Home kit is finally launching but what problem is being solved?


I’m an early adopter. I’ve had connected home products for almost 10 years some that have required professional installation and some more recently that I’ve installed and updated myself. 

As MacRumors notes … 

HomeKit provides a standardized framework for manufacturers that develop home automation products, letting them interface with the Apple ecosystem and with each other. Through HomeKit, connected devices like lights, thermostats, speakers, smart plugs, and more can be controlled by Siri. For example, HomeKit enables commands like “Siri, turn off my lights,” or “Siri, turn the temperature up before I get home.” 

Though HomeKit was announced in 2014, it has taken nearly a year for companies to complete Apple’s certification process and get products ready for store shelves. Several companies like iDevices, Schlage, and Elgato have previously announced plans for HomeKit-compatible products, but until today, no products were ready to launch. 

The first three companies to announce completed HomeKit-compatible products that will be available for purchase shortly are Lutron, iHome, and Elgato. Lutron is debuting its Caséta Wireless Lighting Starter Kit with Smart Bridge, while iHome is announcing its iSP5 SmartPlug, and Elgato is launching its “Eve” connected home sensors. Ecobee and Insteon also announced new HomeKit-compatible products today. 

Sounds pretty cool on the surface, right? Wait until you get this stuff into your house. Have a partner or some kids?  Many activities aside from lighting timers are generally more complex and slower than simply taking a simple physical action. Recipes and macros are certainly interesting but tend to be a bit too complex for the average bear. 

And the kicker is that things fail and get out of sync pretty easily. A binary switch that’s been flipped because someone in your house has already intuitively known how to turn lights on and off immediately kills your smartphone superpower. And get ready to re-sync devices on the network as things misfire. 

Don’t get me wrong I love this stuff. I’m actually quite excited for a more open standard and believe that Google’s Brillo and Weave will assist here. Presumably Homekit devices will also work across protocol as many smart home products do today but again this stuff is far from bulletproof. I haven’t  seen anything from Apple that shows they’ve got the software and services chops to fix an array of devices hanging on the network. I’m certainly ready to be impressed …

Google Fit vs Apple Health


Google Fit was only released today and so far there aren’t any additional services to connect for data, but it’s considerably easier to understand when you look at the initial dashboard.  I can see clearly what I’ve been up to and know where I stand in context of my goal (1hr default).  I’d love to get my data from Jawbone, Strava and others going in here as well …

In the next screenshot I’ve tapped for graph details and really like how my activities are aligned so I can get a sense of how the day has progressed.  I find the Apple Health graphics to be pretty weak and the data to be less than helpful without a lot of taps.


App Bundles should get editorial curation


Just as the iPhone 6 and iOS 8 were arriving , The Verge posted a piece sharing the key games you might want to consider and over the weekend I finally returned to it and read through. For each game on the list you have to click over the App Store to install or buy and then return to the piece if you want to continue.

This is a pretty awkward process requiring a bunch of home button multi-taps and swipes as you progress. An opportunity to streamline this exists with app bundles … Though currently closed as far as I can tell to 3rd parties. Instead much as you might find a readlist quick save option, a quick install (and confirm) option would be terrific. These don’t even need to show in the App Store directly unless a certain level of popularity is achieved but instead could be served a landing pages specific to iTunes for quick access and even affiliate fees to be earned.

Apple tends to not share like this, but who knows maybe they’re thinking of something similar and we will see more advanced list making and purchase / download opportunities soon.

Unapologetically plastic.

The past few days I’ve been using a blue iPhone 5C courtesy of work. It’s just a loaner and it’s been an interesting return to iOS after quite a few months of being entirely on Android. Some thoughts …

  • Solid. Plastic or not the 5C feels great in your hand.
  • Size matters. One one hand the iPhone is quite small in comparison to any recent top end android device. Typing feels a bit cramped by comparison though you get used to it. The iPhone is still largely focused on and delivers a single hand experience.
  • Responsiveness. More than general speed the iPhone has a responsive gestalt and it’s a pleasure to use in most circumstances. I found myself wanting to use it more often than my other devices. Time will tell as it’s far from perfect but really such a well considered and designed device. My last active iPhone was the 4S for reference … It’s sitting in my briefcase – updated to iOS 7 but essentially gathering dust.
  • Flow. I’m really acclimated to the android way and find the lack of app addressability beyond what apple dictates to suck. That I can’t share content to any number of apps beyond apple’s very short list hurts. Intents are an amazingly powerful function of android and it’s hard to operate without them.
  • Camera. Damn this is a nice little shooter. I can easily flick the camera open from behind the screen lock- something android makes impossible with exchange security on! One hand use really comes into play as it’s super simple to grab a shot on the go. I snapped a few pics while biking yesterday in a reasonably safe manner and would have not considered this on android without first removing my exchange account or working through a more complex root based hack. Pictures look great of course and the gallery is super fast and a visible from the usual photo apps. I do miss being able to send via a reviewed pic … Again intents are amazing with android.
  • typing. While the keyboard is a bit cramped at first the screen is so damned responsive and the auto correct generally friendly that you can sweep through longer email, note or post (like this) very easily. I read over the weekend that the scene response time on iPhone is substantially greater than the current crop of android devices and typing – something I do constantly receives a huge boost!
  • battery. The battery is terrible on this phone though sadly I have such low expectations at this point. I’m at 60% now at 9:10am. Going to be impossible for this to last a full day without some intervention.

I got a fresh start on iOS 7 with the 5C and have to say it works great. There are many improvements though largely it’s just iOS. I like it.

I’m not really in the market for a new phone but see the 5C selling a zillion. My pic would be the 5S without even seeing it as I would want the extra power, better camera and I’m very interested in the motion sensor.

5 year old’s excess in-app purchasing highlights the real issue

So how did a 5 year old rack up such an expensive bill in just 10 minutes? He purchased one bundle of 333 keys, one of 90,000 darts, and another of 333 bombs that each cost 69.99 GBP ($105 USD). A number of smaller purchases added up to the final total. [phoneArena]

I’ve got three kids and we’ve discovered this problem, though thankfully to a much lesser degree. It’s easy for someone without kids to look at this and quickly say it’s bad parenting and you should watch what they are doing more closely. I agree … but the real issue is how the password system works.

When you enter your password for a download (and particularly in iOS) the gate stays open for a period of time allowing in-game purchases or even subsequent downloads through. It’s designed to make life more simple but since there are absolutely NO kid controls or functions it’s pretty easy to fall into the rabbit hole.  Just watch a kid aggressively try to clear the between level BS messaging in most “free” games ….

Weaker iPhone 5 Demand?

Remember when everyone could get a new iPhone on release day regardless of when their contract was set? I do … That’s changed and now we are all back to the standard mobile upgrade cycle. Price matters.

Apple’s orders for iPhone 5 screens for the January-March quarter, for example, have dropped to roughly half of what the company had previously planned to order, two of the people said.

The Cupertino, Calif., company has also cut orders for components other than screens, according to one of the people.

Apple notified the suppliers of the order cut last month, the people said.

The move indicates that sales of the new iPhone haven’t been as strong as previously anticipated and demand may be waning. It comes as the company has been facing greater challenges from Samsung Electronics Co. 005930.SE +1.24% and other makers of smartphones powered by Google Inc.’s GOOG -0.20% Android operating system.

via WSJ.com.

Great, but …

I’d have to agree. Solid, but I’m left wanting more.

But theres also another segment of the market, of which I consider myself a part. That segment thinks that theres still a lot of work to be done in mobile devices; still a lot of innovation to come. And thats not innovation for the sake of innovation. I mean real innovation in the way we use our phones, in the flexibility of those operating systems, in how those devices become an extension of ourselves. For that segment, I think the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 fall short. Theres a lot more work to be done, but right now Apple seems to be in a holding pattern, too comfortable or too scared to take real chances.

via iPhone 5 review | The Verge.