Tag Archives: iphone

Low Hanging Fruits: Apple in 2016 and Beyond

Between the Apple Watch, the iPhone 6S, the new Apple TV, and Apple Music, by all accounts 2015 was a banner year for Apple Inc.

Apple is a company of patterns and progression. As a former retail employee we often knew what was coming next, not due to any insider knowledge, but just due to patterns and understanding how Apple works.

Of course we’ll also get new iPads (spring), iPhones (fall), and Macs (throughout) at some point but I figured those are foregone conclusions.  Sometimes the company will throw a throw a curveball, but based on the way things are going currently here are some things I expect to see from Apple in 2016 and beyond.

Beats by Apple

The first product Beats launched after the Apple purchase was the Beats Solo 2 Wireless, but they were clearly well into development before the purchase took place. Shortly after that Apple began launching new colors of everything to match their iOS devices.

The Beats Pill+ however is different, it seems it’s the first true hardware child of this merger. It still has the look of the Beats brand, but taken to another level of polish that looks to be quite Apple-like. This should be unsurprising since Apple ended the company’s relationship with Ammunition, the design agency responsible for their headphones and the original Beats Pill. There should be little doubt that this product was industrially designed in house by Apple’s teams. Right down to the Lighting port. Little surprise that it’s only available in black and white (for now.)

Expect this trend to continue with new headphone designs in 2016.

Lightning Everywhere

Lighting ports are not just for iOS devices anymore. Almost as an afterthought Apple launched new peripherals before the end of the year. The Magic Mouse 2, Magic Trackpad 2 and Magic Keyboard. Each of these devices is equipped with an internal rechargeable battery and charges via USB via Lightning cables.  However these were not the first new devices to pull this trick. The new Beats Pill+ speaker launched quietly a few weeks earlier with this feature already in place.

Expect this to continue throughout Apple’s product lines and pop up in some surprising places we haven’t though of yet, like new Beats headphones.  Most of their products today include Micro-USB charging, no doubt Apple will do everything it can to phase that out over the next year.

Refined Apple Watch

To some this may be a foregone conclusion, but there are those who have their doubts. While how much of a success the Apple Watch has been is up for debate, make no mistake, this is no iPod Hi-Fi.  Apple is committed to the Apple Watch and by association the fashion world.

Apple Watch users tend to tell people how much they love theirs (myself included) however many of us like it for different reasons. When people ask about why we love the Watch it’s hard to point to one thing. It’s a platform without a killer app, which makes it hard to sell. Expect Apple work on to changing that both through marketing and through iteration.

I anticipate that by the roll out spring fashion lines Apple will announce a revised Apple Watch. It won’t be radically different, but it will be noticeably more responsive for third party apps and will likely contain new sensors to track health and fitness.

Smarter Maps

Apple took a beating when it launched new Maps in iOS 6 without transit directions. Now Apple has a lot of trust to regain in this field. If the company wishes to succeed in this area it needs to iterate rapidly. The company’s health and fitness focus will likely help it here as well as its ‘proactive’ initiatives. Something we could see is more accurate time estimations on walks from place to place based on our own pacing.

Another area of focus could include bike directions in Apple Maps, which will be especially handy for Apple Watch users who will be able to accurately navigate to their destination via haptics alone without looking at their screen.

New Transit Innovations

Apple wants to be much more involved in how you get from place to place. Sure we’ve all heard rumors about a car, but if that is coming, it’s not going to be in the short term.

The expansion of ApplePay, and with it NFC chips, raises some interesting possibilities about how you get around town. Chicago, Tokyo, London and other cities already use some form of radio frequencies for mass transit payment systems and the movement is towards NFC. New York City is planning to switch to a similar system as well. This is good news for all involved.

Expect Apple to start making deals, especially if it designs its own radio chips, that allows the company to make future iPhones and Apple Watches that work as your monthly transit pass. Coming that much closer to fulfilling the digital wallet ideal.

I can’t say I expect all of these things to happen in 2016 but I do believe they’re all inevitable. I look forward to what the future has in store.

Steve Jobs on Speech Technology as Transcribed by an iPhone 4S

In 2003 Steve Jobs sat down with Walt Mossberg at the first ever D: All Things Digital conference. The end of the session included a rare open Q&A with Jobs by audience members in which the following question was asked:

“You talk about handwriting and keyboard, how about speech as a human interface?”

Here is Steve’s answer transcribed by an iPhone 4S using iOS 5’s Dictation feature:

“You know that the last part of that question is is exactly right I I I’ve been almost 30 years and it’s speech is always been five years away because I’m trying to completions
But it went most of the really smart people of speech I know have gotten out of Beelitz it’s like nuclear fusion a lot of bright people went into it and and and people now think it’s a ways away you can do what you can do adequate speech today to meet your correcting a lot of stuff if you just have to know even 1% area try cannot as it turns out you can speak a lot of words in a few terrible so it’s got to be very accurate and so far no one’s come up with the technology Apple’s got a very we got to speak working on stuff Microsoft has a group you want GreatWorks be done in academia but it doesn’t look like it’s been a be real anytime soon I wish it was different”

Here is what he actually said:

“Ya know, the last part of that question is exactly right. I’ve been in this industry almost 30 years and speech has always been five years away. It’s been constant time to completion, just moving along 5 years away. Most of the really smart people in speech I know have gotten out of the field. It’s like nuclear fusion a lot of bright people went into it and people now think it’s a ways away. You can do you can do adequate speech today but it means you’re correcting a lot of stuff. If you just have even 1% error it drives you nuts. Because it turns out you can speak a lot of words in a five minute interval. So, it’s gotta be very accurate and so far no ones come up with the technology. Apple’s got a speech group working on stuff. Microsoft has a group. A lot of great work is being done in academia but it doesn’t look like it’s going to be real any time soon. I wish it was different.”

Looks like Steve was right.

Berlin – Day 1

Alexanderplatz

We arrived in Berlin at around 9 am and luckily Mouse found us almost immediately. We traveled around a bit and attempted to find a SIM card to use in the unlocked iPhone I acquired before leaving. Turns about it’s just about impossible to get a prepaid data plan that will work with the iPhone, so it looks like I might be forced to use AT&T’s exorbitant rates.

The place we are staying at is pretty awesome. “78” is a legally owned collective house with approximately 50 inhabitants. Each tenant seems to take pride in their home and respects eachother, that said the place is this beautiful mix of disaster and work in progress. Every corner screams potential.

After an extended nap we head over to Forki park, rested and conversed with Mouse’s friends. Finally we got ahold of Tex and agreed to meet up at the Alexanderplatz. Here I ventured off to take some pictures and eventually met up with Tex and his girlfriend Porsche.

From there we grabbed a taxi and went to dinner. After dinner we went out bar hopping. Tex being the local that he is took us to a few of his favorite watering holes including a few bars that he played at with his old band The Roughnecks. Aki and Porsche got along famously and a good time was had by all.

Check out the my Flickr page for more images from today. More tomorrow.

FourSquare: Social Networking for the Social Drinker

A few weeks ago I was in Austin, TX for the South By Southwest Interactive conference. While there, through word of mouth I heard about FourSquare.

FourSquare is a new service for smartphone users from the creators of Dodgeball, a startup purchased and then shelved by Google. FourSquare utilizes your phone’s GPS to “Check in” to different places you go, see where your friends are and allows you to “Shout” status updates to your friends. On the surface it seems similar to other “location status” services such as Brightkite or Loopt. However FourSquare goes a different route than it’s competitors, it emphasizes the social potential of location status by turning it into a game.

I was, at one point a big promoter of Brightkite. While there are functions of the service I did like, I’ve started to question more and more why I used it. I started to qeustion: “Who cares that I’ve checked in to my apartment?” “Do I really want people knowing where my apartment is?” If I am going to restrict visibility of my location – why am I even using this service to begin with?” The more I thought about it, the more it seemed like a really useful way for someone to stalk me and not much more.

FourSquare takes a different approach, it focuses on bars, clubs and restaurants rather than just arbitrary check ins to every location. It’s intention is to connect you and your friends in a nightlife setting.

Although I’ve been using it since SXSW it wasn’t until this weekend, on a trip visiting NYC, that I really saw the potential of FourSquare. The service awards your “check ins” a variety of ways. For each check in you earn points, and you get bonus points for doing things like hitting multiple locations in one night. You can also unlock badges, (yes, like in Boy / Girl Scouts) for accomplishing an objective, similar to many video games. Lastly, by checking into a location on multiple occasions you can become it’s “Mayor” if you’re there more often then someone else. Each city has it’s own set of badges and Mayors (There are currently 12 supported US cities.)

My FourSquare activity tells an amusing story about my trip to NY. According to Foursquare: I got “Crunked” on Thursday night bar hopping through Brooklyn, earned extra points meeting up with my friend Tom (who saw where I was via FourSquare and proposed we meet up) and went on a 4 day “Bender” which culminated in me becoming the “Mayor” of the Coyote Ugly Saloon Saturday night. Hopefully you can see why I’m enjoying this.

Something I’m really enjoying is the ability to build to-do lists of things / places you want to hit and view local to-dos that other users have posted. This allows for someone to craft their own adventures and come up with creative experiences. There is also a weekly leader board that lets you see who in your area is really partying it up and where you rank.

The end result is a service that feels like a giant mobile web scavenger hunt that encourages users to challenge each-other and compete.

The service is not without flaws though: Many bars and restaurants don’t show up in the listings, the there are many quirks to the website and application itself. IT’s creators have acknowledged that he service is still very much in development and honestly, it sometimes feels like a very public beta. They’ve reportedly set themselves a June 1st deadline to iron out the kinks and get it working the way they want. Even taking all that into consideration, the service is very functional and ver impressive.

Some things I’d like to see in future revisions:

  • More visibility to user profiles and todo lists: I’d really like to discover new people to connect to, right now there are few days to do this. I wish profiles listed a clearer stream of what I did, when I did it and what rewards my actions earned me.  In 6 months I’d like to know which 4 bars I went to to unlock the “Crunked” badge.
  • Less walls between cities. It’s strange that on the website I need to switch a drop down to see different sets of information for different cities. I’d like the ability to see everything at once and also see my local updates. The walls are weird. They discourage people from being friends cross-city. My friend Frank has an account but I’ll likely never see what he’s up to unless I switch my location to where he is. Sure local users should be prioritized, but just because I can’t get to Washington to meet up with Frank tonight doesn’t mean I don’t care.
  • Badges also suffer due to these walls. I like the idea of having different goals in different cities but it seems silly that I’ve now earned the “Newbie” badge a few times and that I have to go our 4 nights in a row again to earn the “Bender” badge in Chicago because the one I earned was in NY. Perhaps there should be global badges and specialized local badges?

These are just my .02 cents. I’m excited to continue using FourSquare and to see where the service goes in the future, it’s genuinely a lot of fun. I recommend checking it out via their website: playfoursquare.com. There is an iPhone application available via the App Store and a mobile browser optimized version of the site available for Android and Blackberry users for now.