Monday’s Apple “Spring Forward” announcement was chalked full of new Apple product information about Apple Watch, New MacBook, Apple TV + HBO Now, and Mac line up updates. In addition to a long list of design inspirations and new capabilities, a few other things jumped out for me during the announcements.
The day started with Tim Cook telling us about the 700 million iPhone unit sales and how iPhone has become so much a part of our daily lives. The iPhone (you could say all smartphones) are never farther than arms’ reach. Interesting then later when Apple showed Apple Watch was designed so we don’t have to reach for our iPhone.
Most things Apple Watch does, the biggest exception is loading apps from the App Store, is performed on the Apple Watch. When you use your Apple Watch, you don’t have to flip between your phone and watch devices to access fitness info, answer calls, check the weather or your calendar, see and respond to messages, or get help from Siri. Those things you can do right from the Apple Watch.
The added wi-fi plus bluetooth in Apple Watch means your iPhone can be in another part of the house and you can go right on using your Apple Watch, not tethered via a short Bluetooth leash like other Smartwatches. Similar to iPhone becoming even more important in customers’ lives than the iPod (because it’s built into the iPhone), Apple is attempting to make the bond with Apple Watch even stronger than with our iPhones.
Will Apple succeed? For some of the watch wearing faithful (and those who return to wearing a watch to be able to sport the Apple Watch) that answer could very well be yes. Apple does many things well and is one of the best at creating a tightly integrated user experience for their customers. The less time customers spend jumping back and forth between devices to use capabilities unavailable on their Smartwatches, synchronizing data or adjusting settings to get things working, the less intrusive and the more useful the experience is for Apple Watch customers.
Two things that could stand in Apple Watch’s way. Price and battery life. The $349 entry price is high but seems reasonable for something almost as advanced as our Smartphones, but the price rises quickly as you move up the line of chassis and wristband options. A stainless steel watch chassis and linked band runs $949 to $999 for example. 18 hour battery life means Apple Watch’s short tether is to a charging cable. Apple Watch won’t be of much use unless it is tucked in for a fresh charge every night.
Will Apple Watch move Smartwatches from tech novelties into the mainstream like iPhones and other Smartphones are today? Only time will tell.
I’m on my second annual visit to CES in Las Vegas. While it’s nearly impossible to see everything, there are products, technologies and companies I wanted to seek out, and along with others I came across while cruising the show floor. Here are a few of the highlights from my first day.
On my list to seek out, Canonical Ltd was a high priority visit. The Ubuntu phone demo didn’t disappoint. Ubuntu takes a decidedly different approach in its UI – no physical phone buttons and the OS and apps maximize screen real estate use by putting options and controls on slide outs from the left, right, top and bottom of the screen.
No word on a release date, developer information is on the website, there will be an online store similar to that on Ubuntu desktop. And yes, users will have access to the Ubuntu command line. If Canonical plays their cards right, Ubuntu phone could be a big hit in what’s generally considered to be a phone OS market already owned by Apple and Google. HTML 5, QML, Qt Framwork and an open source model could make Ubuntu phone a favorite with techies, jail breakers and open source advocates.
While I’ve heard about 3D printers, it was even cooler to actually see two of them in action; one that prints with heated mesh and another that lays down a polymer as thin as 6 nanometers. Sample items at the show were chains (motorcycle), gears, computer mice, and many others. Used primarily to create prototypes of to-be-manufactured objects, seems we’re at the beginning of what this technology might bring to us.
Samsung Smart Life
Is the TV remote control a thing of the past? I think so, to be replaced by your smartphone and/or tablet. Not just to control the TV, but to manage everything; home devices, lighting, HVAC, energy consumption, multimedia, etc. Samsung had a nice “home life” demo.
If you’ve played multi-player console games, you’re experienced split-screen gaming. The screen is carved up in half or in quadrants for 2, 3 or 4 players — a big compromise each player makes, sacrificing major screen real estate.
Sony had an amazing demo of SimulView. All players utilize the full screen for their own view of the game, simultaneously. To separate their respective views, players wear passive glasses, making the screen appear to only show their view of the game. Now, play the game using SimulView on an 83″ 4KTV and you’ll be impressed too.
Whether it was a device simulating a Ferrari formula 1 race care steering wheel, or body monitors that help you lose weight and maintain your health, sensors are appearing in just about everything. Sensors are everywhere and we’re only at the beginning of their proliferation.
An interesting question: Will products, services and companies want data from the products we use, what can they do with it, where will that data live, and what privacy concerns arise? If your workout body monitor asks you if you’d like to participate in their product improvement program by sharing your data with them, should you?
Mobile, Smartphones and Tablets
If it’s not gone mobile yet, it will. Smartphones and tablets are taking the place of PC apps and specialized hardware control devices. Mobile and tablet apps where everywhere, reporting information from Wi-Fi home weather station sensors, controlling strange little roll’y balls that almost emoted a Star Trek tribble-like personality, and NVIDIA powered tablets embedded as the UI and control surfaces in Tesla and Audi cars. The primary use case for smartphones is rapidly being displaced by our universal ‘life’ remote, used to display content and information, and control so many objects throughout our daily lives.
How will Google’s Android Nexus S smartphone fair? Phones bearing Google’s Android OS continue to gain steam in the marketplace. I see lots of users who probably would have liked an iPhone but have Android phones instead, and seem just as happy with them. A Best Buy email ad just popped into my inbox promoting Google’s own smartphone, the Android Nexus S on T-Mobile. Sales began last Thursday, December 16, and the phone is selling for $199 with a 2 year plan (or $529 with no plan) and is running the latest Android OS 2.3 Gingerbread version. Sales in the UK begin tomorrow.
I don’t own any Android devices…yet…and I haven’t really spent much time on an Android device to really know how well it stacks up to Apple’s IOS 4. But I do have a Samsung Galaxy table coming soon which will close my Android OS experience gap rather quickly. I don’t have plans to move off my iPad anytime soon but if Android proves to be more effective in a business and IT setting, that would be pretty compelling.
Time will tell whether the Nexus S is a better phone than HTC, Motorola and others make. If there’s one potential advantage it’s that the Nexus S may have less (or next to none) bloatware vs. what other manufactures load on. We’ll see on all counts.