Tag Archives: google

My Favourite Gadget, Book and App in 2016

Every year I list my favourite gadget, book and app from the last twelve months, so here they are for 2016:

Favourite gadget

A smartwatch. I never expected them to be this useful.

During the summer I ran my first marathon and bought a running watch to track my runs. The watch, a Garmin Forerunner 235, has a number of smartwatch features, including alerts that show on my phone, such as text messages, calls, Facebook alerts and so on, also show on my watch.

The watch also has a step and sleep counter, which I’d never as useful beforehand, but the step counter is moderately addictive. I can tell how well I sleep – I don’t need a watch to tell me.

Although the user interface on the watch is terribly over complicated, I still love the watch. Friends who have an Apple Watch still need to charge them daily, and the Forerunner can last at least a week.

Favourite book

The book that stopped me tweeting before boarding flights

I haven’t read as many books this year, but my favourite was ‘So you’ve been publicly shamed’ by Jon Ronson. I like Ronson’s style of writing, and I’m constantly worried (and telling the kids) of the dangers of a simple social media update upsetting others.

If you are interested in social networks, I thoroughly recommend the book. Since reading the book I try not to tweet when I’m boarding a plane, just in case autocorrect strikes.

Favourite app

I have a few friends who have started producing podcasts, and they use Podbean. I’ve been using the Podbean app for a while, but I still don’t find it very intuitive. It could be much simpler.

My favourite app for 2016 was Google Maps. Google have released a number of new, really good features. As a family we travel all over the UK. Google Maps has excellent voice recognition and smart route navigation, taking real-time traffic into account. But the 2016 killer feature is being able to search for something en-route, such as a petrol station or a specific restaurant. This is also voice controlled, and results are shown along the route.

 

This leaves me to wish everyone who reads this site, and your family, a wonderful holiday period, together with a healthy, happy and prosperous new year.

The Coolest Digital Industry to Work in

It's ok - photo of the list of what's ok at GDS featured as bullet points in this post
How did government become the coolest digital industry?

Think of the top three industries that seem cool to work in. I’d be surprised if you are my age and listed government as a top three coolest digital industry. But working on digital government projects seems to have become cool.

So cool, that last week Matt Cutts of Google fame announced that he will be leaving Google for the US Digital Service. Matt Cutts was the head of Google’s spam SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) team, and built up a large following across social media channels from webmasters around the world. There are forums set up to discuss every detail of his speeches and YouTube videos, to try to outsmart the chief enemy of SEO spam. Continue reading The Coolest Digital Industry to Work in

Robot Assistants: Google Inbox v. Microsoft Office 2016

The infamous paper clip - the first robot assistant (we just didn't know it at the time)
The infamous paper clip – the first robot assistant (we just didn’t know it at the time)

Last October, one of Gartner’s predictions for the digital future was that we will have robot assistants helping us perform work – not mechanical work, but office-based work such as content creation:

By 2018, 20 percent of business content will be authored by machines.

This is a bold claim – two years isn’t a long time, and 20% of office productivity is a lot of… documents and spreadsheets and presentations.

I’ve long been a fan of Google Inbox, the alternative interface to Gmail. Inbox recently announced that 10% of email replies using Google Inbox are now written by the built-in SmartReply feature – probably the biggest current implementation of a robot assistant. Continue reading Robot Assistants: Google Inbox v. Microsoft Office 2016

Watching TV in the Howard House

Chromecast - the best bit of kit on our television
Chromecast – the best bit of kit on our television

Like many households in the UK, our TV viewing habits have changed in the last few years, and continue to change.

To set the scene, we have four kids, ranging from 9 to 14 years old (plus Mrs H and I).

Our TV package consists of the following, each of which I’ll then describe:

  • Sky TV
  • Netflix
  • BT Sport
  • Now TV
  • YouTube
  • Google Play
  • And recently… an Amazon Prime Trial

Continue reading Watching TV in the Howard House

The future of mobile

The Future of Mobile at MobOS. It probably won't be like an iPhone 4
The Future of Mobile at MobOS. It probably won’t be like an iPhone 4

I’m in Romania this week presenting a variety of speeches, including the keynote of MobOS entitled The future of mobile. It’s been a challenging speech to prepare for – and was considerably harder than I originally thought. Not least because in technology terms, “the future” means different things to different organisations. One organisation might think some future of mobile concept is way-out-there while another may have already been using it for a year.

I promised the audience to post the script of the keynote here…

I’m going to talk about four areas on the future of mobile – context, the number of devices we use, mobile user interfaces and the central hub concept. That will set some foundation for some ‘left field’ concepts that we have for the longer term future of mobile. Continue reading The future of mobile

2016 digital predictions

This is the sixth year of my digital predictions for the forthcoming twelve months (see here for 2015).

Many more industry commentators and research analysts are now releasing their predictions, but they don’t mark their work at the end of the year (last year I scored a woeful D) and their ‘predictions’ are actually trends.

So here goes for what lies ahead in 2016:

1. The eyewear war

An unflattering photo wearing Google Glass
An unflattering photo wearing Google Glass

In 2016 we’ll see a new three companies go eye to eye on their product offerings: Microsoft’s Hololens versus Facebook’s Oculus Rift versus Google’s Glass and Cardboard products.

In 2016 the new version of Google Glass will be released, specifically focussed on enterprises. Microsoft will be releasing Hololens to developers from Q1 2016. And Facebook will also be releasing Oculus Rift in Q1 2016.

The ultimate winner of these multi-billion dollar investments will be customers. Devices will still be well into four figures, and we’ll see some incredible implementations from gaming to enterprise. Continue reading 2016 digital predictions

My Favourite Gadget, Book, App and Award in 2015

Every year I list my favourite gadget, book and app from the last twelve months, so here they are:

Favourite gadget

Gone are the days of opening Word. Now its a case of "Which Word?"
Windows 10 – a second placing for new technology of 2015

In early December my trusty Samsung S4 finally died. It had a few battle scars from daily use (read: abuse) yet worked well. One day it decided not to charge its battery any longer and despite changing a few components it was time to replace it. I had the offer of an iPhone but chose a Samsung S6 (you should have seen the look on my kids’ faces at the prospect of turning down an iPhone) – and I love it. It’s fast, big (almost tablet like) and stable. It’s the best phone I’ve owned.

Another contender is Windows 10 (OK, not really a gadget, but new technology). Continue reading My Favourite Gadget, Book, App and Award in 2015

IoT article: Why Insurers are Threatened by Everyone Except Other Insurers

Craig Polley discussing Insurance and IoT at TechUK
Craig Polley from Digital Risk Services discussing Insurance and IoT at TechUK

This morning I attended a TechUK seminar “Insurance and the Internet of Things”.

There were some good speakers who raised quite a few points which I hadn’t heard or thought of until today. Clearly there are some leaders in the space, who are not insurers and are gearing up for a battle for new types of insurance products.

My notes are below. As usual, apologies for brevity, spelling and grammatical errors – all of which are mine not the speakers. It was a fact packed 90 minutes and I struggled to keep up with all the presenters. Continue reading IoT article: Why Insurers are Threatened by Everyone Except Other Insurers

Challenges ahead for the Internet of Things

Connecting IoT devices is now simple (except for toasters)
Connecting IoT devices is now simple (except for toasters)

One of the most popular blog posts I’ve written recently was about the Internet of Things and Insurance, in readiness for a panel at the Insurance Technology Congress 2015 event in September.

Since the blog post I’ve received some feedback asking about other aspects of IoT which I’ll cover here. Specifically they fall into two buckets – security, and more clarity around the definition.

Defining IoT

Like many areas of IT, one could argue that the IoT has already been around for decades, but now it’s receiving more market awareness.

At the 1989 Interop conference, Dan Lynch and others created the first Internet Toaster which was connected to the Internet (via TCP/IP) and could be controlled (well, the power was controlled) remotely. It was a proof of concept that really anything could be on the Internet. Continue reading Challenges ahead for the Internet of Things

Reviewing the new Google Play Movies Second Screen Experience

Last night I sat down with Mrs H last night to watch Kingsman (an except film, highly recommended) on Google Chromecast. The film was pay per view, which was selected on my smartphone and then ‘transferred’ to Chromecast.

Kingsman - a great film, and the real life gadgets are almost as good as the fictional ones
Kingsman – a great film, and the real life gadgets are almost as good as the fictional ones

I noticed a new feature last night – while the film was playing I looked at my phone and the screen showed the characters and actors currently on the TV screen, as well as the music soundtrack. It was like Shazam on steroids!

How many times have you been watching TV and wondered who a specific actor was? If this happens to you regularly, you’ll love the experience.

Continue reading Reviewing the new Google Play Movies Second Screen Experience