Monday, February 11, 2013
The timing feels a little better for such a release than back in 2010.
In 2013 we're starting to see more hints of the growing trend from 'carrying' to 'wearing' tech.
The Pebble, while rough around the edges, shows promise and that there's a market, albeit for early adopters, for a smartphone wristwatch. Jawbone Up (which I now own), Fitbit and Nike Fuelband are leading the way for first-generation wearable health tech. Google Glass is opening itself up to third party development.
So for kicks, here's the original comp I did back in 2010. I expect Apple will take advantage of the curved glass opportunities and be able to produce a thiner form factor overall. Siri can also now provide a key input.
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Fresh. That's my immediate feeling. Everything about the Windows 8 interface just feels fresh. Responsive. Animations are quick. The live tiles transition through various states, enough to feel 'alive' but not so much that it's distracting. It all makes sense. Live weather on your weather tile, upcoming meetings on the calendar tile, artist image on the music tile. No longer are you inundated with push notifications + alerts.
Bigger, badder. The phone is big, really big. Holding the phone takes some getting used to. Button position, with power on to the middle right, is smart. Some options are a stretch or, more commonly, a contortion of the thumb, when attempting to hit the back button in the lower left (I miss the Apple back swipe here). These thumb-aerobics are made all the worth while with a stunning screen and an interface that makes good use of those pixels.
Social at the core. Spend 10 minutes adding your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Gmail accounts, then see it seamlessly integrate into your experience. The People section pulls in the latest status updates, relationships, birthdays and addresses linked to maps. You can create sub-sets of friends as 'groups' and pin these to your homescreen. Select your Facebook cover photo as your lock screen image. It feels ingrained, not tacked on.
Mixed bag o'apps. I only need a few apps. And with Windows 8 you don't get a lot of choice.. but all the right apps are there for me - sans Spotify. Twitter, Zite, Chase, all benefit from smart use of the horizontal scrolling that Windows 8 does so well. They all look sharp.. literally. Hard to find a bevel or rounded corner round here. But quality is inconsistent, and without the depth of choice in apps, you're left with a few bad eggs - like the ad-supported and installed Weather Channel, or Stock Pickers that use pixelated images. They stick out badly. AT&T have included a suite of subscription-based apps. They stand up on their own, particularly the navigation, but with so many, I wish there were a folder to file them away for later.
Camera. They've talked up this camera a lot. And understandably so. Pictures look.. amazing. I have no need for a compact camera with this. Here's a photo I took today from Time Square:
Different strokes. Many times I've experience a minor 'wha?' moment as I navigate through the interface. It's not easy to distinguish whether it's a getting-used-to-a-new-interface moment vs something that is genuinely annoying. Time will tell. But I sense the interaction principles just aren't as consistent as they are on iOS. There are load times when you don't expect load times. Popup notifications aren't always clear. There are also times I feel they made compromises. The decision to include XBox Music with Nokia Music is one of those times. Neither team surrendered (I wish Nokia did). And for a such a progressive package - my wireless charging pad is on its way - it's odd to still see a panel in the Music app encouraging you to 'plug into your computer to add stuff'. Those days are gone.
But I love it. It's interface inspires me. With my social networks so well integrated it just feels more cohesive, one unit. The idea of piling on countless apps just seems less important. It's fast. It gets things done. And I don't have any feelings of regret in giving up the iPhone. I thought I would. How times have changed. Welcome back Nokia.
Sunday, November 4, 2012
As I type this I would have been jogging north on 1st Ave, choking down my third Expresso Love energy gel and high fiving my way to the Bronx at around mile 18 of my first marathon.
But a lot can happen in a week, and here in New York that is some understatement. The rightful decision was made to cancel the NY Marathon, and we can continue to focus efforts on rebuilding some pretty torn up parts of NY and NJ.
Training for the marathon has been one of the toughest challenges I've been through. You soon realize that there's no shortcuts, and that the only road to 26.2 miles is slow, disciplined and a lot of things working together - building core body strength, eating well, honing technique (landing on the front of the foot changed everything) and stretching.. lots of stretching. And when you hit mile 20 you know it's just as much mental as physical.
So I wanted to give credit to those things that helped these past 5 months. And maybe help those considering joining me to do it all again in 2013:
- Foam Roller: When I did my IT band this cylindrical wonder saved me. Best $20 you'll spend on training.
- Born to Run: My good mate Tim Mills put me on to this book. Fascinating, inspiring and educational tale on the Tarahumara Indians and one hell of a foot race.
- Nike +: My training partner and data center. Inspring words from Jeremy Lin at the end of a long run can't be underrated.
- Songza iPhone app: Their awesome music concierge provided the soundtrack to many early mornings around McCarren Park.
- This Week In Startups Podcast: @jason produces enough quality interviews to fill almost every hour I ran. Amazing consistency. Highlight included 2+ hours with Chris Sacca.
- SPIbelt: Read up a lot about which belts would be useful and not too clunky for carrying gels, iPhone & a metcard. This one was perfect, barely noticed you were carrying it.
- Gu Energy Gel - Expresso Love: In my first 20 mile run I think I almost overdosed on these things. They take a bit of getting used to. But now I take one 15 minutes before, then every 45 mins of running and gives me a well-needed energy boost.
- Genr8 Vitargo Natural Grape 25 Servings: A glass of this with water straight after a long run helped recover well-worn muscles.
- YouBar - Training 33: Tim Ferris' custom nutritional bars pack a lot of goodness. One of these at the start of every day.
So that's it for my 2012 marathon tilt. No matter how you prepare for things, some outcomes, like the events of this week across NY & NJ, are just plain awful. And you can't control them. But the process of training for a marathon reminded me that achieving tough personal goals requires a whole lot of discipline, hard work, dedication and support from the people around you.
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
I love reading a good business book.
I consume books at odd times - on the rooftop, couch, bed, plane. On the subway, with my iPad, all inconspicuously conspicuous. Almost always in short bursts rather than long hauls.
This disjointed pattern of passive consumption throughout the day provides a valuable balance to active participation - work. And works like career guardrails, that page by page, edge me back to being more focused, motivated and challenging the inertia of the everyday.
Seth Godin said that when he writes a book he spends 95% of his time persuading people to take action and just 5% of the time on the recipes. The 95% is why I buy the book.
One of my favorite things to do after reading a great book is to give it to someone. Alas, the Kindle is slowly eroding this gift, replaced by a loan feature and limited to a small percentage of titles. Sarah Lacey's 'Brilliant, Crazy, Cocky' and 'Founders at Work' are two titles in the above list that are available for Kindle loan. If you're interested email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, October 13, 2012
Perhaps The Mill get the credit for starting this all. Or maybe it's the word processors, and Microsoft were the true innovators when they designed the left & right align icon for Office.
Monday, November 21, 2011
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Mobile Instant Messaging is a big part of this growth - on track to triple in use in five years. Traditional SMS, while some say is declining, is still achieving 8.7% growth in the second half of 2010. BlackBerry’s popular messaging service – BBM now has competition with a wave of new alternatives for other devices, WhatsApp, and soon to be launched iMessage for Apple. WSJ also hint Google are in the works to introduce their flavor in mobile messaging.
Social services, now so integrated into our daily digital dosage, are also altering behavior. In only five years, Twitter has taught us, all that is important can be summed up in 140 characters. Google Wave, while perhaps ahead of its time and poorly positioned, wanted us to ‘communicate and collaborate in realtime’. Facebook updated their messaging service, declaring ‘we want to make this more like a conversation’, removing subject lines and enabling users to remove the Send button all together.
And yet amongst all this, Email still remains the dominant form of communication in business.
In a study into the ways we work, Email reigns supreme, with 78% increase in communication usage since 2005, outstripping IM (64%), Social Media (61%) and Texting (58%).
It’s the first thing I check when I wake, the last thing I check before I sleep. It’s how we share information within groups, present results, check in with colleagues – in and out of the office – approve work with our clients. It’s integral to our daily job. But as the world around us changes, ‘how’ we email is evolving. And with it, the lost art of the edit.
Which brings me to the Send button.
Scott Berkun filmed this wonderful timelapse piece on ‘how to write 1000 words’. It demonstrates the number of edits, rewrites and rearrangements involved in reaching that finished piece. Each time, improving on and refining the message being communicated. We don’t get this opportunity when we speak. We shouldn’t waste it when we write.
It was David Ogilvy, the father of advertising himself famously said “make every word count”. It’s how we should approach the written form, and make it count before we hit Send.