Tag: smartwatch

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Shattered Dreams: When Apple Watch Falls From the Wrist

Saturday afternoon, new Apple Watch owner Ken Lecomte posted a frightening photo to Google+: His device with shattered screen. The spider-spray pattern is eerily familiar—one seen so many times—like an iPhone clumsily dropped to floor or pavement. The fruit-logo company boasts about the gadget being a wrist computer, but should it be as easily breakable as the other that customers carry?

I contacted him yesterday, and he shared his story, providing photos that also authenticate him as the watch’s owner. The problem with Ken’s story isn’t truthfulness but lies spun around it. Fanboyism is a cancer that spreads across any tale like his. Already, accusers flame his original post and others resharing it. Apple defenders are venomous. “I’ve been amazed with the amount of negativity”, he says. “It seems a lot of people just can’t believe that Apple could make a product that could break or have a design problem”.

Meanwhile, Apple critics call for label strapgate; there have been too many “gates” already. We don’t need another caustic moniker. In this toxic climate, legitimately aggrieved customers cannot easily step forward. The focus should be the device and whether there is a design flaw or owner error. 

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Moto 360 Review

A smartwatch by any other name is compromise. The question: How much are you willing to pay, if anything, for the privilege? No matter what any manufacturer promises, battery life will never be enough, particularly when daily recharging is the minimum requirement. If you use the wristwear as prescribed, no less is demanded, regardless of the device maker. None delivers daily use without sacrificing something.

Nearly all these mini-computers on the wrist aren’t smart enough. You need a phone, too. Is two of one and half-dozen of the other worth the trouble? The answer depends much on your lifestyle. If you text and drive, and can’t break the habit, a smartwatch could save your life or others. If your mobile handset feels like a ball and chain, adopting glance-and-go lifestyle can liberate you. But if your smartphone is practically surgically attached, for its frequent use, you shouldn’t add another tech accessory. If your phone battery often runs out, because you forget to plug in, don’t multiply your troubles. If you don’t wear a watch now, and haven’t for years, don’t bother. 

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What Happened to the Apple New Product Lovefest?

I typically don’t pull together review roundups, but bloggers and journalists with early access to Apple Watch and 12-inch MacBook beat the products senseless. Not even Wall Street Journal gives glowing look at the laptop; the pummeling is among the most brutal. Meanwhile, The Verge repeatedly gut-punches the smartwatch. Two themes rise from the many reviews, even those trying to cover up pooh with perfume: The devices are beautiful, but performance is a lumbering beast.

Welcome to the Tim Cook and Jony Ive era of putting form before function, and to a fault. Apple’s CEO and design chief may not be the dynamic duo shareholders hoped for. The first truly new products to emerge under Cook’s stewardship receive a collective meh, which should scare any intelligent buyer witless. Because if the past means anything, the carefully chosen coven of early reviewers embrace newfangled Apple things like the Devil clings to sinners. But not this week. 

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Apple Watch Social Sentiments Slump

As the clock passes Midnight and takes us into April 10, Apple Watch preorders begin. Sales start two weeks later. The buzz is big, but will actual demand be? Argus Insights, an analyst firm that is new to me, doesn’t see strong sales ahead. The metrics are interesting: 7.8 million social interactions and 65K online reviews about wearables.

“Though the Apple Watch will of course be successful, we don’t see the product to be wildly successful”, John Feland, Argus founder, says in a statement. I reviewed the firm’s report, which data is from September 2014 to end of March 2015, and it’s interesting reading. The question, and Apple Watch sales likely will answer: Is online social buzz a means for predicting a product’s success? 

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The Verge on Apple Watch

I am impressed with The Verge’s magazine-like presentation for the web, and the Apple Watch review is exceptional example. Presentation in PC browser or either of my Androids, Nexus 6 or 9, freshly flows from graphics to text overlay to paragraphs of experiential writing. Format, using the device during one day and fine touch of battery icon and time per major graphic, beautifully fits content and context.

Last month’s NeimanLab post “This is my next step: How The Verge wants to grow beyond tech blogging” spotlights changes ahead. “What The Verge has been doing the past six months, and will be doing for the next six, is turning itself into a site that covers pop culture, science, and even cars with the same voice they’ve trained on the world of technology”, NeimanLab assistant editor Justin Ellis explains. The Apple Watch review, posted today with a scad of others, illuminates transition underway. What impresses is writer Nilay Patel’s apparent honesty about the device’s benefits and shortcomings. 

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If Just 1 Percent of Apple Watch Buyers Go Gold…

Behind buying polls there are as many questions as answers, like: “How many people saying they will buy X, really will?” Oftentimes the number wanting something and actually getting it are usually much less than tallied results indicate. Considering those caveats, an Apple Watch buying poll I have running at BetaNews nevertheless illuminates how the device could be hugely successful even from a small number of sales. I do mean big.

Among the more than 1,100 respondents, as I write, 19 say they will buy Apple Watch Edition, which price ranges from $10,000 to $17,000. Assuming they all purchase and do so on the cheap, the math is easy: $190,000. Another 482 people want either of the other two models (Sport and standard Apple Watch). for $216,618 calculated at base prices of $349 and $549, respectively. The closeness of these two total dollar figures, possible profit margins behind them, and differences per-customer profits are ghastly. 

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You Could Buy So Much More Than Apple Watch

As Apple Watch hype increases and the preorder date (April 10) approaches, a question gnaws me: Why would anyone spend so much money on the device? A buying poll I posted on BetaNews now exceeds 1,000 responses, which is large enough sample-size to get some sense of the readership’s intentions. Two percent of respondents—that’s 14 people—plan to buy the Edition model, which price ranges from $10,000 to $17,000. No disrespect, but talk about money to burn! Forty-five percent of respondents plan to purchase any Apple Watch, while another 5 percent of you are undecided.

So I wonder: What could you buy instead of Apple Watch? I intentionally single out the big spenders, settling on $13,000 as mean between $10K and $17K, being it’s such a lucky number and Apple looks to make lots of luck—eh, money—from the smartwatch. Before continuing, an important reminder: Functionally, there is no difference between the cheapo timepiece ($349) and its massively-expensive sibling. The price difference is all bling. 

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The Smartwatch isn’t a Dumb Idea

Over the holiday weekend, I started using the Moto 360, which user experience is way better than anticipated. (My old watch is left in the photo.) For all the nutcases calling Apple Watch innovative and revolutionary—without there even being a device for them to test—Android Wear is, ah, timely. Google gives great utility that will be difficult for the fruit-logo company to match. Reasons are simple: Context, search, sync, UI design, and Google Now.

I resisted the smartwatch concept for having been there before. Few of the gadget geeks gushing about wearables are old enough to remember Microsoft SPOT. Mid-last decade, the company partnered with real watchmakers (Fossil, Suunto, and Swatch); the devices were as much jewelry as functional timepieces; FM radio delivered appointments, news, weather, and other alerts independent of cell phones; and battery life lasted three days or more (which wasn’t enough). By these measures, SPOT watches were so much more and still failed. Hence, these are reasons why in past analyses I called the decade-later attempt dumb. But I was wrong. 

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Photo Credit: Julia Folsom

What 2014 Life-Changing Tech Means to 2015

Three weeks ago, at BetaNews, I asked “What tech changed your life in 2014?” Readers answered there and on Google+. As the new year starts, I wonder what will make all our lives better. Apple Watch? I doubt it. Shake me awake from the nightmare if the wearable isn’t the most successful flop of 2015. Windows 10? Skipping nine is a good sign, but is giving users more of what they don’t want to let go life changing? Eh, no.

At the precipice of looking ahead, this is a last look behind. Once Consumer Electronics Show leaks and early announcements rush the InterWebs, all eyes will turn forward—blind to what many people have, focusing on what they want instead. That’s because “aspiration” is the defining word of the technology era, and the promise if you buy newfangled This or That your life will be better for it. Sometimes the promise is true, but too often not, which is why I asked the important question three weeks ago. 

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Ho, Ho, Ho, It’s Reviews Not News This Christmas

For much of Holiday 2014, I will shift from tech news and analysis to product reviews, which will be a relaxing change. I also am prepping new ebook How I Beat Diabetes, preparing to start an investigative storytelling project, and strongly considering a Kickstarter to gauge interest in a site that calls out irresponsible news reporting (of which there is too much) and praises the best journalism, too.

On the reviews front, now would be a good time to knock on my virtual door, if you’ve got something worth my attention, whether cloud service, gear, mobile app, or software. No promises what I can get to during the holidays, when everyone wants to sell something, but, hey, we can try. Reviews will run on BetaNews,  and I will cross-post some here, despite any search penalty Google might impose for the practice. I care about readers, not pageviews. With the holidays in mind, I may shift to a shorter reviews format, focusing almost completely on benefits. Frak features.