Fornite Channels User Base to Take on Apple and Google

As part of a public fight against Apple and Google, who monopolize phone app sales, Fornite–the super popular battle-royale-style mutli-player game–has created a tournament called the #FreeFortnite Cup. The tournament includes prizes and a new character ‘tart tycoon’, all designed to put pressure on Apple by to change it App store policies.

Apple's Fortnite feud and Microsoft xCloud ban have put the future of  iPhone gaming in jeopardy - The Verge

Why it’s hot: 

Increasing recognition that tech giants have monopolistic power over those who use their platform is not new. But these battles usually play out in court. Epic is making use of a new strategy–leveraging the considerable enthusiasm of its users through marketing and in-game experience to influence the actions of another corporation.

Pandora and the Democratization of Data Analytics

Pandora announced that it will release its new Podcast Analytics feature today, providing podcast hosts with audience information including: where they live, how long they listen, and how they engage with content.

In doing so Pandora is joining competitors Apple and Spotify in providing analytics dashboards to its content producers in a bid to keep them using the platform and help keep listeners engaged.

Why it’s hot: 

Until recently only professional content producers had data into how their content was being purchased, used, and by who–e.g they needed a marketing team to do research. This could impact creative decisions as they chased trends and customers. Now, customer data can continually impact the creative process for non-professional creators. By providing clear KPIs, these tools could shift the type of content that is made.

Apple Watch Users Can Now Get Rewards for Going to the Gym

For years Apple Watch customers have been walking and running to meet step counts just for the satisfaction of meeting their goals. Now Apple is upping the ante with a new rewards program called Apple Watch Connected.

Apple GymKit

Apple Watch Connected will allow any fitness entity to integrate with the Apple Watch so members can track their health and earn rewards such as gift cards and discounts.To participate in the program, gyms must have equipment enabled with GymKit, a platform that lets users sync their Watch to cardio machines and collect their workout data. GymKit first launched two years ago, and since then Apple has worked with manufacturers like Technogym, Life Fitness, and Octane Fitness to incorporate hardware and GymFit code into their treadmills, stair climbers, and other equipment. It works like this: Users can scan their watch against an NFC reader on a piece of equipment anytime during their workout to capture their progress and send it to their Watch. It’s particularly useful for garnering metrics the Watch might have a hard time calculating on its own, like how many steps were taken on a stair climber, for example, where a person stays static in space.

The Apple Watch Connected platform pulls in the data from GymKit and pipes it into the fitness brand’s Watch and iPhone app, where members can then view and plan their workout schedule.  Through the Apple Watch Connected integration, fitness studios will also be able to offer prizes based on member activity. Since Apple Watch can give studios insight into how active its members are wherever they are, the programs launching today will give out points to members whether they go for a run outside or do yoga in the studio (as long as they get their heart rate up).
Each reward program is designed by the fitness brand. At Crunch Fitness, for example, goals are set each week and members can earn credits toward their membership—as much as $15 a month. The new program will start at 17 locations with plans to encompass all 350 locations nationwide by the end of the year. Going forward, Crunch Fitness will only purchase new cardio equipment that has GymKit as part of its offering, so that eventually all of its cardio equipment has that feature.

Gyms do not have to pay to join Apple Watch Connected. Apple says it is primarily interested in helping its users be active. But there may be another incentive for the company–fitness centers that hook into Apple Watch Connected must accept Apple Pay at their studios to participate. Having Apple Pay accepted at more fitness studios gives Apple more opportunity to cash in on transaction fees, a growing source of revenue for the company.

Why It’s Hot

Apple Watch Connected will help motivate gyms to integrate GymKit, making Apple Watch significantly more useful and accurate for gym goers.


Apple Card investigated for gender bias

Apple’s tech-oriented credit card is at the heart of a new investigation into alleged gender discrimination.

New York state regulators have announced an investigation into Goldman Sachs, the bank that issues the Apple Card, after a series of viral tweets from a consumer who shared the vastly different credit limits that were issued to him and his wife when they both applied for the card.

The NYSDFS was first tipped off by a viral Twitter thread from tech entrepreneur David Heinemeier Hansson, begun on Nov. 7. He detailed how his card’s credit limit was 20 times higher than his wife’s, even though she has a higher credit score and they file joint tax returns. Hansson referred to the Apple Card as a “sexist program” and said that its over-reliance on a “biased” algorithm did not excuse discriminatory treatment.

After his complaints on Twitter, Hansson found his wife’s Apple Card’s credit limit was increased to match his. However, Hansson’s frustration was not only with the credit line issue, but also how customer support is trained to handle the accusation of gender bias: blame the algorithm.

Hansson’s complaints were even echoed by Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, who responded to Hansson’s tweet, saying “the same thing happened to us.” Wozniak said that his credit limit was 10 times higher than what his wife had, even though they did not have any separate assets or accounts. In his view, Apple should “share responsibility” for the problem.

Others shared similar stories…

The CEO of Goldman Sachs denied wrongdoing on Monday, stating unequivocally that “we have not and will not make decisions based on factors like gender.” He added that the company would be open to re-evaluating credit limits for those who believe their credit line is lower than their credit history would suggest it should be.

Superintendent of the NYSDFS Linda Lacewell said Sunday in a statement that state law bans discrimination against protected classes of individuals, “which means an algorithm, as with any other method of determining creditworthiness, cannot result in disparate treatment for individuals based on age, creed, race, color, sex, sexual orientation, national origin or other protected characteristics.” She added that this “is not just about looking into one algorithm” but also about working with the tech community more broadly to “make sure consumers nationwide can have confidence that the algorithms that increasingly impact their ability to access financial services do not discriminate.”

Why it’s Hot:

Apple and Goldman Sachs may blame “the algorithm,” but ultimately that algorithm was created by humans – and that excuse doesn’t cut it with customers. As we increasingly rely on algorithms and AI, how do we ensure they’re built without our innate biases?

Sources: Time, Mashable

Apple and New Museum launch AR art tours

A new way for people to experience the city!

A new way for artists to engage the public!

A new way to think about experiencing space!

Brought to you by Apple! Apple’s brand and value proposition permeates this entire experience.

Why it’s hot

Apple is positioning itself as a brand that can bring a new magical realm to life. As we work out the ways in which AR will play a role in our lives, this project sells AR in a surprising and fun way, perhaps warming people up to the idea that a life lived with a layer of AR mapped over the physical world would be desirable.

Source: Dezeen

What does $1tn really look like?

On Thursday, Aug 2 2018, Apple became the first publicly traded American company with a $1,000,000,000,000 market cap.

Here’s a neat interactive data visualization from the NYTimes to play with after the jump; it gives you a reference point for just how big $1tn is compared to the rest of the publicly traded companies on the S&P.


Here’s another nifty graphic that shows us the history of Apple’s valuation:



So, how big is $1tn? When you hear a big number out of context, it’s not always easy to quantify. These data visualizations help define how BIG $1tn really is in the context of American business, adding more meaning to this landmark event.

Apple Pay transit card integration goes live in Beijing and Shanghai

Apple rolled out transit card integration in China today. The latest update to iPhone and Apple Watch offers users tap-to-ride public transportation access in Beijing and Shanghai. People can refill their transportation cards using the Wallet app on iPhone. Balance of an existing physical card can be transferred to Apple Pay through the recharge mechanism in Wallet.

Why it’s hot: Mobile payment and transaction just became more advanced and is making people’s daily life more convenient.


What would Steve Jobs do?

“Apple’s HomePod is a great-sounding but ideologically flawed speaker, and it turns out there’s another major problem with the smart speaker aside from its lack of support for Spotify. Apparently the silicone base of the HomePod can damage wooden furniture, with multiple outlets (including Wirecutter and Pocket Lint) reporting that leaving the speaker on top of wooden surfaces can cause a white ring to form.

Apple has confirmed the issue to Wirecutter, stating that “the marks can improve over several days after the speaker is removed from the wood surface,” with the company also recommending that users “try cleaning the surface with the manufacturer’s suggested oiling method” if the white rings don’t fade. Given that HomePods aren’t meant to be put on a soft surface (the tweeters fire down, so putting it on cloth messes with the reflectivity of the sound), it’s not the sort of problem you can solve by just putting down a cloth underneath it, either.”

Source: The Verge



Quartz News Is Using The iOS 11 To Bring AR To News Stories

Quartz News, the digital-focused arm of  Atlantic Media, has launched a nifty AR feature in their news stories thanks to the new updates to iOS11. Now in a select number of the daily stories featured in the Quartz News mobile app you will find augmented reality to help illustrate objects featured in a particular story. For instance, its coverage of the demise of the Cassini spacecraft is joined by a 3D model of the ship that users can examine as if it was physically in the same room with them.

Why It’s Hot: 

Of all the emerging technologies that companies have their eyes on, augmented reality seems to be the easiest to scale by way of mobile phones with no need for extras like headsets or glasses. Apple CEO, Tim Cook believes that many people will “have AR experiences every day, almost like eating three meals a day. It will become that much a part of you,” Cook predicted at a tech conference last year.

Quartz News sees this as an opportunity to bring news stories to life in ways that users have never experienced before. “In the same way we can use images and emoji and gifs to bring alive the stories we’re sharing, we think we can use AR to help people understand objects in the news,” John Keefe, head of Quartz’s Bot Studio, adding that the tech could also be used to illustrate stories with 3D landscapes, models of landmarks and historic structures, or even data visualizations.

This new AR app lets you point and translate

Thanks to the recent release of Apple’s ARKit, front end developer Frances Ng has created a point-and-translate app. That’s right, simply point your phone at the item you want to translate and if the item is recognized, associated language options will display.


Here it is in action.

Whether you’re looking to learn a new language in the comfort of your own home or in a foreign land looking for a helping hand, the app is a great example of often-too-rare AR utility.

The UX magic is possible through a combination of Apple’s ARKit and an existing database of about 1,000 learned objects that Ng ported into the app. While Ng says her app is just a demo and she has no immediate plans to take it to market, what’s so remarkable is that while companies like Microsoft spent many years and dollars on mastering object recognition, Ng was able to build her app in a weekend, simply because it’s building off so much past work that’s now freely available and baked into platforms like Apple’s.

Why It’s Hot

  • With the new AR development kits, we should definitely see a run of useful apps like this (as well as I’m sure lots of non-useful examples!)
  • It’s also an example of how more and more development is being done off of robust platforms increasing speed to market and standardizing patterns for fast consumer orientation
  • Apple Takes a Bite out of the AR Pie

    Apple released ARKit, a mobile AR platform that uses Visual Inertial Odometry (VIO) to accurately track the world around it. VIO fuses camera sensor data with CoreMotion data, allowing the device to sense how it moves within a room with a high degree of accuracy, and without any additional calibration. It’s open to all developers who want to come create and play…and it’s also probably luring them away from FB/Snapchat/Googs.

    By having the experience live in an app on millions of iOS devices, it’s giving creators (developers) a much wider audience (and incentive) to test and socialize.

    Already, ARKit’s sharing platform is seeing some really awesome crowdsourced examples of the tech in action.

    See more examples of what developers have already been toying with, go here.

    Why It’s Hot:

    Apple Is….

    • Democratizing AR to both users and developers (HoloLens who?)
    • Positioning it’s self the Go-To AR platform
    • Low-Overhead cutting edge technology for brands to explore and own

    Apple and Google to Implement Ad Blocker in Web Browsers

    On Monday, Apple at its developer conference that it will start blocking autoplay videos on its Safari web browser and will add a feature that stops ad tracking technology from using a user’s web behavior to target ads to them.

    Google also reportedly will officially move ahead with its Chrome ad blocker sometime next year and will block any site which hosts ad units that don’t adhere to a set of third-party standards — basically, most sites on the Internet. The Financial Times also reported that Google is creating a feature that will allow publishers to charge users who use ad-blockers on a page-per-view basis.








    Why It’s Hot:

    Safari (10%) and Chrome (51%) make up most of the desktop search market in the U.S., according to comScore, and over 68% of mobile traffic in the U.S., which means that their efforts to curb ads that damage user experience will have a significant impact on the marketplace. These changes will force publishers to develop new advertising techniques.

    Immediately following the announcement by Apple, ad retargeting firm Criteo’s stocks tumbled. Earlier this year, Terry Kawaja, Founder and CEO of media and technology firm LUMA Partners, said consolidation in the ad tech space (mostly driven by policy changes and user demands) will cause 90% of the companies to go out of business.

    Apple launches new reality show with uninspired title, like, 5 years too late

    Apple has wrangled up some A-listers, plus Gary Vaynerchuck, for a Shark Tank-meets-The Voice reality show. It’s a chance for developers to give their best elevator pitch to a panel of 4 judges who will swipe left or right and give app developers an opportunity to be funded so that “they can take the next step to creating one of the great apps of all time.”

    Story on The Verge

    Is it Hot or Not?
    Seems like the best apps might not make the cut if the pitch isn’t good enough. Do we really want to bring app development to the lowest common denominator?

    Remixed Remix

    The right remix makes a old song feel new. And makes a new song feel even newer. Which is why trip hop duo Massive Attack has released a “sensory music player” app with its new EP.

    The app is called Fantom, and it remixes and reforms music on iPhones based off environmental factors like a person’s location, movement, and heartbeat fed by Apple Watch sensors and HealthKit data. Each factor affects the music in a different way. Heart rate, for instance, changes the song cadence, while location affects harmonization.

    Fantom is not a partnership– one of the Massive Attack band members was part of the team that developed the app.

    Why it’s hot: remix albums have been around for awhile, and offer the same remix to every person. Why not algorithmically personalize it if you can? Screen-Shot-2016-01-21-at-11.52.12


    Apple’s First App for Android is Here!

    No, hell didn’t just freeze over.  You probably won’t be seeing an iTunes app in the Google Play store anytime soon, either.

    Apple has released an app called Move to iOS which helps eternally frustrated Android users (like me) make a smoother transition from Android to Apple. It seamlessly transfers your pics, messages, email accounts, contacts and bookmarks from your ire-inducing Samsung phone to your shiny new iPhone 6s.

    MovetoIOS copy


    Story on Engadget

    Why It’s Hot

    It is hot because while this seems like a really small reason to switch from Android to Apple, upgrading to a new phone of any kind usually means you lose some of your stuff. Apple seems to be looking at the minor pain points and addressing them in a really smart way. Gets a Redesign

    According to Techcrunch, removed the separate Store tab and integrated the shopping button with product information. They’ve also integrated more editorial-like features like the Accessories page.

    Why It’s Hot: The industry opinion seems to be that the redesign was motivated by mobile experiences. Aesthetically, the site went through a small change, but it feels relatively huge for the retailer, not just in design, but in narrative. The initial website spoke to a focus on the product, and the redesign speaks to a shopping experience. It’s interesting that a big retailer like Apple is finally evolving to a more obvious mobile-friendly design, but it also feels like the end of a product-obsessed Steve Jobs era.

    Starbucks Touch is a Smartphone Case to Pay for Drinks with a Tap

    Starbucks in Japan has teamed with the a Japanese-based clothing company called Uniform Experiment to create a case for the iPhone 6 that can make mobile payments by nothing more than a tap. The program is called Starbucks Touch.

    iPhone-toting loyalists first purchase their Starbucks Touch case (really, it’s not free?). Then they install an accompanying mobile app. After entering their payment information, the case is ready to complete mobile payment at specially designed in-cafe kiosks.


    Cases come in two designs:

    1. The primary, meant to look like the iconic Starbucks cup and sleeve
    2. The secondary, a colorful tiled mosaic


    No word on if/when the case will make it to more countries (or devices).

    Why It’s Hot

    With Starbucks Touch, the company has found a way to monetize its brand loyalists even further. First, they’re charging for the case itself. Next, each case is emblazoned with the Starbucks logo… free advertisement that reinforces the brand to loyalists and promotes to those around. And finally, there’s the word-of-mouth effect that will likely ensue from explaining to others what this Starbucks phone case is really all about.

    If Starbucks wants to reach a wider audience, perhaps they forgo the charge for a case and instead give it away for essentially the free advertising and proximity to customers. In a grander scheme, Starbucks Touch is away to reach a niche group of customers, and reinforce the brand with them in an even more intimate way. If Starbucks has figured out a way to make even more money off of them, more power to ’em.

    Via DesignTaxi

    Apple Will Allow Users To Block Ads on iPad and iPhone

    Apple has announced support for Ad Blocking Extensions for its Safari Web browser on iOS 9. All developers of such ad block extensions have to do is to hand over a JSON File with the requisite instructions for blocking ads, pop-up ads and more, and Safari converts it into bytecode, blocking ads without letting publishers know. This is likely in favor of handing over more control to users and avoid longer page load times on mobile devices like iPad and iPhone.

    Here’s how the iOS9 developer documents describe the new feature:

    The new Safari release brings Content Blocking Safari Extensions to iOS. Content Blocking gives your extensions a fast and efficient way to block cookies, images, resources, pop-ups, and other content.



    (source: thenextweb)

    Why It’s Hot:

    What was once only available as a desktop feature will now move to mobile devices and will certainly be unwelcomed by media publishers. As audiences continue to shift online and away from print, publishers must squeeze as much as they can out of their growing mobile traffic. A report from 2014 found that ad-block software usage was up 70% year over year, with over 140 million people blocking ads worldwide, including 41% of 18-29 year olds. You can see why this is worrisome for publishers who sell these ads.

    IKEA Will Help You Convert Your Furniture to Enable Wireless Charging

    Furniture giant IKEA has made a commitment to enabling future wireless technologies in some of its new product lines. But rather than reinvent the wheel on its massive product line entirely, IKEA turned the problem on its head.

    For $5, IKEA will sell you a specially formed drill to turn most IKEA furniture into wireless charging stations. The drill creates a perfectly formed hole to mount its Jyssen wireless charger ($30) that will go on sale later this spring. IKEA will also begin selling wireless charging cases to support the stations.

    Like the IKEA brand, the solution is simple, cheap and elegant:

    Why It’s Hot

    New consumer technologies can be difficult to make ubiquitous. By enabling customers to easily make wireless DIY, IKEA can make smarter product line decisions while delivering more for customers who want the latest technologies. And by breaking those barriers (a $35 investment, not a $350 one for all new furniture), IKEA is helping this technology grow organically by consumer demand.

    Source: Gizmodo

    Doximity Launching HIPAA-compliant Apple Watch App

    When patients transfer hospitals, physicians change shifts, or doctors don’t know a new patient’s full history, fatal mistakes can happen. Up to 440,000 Americans die each year from preventable medical errors, making them the nation’s third-leading cause of death. And by some estimates, better communication among staff could prevent as many as one-third of those mistakes.

    That’s what the people behind a new Apple Watch app, Doximity, are banking on. They think the Apple Watch can enable medical professionals to share information easily, securely, and quickly — and perhaps most importantly, hands-free.

    Clinicians who belong to Doximity’s nationwide network can share information with one another by dictating, sending, and receiving brief, encrypted messages — even if they don’t work for the same hospital, or don’t have an Apple Watch.

    doximity-applewatch-fax-300x365 doximity-applewatch-inbox-300x359

    Why It’s Hot

    This new app could change that way physicians communicate with one another, saving them valuable time throughout the day while maintaining HIPAA-compliant standards to protect patient privacy. If the Apple Watch finds success in hospitals and healthcare centers, this app could be the start of a wide range of hands-free tools for doctors.


    Apple Watch Reviews Are In

    The press finally tested the new Apple Watch and provided some extensive reviews. The hardware has generally received mixed-to-positive response.

    The pros:
    – Design
    – Apple Pay
    – Less reliance on phone

    The cons:
    – UX (takes a few days to learn the technology)
    – Notifications (need to customize extensively)
    – Lack of customization

    Why It’s Hot: The jury’s still out on the product, but many enthusiasts believe that the Apple Watch will become the new iPod or iPhone, which will imply big industry changes. From hardware to software, there will be new business opportunities for its every element if the watch proves to be a success.

    Apple introducing ethnically diverse emojis

    Apple is reportedly developing a series of ethnically diverse emojis for iOS operating systems.  The emojis hands and faces will come in 6 different skin tones.  Supposedly, if you press on any individual emoji, a choice of the 6 skin tones will pop up and you can choose one.  There are a reported 300 different emojis being developed.

    No release date has been announced, and Apple won’t confirm if the new emojis will be released as part of the next official software releases for iPad, iPhone and Mac.

    Emojis have long been used for self expresson.  According to CBS News, science guru Bill Nye used emojis to teach evolution, emojis replaced Beyoncé in a version of her hit single “Drunk in Love” and an emoji translation of Hermann Melville’s masterpiece was created — aptly titled “Emoji Dick.”

    Apple Just Showed Off Its New, Diverse Emoji for the First Time

    Why It’s Hot

    Diverse emojis are a reflection of the populations that use them andd there has been a brewing controversy over the lack of diversity.  Apple is now taking initiative to acknowledge the people and markets it serves.  You might ask, What took so long?

    Apple to launch Spotify-like Streaming Service

    Apple has plans to leverage Beats to build a Spotify competitor, according to 9to5Mac.The paid streaming music service will use Beats’ content and technology but get a new name and a fresh Apple design, according to anonymous Apple sources. The service’s target price will be $7.99 per month. In contrast, Spotify Premium comes in at $9.99 a month; Google Play Music does too, though it originally launched for $7.99.

    The technology relies on cloud-based streaming, and there’s a search feature that will let you instantly look for songs in your iTunes library but also search for streaming music. Users will be able to select specific tracks to store on their iOS devices and/or computers, or keep all songs solely in the cloud. Apple will also deeply integrate Beats Music’s Playlists, Activities, and Mixes features into the new service, letting users access a vast array of pre-made, human-curated playlists to fit various activities.

    Apple reportedly plans to launch the service sometime this year, possibly at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June.


    Why It’s Hot

    According to anonymous Apple sources, this service will be “deeply integrated” into iOS, iTunes, Apple TV and will even be available as an Android app. Our clients have seen success advertising to “music enthusiasts” on Pandora and Spotify so this is something we should keep an eye on to explore potential advertising opportunities in the future.


    Apple’s Fastest Growing Product: eCommerce

    iPhone 5S fingerprint scanner

    $4.1 billion in Q1 2014– up 20% and rising fast. Very quietly, Apple is maneuvering for real innovation in ecommerce/mobile commerce. Volume alone isnt enough– but Touch ID, ibeacon and ApplePay are connecting the dots between retail and mobile at the individual user level.

    Why It’s Hot

    As they roll out iBeacon, Apple will be able to track individual retail behaviors on mobile, in-store and transactions. Apple has the platform, the connectivity and the security to enable commerce and tracking as few can manage.


    Apple Debuts New Holiday Ad

    Apple once again shows it can do touching holiday ads with the best of them in this beautifully understated spot created out of TBWA/Media Arts Lab and directed by Park Pictures’ Lance Acord. It’s all about a girl creating a gift for her grandmother, using Apple technology to turn an old tune, “Our Love Is Here to Stay,” into a duet. As her grandmother listens to the song at the breakfast table on an iPad Mini while looking at the old photographs her granddaughter has collected, it’s difficult to stay dry-eyed.

    Why It’s Hot 

    The spot was released on Sunday and has already garnered attention from trades like Adage and Adweek. In my opinion, ads are always more impactful when they can touch people’s emotions, especially during the gift gifting season. While it’s different from Apple’s traditional ads that are very product focused, I hope that they continues on this trend because it creates a more positive “brand personality” for the company and can continue to set them apart from their competitors.

    US Trademark Office Allows iPhones to have cat-like reflexes

    Caught your eye?

    Ever notice how falling cats somehow always land on their feet, and dropped toast will invariably hit the floor buttered-side down? Well what if you could harness that voodoo and install it in your gadgets? In the near future, this may very well become possible. If the technology described in a recent patent filed by Apple ever makes it past the conceptual phase, the next generation of iPhones could potentially be able to control how they hit the ground.

    Patent No. 20130257582, otherwise known as “protecting an electronic device,” is basically a broad set of schemes that Apple has devised to keep your phone from landing on its screen or other vulnerable areas. The document outlines a number of different methods that could ostensibly be used to make this happen.

    Why It’s Hot

    Technology is just ridiculous.  This could save people a lot of money on dropped devices.

    Read more:

    Microsoft’s Band: The Perfect Rival for the Apple Watch

    I need to start this post by saying that I am a Mac guy. One hundred percent!

    My first computer was a Mac, back in the days where laptops didn’t exist. In fact, the Dell they gave me at my current job, it’s the first PC I have ever had; and I’m still struggling with it! I just don’t get it…

    That being said, I love the fact that Microsoft products have always (well, almost always) been cross-platform (think Microsoft Office and Windows Operating System, for example).

    Now Microsoft does it again with the new Microsoft Health and Microsoft Band.

    Microsoft Band

    If Microsoft wanted to grab a slice of the impending Apple Watch audience, it couldn’t have crafted a better plan than with its just-released, cross-platform Microsoft Band. The company’s first wearable piggybacks off of the style and functions we’re already familiar with in today’s activity trackers. But with nifty features, a more affordable price tag, and a broader potential audience, Microsoft is taking a different approach than Apple and other wearable makers:

    • First and foremost, the Microsoft Band is cross-platform. This is huge as it’s something Apple can’t, and will not, do. Microsoft Health, the Band’s corresponding software platform, is available on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone making the tracker itself cross-platform, too. This opens the Band up to a huge audience (virtually all smartphone owners) rather than, in Apple’s case, limiting the product to devotees of its insular ecosystem.
    • microsoftband-315x258Unlike the Apple Watch, Microsoft’s wristband is not a watch replacement. It’s designed to be worn 24-hours a day on your less dominant hand. It can track your activity and sleep patterns, and if you have a favorite watch, it wouldn’t be weird to wear it on your other wrist.
    • Microsoft Band is not just functional, but also good looking enough to wear every day. It comes in an incredible number of colors, types of bands and textures. It’s a fashion item.

    Why It’s Hot  |  We’ve been talking and hearing about the importance of putting consumers at the center. Microsoft has done just that. This is about user’s wellbeing, whether we are Mac lovers, Android fans, or PC enthusiasts. Run, Microsoft. Run!


    Apple Pay to Launch Monday

    Apple (AAPL, Tech30) CEO Tim Cook announced Thursday that the company’s highly anticipated smartphone-based payment system will debut Oct. 20.

    Apple Pay works by sending payment information via short-range radio waves. The message goes from a special chip inside the iPhone 6 to the register. It’s called NFC, short for Near Field Communication.

    Video and article found here.

    Why It’s Hot

    It’s a safe way to pay for things- safer than credit cards, with all of the big box store hacks happening these days.  For those with iPhone6s,  its a great alternative to carrying a wallet.

    Siri, the battle for her voice & tech


    The voice we have all come to love and adore with our useless, yet relevant questions may be changing hands quietly in the background.  Voice recognition and language interpretation is the key to Siri’s success on Apple devices compared to other devices such as Samsung.  Nuance, the company which developed the technology and has worked on Siri is gearing up to be sold.  Apple is liquid enough to buy, but it will take a significant chunk, as Nuance’s market cap is $4.8 billion.  The slight hick-up is that Nuance would come with significant other work, such as a large health care and imaging department.  This would increase Apple’s operation expense and be considered a distraction by the Board, since Apple currently has no intention of entering that type of market in healthcare.

    Is Apple about to lose Siri to Samsung?

    Why It’s Hot

    If Samsung would acquire Nuance, it would be beyond embarrassing for Apple and would only fuel the fire of Samsung antagonizing Apple.  Apple would lose part of their brand identity with the lack of Siri’s voice capability, and would be forced to grab Kasisto, a SRI developed voice assistant that is poised to be better than Siri one day, as it integrates into individual apps/media.  The consequences of all this on user experience? It means for digital media that Kasisto/Siri will one day fuel online purchases and increase the interaction of corporations with consumers.

    iPhone 6 Snafus?

    Even though Apples iPhone 6 and 6 plus have broken records, selling more than 10 million in just the first weekend of sales. Reports from upset customers suggest that the iPhone 6 plus can bend after being carried in pocket for extended periods of time.

    A hashtag has even started around it, #BendGate, with Apple insisting that the reports are not true or isolated to just a few customers.

    Why It’s Hot

    This release is considered to make or break Tim Cook’s legacy. Apple has seen exceedingly greater and greater challenges from Samsung and Amazon for smartphone and tablet market share.