8 March 2014
Why can’t great smartwatches look like normal watches? Smartwatches, for the most part, can be divided into two categories: vague approximations of the future like the Pebble, Gear, and Gear Fit, or conventionally styled watches from companies like Citizen and Cookoo that offer far less functionality. While it’s true the Pebble Steel is making inroads in the aesthetic department, its blocky construction and oversized buttons aren’t likely to appeal to the masses.
The concepts are cool, but I don’t think Apple would follow a direction like this. To me, these mockups align more closely to the iPod phone concepts that spread like wildfire before Apple unveiled the forward-looking iPhone that had little resemblance to phones that became before it.
An iWatch doesn’t need to look like a watch. This is the approach, I believe, Apple will take. Of course, there will be similarities (it has to comfortably fit on an arm, after all), but I expect that aspects of a watch that we take for granted today will not be present.
Do you really think the iWatch is going to have a replaceable strap? Something that wears out and falls off? Something that requires a lip in the main body of the device to attach? That sounds insane to me.
6 March 2014
This is the first time in the BBC’s history that we are proposing to close a television channel. I can’t rule out it being the last change to our programmes or services. It will save the BBC over £50 million a year. £30 million of that will go into drama on BBC One. And it also means we will extend Children’s programmes by an hour a night and provide a BBC One +1 channel. I must stress – all of this is what we are proposing to the BBC Trust. They will have the final say.
How about not wasting resources on a pointless +1 channel, shorten children’s channels by an hour, save the excess £30 million and keep BBC Three running?
6 March 2014
Getty Images is dropping the watermark for the bulk of its collection, in exchange for an open-embed program that will let users drop in any image they want, as long as the service gets to append a footer at the bottom of the picture with a credit and link to the licensing page. For a small-scale WordPress blog with no photo budget, this looks an awful lot like free stock imagery.
It’s a real risk for the company, since it’s easy to screenshot the new versions if you want to snag an unlicensed version. But according to Craig Peters, a business development exec at Getty Images, that ship sailed long ago. “Look, if you want to get a Getty image today, you can find it without a watermark very simply,” he says. “The way you do that is you go to one of our customer sites and you right-click. Or you go to Google Image search or Bing Image Search and you get it there. And that’s what’s happening… Our content was everywhere already.”
I like the business acumen here. As Peters says, everyone already steals their images so the company is trying to embrace it. It’s a forward-thinking strategy from an organisation I associate with traditional media (i.e. newspapers).
However, from a user’s standpoint, you shouldn’t touch this with a bargepole. The images get embedded through an
iframe, which means the image data is loaded from an external source that can be changed at the will of Getty at any time. They can put anything they want there — including ads. Unbelievably, according to The Verge, this is something Getty has already considered doing.
The new embeds are built on the same iframe code that lets you embed a tweet or a YouTube video, which means the company can use embeds to plant ads or collect user information. “We’ve certainly thought about it, whether it’s data or it’s advertising,” Peters says, even if those features aren’t part of the initial rollout.
This means that in the future Getty could replace your image blocks with other images, advertisements … or well anything. It also means that your site now has a dependency on Getty’s CDN uptime. If their servers are down, your site has no images.
Finally, although the images now have no watermark, Getty sticks a 100 pixel tall footer below the image instead. Technically, it’s not a watermark but for the site owner it isn’t really any better than before, especially if they start replacing your images with ads. Form the perspective of a content pirate, you might as well keep stealing the source images.
5 March 2014
Los Angeles Times:
- 77% of respondents could not identify what SEO means. SEO stands for “Search-Engine Optimization”
- 27% identified “gigabyte” as an insect commonly found in South America. A gigabyte is a measurement unit for the storage capacity of an electronic device.
- 42% said they believed a “motherboard” was “the deck of a cruise ship.” A motherboard is usually a circuit board that holds many of the key components of a computer.
- 23% thought an “MP3” was a “Star Wars” robot. It is actually an audio file.
- 18% identified “Blu-ray” as a marine animal. It is a disc format typically used to store high-definition videos.
- 15% said they believed “software” is comfortable clothing. Software is a general term for computer programs.
- 12% said “USB” is the acronym for a European country. In fact, USB is a type of connector.
It’s hard to tell whether these surveys are at all reliable, but they are nonetheless hilarious.
4 March 2014
Apple’s in-car infotainment system has been a long time coming. After it was announced at the company’s annual WWDC conference in June last year, “iOS in the Car” flew under the radar, only to undergo a rebrand and launch publicly yesterday under a new moniker: CarPlay. Sharing part of its name with the company’s AirPlay media streaming protocol, CarPlay combines all of the iPhone’s most important features and mirrors them inside the car, allowing car owners to call, text, navigate and listen to music (and more) using touch or Siri-based voice inputs. The new in-car interface is compatible with new Ferrari, Mercedes and Volvo models unveiled at the Geneva Auto Show, and it’s there we got the chance to test Apple’s automotive assistant inside a suitably-equipped Ferrari FF coupe.
Resistive touchscreens ruin it. Volvo seems to be using a better display — it is much more responsive.
3 March 2014
Writing Aid, App Store:
Writer’s block is a phenomenon that affects everyone. Know what you want to say but forgotten how to express it? Just can’t remember what this word means?
Writing Aid can relieve this frustration. Instantly search for definitions and synonyms just like a standard dictionary. However, Writing Aid can also find words when you search for meanings. So a search for ‘green blue color’ returns suggestions like ‘turquoise’ or ‘aquamarine’. Similarly, typing ‘inventing new things’ returns words such as ‘candelabra’ and ‘sconce’.
These words share the same meaning but make your writing more sophisticated and more elegant.
You wouldn’t want to write on your iPhone, but that doesn’t mean your iPhone can’t help you write.
No ads. No fuss. Just the words.
Dictionary apps on the App Store are bad. They look ugly, they are crammed full of banner ads and just aren’t made with user experience in mind. Gimmicky items like Word of the Day just clutter the layout. Many haven’t been updated for iOS 7’s aesthetic style. In fact, some dictionary apps even run off freemium business models. As crazy as it seems, I saw one app that made you pay extra to search for words longer than seven letters in length.
I built Writing Aid out of frustration. I didn’t want to deal with this unnecessary mess. When you launch the app, the focus is in the search bar. There’s nothing else onscreen. Definitions and synonyms are found in an instant, as soon as you tap Search.
But then, you can go further. Writing Aid includes a ‘reverse dictionary’ too — lookup meanings to find words with those meanings. If you ever hit a writer’s block about how to express a particular phrase more eloquently, Writing Aid will help. Just search for a phrase like ‘feeling of helplessness’ and suggestions such as ‘depression’ and ‘languor’ flow onscreen … accompanied by a super-satisfying bounce animation.
What’s nice is that this additional functionality doesn’t require additional buttons or visual clutter. If you search for a word, you get a dictionary and synonym lookup. If you search for a phrase (that is, multiple words) the app automatically performs a reverse-lookup.
The combination of these features turn Writing Aid into a truly-helpful tool when writing essays, blog posts or even novels. I write on my laptop and keep my iPhone next to me when I hit a writer’s block and need some inspiration.
I don’t expect this to become the number one dictionary app on the store; only a small fraction of the App Store population will pay for the additional convenience, beauty and elegance. Conveying the benefits of the ‘reverse dictionary’ is tough. However, I am hopeful it will do well. Writing Aid is available for $0.99.
Please contact me via email or Twitter if you have any support queries or other feedback.
1 March 2014
They finally did it, just 16 days after starting. Whoever thought this up was a genius. It got coverage online, in newspapers and on national TV news … a true internet phenomenon.
Apparently, they are going to do the Silver/Gold generation next.
28 February 2014
According to our sources, Apple retail employees were informed this morning that beginning today, anyone who purchases an Apple TV from Apple will receive a free $25 iTunes gift card. As of right now this promotion seems to only be available at brick and mortar locations, but we will update this post if it pops up at the Apple online store. The gift card can be used download movies, music, apps, and more. The promotion is scheduled to end on March 5th.
There has to be a new model waiting in the wings. Why else would Apple run an out-of-the-blue promotion for just one week?
27 February 2014
“We can not guarantee that Android is designed to be safe, the format was designed to give more freedom. When they talk about 90% of malware for Android, they must of course take into account the fact that it is the most used operating system in the world. If I had a company dedicated to malware, I will also be addressing my attacks on Android”, has he said with a big smile.
Not quite Eric Schmidt levels of creepy eloquence, but getting there. I know what Pichai is trying to say — that the level of Android’s malware is proportionate to its scale — but there are definitely better ways of expressing it.
25 February 2014
The ties between Apple and Disney are tightening even more thanks to their unprecedented collaboration on the new Movies Anywhere app. This ambitious project has been percolating at Disney for years and aims to make purchasing and viewing digital content easier than ever.
A direct shot at UltraViolet, the Movies Anywhere app allows users to purchase and play movies within the app or through any device with access to your iTunes library. Previously purchased films on DVD, and Blu-ray can be added to the app if they shipped with a digital redemption code. All past iTunes purchases are eligible.
There is actually a hidden partnership with Apple behind this app. You can sign into your iTunes account and the app imports all the films you have already bought from the iTunes Store. Conversely, if you buy a movie in the app, it automatically gets added to your iTunes account too.
24 February 2014
Like the 5S, the S5’s home key features an integrated fingerprint scanner, which can be used to unlock the phone or authenticate purchases online (Samsung is partnering with PayPal to enable this feature, though it doesn’t validate purchases from the Google Play Store). Samsung’s version requires a vertical swipe over the home button to activate the scanner, and we found it to be quite unreliable and virtually impossible to activate when holding the phone in one hand. It can store up to three different digits, but it was very particular about the speed and orientation of the swiping motion used — if we weren’t doing a perfectly straight swipe down, it would refuse to unlock the phone.
Doing it right is hard.
24 February 2014
The display on the Gear Fit is the real draw: it’s a rectangular, curved AMOLED touchscreen panel with characteristic-for-Samsung vibrant colors and exceptionally wide viewing angles. The curve in the display allows the Fit to conform around your wrist yet still have a large enough screen to make text readable and buttons easy to press with your finger. It’s not the first product from Samsung to have a curved display, but it does feel like it’s the first to actually benefit from its curvature. Plus it just looks cool.
It looks cool, but isn’t it sideways … When you turn to look at your wrist, the display will be vertical but the UI is horizontal?
Apart from that oddity, the device looks genuinely cool. It’s a nice, simple fitness band; clock, notifications, pedometer and heart-rate sensor.
23 February 2014
Wall Street Journal:
Netflix Inc. has agreed to pay Comcast Corp. to ensure Netflix movies and TV shows stream smoothly to Comcast customers, a landmark agreement that could set a precedent for Netflix’s dealings with other broadband providers, people familiar with the situation said.
In exchange for payment, Netflix will get direct access to Comcast’s broadband network, the people said. The multiyear deal comes just 10 days after Comcast agreed to buy Time Warner Cable Inc., which if approved would establish Comcast as by far the dominant provider of broadband in the U.S., serving 30 million households.
Paying Comcast for peering access sets a precedent for Netflix to pay other providers to do the same. Netflix has tight margins — they can’t afford to pay every ISP to open peering agreements. They are standing on shaky ground.
19 February 2014
There are few companies as admired, beloved and dominant in their industries as Amazon and Apple. So when the two ventured into the ad business (Amazon in 2008 and Apple in 2010), Madison Avenue took notice.
Advertising sales are a tough slog for both — and for a lot of the same reasons. Media buyers say they are slow, cocky and downright stingy.
Never would have guessed that Apple would be slow, cocky and downright stingy.
18 February 2014
We’re going to be returning to just one, universal version of Clear for iOS, with the original version of Clear gaining iPad support. If you already own a copy of Clear, you don’t need to do anything as we’ve just launched an updated version of Clear with iPad support.
As Apple doesn’t offer a way to migrate users between copies of an app, we’re going to make Clear free for 24 hours so owners of Clear+ can move to the correct version free of charge.
So, they pushed out a (universal) paid-for iOS 7 update in September. People complained that they were being shortchanged for iPad compatibility. Realmac backtracked by adding iPad support to the old Clear app, effectively running two identical versions of the same app.
This put them in a right mess and now to get out of it they are having to forfeit revenue for a couple of days. Loads of people — including me — will exploit the ‘free window’ selfishly and be able to get Clear without paying a penny.
I’m not saying they should have offered the iOS 7 update from it. That’s fine. What they shouldn’t have done is backtracked. Stick to your decisions or you get stuck in an endless spiral of compromises and reimbursements.
This is an example of extreme technical debt.
18 February 2014
King Digital Entertainment, the UK-based game publisher behind Candy Crush and several other big mobile games, has filed its initial IPO papers with the SEC, and says it wants to trade on the NYSE under the “KING” ticker. The initial appeal for investors will be obvious: This is a huge, fast-growing company. And the risk is obvious as well: It’s a huge, fast-growing company based around a single game.
Zynga and Rovio haven’t been able to grow past their respective one-hit wonders. I don’t see any reasons that mean King will fare any better.