Android TV – the sixth generation Google TV

WSJ.com reported on the Android TV.

The article provides a good review of Google’s attempt to take over the living room:

  1. Google TV (2010)
  2. Google TV 2.0 (2011)
  3. Nexus Q (2012)
  4. Google TV 3.0 (2013)
  5. Chromecast (2013)
  6. Android TV (2014)

Elephants in the Google I/O Room

TechCrunch reported on the stark absence of Google Glass and Google Plus during Google I/O.

Google Glass:

This year, Glass wasn’t even mentioned, and no presenters wore it on stage. Even when the discussion turned to wearables — an ideal time to work in its face computer — Google had nothing to say.

When I spoke with Google X head Astro Teller earlier this year, he made a fairly eloquent case for widening the conversation out to all cameras and surveillance, rather than focusing on Glass, which he called the “world’s worst spy camera.”

But Google has certainly pulled back from trumpeting the device during its keynote, if today’s program was any indication. Even a hardware revision announced this week didn’t warrant a mention.

Google Plus

For Google+, the lack of mentions are likely due to several factors. First, the ‘father’ of Plus, Vic Gundotra, left Google this year. Around that time, we heard from several sources that certain aspects of Plus, like the wonderful Photos product, could be getting the standalone treatment. And the ‘rest’ of Google+ would be relegated to a single sign-on service that acted as a platform, instead of a holistic ‘product’ of its own.

Why Apple really cares about your privacy

Macworld writes about why Apple cares about your privacy.

And when you really dig into the details, you learn that Apple lets you NSA-proof your iCloud keychain, encrypts Messages and FaceTime calls end-to-end, protects an employee’s personal information from his or her employer when using Mobile Device Management, and has designed the iPhone without law-enforcement back doors.

But in the most telling recent news of all, it appears the Apple will randomize the WiFi hardware address of iOS devices to frustrate location and advertising trackers who use this address to know who you are when you move around in public. This is a subtle feature that the vast majority of iOS users won’t ever realize exists, even as it protects them.

This goes against the current of corporates that attempt to mine as much data from users as possible to better target advertisements or to sell those data to other companies.

So why does Apple place such emphasis on privacy?

Corporations generally limit their altruism to charity, not to core product and business decisions. Apple likely sees a competitive advantage in privacy, especially when its biggest direct competition comes from advertising giant Google and the enterprise-friendly Microsoft. Apple believes consumers not only desire privacy, but will increasingly value privacy as a factor in their buying decisions.

It is a critical advantage against its key rivals:

Google can’t stop scanning user email, since targeted advertising is its core business. Facebook won’t encrypt messages end-to-end for the very same reason. Microsoft can’t restrict enterprise administrators from controlling phones and computers, since enterprise manageability is core to its primary customer base, especially as it loses ground in the consumer market. Android—okay, Google—can’t dictate hardware design, and thus can’t consistently secure customer data on the device. Essentially, Apple uses the difference in its business model to attack competitors on privacy.

Samsung ‘Wall Huggers’ ad

9to5Mac reports on Samsung’s new ad.

Someone needs to show Samsung’s advertising team what a portable charger is.

Apple’s philosophy

John Gruber wrote about the philosophy Steve Jobs brought to Apple.

Jobs spoke of the approach he wanted to bring to Apple:

One of the things I’ve always found is that you’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology. You can’t start with the technology and try to figure out where you’re going to try to sell it. And I’ve made this mistake probably more than anybody else in this room. And I got the scar tissue to prove it.

He went on to explain about being focussed:

What about OpenDoc? What about it? [Audience laughs.] It’s dead, right? Let me say something that’s sort of generic. I know some of you spent a lot of time working on stuff that we put a bullet in the head of. I apologize. I feel your pain. But Apple suffered for several years from lousy engineering management. I have to say it. And there were people that were going off in 18 different directions doing arguably interesting things in each one of them. Good engineers — lousy management. And what happened was you look at the farm that’s been created with all these different animals going in different directions and it doesn’t add up. The total is less than the sum of the parts.

And so we had to decide, what are the fundamental directions we’re going in? And what makes sense and what doesn’t? And there were a bunch of things that didn’t. And microcosmically they might have made sense; macrocosmically they made no sense. And you know, the hardest thing is… you think about focusing, right? You think, “Well, focusing is saying yes”. No, focusing is about saying no. Focusing is about saying no. And you’ve got to say no, no, no. When you say no, you piss off people.

Today, Apple is still saying a thousand no’s for every yes.

Facebook Slingshot

The Verge writes about Facebook’s Slingshot app.

In Snapchat or any other messaging app, you can view a message as soon as you receive it. But in Slingshot, you can’t view an incoming “shot” until you send a shot back to the sender. “It’s not just about telling your story, it’s about asking others for their story,” says Slingshot designer Joey Flynn. In other words, Slingshot makes you trade a photo of what you’re doing before you can “unlock” the picture of whatever your friend is up to. Huh?

The “pay to play” mechanic is difficult to wrap your head around. It’s frustrating, not exciting when a friend sends you a shot and you can’t immediately view it. Slingshot is a new and strange example of a messaging app that raises barriers instead of tearing them down, and increases the friction to viewing a friend’s photo instead of reducing it.

Before you get to see what I sent you, you need to send something back. This is as bad as forcing me to watch an ad before I get to the content I want.

iCloud Photo Library

While there were plenty of goodies to take away from WWDC, one announcement announcement in particular had me dancing for joy – iCloud Photo Library.

If there was one major aspect of iOS that needed improving, it was photo management capabilities. Whether you’re an iPhoto user or not, managing photos on the iPhone is a major pain. It was obvious that it was an issue that needed to be resolved, which birthed apps such as Loom (which was acquired by Dropbox) and Carousel by Dropbox.

One minor annoyance (albeit a first world problem) I have with it is that the accompanying Mac app is slated to arrive later. Of course, in a perfect world it’d be released together with iOS 8 and Yosemite, but I understand that with so many new announcements, even Apple’s resources might be a little stretched. In the end, I’d rather have a feature/software that arrives late and works well, than one that arrives early and doesn’t work as advertised.

The full details of iCloud Photo Library haven’t been revealed yet, but one thing that I hope is available would be the ability to mark specific folders to be stored for offline use in iOS

Now the waiting game begins.

Facebook Slingshot is another jab at Snapchat

Facebook takes another stab at ephemeral messaging. It’s interesting how most messaging systems are moving towards this. Even iMessage and Path are following that direction to a certain degree.

Facebook’s Slingshot does take a slightly different approach since you’ll need to reply with a photo before you can see what was sent to you. That should increase engagement, but only time will tell how well it’ll be received.

Because you have to respond to a shot before you can see it, these notifications act as nags instead of notifiers. If you tap on a new notification, “Shot from Adam,” you won’t be able to view it — until you send a shot of what you’re doing back to Adam. Thus, shots feel less urgent than messages, since there’s no expectation that you’ll be able to open them immediately. The app feels far more like a News Feed with push notifications than anything else — except this News Feed requires you to share a post before you can view it, so there’s no place for lurkers. The Verge

Samsung insanity

Computerworld writes about the crazy number of different Samsung tablets in the market.

By my count, Samsung has now announced 11 different Android tablets since the start of 2014 (and it’s entirely possible I’m forgetting a few). In the past five months alone, the company has launched the following devices:

  • Galaxy Tab S 8.4
  • Galaxy Tab S 10.5
  • Galaxy Tab 4 7.0
  • Galaxy Tab 4 8.0
  • Galaxy Tab 4 10.1
  • Galaxy Tab 4 Nook
  • Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
  • Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1
  • Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2
  • Galaxy Note Pro 12.2
  • Galaxy Tab 3 Lite

And that’s not all. Samsung also still sells another 11 Android tablets from the recent past:

  • Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition)
  • Galaxy Tab 3 7.0
  • Galaxy Tab 3 8.0
  • Galaxy Tab 3 10.1
  • Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 Kids
  • Galaxy Tab 2 7.0
  • Galaxy Tab 2 10.1
  • Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 Student Edition
  • Galaxy Note 8.0
  • Galaxy Note 10.1
  • Galaxy Tab 7.0

Put yourselves in the shoes of an average consumer who does not keep up with the tablet market. How are you able to decide on the tablet to get?

Compare that with Apple’s latest line of iPad Air and iPad Mini, and the older models still available, the fourth generation iPad and non-Retina iPad Mini. From a consumer’s perspective, it is easy to choose an iPad:

  1. Full-sized or Mini?
    • Full-sized:
      On a budget? 4th-gen iPad.
      If you want a slimmer profile or more capacity, get the Air.
    • Mini: It’s a choice of whether you want a Retina display.
  2. Wi-Fi only or Wi-Fi with 4G LTE?

Facebook to ignore do-not-track setting on web browsers

Advertising Age writes about Facebook’s use of web browsing history for ad targeting.

But what Facebook is now enabling is far more expansive in terms how it uses data for ad targeting. In a move bound to stir up some controversy given the company’s reach and scale, the social network will not be honoring the do-not-track setting on web browsers. A Facebook spokesman said that’s “because currently there is no industry consensus.” Social-media competitors Twitter and Pinterest do honor the setting. Google and Yahoo do not.

What is the point of a do-not-track option when you still get tracked by those who have no qualms about trampling over your privacy rights so they can earn more money?