Technology

Wearables – What’s the criteria they need to fulfill?

Wearables

Let’s let that name linger on everyone’s mind for a while.
Isn’t it an apt one for the technology which aims to fulfill two goals; first being worn all the time and secondly to be your interface to your tech world only when you need it and then to meld away. 

That’s the ultimate aim of all the things coming out from the vast number of players big and small in this rapidly crowded space. 

Rapidly crowded is no understatement, with almost everyone from Apple and Samsung (which actually launched one) to pebble, I’m watch and numerous others working on a smart watch which has or will soon release. The fitness tracker space is even more crowded with Nike, jawbone and many others invading that space. 

Almost all of these companies have delivered a Generation One product and some have already delivered or announced a second generation one too. 

Despite all this there is not one I would recommend to a normal person in India. One part of this is due to the brutal beating the rupee has taken which make this much more expensive to us Indians compared to the pinch the American brethren feel while picking on of these up but that’s a divergent point for another time. The other one is that none of these address all my key areas which are important to me. Maybe I’m looking for a Fantasy watch or maybe someone is already building one. But if they aren’t here is what I look for in my wearable in order of importance. 

1)Battery Life : Okay there is no way I can emphasize this enough. If you want a chance in hell to live on my wrist day in and day out you bloody well better last for a week at the bare minimum. 
My watch lasts for over six months and your looking to replace that in my life so this one is a bare minimum feel free to prove me wrong multiple times over. Doing this would obviously use low power bluetooth but the tech world comes up with such amazing tech you never know

2)Dust and Water resistant (proof would be better) : I live in a country which is gifted with plentiful rain fall for nearly 5 months every year and which in the other 7 months is a dustbowl at times, not to mention the wrist is an extremely sweaty place due to which the wearable will have to be tested in the most aggressive conditions if it really wants a chance of surviving here and earn a place on my wrist.

3) Sensory overload : I’m a demanding customer and I want you to throw everything and the kitchen sink at me when it comes to sensors you pack in. Give me an accelerometer, a gyroscope, infrared sensors to measure my heart beat and pulse, an altimeter and GPS, plus whatever else you possibly can so that no matter what I do I know my wearable is making a note or observations and will be able to give me some amazing insight into it.

4) Clean UI : I totally appreciate that people are trying to make the wearables that can do an amazing number of things but lets remember people you are trying to replace a device which for most people in the world needs only a twist of the hand to serve its primary purpose it’s a well entrained mental habit and will remain even when people switch to wearables so atleast make it nice to look at,

5) Intuitive controls : expanding on the above point of people being completely muscle trained for a simple watch at this point,  it’s going to be paramount to make sure controls and voice controls are as intuitive,  make it too difficult and remember that unstrapping you is as simple as going back to the humble watch

6) Software and companion apps : Make your desktop, tablet and mobile apps as amazing as possible and ready to capture and make sense of all the incredible amounts of my personal life you will know about.

If a company manages to nail all of these then it’s got my firm vote ( for however little it counts)  as the one to get… And I’m a dramatic fan to will shout it from the roof tops till I’m hoarse.

Think your list of priorities is a little bit different? Sound off in the comments and put me in my place 😉

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Technology

Random Ramblings # 57 – Why the iPhone may or may not be for me

I have been lucky enough to use the iPad over the last few months along with my own BB Curve running BBOS5, my dads Galaxy S2 running ICS and let me start of by saying it is one of the best tech experiences of my life.

Content consumption is king for me on my iPad and with the awesomely amazing display this one boasts its been a dream.

However this prolonged exposure to iOS (iOS6 is what I’m currently rocking) has shown me a few limitations which might just jar my everyday usage if I ever try to consider an iPhone.

Before all the bashing begins, these are just a few of my observations and I haven’t tried all sorts of things to get them to work.Your opinion might differ.

1) The current Maps suck balls. Period. Yes I know a lot has been said about this all over the internet with entire blogs also popping up to chronicle the suckiness of Apple Maps which lead to Tim Cook himself releasing a statement that there were issues and people should consider alternatives for the time being. This is almost a complete deal breaker for me as my road sense is annoyingly bad and while I am trying to remember roads better I still need a good mapping application on many an occasion and this one doesnt float my boat. I am waiting with crossed everything for the Google Maps app.

2) As a heavy google services user I find it a little jarring for my use, (to be honest I haven’t really made a concentrated effort to try and remedy this), but without easy pushmail support for Gmail (not counting the Sparrow app in this) and contact sync its a lil questionable for me. In the same breath Im am 100% certain that with the tiniest bit of googling I will find the solution. im just trying to say it doesn’t “Just Work” like it ideally should.

3) The price, well I think those two words itself sum up my feelings more accurately than anything else I need to say. When dealing with Apple products price means ‘nuf said.
But keeping these in mind Im still leaning more towards getting one than not due to the following:

1) As someone who has owned an iPod before I have had a chance to experience Apple’s legendary customer service first hand and its nothing short of incredible 😀 a definite plus point for when one is considering plonking down a serious chunk of cash for a device. I mean my iPods click wheel started acting wonky and without complaint they took it in just to replace it with a brand new one, within a week and that was amazing for something which was in month 11 of its 12 month warranty. Since that day its brownie points for customer service are firmly lodged in my heart.

2) Confidence that for the next 3 years I’m going to get the latest OS updates on my device as soon as they r launched. This is a huge factor for an ex-Android user who burnt his fingers with samsungs erratic and often hit or miss update schedule and logic. Yes, naysayers might say that certain features aren’t being made available, however they seem to only be the more processor intensive ones and in my opinion should stop from this version onwards.

3) The build quality, I mean do I need to say more? Apple’s products across its range, are over engineered to a fault and it shows and honestly I love it. I mean every single blog can’t stop raving about this till now and its a major factor in the firms feeling of niceness over its products.

4) The App selection, its vast, variety abounds and a lot of the good apps are extremely well designed also. This is kind of like a moot point for the point of view that all the really popular apps already exist or are in the process of existing across all the major ecosystems. However one point which is still valid is that a lot of the apps choose iOS to launch on first and then come to the others and for someone like me this counts.

5) Now this last point is extremely personal and will obviously vary, however with an iPad already in my stable with quite a few paid apps it makes a little more sense to get an iPhone over any thing else right? Well maybe, the cash I would save with another manufacturer as compared to the iPhone would surely make up for repurchase costs, but I’m still on the fence on this one having already experienced the apps on iOS and being pretty happy with them

The debate is still pretty open in my head and I’m gonna give it time till the Lumia 920 and BB10 devices launch, go handson with them all, take a long hard look at my wallet and then decide. Till then expect more of these to hammer out why others may or may not be for me 🙂

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Technology

Random Ramblings # 56 – Has Apple mastered niceness?

What is niceness? Is it something which can be measured or just something that has to be felt? I strongly subscribe to the latter point of view and this is why I ask a simple question.

Has Apple mastered niceness? (I ask this in purely hardware terms, Apple Maps is an unmitigated disaster and not nice at all)

A weird question one might think, but its one which has been plaguing my mind ever since the iPhone 5 launch a few weeks ago. Blogs universally over exposed to the leakfest that characterized this times iPhone launch were universally also taken aback when they actually got the phone in their hands.

One resounding voice is heard from even naysayers, is that this phone is really really nice in the hand. Daring Fireball wrote about it, Slate.com’s writer even took back his statements saying this thing is a bore because of it. I have personally never held one (Thank you late apple launch cycle) but I am sure I will be blown away too.

This question however is one which I feel a lot more manufacturers need to ask themselves a lot more. The mobile space has seen its days of break neck innovation and its the time for incremental improvements now. The number of cores on a processor or how many megapixels you can fit into a phone is fast losing significance to the average customer, what isn’t losing significance though is how it feels, how it interacts with them in a more physical sense.

The best back plate matching and seemingly seamless design all lend to that and its one are where Apple really seems to have their eye on the ball and maybe they are already staking their claim in a battleground the others haven’t even realized exists yet and have been doing so consistently.

Lets hope the others catch on in the near future. I for one can’t wait to get my hands on one and let you know my opinion.

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Random Ramblings # 55 – Nokia’s Big Push, Final push?

I guess I’m not the only one excited by the Nokia Lumia 920 and I’m so excited to see that they have finally released a phone to go against the iPhone and Android heavyweights. All the tech sites seem to taken notice and have been using it as on of the benchmarks in all the comparison tests which is awesome.

The phone in my opinion reflects the best of what Nokia has to offer in a brilliant way to the world. From the coloured polycarbonate shells, Pureview floating lens tech, clearblack display and Nokia Maps it seems to be a phone which tries to crystallize everything which Nokia has tried to excel in by putting them centerstage.

Like everyone else I was disappointed to not be able to learn anything more about WP8 other than what was already known to us, but atleast this let the Phone shine to try and differentiate it self.

This however is Nokia’s last bet. It had to pull this off because its chips are all in as a smartphone manufacturer at least. It has no other OS to look to, its publicly and unapologetically tied itself to the WP bandwagon and I really hope that it pays off.

I do feel that 4 eco systems can co exist well in this world especially in a field as diverse as the mobile space. Let’s hope everything pays off for all involved.

Fingers crossed, I’m just glad its going to be an awesome time for tech geeks like me 🙂

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Random Ramblings # 54 – Blackberry 10 Initial Opinion

With Blackberry Jam Americas, having just had its keynote a few days back, my initial short and sweet impression of BB10 is that it looks pretty darn nice with tons of potential

With BB10, Research in motion is finally setting up it self for the next 10 years with a whole new UI and platform underneath by the looks of it.

The Keynote was impressive and all the departments came out a swinging from the gates, giving us glimpses of what was to come in the near future.

With any OS though there is always the good with the bad though so I’m going to try and run you through what I thought were possible Pain or Pleasure points we see till now.

Let’s kick it off with the Pain points so that we can get some Pleasure later on 😉 (Bad joke sorry)

1) The lack of a persistent notification bar is one of the biggest pain points for me, its the same phenomenon which is present in WP and frankly its something I have very mixed feelings about to be honest because I love my quick status and notification bar on top which would tell me even when I’m in the middle of things where I stand on everything I’m doing, including critically my Battery life. They have made the lock screen a lot more flush with information though so maybe this is their way of implementing it

2) Why have they limited app frames to 8? does that mean only 8 will run at a time? what will happen to the frantic back and forth switching which is ingrained into the users of the current lineup? Will the other apps be frozen and brought back to life ala iOS and WP8? So many unanswered questions with important implications

3)The extreme gesture reliance is another question mark in my book, as it brings up a lot of important questions. Will the battery life suffer with the screen constantly having to be at the ready to “unlock” by a upward swipe? Wouldn’t a physical button be better? Are the gestures going to be intuitive enough? Certainly seems so but I’m going to be skeptical till I get a proper hands on.

Now let’s dive into what excited me about the OS, my so called “pleasure” points if you may 😛

1) Loving the unified inbox as always, its a rehash of a feature that has been running since a very long time, but its a more modern implementation in my opinion having it completely ingrained into the OS itself rather than having it as a separate app running

2) The keyboard seems to be an absolute joy to use. Multi Lingual Text prediction on the fly, swipable words, tie up with Swiftkey? Yes, Yes and oh my god Yes! I love all these features and I really hope they live upto their potential, have loved swiftkey’s keyboards right since the word go and am super excited to see RIM working so closely with them for this.

3) Their amazing push to get an app ecosystem ready before hand is just wow in my books, nothing different from what Microsoft tried to do with WP8 but I’m not quite sure if they were willing to back it up with hard cash though(correct me if I’m wrong please), this is so important because once you have the major popular apps on your ecosystem you have already served 80% of a potential users needs. Yes of course we want more innovative apps and are always on the look out for more and better ones but I think the top few can fulfill our pangs for a short while atleast.

BB10 is not revolutionary as far as the entire mobile ecosystem is concerned, I’m one of the first ones to accept that. However I do feel that it will make using your phone a lot more intuitive because more than anything else it has had time to gain insights from all the major players out there, this coupled with Thornsten Heins claim that it was delayed because it wasn’t fully baked put even more pressure that it isn’t just another first gen OS with the quibbles which are generally let go by Fanboys. This needs to come out of the fences with everything fixed raring to go and a lightning fast update schedule already planned out to keep its chances bright.

I hope way more positive consumer specific features come out in the upcoming months to make this a must have.

I do plan a shift away from my BB Curve early next year and am biding my time with so many important phones coming out in the meantime, let’s hope RIM is able to make all of us think its a viable place to plonk our money for the next 2+ years.

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Random Ramblings # 52 – Apple moving forward

Well lets all agree that this times iPhone launch was a bit of a let down for us all. I mean a lot of the mystique and punch of the event used to be the secrecy behind it.

This time however with the constant leaks almost everyone knew what was coming out on the hardware side and which is one of the primary reasons it became super important for apple to deliver on the software side which by all accounts is still extremely smooth is finally looking its 5 years…which by most criteria in today’s fast moving mobile age is an eon

I do feel however we are seeing the stirrings of something from within Cupertino…one needs to only look at the new iTunes and App Store interface to gain a sense of it… Let me be very clear here that it isn’t going to happen in a hurry and I in no way am saying that iOS 7 is going to look dramatically different but quick nips and tucks will start happening on the UI front that much I’m sure off… See the problem apple currently has is that it is the incumbent now….. The situation is totally unlike to what the first few years when it launched, where innovation was key to making it a household name they have to now look at changing it up while still being loyal to their rabid fans and hence it will be a slower process for them overall.

I’m predicting a UI with larger icons making better use of the larger screen real estate now on offer. The larger icons will now start having a little bit of live information, something like the windows live tile approach but with some apple minimalism and finesse thrown in. More social feature for sure with Facebook and twitter becoming wholly baked in, cause I have a feeling they are still figuring out a way to keep the legendary battery life while integrating everything into the OS.

I do not in any circumstance see an entire kernel rewrite for the foreseeable future.

In terms of hardware I think we are pushing the limits on all accounts and incremental updates till 3D tech becomes headache free for consumers and users is what we are looking at.

Well this is just my amateur opinion and let’s see what happens as the years roll on, I just hope it doesn’t turn into an RIM which was too wary of innovating till they were pushed to the brink

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Random Ramblings # 50 – A look ahead for Blackberry

Well the situation to be honest looks pretty bleak for Blackberry and RIM in general, however with many a company scripting a fight back I dont hold them totally done and dusted.

The following things however are ones they must nail at the launch of BB10 if they are to have any hope of surviving what happened to Palm

1) Make sure that BBM works spot on right off the bat – There are no two ways about this, most of the loyalty that BB currently enjoys is due to that one solitary feature keeping millions of young adults and teens completely hooked to the platform all over Asia and else where where it currently selling well.

2) Get email working on the day of launch- with blackberry’s Playbook fiasco when they launched it they just can’t afford to make the same mistake with BB10

3) Make sure that the Camera Matches up- Increasingly in the consumer market too many people are looking for their phone to replace everything they own gadget wise and the Camera is top of the hit list in that one

4) The usability for the IT department has to be buttery smooth – A major Chunk of the BB users are and for the considerable future will be the Corporate and Government segments for whom locking down the security is paramount and thats only possible when the IT department is super happy

5) Get the top Apps quick – As a techie with many regular normal friends I have realised that having just the top 50 Apps on each platform is more than enough for people to get around and start feeling the phone is their own, of course then people will go along and customize and nip and tuck; the imperative for RIM however is going to be nailing that right out of the park.

I have been following the leaks from the BB camp and I must say I am cautiously impressed, however the proof of a pudding is in the eating and I can’t wait to sink my teeth in soon when it comes out.

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