When the iPhone was launched, industry commentators predicted that everything would have a touch screen. And then Alexa came along, and those commentators predicted nothing would have a screen – everything will be Internet-enabled and voice controlled.
And the latest version of Alexa – has… a screen! Sometimes I think Amazon’s product strategy includes Jeff Bezos’ sense of humour.
We have had a Google Home device in our house for a year now. Actually, my son bought it and it stays in his room. Everyone in our house has an Android phone, and the Home device tries to be extra clever by automatically linking our phones to the speaker. I remember the first time I worked from home after he bought the Google Home and I kept hearing something upstairs. When I went to investigate, all my alerts were being announced by Google Home in his room!
Plexal is an innovation area based in part of the former Media Centre originally built for the London 2012 Olympics. This morning I went on a tour of the facility with a few colleagues from Endava.
The CEO of Plexal, Claire Cockerton, took us around. Claire founded Innovate Finance after working at Level39, the Fintech accelerator.
Plexal has been designed around the metaphor of an ‘Innovation High Street’. You walk in half way down the ‘High Street’. The reception desk transforms into a bar in the evening. The High Street has several glass fronted offices on the ground floor, intermittently separated by open desk areas acting as communal areas. Offices range from large (a couple of dozen desks) down to one-person pods the size of old public telephone boxes.
Communal areas also serve as fixed, large desks for organisations wishing to rent a permanent desk and leave a few monitors in place. There are coffee machines and kitchens dotted around, essential for start-ups. The whole place is designed and finished immaculately (the offices which are not still under construction). Once finished, it will cater for 800 people. At the moment it’s just over half full. Continue reading Our visit to Plexal, London’s latest innovation area→
In January LinkedIn released its new user interface. It’s now four months later and the user interface is still as shocking as its January release. Some of the best, unique, features of LinkedIn such as ‘who connects me to this person’ are hidden from view.
Do you want to refuse to link to someone because you don’t know them? The “I don’t know this person” notification appears out of immediate eye focus, so a. it’s hard to see and b. you need to either move the mouse (or your finger on the mobile version).
Every year I list my favourite gadget, book and app from the last twelve months, so here they are for 2016:
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.
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.
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.
There is a trend for financial and retail companies to offer additional benefits at the checkout – whether it’s spreading payments for large purchases, insurance or charity donations. Some banks are offering ‘save the small change’ functionality, rounding the purchase up to the nearest dollar or pound and putting that change into a holding account.
I know a few people who collect small change (or a particular coin). Every day they put it in a jar, then at the end of the year they donate it to charity or buy themselves a gift. This is obviously harder to do with electronic payments at the moment.
After months of stating that I won’t get a smart watch, I’ve gone and bought one. Sort of. And I’m delighted with it. It’s the Garmin Forerunner 235.
I’ve been preparing to run a marathon since the start of 2016. During training my mile paces (timings) were all over the place. During a half marathon in May, someone suggested I get a GPS based running watch to keep my paces consistent.
The Fintech Book is a crowdsourced compilation of articles from 168 authors. It’s more of reference book for a reader to dip in and out than reading cover to cover.
The articles are a range of medium to long blog posts, often with accompanying graphs or diagrams. The design layout is well presented with a nice orange theme. Every so often there’s a graphic which has been pasted into the book in its original format, which breaks the nice theme.
It would have been nice to have seen some real heavyweight C-level managers from the big banks or financial institutions provide some ‘keynote style’ Fintech posts in the book. Or at least provide a review of the book among the other 21 endorsements on page one as you open the front cover to add some immediate credibility. Authors from Lloyds (twice), PwC and McKinsey have provided articles, and job titles like “Business Analyst” and “Senior Manager” appear regularly in authors’ descriptions. I don’t intend any disrespect to them – perhaps these are the thought leaders in these organisations. Continue reading Book review: The Fintech Book→
I went to a few of the presentations, but only two of them are worthy of any mention (one, which I won’t name, didn’t have a presenter… the technical support guys simply played a video in the theatre – it was one of the oddest ‘presentations’ I’ve seen).
I recommend the organisers arrange fewer presentations next year, aiming for quality over this year’s huge quantity.