Apple Watch Series 2 offers glimpse of smartwatch future

apple watch2 ceramic

With the Apple Watch Series 2 announcement on Wednesday, Apple focused on using the upcoming smartwatch for fitness. It includes built-in GPS for tracking hikes and distance runs and is “swim-proof,” or water-resistant to 50 meters.

Of course, the Series 2, on sale for $369 on Sept. 16, will be good for other things, like messaging and Apple Pay. But Apple chose to dwell on fitness, a pivot away from the way it marketed the original Apple Watch, which shipped in April 2015. Some Pokemon Go functions will even be added later in the year to the S2, encouraging users to get outside and explore as they discover Pokemon creatures. (Players will still need a smartphone to actually capture a Pokemon, however.)

Analysts see Apple’s new fitness focus as a way to dig into the top-selling fitness bands from Fitbit, which start at $60 and average over $100 each. In doing so, Apple sought to clarify and simplify the purpose of buying a smartwatch, with hopes of getting the camel’s nose inside the tent so users can explore other functions.

The lessons Apple learns will be instructive for other smartwatch makers and are destined to shape how all types of wearable gadgets evolve in the next 20 years.

“People still don’t know what to do with a smartwatch device,” said IDC analyst Jitesh Ubrani. “Focusing on fitness is like Apple’s Trojan horse to get users to slowly start to use a smartwatch for other things, like notifications. Apple hopes they will later realize the value.”

Apple’s newfound approach will be scrutinized by the entire smartwatch industry, which saw a gaping 32% decline in the second quarter of 2016, according to IDC. That decline came about because Apple Watch was by far the biggest in smartwatches (with 1.6 million shipped) but nonetheless saw a decline of 55% for the second quarter compared to a year earlier. Meanwhile Samsung, Lenovo, LG and Garmin all experienced gains.

For all of 2016, Apple Watch shipments will be down somewhat from the 11.3 million that were sold in 2015, although final numbers are still being tabulated by IDC and will be released later this month. Fourth quarter sales of the Series 2 and previous models won’t be enough to offset the loss for all of 2016, Ubrani said. In 2017, the Apple Watch will see a rebound in sales, he predicted, with growth in every year through 2020.

apple watch2 swimming

“Fitness is the easiest selling point at the moment for wearables,” agreed Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Creative Strategies. “Fitness bands [like Fitbit] are still outselling smartwatches and some of it is due to lower price. But some of it is due to the fact that consumers are still not quite sure what smartwatches can do for them and if it’s worth paying more.”

Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, is bullish on the latest Apple Watch innovations. If the new Apple Series 1 and 2 watches perform as well as demonstrated on stage, he predicted “sales will improve dramatically.” The next wave of smartwatch owners should increase the size of the total market by 10 times, a group he called the “early majority” instead of the “early adopters.”

Hyperbole with smartwatch sales

Other analysts were less bullish than Moorhead.

“It’s good that Apple is trying to reposition the Watch as a solution rather than a peripheral device [to a smartphone], but at its current $369 price point, it may have limited market appeal,” said Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates. “I don’t see this will be a very high volume market for Apple.”

Gold said the price drop of the original Series 1 model to $269 would only make a difference in boosting sales if it had more features like those in the Series 2. Apple said Series 1 watches will have the same upgraded system-in-a-package (SiP) dual core processor and graphics processor as the Series 2 — still not enough for Gold’s taste.

Ubrani said the smartwatch market is a “very, very small market and it will likely remain like that for a long time” even though there will be growth. Disagreeing politely with Moorhead, he said, “there certainly won’t be anything like a 10X improvement” in the next few years.

IDC has predicted 19.2 million smartwatches will ship this year, a tiny number when compared with the more than 1 billion smartphones that will be sold.

Future dreams

What seems to be driving much of the interest in the Apple Watch — and the entire smartwatch market — despite lower-than-expected initial sales, is a strong interest in where smartwatches and other wearables will eventually take us in the world of personal computing.

Could average people use a smartwatch in 20 years to replace a smartphone for video calls and to serve as a digital wallet, with the ability to pay for things? Can you carry a digital version of your driver’s license or identity card, with insurance and other information? With such a device, could normal workplace habits be changed? For example, could the smartwatch be used to open security doors through short-range wireless and help with passwords to log into highly secure behemoth computer systems?

Using the smartwatch as a person’s electronic wallet offers plenty of promise, according to Matthew Goldman, the chief product officer for Bankrate, a large provider of consumer financial advice and tools.

“People can pay more easily with a smartwatch that stays on the person,” Goldman said in an interview. “We talk to people with Apple Pay on their watch who say it’s much easier than using their phone. The phone isn’t that big of a differentiator from using a card in your wallet.”

Building a legacy

At one point three years ago, the upcoming original Apple Watch was seen as a way for then-new Apple CEO Tim Cook to leave a lasting mark on the computer industry in the post-iPhone era. But even before the disasterous drop in smartwatch sales in the second quarter of 2016, Samsung officials were bemoaning their early smartwatch results even after beating Apple to the market.

Cook and Apple have not said much about the recent downturn in sales, but Cook was predictably upbeat at this week’s launch event. He pointed out Apple Watch is second only to Rolex, leads in smartwatches and tops customer satisfaction surveys.

“It’s important we delight customers,” Cook said. “Apple Watch set a high bar. We are just getting started.”

What’s still needed—a fashion flair

Apple’s focus on the fashionable design of the hardware and bands and even the simplified interface in Watch OS 3 will go a long way, and could influence the rest of the industry, Ubrani said. (A new ceramic white model was launched, along with stylish new watch bands.)

apple watch 2 hermes inline 01

“Fashion smartwatches are not a silly concept,” Ubrani said. “People are interested in new designs and pay attention. Many people, including women, weigh the design over the function. The problem of designing for women still exists.”

IDC has seen that when smartwatch makers pitch their wares to women buyers, “they tend to take their regular model and coat it in gold or add jewels, but that really doesn’t work because the smartwatch is still pretty large,” Ubrani added. “So it’s still a high price that appeals to one type of woman. Apple is doing a good job there but there’s still room for improvement.”

In Series 2, Apple still makes both a 38mm model and a 42mm model, which is a lot smaller than Motorola’s Moto 360 watches at 42mm and 46mm. The Motorola devices start at $300. The Apple Watch Series 2 keeps the same footprint as the original, but the new one is a “bit thicker,” Ubrani said.

In another comparison, Samsung is producing the round-faced, cellular-connected Galaxy Gear S3 smartwatch with a 1.3-in. dial size, which actually is below the 1.5 in. display dimension of the smaller 38mm Apple Watch. (But the overall case of the Galaxy Gear S3 is 46mm, up from the 42mm of the Gear S2.)

However they are measured, Ubrani and other analysts have said watchmakers still need to find ways to make smartwatches more stylish, with some models small enough for many women but large enough to allow for touch functionality.

“Large watches are in fashion, but by producing that, you are still ruling out a lot of people,” Ubrani said.

apple watch nike

“Because a watch is so much like jewelry, there need to be many more styles and many more brands that offer them,” added Moorhead. “ I fully expect all of the major traditional watch brands to bring out smartwatches in the next five years.”

Long-term implications

Nobody is talking lately about what a smartwatch will be in 20 years or whether it will be, say, a Dick Tracy two-way live video communications device. The realities of early problems with smartwatches seem to have tamped down the most lofty expectations of three years ago.

There seems also to be a recognition that despite the complexities of technology inside tiny smartwatch components (such as how the speaker mechanism pumps out water in the Series 2), they comprise a tiny market compared to the current rate of 1 billion smartphones sold in a year.

“We are looking at a multi-year journey,” Moorhead said. “Before smartwatches become a mass market device, a few things need to come into place: the experience needs to be fast and seamless without the requirement for a smartphone with a price around $200.” He estimated it will take five years for smartwatches to become mainstream.

“No doubt, wearables will play a much bigger role in coming years, but which form will be the winning one remains to be seen,” Milanesi added. “Most companies have looked at wearables as another revenue opportunity as sales of smartphones decrease. Apple, however, is playing a much longer game where the smartwatch starts with the familiar to build a dependency and trust, then builds on other things like health, connected home, Siri and more.”

The idea is that the smartwatch might eventually become a Swiss Army knife, with various applications turned on with connectivity in the cloud or the smartphone.

“What we term smartwatches today will morph in 20 years into specialty devices,” Gold predicted. “Some will be activity monitors like the new thrust of Apple Watch Series 2; some will be health monitors; some will be for gaming. Who knows where it will lead?

“I look at this like early phone units that were about phone calls, then we got email and networks improved,” he said. “Then there was music, then web, gaming, GPS, health fitness and more. Instead of looking at the smartwatch as a peripheral device, it will be configurable to what we need it to do. And it will have connectivity to whatever services it needs, which could either be in the smartphone or the cloud.”

Apple Watch Headed To John Lewis In The UK

Apple Watch

The Apple Watch is only available to buy in the Apple store in the UK and also a number of select stores in London and now it is headed to the UK’s John Lewis.

John Lewis have announced that the Apple Watch will be available in 37 of their 44 stores in the UK and also through their website from the 18th of September.

Speaking to Wareable, Will Jones, head of buying communication technology at John Lewis said “We believe Apple Watch will be one of the most sought after gifts this Christmas,”.

Not all models of the device will be sold at John Lewis, the company will offer a ‘curated’ selection of the Apple Watch in their retail stores. Apple will launch their new Apple watchOS 2 later this week on the 16th of September, they recently revealed some new models of the device at their iPhone 6S press event.

Moov Now Fitness Tracker Arrives At The FCC

Moov Now Fitness Tracker

After being made available to pre-order back in July of this year, the new Moov Now fitness tracker has now arrived the FCC. Indicating that it should not be too long before the new second generation Moov tracker will be available to purchase and start shipping out to those that have already pre-ordered.

Unlike other fitness trackers currently on the market the Moov Now is not equipped with a display and can be worn either on your wrists or ankles and connects to companion applications that have been created for both iOS and Android smartphones.

Moov Now fitness tracker

The connection from fitness tracker to smartphone is provided by Bluetooth, the device is powered by a replaceable CR2032 watch battery, that is capable of providing up to half a year of battery life.

Moov Now fitness tracker

If you haven’t already pre-ordered your Moov Now fitness tracker it is now available the limited time preorder price of just $60. After launch the price will then increase to $99 and is available in Fusion Red, Blizzard White, Stealth Black and Aqua Blue. For more information on the Moov Now jump over to the official website via the link below.

New Apple tvOS Will Not Support Webviews On Apple TV

tvOS Will Not Support Web Viewing

Developers hoping to create new applications for the latest Apple TV that was unveiled late last week using the new Apple tvOS operating system which has been specifically created for the new hardware by Apple.

Maybe interested to know that Apple has restricted the ability to view websites or any web content within applications on the new Apple TV hardware.

Unlike applications on other mobile operating devices that allow developers to link to web content the new Apple TV won’t be able to display Web content. Forcing developers to create native components that are optimised for tvOS and provide users with enhanced rendering on large screen TVs. Daniel Pasco from Medium explains more on what effect this will have on tvOS apps :

Webviews are the duct tape of the mobile world. I’d estimate that 50% to 80% of the major apps out there use webviews somewhere within their apps. Apple’s Mail app uses webviews for your email messages, because webviews can style and render the content very efficiently. NetNewsWire uses them prolifically, particularly in a few features we haven’t enabled in the shipping version yet.

If you’re looking at Twitter, and someone you follow posts a link, you can click on it and the app will create a webview, load the link in the webview, and show it to you. You get to check out links quickly without ever having to leave the apps. The Facebook app uses them for the same thing, that’s practically the sole reason that apps like NetNewsWire exist in the first place.

MagCable Magnet Cable Connector Supports Both Android And iOS

MagCable Magnet Cable

aMagic has created a new type of magnetic cable called MagCable which supports both android and iOSdevices and has been designed to make makes it easier to connect and disconnect your mobile devices, portable games consoles, tablets and more from charging and syncing.

MagCable is being marketed as a ‘revolutionary magnetic USB cable’ that keeps your mobile connected easily that provides a ‘simple solution that changes your entire charging experience’, says its creators.

Watch the video below to learn more how the system works and is cross compatible allowing you to use one cable to charge multiple devices that may be equipped with a variety of different connection.

We all went through the problem with fraying cables, struggling to connect cable with mobile in the dark, and many more hassle.  As simple as it can get, MagCable provides magnetic connectivity with light indicator to make your life easier!

• You can connect USB cable with your mobile easily via the magnetic connection.
• You can detach the cable by simply bending its plug.
• A light indicator in cable plug helps you to locate your cable in the dark easily.
• A dust and water proof design prevents damages at the charging socket.
• A charging switch on cable lets you switch between data transfer and fast charging mode easily.

 

The MagCable Is currently overall kick starter looking to raise £50,000 to help take the concept into production and has pledges available from just $12 or £8 and allows you to select the connectors you would like to use.

Sony India Aims for 20 Percent Growth During Festive Season

With most of its major product launches scheduled for this year completed, consumer electronics company Sony India on Monday said it is looking ahead to a growth of 20 percent across its product-range during the festive season (August-November).

“During the festive season, we are targeting a growth of 20 percent nationally while in the Bravia (television range) segment, we hope to achieve a growth of 25 percent,” Satish Padmanabhan, the company’s head of sales, told media persons here.

He said that for the entire fiscal, the firm has pegged the growth rate at 15 percent in value terms for its entire product range as against 28 percent growth last fiscal. Amidst this target, it hopes to sell 22 lakh TV units during 2015-16.

Padmanabhan reasoned the growth during 2014-15 to be higher as compared to the projected growth during 2015-16 on account of many international events which had pushed the company’s TV sales up.

The company claimed it has a significant share in the eastern markets and has targeted to sell goods worth Rs. 280 crores during the festive months as compared to Rs. 200 crores during the festive months in the previous fiscal.

It has also stepped up its promotional budget to Rs. 150 crores pan-India during the Diwali promotions and has allotted Rs. 25 crores for the Durga Puja period in the east.

The official said it is witnessing good growth in the rural areas in the east where people are upgrading CRT-based TVs to the more recent ones, including flat panels.

“The rural east is shaping up well and the flat panel TVs has already entered the market. The CRTs now have only a 15 percent market share in the overall industry from 25 percent last year. Most of the big players have exited the CRT TV,” he said.

Asked about the company’s take on online sales, Padmanabhan said: “Presently, online sales contribute just 2-3 percent of the revenue but we expect online to play a big role in the coming future… At this moment, we have restrictive online sales.”

The official claimed that the company’s product range – Bravia – has a 29 percent market share in the overall industry with its closest competitor lagging behind by just one percent.

During 2014-15, the firm had registered a growth of 103 percent in terms of quantity sold and 75 percent growth in terms of value in east India.

iRig Mic Studio improve your sound recordings even use your phone or tablet to record song vocals

PRICE WHEN REVIEWED

£159.99 inc VAT

IRIG MIC STUDIO REVIEW

A portable condenser microphone which attaches to your phone, tablet or computer to give you studio-quality sound for recording vocals for music or podcasting. Here’s our iRig Mic Studio review

See also: Best headphones to buy right now

Not that long ago, recording music was only really possible in an expensive recording studio. Now, with the help of a phone or tablet running software such as GarageBand you can create music or record podcasts practically anywhere.

The problem is, despite great software, built-in microphones don’t give the best results and can mean a lot of background noise and lower quality overall. That’s where mics such as the iRig Mic Studio come in. It’s a portable condenser microphone which connects to your phone or tablet (including iPhone and iPad)  and is designed to capture everything from the subtle and nuanced dynamics of the human voice to the full-on bombast of an amplified electric guitar, and everything in between.

IRIG MIC STUDIO REVIEW: DESIGN AND BUILD

It is available in black and silver and the price includes a table-top stand, which can also be used on a full-size microphone stand. It feels sturdy and well built.

iRig Mic Studio review

In the box is a choice of three leads to connect the microphone to your device: Lightning for iOS, Micro-USB OTG for Android devices, and USB for a computer running Windows or OS X. It doesn’t come with a 30-pin cable for older iPads or iPhones but you can purchase one separately. The cables will be long enough for most people at 1.5m.

The Mic Studio is easy to set up: simply connect the cable into the iRig Mic Studio then into your device. You can also connect your headphones to the back of the microphone so you can listen to its output. Once connected, open an app to record the audio and it will simply default to the microphone. If you are using a computer you will need to select the iRig Mic Studio as the input/output.

There’s a free companion app called ‘Mic Room’ available for iOS and Android. It emulates different microphones and you can use it to connect to other apps such as Garageband.

iRig Mic Studio review

The microphone itself has a gain control and headphone volume so you can control your headphone mix. The small knobs are a bit fiddly to use and you can’t adjust them while you record as a knocking sound is picked up. Fortunately the app includes a gain control so you can adjust without the fear of knocking the microphone. Occasionally there would be a slight delay when tapping record but closing the app and starting it again fixed the problem.

It also has a multicolour LED level indicator on the microphone to give you an idea if the gain is too high so you can avoid any unwanted distortion.

iRig Mic Studio review

IRIG MIC STUDIO: AUDIO QUALITY

When comparing the iRig Mic Studio with our iPhone 5S’s microphone we noticed a big difference. The iRig Mic Studio has a 24-bit audiophile-grade A/D converter (with 44.1/48 kHz sample rate) and a built-in low-noise high-definition preamp giving it a far clearer sound because it captures those high and low frequencies missing from the phone’s built-in microphone, giving the bass more of a punch and crisper treble.

One of the biggest advantages of the iRig Mic Studio is you can be a comfortable distance away from the microphone in comparison to how closely you have to speak into the iPhone’s mic to avoid any unwanted hiss when the gain is increased. This makes the Studio a better microphone for recording podcasts and doing interviews when there are a few people talking.

SPECS

New Apple TV Gets Unboxed

new apple TV

As well as announcing their new iPhone 6S handsets last week, Apple also announced their new Apple TV device, the new set top box wont launch until October.

Andru from Gear Live has managed to get his hands on the new Apple TV ahead of the devices launch and we get to see the Apple TV unboxed in the video below.

 

The new Apple TV comes with Apple’s new tvOS which is built on iOS 9, Apple have also released a new SDK for developers and the device will come with apps and games.

There will be two different versions of the Apple TV available, one with 32GB of storage, the other with 64GB of storage and there is also a new remote.

The new remote comes with a trackpad, motion control and Apple’s voice activated assistant, Siri, which can be used to control the device and also search for movies and TV shows. Apple will launch their next generation Apple TV in October and the 32GB model will retail for $149 and the 64GB model $199.

TRNDlabs SKEYE Pico Drone Is The World’s Smallest Drone

pico drone

TRNDlabs has announced what they are claiming is the world’s smallest drone, the SKEYE Pico Drone, it certainly looks small from the photo.

The SKEYE Pico Drone measures just 2.2 cm by 2.2 cm and weighs in at just 7 grams, you can see it in  action in the video below.

pico drone

The SKEYE Pico Drone is the smallest drone we’ve ever made and also the smallest drone in the world! It is so small, it can easily sit on your finger and fly on precision controlled exercises into the narrowest of nooks! The drone is designed to be taken everywhere and fits inside of its own controller.

With Ready to Fly Technology (RTF) and 3 levels of sensitivity, the SKEYE Pico Drone is incredibly easy to control and maneuver. The SKEYE Pico doesn’t just hover up and down – you can go full daredevil with its 6-Axis flight control system and auto-adjustable gyro sensitivity. Flips, spins, and epic aerial dives are all possible with just a little practice. With the SKEYE Pico’s built in LED lights, you can fly all night long.

 

The new SKEYE Pico Drone will be available for $49 when it launches, you can find out more details about the device at the link below.

New Battery-Free Cameras Can Find Their Own Positions

Scientists have shown that a network of energy-harvesting sensor nodes equipped with onboard cameras can determine each camera’s pose and location using optical cues, an advance that could be used in home security and infrastructure monitoring.

This capability could help to enable networks of hundreds or thousands of sensors that could operate without batteries or external power and require minimal maintenance. Such networks could be part of the Internet of Things (IoT) in which objects can communicate and share information to create smart environments.

Previous work at University of Washington has produced battery-free Radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags called WISPs with enhanced capabilities such as onboard computation, sensing, and image capture capabilities.

WISPs operate at such low power that they can scavenge the energy needed for operation from radio waves. The new work shows that these WISPs with onboard cameras, or WISPCams, can use optical cues to figure out where they are located and the direction in which they are pointed. The ability of each node to determine its own location makes deployment of autonomous sensor nodes easier and the sensor data they produce more meaningful.

“Once the battery free cameras know their own positions it is possible to query the network of WISPCams for high level information such as all images looking west or sensor data from all nodes in a particular area,” said Alanson P Sample, a research scientist with Disney Research.

Future iterations of this RFID-based sensing technology has the potential to enable low cost and maintenance-free IoT applications by eliminating the need for external wiring or regular battery replacement. Networks of hundreds or thousands of these sensors could be used to monitor the condition of infrastructure such as bridges, industrial equipment monitoring, and home security monitoring, researchers said.

The researchers used an image processing technique called Perspective-n-Point (PnP) which involves capturing an image of an object and then comparing it with a second image in which four LEDs in a known configuration illuminate the object.

Using this technique, the cameras were able to estimate their position to within a few centimetres.

In their experimental setup, the researchers used four WISPCams and a separate WISP with LEDs, but Sample noted that the LEDs could be incorporated into each WISPCam.