Tag Archives: apple

Pontiac Introduces Smart Watch

9 Sep
Pontiac Introduces Smart Watch

K.I.T.T. – I need you buddy!

If you’re a Gen-Xer, there’s a chance you might have had a favorite TV show back in the early ’80s, Friday nights on NBC: Knight Rider. Sort of Dukes of Hazzard meets “the future” with David Hasselhoff as a renegade crime fighter…. with a smartwatch! Not to be outdone, Nissan has just introduced a smart watch of its own (yes, Nissan), following Samsung and perhaps Apple.

But let it be known that Pontiac was first, by way of K.I.T.T., the crime-fighting 1982 Firebird Trans-Am of Knight Industries.

Apple Knows Music, but Pandora’s Box is Already Open

4 Jun
Pandora Radio

A photo of my Pandora stations. I shot this with Hipstamatic and added ambience with the LensFlare app.

When it comes to streaming music, Pandora just works.

It appears Apple may be unveiling a “Pandora killer” music product in the near future. I, personally am unfazed. I enjoy Apple products, and I’m a loyal and satisfied Pandora customer. I’ve tried Spotify, Rhapsody, Last.fm, Rdio, 8Tracks… and while they all have their advantages, none to me match the basic, straightforward appeal of good ol’ Pandora.

Here’s a quote from a recent Business Insider article on what Apple may have in the works:

We’ve dubbed it iRadio and from what we’ve heard so far, it sounds like it will be very similar to Pandora. For instance, Apple plans to offer it as a free service, supported by ads, and it will let users create their own radio stations based on a favorite song or artist,

Pandora Passé? Meh.

I realize some may consider Pandora passé, but for me it just works, whether on a computer or mobile. I’m glad there are other trending options these days because competition is what drives free market growth, but I was an early adopter of Pandora and am religious about thumbs-upping or -downing tracks to get my stations the way I like them. And if I want to buy a song through iTunes (or Amazon), the link is always right there with the track.

Why on Earth would I put the effort into rebuilding the experience through iTunes or whatever Apple calls it? I also like sharing my tracks with comments on Twitter or Pinterest, and running an rss of what I’ve liked at my blog – I seriously doubt Apple’s “walled garden” would allow such flexibility. But hey, I’d love to be proven wrong.

Oh, and does anyone miss Ping? Didn’t think so.

What do you think? Would you be interested in a streaming music product from Apple? Are you a user of Pandora or any other streaming products? What do you like about them and why? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Sorry! We Want Your Business!

6 May
Artist: Banksy. Photo by Duncan Hull via Flickr. Used with permission.

Artist: Banksy. Photo by Duncan Hull via Flickr.
Used with permission.

Does a corporate apology for marketing really mean anything?

There’s been a lot of apologizing going on lately. The most recent example I’ve noticed is JC Penny, doing a whopping 180-degree about-face on the actions of their former CEO Ron Johnson, having to do with their new approach to marketing (no sales, just fair prices). That CEO’s former company? Apple.

Apple also did an apology for its Maps product a while back. This would have been unthinkable with Steve Jobs at the helm, but those days are over. For what it’s worth, I’ve used Apple maps in NYC, Los Angeles, and many U.S. cities in between without fail. But I can’t remember the last time I purchased anything from a JC Penny. And it’s one of the anchor stores at the local mall.

The Verdict? Yawn.

My thinking on apologies from large companies is, “ho-hum.” My heart goes out to the PR teams and corporate communicators who are charged with carrying these out, but I’m far more interested in hearing what’s going to be done about the situation, and getting on with that. At least in the case of Makers’s Mark, it resulted in something (though I still wonder if this was a stunt). Sure, it’s nice to hear an apology, and in these days of greater corporate accessibility via social media, it isn’t altogether inappropriate. But I think what really matters is getting back to business.

What do you think? Do the actions of JC Penny or Apple or any company’s apology for their missteps get your attention? Are there any examples of this being extremely effective? Let us hear from you in the comments.

 

What Smartphone Apps Have Changed Your Life?

10 Jan

Has the way you live evovled by way of a smartphone app? What’s a non-standard add-on (besides maps, texting, etc.) that’s changed – hopefully for the better – the way you conduct daily life? Not necessarily saying they’re the very best, here are my immediate top three:

Instagram App1. Instagram

This app has literally changed the way I see the world and connected me with people from all over the globe through a very user-friendly interface, turning ordinary snapshots into art with the barest minimum of effort. I now see the world through “Instagram Eyes” and have gotten so much from what it offers Although the recent spam influx and terms of service update now have me exploring elsewhere, there’s no denying Instagram’s impact.

Dragon Dictation2. Dragon Dictation

This app listens to what you say and turns it into text. It’s like magic. It’s fast, intuitive, and lets you easily email, MMS, or copy and paste what you say. I’ve used it for years to handle texting and  composing blog posts, and it accurately gets the job done every single time. It’s been life-changing by by bringing my phone new functionality with incredible convenience and capability. Now that speech-to-text is built into the iPhone, I’ve been using Dragon less, but they were the ones to get it right first.

Pandora3. Pandora

This is the mobile version of the already robust website, but I mention it here because of how it’s impacted my enjoyment of music. Pandora is streaming radio where you create stations based on artists, songs or themes. It serves up related music, and gets better over time as you thumbs-up or thumbs-down what plays. I couldn’t begin tell you how much great music I’ve discovered this way. It’s a simple premise: “if you like this, then you might also like this” — and Pandora’s highly personalized  approach wins the day for me, even though I also enjoy similar services like 8Tracks. Even TheStreet.com says Pandora has “rendered terrestrial radio, on a grand scale, obsolete.” Consider how long radio has been in our lives as you consider that statement.

What do you think? What apps have made a difference in the way you do things? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Apple Apologizes for Maps. Incredible.

28 Sep

Apparently, Apple isn’t completely deaf to the chorus of boos over its new Maps application. This morning, Apple CEO Tim Cook issued a formal apology letter to customers for the disappointing performance of the company’s iOS Maps app, the replacement for the highly-functional-yet-made-by-the-enemy Google Maps. PR done right, I say. See what you think:

Letter from Apple CEO Tim Cook apologizing for Apple Maps app.

I’m impressed with Cook’s candor and the fact that this letter even exists at all. As the letter itself notes, world-class products are the company’s focus – not recommending the competition (!!!). I’m not an Apple fanboy, but given the company’s monolithic, top-down communication style, secrecy of product development, and oft-stated focus on being the best, this is truly remarkable, even becoming a trending topic on Twitter.

Maybe the company has learned its lessons from the iPhone 4 antennagate debacle and China manufacturing coverage? As the BBC’s Rory Cellan-Jones noted earlier this year, “Perhaps a subtle shift in Apple’s PR strategy under its new leader is already under way.” Now it seems there’s more evidence of this being the case.

Let’s hope they’re as swift to actually improve the Maps app. Given this sensible PR move and the other obvious improvements of the iPhone5 and iOS6, I’m optimistic.

What do you think? Was Apple right to recommend the competition and come clean? Or is it too little too late? Have you used the new Maps app successfully, or has it left you directionally baffled? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Words Matter. Apple Knows.

26 Jun

Connotation, phrasing, inference… these are all subtle colors of writing that affect interpretation. I don’t think enough businesses consider this, but it’s something Apple Inc. demonstrated keen awareness of recently in noting how its computers are no longer the iron fortresses against virus infections they were once portrayed to be.

Words Matter. Apple Knows.

Words Matter. Apple Knows. Shot via Hipstamatic, edited in PhotoForge2.

Just like the occasional operating system or software update, Apple’s wording regarding just how safe its computers inherently are got an update recently. As reported in The Atlantic

Apple is downgrading its antiviral swagger. On the company’s site, its former, blunt message — “it doesn’t get PC viruses”has been replaced by a more generic boast: “It’s built to be safe.”

And the slogan of the past — “Safeguard your data. By doing nothing.” — has been replaced by the much gentler “Safety. Built in.”

Megan Garber (& in PC World by Hamish Barwick).

More Accurate? Or CYA?

I find it very interesting how such a subtle change in phrasing notes a major shift in thinking. And perhaps Apple’s thought is that this subtle tweak will be enough to still accurately convey some benefit – although it kinda feels like a CYA to me.

Still, I find it encouraging that understanding shades of meaning and texture of words matter enough to be put into practice by one of the world’s leading companies. Words matter. Writing matters.

UPDATE: From original ace reporter, Hamish Barwick – turns out it IS a CYA:

What do you think? Is this an obvious CYA on Apple’s part, or a legitimately more accurate way of describing its product? What is another example you can think of? Let us hear from you in the comments!

Digital Ancestry: an iPad Forerunner

30 Mar
iPad Ancestry by rsmithing
iPad Ancestry, a photo by rsmithing on Flickr.

A while back at a thrift shop I came across this beast of some old technology. I remember in grade school there being several cubbies with these things in them that played cassette tapes while advancing a reel of slide film that was projected on this giant screen. It seemed appropriate to me to capture it using my iPhone with an app that mimics “vintage” photos, Hipstamatic.

I remember sitting in front of these things, having set up a reel of film and listening for the cue on the tape to advance to the next one. I think I even wore headphones. For a young school kid, this was a fairly entertaining, interactive educational experience. And there was a real production value to these – carefully crafted photography and studio-recorded voiceovers.

Can you think of a similarly interactive audio-visual device with a large screen that could be used for education? Seems everywhere I look there’s a new reminder of how today’s tech was preceded by something else. It makes me wonder what we’ll have decades from now that make our iDevices look primitive.

Have you ever seen one of these things or do you remember something similar from your younger days? Or are these still in use? What do you think will surpass today’s tech along these lines? Let us hear from you in the comments!

iPhone Video Editing: The Black Keys Live

27 Mar
The Black Keys, Charlotte, NC 3.24.12

The Black Keys – Charlotte, NC, 3.24.12. Shot & edited with my iPhone.

I’ve always loved rock concerts and live music. One of my first concerts was Mötley Crüe at the nearest coliseum as a young metalhead, and I documented the event with my trusty Kodak Disc camera.

As more evidence of that device’s role in digital ancestry as a forerunner of today’s tech gear, I now document shows with my trusty iPhone 4, using its 5-megapixel camera and HD video recording capability. It’s absolutely mind-blowing, the quality of video this thing produces from a live show, even from the nosebleed seats, where I caught The Black Keys over the weekend.

I’m no Scorsese, and there are plenty of higher-quality videos from this show, but being able to record the event as I remember it and highlight the dramatic parts for later enjoyment – and then share that online… without even reading an instruction manual… it’s just magical for a music lover.

Have a look at what I whipped up in an hour – even though I was watching from high in the stands, I’ve tried to add some dimension with edits, pans and transitions, highlighting the best/most dynamic visual moments.

iPhone Video Editing: The Splice App

All transitions, titles, sound fades, pans and zooms were done with the iPhone using the app, Splice for the editing. It’s fast, intuitive, and great for producing a quick highlight reel. Some reviews say it’s unstable, but I haven’t experienced any of that. Within minutes of downloading it and tapping on a few buttons to see what they do, I was making a decent compilation video with titles, overdubbed music and transitions. I do not work for or promote Splice; I’m just wowed by this kind of technology.

I first got turned on to iPhone video editing by way of a mobile video contest sponsored by a local art organization (SECCA). I decided to enter just to see what I could create with minimal effort. Here’s my experimental entry for that : Skull Chant Blues.

This, Too Shall Soon Be Primitive

Disc

The Kodak Disc

The Disc was great back in the day, and I’m sure 30 years from now something will be around to make the iPhone look obsolete (remember when bag phones were impressive?), but for now, it’s a gratifying experience to put together a quick video in minutes that matches my memory of an awesome show.

Bonus: Also saw some Fun. this month:

What do you think? Could you see yourself using a smartphone for video editing? What other uses do you see for this technology? Have you ever edited video via your smartphone? If so, what app(s) do you prefer? Are you active on YouTube, Vimeo or other networks? Share your links and let us hear from you in the comments!

Space: Within our Reach… or, Redefining iCloud

13 Oct

I just saw this news item about Lenovo & YouTube’s Space Lab project, and was pleasantly reminded of an equally, if not more-so awesome father-son team who sent an iPhone into space by themselves. Space. I mean, for real outer space into the blackness beyond our Earth. Best of all, they have video of it from start to end. It’s truly inspiring, gives iCloud a new meaning, and is worth a few minutes if you don’t mind being totally blown away.


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