MetaWatch Strata, a Smart Watch for Nerds by Nerds

I’ve had the MetaWatch Strata for a few weeks now and thought it was about time that I share some thoughts on it. But first I’ll answer the question you’re probably asking, “What the heck is a ‘MetaWatch?'” It’s a smart watch, a watch that connected via bluetooth to your iOS or Android phone. “Oh so you mean a Pebble watch?” No. I mean a MetaWatch.

That is the MetaWatch I have, the Olympian Blue with Digital Camo Band. I’ve had mine for just under a month and I can confidently say that it has changed my life for the nerdier (and maybe even for the better).

MetaWatch was brought to life and into our lives via a successful Kickstarter campaign. It wasn’t quite as successful as the Pebble Watch campaign, not even close really, but it was a success none-the-less. In all honesty I don’t know why so many people got so excited about the Pebble. It got over $10,000,000 in Kickstarter funds and a second round of $15,000,000 after the campaign ended.

Pebble raised over $25,000,000 and yet they had issues getting them to customers. Meanwhile MetaWatch raised just over $300,000 and they were shipping to customers a month later. That’s impressive. Also the MetaWatch is both dorkier, cooler and just overall a better watch than the Pebble. I’ll never understand why Pebble won the money race. Continue reading

Fleksy is Revolutionizing How We Tap to Type

Recently I joined the co-working space WeWork here in SOMA San Francisco. I wrote a post on what inspired me to join a co-working space and what specifically brought me to WeWork over the competition, namely The Hatchery, NextSpace and PARISOMA. In that post I wrote how I wanted to start profiling the companies I find especially impressive that share this workspace with me and in particular, Syntellia, the team behind Fleksy.

Ever dreamt of an auto-correct system powerful enough to work even when you don’t look at the screen? Enter, Fleksy… Featuring Syntellia’s patent pending technologies, Fleksy uses the familiar QWERTY layout, coupled with probably the most powerful text prediction engine out there.

After I wrote that post, Bill Rappos, UX Design at Syntellia, waved at me from his office (it’s literally on the mezzanine right in front of me) and came down to talk about Fleksy. That alone is reason enough to work in a space like WeWork! Let’s find out what Fleksy does and how it might revolutionize how you tap to type on your phone and tablet.

Fleksy is a free software keyboard for mobile devices (currently a universal iOS app but Android is in beta) that uses an incredibly smart, predictive typing algorithm to assist in tapping out text on touchscreen devices. It’s so good that you can miss every letter and it will more than likely guess what you meant to type. This should not be confused with the sometimes hilariously wrong autocorrect found in the iPhone. Fleksy is so good, I was able to type the text above without even looking at the screen. Continue reading

iPhone 4 won’t update to iOS 5.1

UPDATE: It’s been fixed! Thanks to my friendly and always helpful Twitter friends @jdyates, @mrfrank505, @ropiko, @richmackey, @josephjaramillo, @Apple9511and @shuether for their suggestions.

Turns out the fix was as easy as using a different computer. Turns out (and I only sort of know what I’m talking about here) the issue came from when I used an iOS jailbreak tool to unlock an iPhone for my trip to Europe and Saudi Arabia. It redirected the activation from Apple to Cydia which is why I got the error message below.

There are two fixes, either edit the host file through Terminal or just do the update on a different computer. Since the command I had to fix through terminal didn’t work, I tried the update on my MacBook Pro and it worked like a charm!

So I have this iPhone 4 which is in absolute perfect physical shape, only has three months of use yet after around iOS 5 Beta 3, the phone stopped working correctly, the digitizer stopped working reliably. That is, sometimes after unlocking the phone, you could not swipe to unlock, the screen was remapped and a swipe to the bottom didn’t do anything, sliding across other parts of the screen would move the unlock button to a degree but never enough to unlock.

I had to keep this phone unlocked 24/7 or risk having a phone that was unusable. I eventually was forced to buy the iPhone 4S. Since I was running a beta version of iOS and couldn’t undo that after Beta 4, Apple would not honor the warranty.

Do you have any suggestions? DFU restore and regular iTunes restores do not work. I’ve tried numerous times to upgrade this phone to the latest version of iOS 5 and 5.1 with no luck. I have even wiped it from its built in restore feature but that hasn’t worked.

Hopefully someone reading this will have an idea as I am all out of them!

Why I won’t be using iTunes Match

When Steve Jobs hit the stage to announce all the goodness Apple was rolling out with their new iOS 5, the feature that had me most excited was iTunes Match. This service would cost you $25 each year but provide you with one of the coolest things to hit the music industry since Napster. Only this time it’s sort of on their terms.

Here’s how it works. iTunes goes through all of your music and matches it with the iTunes Music Store library. All that music you bought on CD back in 1998, Shania Twain, Paula Cole, Savage Garden (you know who you are), and ripped at 128kbps for your computer are now available for you to download from iTunes. Only now you’ll be able to replace that sad 128kbps MP3 with a 256kbps AAC audio file, far superior if you ask me.

This even works with all that ill-gotten music you might have on your computer… As long as iTunes can find its match, you are good to go! Sounds great doesn’t it? A $25 get out of jail card that also improves quality of music in your library. Worth every penny if you ask me.

So why won’t I be using it?  Continue reading

Why is iTunes Absent from the Mac App Store

Apple released the Mac App Store (MAS) back in January of 2011. Jobs and Co. rolled it  in the update to Mac OS X 10.6.6 and it wasn’t long before companies were clamoring to release their software on the new platform.

Apple's Mac App Store

There were some unfortunate hiccups with the new way of purchasing applications for the desktop Apple operating system. For instance, if you had already purchased a piece of software that is on the MAS, somewhere else, you will not get access to updates through this system. Even if you have a serial number from the purchase, you are kept out.

This is because Apple takes a cut of all purchases made through the MAS and have no real need to serve another storefront’s customers. Some developers worked around this by providing heavily discounted versions of their software initially to ease the cost of users transitioning to the new distribution service.

Of course there were some that not only didn’t offer this option, they even decided to stop supporting their applications’ updates unless they purchased them from the app store. Practices like this were quickly condemned by users for basically forcing them to pay twice for the same software.

I already posted about Apple’s great success on the MAS, check it out here. They manage to keep up around 50-90% of the top paid download on the MAS, out of the thousands of applications available there. On top of that, over 1,000,000 downloads of Mac OS X Lion went through the MAS within the first twenty-four hours!

A thought popped into my head today though. After pushing so hard to make the MAS a success, why hasn’t Apple put its most popular app into the MAS? The only way to get FinalCut Pro X or Mac OS X Lion is through the MAS and as of yesterday, Apple has begun to pull all boxed copies of their software from Apple stores.

Yet, for some reason, iTunes is not available on the MAS.

iTunes is Missing from the Mac App Store

Anyone dare to suggest why? I can’t think of a really solid reason for this. In fact, I’m surprised Apple hasn’t rolled out its developer portal to the MAS. Many developers* like me use the same Apple ID for both the MAS and our dev accounts.

Imagine how great this seamless integration could be for development teams.

Apple is Killing it in the Mac App Store

Of the top ten highest grossing applications in Apple’s Mac App Store, nine are made by Apple. Looks like the App Store for non-mobile was a great idea after all. Also, I predict that with the release of Lion, Apple will hold all ten, top ten grossing apps. Brilliant.

I (think I) Saw the iPhone 5

Device in question is against the wall on the left, dark restaurant with an iPhone 4 camera.

Last week I saw a guy using a touch-screen phone that was super thin with a big bright screen and almost zero bezel.

It immediately caught my attention and I asked my friend Kayla, who was facing the table, to let me know if the guy picked it up and used it. It had been, until then, left to sit on the table unused.

The guy this friend was talking to said something that made the guy pull out his phone and pull up the notepad. This was when Kayla and I realized, this super thin phone was an iPhone. Sure enough, the home screen came back up and it was iOS.

It appeared that the screen took up most of the device, it was super thin, and shorter than the current iPhone. The phone was wrapped in matte black, almost like gaffers tape. It is thinner than I was able to convey in this mockup, almost as thin as a Motorola Razor screen.

I’m no good at making mockups but I did my best to illustrate what we saw.

iPhone 5 vs iPhone 4 mockup

These guys were talking about a new cloud service that was similar to “AWS” but had “no net loss.” AWS, for those who don’t know, means “Amazon Web Services” which provide a plethora of syncing and data hosting services, as well as Amazon’s new cloud music system.

We did our best to listen to their conversation as they drank beers but didn’t pull too much from it. Watching the WWDC live right now I now understand more of what they were talking about, which leads credence to the theory that this phone was indeed an iPhone 5.

All this said, I’m pretty sure that some blog like The Unofficial Apple Weblog will see this, post it and turn out that I’m totally high and these two dude work for IBM and everything is totally coincidental. However, I’m hoping that isn’t the case. 🙂

UPDATE: So after being mentioned on the TWiT Network and WWDC coming to pass, a post by Joshua Topolsky came to my attention about the design of the iPhone 5 via another blog post on some other tech site (too many to remember).

Joshua (or his people) made their own mockup and it is scary similar to the design I saw (and tried to mockup myself).

 

This is My Next iPhone 5 Mockup