Tag Archives: technology

Mota G2 Lite Smartwatch review

In my email last week I saw a Groupon offer for the Mota G2 smartwatch (sold out now) reduced to $49.99 for the original or $59.99 for the newer model. Of course, I liked the snazzy silver/red version which only comes in the newer model. I read the reviews for it on Amazon and it sounded like it would be fun to try out.

Mota G2 Lite

Mota G2 Lite

 

Shipping was fast – even though the tracking said estimated receive date was a week after when I actually received it. The box itself has been shipped in a lightly padded envelope and had got slightly damaged – just cosmetic, but still. The watch came almost fully charged which was a pleasant surprise – I don’t like to have to wait to play. Pairing the watch to my iPhone 5S was easy and after I read the manual I did set the correct time.

I will pause at this point to say I think this watch is more of a dumb smartwatch than a smart smartwatch! Really, I am waiting very impatiently for the long rumored Apple iWatch and this experience just reinforced my feeling that Apple is more likely to make something ‘smart’. For instance, why couldn’t the G2 get the time from the phone???

FEATURES

If you go to the Mota website and read about the features of the G2 it seems to do everything you would want in a low entry point device:

  • It has Bluetooth connectivity to both Android and Apple;
  • Vibrates with caller ID so you can decide to accept or ignore call;
  • Can be used as hands free speakerphone with built in speakers and microphone;
  • Can stream your music through the built in speakers;
  • Alerts when you go more than 10ft away from your phone;
  • Can be used to connect to Siri or Google Now for voice commands;
  • Looks stylish in a Star Trek communicator way.

This all sounds great – I was excited to get this device. The big thing for me was to get one button access to Siri without having to dig my phone out of my pocket or purse. I am still waiting to get this – no combination of button pushes could get this to work – unless I activated it from the phone first which defeats the purpose completely! The manual says to press button B which will change the display to speak and press button A to confirm. Nope, couldn’t get this to work and spent half the time turning the watch off by accident pressing button B for various lengths of time.

The watch did actually not look too bad on my wrist and the fit was comfortable – not too loose and not too tight. The display was clear enough, but a bit boring and small – no color. It was annoying to have to turn the screen on to display the time – some sort of motion sense or something should kick that off. It is a lot wider than my Jawbone Up band and I don’t think I would wear this out if I was dressed up.

Mota G2

Mota G2 Lite

Mota G2 Lite

I will say the streaming music and speakerphone for phone calls did work very well. Again, not sure how much I would really want to speak to my wrist and have everyone hear the caller. It was a novelty feature – I did want to access Siri this way and add calendar events quickly.

As for notifications, they only work for phone calls – I wanted to at least be able to see if there were any texts or messages I was missing. This is why I say the phone was more dumb than smart – there is no logic in this, it is purely a Bluetooth repeater.  I don’t want to have to turn my phone to silent before a meeting and then turn it back off when I come out of it. I watch my smart watch to figure out when I am in a meeting and silence my phone and vibrate notifications to me. At least vibrate to remind me I left the phone in silent mode!

Finally, the proximity alert for when you are more than 10ft from the phone seemed like a nice idea – except I now realize I purposely leave my phone quite often and I don’t need an alert about it. I do not take my phone the the bathroom, nor do I take it with me to pick up lunch at the cafe downstairs and I definitely don’t have it with me at all times in the house. If I am expecting a call I might have it with me more often, but this alarm thing was just too annoying. Then when you come back in range of the Bluetooth it beeps quite loudly. How about understanding my routine and only alerting me when I leave the phone outside of my normal locations?

Conclusion

I guess this foray into smart/dumb watches has more clearly defined in my head what I am really looking for in a smartwatch – hopefully the iWatch meets these desires:

  • Smart silences phone and vibrate watch when in meetings;
  • Smartly figure out if I am forgetting my phone or purposely leaving it;
  • One button access to Siri and display the results on the screen as well as talk them;
  • Access to phone contacts to initiate text message or voice call easily;
  • Have Bluetooth priority options – in the car always connect to the car first, etc
  • Always display the time or at least make it display when movement is detected;
  • Remind me of events/meetings or appointments I have coming up;
  • Importantly: look cool and stylish on either male or female wrists!

The Mota G2 has been repackaged and the return label printed off to send it back to its masters. Santa is however ready to order an iWatch so roll on Sept 9th Apple event – I am waiting!!!

 

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Technology for college

Just last week someone was asking for my help – they need to get a laptop because their kid is off to college this summer. Could I help them pick something out? I went off searching the Sunday paper sale pages – ok, I surfed to the sites weekly deals pages. There wasn’t really much interesting though and as I started looking at different features it struck me I was doing this all  wrong.

I called my friend and had a different suggestion. Sure, I could pick something out, but what we really need to do is sit down with his daughter and figure out what she wants. More specifically, how does she think she will use the tech at college.

What screen size does she want in a laptop? Does she even really want or need a laptop or would a tablet do? Is this something to do homework on in the evening or something that will be going into class with her? What kind of mobile phone does she currently have? Will she need extensive use of a CD/DVD drive, occasional use or is everything in the cloud?These questions will help narrow down what will suit her best – then we can look for deals!

Luckily I think we have every possible combination of screen, tablet or netbook at my house and suggested maybe my friend and his daughter come over and she can take a look at the options and see how they differ in person. If they are really lucky I might even provide dinner!

Technology for 2014

We still have a month before Thanksgiving, but already the Christmas countdown posters are busy. I admit it, I did copy a posting onto Facebook about how many days until Christmas just to piss my friends off! 

Apple’s next event is this week and the rumor mill is geared up trying to parse the invite text for clues to what is coming. Not sure why people can’t just wait until the event – you just look silly predicting stuff that isn’t true year after year.

Anyway, all this got me thinking about next year – what do I hope to see with tech in 2014? 
I think there are 4 main areas that will have increasing breakthroughs:

    Mobile
    Wearable tech
    Cloud integration
    Auto tech

Mobile

I am actually surprised by some of the surveys that show how many people in the US still don’t have smartphones yet.  This Mashable survey showed the US is beaten in penetration by 12 other countries! mashable.com/2013/08/27/global-smartphone-penetration

Part of the problem is the carrier restrictions here, I know in the UK pay-as-you-go is a much more easily adopted option than a 2 year contract. Also, personally I have found people have a lot of confusion about how to add a smartphone – cost of phone + plan? which carrier plan? What does a gig of data really mean? Big disconnect between people who get it and people skimming the edges not quite sure. The carriers need to do a better job of clearly explaining it – Apple ads would be a good template instead of showing robots and lightening bolts!

So assuming the penetration increases and your Mother, Aunts and Great Uncles all get smartphones – what now? For starters texting and calling (audio or video) need to be platform agnostic. Apple could do us a favor and allow FaceTime to work to any device. Same with iMessage.

Mobile payment is just about to burst wide open – even the banks have finally woken up. PayPal has a good head start, but Amazon and Google are looking to get into the mobile payment arena too. Amazon has a built in user base and the trust of those users, so it really could Amazonize the mobile payment space! These work with your smartphone and don’t require any new hardware, unlike NFC does which requires retails to invest in new hardware.

People want their phones to become smarter – don’t just remind me I have an appointment, act more like a real personal assistant and schedule things for me. Don’t interrupt me while I am in a meeting, but if I am sitting at my desk go ahead. Understand what I am interested in and automatically alert me when those things get coverage. Let me know I should leave the office now because the traffic is backing up or the snow storm has suddenly arrived early!

Wearable Tech
This year I have had a Jawbone Up bracelet constantly attached to my wrist. It monitors my steps and my sleep, and will buzz me if I have been sitting around too long. I really like it, but I want more – and developers think other people do too! 

There are developments in the fashion industry to create clothes that light up at night, or heat up when it is cold. There are temporary tattoos that can monitor skin perspiration and even bloody sugar. Some newer fit bands can monitor heart rate, blood pressure, etc. The encryption band that means you don’t need to remember passwords, just wear it and all your tech unlocks. I also saw a band that can unlock your car.

So now we want something that ties it all together – smart clothes that heat or cool to keep your body temp optimal, body monitoring tools that proactively monitor do I need to drink more water? Am I exercising outside of my target heart rate? Do I have a health condition that should be followed up by a Doctor? Did I already take my vitamins or did I forget? Charge my smartphone when I walk in the sun, or just by swinging my arms as I walk.

I wait with great anticipation for the long rumored Apple iWatch. It is going to be tough to keep up with the latest developments and still make a package that looks sleek, sexy and still functional, but if anyone can do it, Apple can! A point for designers to note, women don’t want to walk around with a brick on our wrists! And nobody wants 10 different devices on each arm either.

Cloud Integration

The internet of things is about to really take off, with devices around the home hooking up to the internet for control and reporting. The Nest thermostat is proving popular and they now have the smart smoke alarm. There are devices to make keyless home entry from your smartphone allowing you to set temporary pass codes for cleaners or the dog walker. No need to worry if you forgot to lock up the house. Put motion detectors and cameras around the yard to check for unusual activity and get an alert directly on your phone no matter where you are in the world. 

New technology is coming out of development that creates wifi networks from light bulbs – which are faster then your current router! Turn on your refridgerator and never run out of milk again. Hook this into an app on your phone and get an alert as you get close to the supermarket with reminders of what needs to be replenished.

Then there is the dream of the smart menu – what’s for dinner tonight? An app can suggest based on what is in the house and what could be made by picking up a few other items. If you scan your receipt (or ideally, use your supermarket smart cart) everything you have bought will be tracked. Or maybe you are already at the supermarket and stuck for ideas – scan some products on your phone, like chicken, and get menu suggestions with a shopping list right in your hand.

Mobile coupons are another opportunity waiting to be exploited more fully. Get pop-up coupons on your phone as you pass stores. Those reward card accounts you have – stores are tracking them and can tell how valuable a customer you are and customize coupons based on this. 

In the enterprise zone, more companies are realizing that developing a light front end app rather than an installable program is more cost effective and makes for quicker and easier updates and changes. SalesForce.com has really taken a lead in the arena and are showing other companies how this technology can be exploited. Enterprise buyers are more influenced by consumer technology now and are quite comfortable with adding apps to larger applications to solve different problems. Why buy a large manufacting software package if you can just add an app into your SF.com implementation that enables shipment tracking and receipts?

Auto Tech

Car manufactures have been feeling the pressure from consumers to make the car more integrated with smart devices and safety functions. Googles driverless car is going to be a major change for society with both positive and some negative implication – depending in which side of the equation you fall. Self driving cars will open the world for disabled and impaired drivers – especially with people living longer, with mobility needs, but maybe not quite the same unimpaired faculties as when they were younger. This will make the roads safer for everyone.If however, you make a living as a taxi driver or trucker then you might not be so happy about this change! 

Zip car allows people to hire a car only when they need it, but imagine if you have driverless cars available at your beck and call … why even buy a car of your own if there are fleets around just waiting for the next request? No need to worry about mandatory rest breaks or shift switches when there is a computer in charge.

And as the car gets smarter it will be able to monitor its own health. Get a reminder on your phone when the oil needs to be changed or if something else is needed. Safety features are becoming increasingly common and not just in the high end models. Automatic breaking in anticipation of an accident! I have to say my rebel side thinks it would be funny to prank these cars by blowing through a red light as everyone else automatically breaks… but I digress!

I saw a steering wheel cover that can monitor your heart rate and play soothing music as you get more likely to engage in some road rage! While we are waiting for the driverless car, diver monitoring systems would help everyone – too tired? Bit drunk? Not paying attention? Alert the driver or at least alert the drivers around them!

Conclusion

These are some of the major areas of tech that I am both looking forward to and excited about. Maybe not all will be quite possible in 2014, but as someone pointed out – marketing has changed more in the last 2 years then the last 30 years! Technology innovation is increasing as we all live in a more connected world where your idea can be shared among unbelievable amounts of people with one click of a button. The synergy of a connected world leads to faster and better innovation.

What are you looking forward to? Are you worried about anything?

Online bookmarking app Pocket

Do you ever find yourself scanning quickly through email or Twitter and seeing links to articles that interest you, but you don’t have time to read right now? In an effort to keep your mailbox under control you delete the email, maybe you favorite the tweet. There is a much better way to stay on top of all of this though – using an online bookmarking app like Pocket.

Whats so great about Pocket? You can bookmark any web page or tweet, tag it and then read it on another device when you have the time. I spend a lot of time saving interesting articles during the day and then use the Pocket app on my iPad in the evening to go through those articles. After you have read it you can mark it as read and it goes away or keep it or make it available offline by making it a favorite.

The desktop app installs as a bookmarklet button on your browser toolbar – this is Chrome:

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If you are using your phone to browse Twitter and see a tweet you want to read later – just side swipe the tweet, select the ‘…’ and select Read Later.

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Depending on which Twitter client you are using you will need to adjust its settings so that it knows what app to associate with the Read Later button. For instance in Hootsuite click on the Settings gear icon, select Read Later and then set up your account for Pocket:

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To save a Hootsuite tweet to pocket, click on the tweet and then the ‘…’ button (next to Favorite). If you have added Pocket through your settings you should now see a button that says Send to Pocket:

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As you add articles you have an opportunity to add a tag to it – this gives you another way to keep your clips sorted – other than by just date. You can add multiple tags to an article – side swipe an article to get the tag button and then select or create a new tag for the article:

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To quickly find articles with the same tag you can filter them using the tag button next to the search bar – pull down on screen slightly to see the search bar:

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I have used Pocket while researching vacation spots and saved maps as favorites so that I could refer to them even when there was no signal around. It is also great for homework projects where you can save all the reference pages with the same tag for easy use later. If you save a tweet to Pocket you will not just see the article from the tweet, but also have an opportunity to retweet or favorite the original tweet.

Pocket just recently announced some new features including quick sharing with people – email sharing is still the most popular share method. People you share with frequently are now 1 button click away. All in all, a very useful app for anyone who uses the web for research and needs easy access to that information from any platform.

Apps are available for iPad, iPhone, Android and Kindle for free.

Fitness gadget – the Jawbone Up

Recently there has been a flurry of activity in the tech world with get fit gadgets. I say anything that can help me get healthy is in my toy box for a test! Being a gadget geek has some advantages – I feel no guilt buying my toys. How else am I going to give my considered opinion to you, my dear audience?

I did a bunch of research online about the leading products Nike Fuel Band, Jawbone Up and Fitbit tracker. They each had pros and cons – I like the Fuel Band because it tells the time and uses Bluetooth to sync to app, but it didn’t track your sleep which I was interested in. The Fitbit tracks sleep and activity and had Bluetooth sync, but it is a clip on device instead of a band and there were plenty of reports of people putting them through the laundry. The Jawbone Up doesn’t have Bluetooth sync or tell the time, but it does track sleep and activity and is a bangle form. All are in the $100 – $150 range – the Jawbone UP is $129.99.

Here is the official website where you can check out the different colors of bands: https://jawbone.com/up

FitBit looks to be releasing a bangle style version later this year which may be worth taking a look at. Of course, if Apple does release the long rumoured iWatch then all bets will be off the table!!

So off I went to the Apple store to buy one and saw this other device I had never heard of – Lark Life. In the store I was googling it and talking to the Apple guy who was very helpful. In the end though, the Lark was just too big on my wrist – and a really bright blue! I ended up getting a nice mint green Jawbone instead.

This is what my band looks like and this is how I wear it:

band wrist

You can see why it would be nice if it told the time so I could actually lose the watch – no I don’t get the whole ‘pull you phone out your pocket to tell the time’ business!

You wear the band day and night – it is water resistant so you can wear it in the shower, but I see no reason to do this! It automatically tracks the steps you take – you can manually calibrate your stride if you are very serious – and why not, it was easy to do. The band can stay charged for 10 days although I find it is closer to 8 days – it takes about 45 mins to charge up. One end of the band has a cap that you pull off to reveal a headphone plug – stick it into you iPhone and the band syncs to the app. You initially set up goals for daily steps and nightly sleep time. You can manually track food through the app. You can also track your mood during the day by clicking on the smiley face on the app.

Here is the daily summary screen showing how much of the sleep, and step goals have been achieved and what your food diary is looking like:

summary

If you tap on the purple sleep bar it opens up to show the details of how well you slept:

sleep
There are alarms that can be set that will make the bracelet vibrate to wake you up – they can be set to wake you during a light sleep cycle a half hour around the time you set, or wake you at the exact time set. You set the alarms via the app and then sync the UP via the headphone jack. An update has just come out that lets you set multiple alarms for different times on different days.

Clicking on the orange steps bar takes you to a screen that shows your activity during the day:

steps

The deeper red a bar is the more quickly or intense your steps were.

A cool feature that I have found really helps me is setting the idle alarm. If I sit for more than an hour the UP will buzz me to remind me to get up and go for a walk. You can decide what interval you want to be buzzed on and between what hours – so you sleep peacefully!

You can track your mood throughout the day as well by clicking on the smiley face and sliding your finger up or down the face to show you are feeling happy or sad, energetic or dragging! You can also add a comment or change the description words to detail how or why you are feeling a certain way:

mood

Add food by tapping the food icon on the other side from the smiley face. UP has a very extensive food dictionary or you can scan the barcode of an item to put it in.

food
Not sure of the nutritional information accuracy – it says it is based on USDA guidelines. I generally just use it as a vague guide to how I am doing during the day.

Another feature that prompted me to quit eating chocolate (yes me, really!) was the food word cloud – so the more you eat something the bigger the word shows – my biggest word was consistently CHOCOLATE!!! The only issue with it is that it maps the word, not by item. So you could eat raisin oatmeal and maple sugar oatmeal and both maple, sugar, raisin and oatmeal will be added:

food cloud
Note that this is a word cloud for the last 7 days.

You can switch to the lifeline screen and view your daily activity, meals and sleep in real time:

lifeline

There are also trend screens that you can check and change the options you use to track – like calories consumed, steps, deep sleep, saturated fat, etc.  You can also trend by days, weeks or months:

trends

There is a teams option where you can check each others stats and cheer one another on, but I don’t know anyone else who has an UP so I have no team 😦

When I initially started researching these devices, I have to admit I was some what sceptical that it would do more that inspire me for a few days and then I would get bored and go back to normal. However, the opposite has happened. I was inspired to quit the junk and hit my 10,000 steps a day goal (5 miles) and in the last week I have lost 5lbs!!! I don’t think I have actually lost weight in a few years – even going to the gym. I love the goal tracking – it has inspired me to keep at it and even try harder.