The iPhone was a Five-Year Overnight Success

The Verge writes up Tim Cook's CNBC comments:  

Apple CEO Tim Cook thinks it's only a matter of time before consumers come around to wanting the Apple Watch. Speaking with CNBC's Jim Cramer on Mad Money this evening, Cook compared public perception of his company's smartwatch to the original iPod and iPhone. The first iteration of each device drew heavy skepticism at first before being "viewed as an overnight success," as Cook put it.

Even after people around me started saying that the first (and second) iPhone was impressive, most of them added that they didn't personally need one. Amongst the people with whom I've discussed the Apple Watch over the last year, that's the prevailing view too. They were right about the iPhone in 2007-8, and they're right about the Apple Watch now.

"In a few years, we will look back and people will say, 'How could I have ever thought about not wearing this watch?'" he said. "Because it's doing so much for you. And then it will all of a sudden be an overnight success." Cook still very much believes in Apple's core vision of delivering products consumers didn't know they wanted. "We are going to give you things that you can’t live without," he added. "That you just don’t know you need today."

Amongst the people I know who own an Apple Watch this is already a common view. I've not worn a regular watch since, and while I know there are plenty of stories of early adopters who've tried it and ditched it, I literally don't know a single regular person who's done similarly.

Of course, while people had their doubts about the first iPhone, it was still largely seen as revolutionary to put a computer in your pocket. (People are still on the fence about the significance of the tablet, which is, at heart, a very large smartphone with less stellar sales performance.) So it's unclear whether Apple's overnight theory will hold true for the smartwatch.

I'd say the iPad is a smaller, simpler portable computer, rather than a big phone. Any doubts about the iPad's future should come from a concern that, for most people, a big phone will be all they need.

Similarly, the Apple Watch isn't just a smaller iPhone. My real questions: Can enough people be persuaded to spend $300 on a Watch in the short term, and what's Apple's eventual target price for it?

Blackstar Reveals More Secrets

Bowie's final album today pulled off another trick, almost four months after its release: 

It’s not a good idea to expose your records to sunlight but one Reddit user has discovered that by leaving the ★ Blackstar gatefold (not the actual vinyl) out in the sun, a hidden starfield is revealed.

Blackstar was an amazing final gift from David Bowie, as if we didn't already have enough to thank him for. We should also thank designer Jonathan Barnbrook for the incredible job he did of giving Bowie's last few albums their physical and graphical forms. 

Fitbit vs. the Apple Watch

Following on from my own reflections on a year of wearing the Apple Watch, I was interested to read Brian X. Chen's Fitbit piece in the NYT. I've wondered myself why—despite being fascinated by the whole activity-tracking thing—I'd not succumbed to the charms of Fitbit long before Apple Watch shipped.

I think this is relevant:

Yet the fact that Fitbit’s products focus on one thing — tracking your fitness — is not helping the company’s image in this era of Swiss Army knife devices, where products like the iPhone and Apple Watch can do multiple things. History has been unkind to single-purpose gadgets, many of which have flopped, like Cisco’s Flip camcorder, or have struggled, like the action camera from GoPro.

I've long been an admirer of single-purpose gadgets which, when done properly, can wipe the floor with poorly conceived all-in-ones. The iPod for example made perfect sense, a near-seamless blend of hardware and software optimised entirely around playing digital music. By comparison the original Mac—for all its pretences to the status of an appliance—was a Teasmade, or a toaster-oven-fridge.

Fitbit purposely took the opposite approach from Apple Watch, he added. The strategy was to begin with simple devices, to make wearables more approachable, and carefully layer on more features over time. In contrast, the Apple Watch started out doing a bit of everything: showing notifications, tracking fitness statistics and making phone calls.

“We look at it from a consumer point of view,” Mr. Park said. Apple Watch “is a computing platform, but that’s really the wrong way to approach this category from the very beginning.”

Part of Fitbit's problem though is that the very notion of an appliance has morphed into that of an app. Tomorrow's computing platforms aren't like the stratified PC with its layers of software and hardware, they're even more opaque than the original Mac, and nearly as seamless as the iPod. When we're using a well-designed app the whole device feels like a tool designed for that single purpose. It might be an illusion, but it's a mostly convincing one.

In this light the iPhone isn't a computing platform at all but a context (on-the-move and one-handed). Apple Watch is a different context, but its functionality is similarly fluid. At its best Apple Watch is only what you need it to be when you need it: A fitness monitor when I'm exercising, a communicator when I get a message, a remote control for iTunes when I'm commuting, a timepiece when I need to know the time, and a fashion accessory when I'm not doing anything else. The context in which it does these things is remarkably consistent: I'm involved in some other activity and my iPhone needs to stay in my pocket.

Of course the other problem for Fitbit is this:

In addition, many people may end up leaving their Fitbit devices in a drawer. Of those who bought a Fitbit device in 2015, 28 percent stopped using it by the end of the year, according to the company.

Just as the best camera is the one you have with you, the best fitness tracker is the one you're wearing. Apple provided plenty of reasons to keep the Apple Watch on your wrist, and it's not done yet. That's what drives the regular updates to the watch bands, and it's what will drive the ongoing updates to watchOS too.

Source: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/05/03/techn...

India's Youth In Beta

Fascinating research from MTV, over at WARC:

MUMBAI: India's youth are opinionated and empowered by technology but at the same time regard themselves as "beta versions" of their future selves, according to a new report by MTV.

The media channel's Many Me study surveyed 11,000 people aged between 13 and 25 across more than 50 cities over a six-month period using a mix of qualitative and quantitative research methods.

The report described them as being "in the beta stages, ripe for testing, rectifying and remoulding".

The full report is downloadable as a PDF, and it's full of insights into how India's young people are thinking about themselves. Interesting too in the context of what Tim Cook had to say  on Jim Cramer's CNBC show.

TIM COOK: Yeah, let’s talk about this. This is another huge one. India will be the most populous country in the world in 2022. India today has about 50% of their population at 25 years of age or younger. It’s a very young country. People really want smartphones there, really want smartphones. And this year, the first year, LTE begins to roll out. And so many of your viewers here in the United States, they’re used to using LTE and streaming video. And hopefully they’re getting a good experience there. In India you can’t do that long – there is no LTE. And so that’s changing. Huge market potential.

Understanding this market is going to be critical, for any company designing products or services in the next few decades.

Apple Watch Year One

The headline is slightly inaccurate: I ordered my Apple Watch over a year ago, on the day they first went on sale, but the model I bought was in short supply and didn't ship until June. Technically then I've been wearing the Watch for about 11 months, but this seems as good a point as any to take stock.  

I don't intend to deal with the ongoing discussion over whether the Apple Watch has been a success or not. I will say that it seems a slightly ridiculous discussion at this point. I'm pretty sure that I'd only seen a half dozen iPhones by this point in its evolution, and I've seen quite a few more Apple Watches in the wild than that. My intention here then is to capture just a few of my thoughts about the device one year (almost) nto owning it.

Fitness, first. 

The biggest single use of my Apple Watch has been for its fitness-related functionality. I've worn the Watch every single day since it arrived, and that's significantly added to the completeness of the activity data I've been gathering. The Activity rings and app are superb, iconic designs. Together they've assisted me in being more consistently active, and even the relatively bare-bones Workout app has proven functional enough to get me moving more than I've done before. Together they've helped me reduce my weight, feel better, and fit into clothes that I'd previously given up on (I've recently replaced all my 'medium' sized shirts with 'small', which must count for something).

IPhone still required, situation developing. 

Lots have people have bemoaned how the Apple Watch still relies heavily on the iPhone, though it's worth remembering that we needed our Macs and PCs to activate and manage our iPhones until 2011. Already, in the first year of Apple Watch, we have limited independence for some features on WiFi. For the most part however the tethering still makes sense. I've enjoyed using the Watch to handle notifications from the iPhone, which stays in my bag much more than it did. Many of the things I initially hoped to be able to do without fishing out the phone work just fine, and I've been able to plug a few puzzling gaps (Reminders? Notes access?) with some third-party apps. I don't expect this situation to persist for long. Silent notifications, reminders, alarms and timers are almost worth the price of the Watch on their own, if you ask me. (I also use the Watch to screen the few calls I don't ignore, but actually answering them on the tiny built-in speaker is a joke).

Battery life is sweet. 

I've never had a problem with the battery, though this was one of the most-discussed worries when the Watch first shipped. I once forgot to charge it and only noticed on my way to work—a good reason to buy a spare charge cable. For the last couple of months I've been using the excellent app Heartwatch to track my sleep at night, necessitating a new charge routine that's working just fine, even with a morning workout. I'm not sure that a long battery life would actually make an appreciable difference—we'd still have to remember to charge it one way or another and a daily habit might be preferable than a  two-daily one. A shorter charging cycle would be excellent (though it's pretty good already).

Space Black bands MIA.

Here's a small gripe: Though the Space Black stainless steel model appears to have been moderately popular, Apple has been remarkably slow in shipping bands specifically to match it. We've only just got a Milanese Loop in a matching finish, and not a single leather band has metalwork to match. Even the Sport and Nylon bands that have black hardware are finished in Space Grey to match the Sport model. This is especially irritating as the DLC finish is just gorgeous and so far, completely resistant to scratches. I haven't regretted paying extra for it at all, and I love the weight of the steel model. (Despite the lack of black hardware I've bought an orange Sport band and a gold Nylon strap, both of which I like a lot).

Apps and speed, not so much. 

Clearly the primary complaints about the first-generation Apple Watch: The hardware is highly constrained, and third-party apps are unbearably sluggish. I expect these two limitations are tightly intertwined, and that Apple's priorities for version 2 lie firmly in this area. I'd be unsurprised to see almost nothing else changed, save for a new set of finishes.

Lots to love. 

There are a bunch of other things that I treasure about the Watch: Tickets and boarding passes in Wallet, hands-free timers, dictating iMessages, grabbing an Uber (though please Uber, update your app so I can set a favourite destination on the Watch), map directions for walking, and more. In fact this is the real story of the Apple Watch—less a compelling single killer use case than a whole collection of small but meaningful reductions in friction for repeated tasks. It's harder to articulate than it is to experience, but it remains compelling. Whether or not you consider version 1 a success, I think Apple's in this for the long haul. Count me in too.

 

Enough with the CV Infographics

I've been noticing these for a while, mostly on student designers' résumés or curriculum vitae and they've always struck me as remarkably pointless. Lately though I've seen them spreading beyond the world of graphic design and—horror of horrors—actually being praised by people who should know better.

Pretty. Meaningless.

Pretty. Meaningless.

The idea seems straightforward enough: Turn some element of your skill-set, such as software skills, into an easily-understood graphic that makes it simpler for prospective employers to scan your cv, and simultaneously impress them with your creative design skills. Hey, everybody loves an infographic, right?

Wrong. These things make no sense for a couple of reasons:

1.  Your skills are not a number. Ok. If you're measuring something that's actually quantifiable, such as the number of a given series of classes you've taken, then perhaps you can express it as a number or a percentage. Otherwise it's meaningless to suggest that your Photoshop skills are 65% as compared to your Illustrator score of 85%. The two probably aren't expressible on the same scale, and I have no idea what 100% would even look like. If you're in doubt, ask yourself this: If Ireached 100% on this scale, could I imagine improving even more? 

2. A single number doesn't warrant a chart. There's really good, precise and unambiguous way of expressing something like 75%. Here it is: 75%. Want to show that you've completed fifteen of a possible twenty classes? This is it: 15/25. You're welcome. If you're a designer, and you can't demonstrate your ability to choose the appropriate (usually the simplest) visual form for a given piece of information then I won't be hiring you.

Can we all agree to a moratorium on this nonsense, and get back to fixing things that are actually broken? 

 

 

Sinofsky on Technology Change

Much to learn from Steven Sinofsky's experience in going iPad full-time,many from the context that drove that change. Of particular interest to me was this paragraph: 

A change-oriented mindset, especially for technology, is one where you force yourself to let go of the models you developed for how things work and learn new approaches. Re-wiring yourself and letting go of that muscle memory and those patterns that often took years to develop and perfect is incredibly difficult in a technical sense. It is also difficult emotionally. So much of our own sense of empowerment comes from mastery of the tools we use and so changing or replacing tools means we are no longer masters but back to being on equal footing with lots of people. No one likes resetting their station on the tech hierarchy.

This is something we talk about a lot as we shepherd design students towards the final stage of their Masters degree. There's a need to  understand the territory that we're asserting mastery of, and to simultaneously recognise the significance of uncharted areas. The progression of proficiency, expertise, and mastery is complex and fractal, rather than linear and single-threaded.

Twenty Slides, Twenty Seconds

Anyone who's attempted a Pecha Kucha will know what an adrenaline rush it is, delivering twenty slides in an auto-advancing-twenty-seconds-each-slide sprint. It's especially dizzying for someone who's accustomed to extemporising around a theme for twenty minutes or more at a time.

As I wrote last week I had to improvise a new (for me) method of devising the presentation which (mostly) worked well. I realised during the process however that any one of my slides might form the basis of a lecture in and of itself. Perhaps I'll make twenty Pecha Kucha presentations out of it, just for fun.

In the meantime I thought it might be fun to share the twenty slides sans commentary, as it were. Enjoy. 

Bangkok’s River of Kings

But after World War II, the focus of Bangkok moved north and east. The river districts fell into decay, their waters polluted. Travelers mostly stayed away and visited the waterfront as part of a day trip to the famous wats. It is only over the last two or three years that the river has been rediscovered by bohemian Thais and intrepid expats, creating a mix of decay and contemporary chic that evokes an Eastern New Orleans.

The river has long been my favourite way of getting around Bangkok too, and it seems I'm in good company. When I first travelled to Bangkok in 2006 I opted for a hotel on the river (the Royal Orchid Sheraton, just up the road from the more famous Oriental Hotel), and quickly discovered that I could completely avoid the hellish traffic by commuting on the cheap and wonderful riverboat taxis (where buddhist monks ride for free). Every time I've been back I've done the same.

Hat tip to Heng Cheong over at MyAppleMenu Reader.

 

 

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/01/travel/b...

My Pecha Kucha Process

I arrived back from Hong Kong on Monday, jet lagged and the worse for having been sat on airplanes and in airports for upwards of 20 hours, and beginning to regret agreeing to give a presentation at Wednesday's Flatpack Pecha Kucha. Thankfully the organisers were OK with my slides coming to them just a little past the deadline, and I had what remained of Monday and Tuesday to knock it into shape. I spent Wednesday exercising to fight off the urge to sleep, and rehearsing/editing my script.

it's worth talking about how I put this talk together, which was a bit of a change from my usual processes. I'd done a lot of thinking, some note-taking, and very little actual writing while I was in Hong Kong. I'd toyed with the idea of sketching in a small notepad I was carrying with me but that just didn't seem to stick, and instead I found it much easier to add links and ideas into an iOS Notes document on my iPad or iPhone (whichever was closest to hand).

By the time I arrived late at Frankfurt airport (and missed my connecting flight home) I had lots of notes but no real structure, and I managed to grab an hour or so in a cafe there to begin to outline the twenty slides mandated by the Pecha Kucha format (it's surprisingly hard to make the quota—I find my natural rhythm normally hits about 12-15, or goes much longer). Forcing myself to stay awake after arriving home, showering, and unpacking, I took myself out locally for dinner and a beer, which I sipped slowly and pieced the rest of the outline together, still in Notes.

Tuesday was spent in cafes (on my iPad Air) and at home (occasionally on a 13" Retina MacBook Pro) sourcing images from my own library and online references and piecing the slides together in Keynote, and patching up a few holes in the script (I never write scripts for my lectures, but I knew that the only way I'd be able to keep each slide to 20 seconds was to write and edit it ruthlessly, and even then it was a struggle). I liked this way of working, moving back and forth between notes, slides and script, and it felt like actually making something (with some fairly rigid constraints in place due to the format). By the evening (over a glass of smoked German beer in a great new place that's opened up while I was away) I had the slides in a good-enough state to send them off, which I did from the iPad using iCloud sharing (and Dropbox just to be sure). 

it's gotten much easier to do most of this on an iPad for sure. I sometimes moved to the MacBook Pro to be more efficient (editing slides in Keynote still seems smoother there), but I'm pretty sure I could have done the whole thing in iOS. That's a big change from just a couple of years ago.

With the slide deck locked down and checked at the other end I could concentrate on getting the script down to the right length, and to something that sounded reasonable coming out of my mouth. I'm pretty good at editing for length but less so for elegance, so this was a process of iteration—reading out loud, improvising shortcuts, changing the text, doing it again, over and over. I used Alexander Senin's Workout Timer app to work on timings—not what the app was designed for at all, but it's perfect for anything that needs a set number of timed repeated steps (I set it to 20 reps of 18 seconds with a 2 second gap between them so I could get an audible warning of the upcoming transition. If Alexander added silent wrist taps on the Apple Watch it'd be perfect).

Like I said, this process is a new one for me, and I see the end result as very much a first version. I'm keen to talk to others about their process, and to see how I can refine it for other kinds of presentations. It seems, initially at least, that the key will be to have some strong constraints in place for the end product. I'll write more about where this goes over the next couple of months as I prepare some talks for lectures and upcoming conferences.

Writing Pecha Kucha in HK

I'm in Hong Kong, once again, and it only now feels like I'm taking stock and exhaling. I arrived last Friday and although I didn't start teaching until Tuesday there was much to do, and jet lag to contend with.

This time last year I was helping the fabulous Flatpack film festival to make its first foray into Asia. With Flatpack 10 coming up in Birmingham UK this month we're now starting to plan our next moves out here—more events, a stronger Hong Kong flavour, and a connecting thread formed by the city's various pedestrian and transportation infrastructures.

As a first point of reference, and a prototype of a kind, I'll be presenting at Birmingham Pecha Kucha's Flatpack edition event. My twenty-slides-in-twenty-minutes talk will weave together memories of films and toys with the times and places that produced them, in the hope of creating a loose map towards the next Flatpack Hong Kong. Pleasingly, the trip here has already thrown up a few strong leads, and the presentation is being hewn out of the raw material that daily life here provides. It's a seat-of-the-pants approach to crafting a talk, more wrought than written, but that seems appropriate to Pecha Kucha's adrenaline-fuelled style. I'm as fascinated as anyone else to see how it turns out.

"Hello sir, which country am I in?"

My dear friend and long-time colleague Michael Priddy recently posted to Twitter that he and his partner Anna were on the Greek island of Lesvos, assisting with other volunteers helping some of the huge number of refugees who have fled to Europe over the last few weeks. His tweets, and his photos—which I've included below—were so moving that I've asked him to write something for distribution here, and to his ex-colleagues at Birmingham City University.

Much respect to Mike for his humanity and effort, and to all the people volunteering.

Dear friends, ex-colleagues & students,
Robert Sharl asked me to write a little on 'What I Did on My Vacation this Summer' but it's not quite what you might expect. I hope some of you find it of interest. 
Lesvos is the perfect Greek vacation idyll, and for many tourists it remains so. However, it is also a major gateway to Europe for refugees from war and terrorism in Syria, Iraq & Afganistan. It is only a one hour boat ride from the Turkish mainland but for many who make it in large military-grade inflatable boats it is truly terrifying; having never been to sea before and packed like sardines with up to 70 to a boat. The criminal traffickers charge €1000 to €1400 per person to make this short crossing, twice what we would paid for a package holiday to Lesvos. 
On my vacation I have been spending a lot of my time volunteering, initially at the 'transit area' on the edge of Molyvos (Mithimna) close to the north coast where the boats arrive, and then on the roads handing out water and giving directions. 
We are all volunteers; there are no big NGOs here and recently only one small Dutch charity is helping out. Many like me are on vacation, some here only to help. It's a very international group from Norway to Greece via Denmark, Netherlands, Germany, Austria, & Slovenia, oh and the odd Kiwi thrown in for good measure. The other day I met a volunteer who has just come all the way from Portugal.
We are the frontline of friendly faces in Europe, but there will be those who will exploit these tired and vulnerable human beings, even on this island, as they progress further west and north; mainly to Germany. 
It has been a hard job working in the 'transit area'; that was no more than a dirty car park without sanitation or shelter. There were between 300 and a thousand people arrive each day just at this one place. As volunteers we were making it up as we went along as best we can, learning quickly off each other, but we got food & water to all who wanted it, shoes & dry clothes to those who needed them, and the majority of the vulnerable on buses. 
The 'transit areas' have now been closed thanks to formal complaints made by locals which would have made us criminals if we had continued to give out aid to the refugees. 
Now the refugees have to rest or sleep on the streets of Molyvos and if they have Euros buy supplies from the supermarkets & cafés. Many have not eaten or slept for three days fearful of robbery in Turkey. 
This is not the worst of it though. Now every man, woman & child, young & old alike, are forced to start a 65km walk to the port of Mitylene to register & get their papers, as there are no buses coming to pick them up. 
When we were giving out water in the mountains we saw families with infants & pregnant women pleading with every driver who passed by for a lift to somewhere. 
Alternatively they can pay traffickers (locals with cars) & taxi drivers (traffickers) over-inflated prices to drive some or all of the distance; €100 per person some refugees said they've been told. This we have seen & heard: it is easy to make money out of the desperate & vulnerable. There are some volunteer drivers helping too, for free.
Many start the walk in the evening when the temperature starts to fall below 30°C, but this is very dangerous on dark, busy, twisting mountain roads. The best they can hope for is that one of the limited UNHCR sponsored busses will pick them up somewhere, but if Mitylene is deemed too full (it usually is) there are no buses. There is just one place to rest and get sustenance along the route but this now being swamped. 
Some days up to 4,000 people make the crossing. We have met refugees who have just landed on the northern coast road who are euphoric at arriving in Europe; although some do check which country they are in. This happiness soon wanes when you tell them how far it is they have to walk to get their registration papers. 
Mytilene is full of refugees (recent estimates of between 8,000 and 12,000 in a town of 32,000) waiting for papers and ferries to Athens & Theseloniki. The authorities can process 1,500 applications a day, but the queue of refugees waiting in the sun is 3,000 people long; if you leave for water or the W.C. you return to the back of the line. Families & friends are often split on their journeys; how on earth they find each other again in Mitylene I have no idea. 
Most people I have talked to are Syrian, Kurdish, Iraqi or Afghani, and some have excellent English; often helping us out with translation & organisation. These are my true heroes as, despite their own difficult situations and exhaustion, they are willing to work to help all their fellow compatriots. 
These have included a British trained Syrian doctor taking his sister and here children to Germany (you don't ask what has happened), and a young Iraqi who worked in the prosecutors office during the trial of Sadam Hussein; he will be returning after delivering his nephew to Belgium. 
We have met so many amazing people, many with stories we could hardly begin imagine, over the last two weeks. It's not all doom & gloom though. Some have retained their sense of humour and every day I'm laughing at something, and we are genuinely thanked in so many different languages that I am humbled. 
Now that the 'transit areas' have been closed, what we can do as volunteers without a car is limited. We will continue to raise money and awareness; money we have already raised, from neighbours and friends, has paid for a car used by volunteers who have saved refugees from drowning. 
You too can help in many ways. Please take a look at the Facebook page for Help for refugees in Molyvos (https://m.facebook.com/HelpForRefugeesInMolyvos) to see what is needed, consider donating here https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/help-for-refugees-on-lesvos-greece#/story or to the International Rescue Commitee (https://engage.rescue.org/donate/donate-now-here-humanity-alt). The big NGOs often mentioned are not here. You could even think of volunteering. 
One last thing, with autumn and winter approaching, it is expected that refugees will still try to make the crossing. A transit area in Molyvos is needed more than ever, and there is an unused camp site here. Help for Refugees in Molyvos have tents and other supplies for such a base. Please help convince the town of Molyvos that they need this transit area too. 
Best wishes,
Mike Priddy
(formally in Visual Communications & the School of Art)

Update: The Telegraph newspaper featured Mike & Anna's efforts earlier this week. 

Happy Birthday Nintendo Virtual Boy

Twenty years old. Wow. 

Despite the name, there is one thing that Virtual Boy is not: virtual reality. The system was conceived during a period of fascination with VR and was originally intended to be a headset, akin to a proto-Oculus Rift. But 1995 technology was not up to the job of generating immersive worlds. As a result, the console has often been the recipient of unfettered scorn from fans and critics alike. With no defense coming from Nintendo, who swept it under the rug long ago, the Virtual Boy has become video game history's favorite whipping boy.

Still, the system typifies Nintendo's historical willingness to take innovative risks. Sometimes these bets succeed splendidly (Wii, Nintendo DS), and sometimes they don't (Wii U). But the ones that don't pay off are just as fascinating as the ones that do. That makes the Virtual Boy worth examining in more detail, especially since its negative baggage typically obscures the story of its creation. It’s an intriguing tale about entrepreneurship, invention, East-West cultural relations, and the price of relentless invention.

If you've never seen a Virtual Boy, or if you don't know how they worked and came to be, this is a fascinating insight into a failed but noble experiment by the then world-leading Nintendo. 

Full disclosure: I still have a Virtual Boy, all boxed up. And it never gave me headaches.

Source: http://www.fastcompany.com/3050016/unravel...

iOS wins in Mobile Transactions, Android wins in Fraud

Even I find this hard to explain, but while iOS increases its lead in the value of mobile transactions (people actually buying stuff online), Android is getting a disproportionate advantage in fraudulent ones. Is it due to the proliferation of cheap Android devices in the countries where the fraud is coming from? There's not enough info here to tell, but it's fun to speculate.

"With consumers increasingly transacting on mobile and the adoption of EMV technology in the United States, we expect to see mobile fraud rates increase versus online and in-store purchases," said Don Bush, vp of marketing at Kount.

Unlike in 2011, when fraud on iOS devices was 45% greater than on Android devices, Android is now the device on which the majority of fraud occurs during mobile transactions. Fraud on these devices is now 44% higher than on iOS.

However, iOS users spend more on average than Android users, the report also found. In 2011, purchases on iPhones were $28.27 higher than on Android phones and the gap has continued to widen.

Interesting tidbit on iPad too:

The average transaction on an iPhone in 2014 was $124.47, or almost double the amount on Android devices ($65.22). Meanwhile, average transactions on iPads increased to $164.19 last year.

That would back up the contention that while iPad sales have slowed, there's no sense that users have abandoned the ones they have.

Source: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/hi...

The Apple Watch is a hit with non-tech customers

Fascinating detail from Ben Bajarin's Wristly panel report: 

As I listened to 14 different people tell me about their Apple Watch, I observed a pattern. Those whose job it was to think about the Apple Watch or who were early adopters who thought deeply about tech and the tech products they buy, were all much more critical of the watch. You could tell they evaluated it and thought about it deeply from every angle by their responses. Then I talked with teachers, firefighters, insurance agents, and those not in the tech industry and not hard-core techies. These groups of people couldn’t stop raving about the Apple Watch and how much they loved the product. It was almost as if the farther away people were from tech or the tech industry, the more they liked the Apple Watch.

Source: https://techpinions.com/the-state-of-apple...

Apple Watch Swim App

“13.1 Apps that encourage users to use an Apple Device in a way that may cause damage to the device will be rejected”

Yeah, I guess that would rule this out, for now.

One Week Later

The Watch is a developing thing, even before it gets updated to watchOS 2. Living with a new object, particularly one that depends on software (and that changes depending upon what you choose to install or how you use it) is an evolving situation. How you feel about it in the first week might be very different to how it feels living with it over a longer time period. 

New Notes on Apple Watch:

1. I forgot to charge it for the first time. On Monday I went out to a gig, got distracted by a call from a friend, got tired, and forgot to pop the magnetic charger on the back when I went to sleep. I didn't notice until I was travelling to work the next day and my Watch tapped my wrist and said it had 10% battery left. I'd really punished it the day before, so I'm surprised it had even that much power left. Luckily the Apple Store had just opened and I dropped in to pick up a 1m charging cable. During that morning's class I popped it onto charge, and within 90 mins it was up to about 95%. 

2. I've been using a couple of apps. In addition to the built-in stuff (a restart seemed to make Siri work better to set timers, reminders, and calendars), I've used Yelp a few times to find nearby places to grab coffee or food. I've also told Siri to launch Dark Sky for a weather update.

3. With Apple Music now running I've used the 'Now Playing' glance a lot to see what my playlists are doing .

4. I've walked a whole lot more. In fact I think this is the biggest impact of Apple Watch. While I've been using HealthKit and my iPhone 6 to track movement since last October, the Watch has made a big difference to how much exercise I've done. Being able to glance at my wrist and see activity levels is a big motivator. I've averaged 11km walking a day for the last week, and I think it's all down to the Watch. Sounds crazy, even to me, but there's something about having the data closer to your body and visible all the time.

 

Remember the iPod Nano Watch?

I've still got one of the square sixth-generation iPod nano devices in my drawer at home, along with an expanding metal bracelet that turned it into a watch all the way back in 2011. To tell the truth it was never a good watch, and in some of the ways that people now accuse the Apple Watch of failing in its primary timekeeping function.

For starters, the display wasn't always on, although unlike the actual Watch you couldn't just raise your wrist or tap the screen to wake it and see the time. Worse still, once it was on even a brush of the screen would take you out of the clock functionality and back to one of the iPod's other menus. To be fair, it wasn't really meant to be a clock full-time.

The resolution and clarity of the iPod screen also left a lot to be desired, and meant squinting at it in anything approaching direct sunlight. Apple Watch isn't perfect (where by 'perfect' I mean as readable as an analogue watch in bright light), but when I wake in the night it's a whole lot better than the Casio Waveceptor I was still wearing a few weeks ago. The Casio's luminous dial needed a few hours of stored sunlight to work correctly (it was never going to get that stuck up my sleeve in the UK) and always faded before my eyes could adjust.

The nano's battery rarely lasted me a full day of listening to stored podcasts (with the earbud cable snaked up the inside of my sleeve) and checking the time, though it saved some of my iPhone's battery for other things. I'd always have to take it off and charge it when I got home from work, and I rarely wanted to keep it on when I wasn't using it for music. The Watch is so comfortable I want to wear it all day, and thankfully the battery keeps up.

I'm reminded however that the nano came with a lot more watch faces than Apple Watch currently has—sixteen in total—including colour-matched ones (the nano came in seven colours) and no fewer than four from the Disney/Henson stable (Mickey, Minnie, Kermit and Animal). Some of the regular watch faces were pretty crappy, but I'd have those Muppets on my Apple Watch in a heartbeat.

(Postscript: Just reminded of Geoffrey Goetz's piece at Gigaom, which usefully outlined all the things that Apple needed to fix if they actually made a thing for the wrist)