Category Archives: Gadgets

basic_glass

On April 15, Tax Day no less, you can take your spare $1500 and you too can own Google Glass.

Normally via “invite only” and slightly harder to get, the Google Glass Explorer program is being opened up to the entire United States on Tuesday. Starting at 6 am PT / 9 am ET, you can shell out $1500 to get your own. While I personally quibble with the idea of throwing down $1500 for a beta product that will be completely changed in 1-2 years based on feedback and interaction, I do see this as a step forward from Google’s perspective. After all, the more people out there (and especially outside of the Bay area) who are wearing Google Glass, the less alien it seems to everyone else. Eventually, perhaps, seeing someone wearing Glass won’t inspire either curiosity or fear and will just be accepted. But $1500 for a beta product? I’m not so sure of that.

You can sign up now to be reminded the minute the Glass program opens to the public. You must be 18, with US residency and a US shipping address. The sale is for one day only, so get them while they last. If you do decide to be a Google Glass Explorer, then follow their list of Do’s and Don’ts. You don’t want to be a Glasshole.

image-aHR0cDovL2JsdWJlZGJ1aWEwMjo4My9pLzM5L0MyN0FCMjYxQjEyMjM1RDdEMDRBMkU4RUFCRDJCRC5qcGcBeen to Starbucks lately? Maybe you dropped in for a quick work session — what with the free Wi-Fi and warm $4 lattes? You snagged a tiny, wooden chair, propped open your Mac, waited a few minutes for the spinning rainbow to get you online, only to realize how maddeningly slow it is. But, what the heck, you thought. You’re just gonna blast off a few emails, and maybe take a call or two before you hit the road. But first, you gotta bend and stretch to find that ever-elusive outlet… only to see the rotund nerd on the faux-leather couch next to you has already sucked up all the power, with about 4 devices double-jacked in the plugs. OK, you think… well, this Mac’s battery is good for about 45 min.

And there’s the call, your smartphone almost vibrating itself off the little, round table. You quickly reach over your laptop lid to snag the phone, almost toppling the hot latte. Whew, you think. That woulda been a nitemare, spilling coffee all over your expensive, blingy gadgets. You swipe to take the call right as the barista starts grinding the 4 pounds of beans he needs for the long line of people standing elbow to elbow, extending out the door, letting the cold air and traffic noise in. And that heavyset guy next to you? His power-sapping devices start jangling with meeting alerts. He grabs his phone and dials in as well. Conference call. And he’s not the quiet type. He’s bloviating into that phone about the upcoming sales conference as you try and hear your caller — the low-talker VP on the other end — your boss’s boss — as he near-whispers to you something about something you need to do, right as the barista ramps up the grinding blades.

Yeah, we’ve all been there. Working in coffee shops. But guess what? You hate this? You travel a lot? Cause THIS is your life on the plane now that the FAA is relaxing rules around devices at 40,000 feet. There is NO MORE black hole away from being “always connected”. If the airlines allow your fellow passengers to take calls, conduct meetings, and run their businesses on the plane, you’ll have no respite from the loud-talker salesperson, the weepy mistress crying about her lousy life as the “other woman”, the whining geek too afraid of not being the only one with the good idea, and the seatmate hogging not only the armrest, but the very peaceful air you used to be able to relax into. All we can do is pray the airlines will have the sanity to make some rules about the new etiquette that will be so sorely needed as we torpedo into the future with our gadgets turned on, gate to gate!

Screen Shot 2014-02-03 at 9.44.25 AMFor years, I’ve moved between Android and iOS, usually changing operating systems when a new phone grabs my attention. It’s a constant “push and pull” problem: the combination of a phone’s unique features, the operating system, and my desire to have a “perfect mobile experience”. Rarely is that experience as perfect as I want it to be. As an iPhone loyalist, I judge everything against the experience I have with iOS, Apple’s hardware, and the overall platform’s ecosystem. As iPhone has seemingly “shrunk” in form factor, staying at an untenable 4″ screen size in light of other manufacturers’ growing screens, I’ve gravitated toward the larger-screen phones, most recently, the Nexus 5. The Nexus 5, for once, is the perfect phone for me. It’s size and form factor seem the perfect size for my palm, my pants, and my weary eyes. KitKat is the best version of Android to date and, simply put, I’ve never been so satisfied with a smartphone. I’ve kinda cast away the thoughts of going back to iPhone. Yes, there are the nagging rumors of the coming iPhone 6 with a larger screen, but KitKat has a hold on me unlike any that iOS has ever had.

However, Apple’s advantage is their App Store. And, with Facebook’s iPhone-only new app, Paper, being released today, I’ve begun to wonder: can one app make me go back? I hate the feeling of being left out: when an app is only available on “another” platform, I get frustrated. Facebook turns 10 years old today, and there’s new research that shows its users have evolved their expectations of what the Facebook experience means for them. In light of this, Facebook’s Paper app is an attempt to evolve how Facebook interacts with its users and how it expects to provide new types of interaction between you and your Facebook friends. Paper reformats the typical Facebook experience with a more visually stunning approach (similar to what Google Plus did with their app), and turns your Facebook feed into a “Flipboard-like” magazine experience. Development of the app was led by a team that Facebook acquired from Apple in 2011, and represents Facebook’s obvious prioritization of rich visual design. The obvious plus to Paper is it gives you a platform-specific experience optimized for what that platform can best provide. In this sense, it may mean more fragmentation in apps if Facebook determines to release platform-optimized Facebook experiences across the board. However, it also means that Facebook evolves from being a fast-food experience (dumbed down UIs to provide a similar experience across all devices), to a more holistic and optimal experience based on whatever platform you’re on. The Paper app could signal a new frontier in designing and developing app experiences that mold more to its user’s context, and is a step-forward to a more humanistic experience. This means our platform decisions may no longer be made based on just price, carrier subsidies, form factors, and operating systems. We may begin making decisions based on all these plus the type of app experience we prefer based on how we use our phones.

cubicle_farmWe’ve heard all about Millennials for years now, their lifestyles, tech friendliness, and radical collaboration methods. Many experts have been urging companies to start accommodating their lifestyle in the workplace to attract the best, young talent. The real driver behind the need to rethink the workplace, however, is not just generational — it’s really about the elephant in the “room” — mobility. We’re all on the move more than ever before, and we have escalated our use of not one, but several, connected mobile devices throughout our normal day. The idea of working 9-5 in a stuffy cubicle farm with a tethered computer on a desk is seeming more and more like an out-of-date relic.

To get past generational labels, and create another broader label (researchers love labels), there’s a new one out there now: #GenMobile: the people for whom mobile connected devices go beyond personal use — these folks shape their entire lives around mobility and the devices that support their mobility.

In November 2013, Shape the Future and Aruba Networks conducted research to find out how widespread the use of mobile devices have become. They found some interesting trends that back up the idea of rethinking the traditional workplace model:

– 70% of respondents prefer flexible working than working 9 to 5 with an early finish on Fridays.

– Over half of those surveyed said they’d prefer to work from home or remotely two to three days a week than receive a 10% higher salary.

– 37% expect an increase of remote working – just 4.5% foresee a decrease.

– 49% expect to increase the time they spend working remotely in 2014.

– Almost half (45%) bought tablets in the past 12 months.

– And 64% believe in BYOD, and believe their devices make them more productive at work.

– Many employees believe it’s the company’s responsibility to provide mobile devices along with Wi-Fi connections.

These stats may leave a lot of HR Directors shaking their heads, but instead, they should be seeing the opportunities, including:

– Rethink traditional work hours (consider the increased productivity of happier, “always-on” employees)

– Rethink traditional cubicle farm office environments (consider the cost savings inherent in fewer non-eco-friendly offices)

teenagers-and-iphonesWe knew eventually there would be a “wedge” driven between us and that shiny, glowing device that never seems to leave our sides… well, it looks like you now spend more time with your smartphone than you do with your partner! According to a study by mobile phone provider O2 and Samsung, the average smartphone user tends to spend two hours a day using their gadget. Yet, the amount of time spent with our partners per day is just 97 minutes – a third less – on average. Many of us even sleep with our smartphones, and some have admitted to spooning their phone over their mate… Read more about this report here.

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