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!
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.
Please share this post with your contacts because it makes me feel better.
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.
Every year I list my favourite gadget, book and app from the last twelve months, so here they are:
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.
Today was the Sitecore EMEA Partner Summit 2015 at the Riverbank Park Plaza hotel in London. We, Endava, are a Platinum Sitecore partner and I’ve often considered Sitecore’s partner programme one of the best developed technology partnership programmes out there – and certainly one that other companies could learn a lot from.
These notes were taken at the conference using OneNote and a stylus (or perhaps it should be called a Microsoft Pen ha ha!!) – which I then quickly converted to text. I’ve had a quick read through, but if anything looks out of context, it probably is – please comment at the bottom of the post and I’ll correct it.
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.
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.
Whilst I was in the US last week I heard about Favor, a new app which provides a concierge/ delivery service. Although Favor is only available in half a dozen US cities, it seems to be growing very quickly and it’s only a matter of time before it’s available internationally.
Favor enables a customer to order an item from a nearby shop and have it delivered straight away. The average delivery time is 35 minutes. It costs $5 plus 5% of the product(s). The product can be food, dry cleaning, clothing, groceries, etc., although this being America, they won’t deliver alcohol.
I’ve run Windows 10 as the Operating System on my work laptop since the start of January.
I’ve been through some ups and downs with the latest version of Windows, and came very close to uninstalling it. Six months on though, I’m delighted with Windows 10. It’s evolved a fair bit, and Microsoft claim it will be ready for general release during this summer.
Before I go into detail, note that I’m running Windows 10 on some pretty beefy hardware – a Surface Pro with an i7 processor, 8Gb memory and 500Gb solid state hard drive. I don’t know how Windows 10 will perform on lower spec hardware. I’m on build 10162 which has been very stable (as in, one blue screen in a fortnight – more details below).