About These Smart Watches….

Throughout most of the recent tech stories about watches including those in the Verge, there seems to be a fascination about Smart Watches and their future that reads like, “SMart Watches are coming…can they beat Apple’s iWatch”

For example…

Gaw believes that the renewed interest in smartwatches we’re currently seeing is little more than a bunch of gadget makers trying to get a jump on Apple’s much-rumored smartwatch. Despite the wide variety of options that have launched and will continue to launch in the coming months, offerings from the likes of Samsung, Sony, Qualcomm and others aren’t expected to see much interest from buyers. Qualcomm itself has even acknowledged that there isn’t yet any real demand for smartwatches.

http://bgr.com/2013/10/30/smartwatch-demand-holidays-2013/

Beyond that, retaining some smartphone independence will be valuable, but the real attraction for everyone will be the promise of this being the perfect iPhone accessory. For that to happen, Apple will need to carefully balance functionality against the demands of battery life and accessible pricing. It’s probably because of that task’s high degree of difficulty that we haven’t seen the iWatch emerge yet. As Tim Cook puts it, “to convince people that they have to wear something, it has to be incredible.”

http://www.theverge.com/2013/10/17/4842228/state-of-the-smartwatch-art-in-2013

Now sure everyone keeps thinking Apple will make a watch, just like they thought they would make a television set but there is almost nothing except for a rumour that points in that direction. However everyone is assuming the only company with enough talent to get this right is Apple.

The thing I find funny is that there is a company out there outside of the usual OEMs that does have the talent, and egineering know how to get this new piece of tech right. Its Google, however for whatever reason no one seems to really bring them in the conversation. There is way more evidence pointing to a Google powered Smartwatch than anything coming from Apple…This includes the following

  • Google having purchased WIMM Labs for almost and year. WIMM Labs already had a watch developed at the time of purchase since 2012, including apps and a app store
  • Google’s Patent fillings in October 2012 and May 2013reveal that they are already looking into smart watch Functions
  • Google already has contextual based notifications with Google Now. Apple purchased Cue a month ago and rumors started flying it was for a iWatch.
  • Google has Motorola, which for the most part already has a functional smartwatch with the Actv for fitness tracking, which by the way runs a customized version of Android
  • Android 4.3 Introduces BT LE and a Notification listener for external devices
  • The Nexus 4 passes gets 2 new profiles in October adding HID over GATT Profile and Scan Parameters Profile. The The ScPP is used to provide devices with information to assist them in managing their connection idle timeout and advertising parameters to optimize for power consumption and/or reconnection latency. The HID over GATT profile defines the procedures and features to be used by Bluetooth low energy HID Devices using GATT and Bluetooth HID Hosts using GATT.

Besides the recent rumors that the thing is practically done. I think for the most part Google will actually produce the better smart watch out there in regards to functionality and use. Android still handles notifications better than iOS for the most part. I think Apple will be able to get the masses to buy it, but in the end it will be Google who shows us how a smartwatch is supposed to function

OPINION: Why I Think Project Era Will be a Success

There seems to be a significant faction of people who think Moto’s Project Ara is dead before arrival. While some of their points are valid I think if Motorola plays it right, this could be the next big thing.

Project Ara is just the next step in Motorola’s focus to provide build to order custom phones for consumers. The Moto X was are first taste of that, and though we are still waiting for Moto Maker availability on all carriers the idea for the most part is solid.

Project Ara is just the next iteration of that, customize your phones down to the hardware in it. Do you know what industry boomed because of this? PCs. Right around 2003ish Dell came out with a method to build custom PC’s and ship to consumers within a short time frame. That idea is what made Dell the powerhouse it is in the PC hay day. Can you imagine not being able to customize the Ram, CPU, HD, or other parts in your PC now? No because it has become standard operating procedure for the PC industry.

Motorola, I believe, is trying to imprint the same method of custom PC’s into the mobile industry. So you buy a phone you decide on the camera sensor, RAM, CPU, display, and other specs that matter. If you think back, Motorola is already doing this with their X8 technology. Back when the Moto X came out the said they could uses any SoC with the X8 allowing for different future configurations.

Everyone keeps saying this is for tech geeks and people who want to build their own phones, which is a small market. I don’t think that is the case. This is for Motorola. Motorola wants to make themselves the Dell of the mobile industry. Where you buy the things you want in your phone based on your needs. Motorola could easily have 5 or so standard setups of the most common configurations. If you want to upgrade you can go to a Authorized dealer who will swap to modules out, and the old ones can be recycled there or sold on the market.

Yes there is the argument of standards, but why would the matter? Why would they need to mater? Size, will be the biggest roadblock, but I think with the years of knowledge Motorola has in phone manufacturing and where technology is today…this will not be as major as everyone thinks.

As tech enthusiast we are always bashing the Google’s, Apple’s, Samsung’s, etc of the industry for not bringing enough innovation, however when something comes around that is truly innovative in our sector and could change how we look at mobile…some criticize that too. Like is said it could be a success, which is entirely based on how it is implemented, but I believe Motorola has the brains…and the Google cash, to make something really major happen.

Chromebooks are the Future….

We Just Don’t Know it Yet.

As I see all the debate back and fourth about Windows, Mac, Office, iWork, and everything else you can imagine it occurred to me that the key features between everything here is internet connectivity. The internet is the must have app, and without your product is reduced to a market of Niche users.

In comes the Chromebook. Everyone says both how great and how useless they are but I think Google is playing a long game here that we are yet to see. That is more bandwidth. As technology matures, the more bandwidth we get which makes having the internet more of a requirement than an option. When you think about the things you need your laptop to do…for the normal consumer it comes down to

  • Productivity Software
  • Web Browsing
  • Music
  • Video

In the latest debate around productivity software we have Google Docs, Office, and iWork. Each having great little things about them. On a Chromebook I can access all of the above through the cloud, with offline access in Google Docs. Now you might say it is not as good as the standalone, but for most consumers…isn’t that enough? Most people using these productivity suites will for the most part be using them when connected to the net.

Web Browsing…I think this point is self explanatory so moving on

Music. Music is more and more going cloud based with the likes of iTUnes Match, All Access, Soptify, Pandora, and all the others becoming the norm for how people consume their music. Again, all these services require a network connection and are limited where there is not one.

Video. People’s TV’s are becoming their notebooks, as more and more people are consuming their video mediathrough Hulu, Netflix, HBO Go and other internet streaming services. Again all requiring an internet connection. Yes there are still a ton of people who save movies directly to their device for offline access on flights and other things, but with WiFi and cellular service starting to become more of a thing on flights, I see this offline becoming the way of the past.

The key conclusion here is that we are moving to a always on society, where being offline is considered weird. Being able to seamlessly bounce from device to device is what we expect, and having our data available to us no matter what device we are using is what we want. I think Chromebooks offer a lot of this functionality out of the box at a cheap cost.

I think in the next 5 years it is not going to be a Mac vs Windows debate on the consumer front, but a Chrome OS vs Mac OS debate. I could be completely wrong but time will tell.

Microsoft This…Microsoft That…

Now I was listening to a Ars Technica Podcast this morning, and it is actually my first time listening to their Podcast. Now I have a lot of respect for the site but I swear tech journalist these days are getting lazy, and their bias are starting to show more and more. With them saying companies are still on Windows 95, and other oddities which do not make sense

The thing I want to harp in is is the consistent bashing of Windows 8 by tech journalist. Windows 8 is not bad. It is different, but it is far from bad. What it is….it is not Mac OS, which I think is where all this bashing comes from. The vast majority of tech journalist use Mac OS as their primary operating system so anything that skews away from that look and feel is sometimes considered sub par. To be fair, Windows 8 is not perfect, and 8.1 added some key improvements, but for the most part I feel it is a nice OS.

Furthermore, the whole iWork suite being offered for free is the media making a big deal out of something small. It is not like iWork was crazy expensive ($5-$10) in the first place. What people have to realize is that for the most part College students by a vast majority use MS Office, and for the most part schools have volume licensing agreements to offer it to the student body for free..that includes office on Mac. Businesses by a vast majority use MS Office and many have Office at Home agreements that allow users to buy a copy for 2 computers for $10.

iWork is not cross platform, and will never be cross platform. So it means that everything will be regulated to Mac users who for the most part probably do not use Office like that in the first place. In addition they kind of makes the collaborative features null, unless everyone you are trying to collaborate with has a Apple device, so they have access to iWork in the cloud. Is iWork such a great piece software that because it is free people will now spend thousands on a Mac Book? I think not.

I guess the conclusion here is that as more tech journalist get deeper in Apple’s ecosystem their POVs become skewed to one side, making harder to distinguish what is really bad, and what is really you being to used to Mac OS.

The Verge review of Windows 8 and 8.1 for the most part show that it is no better or worse than it’s competitors and the bashing is simply uncalled for.

Conspiracy: Cue Was Bought for a Smart Watch

Now Yes I know it makes perfect sense that Apple bought Cue for it’s Today screen in the notifications and to bolster Siri. But I am just going to think outside of the box here.

We all know Apple and Google side step each other when it comes down to features, these days it seems like a race about who can get to a certain feature first. So my theory is based on what I think Google will do with it’s smart watch. I feel wearables for Google will have similar UI’s, and Google’s watch will match the UI of Google Glass, which in the end is all powered by Google Now. So long story short Google’s watch will be Google Now on your wrist.

Fast forward to Cue. I think Apple knows that, these type of contextual notifications are what should really be on a true “smart watch”. However, they have nothing like this with iOS. So why reinvent the wheel?…Buy the closest thing. I think in the end the Cue purchase is ultimately for Apple to release contextual Google Now like notifications on a wearable device. In addition it also could have been Apple ensuring that Google doesn’t scoop up the closest competition to Google Now, just like they did with Waze.

This news also comes very close to new rumors making their rounds that Google will release a watch this month with 4.4. I

Anyway I am probably completely wrong, but I think it makes sense

Google Should Buy or Invest in Validity Inc

The one thing no one can take from Apple is their ability to make simple things main stream. In some cases they remain the industry leader, and in others the get “out iterated” sort to speak. Anyway the new thing is Finger Print sensors, which are by far nothing new, but all of a sudden they have become more mainstream than ever.

I am sure other companies are working and probably have been working on the same, but I would like to see how Google from an Android perspective tackles this. When you have a physical button it is pretty much obvious how you implement the technology, however a full touch screen is well…different.

So here is what I think. I think Google should do another strategic buy in this space similar to what Apple did with Authentec. The company should be Validity Inc for the Natural ID tech.

While TouchID is purely fingerprint technology Natural ID is authentication technology on three fronts, Finger Print, Voice, and Facial Recognition. Google is already making strides in it’s Facial and Voice recognition technology and have the Validity Inc tech to bolster what they have already done with their Finger Print scanning tech could be the Android answer to Touch ID. In addition Natural ID also has the capability of Multi Factor authentication based on contextual location based and personal information.

You can read more here as Mobile Payments is also covered, but if anything I think it this landscape it would be a very strategic buy for Google.

http://www.validityinc.com/natural_ID.php

http://blog.laptopmag.com/your-next-smartphone-screen-will-read-your-fingerprints-video

Bump, Google, and the Future….and Flock!!

So We all know Google acquired Bump, and many people where questioning the reasons behind the purchase, as no one really uses bump, and NFC basically is Androids current solution for simple transfering data from phone to phone.

However when you think about it and get into the weeds I think there is something to the Bump Acquisition, which is really centered around payments. NFC for payments is great and would have been great, but the carriers and their Isis Payments pact basically put a nail in that coffin. And it seems that Google just would rather not fight that fight. But like the TV space, payments is another space that companies are all vying for.

So here is my theory. Bump was acquired for several reasons.

Payments

Bump Pay was an app that was initially built into PayPal to initiate payments between users. If you just look at the Google Wallet allowing transfer of money to users, I feel they will augment the wallet technology with Bump Pay. Now what could happen here is that Google could use Bumps technology over Bluetooth 4.0 LE, similar to iBeacons, but allow users 3 different options for payment. Tap To Pay, Bump to Pay, and Contexualized Payments. What does does is effectively offer a payment solution which is cross platform, and can be implemented in several ways. NFC is already built into many POS, so that is a given. Google could even use WiFi technology that knows users are in a store and completes transactions through Google Wallet.

Better Sharing

 

  • Bump to Google would be AirDrop to Apple. However you would not Bump Phones. I can see Google Building an Sharing functionality around its BT sharing options already in Android. I would call it DirectShare or Google Share. The features would be tied to Google Drive and they would do the following
  • Share files (Videos, Pictures, Files, Keep Notes, etc) between users which automatically drops files into their Google Drive account
  • Pushed notifications to users to show a file was shared, with extended notifications giving the user the option to accept or reject the file. These notification will also be extended to the Chrome Rich Notifications for Google Drive
  • Pictures and Videos can automatically be accessed and shared on Google+ with the Google+ and Drive integration
  • Files would be added to synced folders on your Mac or Windows desktop, without having to copy or pull anything down.
  • Android Beam will have the option to share items through BT/WiFi Direct or Android Beam can be set to have items sent to your phone through Google’s servers. To make the sharing seamless. It will not replace Beam as contacts, webpages, and youtube videos, and other items requiring instant interaction work well with Beam. However for those times where your not sitting next to someone, someone has an iPhone, or other reasons you need to share a file this might just be the way.

I’m not a software engineer so maybe I am off, but I think people are focusing on the physical “bump” aspect of Bump, and not focusing on the technology behind it. I think in the end the Bump acquisition was to bolster the sharing and payments services which could use some improvements.

PICTURE SHARING!!!

Just noticed that Bump owns this app called Flock, go to https://theflockapp.com/#detailsfor more information. They could be adding this feature to Google+ to boost the picture sharing across devices.

The Android Renaissance….What is it?

So AndroidPolice is reporting the Jean-Baptiste Queru (JBQ), the former technical lead for AOSP is going to Yahoo. Now I think this is great for JBQ and good luck to him on his future endeavors.

However, I know many have wondered is Android is in trouble with all these major players leaving, and I think we are on the verge of what happened in the Fall of 2011 with the release of ICS. A “Android Renaissance”. I think the old Android guard was there for a purpose. To get Android to a point that performance and usability issues was no longer plagued the OS. For the most part I think they are there.

I think the new guard under the leadership of Sundar is designed to fine tune the OS, and actually make Android as enjoyable as it is functional. The design language was the first part of that puzzle with Matias Duarte at laser focused. In my opinion features like more integration with Chrome, better messaging, and bettering the TV space is what Android users are missing. When compare to things like iOS or even Windows Phone through the XBox

The Elusive TV Space

The Big one here is the TV space. No one has figured it out yet. Google TV is essentially an Android Users Apple TV, which could be huge, with just a few little tweaks. They are already integrating TV into Google Now, so the pieces just need to come together. I have a Google TV and even with its quirks it is a promising product, regardless of what Nilay says. It just needs work. In my opinion doing the following will put life back into the platform…

 

  • Update the OS to 4.2.2 or 4.3 – This would solve a ton of performance issues, as HC 3.2 kind of sucked. Gogle TV’s OS is going on 3 years old and is in need of a major update
  • Expand the developer platform and toolkit to the TV. Currently Google TV is a platform which can access the Play Store. However, because the devloper toolkit for GTV is non existent and outdated, no one can make a decent looking app. This reminds me of the pre ICS days.
  • Embed Chromecast and Miracast functionality into Google TV – This is a given, and will happen at least for Chromecast. The one thing many Android users envy with iOS users is AirPlay. Chromecast is close but still not 100%. I think Making the Google TV a Chromcast and Miracast player would be major.
  • Release a Nexus Google TV Box – maybe with Sony. We all know Nexus devices work the best for the most part. I think Google should team up with one of their premier players..like Sony and just make a Nexus GTV device. I would Call it Nexus TV.

Yes you might think Google TV is dead, but I doubt it. No one, not even Apple has figured out the TV space. So no reason giving up now. Just like how Google came back and redefined itself in the tablet space with the Nexus 7, I imagine they could do the same thing with the TV. With a new leader at the helm, this might be the time for that change.

I think software and hardware comes in seasons and sometimes you need new blood to foster new ideas, I am actually excited to see where Android goes from here with the new guys leading the pack.

What if the iWatch was more of a iBand?

Appleiwatch-1361439886_medium

Now I know this iWatch rumor has grown legs and everyone is thinking there would be an iWatch. But what if that is not even the case. Apple saw that the Nano Watch band thingy did not catch on as much as they thought, so would extra features really make an actual iWatch any better?

No, I don’t think so.

I think Apple is not going to make an iWatch but more of an iBand. A fitness tracking band designed o do what things like the FitBit Flex and FuelBand do, but with a little more. Basically adding an LCD display for watch and notification options, using Bluetooth LE.

I am assuming this for several reasons.

  1. I think Apple will flatly absorb Nike’s Fuelband business, and this is the reason why they decided not to make an Android App…because it will be under Apple’s umbrella going forward.
  2. The hired the Fuelband Designer Jay Blahnik which to me reinforces the first point that this will be more of a band than a watch.
  3. Fitness bands are way more popular than watches and appeal more to the cross platform mass market.
  4. Also Apple’s patent filling is not for really a watch but more of a flexible wearable device, which to me fits more to a band than a watch.
  5. Tim Cook always mentions, “We have some exciting new product category.” The smartwatch is neither exciting or new to the masses. However a Smart Band just might be it, as it is neither really a smart watch or a fitness band. It is a Smart Band…..hmmm…new category?
  6. Finally Apple is trying to move it’s recent image as a “Me Too” company to the “I did it first Company” and a smartwatch is just not the right way to do it in my opinion.

Now I could be completely wrong. But that is just my take.

Deconstructing the Moto X Hype Machine

The Moto X is coming tomorrow, and the 1 year plus of Hype will finally cease as Motorola and Google unveil the device that have made the Android faithful and basically every in consistent chatter about this “Mystical” device that Google claims will change the trajectory of the smartphone industry as we know it…..Uhhhhh…yeah maybe not all that, but the device looks like it will be kind of cool.

What is Hype?

In my opinion no device post OG iPhone, has ever lived up to its hype. However, regardless of that, hype sells. To me hype is a combination of intrigue, mystery, and marketing. If you get those 3 pieces in sync correctly you have success. The Galaxy S3 and Galaxy S4 easily shows us that regardless of what people think about your device if you put enough intrigue, a little mystery and a ton of marketing behind a device. Gimmicks, plastic, and all the other stuff aside…it will sale like hot cakes.

Just look at the HTC One, arguably a better device than the S4, but it just cannot get traction. Did it have intrigue?..yes. Did it have mystery? A little. Did it have a ton of marketing? No NO NO. The HTC One was a complete failure on the marketing front and basically lost sales for it. But that is for another conversation.

The Moto X Hype Machine

The easiest way to deconstruct the Moto X Hype Machine is to simply put it into a timeline of announcements rumors and stories to get a better understanding of what The Goog and Motorola were able to do. I will use The Verges Story Stream for the Moto X as the reference. So lets start…

The Intrigue…

The first variable to the Hype Machine is intrigue. Without people will simply not care. For the Moto X intrigue was not that difficult to come buy. For starter Google had just acquired Motorola so the intrigue was already there regarding what Google was going to do. Where they going to build a Moto Nexus, Where they going to stop partnerships. What was going to happen. Google had never been in the hardware business, and it seemed they were taking a page out of Apple’s book by controlling the software and the hardware. Then on December 21 the Wall Street Journal reported Google is working on a X Phone. What X Phone..huh Is this a Google X Project. Tech Blogs are going crazy, The intrigue has been planted. The next 2 months will focus on..Is the X Phone really real.

The Mystery….

Intrigue is spawns mystery. Which is what exactly happened, with the question of is the X Phone real confirmed through a Motorola job listing, mystery has set in. Everyone now knows it is real, but no one knows what it is. Now what? We now hear more and more, wait for the rumored X-Phone, with absolutely no clue what it will be or if it will be even good. Than just when we are like whatever…Google’s CFO says, Motorola Projects are not ‘wow’ by Google’s standards. Further saying they have to drain 18 months of product before getting to the innovative stuff.

What? Motorola’s stuff suck? This will not be a Droid? 18 Months starting from When? Real Innovation? Someone give me answers!!! They mystery has now been implanted. The Moto X has again gained some tech news cycle transction. The techies and Blogs are in chit chat mode, the hype moves on.

To keep the mystery going you have to have leaks. I feel every leak of the Moto X was on purpose, and done in a systematic way. Going from small leaks here and there to full scale professional pictures of Schmidty posing with the phone.

The Marketing…?

In the end Marketing is the last piece. The only thing we know up to this point is that Google says they will infuse a ton of cash into the marketing on the Moto X, but that is yet to be seen until the unveil date. The marketing will basically pull the 3 pieces together capitalizing on the 7 months of speculation surrounding the phone. Google and Motorola did something here they will only be able to do once. And the success or failure of the Moto X will prove to be a lesson in selling a bringing in a new device into an already crowded smartphone market.

 

Notes:

I could have spent more time really deconstructing each section and maybe even adding more, but like many I prefer not to read super long post, and like to see how we can expand the conversation. So your thoughts, exceptions, criticism, whatever are welcomed.

 

Update: Those Pesky Tech Blogs

So I find it interesting the amount of buzz both the Moto X has received, since its actual announcement. The one thing that I see is that the Moto X hype is not going away anytime soon. In fact between the Galaxy S4 and HTC One…the amount of buzz in the forums has never been this high. I like looking at trends and numbers, soI did some simple research using the Verge’s Power search..and the results where interesting

So by doing an exact phrase search in the Verge for the Galaxy S4, HTC One, iPhone 5, and Moto X one week after their luanch events the results are as follows:

 

iPhone 5: Event Date September 12

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via i.imgur.com

 

HTC One: Event Date February 19

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via i.imgur.com

 

Galaxy S4: Event Date March 13

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via i.imgur.com

 

Moto X: Event August 1, 2013

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via i.imgur.com

 

What we see here is that the buzz around the Moto X within the Verge is approaching that of iPhone levels, which is what we never see from an Android Phone. Yes, the Verge is just one site, but I would say it has the most cross platform users then any other tech site around.

I additionally did a Google search using the same methodology and these were the results.

“iPhone 5” 6,280,000 hits

“HTC One” 4,370,000 hits

“Galaxy S4” 9,510,000 hits

“Moto X” 12,750,000 hits

 

The commenters and forum posters within these tech blogs are creating buzz around this device both negative and positive. However, most tech blogs are giving the Moto X a favorable review. I think in the end the marketing if and when it happens will feed into this aspect and from a Motorola standpoint we may see a successful device here.