Tag Archives: iPhone

Carplay Thoughts, Siri

So Siri in the car is actually my biggest use case, for Siri. Ever since the launch of “Hey Siri” I’ve been an avid user when driving.

I enjoyed it prior to Carplay. I just had to shout a little to be heard over the radio, which wasn’t bad, she was surprisingly good at identifying my voice.

One of my gripes with after market tech in cars is that you end up duplicating so much. Case in point my car has a nice microphone in the roof, by the sun roof controls. Because Audi is Audi, the installer couldn’t tap into that microphone, so i have a cute little boom mic, poking out the bottom of my instrument cluster. It’s not terrible but it’s not very clean looking, which is almost always my biggest complaint with non OEM kit. Thankfully it’s dark, small and only the driver really sees it, but still.

Messages sucks

IMG_1610I’m sure the goal was to keep me from crashing but the messages app in CarPlay, even with Siri’s help, the messages app frankly sucks. For one, you can’t see messages. Maybe I’ve pulled over, maybe I’m at a light, too bad. You can see a list of most recents by name, but you can’t just quickly read a message.

IMG_1606The moment you go into Messages, you’re interacting with the car, voice only. It’s futuristic (i guess) but slow and janky, and not at all enjoyable.

 

 

Maps/Navigation

Siri does a reasonable job here. I’ve had 90% or so success telling Siri where I’d like to go and she finds it. Which is honestly more than I’d hope to get, so I’m happy. It’s not perfect, and when it’s not it’s frustrating, it’s nice to use.

My two big gripes are:

  1. IMG_1620Keyboard. I could swear I’ve seen one show up, but I’ll be damned if I can rely on that happening. Obviously typing on the dash isn’t what Apple wants, but as a “Well Siri is fucking crazy” back up i think you should be able to. (Update before i even hit publish, it appears it’s an option when the car isn’t running?)
  2. IMG_1612under destinations, would it be so hard to look at my calendar? Waze figured out how to do it, so I have to assume Apple could. I’m fairly diligent (because of Waze) about adding addresses to my appointments, and it’s frustrating to go into Maps on CarPlay, and seeing my history of destinations, a row of useless pre set up searches, and such, but no “You’ve got a meeting in 20 minutes, at X, wanna go there?” Really Apple? Are more CarPlay users wondering aimlessly looking for parking and grocery stores, than are heading to appointments?IMG_1614

My thoughts on Apple CarPlay, part one

IMG_1552So for part one, I wanted to just cover some initial impressions.

So CarPlay as it’s own thing is fine, but since Apple has no control over the head unit manufacturers (I actually think an “Apple Car” is more likely to be an Apple head unit) there’s a load of crap that makes everything janky.

Pioneer, being just like every other OEM, has their own thing, AppRadio. I’ve no idea what AppRadio is, because it doesn’t seem to work.

Despite it’s taking up a valuable icon space on the first screen of the CarPlay home screen, every time i tap it, it crashes the CarPlayIMG_1553 interface. Why Pioneer made their own thing, I can’t guess. Why it can’t be deleted or removed, I can totally guess. Why it seems like it should work, but doesn’t, who knows, this is why OEMs shouldn’t bundle their crap into things.

I found a setting in Waze (My Navigation app of choice) that said something like “let app be controlled by car unit”, weird but ok let’s see.

Turn on the car, connect the phone, launch Waze, and …. nothing. Both of these images are the screen shot of what I was seeing on both screens. Waze on my phone seemed to know it was connected and talking to something, but the head unit had no idea. Tapping that nice little AppRadio icon, crashed the interface. Assuming it’s an AppRadio thing, since Waze was like “Oh hi there Pioneer”

Apple Maps is ok, and I use it because it’s what’s there, but I’d kill to have Waze back. Knowing where cops are (or were) is of immense value. Knowing where there’s a road closure… Uh yeah!! Technically Apple Maps has that but it’s crap. “There’s a hazard ahead” that’s it. No details, no icon to tell me, just a hazard, good luck.

I could run Waze by running it in the background, and might resort to that since it’s voice announcements still seem to go through the car speakers. The reason it’d be in the background is that CarPlay is just a special type of mirroring your phone screen. Hit that cute little home icon, if your phone screen is on, the phone (and head unit) return to the home screen. Launch Maps, it launches on your phone. Launch Pandora, same thing, you see where I’m going.

If i pick up my phone, hit the home button and launch an app that isn’t CarPlay friendly, the head unit stays on the home screen. The moment i launch something from the head unit, whatever the phone was doing is replaced by what the head unit is doing. I think i get why, mostly, but it’s also annoying in many ways.

I started to write a single post about CarPlay but figured I’d break it down since there’s so much to talk about. Enjoy this one, I’ll post more in a bit.

Nomad Pod Pro Review

IMG_0851This might be the perfect travel companion for iOS device owners. The Nomad Pod Pro. Love it!

tl;dr;

  • just under 4″ diameter.
  • just over 1″ tall
  • under a half pound in weight
  • 6,000 mAh battery
  • built in (mfi) lightning connector

Mine came the other day and I’m excited for my next trip, which sadly since it’s winter and camping/conference season has more or less wrapped up, but we’ve got a long road trip, might be a good test.

Never the less, this thing is cool.

You supply the watch charger, and for mine I just bought the shortest cable one Apple has, but there’s enough room to wrap a much longer cord if that’s what you’ve got. You pull the top off, held on by really strong magnets, wrap your Watch charger around it, and set the base in the center, then pop the top back on… MAGNETS!

On top of being a nice portable watch charger, it’s an iOS Device charger too. a 6,000 mAh battery gives it enough juice to charge your iPhone 6 and watch, 2x each (per the marketing copy). While in most scenarios my watch lasts all day easy, there’s been at least one time so far (I’ve only owned mine about 2 months so far) when something went sideways and drained the battery to 0 in about 5 hours. Charging your phone at dinner, not a huge deal, happens a lot, IMG_0853easy to be inconspicuous. Charging your watch at dinner, … less so. You can’t wear it and charge (I tried), and you can’t just shove it all in a pocket like you would a charging phone since the charger magnet isn’t nearly strong enough for that.

While I hope to never again have to charge my watch at dinner, at least this thing isn’t ugly and is pretty compact and easy to use.

This will likely replace my EDC battery pack, since most of my charging needs are iOS devices and the built in lightning connector makes it perfect. I’m not sure if I’ll fully commit, but I could certainly reduce my cable and battery carrying with this device. If you charge lots of older iOS stuff or non iOS stuff you’re kinda SOL. The Nomad has 1 port, micro USB to charge it’s battery. The lightning connector is built in. In a pinch you could open it up and plug something other than a watch charger into the USB port inside the unit, but it’d have to be desperate times for sure.

IMG_0852All that said, where this will really shine for me, is camping. A friend asked my thoughts on Pebble vs. Apple Watch (when i had a Pebble) and my only caution was at least with my Pebble i charge it up and have no worries that a 2-3 day camping trip won’t dent the battery.
This will work just fine next to the sleeping bag charging the watch at night just like at home. Keeping my watch and my iPhone charged when camping, while not life or death certainly is nice, and this will make it that much easier, and be that much less I don’t have to bring with me.

So yeah I’m pretty excited for this thing.

So I think I’m close to done with Fitbit

Not because I don’t like it, I like my fitbit, a lot! I’ve had one since the money clip looking one (Ultra? One?), which i eventually lost and got a replacement for in the form of the new model, which i got $50 off courtesy of Fitbit support, which is a really cool thing they do.

I’ve got many family members using Fitbit, lots of friends, even my dog has one (how they haven’t made a dog specific one yet is beyond me).

So why leave?

Silo’s. I hate ’em. Mostly though I hate multiple silos (and am well and truly at the bottom of the Apple one), more so when they don’t play together, even a little. Like ’em, or hate ’em Apple is getting a better and better stack, and their silo, while a silo, is shiny and pretty awesome. My Mac and my iPhone talk to each other, my Watch talks to my iPhone. While not perfect, the nice outweighs the not so nice.

And then there’s my fitbit, which for no clear reason, still won’t talk to Apple.

I just got my Apple watch and I’ve been comparing it’s health features to my fitbit, namely step tracking. Right this moment my fitbit shows 11,549 steps for the day, my Apple Watch shows 11,706. Which is actually a bit odd, the other day it was about 100 less than my Fitbit. Point being they’re close. Close enough as to make not a big difference in my step tracking goals.

Each morning i get up and work out (weekdays) and after that I weigh myself. Normally i do this in the fitbit app. I used to have another app that read fitbit data, and then shared it among other apps (It wasn’t the sync bridge thing, just an app that could read/write both Apple and Fitbit info), and also shared with Apple Health, i don’t use that app so i uninstalled it, so now there’s a gap. I have to enter my body fat % and weight manually in to two apps. Not the end of the world for sure, but why? If Fitbit had a legitimate reason, I might be ok with it. Other things read and/or write to Apple Health, fitbit (still) doesn’t, and hasn’t provided any good reason. Protecting their silo?

I haven’t chucked the fitbit yet, and likely won’t for a few more weeks at least (mostly out of liking to compete with friends and family), but I’d be happy to keep on fitbit’in (is that a term?) if they’d un-silo their data. Heck don’t read in Apple Health data, just share yours. It’s not that hard, and I can’t imagine how you justify not doing it. It costs you nothing to let HealthKit read steps, calories, etc.

We’ll see. I’ve become attached to my Fitbit but double entry is the pits, and Fitbit doesn’t have much to push me it’s way, when ALL other data is in Apple Health.

Drawing a line in the sand is cool if you have a legitimate reason to, but “just because” isn’t a good reason.

Wearables, silos and how Pebble missed their shot

So I bought an Apple Watch. I knew I would eventually. I basically was holding out to see if they released a new one at their recent event. They didn’t so i bought one. I immediately put OS2 on it, since much of what I didn’t like was OS1.

There’s still much I don’t like about AppleWatch; like not being able to glance at my wrist to see the time without raising my wrist in a “checking the time” motion.

Do I miss my Pebble, yes. I liked the watch faces, I liked the glance-ability of the screen, and I suspect I’ll like not worrying about charging it each night.

As i unpaired my Pebble i reflected on what I thought about that watch and wearable tech in general (my fitbit is on the cusp of being set aside). It’s slimmer, it’s IMO nicer looking. It has a battery that does the job. It was more personalizable. That’s it though. After that it’s missed opportunity after missed opportunity.

Pebble launched with a cool expansion port to allow for smart bands. What might those be? even more battery life, heart rate monitors, who knows. Turns out, nothing. The SDK for the port apparently is only now, months, MONTHS later, coming out in limited release. At a recent hackathon the winning use of that port… a laser pointer. A god damned laser pointer. They had Devices, even 3D printers on hand to make things, and we get a laser pointer?

Pebble had a great lead on Apple, and while I suspect much of it’s failure is partly on Apple and it’s SDK limitations (since Android is more interactive), I think Pebble rested on it’s laurels a lot. I’m sure they were working, but as a consumer I can’t say on what. Porting their new OS to the old hardware is a nice touch for owners of that old hardware, but at what cost? Interactive SMS replies? not yet. Siri? nope. I get taking care of your old customers, in fact I think that’s a great thing about Pebble, but it doesn’t seem to have been very well balanced against making sure the Pebble Time was an actual Apple Watch competitor, which it’s not.

Huge missed opportunity. Reading notifications is neat, controlling my Nest is neat (and not possible that i can see on AppleWatch) but not enough to make it a sticky thing. Not enough to make it a long term thing. There’s a lot in the Apple watch I don’t care about, but as both platforms mature Apple is going to overtake Pebble.

So now my pebble (twice kickstarted) is hanging on my bulletin board as a memento. My Apple Watch is my daily watch, for now anyway. I sometimes opt back to my classic watches, but the Pebble, that ship has sailed, right into a sand bar.

 

360|iDev 2015, What an amazing thing we did.

So i just finished my big event of the year, 360|iDev and wow. What a rush (as always).

TL;DR; So honored to share a room with so many awesome people being awesome. Making amazing things, being parts of amazing teams, etc. I honestly feel this event not only has a positive impact on my life each year, but also does on others, which is humbling to say the least.

There’s an amazing photo pool here.

Now the long form.

I start planning 360|iDev the moment the preceding event ends, so yes, I’ve already begun work on next years event.  A 4 day conference with 55 speakers, 400 attendees and a handful of sponsors isn’t something that comes together in a few weeks.

There were a few good, and one bad thing this year. One of the things I like about doing 360|iDev is that we bring about 400 people into Denver, more than 85% of whom aren’t local to CO. Many who aren’t local to the United States. Sure when compared to city wide events, that’s nothing, but to me it’s a big damn deal.

360|iDev is my bread-n-butter. It keeps enough money coming in, my wife hasn’t forced me to get a job… yet, LOL. I get to see people from around the world that i may only see once (maybe twice if I’m lucky) a year. I get to show off my home town (by claim, if not birth), and show everyone why Denver is so awesome, why it’s where I’m where I am.

There was a lot of great stuff this week, much of it conference specific, so I’ll talk about it on the conference blog, but some of it more personal and Denver specific.

Lunch (good)

Last year we ate lunch outside the hotel because yeah $50/person for conference lunch is stupid and well hotels are often stupid. One place however can’t handle 400 ppl, no matter what they think or say. Lunch last year wasn’t awesome. Long lines, long waits, etc. As experiments go, it failed.

This year I had 3 (4 on Tuesday because of Civic Center eats) options for attendees. Lunch tickets were available for each place, people picked what they wanted to eat. It was awesome to see groups form on the fly each day to explore someplace new. We spread the lunch tickets, so no single vendor had more than 150 people a day. So far (bills are still coming in) it looks like i spent half as much this year as last, and had 3x more options for people. That’s awesome!

The only thing that went a bit sideways was my failure to account for vendors not being open on weekends. Out of 3 only 1 was open on Sundays. Oops.

Local Community (good)

One of the things being downtown has afforded was the opportunity to spread some money around vs. bottling it up in a hotel chain. This year we spread about $18,000 to local restaurants in the downtown area. I think that’s pretty awesome, i know i’m not a rain maker, but i think any time I can give money to local businesses, that’s a great thing. Not only am i not paying for over priced hotel food, but I’m boosting (in a small way, sure) the local economy.

While small, i think every dollar helps. I think as a conference organizer, it’s my job to not just dump money into the pockets of a massive hotel chain. It’s my job to better the city that is hosting my event. Whether that’s financially or even just from exposure like not keeping everyone indoors all day and night.

Police (Bad)

During lunch on Tuesday, the attendees ate lunch at Civic Center Eats. A few attendees were enjoying their meal on the grass when some Denver PD officers came over. Sadly instead of assuming these folks weren’t criminals, vagrants or some type of malcontents, they treated a group of international visitors to Denver like criminals, demanding they all present ID while telling them they were sitting in the wrong grass. Not cool Denver PD, not cool. I get we’re trying to revitalize the grass in the park, but maybe wrap that section in tape, vs. the handful of tiny ass signs. Also maybe, just maybe assume people (wearing conference badges, even!) aren’t trying to kill the grass or break the rules and start with “Hey guys, can you move elsewhere, this grass is off limits for now.” vs. oh i dunno, accosting people eating their lunch, making them all present ID before letting them go.

back-side-black-textAs someone who brings people from around the world to Denver, i’m not super thrilled that happened. Small incident, yes? bad experience for people in Denver the first time ever, yup. In the end we all joked about it, but is that really what Denver wants people to remember about it?

I have much respect for law enforcement, I know their jobs are hard, but that’s not an excuse. Be better please Denver PD.

If you’re one of this years’ attendees, thank you, really, truly, thank you. Being able to do this event, and make even a small living is huge! I can’t thank every single speaker, sponsor and attendee enough for being a part of something so truly amazing. Conferences are hard, harder still when balancing making a living, with making an awesome experience. I already can’t wait until next year.

My First Day with Pebble Time

IMG_1768I lingered around the house yesterday before heading out for a work function just so I could get my new Pebble Time. WORTH IT!

I backed the Time the moment i heard about it. No regrets, it’s a nice piece of kit, at least so far in my first half a day ish, I’m really enjoying it as a smart watch.

The screen is (as most tech journo’s have said) not as crisp as say the AppleWatch, but that’s not terrible. It’s all kinds of readable in any light, at almost any angle. That’s a big deal for me. While i love the shake to light feature, I like not needing it very often.

IMG_1756I’m kinda torn on the body. I liked the sleek look of the original Pebble a lot, I suspect I’ll get used to the new style, but I do miss the seamlessness of that first gen. What I do like is the buttons. I like that they’re formed into single line vs. being three distinct buttons.

Also, the new body is definitely eye catching, a friend last night noticed it immediately, and asked what it was.

I like the little “thank you” that Pebble added to the back case for those of us who backed the original as well as the Time, kinda cool, makes mine (and thousands of others) a little unique.

The watch app that accompanies the new Time is much improved over the original. It’s not yet in the iOS app store (I’m running a beta at the time I’m typing this). Hopefully it drops soon, as Time isn’t compatible with the original Pebble management App. That’s a bummer for those who’re receiving their Pebbles this week.

The app itself is much improved aesthetically. You can see each face, a quick tap on a check box and the face is loaded or activated if it was already there. You can even set a default face that is your final destination when pressing the back button. I hated accidentally going past my preferred face to another, then having to click back to it, so that’s nice.

Depending on the face you can manage it’s access to the time line feature that’s new to the Pebble OS, you can also more readily access any settings that might come with that face.

IMG_1770You can also allow access to calendars, and such, which then let’s your appointments flow into the time line. Handy for sure.

Apps are still a thing, and I’m sure it’s just me, but they feel more accessible, maybe it’s the upgraded storage. On my previous Pebble with only 8 “slots” most apps despite their utility competed for space with faces and other apps.

Apps like Leaf now feel easier to use and access, where i used to have to remember i had an app, it’s already second nature to think about it. Maybe because it’s summer and Denver skipped spring and went from cold and wet to hot, so I think about my house temps more, I dunno.

I’m excited by the potential for smart bands, I hope folks take advantage of that feature. Adding battery, sensors, etc via watches adds so much utility to the Pebble Time. Also open sourcing the files and letting the community get involved, shows a lot of love and respect for their users from the Pebble Team.

I’m very happy with the Time already, and envision a long run with this as my daily driver watch, sorry watch box, you’re going to have to wait a while longer.