September 9

Is Smart Wake worth $120 a year to me?

So Fitbit is rolling out both a premium service and Smart Wake this fall; a recent hardware review confirmed that it is finally coming back:

I genuinely would’ve loved to try Fitbit’s upcoming Smart Wake alarm, which will purportedly wake you when you’re in a lighter phase of sleep so you feel more refreshed. However, that’s not rolling out until later this fall.

But I’ve been stuck with a dumb alarm for a few years now. If it’s “free”, I’ll take it … but I’m not sure it’s worth $120 a year. Thanks, Fitbit … sort of …

Note: I currently hold Fitbit stock.
Category: future, hardware | Comments Off on Is Smart Wake worth $120 a year to me?
June 28

How many clicks does it take to get to the reset of a GE lightbulb?

The world may never know.

It’s been making the rounds, the handy GE “UPDATED: How to: Reset C by GE Light Bulbs (864,376 views 6/28/19 7:37pm ET)” video. I heard about it in one of my tech writer Slack channels, and just had to see it for myself.

The spectacle of specificity that guides users down the Happy Path of resetting the bulb is something, indeed, to behold.

Once I saw the problem, and GE’s solution, my brain immediately traveled back in time to the early 1990s and a gadget that was as important to my life then as my smart phone is to me now. An omni-gadget that with a few adjustments could solve this bulb’s and other smart device reset issues … just like my little gadget saved my bacon back in the days of plaid flannel and military surplus boots.

Continue reading
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September 12

You’re reading my mind, Apple …

So we’re a mixed household. Some Apple, some Windows, and a few Androids tucked away here and there.

Our digital data is similarly patched together: Some Amazon items, Google Play titles, and a lot of Apple TV content.

A recent announcement out of Cupertino really has me wondering if Apple is reading my mind.

When we see an interesting movie, we’re faced with a dilemma: rent it or buy it? Sometimes the prices are close enough that it’s a tough choice. Will we want to watch over and over again? Will we regret buying it? Will we pay almost double to rent it and then buy it?

Take, for example, the movie Beatriz at Dinner. Currently, it’s $5.99 to rent, and $9.99 to buy.

We could rent it, love it, then buy it for a total of $15.98.

We could buy it, love it, and spend $9.99.

We could buy it, hate it, and have “rented it” for $9.99 instead of $5.99.

Yeah, I know, #firstworldproblems .

But here’s where they’re starting to read my mind. I’ve always wanted Apple to let you treat the rental price as a “try it before you buy it” option. Continue reading

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July 10

A survivor has emerged in Jawbone V Fitbit … consumer edition.

According to the Consumerist blog, Jawbone is folding under its consumer wearables division. But Jawbone isn’t going away … they’re moving into more accurate medical-grade devices, possibly to improve data accuracy.

My guess is that these first and second generation trackers are equivalent to the small consumer cell phones and feature phones of the late 90s and early 00s. The medical-grade devices are set to burst onto the scene like the smartphones we all now carry around. Health plans will start paying for devices, and giving discounts for use (there are some pilot programs out there that pay into limited-use accounts) as an everyday thing everyone who can afford health insurance will use.

One to sleep, one to compete.
One to sleep, one to compete.

In the meantime, I’m still wearing two wearables. Partially to participate in challenges against my friends, partially as a check against each other, and partially because I really hate the alarm on the Fitbit more than the alarm on the Jawbone UP (which does wake me up now).

Fitbit, the market is yours to take back from the Apple Watch

(If you design for Apple, stop reading. I don’t want an Apple Watch!) I will ditch the Jawbone forever if you’d just fix your alarm settings from “static” to “smart”. Jawbone UP can be set to wake you at a “good time” in your sleep cycle, rather than at a specific time. Now that they’ve exited the market, find a comparable way to replicate it … without risking a lawsuit, please ….

Continue reading

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May 2

What a drag it is getting old

I’ve been yapping about the new Apple TV lately; mostly because I’ve been the one using the remote. Usually I just watch everyone else struggle with it and complain. And we aren’t all that old! Though we’re getting there.

It’s not that we fear change

Yeah, I hate it when things change. I was a diehard Windows 98 user. For a while you were not getting me away from WindowsXP. I still have Office 2003 installed on this very Windows 7 laptop. It really took a lot of being annoyed to recently request I have Office 2013 installed on my work computer if we ran out of other ways to fix the problem. And I got annoyed enough at “live photos” that I deactivated it as soon as I realized why my pictures were all “screwed up”.

But we aren’t all exactly like whomever is beta testing the hardware over at Apple’s main nerve center.

I realized this because I actually had to dig up and use the Apple TV remote to test my last couple of posts on this subject. “Dig up” because I don’t actually use it. We programmed the Apple TV to accept commands from my “dumb” IR TV remote.

Then I lost my “dumb” remote. Maybe with practice and no other options, I can learn to use the slick new Apple TV remote, but I really dislike the design and current use enough that I really don’t want to.

Annoying! The Apple TV remote is annoying.

Honestly, if I hadn’t been able to program the Apple TV to accept data from my “dumb” remote, I probably would never use the Apple TV at all. I’d watch things on my phone or read a book.

But if Apple follows my suggestions (or takes them and turns them into something even amazingly more funderful), we also have to remember the dumb remotes.

Just like one can set the click speed on a mouse or the touch sensitivity/help on an iPhone, do it on the Apple TV, too. For all kinds of remotes.

Siri, help me set up my remote

So you’ve done a few things to let us customize our experience, Apple, because you read my first two posts and shifted your agile teams into high gear to get right on it. Like one in fifty nerdly geeks have programmed in our favorite shortcuts and you have lots of data. Take that data, and use it to build onramp protocols for Siri to use.

Guide a user through a friendly questionnaire at first, to set up the most basic functions. If they want to “expand it”, walk through setting up long clicks or assistive clicks. Then, no matter what remote they use, (annoying Apple TV one, “dumb” IR remote, or their iPhone/iPod) they have a non annoying experience.

Don’t let Siri guess too hard

But don’t push it too far. Don’t let the “AI” style programming make all the decisions. Feel out what your users want, and ease them into it. It’s been about twenty years since someone taught me how to dial a cell phone (type in the number, press the green “send” button). I don’t like being told “this is the only way to do this”, but I also know we can’t fall into the trap of infinite customization. In that way lies madness … and I spent enough years trying to wrangle the madness of infinite customization into mere user guides for mere mortals.

Category: Apple, Free Beta Testers, hardware, User eXperience | Comments Off on What a drag it is getting old
April 25

The JawboneUP doesn’t wake me any more

I bought the original JawboneUP. And held onto it while they retooled it, and made it last until the second generation of sturdier stuff became available (trading back my old one).

Then came UP24. Neat! Bluetooth! Kind of annoying at times, but otherwise neat. Until it died.

I wasn’t going to buy another one; I went back to the second UP, waiting for UP2 and UP3.

I bought the UP3 and returned it immediately when I heard it wasn’t quite all baked. Not that I needed to know my heart rate, but still … why not wait until it was better?

And last month, I bought an UP2. I gave it a week, but ultimately returned it.

I do like that each generation is more sensitive to my sleep patterns (and I like to track my numbers and see if things I do improve it). But the UP2 doesn’t work for my heavy sleeping.

It’s too easy to turn off and fall right back asleep. What am I going to do when all the “old” UP hardware is too far gone and I don’t have the lovely “shake awake” feature that wakes me and not my bed partners anymore?

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