How many 'new' features do you use?

The above advert for the Voice Text feature on the latest iPhones is very good, but it reminded me that I have not used it once aside from the first day for novelty value. Siri rarely gets used by me and I'm not really using the notification centre widgets either. Similar things happened when new Android features appeared and it seems to be a trend, for me at least.

So, which of the 'new' features released to Androids and iPhones do you use often?

Uber (again)

Digging into the app’s code, GironSec discovered the Uber app “calls home” and sends data back to Uber. This isn’t typical app data, though. Uber has access to users’ entire SMSLog even though the app never requests permission. It also accesses call history, Wi-Fi connections used, GPS locations and every type of device ID possible.

The app even checks your neighbor’s Wi-Fi and retrieves info on the router’s capabilities, frequency and SSID. News of the app’s vulnerability was first posted on Hacker News with the charming intro, “TLDR: Uber’s Android app is literally malware.” One developer commenting on the revelation said there isn’t “any reason for Google not to immediately remove this app from the store permanently and ban whatever developer uploaded it. There should probably be legal action.” More at Cult of Mac.

Such a lovely company...

Big phones and small tablets

In fact, the bigger your phone’s screen, the more you’ll read / watch as a whole. We saw that users with both an iPhone and an iPad consumed significantly more content as soon as they upgraded to an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus. Those with the 6 now open 33% more articles and videos inside Pocket than they did with a 5/5S, and those with the 6 Plus open 65% more items than they did with a smaller phone.
The bigger your phone is, the less you’re going to use your iPad. Users with an iPhone 6 now read on their tablets 19% less during the week and 27% less over the weekend. Those with a 6 Plus are on their tablets 31% less during the week and 36% less over the weekend... More at Pocket.

Is the answer bigger tablets or are people starting to realise that most tablets offer little over bigger phones?

Digging up the world's first computer

Aware that a few measly Apple I’s and Altair 880’s wouldn’t be enough to satisfy a former presidential candidate, Perot’s people decided to acquire a more singular prize: a big chunk of ENIAC, the “Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer.” The ENIAC was a 27-ton, 1,800-square-foot bundle of vacuum tubes and diodes that was arguably the world’s first true computer. The hardware that Perot’s team diligently unearthed and lovingly refurbished is now accessible to the general public for the first time, back at the same Army base where it almost rotted into oblivion... More at Wired.

Interesting story.

nevo

Introducing névo, the French designed timepiece that connects the elegance of the past with the power of the future in a sleek modern watch with activity tracking, phone notifications, and unique LED goal progression indicators. névo combines style and practicality resulting in a beautifully useful tool for health conscience, active people.

névo understands that form and function should coexist and that people want activity accessories that don’t look or feel like a cheap gadget. For névo, the importance of design is evident in this beautiful timekeeper, but behind the beauty lays the heart of a champion. névo is packed with the latest advancements in fitness tech and continuously monitors steps, distance, calories burned, and more.
Today, people understand the need to adopt healthy habits in their busy lives to look and feel better. The technology exists to quantify small changes that produce healthy results but until now, style played a distance second to function. When others think only of technology, we also think of beauty and simplicity. » Sébastien, Co-founder... More here.

Finally, a smart watch I would wear.

Recharge your phone in 30 seconds?

An Israeli company says it has developed technology that can charge a mobile phone in a few seconds and an electric car in minutes, advances that could transform two of the world's most dynamic consumer industries.
Using nano-technology to synthesize artificial molecules, Tel Aviv-based StoreDot says it has developed a battery that can store a much higher charge more quickly, in effect acting like a super-dense sponge to soak up power and retain it... More at Reuters.

We can dream...

3-in-1 Smart Box

3-in-1 Smart Box is a multifunctional Bluetooth speaker compatible for all Bluetooth support cellphone. Functions including camera remote shutter, Bluetooth anti-lost and Bluetooth speaker. When the Smartphone is 10m away far from the speaker, it will ring to alarm. Download the software APP before using and activate all the functions. Besides, 3-in-1 Smart Box measures only 3cm, all in portable size you can take anywhere.

The 3-in-1 Smart Box is a very clever idea. If it works well, that is a bargain for the price.

Take down your digital mechanicals

While it’s been fun and games for a while, makers of some of the world’s most expensive and well known watches are now targeting sites offering ‘pirate’ smartwatch faces in order to have digital likenesses of their products removed from the market.
TorrentFreak has learned that IWC, Panerai, Omega, Fossil, Armani, Michael Kors, Tissot, Certina, Swatch, Flik Flak and Mondaine are sending cease and desist notices to sites and individuals thought to be offering faces without permission... More at TorrentFreak.

I thought this would happen and it makes perfect sense to me. The possibilities for digital watch faces are endless so there is no need to use a well-known style already in use, and they will never look like the real thing.

Michael Bastian MB Chronowing By Hewlett-Packard

Gilt apparently suggested designer Michael Bastian to the folks at Hewlett-Packard. Bastian has watch design experience and was respected in the watch community. The high-end Swiss watch maker Audemars Piguet even worked with Bastian a number of times to place their timepieces on the wrists of Michael Bastian clothing collection runway models. Bastian accepted the project, and now, the three companies were set to embark on a journey that was intended to be a dream team of efforts from the three talented entities. Did they succeed?
 
A few days ago from writing this post, the Michael Bastian MB Chronowing watch officially went on sale available exclusively to Gilt.com members. I don't at this time know the sales numbers, but since I was with the teams the evening before the sale began I was able to experience their excitement first hand. The energy was palpable, but so was the muted anxiety of selling a totally new type of product for them... More at A Blog to Watch.

I am really struggling to see how the marriage of smart and classic design works here. It just doesn't work for me.

HandBrake v0.10 released

The developers of Handbrake just announced the 0.10 update to their extremely popular and useful Open Source video transcoding product. Originally focused on ripping DVDs, the product now can be used for transcribing many different types of files/codecs to almost any other. Today’s headliner updates include H.265 and VP8 encoding... More at 9to5Mac.

Probably the best free software I own.

BT in talks to buy O2 UK, or EE?

BT Group PLC on Monday said it is in talks to buy Telefónica SA’s U.K. mobile business, 02, as the British telecom incumbent lays out its ambitions to be a fully-fledged wireless operator in the U.K.’s converging telecom market.
 
BT is already planning a return to consumer mobile next year, but said it is exploring ways of “accelerating” its plans, which includes assessing the merits of an acquisition of a mobile network... More at WSJ.

Huge news for some people.

A $30,000 watch, a $10,000 suit and an iPhone

Over the weekend my wife was watching a quite dreadful TV show called Million Dollar Listing New York which follows the lives of high-end real estate agents. They are seen negotiating the sales of apartments and houses which are valued up to and beyond $16 million with commissions for the agents coming in at approx $250,000 per sale.

It's big business and offers a glimpse of how very rich people live, but one thing struck me as I witnessed what was happening. These people are being chauffeured around in Bentleys, they are wearing Patek Philippe watches and extremely expensive suits. There is no expense spared throughout, but every single person I saw in the show was using an iPhone.

The rich real estate agents, the buyers purchasing properties for millions of dollars and the sellers letting their apartments go for millions. They all carried iPhones, but everything else on them was incredibly expensive. As I have always said, the iPhone is the only product I own that feels like the best of its kind and it is able to be purchased by many millions of people, unlike those watches, suits and huge apartments.

AirParrot 2

AirParrot is designed to send content to a number of media receivers, even simultaneously. Broadcast to multiple devices like Apple TV and Chromecast, or share audio around the house to AirPlay-enabled speakers. Use AirParrot in combination with Reflector to create a seamless mirroring experience to any computer or device. Never worry about compatibility issues again; share from any device, to any device! More here.

This actually looks rather useful.

The winning mix-tape

I had to think hard about who should win the best mix-tape from the recent competition, but after much thought I felt that Tom should win. This was based on the fact that I did not know too many of the songs and that I discovered a few tracks that will definitely make it into my collection. Ultimately, shared mix-tapes are about discovery and Tom's worked perfectly for that.

Well done to Tom. You can listen to his chosen tracks here.

Ditto

So you take a phone with a perfectly good vibration notification in it, and pair it to a device which vibrates to notify you that the phone has received a call or a message, thus giving you two devices which do *exactly the same thing*? Neil.

Neil sent me a link to the Ditto Kickstarter page along with the above comment and I could not disagree more with him.

We shall start by looking at what we get; battery life which is measured in months and which  requires the replacement of a watch battery, a pledge price of only $29 for a device which mimics a significant feature of smart watches and it's also waterproof and very discreet. It appears to me that a great deal of care has been put in to understanding the advantages a product like this can bring, which is demonstrated in the text below-

Smartphones do so many things.  But it’s easy to become a slave to them.  We created Ditto as a kind of anti-gadget – something to free people from worrying about their smartphones and to be more present in life.
We made Ditto as simple as possible, because at Simple Matters, we believe that, well, simple matters.  So we went to a whole lot of trouble taking things out of Ditto.
Just wear Ditto close to your body and don't worry about checking your phone every 10 minutes.  You'll feel it vibrate when someone you've chosen as important is trying to reach you.  Stop missing calls or messages because you didn't hear your phone ring or feel it vibrate because it was in your purse, or left on mute while being charged.
Use the free app to create Favorites, so only those people you designate will get through.  You can also customize vibrations for particular people. The electronic tether will cause Ditto to vibrate when you've left your phone at home, in the office, at a cafe, etc.  And Ditto's alarms are great for waking up without disturbing your partner, remembering a parking meter, or something else important.

I wrote previously about how hard a sell smart watches and more complicated wearables could be, but I am struggling to see the downsides in this one if your main requirement is discreet notifications and alarms. Seriously, I can't see a downside here.

The iMac aquarium

We've heard of recycling but this is just ingenious. Apple iMacs have been turned into great looking fish tanks and now you can own one.
 
Jake Harms thinks outside of the box, or inside the iMac in this case, and has come up with a brilliant adaptation of an old iMac. By sealing the unit after emptying it he was able to turn it into a working fish tank with a 13-litre capacity... More at Pocket-lint.

Nice idea I guess, but I wouldn't want to be a fish in something that small.