Jason Snell (and his co-hosts on the Accidental Tech Podcast) suggests prioritizing a hierarchy of needs when wishing for features in the next generation Mac laptops. How does modularity negatively affect the laptop industry and favor tablets/phones?Read More
It’s weird to talk about a slump in global smartphone sales after Apple has reported another record quarter. Apple pulled in $75.9 billion in revenue and $18.4 billion in profit. That is the biggest profit of any company ever, as stated in an Engadget article by Chris Velazco. Apple reported selling 74.8 million iPhones in its first quarter results.
By comparison, Samsung widened its lead over Apply and shipped 81.3 million smartphones in the same quarter, making it the largest global smartphone manufacturer by volume.
Based on these numbers, one might conclude that all is fine and dandy in the smartphone industry. However, Apple CEO Time Cook has predicted that its next quarter will see the first ever decline in iPhone sales. Cook referred to current economic conditions as dire, largely due to declining currency values in Canada, the U.K., Brazil, and Russia.
We're seeing extreme conditions unlike anything we've experienced before just about everywhere we look
Velazco notes that both Apple and Samsung have a similar strategy – “build relentlessly in search of capturing more lighting in a bottle.” This means shipping lower and mid-range devices, such as the Samsung Galaxy A9 or Apple’s rumoured update to the iPhone 5s.
In previous years, high-end devices dominated the mobile news. But, perhaps those times are over. As good times turn to bad, an increasing percentage of users will be searching for cheaper alternatives to their flagship devices. Such economic conditions will most certainly put pressure on manufacturers to deliver innovative products at a lower price point.
It’s possible that Apple’s next “big hit” will be a budget phone.
Apple made headlines last week by announcing it’s iOS 9.3 update, which included some fairly notable features.
Typically, major new features are only introduced with new versions of iOS - announced during Apple's annual developer conference - while smaller updates generally address bugs. However, it's possible that Apple might be experimenting with a new upgrade cycle. Dan Moren, writing for Macworld, outlines the downside of the “once a year” update.
The thing about major OS releases every year is that they’re predictable. That’s both good and bad: good because there’s a clear, if unspoken, target for Apple and third-party developers alike; bad because of the sheer nature of predictability: we know when new features are going to drop, and we often have a decent idea of what some of those features will be. More to the point, we know that during the rest of the year, new features and capabilities are unlikely to materialize. Christmas only comes once a year.
Sustaining users seems to be Apple’s strategy, according to Moren. He notes that earlier releases of iOS addressed the “low hanging functionality” like cut, copy, and paste (which amazingly was not introduced until iOS 3). Today, however, the smartphone is a mature product category and an essential part of our daily lives. Perhaps it’s time for a more frequent software upgrade cycle. Moren uses game developer Bungie to outline how this iterative approach can be advantageous.
I’m thinking in particular of the path I’ve watched game developer Bungie take with its massively multiplayer online game Destiny. The company has said in the past that it has a ten-year plan for the game... Bungie has spoken of its plan to change from releasing downloadable expansions to instead focusing on having in-game events occur from time to time. Rather than simply adding new story content or items to the existing game, these events take more offbeat forms… While those updates may be ancillary to the main thrust of the game, they keep players engaged and—more importantly—coming back.
Getting users to continue to see value in a platform is key. With a yearly upgrade cycle, there is a lot of down time for the user consider alternatives. In an annual release cycle, users might get tired of their device and starting looking at other platforms. It gives users time to think about switching to other platforms that seem more exciting.
iOS 9.3 has bucked that trend. Moren posed the possibility that Apple could announce iOS 9.5 (instead of iOS 10) at the next developer conference. While it’s possible that Apple will stick to it’s current release schedule, such a strategy would allow the company to focus on software reliability.
The last few years have been a game of catch-up for Apple, as Android had surpassed iOS on many fronts. However, in the process of adding major features, iOS has lost some of its reputation as the more reliable mobile OS. A more steady release schedule could restore that faith in users by focusing on quality, while also bringing new features in a piecemeal fashion.
First it was Marty McFly's Nike Mags, aptly released on October 21 of this year, and now you too can own Marty's self-drying jacket. Designed by Faylon Wearable Tech, the SDJ-01 (Self-Drying Jacket take one) has almost reached its Kickstarter goal in just 5 days. The jacket comes in 5 colours, including the original design, and will retail for $199 with shipments beginning in April of next year.
The jacket uses air amplifiers with pressure similar to commercial hair dryers, which circulate air between the jacket's exterior and inner lining. Under normal conditions, such as getting caught in the rain or having a drink spilled on you, the jacket will dry in 1-2 minutes, while a jacket submerged in water may take longer to dry. The reachable amplifiers operate for about 30 minutes.
As reported in Wearable Style News,
In an interview with Refinery29, Falyon cofounder Aaron Coleman acknowledged the difficulty of developing the correct technology that would allow for the self-drying process to take place. In fact, where once the process of creating the futuristic jacket involved mounting fans to manage airflow, it quickly transformed into finding more ways to leverage air pressure instead.
Why wear a waterproof jacket when you can have a self-drying jacket, with the added bonus of ventilation and back to the future style? With many gadgets and capabilities from Back to the Future (i.e. tablet computers, teleconferencing) already realized, connected clothes are the category of the future.
Source: Wearable Style News
Mozilla is leaving the smartphone industry today by shutting down its mobile OS. Firefox OS was released in 2013 as a low cost and lightweight alternative to iOS and Android, aimed largely at the developing world. The announcement was made at the company's developer conference in Orlando, "Mozlando":
“We are proud of the benefits Firefox OS added to the Web platform and will continue to experiment with the user experience across connected devices. We will build everything we do as a genuine open source project, focused on user experience first and build tools to enable the ecosystem to grow.
Firefox OS proved the flexibility of the Web, scaling from low-end smartphones all the way up to HD TVs. However, we weren’t able to offer the best user experience possible and so we will stop offering Firefox OS smartphones through carrier channels.
We’ll share more on our work and new experiments across connected devices soon.”
Firefox OS was unique because it ran web-based apps rather than native ones. Unfortunately sales for the mobile OS were never outstanding and the phones that supported it were average at best.
Now that Firefox has made an exit from the mobile space, iOS, Android, and Windows Phone remain as the "big three" platforms. Of these, Android and Windows Phone are now best positioned to fill the need for budget phones in the developing world.
The mobile landscape is increasingly reflecting the evolution of the desktop computing industry. Today Microsoft's Windows (in its various forms) has the dominant market share at roughly 85.5%, followed by Apple's OS X at 9.5%, and Linux trailing at 1.5%. In mobile, Android and iOS take the first and second places respectively, with Microsoft in a distant third place.
The question remains whether there is room in mobile for a fourth player. If Microsoft (a company that dominates the desktop) can't compete in mobile, what hope is there for smaller companies?
While the future of wearables is still a question, The International Data Corporation's (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker report suggests that roughly 76.1 million wearables will be sold in 2015. This is a 163.3 percent increase over 2014. Currently, the Apple Watch is No. 1 (58 percent market share), No. 2 Android wear (17 percent market share), and No. 3 Pebble (with 8.7 percent market share).
While fitness trackers have led the way, "smarter" wrist wearables are predicted to overtake the market by 2017 according to IDC's Jitesh Ubrani.
It’s a first-generation product; a lot of people don’t see the value proposition yet. We’re going to have to wait for generation two and three for things to really take off.
Not all companies are taking the same approach to creating "smart" wrist wearables. While Apple and Google are replicating many of the features and touch inputs from their phones, Pebble is forgoing the touchscreen for a simpler experience. As a result it has better battery life, an always on watch face, and uses physical controls. Pebble CEO Eric Migicovsky is positioning the company to better integrate its products with the Internet of Things (IoT) and to provide "just in time" information for users.
How can Pebble control things around your home, around your office, and your car? What are the little nuggets of information that you need on a regular basis that should just kind of appear magically when you need them? That’s what we’re focused on.
However, Ubrani argues that Pebble, unlike Apple and Google, hasn't been as successful at getting its product into customers' hands despite a loyal following. This point begs the question: what's more important, features or distribution? Currently, Apple's ability to distribute its watch - despite being late to the wearables game - has allowed it to overtake its competitors.
It’s kind of like the early days of the micro-computer when you had Commodore, Sinclair, and Atari... The real explosion happened when interoperability came along — the PC standard — which was sort of the first hardware standard. What we see is that APIs are wiring everything together.
These are the words of CTO Brian Kelly and cofounder of Golgi, a Mountain View California-based startup that's aiming to bring a common standard to the Internet of Things (IoT). Right now, IoT is a very messy space. There are numerous protocols and standards for transmitting information between devices, and as big companies like Google, Apple, and IBM introduce their own platforms - not to mention all the independent startups - there is an increasing need for a common standard.
Venture Beat's John Koetsier likens Golgi to a cloud-based glue for IoT. And it makes sense. The idea of IoT is still very new, but whatever it evolves into it can't be conglomeration of hundreds of different systems that don't communicate with each other. Golgi is trying to fix that.
[Golgi] helps developers create APIs for their IoT devices, build custom connectors for any web service, and give their hardware easy ways to connect to data storage, visualizations, notifications … really, any conceivable third-party web service. That will help IoT companies manage devices, deliver data and apps to those devices, collect data from those devices, and build cloud-based systems to connect disparate devices and platforms.
This new platform is actually available right now, and it currently supports Arduino, Intel Galileo, Samsung ARTIK, and others. Golgi will connect devices using existing (and future) APIs and make it so developers don't have to be tied to a specific platform. With the explosion of new companies on the horizon, and the growing interest in home automation, Golgi could very well be best positioned to be the next major Internet standard.
Source: Venture Beat
The Internet was abuzz this week celebrating October 21, 2015, otherwise known as the furthest travel date in, and 30th anniversary of, the Back to the Future Sequel. As Patrick Hill of the Mirror reports, there are 10 inventions from this film that we now use in 2015, including tablets, drone cameras, and Google Glass.
In addition, the occasion was marked by a product release from Nike, a revamp of the Nike Mag shoe worn by Marty McFly previously released in 2011, now with real self-lacing action! The shoe will be produced in limited edition, and all funds will go toward the Michael J. Fox Foundation. Fittingly, Michael J. Fox received the first pair
Rachel Arthur from Forbes observes,
Therein lies the issue with wearable technology across the board in current times. While Juniper Research expects the wearables market to rise to $53 billion by 2019, the majority of pieces we’re seeing and feeling inspired by are still concept or prototypes only.
Rachel describes some exciting wearable textile projects to keep an eye out for, including Google's Project Jacquard in partnership with Levi's, a conductive yarn that enables touch interactivity on the fabric to power smartphone functions.
Another 80s inspiration? Colour-chaning textiles. The Unseen, a London-based brand, is experimenting with the effects of wind, temperature, and time of year to change the appearance of textiles.
Beyond the concept stage, designers such as Tommy Hilfiger are creating garments to charge our mobile devices through solar-powered battery packs. Another preppy designer Ralph Lauren created the PoloTech t-shirt, which uses a conductive silver-coated thread to capture the wearer's biometric information such as heart rate, breathing, and steps.
As Nike CEO Mark Parker says about the Nike MAG
By imagining the future, we create it. Product that comes alive, with on-demand comfort and support when you need, product that senses you and adapts to you is right around the corner.
Flexible displays have long been touted as the "next" big step in display technology for mobile devices, and technology pundits have had a longstanding dream that someday users will be able to unroll or unfold their smart devices.
It's easy to imagine what comes after the smartphone if you disregard modern physics. Displays wouldn't be rigid. They would bend and wrap and fold, and then fit nicely in your shirt's front pocket like a square of paper. They could expand from the size of a wristwatch to the length and width of a 10-inch tablet.
Nick Statt, writing for The Verge, writes about a Chicago-based company called Polyera, which was founded by Princeton graduate Phil Inagaki. The startup has created "Wove" - a flexible touchscreen that is scheduled to launch next year. Polyera created flexible transistors a decade ago, and ever since it has been working toward a vision of creating the perfect bendable display. The company has raised over $40 million in venture capital. Phil Inagaki has some strong opinions on the current state of wearable tech.
We don’t like to think of this as a fitness tracker or a smartwatch with a larger display. It’s really about having a persistent, large display experience that is worn.
Inagaki thinks that devices like the Apple watch try and shrink the smartphone interface and put it on the user's wrist. Instead, Wove will be a much more organic experience where all kinds of information from the web could be displayed.
"We want to pull out digital content and have it live on physical objects," he says. Rather than traditional apps, the company imagines "compositions" for the Wove’s display, which is designed to show a few at a time. For instance, a text message could pop up on the portion of the display accessible only by turning your wrist, letting you glance at notifications without the raising of the wrist to view smartwatch information.
Developers who are interested in making applications for Wove can get a free prototype from the company. Wove runs a version of the Android operating system and includes some pretty modest specifications (1Ghz CPU, 512mb of RAM, and an eInk display). Polyera is working with "top app makers" - the names of which have not been revealed - to showcase Wove's technology. Statt argues that while the idea of the flexible display is compelling, the benefits of having such a form factor are not immediately apparent. Why would the typical user opt for this over an Apple Watch or Android Wear device? The real question is how Wove will compete. Statt notes that smartwatches sold a total of 5.8 million units in Q2 2015, which is pretty small potatoes compared to smartphones and tablets. Not only does Wove have to compete with the likes of Apple and Samsung, it's going into relatively uncharted territory.
In the early days of the Internet - when laptops and desktops were the only forms of computing - websites were designed with few devices in mind. When smartphones were introduced, mobile sites became popular alternatives for displaying content. The introduction of tablets created a range of screen sizes, and ever since web developers have promoted responsive design - a method whereby websites will reorder content based on the screen size. The next development is adaptive web design.
According to Carrie Cousins, writing for The Next Web, adaptive design does a lot more work on the server side. For a responsive website, there is one template that adapts to all different screen sizes. All of this work is done on the client's end - with the device's browser interpreting the template. Adaptive websites have multiple templates. When there user requests a site, the server serves up the appropriate template for the screen size.
The amount of information downloaded on the user end is different, making adaptive websites a little quicker to load. In the build itself, adaptive design uses multiple templates for a “single website” whereas responsive design uses a flexible framework with a single template. Some designers argue that adaptive sites are easier to build because they can be based on an existing site.
Some of the advantages of using the adaptive approach include the following:
- Better performance
- Increased flexibility
- Forces the designer to think about content strategy
The last point is related to usability and how users will interact with the site.
Because your website is actually designed specifically for different devices, you can design functionality in great detail. How do you want something to work? How do you want users to engage with your website? You can make it happen in a way that is unique to the user and device with an almost personalized experience.
Right now, adaptive web design is more of a concept. But, there are a few good guidelines. Google's Material Design Guidelines are very similar to the ideas behind adaptive design. Below are things to consider when creating an adaptive site:
- Grid system (12 column)
- Surface behaviours (UI based on screen size)
- Patterns ("User action behaviors and patterns – reveal, transform, divide, reflow and expand – are based on screen size")
So, should people use adaptive design over responsive? The answer is complex. Cousins outlines a variety of reasons for using an adaptive approach. These include situations where the designer wants to create device specific experiences, and each device has a unique experience. The designer has to able to maintain all the various templates. Further, users will be using the website on a wide variety of devices. In the end it's about what creates the best user experience.
Source: The Next Web
Early mobile device helped fuel the app economy. While revolutionary at the time, this strategy has created "app silos" - a concept that conflicts with the notion of the open web.
In a Re/Code article, Mark Bergen talks about how Google is trying to plan and envision a world beyond apps. The search giant's strategy might originate from self-interest, but Bergen feels there is more to it.
Google earns more money when people are on the mobile Web, not in apps. Publicly, the company has voiced support for solving the nagging problems of apps, discovery and dormancy. Internally, however, chatter is less about crippling apps than imagining a world beyond them.
Currently the app experience and the web experience are quite different, but Google is trying to make transitioning between them more seamless. Google's goal is to index all mobile apps. When a user does a mobile search for something - a movie for example - there might be an option to open that result in the IMDB app (an app that has a list of TV shows and movie information). As of last Tuesday, Google is going to down-rank mobile websites that display adds that encourage users to install the app instead. Why? Because Google's argument is that anything that prevents the user from seeing the content is bad. However, Google isn't the only company that's trying this strategy.
A primary vehicle for doing so is app indexing and deep linking, methods to tie content within and between apps. Apple and a host of Silicon Valley startups are doing this as well. But Google’s effort is unique in that it is wrapped tightly with search and artificial intelligence — and, like Google’s approach to the Web, it is all-encompassing in its scope.
Though, as Mark Bergen notes, indexing the world of apps might be more difficult that anticipated.
Reaching that world beyond apps may be more difficult for Google than it was before. Google needs the buy-in from app makers. And it may need to fight off rivals and regulators. Competition authorities in the European Union, currently pursuing a case against Google for its comparison shopping product, have said they are open to extending the case to other services. At least one complainant noted the issue raised this week, of blocking of app-install ads in search results, in its statement to the EU, according to documents seen by Re/code.
Google was the first major tech company to enter the wearables market with its Android Wear platform. Like the Apple Watch, Android Wear devices (which are made by a variety of third party electronics manufacturers) have only been compatible with Android. Google changes all that by making Android Wear iPhone compatible.
The Verge's Dieter Bohn broke the story.
Very few people have had to bother grappling with the idea of notifications and computers on their wrists, because not all that many people are buying smartwatches. There’s a real sense that everybody’s waiting to see how things shake out, and I don’t blame them. Smartwatches aren’t really ready for everybody yet, not the way that smartphones are. But the smartphone comparison is apt: nothing drove innovation in that space faster than healthy competition between Apple and Google. If competition is what it takes to get smartwatches ready for the mainstream, even Apple Watch users should be glad about Android Wear coming to the iPhone.
Bohn is correct that smartwatches have not exactly sold all that well. While the Apple Watch has likely outsold all its competitors combined, Apple's wearable sales are small potatoes compared to the iPhone, iPad, or Mac. Google has had similar trouble selling Android Wear, but it now has a new strategy.
The app should be rolling out worldwide soon. It’s been a long time coming — and it means that Google will be challenging the Apple Watch on its home turf. Those Android Wear watches will be both cheaper and more varied than the Apple Watch — just like Android itself.
The iOS Android Wear app will allow newer watches to pair directly with an iPhone. The strategy borrows from Apple's playbook. In 2001, the iPod began as an Apple only device, but soon the Cupertino company made a version of iTunes for Windows. The strategy not only sold a whole lot more iPods, but it got Apple devices into peoples' homes. The iPod, and the iPhone in 2007, were huge Trojan horses. These devices encouraged customers to migrate to Apple's iPad and Mac computers. Is Google trying to do the same thing? Perhaps. The Android Wear experience is more limited on iOS than Android, due to Apple's restrictions. But, by providing a glimpse of what Android Wear can do on iOS, iPhone users could be swayed into converting to an Android phone to get the full experience.
The problem is that there are restrictions in iOS that prevent certain things from working. It’s easy (and partially true) to rail against the locked-down nature of the iPhone, but in our conversations, everybody at Google demurred from wishing they could do more. Instead, Google just worked with the tools that Apple makes available over Bluetooth — and they turn out to be quite powerful.
Now that Android Wear and Pebble both support iOS and Android, the Apple Watch has some clear disadvantages. Android Wear devices are varied in both design and price - with many models being priced at half the cost of Apple's entry level watch. If the Apple Watch is supposed to be the next runaway product that moves users toward the Apple ecosystem, it too might have to support other platforms in the future.
Source: The Verge
At a conference last week in New York, Samsung offered a sneak peak of the Samsung Gear S2, a stylish smartwatch with set to compete with the Apple Watch. The video above was released today on Samsung's youtube channel. Romain Dillet from Tech Crunch observes
As you can see, Samsung switched to a round casing and a metal band. We can spot a few watch-optimized apps in the video — a weather app, a time zone app, a stopwatch app and a sports-tracking app. The Gear S2 also seems to come with a heart-rate sensor. This watch face features complications with little snippets of information — in this case, your heart rate and your next meeting
Like other smartwatches, health and fitness tracking is highlighted. As we wrote earlier this year, in addition to functionality, style is paramount when it comes to wearables. Aesthetically, the Gear S2's rounded icons, metal band and variety of digital watch faces recall the Apple Watch while its rounder watch face takes it a cue from the Pebble Watch with a more traditional and fashionable shape that is less bulky than the Gear S. More recently, however, Pebble has released a rectangular shape for it's E-Paper Watch.
More details about the watch will be given at an IFA press conference at the beginning of September. With a style so reminiscent of Apple Watch, this teaser video may hurt Apple Watch sales even further. The smartwatch and fitness wearable market is a highly competitive one where functionality and style is revered.
Technology companies and cellular carriers have a tense relationship. Each party is dependant on the other for survival. But what if an electronics manufacturer became a cellular carrier? In a report published by Business Insider's James Cook, Apple might be aiming to do just that.
Sources close to Apple say the company is privately trialling an MVNO service in the US but is also in talks with telecoms companies in Europe about bringing the service there too.
An MVNO is a virtual carrier network that sees technology companies lease space from established carriers and sell it to customers directly.
So if Apple is leasing equipment from other cellular carriers, how does this change things? Well, in this scenario the customer would pay Apple for all monthly cellular charges. Apple can also switch between carriers using its own custom SIM in order to provide the best network service. The report claims that Apple probably won't be able to launch such a service for another five years.
Apple is also testing a service that would allow Siri to answer calls instead of a pre-recorded voicemail message. Siri would be able to transcribe voicemail so users could read it as a text, which is more efficient than sifting through multiple audio messages. This "iCloud Voicemail" service could also tell the caller where the user is and why he/she cannot pick up the phone. It's possible this service will launch sometime in 2016 with the release of iOS 10.
It's not a secret that smartphone makers want to move into the cellular business and cut out the middlemen that are the carriers. Google has already began such an endeavour with its Project Fi. It's quite possible that in the future, carriers will simply be building and maintaining the infrastructure behind the scenes, while more front facing companies like Apple and Google handle the contracts and customer relations.
Apple has denied the rumour that it is interested in creating its own MVNO.
The internet of things (IoT) promises to connect all of our devices someday. But, the potential applications of IoT are vast and stretch beyond just consumer devices. Shipping and receiving is one of those industries, for example.
It’s now possible to track individual components and products as they travel on ships, planes, or trucks. Sensors can weigh all of the parts in an inventory bin in a factory or all of the sweaters in a store’s stockroom, enabling new levels of supply-chain efficiency and inventory management.
According to James Manyika and Michael Chui, writing in Forbes, IoT sensors can be used to monitor equipment and signal when maintenance is required on machines - potentially reducing maintenance costs by up to 25%. Sensors could also report how devices are being used by customers, and such products could adapt to customer preferences.
After looking at 150 IoT applications, the authors estimate in the next ten years these technologies will see widespread adoption. The potential economic impact ranges from $3.9 to $11.1 trillion dollars by 2025. The authors also discovered that the majority of IoT value will be generated via business-to-business settings.
There are some hurtles to overcome, however. Interoperability will be paramount, so different information systems can talk to each other. In fact, interoperability is necessary for 40% of this the estimated value of IoT. Analytical software will also need to be compatible, so accurate real-time information can be gathered to get real business insight. While data is collected in many industries, this data does not always drive decision making. The authors use oil platforms as an example.
many of the components on a modern oil platform are now connected; there are over 30,000 sensors on such a platform. But less than 1 percent of the data generated by these sensors are currently used for decision-making. And a majority of the predictable maintenance issues require data from multiple components to be combined and analyzed.
The IoT market will drastically change of business operate. CIOs will need to become more adapt at interpreting data, and data is going to need to dive a lot of the decision making at companies. Make sure to check out the full article in the source below.
As a follow up to our recent feature article, "The mobile desktop gap is closing", we wanted to present some statistics on Canadian usage of mobile and desktop devices.
A new report from ComScore has again confirmed that Canadians spend the majority of their online time on mobile devices — but it also makes clear just how much that trend skews towards millennials
ComScore's Global Mobile Report compares platform trends in Canada, the US, and the UK. Canadians spend 52% of their digital time on mobile devices, compared to 61% of Americans and 56% of those in the UK. For Canadian millennials however, 61% of their time is on mobile devices whereas those 55+ spend 61% of their time on a desktop.
In terms of total mobile minutes, Canada is the only one of the three markets where adults over 35 still spend the majority of their time on desktop. In fact Canadians 35+ spend more total hours on desktop each month than do their counterparts in either market.
Millennials are likely to have more internet-compatible devices than older generations, and millennials' preference for mobile devices illustrates that the desktop-mobile gap is closing
Source: Marketing Mag
There is lots of debate surrounding which is the best mobile platform, and despite the difficulties of switching between them users do switch platforms for a variety of reasons. According to Christian Cantrell, writing for Read Write, wearables are designed to lock users in to a given platform.
Defecting from one mobile faction to another may be inconvenient, but it’s not yet impossible, which is why major platform players are inclined to steer their devices and services in a direction that increases not only their allure, but also the cost of abandonment. And an important new weapon of mass disincentive is wearables.
Cantrell divides wearables into two camps. There are platforms-independent wearables, such as Fitbit, Jawbone, Pebble, Garmin, etc. These devices will work on more than one platform, and though the experience might not exactly the same it's close enough to be tolerable. Platform-dependant wearables are ones that... well... work on one platform. Both the Apple Watch and Android Wear are prime examples, as neither will work without a corresponding iPhone or Android phone, respectively.
However, if Google ports Android Wear to iOS (as is rumoured) it's possible we will have a third category. A platform-preferred wearable, which is a device that will work across platforms but offers more functionality on one of them.
The problem with the prospect of pairing an Android Wear smartwatch with an iPhone is that—due to constraints that limit deep third-party OS integration, or simply fundamental discrepancies in platform features—you are likely to find yourself in a kind of purgatory where your experience is worse than if you were using an Android phone, and also not as good as if you were wearing an Apple Watch. Many iPhone users who try to use Google services exclusively are already familiar with this unfortunate dynamic.
Cantrell notes that things like doing payments probably won't work across different devices and platforms. Both Apple Pay and Android Pay require the wearable to be tied to it's preferred platform. This limiting experience isn't a deal breaker for those who are embedded one or another ecosystem, but it's bad for people who want a diversity of experiences.
While keeping wearables tied to a specific platform, it makes a lot of sense from the company's perspective. Apple only has about 18% of the global smartphone market, yet it makes the over 90% of the industry profits. Platform retention is profitable for companies like Apple, even more so than shipping more Apple Watches by making it cross-platform compatible. Predictable revenue is important to the company's stakeholders, and pursuing a strategy that continues this legacy is important.
The author concludes by saying that wearables are a double edged sword.
In exchange for freeing ourselves from one burden, we are agreeing to take on another. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t buy devices like smartwatches; it just means we should be fully aware of the fact that, as much as we’re strapping devices to ourselves, we are also strapping ourselves to our devices.
When we think of the Internet of Things (IoT), American companies like Google and Apple often come to mind. But a recent report titled "How China Is Scaling the IoT," from Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA), has declared China a global leader in IoT deployment with its 74 million machine-to-machine (M2M) connections.
GSMA's Chief Technology Officer Alex Sinclair's made the following comment:
Clearly, China’s size offers economies of scale unavailable to other countries, but it’s been the government’s focused strategy, emphasis on common specifications and cross-sector collaboration that has allowed the Internet of Things to scale, delivering positive benefits to businesses and consumer alike... Connectivity is boosting major industries such as logistics, manufacturing and energy in terms of increased efficiency, but it has also created a new consumer market in areas such as connected vehicles, home appliances and wearables, putting China at the forefront of IoT deployment.
Much of the infrastructural growth has been funded through government initiatives, but the consumer market has also seen an explosion as a result of mobile devices, particularly the emergence of wearables. The connected car has made waves in China as a result of the country's extensive 4G network which provides entertainment, navigation, and safety services. In 2015 there were 16 million connected car services, and it's expected that by 2020 that number will have risen to 67.9 million. By 2024, there might be as many as 130 million connected car services.
A 12 year plan from the Chinese government means there is long-term investment in the IoT sector.
China has also led in the development of standards, establishing an IoT standards association and promoting Chinese-developed standards internationally. Adoption of essential industry specifications and guidelines, such as the GSMA Embedded SIM Specification and the IoT Device Connection Efficiency Guidelines, will enable further growth and scale.** The central government has also selected 202 cities, including Beijing, Guangzhou, Hangzhou and Shanghai, to pilot smart city projects to collect, store and analyse information related to transportation, electricity, public safety and environmental factors.
t the forefront of the IoT revolution are China's mobile carriers - China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom. However these business are expanding beyond their traditional markets by partnering with automative makers in order to bring connectivity to more devices. For more information on China's investment in IoT, the GSMA report has all the details.
Doppler Labs is an immersive wearable tech company that create products that hopefully help you get computing out of the way of your daily life
The system is a set of two white, independent cordless ear buds and a corresponding app that provides complete audio control over your environment allowing you to reduce or amplify certain sounds or frequencies without turning everything down. Significantly, this process occurs with zero latency. The system is marketed for use not only in musical environments, but also for daily commutes (subway sounds) and in other noisy environments. It comes with fun EQ effects such as flange and reverb that can be applied to the sound environment
Kraft, a musician at heart, explains that the system is different than headphones because
headphones about playing back music that's already pre-recorded. Our whole idea is we want to optomize the way you hear the world, specifically in live settings such as concerts, stadiums, when you're on a flight [...] the technology allows you to specifically target what you want to hear and what you don't want to hear
Kraft emphasizes that visual design was key to ensuring uptake of their product, comparing it against more obtrusive wearables such as Google Glass. Indeed, the product looks like normal earbuds seen by concert goers, and the white colour allows them to blend in with a sea of white Apple headphones on the subway.
The product was recently successfully funded on kickstarter and those who backed the product are set toreceive it in December.
The makers of Doppel, London-based Team Turquoise, call it the next generation of wearable technology, one that can actually change the mood of the user.
A similar size and shape to a wristwatch, it provides tactile beats to the underside of the wrist for a mood-altering effect akin to listening various musical beats. By wearing the device on the inside of the wrist, this psychological mechanism places Doppel's pulse over the wearer's pulse, amplifying the effect. The speed of the pulse is controlled by the user's smartphone through an app that also measure's the user's resting heartbeat to provide two custom pulse options to stimulate or calm the user.
Jack Hooper, co-founder of Team Turquoise, explains that
upping the pulse tempo will get you alert, while slowing it down will make you relaxed. And you can use it in places where music may be distracting, or inappropriate, like in an important meeting or while presenting
The device may also be a useful exercising companion. Co-founder Nell Bennet notes
it feels like you're running on a machine even when you're outdoors, because you automatically keep to the rhythem and run at a constant rate which is really useful