By William Kristoph
It seems like I’m flooded with “Smartwatch” news lately. First it was Apple, then Samsung answering Apple’s rumor and now it’s Microsoft. Suddenly every tech company with a stake in the mobile world is talking up a smart watch. Oddly enough, I still wear a watch. So, as a techie, I should be excited, right?
Forget that fact that anyone younger than me generally doesn’t wear a watch. I’m not considering them when I think about a smartwatch. As a watch wearer, I don’t understand the appeal of a “Smartwatch” at all. Here’s why:
- My watch battery lasts for years. Why would I want something that I’ll have to charge?
- I already have a smartphone with me. What could a smart watch offer that the phone does not?
- My watch is one of the few pieces of jewelry I wear, it’s unique. Why replace that with a LCD screen?
- If the watch uses voice commands, why would I want to look like Michael Knight trying to talk to KITT?
Maybe I’m missing something. I fully admit that I missed the appeal of the iPad when it first came out and love mine. But a watch? That’s innovation? What am I missing?
By William Kristoph
My cable box bothers me. Whether it is the newer or older Motorola HD-DVR cable box, that giant silly cable box sitting on a shelf or mantle bothers me. They are ugly. Their software is terrible. They are unnecessarily large. The whole situation baffles me.
Is Apple CEO Tim Cook about to step in and save us from our terrible cable box experience? Maybe, maybe not. I’d love to see how Apple solves the silliness and stupidity that is our TV / Cable experience. I know many others are trying as I type this, but, much like the Android experience, I’m always left wanting something simpler and better. Also, I have no faith at all that Microsoft would have a clue how to bring television into the 21st century. So, I pin my hopes on Apple and wait.
Six Ways Apple Could Improve My TV
- Siri For TV Listings – Siri has plenty of imperfections, but have you ever tried to search for a show on your cable box? The whole experience it terrible and involves slowly inputting each letter with the remote and direction keys and hoping that the search is bright enough to understand the search term might be in the middle of the title. Siri’s natural language abilities would make search a snap.
- Minimalist Design – iPhones, iPads and Macs are all beautiful. An Apple Television set would likely be great to look at with the power turned off as much as it would with the best and brightest Bluray movie on it. And if Apple doesn’t go with a full TV? Then the current AppleTV already qualifies.
- Minimalist Design Part 2 – From my parents, to my wife, I’m frustrated by poor user experiences that keeps people from enjoying their technology. “Oh I can back up 15 seconds with this button?” “I can pause the TV when I’m watching it, not just a recording?” Apple has a knack for making technology easy to use. A DVR Remote is far less complicated than an iPhone or iPod, it just needs a better UI.
- Motion Sense That Doesn’t Suck – I tried the Kinect. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great. Could Apple give me motion sense that works in a larger room with tons of bright light? Maybe. I’d still rather use something like Siri + a remote control, but motion sense would be an added bonus.
- Content. Content. Content. - I’d love a good excuse to kill off Netflix. iTunes movies doesn’t get me there, yet. Could Apple offer a subscription service at some point? Would I be willing to pay more than what I pay Netflix if most new release movies were available on streaming instead of Bluray? Heck yes! Even better, I would pay movie theater prices ($5-$10) for first run movies in my home most of the time to avoid rude crowds.
- Alerts – I just got three new HD channels? Who knew? Apple can solve this problem by tossing a banner up on the screen or light up an icon until I read it. Consistency is the key. Comcast has messaging ability, but Comcast is extremely inconsistent with its use. It’s also easy to miss the light on the cable box, which is the only indicator of a new message from Comcast.
By William Kristoph
Last week, I read some live blogs during the Apple iPad event. Along with everyone else, I was surprised to see the “4th generation” iPad introduced. Sure, we were all expecting the iPad mini, but a new full-size iPad with better specs? I didn’t see that coming, nor did I read any rumors about it. As soon as it was introduced, the rage on the internet message boards started from many of those that purchased the 3rd generation iPad 7 months earlier.
I’m one of those people that purchased it, but I don’t get the rage against the 4th generation or the rage against Apple for introducing it. Technology, especially gadgets like the iPad, is a never ending chase for the best. I distinctly remember dealing with similar technology chasing with graphics cards years ago. Back then I learned there are four major groups of people with tech:
- Bleeding Edgers – Those that will pay plenty of money to keep up with the technology (there are folks that will sell their iPad 3 to partially fund a new iPad 4).
- Complainers – Those that rage on the boards, but ultimately get over it in a few days and go back to enjoying what they have.
- Wait and Sees – Those that always wait to buy a piece of technology, because they want the best, but they end up paralyzed by the fear of something better coming out in a few week.
- Practicals – Those that budget and buy the device that satisfies their need at the time and don’t worry about trying to future proof.
I fall into the fourth category. Years ago I wanted a digital camera. I waited it out a bit, because I couldn’t find anything I liked in my price range. After a year or two, technology and prices collided and I purchased my first digital camera. Graphics cards were the same way, I bought the best bang for the buck and maybe upgraded it a few years later when a demanding game required it. With the iPad, I waited until that gorgeous retina display showed up with the iPad 3 and that sealed the deal. Next to the iPad 2, it was what I wanted.
So why would I be made about an iPad 4? It’s faster? Okay, great, but my 3 does everything I want it to do. HD Facetime camera? Again, that’s nice, but nothing that makes me regret buying an iPad a few months ago. Even better, the iPad 5 or 6 will probably do all kinds of things my 3 doesn’t. Will I upgrade? Nope! Not until my 3 is dead or no longer supported with iOS updates.
By William Kristoph
Every morning I fire up my tablet and check out Zite, my favorite personalized magazine app. Today I an article greeted me from BGR (Zach Epstein) – The most annoying things iOS 6 and the iPhone 5 won’t fix. I read it, laughed and sort of shook my head. The iPhone 5 isn’t even announced yet and writers are all too happy to pick at it. Let’s take a look at one particular set of arguments:
- “Awful” Auto-correct - Zach claims the iOS auto-correct is awful. All I can say to this one is that my personal experience is different. I rarely have frustrating weird auto-corrects.
- Widgets - I completely understand this criticism. I understand that some people want widgets. I also understand why it’s not happening in iOS which an operating system for the masses, not always the power users. The version of the article that I linked to talks about the Stock App and the lack of a Wi-Fi / Bluetooth toggle. The version I read on Zite mentioned the Calendar App (which shows today’s date, contrary to the article at the time). Either way, some of it is valid, the rest leads me to believe that if a user wants those features they are better with Android.
- Time- and location-based actions - Yep, I agree here too generally. Location based reminders are mixed at best. Until Apple gets that down, I feel like they should wait on location-based actions. There’s no excuse for not having better time-based actions though. Apple has a foot in the door in iOS 6, but I’m shocked they didn’t try to do more.
- Better email client - This one I disagree with. I’ve never had an issue with gmail through the iPhone mail app. It just works for me. If I need to do power emailing I’m on a PC anyway. In fact, I’ve argued before that the iCloud Mail App is the problem and it’s what keeps me from leaving gmail.
- Automatic app updates - I disagree here too. Automatic updates lead to user experience issues for the masses. I’ve had a handful of times where an update forced me to delete the app and freshly install. For me, that’s no problem, for the average iPhone user, it is a problem that causes frustration.
- Actionable notifications – Zach, if we’re going to agree on one thing, it’s definitely this one. Why can’t I just swipe away a txt or iMessage and make that gesture “marked as read”? I don’t want to open the app Apple! I read it already!
- Bigger display - This is subjective. Zach has his points, but I feel like many of the Android phones are way too big. I have a tablet if I need a bigger screen, the iPhone is for me when I’m on the go, not heavy video or web use.
- Sharing data between apps – I see Zach’s point. But I also understand Apple’s. I’ll take security at the expense of functionality (Apple’s reasoning) on a mobile device.
- Enough with the skull quake - I don’t think I’ve ever run into this particular problem, but I generally don’t have tons of messages incoming, nor do I set that stuff to vibrate. Or, maybe I just have a fat head and don’t noticed the skull quake as much. Ha!
By William Kristoph
I’m sure there are tons of posts out there already about iPad keyboard shortcuts. Even them, I either forget about the shortcuts or stumble upon new one. Last night, while I was poking around on Tweetbot, I stumbled upon the fact that I can hold down the ! or ? keys to get a ‘ or “. Why I never thought to try this I don’t know, considering I knew I could get various other keys by double tapping or holding down letter keys. My Twitter typing just became a ton more efficient.
Bill’s 5 Favorite iPad Keyboard Tips
- Be sloppy – The iPhone and iPad (and probably every other smartphone out there) has a wonderful ability to figure out what you were TRYING to type. Let the software work its magic and forget about the backspace key until a word is entirely wrong.
- Be comfortable – I love the Apple Smartcover because it gives the iPad just enough angle to make typing on the glass comfortable. Am I as fast on an iPad as I am on a keyboard? Not yet, but I get better at it each day.
- Learn your shortcuts! – OSX Daily has 8 great typing tips for your iPhone or iPad keyboard.
- Try splitting the keyboard – The iPad keyboard can split in two if you’d rather type with just your thumbs. This mode is very useful when doing a lot of quick typing like on Twitter or iMessage.
- Forget about typing! – If you have an iPad 3 (or better) or an iPhone 4S (or better) why not skip the keyboard entirely and use dictation or Siri to do the hard work for you? I’ve found the dictation feature is very accurate on the iPad 3.