Last week Samsung announced their new Galaxy Watch 3. I’m looking at these photos over at The Verge and it has to be the most uninspired smartwatch ever made. It looks like a throwback watch from the 90s you’d find in the Macy’s “On Sale” display next to the $5 sunglasses.
Over at Engadget, Cherlynn Low reminds us Samsung is still very much dedicated to copying Apple’s features and slapping a different name on them:
With the Galaxy Watch 3, Samsung is also playing a bit of catch-up. ECG is a feature Apple already unveiled in the Watch Series 4, and it’s not the only existing tool the Galaxy Watch 3 is adding. Samsung is calling one of these “trip detection,” which is basically a different way of saying “fall detection” — something that debuted on the Apple Watch Series 4 in 2018. Samsung says its version will only recognize falls when “engaged in dynamic motion not when still,” though.
Trip detection. Sure.
This all gets back to very plausible theory by John Gruber he posited this past June that Google just doesn’t care about Android anymore:
Do you get the sense that Google, company-wide, is all that interested in Android? I don’t. Both as the steward of the software platform and as the maker of Pixel hardware, it seems like Google is losing interest in Android. Flagship Android hardware makers sure are interested in Android, but they can’t move the Android developer ecosystem — only Google can.
This theory was given further substance when Google announced last week Wear OS would lose access to Google Play Music months before the YouTube Music App would be available:
Remember my theory that Google has grown bored with Android and doesn’t really care about it? That’s me talking about phones, which, in general, Google does care about insofar as they know that billions of people spend hours per day every day using them. With wearables Google never even cared in the first place, except for making goofy demo concepts like Google Glass. The customers who bought Wear OS devices care about them; the company that designed them clearly does not. If they cared, how could it be that you can’t listen to Google’s music platform on Google’s wearable platform?
I think a lot what’s happening in the tech world today gets back to what I and a lot of other people feel is big tech companies working in areas outside their core competencies.
Remember when Apple made great iPhones that featured great maps, email, and search software built by Google? Remember when Apple didn’t try to make it’s own Maps application (that I still find not as reliable as Google’s)? Remember when Microsoft wasn’t making mobile devices covered in Alcantara? Remember when Amazon wasn’t making smart glasses?
Microsoft on Friday announced it will permanently close its 83 Microsoft Store retail locations. It will instead focus on its online store at Microsoft.com, where customers can go for support, sales, training and more.
Microsoft said its retail team members will help on the website instead of in store. A Microsoft spokesperson told CNBC that all Microsoft employees will have the opportunity to stay with Microsoft.
“Our sales have grown online as our product portfolio has evolved to largely digital offerings, and our talented team has proven success serving customers beyond any physical location,” Microsoft Corporate Vice President David Porter said in a blog post. “We are grateful to our Microsoft Store customers and we look forward to continuing to serve them online and with our retail sales team at Microsoft corporate locations.”
Translation: Hardware is hard. We were a day late and a dollar short.
Of course Microsoft would release the least sexy earbuds of all time:
You could say Microsoft has evolved over the last 40 years. Partilcularly within the last 8 years with the introduction of their Surface tablet, yet underlying all their facelifts and capped teeth, they’re still the company Steve Jobs accurately described as having absolutely no taste.
As I sift through old links I had intended on posting to this site but never did, I occassionally come across links that got better with age, or at the very least got more amusing.
Adobe XD’s future is looking very bright and will win over many Sketch users. InVision’s change of focus may ensure its survival but one thing is for certain, Adobe XD is here to stay. The Adobe powerhouse is strong, and smaller companies like InVision and Sketch will have to work hard to stay relevant in the future.
That article was written over a year ago. Ancient in Internet years.
From my vantage point here in May of 2020, I can attest to the fact that both Sketch and InVision are alive and well. I use both almost daily at my job at Grio.
Adobe XD is still in the game, though. One of my engineering managers DM’d me on Slack the other day asking me, “Curious whether Adobe XD is widely used?” and then shared an article about Adobe XD supporting Flutter.
The competition between design tools in the last 5-6 years reminds me of the competition between cameras on pocket computers. In the spring of any given year the Google Pixel has the best camera. Then in the fall the latest iPhone has the best camera. Then the latest Samsung Galaxy is on top the following spring. Rinse, repeat.
Without knowing the marketshare of Sketch, Figma, and Adobe XD, I can say that at least from a mindshare perspective the main competition right now appears to be between the ‘Coke & Pepsi’ of the design tool world, which are Sketch & Figma. I know agencies that only use one or the other, as well as others that use both, depending on the client and the project type. While I know many people who use InVision for sharing work with clients and within project teams and developers, I don’t know anyone using inVision Studio to create designs with.
It will be interesting to see where these applications stand next year.
Tom Maxwell, reporting for Input Magazine, says Apple may lose the digital crown on next year’s Apple Watch:
While most rumors corroborate the idea that Watch Series 6 will be an iterative update, there’s also been talk of Apple making big changes with the next iteration, Series 7. It’s been reported by several outlets that Apple is considering bringing Touch ID to the Apple Watch so that users can unlock their Watch and authenticate purchases without an iPhone nearby. In one mock-up published by EverythingApplePro, the new Series 7 even sees Apple drop the iconic Digital Crown in favor of a touch-sensitive strip that accepts fingerprint scans and can also be swiped for navigation. With the Series 7 likely still a full generation out, though, we’re not going to hold our breath on that one.
Input Editor-in-Chief, Joshua Topolsky, tweeted out on April 13th, “Horrible”, in reference to the above article. Of course disgust, confusion, and anger are common responses to things people don’t (yet) understand.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Topolsky decried the removal of the Home button on the iPhone X. If Twitter had search functionality worth a damn I’d look.
The point is, don’t knock it ’till you try it. Until then, shut the fuck up.
Quibi, the newest video-streaming kid on the block launched yesterday:
Quibi, the oddly-named mobile streaming service founded by Jeffrey Katzenberg, was downloaded over 300,000 times on launch day, according to preliminary data from app store intelligence firm Sensor Tower. That’s only 7.5% of the approximately 4 million installs Disney+ saw when it launched in the U.S. and Canada on November 12, 2019. However, it was enough to send Quibi’s app to nearly the top of the charts on the App Store. Today, Quibi is the No. 3 app on the Apple App Store, but only No. 29 on Google Play.
The disparity once again highlights iOS’s mindshare versus Android’s marketshare. Sure, Android’s install base towers over iOS’s but iOS users spend more. How many millions of shitty, budget Android pocket computers are out there, not being used by people because they’re not fun to use?
Related news: This morning, Philip Elmer-DeWitt referenced a Piper Sandler survey revealing (not surprisingly), “A record 85% of U.S. teens own an iPhone, a record 88% want one.”
Google has announced that it’s partnering with the White House to create a national coronavirus website, which is totally related to whatever the hell the administration was talking about at Friday’s press conference. There, President Donald Trump vastly oversold and misattributed an upcoming, supposedly Google-run project to build a “nationwide” coronavirus screening site to direct people to nearby “drive through” testing depending on their symptoms.
In reality—as Google clarified in a frantic tweet just hours later—such a tool is barely in its trial stages at Verily, Google’s sister-company under the Alphabet umbrella, and it will only be useful for people in the San Francisco Bay Area for the foreseeable future. It purportedly wasn’t even intended to be publically available until White House staff dropped the ball.
A person familiar with the matter told the New York Times that Verily’s pilot program (not a website—that’s still yet to be announced) is planned to launch Monday and can direct Bay Area residents exhibiting flagged symptoms to a total of three testing locations. While still absolutely commendable, don’t get me wrong, that’s still significantly different and scaled-down from what Trump and co. were selling.
Anyone who works on websites and apps knows no one, not even Google, can launch a nationwide website in few days, or a few weeks. There’s many moving parts: design, development, databases, security, redundancy, HIPAA Compliance, and testing/QA to name just a few.
Currently on Kickstarter:
Solid State Watch is a Casio F-91W movement permanently cast into a transparent resin case. It’s in there forever. No buttons, no functions, no light, fully waterproof and no changing that 10 year battery.
It just tells time.
I love the idea, but as my friend Jory pointed out, the $160 price tag is hefty as shit considering you can buy a Casio F-91W for $11.
At the time of this posting, they have 308 backers who have contributed over $50,000 towards their $8,000 goal, so clearly there’s a market for this watch.
I can’t help but wonder when the project creators are going to grow tired of resin-coating and vacuum-sealing 300+ watches by hand? I think I’d grow annoyed after making ten.
I haven’t seen a compelling argument for why a mobile computer with a folding screen is better than one without a folding screen.
Android pocket computer manufacturers can’t hold back their excitement over folding screens. Samsung was so excited, it aired a Galaxy Z Flip commercial during the Super Bowl before it even announced the phone.
Motorola has taken the nostalgic angle with folding screens and reintroduced the RAZR. I remember when the original RAZR debuted in 2004. There was a ton of buzz surrounding it and its ~$350 pricetag (a hefty price for a folding phone at the time).
I know fashion moves in cycles, and old things become new again, but I’m not convinced the kids today are both nostolgic for a folding phone and really want a touchscreen that folds.
As far as other 40-somethings like me, I don’t see anyone rushing out to get either of these devices. After watching MKBHD’s unboxing and review video for the new RAZR, it’s clear Motorola put nostallgia and form ahead of function, doing everything they could to keep the same shape as the original RAZR in order to create a subpar device compared to other Android mobile computers.
I like seeing gadget experiments, but I haven’t seen a compelling argument for why a mobile computer with a folding screen is better than one without a folding screen. Just because something can be done, doesn’t mean it should be done.
Geoffrey Fowler, in an article written for the Washington Post, considers the $1,000 to $1,400 price range of Samsung’s new Galaxy phones as, “hard to justify as much more than a luxury.”
John Gruber responds:
This is the same nonsense we hear about Apple’s phones, post-iPhone X. Yes, phones that cost $1,000 or more are expensive. Yes, that’s outside the budget for most people. But why in the world would anyone argue this is ”hard to justify”? Phones are, for most people, the most-used computing device in their lives. They are also their primary — usually only — camera. A good camera alone used to cost $500-600.
Gruber is correct, but there’s another problem I haven’t seen anyone address that’s been bothering me for quite some time, and that is: these are not phones, they’re pocket computers (feel free to come up with a better name).
If you look at a Galaxy S20 or an iPhone 11 Pro as the descendants of cellular phones, then, yes these are very expensive phones.
Now, on the other hand if you look at these as what they are: the evolution of computers, miniaturized, with the ability to shoot video, watch video, shoot photos, edit photos, map your trips via GPS, browse the Internet, send & receive email, send & receive text messages, read books, listen to music & podcasts, and maybe occasionally make & receive phone calls (to name just a few), then their price tags don’t seem that outlandish (whether or not most people take advantage of all these capabilities is another story).
As George Carlin said:
Because we do think in language. And so the quality of our thoughts and ideas can only be as good as the quality of our language.
They’re pocket computers, not phones.
From The Verge:
Essential is shutting down less than three years after the startup unveiled its first smartphone. The company’s only complete product, the Essential Phone, sold poorly and received mixed reviews. A follow-up phone was canceled, and a number of other promised devices — like a smart home assistant and operating system — never materialized.
The Verge has a profile on electric skateboard startup Boosted:
Born out of a Stanford startup incubator in 2012, Boosted pretty much single-handedly popularized the idea of electric skateboards — or, more specifically, remote-controlled longboards powered by electric motors. The company launched an overwhelmingly successful Kickstarter that same year and started shipping in 2014. Co-founder and former CEO Sanjay Dastoor often talked about wanting to grow Boosted beyond skateboards into a company that made “last-mile” vehicles in other form factors. But it wasn’t until he stepped down and was replaced by fellow Stanford mechanical engineering grad Jeff Russakow in 2017 that Boosted tried to make that happen.
It seems that in today’s day and age it’s not sufficient to have a great idea and turn that idea into a business. There’s this urge to weaponize your company into something that can take on anything and everything. “No! We’re not an electric skateboard company! In a year we’ll be making autonomous cars and Mars rovers!”
Granted their entrance into the electric scooter market is a natural extension of their skateboard business, but shouldn’t you have success with your core product before expanding and diversifying?
It’s always about raising money, never making money.
The iPad at 10 is, to me, a grave disappointment. Not because it’s “bad”, because it’s not bad — it’s great even — but because great though it is in so many ways, overall it has fallen so far short of the grand potential it showed on day one. To reach that potential, Apple needs to recognize they have made profound conceptual mistakes in the iPad user interface, mistakes that need to be scrapped and replaced, not polished and refined. I worry that iPadOS 13 suggests the opposite — that Apple is steering the iPad full speed ahead down a blind alley.
I agree with Gruber that the iPad has not lived up to its original mission, but don’t think the future is as dire as he paints it. Apple can still course correct things. The question is, though, whether they will.