Smartwatch Market Validated

Moto360__Metal_RGB

Image Credit: Motorola.com

 

Motorola announced the Moto 360 today running a “wearable” version of Android, Android Wear.  If you were to ask me, “Evan what you get a smartwatch?” yesterday, I wouldv’ve said no.  There wasn’t one that really convinced me that I should get it.  The one that comes close, the Pebble Steel, which seems decent, but makes a few sacrifices such as the “hacky” approach to software integration and the monochrome screen.  I’ve been telling people that the smartwatch market will probably lift off if Apple announces a wrist-worn wearable device, but I think Google and Motorola beat them to the punch, on paper anyway.

There have been countless products (Sony XPERIA X1 and Google TV both come to mind immediately) that seem very promising that didn’t really work out to well in real life.  I hope the the Moto 360 isn’t one of those products and can live up to the high expectations it has set for itself.

Check it out.

Android Wear | Motorola Moto 360

 

Android Updates

One huge contrast between Android and iOS is the frequency of software updates.  I’m not just talking about core operating system updates (ie. iOS 6 to iOS 7, Android 4.3 to Android 4.4), but application level updates as well.  For example, today – March 17, 2014, on iOS, in order for Apple to update Safari, they have to release a firmware update.  If Google wanted to update Chrome on Android, they just need to issue an app update through Google Play.  Google has broken out major apps from the core of the Android operating system in a way that allows them to release early and often.  Furthermore, Google can update most visible and core aspects of the Android experience without ever releasing a OS update.  Those pieces of that experience include:

  • Google Play (app market)
  • Gmail
  • Maps
  • Chrome
  • Play Music / Movies / Games
  • Newsstand
  • Calendar
  • Keyboard
  • Google Search (Now)
  • Google+ & Photos
  • Hangouts
  • YouTube

Most importantly, they can continue to update the APIs developer use to interface with Google services with Google Play Services updates (as they’ve done today).  Google Play Services allows to developers to integrate with Google Maps, Google+,  Google Wallet, Drive,  etc. and use advanced location, sensor, and gaming APIs (just to name a few).

As an Android user, this is one distinct advantage.  I own a Nexus 5, so it will always be one of the first devices to receive Android updates, however, given the story painted earlier, this distinction is becoming less and less significant as time passes.

As an Android developer, this is a big advantage.  I do not have to wait for a once-per-year developer conference to gain access to new APIs that make the app experience incredible.

OpenWRT, OpenVPN, and T-Mobile

I recently installed OpenWRT on my Netgear WNDR3700v2 router after running DD-WRT for a longtime.  I had no issues with DD-WRT, just wanted to trying something new.

Once I had OpenWRT installed, I decided to install and configure an OpenVPN server on the router.  I had previously used PPTP VPN w/ CHAP secrets on DD-WRT, but its relatively insecure.  After making all of the necessary configuration file changes, certficate generation, and firewall changes I was ready to go.  Long story, short, I was only able to connect to the VPN server from my laptop (tethered to my phone) or from OpenVPN for Android on my home WiFi (same network my router manages).  I could not connect via mobile data at all.

If you are experiencing this issue, the fix is really simple.  Configure your T-Mobile APN to use the IPv6/IPv4 or just IPv4 protocols (set to IPv6 by default).  You can access these values in your devices APN settings (on my Nexus 5 running Android 4.4.2 – Settings -> More… -> Mobile Networks -> Access Point Names, then choose your active APN).

 

NCTraffic.co

nexus5_nctrafficco

NCTraffic.co is a cool weekend 3 hour project I put together out of sheer curiosity.  I’ve been doing a ton of web development lately, so I thought I would showcase some of those skills.

The inspiration was to make North Carolina traffic information easily available on the web across devices of differing form factors.  All of this data is already available in my Android app, NC Traffic Cams.  Unfortunately, people with other devices, like iPhones, are left out.

The goal was to make it responsive.  The Google Maps JavaScript API v3 is pretty responsive.  All the remaining CSS was hand coded (out of the 3 hours, CSS easily took 2 hours) or provided by Twitter Bootstrap 3, which is very responsive.  I was able to do some cool things like use HTML5 to getting the user’s location so the app could move the map to where the user is.  I may add a universal search box so the user type where they want to go sometime in the near or far future.

desktop_nctrafficco

I will eventually get around to posting the source code to the page, but it’s all client-side so you can just view the page source.

Please share & enjoy.

NCTraffic.co

 

Leaky Tech Pipeline

Popped up on my Twitter feed a few weeks ago:

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This chart validates my experiences from grade school, through college, and in the workforce (large companies and startups).  It’s VERY important that students are exposed to STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) in and outside of the classroom at a young age.  Some of the few reasons I chose to pursue software development and engineering were because I had a computer in the home (where I was programming in BASIC in elementary school) and the fact that my mom worked in technology.  I was exposed to tech at a young age.  I remember hopping online at home via AOL, going to the library to download(Shareware) games and surf the web, and dabbling with HTML in high school.

Constructive access to computers and internet in the home and in the classroom along with a tech focused school curricula would help immensely.  People of color in tech visiting classrooms and donating their time to young people would be very valuable.

More: Kapor Center

Ben Thompson on Faceoook buying WhatsApp

From stratechery:

FACEBOOK IS SOLELY FOCUSED ON ATTENTION, NOT MONETIZATION

There were two primary points I made in Messaging: Mobile’s Killer App:

  1. Messaging on mobile means constant communication with those closest to us. Those two words – constant, and closest – make it inevitable that messaging occupies more of a user’s attention than any other service.
  2. Messaging has a unique monetization model: platforms that combine direct marketing with immediate monetization opportunities

WhatsApp was hugely competitive when it came to the fight for user attention, but not really in the game when it came to platform-building; that’s why my post was mostly focused on LINE and WeChat: both have more potential as standalone companies than WhatsApp (not that Tencent would ever spin off WeChat!). Facebook, though, also doesn’t care about point number 2 – more about this in a moment – even as they care very deeply about point number 1, and from that perspective, WhatsApp is by far the most valuable of the messaging services. To put it another way, context matters: are you considering only messaging services, or are you considering the entirety of social?