Tag Archives: iPhone

iWatch Review: MetaWatch

IMG_7994So a while back I did a review of my first iWatch (actually this was the first, but it was temporary). It was an ok watch, i had hoped for new features, and in the end the only firmware update that ever came out while adding new watch faces, didn’t do a ton more to make it an awesome iWatch. Of course now that form factor is dead and the new model is not “watchable” at all, so there’s that.

Now I have a proper iWatch, just no i. I’ve had the Meta Watch Strata for a while now, it’s a very cool smart watch. It’s more in the sport watch area, but they do sell a more dressy model. It connects over Blue Tooth Low Energy to the phone and shows you phone battery level, SMS messages, Caller ID, and… well right now that’s all. They’re still working out the bugs, so the emphasis has been on connectivity. I’m trying the latest beta firmware, and it’s come a long way from what shipped.

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Right now it tells you just the basics, but when some of the coming soon features roll out, it’ll be great. I’m hoping i can create rules around some of it, a buzz for every email would suck, a buzz for emails from my wife, or a conference sponsor, handy. Ditto twitter DMs and @ replies. Some i care enough about, others less so.

It has been really handy to glance at my wrist to see incoming SMS’s without digging my phone out of my pocket.

TheIMG_7995 calendar widget has been pretty handy too since you can have two; today and tomorrow. reading a busy day isn’t easy. I suspect future updates will include more readable fonts, or more configurable widgets.

As Smart Watches get more and more popular the differences in approach emerge. MetaWatch uses a central connected app to push data to the watch. App Developers will write their apps, and they’ll reside in the MetaWatch Manager app, giving the user a single place to control it all.

Others like Pebble (I should have mine in another 9 weeks or something) from what I understand, push the apps to the watch. The example shown at CES was pushing watch faces. If you’ve read the other reviews, you know watch faces is one of the things I most loved about the iPod Nano. Pebble made it a front and

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center feature as well. MetaWatch seems to have gone a different direction, at least to start. If you choose to have a full face watch face, you have A choice.

It’s not ugly, but I’m not really a fish person. I’d love to see more, and suspect as time goes on and developers begin releasing things for MetaWatch, we’ll see more clever faces.

Overall I’m really happy with the Strata. The Smart Watch space is still very much in it’s infancy so there’s a lot of room to grow for everyone in it. MetaWatch is clearly serious about it, since having the Strata they’ve gone from 1.0 firmware to 1.2 (yes three releases) but that’s in maybe 3 months?

Pros: Geek cred. pretty handy for basic stuff, way more handy in the future. Doesn’t make a noticable impact on phone battery. It’s connected so definitely does use battery, but not so much I’m carrying a car batter around.

Cons: Not much you can do with it right this second. Weather and phone battery at a glance are cool, and I find them quite handy, but that’s it. Unless you love stocks, it does ship with a stock widget.

A few more pics below just so you can see the MWM app etc.

Basic settings screen for configuring the watch functions.

Basic settings screen for configuring the watch functions.

 

Configuration screen for widgets

Configuration screen for widgets

Currently available options for apps

Currently available options for apps

Where future apps will live
Where future apps will live

 

Life with Nest

So My friend Tom gave me a Nest. Which is good because no matter how much I tried, Nicole wasn’t that keen on the idea… actually the expense. A Nest ain’t cheap. I definitely think it’s one of those products that once installed and in use for 6 months to a year pays for itself or at least shows the potential to, but until then it’s an expensive thermostat.

Photo Nov 03, 10 18 08 AMInstallation was pretty easy, though I did end up having to give in and call Nest support (which was awesome!) because my homebuilder was a moron. For whatever reason there was an entire extra wire bundle connected to the old thermostat. Nest support was great, I’d email them a pic and he’d immediately know what to do. Once he and I got that part tackled, viola!

(please ignore the gouges above the Nest, they were there already hidden behind the old thermostat.

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Once installed it walked me through the set up process on screen. Downloaded a new firmware update that was waiting, and showed me what I needed to know to get going. You can do all the programming and such on the device, but I found it quite a bit easier to do via the mobile app. (see the pics below)

 

Once you get things like a basic schedule setup (I set ours just like the old thermostat) you can start letting it learn. Since our Nest is located in the dining rom, I’m not using the auto-away feature.  We rarely eat in the dining room and since it’s a nook, we don’t pass thru it. So I don’t want the Nest trying to learn our patterns that way. I’d rather it learn from our adjustments.

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Our basic schedule. This was the starting point I wanted the Nest to work from.

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The main screen of the iOS app. Super simple and easy to use.

We’ve only had it about a month and a half or so, so I’m excited to see the results on our energy bill down the road. Especially in the use case of vacations. Before we’d have to remember to turn the old thermostat off or heat or cool the house when we’re not home. Now with the push of a button on our iPhones we can tell it we’re not there.

The other feature I really like is the leaf. There’s the training we’re giving the Nest, and then there’s the training it’s giving us. Now when I crank up the heat it tells me that it’ll be 25 minutes before I get there. I grab a sweater.

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The energy report. Over time this will be more insightful to me, but even now it’s cool to see how we’re doing.

All in all, i’m happy to have a Nest. For one thing it’s much more attractive than our crappy looking honeywell dumb thermostat. And since we’re always looking for ways to save a buck, i think in the long run the Nest will be more helpful in that goal.

 

 

 

Why I moved to Mail.app

I’ve been reading the news and opinions about Sparrow’s acquisition (good for them!) It’s funny how these cycles go, and it’s almost always the same.

First is the news of the acquisition and almost always death of the much loved product.

Then there’s the “OMFG I Hate them, they sold out

Then there’s the “You entitled pricks are pricks and aren’t owed shit

Then there’s the  “We aren’t owed things, but there is a sort of unspoken contract

I think all three are valid. Some folks just felt mad they paid money (whether the amount is significant or not is in the eye of the spender) for abandon-ware. Some  like to take the enlightened I’m-smarter-than-you approach and some like the look at things objectively. Each has it’s merits.

This is an interesting post as well on the subject, especially on the topic of money.

My initial reaction (as tweeted) was good for them, bad for me. I loved sparrow. I bought it. I bought the iOS version, though without push I never used it. I bought it because I think the only opinion that matters is my wallet. I bought it to show the developers that I supported them. Maybe that kept the lights on 10 minutes, who knows, but I’d guess the volume of us showing our support kept the lights on a lot longer. I also bought both versions because I wanted to support and encourage updates. I was ready to buy the iPad version as well.

It’s that last point that’s the reason I moved to mail.app. As someone said to me, Sparrow works just fine as is. Yes, yes it does. But why invest another minute of my time on something that will become more and more outdated? That’s why I stopped using tweetie. It was fine, but slowly got left behind in features. Why would any user of any product (ok, except cars) want to continue to use a product that is done with, dead. Yeah it’s fine now, it’ll be fine in six months. If you want nothing more than what sparrow does right now, you’re fine, use it for 10 years. If you want new features, like push in the iOS apps, the teased  iPad app, dropbox integration, etc you’re out of luck. What it is today is what it will always be. Enjoy

Do I hate the sparrow team? no I envy them, I’m happy for their success. If someone came to me and offered me a bag or two of money, I’d take it, we’re all lying if we say we wouldn’t. Am I bummed I didn’t get more mileage out of my spend? Yes, very much so. I agree and disagree with Matt that for $10 bucks or whatever Sparrow cost, you have no right to be mad. Money is money, i’d have paid $30 for sparrow. They set the price, so really what I paid is what they wanted. It’s a slippery slope argument about some mysterious point at which the amount you spent on a product entitles you to an opinion.

Whether it’s $10 or $50 every spend means something, every spend has an opportunity cost, I could have supported another indie developer with that money.

 

I liked Rian’s post because really that’s why I buy most of my software. Two things come into play. Is it good or can I use it? and does it support an indie developer. If both answers are yes, I buy it, shoot, even if the first answer is no, I buy it. I’ve spent a good chunk of money on apps I’ll never use because the purchase supported an indie developer. So in that respect it feels on a not-conscious level like a betrayal of my support. I supported you with my money, because you’r indie and rocking it and not only do you get acquired, but you let the acquirer kill the product that everyone loved and supported you by purchasing. It’s kind of a chicken an egg thing. Sparrow wouldn’t have been acquired if the app sucked and didn’t do well. If the app sucked and didn’t do well none of us would have bought it. The didn’t suck, and did do well, and made sparrow an attractive acquisition.

 

So yeah. Good for Sparrow, they made a great app and someone rewarded that by acquiring them. Bummer for those of us that voted with our wallets and supported Sparrow because it was awesome and had tons of potential, and now we’re left with no future updates, and a few unfulfilled promises.

Oh yeah and the reason i moved to mail.app…. I know the odds of it becoming abandon-ware are next to nil, and it’s always going to get some improvements, even if only incremental.

Screw OEMs

So yeah Microsoft is finally jumping into the tablet market. I mean technically they tried with the courier but they killed it before it ever went to production… Good move? who knows. Anyhow, they’re back in again and doing it right.

Oh yeah, Google is too, and they’re doing it right as well.

Right? Yeah they’ve finally taken a look at what’s working for Apple and followed suit. Sure there’s a lot that works for Apple, but a big one is controlling the hardware.

MS has long let others build the hardware their software would run on. This post on Pando Daily does a great job explaining why that’s a terrible idea. It’s funny, a friend had to return his netbook because the trackpad never worked right with windows. Go figure.

Google has done the same thing, even letting OEMs tweak and hack and (IMO) ruin their OS, while making hardware. During the Google/IO keynote this year I had to LOL when the presenter made a jab at OEMs during the Nexus 7 announcement. “This is the Android Google intended” (I’m probably paraphrasing).

I’m glad both companies (more MS than Google since Asus is building their tablet for them) have realized that while OEMs help get your product out to a wide audience, they’re not your allies. They’re at best the enemy you tolerate to attack the larger enemy (Apple?). They use cheap plastic crap to make laptops and devices with custom drivers that bog the OS down.

Both companies now have a chance to let their OS shine, which is the important thing. Had MS decided to throw their Tablet OS on every cheap Chinese device there was, it’d tank. Sure some would sell, Android isn’t doing terrible with this model, but they’d never have a solid, stable user base. They’d have what Google does. Angry users with thousands of devices, waiting for custom builds of apps specific to each device.  (just ask Imangi Studios how launching Temple Run for Android went.) Google may feel that fragmentation isn’t an issue, but that’s likely because they’re not using Android.

 

An Open letter to Hulu and the Networks

(Or, “The networks are forcing me to steal their content.”)

I’ve railed about this before, but wanted to bring it back to the top. It’s simple, I have money, and I want to spend it. BUT I want to spend it on what I want, not a bundle of shit with a few nuggets of goodness in it. That means I don’t want ESPN, I don’t want MTV or Nicktoons and I certainly don’t want Lifetime, but I do want HBO, USA, the main networks, FX, etc. I’d pay per network or per show. But I’m not against paying people who make content for that content. I’m also not against suffering through ads in exchange for it (within reason)

I’ve been paying for Hulu+ since it went live. Many networks were onboard and I want to pay them for their content….  Except… The only way Hulu is usable is if you use the desktop app, because of licensing bullshit, the mobile apps can’t show certain shows, some are web only, etc. The desktop client skirted that shit and we could watch whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted, on our TV via a Macbook running the desktop app.

Too bad Hulu’s desktop app is a red-headed step child and hasn’t been updated in years. Not only is it not updated, but now it’s so old that if you update your Flash player, the app breaks. So you have to choose, new flash or hulu.

Ok fine, the PS3 has a hulu client and is HD with surround vs. our Macbook that is simply stereo. Except… The PS3 client is hamstrung with all those stupid licensing rules. Some ABC shows are ‘web only’ All USA and Sci Fi shows are too. So now I’m paying for shows I basically can’t watch. Why can I watch Castle on the  PS3, but not (it’s for my wife) The Bachelor?

So what’s the solution? Torrents. I was already torrenting CBS programming because they won’t be a part of Hulu and have even said they believe “cord cutting” is a fad that will pass and are willing to wait it out rather than offer streaming options.

The downside of torrenting TV programming is that the network doesn’t know I’m watching. The advertising don’t get my attention, and the net effect can be canceled shows, etc. It’s a trade off, be treated like shit, or risk not being counted as a viewer. I choose to not be treated like I don’t matter.

All that said, Dear CBS, ABC, Fox, HBO and the rest. Figure it out, it’s 2012. We don’t fax things anymore, we don’t gather round to watch TV when it airs, and we don’t want to pay for things we don’t want. Adjusting is up to you, not us the consumers. We’ve moved into the 21st century, and we’re waiting for you to join us.

The Kindle Fire is a great second tablet

My friend Jeffry sent me a Kindle Fire last week. He’s awesome! You should check out his Flex components if you’re a flex/AIR developer looking for some awesome turn key components. Ok that said, he sent me a kindle Fire.

I’ve been a Kindle owner since the K2 came out, and I paid almost $400 for it. I dropped it one morning and busted the screen, and bought a K3 for 1/3 the price of my K2, and I love it. It’s light, easy to use and great at the one thing it does, display words on a readable screen. Continue reading