Android

So You Want to Stop People From Texting and Driving.

iphone4-1This morning while I was drinking my coffee and watching the news, there was a story on Good Morning America about New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo cracking down on texting and driving. I say you go governor. The thing is, I think there is a much easier and cheaper solution to the problem. One that doesn’t involve law enforcement, and can be easily implemented by hand set manufacturers, and software developers.

Smartphones are rapidly becoming the standard in the United States. Every smartphone on the market has one universal feature. They know where they are and how fast they are moving thanks to motion detection, GPS, and any number of other hardware and software specific features of the handset. So, why don’t we simply require smartphone manufacturers to disable texting if the phone is traveling in any direction faster than 10 miles per hour? Now before you can say what about when I’m riding on a plane, or high-speed train? If the phone is traveling faster than, lets say 120 miles per hour, texting services work.

I think this is a fairly straightforward, easy to implement solution. It could be achieved with a simple software update to iOS, Android, and Windows mobile operating system, and it could be adjusted with updates in the future. It wouldn’t get every phone in use, but it would probably get about 80 percent or more.

So I’m thinking it could work like this:

  • If my phone is moving faster than 10 miles per hour in any direction I can’t text
  • When I get to a stop light texting remains inactive for 30 seconds (the typical length of a stoplight)
  • If I travel faster than X mph my phone lets me text again.

It might piss people off at first, but so did seat belts and other devices that have made driving a hell of a lot safer in the last 100 years.

The New York Times Goes Pay to Play.

20130626-154603.jpgWhat do you do when you are in a dying business as a print based content provider; when your reader base is shifting to all digital, and primarily mobile and tablet driven resources? In the case of the New York Times, you restrict access to your content and try to drive people back to reading your physical newspaper. Say what? Yes you read that right. Apparently the New York Times thinks this won’t drive any readers away.

Starting June 27th the New York Times is going to limit the number of articles any non-paper subscriber can read on iOS, Android and Windows powered devices. The strategy is to try and encourage readers to subscribe to the print version. If you do, you get full access to all articles on the New York Times site at no extra charge. I say good luck with that, because your readership has left the print world behind. (Doesn’t a newspaper make more money off of ads than through subscriptions anyway? Hmmmm.)

Under the new set up, non subscribers will be able to read a maximum of three articles per day, from twenty five sections of the online paper including blogs and slideshows. Once the limit has been reached, users will be asked to pay for a subscription to further access content.

Up till the 27th, readers who have not subscribed have complete freedom of the “Top News” sections. After the 27th you’ll have an increase in choices of sections, but a lessened allowance of accessible content. Video content for all areas of the site still remains available and free for all.

To ease users into this change, the publication is planning a seven day free trial run when downloading the updated version of the Android or iOS app. I’d really like to see the numbers on how this shakes out for the New York Times over the next year. I’d bet they get very few converts, and possibly lose readership overall.

iOS vs Android, The App Arms Race.

Here is an interesting little infographic for Friday. Trademob has put together a coparison between iOS and Android  to see which platform really is the best for app marketers. The infographic compares the two competing operating systems looking at their user demographic, number of apps available, speed of revenue growth, smartphone market share and tablet market share, to see which OS comes out on top. Is it just me, or is this starting to feel like the “Mac vs Windows” wars of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s? Hmmm, either way, its interesting information.

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A Little Bird Told Me About Wren Sound.

I hate wires. Specifically I hate coaxial cable, HDMI cords, speaker cables, and power cords. So, every time I find a wireless speaker system that promises to deliver superior sound quality and looks good too, I get a bit excited.

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Wren Sound Systems Mike Giffin, (Former Harman International Senior VP) along with a team of other industry veterans worked with product design and brand innovation firm, Ashcraft Design out of LA to develop the Wren V5AP. The system works with iOS, and Android devices to deliver room filling audio via WiFi in a stylish refined package.

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The Wren system is designed to reduce or eliminate resonance and coloration through a unique body design. Rosewood or bamboo veneers cover a half-inch laminated MDF board which sits on top of a 4mm low durometer silicone pad that stabilizes the chassis and absorbs cabinet vibration.  The face is wrapped in a unique internal diamond-matrix grille designed to protect the drivers without distorting the sound.

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Internally the speaker system uses an Intersil D2 50-watt DSP-controlled digital amplifier to power the wo long throw drivers with 4-layer voice coils and two widely spaced 19mm edge-driven soft dome tweeters. This allows you to play your music louder with less distortion.

The system has a great look with simple understated controls. It’s the kind of speaker system you don’t mind having out in a room because it looks so nice. At $399.00 it isn’t cheap, but it is on par with other systems like those from Bowers and Wilkens, and it’s far cheaper than Bang & Olufsen.

Volkswagen Smileage.

The Smileage app for Volkswagen while a very cool marketing tool, has the potential to be one of those apps that floods social media like Facebook and Twitter. It has the potential to be an app that gets blocked by everyone that hates apps like this.  With that said though, the video sure makes it look fun, and I do like the idea of an app that lets you record your road trip in a social fashion.

Powered by Google Maps and developed in partnership with Deutsch LA, The The Smileage app syncs your phone with your car, can connect in multiple drivers, allowing them to combine, photos, milage, checkins, comments fist bumps, and more. All of this helps to calculate your Smileage score.  Click here to pre-register.

Got GAME? If You Golf, You Should.

I’m not a golfer. I don’t own clubs and I can’t even remember the last time I was on the fairway or even at a driving range. It doesn’t mean I don’t like the game, it just isn’t in the forefront of things I do. If you are a golfer “GAME”, which has managed to raise 127,000 in funding on indigogo is probably something you are going to want.

GAME is a dynamically connected product that tracks, maps and records your round of golf automatically logging each stat. The wearable device connects to your smart phone or computer allowing you to review the entire game and improve skills. In addition it is socially aware allowing you to share your results with social network giants like Facebook and Twitter. GAME records every club you use, every swing you make, and calculates the key stats for each including your scoring, the number of putts, greens in regulation, driving accuracy and more.

The device is the brainchild of Galway, Ireland, John McGuire and a small team of engineers. The physical design of the product is by Yves Behar which gets extra points from me.

Grand Canyon Street View.

One of my favorite places on planet earth is the Grand Canyon. I’ve been multiple times, and I know I’ll continue to head back for as long as I can. I find the canyon absolutely breath taking. Two things I have done that I highly recommend if you ever go; take a helicopter tour that lands you close to the river bed, and ride the mules to the bottom of the canyon. Seriously ride the mule train to the bottom and back.

Now, if you haven’t been, and or can’t go to the Grand Canyon, Google is mapping the entire canyon with special street view back packs. The new Street View images will cover more than 75 miles of trails and surrounding roads.

The promo video below is really nice with loads of time-lapse footage capturing the scenic beauty of the national park, but the actual maps site is even better. On the maps site you can navigate your way through trails and across the rugged terrain, or you can take a look behind the scenes to see how Google is putting this together. I hope Google does more of this kind of thing. What a great way to use the technology.