Friday, February 27, 2015

Wearable War: It's Apple Watch Versus Others

Source:  9to5Mac.

The Swiss watchmakers are not just rolling over for the potential Apple Watch jugganaut.  In fact, Swatch among others will debut smart watches at Baselworld next month, weeks after Apple's March 9th event.  It'll be interesting to see if Apple Watch lives up to hype and whether Apple has a couple of more surprises up its sleeve.

Then the tech and watch world will have to see if the traditional watchmakers have what it takes to upstage Apple. 

Designs and features aside, there is one very important aspect with Apple and non-Apple watches:  only the Apple Watch has full integration with Apple's ecosystem and iOS devices.  Furthermore, Android watches have full integration with most Android devices but not necessarily all.  It'll be interesting to see what a Swatch smart phone will feature and how it'll work along side a smartphone market dominated by Android and iOS.

One very important thing to consider here.  The Apple Watch will compete in the mid to high end segment of the wearable tech. And with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus dominating the high-end market, it stands to reason that many of the watch makers will try to compete with Apple Watch there as well.  With Apple's closed ecosystem, will iPhone owners have uses for non-Apple Watches?

Alternatively, these high-end smart watches will end up competing for high-end Android users which Samsung, LG, and Motorola will try to integrate their watches with their phones.  So where does that really leave these traditional watchmakers?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Man Or Robot - Maybe After iCar, Apple Can Give Siri An Android Body

Here is a short video clip of an actor pretending to be an a robot.  With the sound effects, he really hit it out of the park.

I'll say this much.  We are a long way from androids let alone robots.  And for AI in human forms to have fluid human like motions, it will be even further into the future.  Perhaps after Apple is done with the iPhone and the iCar, maybe we can have the brilliance of Cupertino bring us the iRobot.

Or will it be called "Siri"?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Phone Cases That Serve As Wallets Underscore How Badly We Need Mobile Payment and ID

Even before the smartphones were integrated into our daily lives, before Blackberries, the original iPhone, and the HTC G1, there was the Palm Pilot.  And I could not be more excited by it when Dave the Mobile Warrior showed me his Palm from US Robotics.  It was an eye opener.  Prior to that, I was using Casio made personal digital assistants (PDA) with black-and-white screens.

But the Pilot was a competely innovative device that was the future.  If you consider just how forward thinking the Palm was, even with its ancient input with the plastic stylus, you knew this was the future.  And let's be honest, be it the iPhone or a Galaxy Note, they owed their DNA to the Palm. 

And when I upgraded to the Palm Zire with an integrated camera, that was the moment when I realized the value of having a mobile computer that you can carry in  your pocket and you take everywhere with you.  The only thing I carried around in my pocket, then and now, is my wallet.  I thought wouldn't it be awesome when we can integrate both the PDA and the wallet into one?

With NFC payment used by Google Wallet years ago and, now, Apple Pay, we are a step closer to that future.  However, upon seeing the number of smartphone cases that has a flip or cover that includes credit card-sized slots, I also realize just how far we are from having a truly integrated wallet in our smartphones.

These wallet cases remind us that we still need to carry around our driver's license, a credit card or two, or reward cards.  So far, there is only one state I know of that allows identification through a smartphone while only a handful are actually looking to integrating driver's identifications into mobile devices.

However, I'm hopeful the momentum for the smartphone to replace or integrate the contents we now carry in our wallets into apps will happen sooner rather than later given the surge in mobile payments in the last few months. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

iCar: Won't Be A Minivan and Might Be A Decade From A Showroom

In reading dozens of articles about certain rumors that either is more and more concrete with each passing hour, there are a couple of takeaways about a potential move into the automotive market by Apple.

First, in hiring a former head of R&D from Mercedes, Apple ain't gonna build a minivan that may or may not be electric only and may or may not be self-driving. Have you see Mercedes' non-sedan vehicles. Ugly! Jony Ives and his team should have soemthing for us that should give Telsa a run for their money. So, no minivan.

Second, how is your awesome HomeKit enabled and Apple streaming video service working out for you on your awesome Apple TV 3 and Apple Home Cinema 4K panel? What, no? Yeah, it's been years in the making and no evidence that Apple has "cracked" televsion as Jobs alluded to in the Walter Issacson Steve Jobs biography.

The Apple TV started off as a hobby and only in the last year when Tim Cook took that label off and, yet, we are still waiting. Having said that, it could be years until we seem a full TV service and hardware from Apple.

And the iCar is just as complicated to develop and there really will not be an opportunity for a beta car or calling an Apple branded car a "hobby". Apple will have to have fully filled out everything before they can hit the carshows with it and start delivering it to the market.

A quick Google search on the average time it takes to develop a car turned up three years. With the new technologies that Apple will be testing, materials, artificial intelligence, robotics, and who knows what new innovations Apple will try to bring to the market, I'm gonna guess Apple will take twice that long. So a ten years window is not out of the real of possibility.

On top of that, 6 to 10 years is a long time and the rest of the auto industry will not be standing still. Tesla will have improved its own profile vehicles and have addressed a bigger part of the market with better and more efficient Model S and X. Even with a minor delay or two, Model 3 will have been out on the market for years. This is also not discounting vast improvements being made by existing electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf, Toyota Prius, and the Volt. Others will also come out with their own green cars soon.

I bring this up only because Apple will need to address where the market is going to be a decade from now and offer something that can still be disruptiveand game-changing. It is hard to fathom what Apple can bring to the market that will give car owners the same reactions iPhone owners had when they first got their Apple mobile devices and say "wow, I can't believe how I lived without this before".

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Apple Street View

Another van registered to Apple spotted and, this time, it's in the southern part of what I consider to be Southern California, San Diego.

More and more, it's looking like the van is taking pictures and data for Apple's own version of street view like Google Maps.

However, if someone can confirm whether the license plate of this new sighting is different or the same as the van spotted in the Bay Area, that may go a long way in knowing for sure one way or another.

That other speculation is that these are self-driving vehicles. Unlikely.

Source: macdailynews.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Duet: Macbook Pro And iPad Air, Awesome and Creative Use of the iPad For Increased Productivity

Most worker drones have an one-screen work routine.  One laptop, one screen.  Or phone or tablet.  However, there are many who deal with multiple screens to increase efficiency.  Recently, I've come acrossed an app called Duet for the iPad (iOS App Store) and Mac (Duet Website).  By downloading the app from the app store for the iPad and a version for the Mac, you can turn your iPad into a second screen via the cable that Apple provides with your iPad.

I can rave about the virtues of having a second-screen, but what good is that if I don't provid examples of how having a second screen can increase productivity?  And I reckon it can also work for entertainment as well.

My photo doesn't do justice to Duet but you get the picture, right?  So, what am I doing or will be doing with this app?  I recently started getting into writing as a hobby.  And this universe I've conjured up is vast and elaborate that I constantly have to switch between windows of a writing app I use on the Mac called Scrivener.

With Scrivener, I have multiple projects which means multiple windows opened at the same time.  I can switch between the 5 to 7 windows but having a second screen has cut down the number of switching.

I've also started dabbling in programming.  I'm a total novice when it comes to it.  So, I have multiple resources opened to help me get what's going on.  I'll tell you this about programming.  Maybe I don't have the talent for it, but I don't see how people who Apple brought onto the stage during their media events can just start programming elaborate apps in just a day or two.  However, I'm never one to turn down a challenge from Apple and, much less, one from myself.

How is the performance?  Pretty good actually, contrary to the early days just after Duet was released back in December 2014.  Multiple issues can be found at the Macrumors forum but from what I can see, I have not had any of the issues users experienced.  So, I reckon those issues have been addressed.

To test and see if there are issues or lags, I tried to stream Netflix off Chrome.  Check it out.

Looks okay, right?  Not bad.

The one major concern I have is the issue of battery life if you're on a Macbook.  The iPad continues to draw data and power from the Macbook.  If you're on a desktop like an iMac, this really won't be an issue.

Having said that, it's unlike you're going to be at Starbucks with your Macbook with an iPad tethered to it.  First, it just doesn't look all that cool.  Second, it's unlikely the bistro table at a coffee shop have enough room for a Macbook, papers or notesbooks, and an iPad.  Plus, the coffee and pastry.

For home use like I have setup now, I'm loving it.  My Macbook Pro is running off the outlet so battery is not going to be an issue.  And though I like to take my Macbook Pro to backyard and enjoy the outdoors on weekends and some evenings as we get more light now, it's only for a couple of hours so even if my 7-hour Macbook Pro is cut down to half that, I'm still okay.

Another use?  Poor man's trading system.  If you're a day-trader, I'm sure it is still a viable business for many folks, it's a good and cheap way to get started if you're just starting up.  You can have charts upon charts with a second screen.

On top of that, if you have a HDTV and Apple TV set up, you can potentially have a third screen.

Right now, I've got my social apps on the iPad.  Also, it allows me keep things away from the main screen while I work and with glances see what's going on with my Twitter, mail, and messages.

If you happen to have a better use for Duet, please share with the rest of us.

MacBook Air M2 - I Love It And Any Laptop You Get Will Always Be Right For the Time

The 2016 MacBook sitting off to the side still has some value as I gleefully starting using my MacBook Air M2 that I got for a decent price ...