself to the new layout.

3. Longer battery my behind.

I hate longer battery life claims because they’re just not true.

They never are.

Sure, in the lab, with a bunch of geeks staring endlessly at a pristine phone, untouched and unused, you can eke out 250 hours stand-by.

Perhaps, with a passive user making few a calls, sending a few texts and checking emails sporadically, you might get 80 hours talk time.

But in the real world, that’s baloney.

If you’re a power smart phone user, than that 250 hours of stand-by is meaningless because you never put your phone down.

I go hard and when you smoke test the iPhone 5 in real world conditions, that 80 hours of talk time is pure fantasy.

I can’t even make it through the morning without having to re-up and charge this bad boy.

I dare say that I’m recharging the 5 three times more frequently than I did the 4.

You see, boys and girls, significantly reduced battery life is the price we pay for our shiny new phone and all these wonderful features.

4. It’s buggy when charging.

If you’re like me, sometimes you can’t wait for your phone to recharge to use it.

So you work tethered to an outlet.

You just do you thing, while your phone sucks in precious watts with no problems.

Right?

WRONG!!

With the iPhone 5, I’ve experienced dropped calls, inoperable functions, frozen screens, ghost button presses.

You name it, I’ve experienced it.

It’s virtually impossible to use your iPhone 5 while charging at the same time.

It probably has something to do with the new-tangled 8 pin connector.

But whatever the cause, it sucks that I’m losing productivity while (repeatedly) charging my phone.

Massive boo considering how much more often I find myself having to charge the damn thing.

5. Passbook fail.

I think that apps should be purely intuitive.

I think every user application should be – but I digress.

You shouldn’t need to watch a tutorial or ‘read this first’ to use a thing.

It should be designed thoroughly ‘plug n play’.

Apple has always been the embodiment of this principle for me.

So it’s with great chagrin that I talk about Passbook, which is really a huge disappointment.

Intended as a one-stop-shop for one’s loyalty accounts, all Passbook did for me was add a buttload of new apps to my iPhone.

It didn’t consolidate them in one place…in say…oh, maybe the PASSBOOK APP?!

No, it scattered them about.

I was so shook by the sudden appearance of loyalty account apps on my phone after using Passbook, that I Googled “how does Passbook work” to figure out what, if anything, I was doing wrong.

Thankfully, I wasn’t the only one who was bewildered by Passbook’s supposed utility.

It should be called FAILbook.

Summing it all up.

I know I’ve only criticized the 5, but I do expect more from the brand leader in the smart phone space.

Sure, there are some good things about it:

  • It looks beautiful.
  • It’s faster.
  • It’s lighter.
  • Larger screen.

But the rest of the things Apple touted about it: better camera, improved Siri, more microphones, etc, don’t really add value to the average user at the end of the day.

In conclusion children, the iPhone 5 is a bigger, but not necessarily better phone.

If you must have one (Angelou) then buy it because you want it.

Don’t buy it with the expectation that it will change your world, because it won’t.

At the end of the day, it’s just a phone.

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It’s official. I. Love. Apple. Ode to the iPhone 5.

I’ve been fronting for days now.

“iOS 6 ain’t all that.” I barked.

“iPhone 5 sucks.” I spewed.

I’ve been disparaging Apple because I was on the outside looking in.

Looking over shoulders as folks updated their iPhones to the latest iOS.

Silently coveting the first arrivals of iPhones in the office.

Oh yeah, as throngs waited outside Apple stores across the united states, several shiny new iPhone 6s were delivered to select big dogs at my office.

It was all I could do not to knock a sucka down and run screaming out of the office with someone’s new phone.

If you haven’t actually seen a iPhone 5 in the wild, let me be the first to tell you…

It’s beautiful.

Sure, I disparaged it when I was just looking at pictures.

Yeah, I had nothing but jokes as I reviewed the ‘new’ features (that many have rightly noted exist in other devices well before Apple decided to incorporate them into the iPhone).

But when I first held it in my hands…

I was truly something to behold.

I was lighter, without being insubstantial.

Unlike the Samsung SIII, which feels like a toy, the iPhone 5 feels like a quality piece of hardware.

It’s still the same width as it’s predecessors, so you can still rock off with one hand.

But it’s thinner, which means it slides into and out of your pockets with ease.

I spent only a few minutes with it yesterday, but I knew I had to have it.

So I talked to IT, who told me to cop the iTunes Store app, confirm I was eligible for an upgrade, and place my order.

I was eligible for the upgrade.

I placed my order.

3-4 weeks is what the Apple app spit back.

3 to 4 weeks!

I consoled myself with the knowledge that stores were probably going to be sold out for weeks on end, and 3 or 4 weeks wasn’t really a long wait.

But it was a lie.

It was a lie I told myself over and over as I rocked myself to sleep, weeping with longing.

And then I went to visit my mom and dad in Ewing, where I happened upon my younger brother, Celestine, sporting a shiny new iPhone 6!

I suppressed my initial desire to bonk him on the head, caveman style, and run out of the house, screaming like a mad man with his iPhone clutched in my sweaty palms – confusion (and a dazed younger brother) in my wake.

“Where’d you get that?”

“I know people.

WTF! You know people?

Muthaf…I oughta…

“No seriously…”

“Come on. Let’s go for a ride.”

One hour later, I was holding my own shiny new iPhone 5.

It’s white.

It’s a piece of art.

And I’ve lovingly encased it in a rugged Otter.

I’ve only had my phone for a few hours, and its surreal.

I never knew you could love an inanimate object.

But I do.

Call me a fanboy if you will.

But call me a fanboy with an iPhone 5.

Note: I was a little ahead of myself and previously referred to the iPhone 6.

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