@pebble a week later…

I thought I’d share some additional thoughts on the Pebble now that I’ve had some real quality time for how it works.  In general I remain really pleased. There are certainly things I would like to see update but given the limited roll this far I’m going some of this is in queue. 

Smart mode shifts – when music is playing,  the default screen should switch to player control vs time.  It’s the likely next section… Right now you have to dig through the menus manually to get to music to even begin the process. 

Better media control – my primary media player is spotify and there is simply no recognition when it’s active. There’s also no resume from the music app as you might expect given the lack of active recognition… Doubletwist works though doggcatcher my current podcast app of choice is also ignored.  Some of this is likely how android works now than the Pebble but it’s lame. 

Date & Calendar – time is nice but having quick access to see the date and access to my calendar would be quite useful.

Message history – get two emails but you can only read one.  If you get a bunch of notifications during a meeting there’s no way to scroll back through.  I find myself moving between meetings quite frequently and this is a perfect use opportunity. 

Quick replies – rejecting a call with a note or replying quickly to a text would be awesome.  Seems easy enough though perhaps the modal shift as  mentioned in my music request needs to be implemented first…

Native apps –  watch faces are just toys.  Where is the augmented display for sport data? The navigation queue from maps etc. The only one I’m aware of is for the Lockitron connected lock. I’ve supported that project as well and look forward to seeing it come to life. 

With that short list out of the way it’s clear that wearable ambient tech as a category is quite real. I love having easy scannable access to my digital world. I find a quick switch to the larger font even solves a quick view in the car. Outside in the cold is another great moment to quickly scan without having to unlock your phone. 

I’m sure smarter devices are coming like the rumored Apple and Samsung products and i will be watching with considerable interest. 

Intel is ready to crack internet TV

The Verge has a great piece on the potential for Intel to succeed in their latest digital home initiative…

The fact that Intel doesn’t by and large work in media could be a handicap, but if you stop to reconsider, it potentially gives Intel a huge advantage. Think about it: how was Google ever going to make a deal with Viacom when Viacom was suing Google? How were companies like Google or Yahoo built on selling advertising ever going to meaningfully share data and revenue with other companies built on advertising like TV networks? How were Sony or Samsung ever going to create a smart TV platform large enough to compete with cable when their businesses depended on selling giant multithousand-dollar screens that were only updated every few years? How would Apple, or Microsoft, or Amazon, or Netflix create new deals for live TV with networks when they already had huge businesses in selling digital video in completely different formats? Intel has no conflicts of interest with television; it has no strategy taxes. All it has are years of R&D into hardware for the connected home, a solid history of developing hardware standards and prototypes, and many, many chips built for graphics-intensive, generally stationary devices that badly need somewhere to go.

This has long been an area of interest for me and I hope they succeed here because the industry needs a good kick in the ass.

Pebble Activated … with even smarter notifications


My Pebble watch arrived last night and I immediately set it up as I’ve been waiting a long time for it to ship!  Out of the box, it required a quick firmware update which gets sent via your linked phone … in my case the Galaxy Note II.  Pretty straight forward stuff for anyone geeky enough to want a smart watch.

I turned on all the available notices which give you control / notice access to incoming calls, sms messages, calendar reminders, email notifications (exchange, gmail), google talk, google voice, facebook and whatsapp.  Not a bad start, though as noticed earlier in the day by a co-worker, the exchange notification is rather limited simply stating you’ve received a new message rather than offering some context via a subject and preview like Gmail.

A quick search revealed a few options to enhance things.  First, there’s a Tasker profile called Pebble Notifier for capturing notifications and customizing their appearance.   My experience with Tasker has been mixed as I don’t really have the patience to learn the wonky ui even though it’s a rather powerful system. Looking around a bit more I found exactly what I wanted in an app called Augmented Smartwatch Pro.  I believe this app was initially developed for the Sony Smartwatch, but as noted on the developer’s site, it actually can handle quite a few watches with Pebble being the latest and getting some great attention. It’s well worth the few bucks to enhance the watch.

In Augmented Smartwatch Pro, there are a ton of settings to tweak which are generally quite straight forward.  If you have root, you can install sqlite3 on your Android and enhance the Exchange visibility which I’ve done and it’s made the app worth the effort immediately.  Beyond that though I’ve added all the other apps I want to get since you can simply cherry pick from your apps list what you want pushed to the Pebble.  Any app!

This morning has been rather interesting as I’ve had the system working and am loving how infrequently I’ve had to turn the screen on to check the phone.  I may even switch the phone to silent soon to keep it all flowing on the Pebble.  In addition to the screen lighting up on notice, it vibrates quickly too so it’s unlikely you will miss anything happening. All in all, a solid addition to the gadget family.

Standardizing the Second Screen Experience


I love hearing that there’s a new industry standard being sorted by YouTube and Netflix to promote a more open second screen experience. Right now it’s a bit of a mess and you either go all in with Apple (AppleTV + Airplay + iOS) which only works in certain instances – though absolutely works, or you’ve got a set of considerably more limited options. The DIAL Protocol could really offer a very new opportunity for enhanced viewing and app utilization in the living room which is very exciting.

But there are other areas where DIAL actually goes beyond AirPlay’s capabilities. First, the obvious: AirPlay can’t launch any apps on your Apple TV. DIAL will also be able to detect whether an app is installed, and redirect a user to a smart TV’s app store in case it’s missing. Also cool: DIAL will be able to launch web apps on your TV, if the device supports it, which should add a whole lot of new functionality to connected devices.via GigaOm.

Even more interesting is that it’s apparently already out in market, though quietly and waiting to be awakened … I’m surprised there wasn’t more (or any) noise at CES this year … Sony, Samsung, GoogleTV, YouTube and Netflix are a strong start.

Sony Xperia Z


As much as I’ve been considering the Galaxy Note II (which I still want for now), the Sony Xperia Z looks amazingly good. I love the design and can only imagine how crisp that screen is going to be! Bring it on!

Koubachi Connected Plant Sensor


Here’s a very cool connected device for those of us who need help with the house plants. Grand St. is offering the Koubachi plant sensor currently and looks great measuring light, humidity and temperature linked with wifi and a smartphone app to ensure minimal vegetation carnage. If you added ifttt into the equation you could really get connected.

We Pay for Digital Media

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With a family of 5 and a lot of screens our bill is likely at least as high if not much more. AppleTV is our go to for movies on demand and the number of apps (in both app stores) we’ve utilized year over year is too high to try and tabulate.  I’m not opposed to paying for quality and utility and have certainly entered my password countless times.  Those small tolls really add up.

Nick Bilton explains …

I was tallying my spending of the last year, and much to my surprise, I spent $2,403 in one category. No, that wasn’t on clothes. It wasn’t on my most recent vacation, either. And it wasn’t the total of all my parking tickets (though that did feel as if it came close).

The $2,403 is what I spent on digital media.

But wait, people are spending money online? On media? Didn’t music industry executives declare, “People won’t pay for things online!”? Yes, as did movie industry executives. TV, radio, book, newspaper and magazine bigwigs, too, have all made similar claims over the last decade.

Well, those apocalyptic predictions turn out to be wrong.

I am spending more on digital media than I used to spend on the physical stuff. (The federal government says the average American family spent $2,572 on all entertainment, not just digital, in 2011.) And I know why I am spending more on digital media.

Digital media, unlike its slow cousin, is immediate. In the past, if friends mentioned a good book they had just finished, people made a note (mental or on a scrap of paper) to pick it up during their next visit to the bookstore or library. The same went for other items like CDs, DVDs or magazines.

via NYTimes.com.

Steven Sinofsky on CES

Steven Sinofsky has a very solid recap of his experience at CES this year. He notes key trends and observations which are all well considered, but I particularly enjoyed this bit …

Expecting a company to unveil something at the show is somewhat misplaced. On the other hand, a big part of CES, at least for me, is really being able to see any (large) company’s full product line “end to end” and to see how they are fitting pieces together to deliver on scenarios, value, or competition. Smaller companies have an opportunity to show off their products in a much more interactive fashion, often with very knowledgeable members of the team showing things off. Most importantly, CES lets you see “side by side” whole categories of products—you see the positioning, the details, and how companies present their products.

Unveiling a new product or technology that is a cross-industry effort, one involving many partners, does work particularly well at CES. Intel’s efforts around Ultrabooks, in 2012 and 2013, demonstrate this. While Intel’s booth and large scale presentations show off Windows 8 and Ultrabooks, the amplification that comes when seen on display at Sony, Samsung, LG, Toshiba, and more is where the sum of the whole is greater than the parts.

via Learning by Sharing.

Casio’s G-Shock mobile companion

You either like the classic (and typically bulky) G-Shock styling or you don’t, but you’ve got to respect the tech here. Casio has a Bluetooth 4.0 watch ready to pair with your phone for continuous augmented info display. Speaking of which I cannot wait to get my Pebble next month … CES is just the beginning for these paired devices.

via Engadget

Samsung’s New Smart TV

Stunning screen resolution … the real trick is how it works with your craptastic cable box. I’m still holding steady for the hopeful Apple TV, but this sounds really, really good.

Here’s a quick breakdown of what Samsung’s Smart TVs can do:

The menu is divided into five panels for live TV, movies or TV shows, your personal photos/videos/music, social content recommendations from services like Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube, and apps.

The interface recommends what to watch based on what’s stored on your mobile devices and what your friends like.

You can control the TV with your voice or motion gestures.

If you have a Samsung smartphone or tablet, you can beam video content to and from your Smart TV. It’s similar to Apple’s AirPlay.

via Business Insider.

Nvidia Project Shield

No it’s not for the Avengers, but instead Full Android, Hi-Def gaming in your hand … If I was perhaps a bit more hardcore, I’d already have a windows gaming PC which would make this that much more powerful as sadly that’s the core requirement for accessing PC or Steam Games. What they should really do is simply do a deal with Steam directly.

In addition to supporting all of the games available to Android devices and the games in the Tegra Zone, the Shield also has the ability to stream games from a home Windows PC equipped with a GeForce GTX 650 (or higher) graphics card to the handheld device over Wi-Fi, letting users access their library of PC games, including games in the Steam library, while on the go. It access the games on the home PC and run them virtually on the Shield. In the future, Nvidia says that it will add support to stream content from the Shield to a television wirelessly, so you can watch video and play games on your TV display without being tethered by wires. Of course, with support for the standard Android platform, the Shield also has access to the hundreds of thousands of apps that are available in the Google Play Store.

via The Verge and @marceloeduardo

Roku and TWC


Time Warner Cable is going to let you use a Roku to access your cable subscription. While this isn’t fully decoupled service it’s still pretty awesome for Roku owners. Being able to do everything through a single box – that’s not your crappy cable box – would be excellent.

“The availability of a service like TWC TV on an open platform represents significant milestones for both Time Warner Cable and Roku as well as for the industry overall,” said Anthony Wood, Roku’s founder and CEO. Unfortunately, there are some restrictions to just how “open” that experience is. Like the TWC TV apps for iOS, Android, and the desktop, compatible Roku hardware will need to be running on a subscriber’s home network to access live TV; you won’t be able to stream your favorite channels remotely. And while over 300 stations will be available, you’ll obviously be limited according to whatever’s included in your cable package. via The Verge

very quick camera test: iPhone 4S vs Nokia Lumia 820

Here’s a very quick outside shot sample test between the iPhone and Lumia.  These are straight shots with no adjustment or change in settings.

Looking out at the deer path leaving our backyard …

WP_20121222_003Lumia 820 iphone_4siPhone 4S

To my eye the Lumia is delivering a richer shot. Color is better – the sky shows more blue, leaves pop more and the grass is greener.  The iPhone (3264 × 2448 pixels) uses many more pixels here as well compared to the Lumia (1278 × 720).

Wii U


I picked up a Wii U system for the kids and we have definitely been enjoying it. First impressions are solid. Setup is pretty simple and the gamepad charged up while we had dinner.


As with quite a few devices I’ve owned the system wanted to connect right away to check for an update. Though it happened again with each of the two games we have as well. We have Nintendo Land (bundled) as well as Super Mario U….

I have no idea what the nature of the updates were but can tell you that they took quite a while to download – particularly the initial system one which failed actually a handful of times. I had to eventually consult the online support to find out that it might take a few tries and in fact the download resumes with each connect. Unfortunately all this downloading kept the kids on edge the whole time. All they wanted to do was play Mario.

Today we’ve definitely spent a considerable amount of time playing Mario and with the downloads behind us, the experience has been great. Nintendo definitely has a winner here. Graphics and sound are vastly improved and I’m thankful the prior controllers work along with all our games.

Still a ton more to explore … I noticed that Netflix, YouTube and Hulu are all on the initial grid, but all are stub apps requiring more downloads …

update I’ve got YouTube and Netflix loaded up and they look great! Seriously good. YouTube actually has a pretty sophisticated UX … Easy access to subscriptions and watch later lists.