Tag Archives: IPad

Episode 38 – Either music in 2014 is poop or streaming is killing sales

No album sales of more than a million or to put it another way no platinum selling albums for the entire 2014 which is pretty big news, or is Spotify the devil of the music industry?

In other news a mahoosive phone was released and we ask the question of is this new Nexus too big and will the scale of phones finally stop going larger.

I also get a bit excited by SMS messages appearing on the Macbook via the Yosemite update and I kid you not its like magic.

Advertisements

Apple and the disappointing new iPhones and Watch and Pay

IMG_2291

 

So Apple on the 9th September did the big reveal (well I say big reveal but more later) and I am writing this on the 14th September. Why the delay? Most bloggers and tech sites have already swamped your eyeballs with enough information to sway your opinions and impress your mates with an abundance of information relating to iPhone(s) 6 & 6 Plus, Apple Watch and Apple Pay but here I am only just about to start my write up.

Why? well Apple often is accused of having a distortion field around its products and to this I have regularly scoffed at these nay sayers and doubters, but this year from the off I was left frustrated and disappointed from the moment I tried to watch the stream on my Apple TV. To put this into context, I regularly watch the Apple events in gleeful excitement of delights to come and as I thought, as I raced home to be back in time for the 6pm (UK time) September 9th event which would not fail me either.

Failure to launch

But how wrong was I?, gone was the smooth start and professional polish of the event, I was faced with network issues and then when the picture did work  I was listening to both Tim Cook and what was quite possibly a lady speaking Cantonese over what Tim was saying. I logged out and back in, same thing, turned to the iPad and the stream and that would not work either. Seriously, what the flip was going on? Twitter was turned to as Twitter is always turned to in times of crisis and yes indeed the world too was melting down at the lack of usual Apple sheen and polish.

Patience of a saint was needed

30 minutes – NO: 40 minutes – NO: 45 minutes – NO: and then at 50 minutes the stream finally returned and wait, what! I had missed the entire iPhone launch and was now being treated to Apple Pay. But lets concentrate on the new iPhones first. As we had seen and heard for months we finally saw (officially) the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

Apple_-_iPhone_6

But here is the thing, there is a fine line between whetting an audience’s appetite with leaks of tidbits of information and what now appears to be purposely or blatantly piss poor management in allowing the audience to be so full of information before the event that at the time of the event they become merely bored at yet another rectangle of glass and metal is presented as if its the saviour of mankind.

Long for the days of accidentally left behind phones in bars

This year was by far the worst year we have had for leaks and by leaks Apple is in full flow of flood damage as we knew size and that there were would be two varieties of size too. As the launch date neared we heard even more about the NFC chip but granted the rumour of the sapphire glass screen was a total dud. The thing is a leak was not even required to guess that this year we would get the A8 chip. Hell, in our podcasts we even talked months ago what Metal would be like with the A8 powering it.

Distortion field down

Apple_-_iPhone_6 2

So what did we actually get, yes bigger screens at 4.7″ and 5.5″ for the 6 and 6 Plus respectively. Sharper screens too and now Retina HD but if the human eye cannot perceive more than what Apple claimed when it brought out the retina screens a few years back, what is the point of Retina HD apart from shutting Samsung and their faboys up. For the record I have over the past few years thought that Samsung have had beautiful screens so I am intrigued to see what Apple can do here. It also begs the question of do we now expect the next iPad and Mac lines to come with a higher price as we are led to believe that we need to update to these screens that rival the miracles of the universe.

The camera got a boost yet is no more than the 5s and the slow mo feature is now double that from the 5s too.  So you get the point straight away that Apple did not have a revolutionary device again this year but another evolutionary step. Apple too seems to be having trouble too in describing the phone as its succinctly described as being:

  • Bigger than bigger ( what the hell does this mean apart from marketing bollocks?)
  • At its largest and thinest
  • A better display
  • Hugely powerful. Enormously efficient
  • The camera is shit hot. Ok so it does not say this but instead the more palatable “The camera that changed photos now does the same for video”
  • Faster speeds. Yawn, heard it al before.
  • Security. Right at your fingertip. Er haven’t we been here before like 12 months ago.
  • Your wallet without the wallet. Unless of course you live outside of the USA. More later
  • IOS8

That’s it! That’s the whole fucking 9 yards. I raced home for this shit expecting the next big thing. THE phone to have and the one to be proud to own. What did we get apart from a bigger, yet thinner slab? Not much really and as Android fans have been eager and justified to point out they have welcomed Apple to 2012. Yes Apple you got told over this and deservedly so too. Apple you used to innovate but here it just seems like this year you actually are playing catchup.

What also makes no bloody sense is in Apple and design we have trusted and when they moved away from the curves of the iPhone 3Gs to the more blocky 4, 5, 5s and 5c (less so) we thought they must know what they are doing, curved lines were wrong on a phone and Jony Ive must know what he is doing. But now we get bloody curves back, so were the blocky lines wrong or are we now to assume that the lines of a phone are now slaves to fashion and whatever has the eye of Mr Ive?

At this rate get ready for the introduction of a skeuomorphic iOS in around 3 years. Still what goes around comes around I suppose.

Apple Pay – No way outside of the USA

And so we come to Apple Pay where a confused world watched as Apple went on to showcase the “revolutionary” wallet that is secured that you don’t need to carry a card around. Ok, the tech behind it is very very clever, the number crunching and generating that totally protects your bank details (well until the next hack) but this came at the time of iclouds largest ever security breach so timing was piss poor, yet not Apple faults that rudie nudie pics of the stupid famous people were leaked online.

But the rest of the world laughed as unlike the USA we have had chip and pin for years and the days of signing for your purchase and having to show ID are long behind us, so what Apple was showing us was not really all that new for us here in the UK (or quite a large proportion of the world)

USA launch and the rest of the world to follow

Sadly Apple we have heard this before and I genuinely don’t believe you that Apple Pay will make it to the rest of the world. If iTunes Radio cannot make it to the UK or Europe almost 2 years after you announced it then I am sorry it’s another part that has broken your distortion field. Ok so Apple is an American company and plays heavily on that feature but if sales were just limited to the USA it would not be the multi billion $ company that it is today . Global companies need to address this very quickly that if you operate at a global level then you have to treat everyone as the same consumer and not leave some of them feeling like second class citizens.  We are  expected to pay the same for a phone or device that does less than our American counterparts. Fairness or more likely  bullshit says I.

One more thing

Oh how we laughed at Tim for bringing us in on the in joke and how quickly did we wish that Steve Jobs was there to kick people up the arse/ass as Apple were not shining in this special event so far.

The big reveal…Oh its a watch and will it be better looking than the Moto 360? Expectedly we were treated to this gorgeous and well designed video:

http://www.apple.com/watch/films/#film-design

The video looked better than the watch

What the hell? its a piss poor rectangular thing that I have slated Samsung for with their bloody awful gear designs. Ooooh its got a crown but its all very well moving a crown on a watch when its not on your wrist but NO ONE has ever tried and succeeded in winding a watch up or changing the time/date when its on your wrist and none of the examples showed it being used on a wrist.

Did I mention they failed to talk about the battery life? No and neither did Apple until around 48 hours later when they announced almost apologetically that the battery may last a day but has to be charged overnight: SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT not impressed, disappointed by the design and when you are more impressed by the watch straps then you know a product has a problem. Still this is the first attempt and as we all know Apple is not the best at launching the product that demands to be bought. Apple Watch II may be more interesting. Think I am being too harsh then check out this video from CNET on the Top 5 reasons not to buy an Apple watch.

However, I do like the fact that the Apple Watch can be used with Apple pay except I live in the UK so I can’t but its something I like the idea of.

The iPod was a disruptive device that sadly the Apple Watch is not

What stunned me more about the Apple Watch was the quite simply failed opportunity that the threw away. Lets be clear, the iPod made Apple a big bag of cash that saved them from a whole world of hurt. The iPod was available to all and this was the genius about it. Got a mac?  it will work with that. Got a PC? it will work with that. Simply put the iPod was shit hot at dominating the market as it worked across all platforms. It’s sad then that at the time of the Apple event the iPod was put to rest and instead the Apple Watch was launched that is locked and needing an iPhone to actually work properly. If I was a an Apple shareholder I would be pissed off as this is a lost market and hinders the wider adoption of Apple Pay.

It’s amazing that in the ten years that Apple launched the iPod that worked across so many platforms and disrupted the entire music and video industry that Apple have sensationally dropped the ball when they could have disputed the financial industry and once again made another big bag of cash.

 Disappointing end of term report

Well you might have guessed that I am fed up and disappointed with Apple that this year at the “Special Event” they failed to deliver and the gremlins that affected the stream have got in and buggered up the people at Apple that are innovative and disruptive designers. They have delivered what was expected and no real OMG moments and maybe that’s what people want as at the time of writing this the iPhone 6 has broken records with 4 million pre-ordered on the first day.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/09/15/us-apple-iphone-idUSKBN0HA1A220140915

Was I going to be stupid enough and jump in and join the bandwagon and pre-order on the first day. Of course bloody not I’m not freaking mental! I waited and ordered the silver 64gb iPhone 6 on the following Sunday. Yes I may be pissed off but Apple is more than one event and Ive got a mac and an iPad and with the launch of Yosemite later this year moving to any other phone than an iPhone would be ridiculous and that’s why Apple is successful they make products that work and make your life easier.

Related articles

Episode 34 – Print and…. no wait, don’t print, e’publish

Hello and yes we know it’s been a while but sometimes life really gets in the way and summer holidays take over.

So whats happening this week? Well we get a mobile with 2 OS’s in one and as this is nothing particularly ground breaking I’ll move onto the more relevant and topical (well it was when we recorded this) summer reading on iTunes and the offering of free digital magazines.  Not crappy titles even,but major ones like T3, Stuff, Total Film etc

This came out just as ABC revealed that print magazines are suffering and the market for magazines is really in decline. For me its’s a no brainer, I love digital magazines, the content is richer,more value for the money and often they are cheaper than the print version.

Episode 34

Episode 30 – What’s up with Microsoft?

Microsoft that giant of the tech world appears to be having a case of the wobbles which has not been seen by any of the big players in the tech arena.

First up is the job cuts, the huge ranging slice across the bow of employment with around 18,000 jobs going. Not fully unexpected as with the takeover of Nokia, some jobs were bound to go but this amount was something of a shock particularly as it was the largest amount of job cuts in the history of the company.

Secondly was the closure of the Xbox Entertainment studios, which rumour had prevailed that the studios was disorganised and had no real structure. Coupled with a supposed lack of strategy that could not compete with Netflix as it wanted it’s originals series to push the hardware side of the business.

Change, change and more change

Ok!so fairly straightforward business decisions you may think. But lets look closer at what we, as a consumer driven tech blog see. The Xbox One launched to major derision and immediately Microsoft back peddled away from the negativity and rapidly changed its mind over the price and the always online requirement. Almost a year later they strip off the paywall feature that had Skype locked behind it to name but one point. Change, change and more change to decisions that a tech giant has put in place is something quite shocking and not really seen before. The Entertainment studios get canned before they have really had a chance to produce anything is more of example of panic almost being written into the DNA of the Microsoft.

Its is genuinely hard to think of Apple, Google, Samsung or even Amazon (make a profit quick, please) rushing to market without being really sure of themselves or even panicking at the launch and then changing their minds and products to satisfy the market. And here is the thing that I firmly believe. Consumers, like wild animals sniff out and support the strongest company/pride member and similarly no wild animal or human would support the weaker part of the pride or a company.

Microsoft is showing weakness

Microsoft by showing its weakness to make good decisions or even adhere to the ones they have made is not good for the company and they really do need to buck their ideas up fast. The days of there being no alternative to them are long gone and they cannot simply rely on the existing behaviour of the market to allow them to continue. Consumers will remember that it was Microsoft that brought Vista and Windows 8 to the table and that the bad experience was their fault.

Microsoft too seem to have forgotten that we are part of a consumer society now and its not all business and enterprise. Their new ads in the UK centre around the windows phone and its function within a business for the man that set up own company.

Meanwhile, in the rest of the world IBM has got the hint and the scent of weakness and has rocked up to the Apple camp to make enterprise apps for iOS. No mention of the Mac in this deal? no of course not, Apple does not need to worry about this as the plan to work with IBM is genius and a very shrewd one and shows that Tim Cook knows how to run a business.

Tim Cook knows how to run a business

Let me explain my thought. Here I am writing this up on a Macbook Air the latest Apple purchase of a journey that started with the iPod, to the iPod touch and 3 generations of iPhone and 2 iPads led me to the Air. Why? Simple, its the ease with which they all operate together and with Yosemite later in the year it will get even easier and it’s this which I am thinking Apple are banking on. In enterprise, directors and managers are the consumers of the IT department. Supply these people and the rest of the staff with iPhones and iPads and assist with enterprise apps that have the IBM and Apple seal of goodness then it makes very little sense for these people to return to a Windows PC. Microsoft had better wake up soon as its crazy panic laden decisions are not helping it to react to genuine threats like this. Office is the tool which drives business but with Microsoft writing Office for the Mac and iOS are they really writing their own swangsong?

Would Gates and Ballmer have allowed this?

This is not what I would have expected from the Gates and Ballmer era of Microsoft and the speed with which Microsoft seems to be unravelling is quite shocking. Businesses grow by making a decision and running with it. Look at the speed with which Netflix has grown and to an extent the way Apple has made itself one of the largest profitable companies ever when prior to the iPod it was close to bankruptcy.  Google is now synonymous with search and the term Bing is not likely to soon replace it. Companies are made strong by the decisions they make and stick to. Evolve a product but don’t publicly panic to negative social media. Microsoft, we need you as a player for competition sake, but come on get out of this funk you clearly are in at the moment.

Hear our debate on the latest pod

Episode 30

 

 

Debate is what we would love to hear from you so please feel free to drop your own comments here.

Episode 29 – The one in which I may go a bit ranty over the BBC iplayer

Ok so one thing we do not have in the UK is much of a competitive market when it comes to TV suppliers and the cord argument does not really apply here. Hell,one of our major suppliers is Sky, the satellite broadcaster so I’m not even sure if that counts as even being able to cut the cord.

However, there is a growing global trend of traditional media delivery systems as coming under threat and the term cord cutting has crossed the Atlantic from the states, but to many has little relevance. Certainly what we are watching with interest is the updated argument of which came first, the chicken or the egg? Netflix is blamed by Verizon for hogging the bandwidth, yet Netflix

counter argues that its the networks that are shit and they are the ones to blame for the awful connection quality. Clearly I paraphrase, although it would be great to hear major companies bandy the odd swear around an argument now and again.

http://www.theverge.com/2014/7/17/5913291/level-3-verizon-congestion-netflix

So in this week we debate the issue and what goes on around the world and what happens here in the UK. It was here that I stumbled and hit the rant button as the argument the BBC has over why the iplayer cannot go on the Apple TV is an argument that you could steer the largest American aircraft carrier through.

Let me explain: The argument cited by the BBC’s Chris Yanda as to why they went Chromecast, and not Apple TV goes like this

One of the reasons we decided to support Chromecast was that Apple TV currently works only with Apple devices. Chromecast has SDKs available for a number of different platforms including iOS, Android, and the Chrome browser for laptop and desktop computers.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!! Of FFS Chris, your logic to this argument would go like this in the boardroom. “Er! Sorry folks we cannot have the iplayer app running on iOS as that system only works on iPhones and iPads” You total dick Chris! Any child would look at the iplayer app and then correctly attest that you are wrong and clearly the wrong man for the job if you can place an ill judged argument into the media like that.

Oh and for those outside of the UK let me share some info for you. The BBC within the last year, in a bid to become more youth friendly decided to cancel an entire channel. Yes thats right you heard me, an entire channel and not just a show. BBC3 to be canned and moved to the internet. The decision to do with moving this entire channel and its shows to the iplayer where people can watch what they want,when they want and not be concerned when a show is on.  Thus but leaving it off the Apple TV, the lovely Beeb has managed to snaffoo a section of the potential audience. Honestly, I could run the place better than these over payed prats.

Anynoo, this resulted in an off kilter rant which you can all listen to here:

Episode 29:

We hope you enjoy the podcast and blog and love seeing how many people around the worldview the blog. And, because we are rather happy with you all you get the pod tonight whereas the rest of the world will be getting it tomorrow morning.

Don’t be shy and feel free to comment.

 

Episode 25- WWDC14

IMG_0742

WWDC14 is now over and it truly was the developers time, all software and no hardware and not even a sniff of what’s coming later this fall.

Around the blog you will find our review of Yosemite and iOS8 and if your ears can stand it we manage to discuss for just under an hour what WWDC14 means to us consumers, the developers and Apple’s rivals.

Yosemite

https://tektalkv101.wordpress.com/2014/06/03/yosemite/

iOS8

https://tektalkv101.wordpress.com/2014/06/08/ios8/

Episode 25 

Enhanced by Zemanta

iOS8

Apple_-_iOS_8

Well its been almost a week since the keynote and by now iOS8 has been ripped apart by eager developers and people with more brains and talent of tinkering with a beta release. This is perhaps more polite than me saying that they have far more time on their hands than I do to get to that level of tinkering. Hey, if I wanted to tinker I would be an Android man through and through.

Huge for Developers. Massive for everyone else

In my own personal view Yosemite was the main star of the keynote and in general Apple is now making the mac the centre point. Previously, with an iOS you could live quite happily with just the phone or the iPad, what computer you had had very little to do with these handsets.

Apple_-_iOS_8_-_Overview

But now with airdrop, icloud drive and continuity/handoff working between iOS8  and Yosemite its almost like just having the mobile handset will not be enough and there will be a fairly obvious hole if you don’t own a mac and this is I guess Apple’s strategy for the long term as it does make ruddy good sense.

Also, when they demoed the mac calling out and the messages app the phone was made to feel very much the poor relation in that the poor once lauded device was considered ok to be left in a bag or away from the mac, so long as the mac could take a connection to it.

This year though iOS8 could not be as big as iOS7 was last year. 2013 was a complete redesign whereas 2014 is seeing an evolution of the look, feel and functionality.

So what did we get that really really matters to most and as I’m writing this what really really matters to me? Yes, spotlight may be a nice feature but its not what interests me the most. Messaging, however is getting to the point of playing catchup to other messaging apps which did result in sour messages coming out of Whatsapp and Snapchap. Understandable from their point of view but I’m not the right age group for snapchat and whatsapp lives unloved on my iPhone as my friends and I are too lazy to use it, sms/imessage rules or Facebook messenger dominate. This is the other thing in the UK in that we largely have very generous text/calling plans with most contracts giving unlimited text and calls per month so the question of having to use another message app rarely comes up. I accept though that messaging apps will have a sweet point per age group and demographic but what Apple has managed to do with iOS8 and messages is to streamline the process. Being able to tell photos and messages to self destruct is the reason Snapchat whinged loudly, but if you look into it, messages actually take one hell of a lot of space up on your phone and unless you clear them out regularly, the phones memory will get eaten up. Self destructing although is a mimicking stance of snapchat, does actually have a sensible purpose.

It now handles easy threads in group messages, voice messages in a push to talk kind of way.

IMG_4373

Sharing of location for a set time is a really convenient feature too. How many times have I lost my friends around London when I am trying to meet up with them. This takes the find my friends function and puts it in a viable and useful function.

IMG_4372

So what does a messaging app also need for keyboard warriors? Well for a start and with a huge nod to Android, Apple opens up iOS8 to third party developers, so hello swift key and other keyboards that confound me. Thankfully, Apple have seen my fear in this and have updated their own keyboard to become more intelligent with a learning system that knows (how successful this will be remains to be seen)IMG_4369how you interact with different people and can adapt the suggestions to your prose.

In iOS8 messages are able to be accessed from the notification screen with access either via the swipe from the top or from the centre of the screen if you dictate where you want your notification to appear.

Photos and the camera function get better editing features that we have seen with camera+ for years.

IMG_4379

Light balance and colour saturation levels are baked into the camera and photos app and with the developments in iCloud drive,

IMG_4381

Apple handling your own photos will be set as the main location.

I have a wife and a child. Finally, we get what iOS owners have been asking for years and thats the Family Sharing feature in iOS8 in which up to 6 family members can share iTunes purchases provided the purchases are linked to one bank account. Kids can now request through the store a parents permission to buy an app so no more vocal pleading but a polite message to win little hearts and minds or crush them and save your bank account the hammering its going to get.

Healthkit & Homekit

What perhaps was really interesting is that this is THE iOS for developers. Both Health and Home get their own API kits and all Apple is doing is creating the safe playground for others to come and  develop their hardware and apps in.  All healthkit does is take data from other apps and present it in a central format.

IMG_4378

However, this is the bit that made little sense for me in much the same way passbook has in the past. As readers of this blog will know I am a fan of Withings and their Health Mate app. At the time of the keynote, Withings were not mentioned so I for one am interested to see how this develops.

Thats about it for iOS8 or at least the parts that are easily accessible to normal everyday users. However, Apple brought so much more to the conference that as usual were not mentioned.

IMG_4383

Metal and Swift

So Metal is a new technology that aims to significantly reduce the demands put on the A7 processor by the OpenGL 3D graphics standard.

 

http://www.polygon.com/2014/6/2/5773128/metal-ios-gaming-wwdc#ooid=VldzE1bjoVTRN4Gnef0LpO8tAz-xf-NV

But while it looks amazing the part that frustrates me and makes very little sense to me is that surely the next iPhone will have an A8 chip and therefore presenting Metal, the new technology, running on an old processor makes very little sense. Give us more common sense Apple, we all know that iOS8 will launch in the fall and will launch on the next iterations of iPhone and iPad so showing what Metal can do on the A7 is a daft thing to do. Tease us, showcase the hint of what Metal can do with the  A8. Movie companies are increasingly giving trailers of trailers and making audiences excited that way.  Please take note of this and next year tease the hell out of me, you naughty minx.

So Swift, ah Swift, the code that Apple toyed with us about. Swift, the source of Apple and developers sharing a smug (rightly so) joke at the expense of the consumer side of the audience who were lost at the start of the introduction to the new programming language.

IMG_4387

What will it mean for new apps, with the power of Metal assisting I really don’t know but as I predicted a few months ago we are heading fast into the realms of console quality games on a mobile device.  I was deliberating over purchasing a Sony PSP or Nintendo 3DS but now I’m not sure. Convergence came a few years ago with phone and music player and then mobile computing but now we are at the dawn of console gaming being added to the convergence.

So thats it for WWDC14. Apple showed flare, humour and a confidence that had been absent for a while. Some developers will feel ripped off but others will see the new potential and money making opportunities that Apple is offering them.  Yes iOS 8 will work on my iPhone 5 but I’m due an upgrade this year and I can’t wait to see how it looks on a hopeful bigger screen.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Episode 23 – Microsoft Surface Pro 3

In this weeks podcast we discuss the newly revealed Microsoft Surface Pro 3 and what it means to the market. While we do regard it as a new innovation we can’t help but think that Microsoft will not make this a huge success as its retail strategy is not as strong as what Apple has at a global level. Google Microsoft retail stores and there are only 3 countries listed. For a product as new as the Surface Pro 3 yet having a price point of over a mid level traditional laptop then its dubious as to how it will sell to a non tech/gadget loving audience as much as we are here.

Imagine the scenario: Couple walk into a a PC world, looking to replace their tried and trusted laptop, the form factor that they are both comfortable with. Spotty twerp of a “sales advisor” with limited  or no training asks if they need any help and on hearing their budget shows them to the normal laptops completely bypassing the Pro 3 as at the moment the Pro 3 even without the additional keyboard is more than a mid level laptop.

Microsoft are keen for us to see the Pro 3 as a replacement for a laptop and don’t even see it (publicly) as a rival to the iPad. To them the Pro 3 is a Macbook Air killer, but once you add the cost of the additional keyboard then the cost is more than 11″ Air and becoming very close to the 13″ price tag. This is I fear a price point that won’t sit well with a huge audience and isn’t helped at all with the not so well regarded windows 8 software. Maybe this is where Apple (currently) see the divide between OSX and iOS differentials, separate devices need separate software. In the next week or so we should know whether Microsoft are the leaders in the laptop/tablet unitary software if at WWDC 2014 we see Apple merging their software lines.

Certainly, while we were recoding the pod, the reaction from Henry Monmouth https://twitter.com/HarryMonmouth was that he is unsure of the Pro 3’s lapability as this is as he correctly states where laptops win.

Twitter___Tektalkv101__Recording_this_weeks_podcast_____

 

 

 

 

 

And don’t forget you can read Imtiaz’s view here too:

https://tektalkv101.wordpress.com/reviews/why-you-shouldnt-throw-away-your-surface-pro-2-just-yet-surface-pro-2-revisited/

Episode 23

Related articles

Enhanced by Zemanta

Withings: Smart Body Analyzer, Pulse and Health Mate App

Gyms are not me, treadmills are not me, spinning is the work of satan and I hate Gym Nazis. OK, so I will admit that when I was once a member of a Gym I used to totally cane it on a cross trainer for about an hours worth of a Hed Kandi or a trance album.  However, in recent years and a move away from the only Gym I ever liked, the only thing I have remotely used to track my health was a pair of analogue scales and recording my weight on the Weighbot app which  while functional did not really add anything to my overall desire to be more healthy.

Now here is where I make a distinction. There is a difference between being fit and being healthy. Fit is when you are capable of enduring runs and marathons and uber sessions in a spinning class and being healthy means being in control of your body, knowing what you put in and generally sorting yourself out before your GP (health practitioner) tells you to sort your shit out.

Partly through getting married and partly because my 11 year old daughter looked at me one day and informed me I had moobs, was a sure way to make me kick start a healthier lifestyle. Certainly hitting 40 puts things into perspective particularly as you realise gravity is a burdensome bitch that adds its own influence on how you look. Realising that perhaps I should get healthier I started to look at what was out in the market. Certainly Nike fuleband and the Fitbit were big names but to me they were aimed at the fitness market rather than the more mundane healthier market. To this day I am still not sure how the name Withings popped onto my radar but certainly Amazon fuelled the purchase of the Withings Smart Body Analyser. Now at roughly £120 its not something that you buy and then toss aside without a second thought, its a purchase that shows and warrants intent.

To anyone who has visited an Apple store it makes perfect sense that Withings products are sold there. Design is a key component of Withings and really thats ‘beautiful design’ in the Apple scale of producing and boxing products. Arriving from Amazon the analyser was in their generic cardboard box but on opening it I was presented with a white slim box with coloured parts to it that are infact reminiscent of iOS 7 and their colour scheme.

IMG_4252As the box shows, the analyser is tied heavily into the app and while it shouts out its an iOS app its also a quieter android app too. I guess the loud dominance of the iOS app is part of the reason Withings features in the Apple retail stores.

The packaging is well thought out, and there is clear definition of what the analyser can do for you from the minute you get it out of the box but again the back makes an overture to iOS fans and iPhone owners.IMG_4253

What you get straight out of the box is a quick start guide and the analyser held in a soft plastic bag. For anyone who has ever opened an iPad box the reveal of the analyser is very reminiscent.

One thing I will say though is that the analyser is quite pointless without the app and the app is really the hub of information and the point of which the analyser communicates to the phone over the wireless network. IMG_4254

The quick set up guide is very much that, a quick seamless setup that allows for you to name who you are and setup the first session on it so it recognises you.  From here other family members can step on and use the app on their own device to set themselves up and the analyser from then on knows (through some technical wizardry) who is stepping on.  What happens when two or more family members are the same weight I don’t know and there is no mention in the set up guide as to any issues that this may create.

English: The WiFi Withings Bodyscale
The WiFi Withings Bodyscale (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What also makes you want to come back to the analyser on a daily basis is its sure beauty in its design, its a blue/black square of succinct gorgeousness with the cross of lighter grey cantering out of the middle silver disc.  At the top of the analyser (the word scale is really doing it a disservice) is the LCD panel that shows the readings of weight, fat %, BMI, the average temperature and Co2 quality of the room that the analyser is based in. It now also tells the weather for the forthcoming day. Yes I had to put a question out on twitter to Withings to find out why a picture of an umbrella with falling rain onto it had appeared on the screen. Firmware updates are brilliant but on a smart body analyser on seeing an umbrella and rain made me panic thinking it was foreboding my own funeral given the state of my body. I am grateful that they were quick to respond telling me that they had updated the analyser and this was a new feature.

The main part of the analyser is the app with its 4 points looking like a butterfly showing how well your health is doing. IMG_4255The aim is to fill the wings as much a possible and as the picture shows I was measuring my heart enough, sleeping almost enough, maintaining my weight but clearly being a lazy bugger and not being active enough. However, here is the thing, the analyser only tells you your heart rate and weight and fat mass %/BMI to get the most of the app and sleep tracking and better activity measurement you do need to buy the Pulse but more of that later. What I should also point out is that while there is the app the information is also available on a web based dashboard that does allow for deeper analysis of your health. What is also a brilliant feature is that Withings have made the Health Mate accessible to other health tracking apps, so for instance you can add runkeeper and myfitnesspal information to the mix that shape the information you provide to gain a better overview of activity and nutrition. The latest update to the app now takes advantage of the (2.1) iPhone 5s M7 coprocessor so if you do not have the pulse there is now an alternative to tracking activity by using the app itself.

IMG_4201

So lets be clear, the picture on the left is not a regular occurrence for me. This analysis was based on one day of my stag weekend at the DGTL dance festival in Amsterdam. I burnt a total of 2,826 calories that day so screw you spinning classes!!

But it shows the level of data that the app holds, based on daily, weekly and monthly totals with options to see the information in the app as a dashboard for the latest information and a timeline for larger historical data too.

I’m impressed both with the analyser and the app, with the app now moved out of a health folder and placed onto the home screen of my iPhone. Using the analyser and the app has helped me lose just under 9lbs since February 2014 and I am far more aware of what is good and bad for my body and what I need to do to maintain the healthier lifestyle that I have developed.

This high level of satisfaction with Withings meant I again turned to Amazon and for £79 I happily bought the Pulse which now through a firmware update has been relaunched as the Pulse O2 as it now not only tracks:

  • Activity – both moderate walking and running paces
  • Heart rate and now Blood Oxygen levels (hence the O2 name)
  • Sleep:
        • How long it takes to fall asleep.
        • How many times you wake up.
        • Length of time in light and deep sleep.

Once again too the packing is gorgeous and praise goes out once again to their design team.

IMG_3921Note that they don’t ram anything down your throats, the suggestion is subtle to track and improve your activity, sleep and heart rate. Its not telling you to get out there and run until you fall down or throw up. It is as I said at the start more concerned with your overall health as opposed to being a fitness tool.

Information is very clear on the box and the clarity and succinctness that was seen on the analyser box is seen here on the Pulse too.

IMG_3923

The app once more features heavily and the Pulse connects to the app via bluetooth. Charging the Pulse is via micro USB and the charge lasts for around 3 weeks. Out of the box, you get the Pulse, a rubbery clip that you can slide the Pulse into and then attach to your clothing for daytime monitoring and then at night there is a soft wrist strap that you slot the Pulse into and then attaches around your wrist via a velcro grip.

Thankfully the Pulse is light and does not feel uncomfortable to wear and is largely unnoticeable during the day but at night if you are not used to wearing anything like this at night then it does take some time getting used to.IMG_3959

The back of the strap has a small gap to it that allows for the sensors to do what they do during the night and I presume they activate to measure your levels of sleep by having the sensor measure your blood flow or something like this. Granted this is not a scientific explanation but really there has to be a reason for why the strap on the side that touches your body has the gap in it.

IMG_3960

Its also a lovely shade of orange which against the black other side shows a nice design cue.

The Pulse O2 also sports a touch sensitive strip with a green OLED display that is response but you need to press the physical button on the top right to cycle through the sections, which at times can be a slight pain if you want to check the time or the battery condition. This here is the slight oddity with the Pulse as Withings has recently introduced a watch strap accessory to add to the clip, and wrist strap.  Now for €12 it is a no brainer to include this into your Withings based life, but its not a smart watch and to get to the watch function is more than three clicks away. The other small gripe I have is that on the website there is only the blue and black plastic strap shown, yet in the promotional video that CNET have below there is what looks like a red tan leather stap that does look more stylish than the plastic one.Withings_Store

Certainly the new strap does bring the Pulse O2 into the wearable tech category but its more of a very clever and advanced fitbit than a pure smart wearable accessory.

I’m not alone in loving this device as CNET Top 5 gave the Pulse O2 the number one spot in their review of fitness trackers (yes I know the f word is used here but even Withings make more reference to health than the f one).

In conclusion, if you are after a fully fledged health companion to your busy or moderate life then the Withings Smart body Analyser, Pulse O2 and companion Health Mate app are highly recommended and when used in conjunction with other apps can make a difference to a healthier lifestyle.

Related articles

Enhanced by Zemanta

This is not the T3 Podcast. Or lets keep the home fires burning

Or to put it another way. We stepped up, who the hell are you?

Well to be honest this started out as a temporary filler for the T3 Podcast that failed to appear for a number of weeks. Some of us got bored waiting around for it and Imtiaz Farooq and myself (Mike Williams) stood up to the plate and gave it a go. In the podcast you will hear us mention some of the other T3 Podcast Facebook group members.
Yes I know the intro is too long and its a bit messy but it was our first go and we used an iPad to record the conversation so don’t hate us for the sound quality. This episode is more of a test for me to use Audiacity as the creation of the two sound files to be merged together since the latest version of Garageband has removed this option for me. Secondly, its also a test of podomatic as I have never uploaded a pod before.
One thing for sure is that tech and gadgets brings people together. There is something interesting about seeing how glass, aluminium and electronics and the addition of an operating system can rile people and often cause stirrings in the trouser department. This is obviously not true unless a pervert sets their tech to the highest vibrate setting, but you get my point. If you don’t then perhaps this blog is not for you as the style will never be journalistic but often opinionated and perhaps slightly unhinged when a box tech of delights is opened.
So ladies and gents and to all those undetermined too here is/was the first crack:
Ok so don’t hate us for this. We have no access to a recording studio and recording was done via Skype and an iPad. The very first version saw us not do an intro or even have a proper ending but this was largely to do with a Police helicopter flying above the house for far longer than I thought it would. Originally as the post was thought to be temporary I used my own Soundcloud account to publish the track but as we realised T3 were not coming back with their effort anytime soon we thought a bit of effort now needed to be made. However, this bit of effort made me realise that a lot of effort is required and I can see now why T3 did wind their pod up as holding down a full time job and trying to do a pod is hard work. But, I don’t have many hobbies and I have a new shiny Apple Macbook Air to use and develop both the pod and this new blog.
Anyhow, I’m now off to read a shed loads of iTunes details and see if I can get the podomatic version moved onto the iTunes store. I imagine this is not going to be easy.