Qualcomm Toq

Chris Ziegler, The Verge:

But boy, is Mirasol great for a smartwatch. Technologically, it’s sort of a hybrid between DLP and LCD, and offers many of the benefits of E Ink without any of its disadvantages. It becomes even more readable in bright ambient light, which is why Qualcomm has occasionally marketed Mirasol as a compelling option for e-readers.

The Toq’s capacitive touchscreen never turns off, because like E Ink, it draws effectively no power when it’s not changing states — you can glance at it and always know that you’ll see the time without having to press a button or perform any wrist gymnastics.

Where Mirasol really wins, though, is on refresh rate: screens change instantaneously, with no more delay to the naked eye than an LCD. The Toq also offers full color, and it ships with some pretty beautiful watch faces to take advantage of it.

I’m not sure if “full color” is an accurate description. The colors are washed out and when compared to other display technologies such as LCD and OLED the term “full color” is probably not a term you would use to describe the colors on the Toq’s Mirasol display. A super high resolution grayscale display might have been a better choice for smartwatch applications. It’s pretty simple, really: Make a smartwatch look just like the Bell & Ross BR 01-92, but with all sorts of sensors working in the background. Double-tap the display and you get access to a treasure trove of movement, sleep, health analytics.

Samsung Fuses Camera And Smartphone Divisions

Joon-bae Kim, ETNews:

Samsung Electronics integrated the Digital Imaging Business Division, in charge of cameras, with the Wireless Business Division. Samsung Electronics began to create synergies between smartphones and cameras in a bid to capture the largest share of the global mirrorless camera market in 2015.

I would think the bigger market potential is adding higher quality optics and image sensors into its Galaxy line of smartphones. A crazier idea would be to make its Galaxy smartphones capable of using Samsung’s NX lenses.

How Amazon is Using Its Brooklyn Studio to Do Fashion Right

Chavie Lieber, Racked National:

With the studio, the company’s overall objective is to give their inventory a more glossy, less stock photography-feel. On average, over 19,000 images a day are shot at the studio, and some 2,400 of those are featured on the Amazon sites.

“In fashion ecommerce, high quality imagery isn’t just ‘nice to have,’ it’s essential. It defines the total experience. Our editorial inspires the customer, and our product pages—the way we show how clothes fit and move—are our virtual sales associates. Using live models helps show the movement and flow of a garment in a way that is often difficult to replicate with mannequins alone,” Beaudoin added.

High quality imagery is not only essential to fashion e-commerce but also to high-tech e-commerce. Would like to see Amazon add high quality videos, too.

Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus

David Pierce, The Verge:

Samsung and fabulous excess get along beautifully, and nowhere is that more clear than on the Book 9 Plus’ 13.3-inch, 3200 x 1800 display. The screen is high-res and incredibly beautiful, with vibrant colors, fantastic touch response, and nearly perfect viewing angles. But it’s telling that the screen is set by default to 1920 x 1080: when you crank its resolution all the way up, nearly everything about Windows becomes small enough to make you squint 3 inches from the screen in order to use the computer. It even warns you: “Screen resolution is very high. Double click here to change it.”

Having all the extra pixels makes even the “low” 1080p resolution look better than ever, though, with crisper text and more detailed images. Just like with the MacBook Pro with Retina Display, it’s probably a bad idea to use this screen to its fullest extent, but it’s a great display no matter how you slice it.

A 3200×1800 native pixel format LCD used with a 1920×1080 virtual pixel format setting shouldn’t be all that great. What should be great is a 3840×2160 native pixel format used with a 1920×1080 virtual pixel format; each virtual pixel uses 2×2 native pixels. I’m stubbornly waiting for a 17-inch MacBook Pro with 4096×2160 or 4K.

Vuzix Smart Glass Technology: Waveguide Optics

Dean Takahashi, VentureBeat:

Travers said that Waveguide optics are a revolutionary new way of moving light within smart glasses and are a fraction of the size and weight of conventional prism-based optics. Waveguide optics also deliver a much wider field of view; it uses a 1.4 millimeter window with a tiny input pupil, similar to a fiber optic cable, that is expanded using a hologram in front of the eye. Light isn’t bent through bulk material as with conventional optics.

Google Glass, but with smaller, superior optics.

4 Reasons Why Apple’s iBeacon Is About to Disrupt Interaction Design

Kyle Vanhemert, Wired:

You step inside Walmart and your shopping list is transformed into a personalized map, showing you the deals that’ll appeal to you most. You pause in front of a concert poster on the street, pull out your phone, and you’re greeted with an option to buy tickets with a single tap. You go to your local watering hole, have a round of drinks, and just leave, having paid—and tipped!—with Uber-like ease. Welcome to the world of iBeacon.

Looking forward to this future.

Apple Mobile Devices Drove Mobile Sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Marcia Kaplan, Practical Ecommerce:

According to IBM, it is Apple mobile devices that drive mobile sales, and Apple users spend more money per order, as follows.

  • Black Friday. On average, Apple iOS users spent $127.92 per order, compared to $105.20 per order for Android devices. iOS devices garnered 28.2 percent of all online traffic compared to 11.4 percent for Android. iOS sales accounted for 18.1 percent of all online sales, compared to 3.5 percent for Android.
  • Cyber Monday. On average, Apple iOS users spent $120.29 per order, compared to $106.70 per order for Android. iOS traffic reached 22.4 percent of all online traffic, compared to 9.1 percent for Android. iOS sales reached 14.5 percent of all online sales, compared to 2.6 percent for Android.

Not surprising iPhone and iPad users spent more, but Amazon Kindle Fire’s share of Android online sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday was probably substantial.

Objectively As Good As iPhone 5

Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge:

Woodside also touched on the Moto G during the interview, saying that the device came out of a specific challenge: “How do we create a phone that’s objectively as good as iPhone 5 for a third of the cost.” Woodside said that technology costs have gotten low enough where that’s possible. “That’s what we did with Moto G,” he tells Brownlee.

Dennis Woodside is CEO of Motorola Mobility. The Moto G is objectively as good as iPhone 5? Subjectively speaking, I don’t think so. But if Woodside really thinks it is, Motorola will run into bumpy roads ahead.

When The Screen Size Changes

Steve Jobs:

We think as a software-driven company. We think about the software strategies first, and we know that software developers aren’t going to have – they’re not going to deal real well with all these different size products when they have to redo their software every time the screen size changes, and they are not going to deal well with products where they can’t put enough elements on the screen to build the kind of apps they want to build.

This is how I am understanding Steve Jobs’ take on the interplay between software and screen sizes. The iPhone is the culmination of hardware (primarily determined by the size and aspect ratio of the display) and software geared toward providing information in particular ways that are fitting to someone using a mobile phone. This doesn’t preclude the iPhone from being used to accomplish tasks that are meant for devices with larger displays but the iPhone does what smartphone users want smartphones to do very well, precisely because it was designed to do them well from the very beginning. The same logic applies to the larger iPads, but a bit loosely.

The iPad mini has a 4:3 7.9-inch display while the iPad Air is much larger at 9.7 inches but with the same aspect ratio. The same aspect ratio suggests Apple was assuming most iPad users will use both iPads for similar things. Most probably do. But the size makes one more portable than the other. The iPad mini is more portable so people who use the iPad mini will probably use it for more iPhone-like stuff than the people who use the iPad Air. Should there be iPad apps that are tuned more for one or the other? Based on Steve Jobs’ argument and my understanding of it, I would guess so. An iPad app specifically designed for an iPad mini would probably be a superior experience than an iPad app that was designed to work with either.

Take this logic all the way to the end and the iPhone and the iPad, in terms of functionality, will become very similar with the only difference being the size and aspect ratio of the screen. For instance, very soon voice will travel over LTE data connections via Voice over LTE or VoLTE. At that point there is no point in having additional communications protocols or chips. The iPhone will connect to the Internet via LTE with voice data traveling through that pipe. And the cellular iPads will gain voice communications capability through VoLTE. In terms of hardware communications capability the two will be virtually be the same. With only the display being the difference: 5-inch, 7.9-inch, and 9.7-inch iDevices.

With that in mind I think Apple will build one more size between 5 inches and 7.9 inches. I’m not sure Apple will simply split the difference between 5 inches and 7.9 inches to get something around 6.5 inches. It’ll probably be smaller, at around 5 or 5.5 inches, and at most 6 inches. This iDevice would be a phone/tablet hybrid, but at that point the distinction between phone and tablet would be moot.

If Apple ends up with four different iPhone/iPad sizes with the distinction among them being only the display, my guess is software will be the differentiating factor among them. The smallest would be used by those who want it primarily to be something like a phone, while the largest will be used by those who want it primarily to be something like a tablet. The two in between would be more tricky, but there will be distinctions in usage patterns clear enough for differentiated software apps among all four.

Technologies — like VoLTE — will make hardware distinctions among iPhones and iPads moot, save for the display. The distinction will then be found in software and the apps developed for the different sized displays. App developers will have more work cut out for them, but it will be worth it as the end users will be delighted with the differentiated experience. There will also be more incentive for users to buy more than one iDevice for the unique experience each iDevice provides. This is probably not what Steve Jobs meant in the quote above, but I’m guessing this is probably what is going to happen.

iBeacon at Apple Stores

Chris Welch, The Verge:

But I circled the entire store, visiting every section for several minutes at a time, and not once did a prompt appear. As usual, the Apple Store app knew which store I was standing in, but that’s not a new feature. When it came to iBeacon notifications, nothing came through — regardless of how long I stood in front of the iPhones on display. I locked my phone and woke it up several times to no avail. Puzzled, I asked an employee for help. He checked to make sure my iPhone 5S had all the required settings enabled (it did), and even pointed to a table under which a transmitter had been installed. Nothing.

Unimpressed, even for beta. Most Apple Stores are small enough to have the entire store in your view, but I can imagine an improved version of this service being handy if you combined iBeacon with indoor maps for larger multi-level Apple Stores, as well as other large retail stores: “Siri, where can I find iPhone Lightning cables?”

Update 2013.12.09

Tristan Louis, Forbes:

In the past few years, it has gotten user’s payment information by asking them to enter it into ITunes when they bought an app, a video, or some music. This allowed the company to build up a large database of payment details. Then it added iBeacon to every new device it rolled out without asking anything of its users. Later, it pushed users to share their payment information on the device through iCloud keychain by saying it would also synchronize passwords in the process; and finally, it unveiled fingerprinting as an easier way to unlock the iPhone.

iBeacon as an integral component to developing a revolutionary way of how we pay for things? I can see that happening. The Apple Store has gotten rid of the cash register stand and replaced it with Apple retail staff using iPod touches (or are they iPhones?) retrofitted to work as mobile cash registers. And in the future Apple retail staff with mobile cash registers will be replaced with us, the customers, carrying iPhones and iPads with Touch ID.