What’s the ONE New Thing You Have Time For in Your Life?

| Particle Debris

For some time now, we've been exposed to speculation about what Apple might do next. Wearable computers: an iWatch (or bracelet) and has a myriad of uses. A next generation HDTV system. An iPad Pro. An iPhone Air. All of that is in contrast to what we saw at CES: gadgets galore. The question is, what do we have time to absorb? What do we want to absorb?

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When the original iPad came out in 2010, its was after there had been a lot of discussion about how a tablet would fit in between a notebook computer and an iPhone. Some thought there was no room, but then they were proved wrong. The tablet concept, as instantiated by Apple, was so brilliant, that it proved to all of us that we needed to add a new product category to our lives. Nowadays many Apple customers think nothing of having a MacBook Pro, an iPad and an iPhone. The family hangs together and makes sense.

So now the question to ask, it seems to me, is what is coming next that so beautifully fits into our lives that it becomes essential? It becomes "family," in contrast to a gadget that's fondled, toyed with, then placed in a drawer and forgotten.

If there's one thing that seems to fall into that category, it's personal health and fitness monitoring. That's why I think that if Apple really plans to ship an iWatch, it will be an independent device, something useful in its own right, that still fits in with the family. A wristwatch is something we can all dispense with in the smartphone era -- until it becomes a smartwatch, an iWatch, integrated into our lives and greatly favored.

Everyone else will be jockeying for a place in our lives, but that's really hard to do. It's much easier to attack small problems in small ways with spectacular press releases, but the true test of a product in 2014 will be how quickly it is embraced in our everyday life.

Just like the iPad.

And that's what I'll be looking forward to, now that CES is over and we eagerly wait for Apple's unique response to our fundamental needs in 2014.

iWatch concept by Martin Hajek

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Tech News Debris for, You Guessed it, the Last Few Weeks

It's been awhile since I posted a new Particle Debris, so in order to keep the length manageable, I've selected only the most noteworthy articles I've collected over the last three weeks. Or, in some cases, articles that were a off the mark and cried out for commentary. Here we go....

The significance of a larger iPad, say 12 to 13 inches, is not simply a larger display. Rather, it's the markets it will target and which Apple competitors will be affected. The analysis is that larger display iPads will take a larger bite out of the PC desktop and even notebook markets. In business and education, buyers will have less incentive to wrestle with Windows-based PCs when most everything users need to do can be accomplished on the 13-inch display of an iPad. Read more at: "Apple’s upcoming 12-inch iPad may hammer the notebook market."

On the other hand, Apple has done a very good job of defining what a modern tablet ought to be. Its essence has been developed and refined. John Brownlee writes that "The iPad Is A Solved Design Problem" and I concur.

Accordingly, it makes no sense whatever to suggest that a 13-inch iPad would be a hybrid device, with an ARM processor, running both iOS and OS X. So, I don't believe this speculation reported by the solid writer, Brooke Crothers, for a millisecond. "That rumored 'iPad Pro' could be more than just a big iPad." That presumably is a system with separate OSes. For example, when the keyboard is detached, iOS kicks in. Apple is unlikely to mar the essence of an iPad tablet by selling an iPad product with a keyboard.

Neither is Apple likely to merge iOS and OS X. I think the technical hurdles would be to severe. It's better to let each OS play itself out. That's not to say that that OS X is at the end of its lifecycle. There's no evidence for that, even though it's been written about. "What Comes After OS X?" I don't believe a word of this article either.

You've probably seen those Amazon ads pointing out that the Kindle Fire 8.9 HDX is lighter than an iPad Air. True. But there's a serious catch. Bill Palmer explains the Amazon ruse.

This author thinks that Apple has missed the boat based on all the CES 2014 announcements. "Apple Is Losing a Huge Market." You probably saw my response. "Apple Need Not be Panicked by the CES TV Blitzes."

When one company comes out with what looks to be the future, as Apple and Google tend to do, other companies jump on the bandwagon for fear of being left behind. But are those kinds of products developing the technology or just hanging on the coattails of success? That's how I size up these me-too products. Often, the competitor tries to take a different tack so they can't be directly compared to the leader and found wanting. Still, it's nice to see competition; it helps define the market. At CES: "Epson challenges Google Glass with Moverio BT-200 augmented reality smart glasses."

I've pointed to the very technical review of the new Mac Pro by Anand Lal Shimpi, but there's also this more global, light-hearted, philosophical review by David Pogue that sizes up the fundamental nature of the beast. "Apple's New Mac Pro." You'll want to read it.

You may have read about whether 4K UHDTVs and monitors can benefit from their extra resolution. This week, in my research, I found a very good set of articles. "Image (Distance) is Everything: 4K and HiDPI Displays" points to a calculator article: "4K Calculator – Do You Benefit?" which points to this nicely done chart. All three are great reading.

Concept by Martin Hajek

Here's an author who thinks that 4K TVs are another fad, borne of industry desperation, and that they will fail, just as the 3D market collapsed. "TV Makers Are Out of Ideas." My regular readers know that I don't believe all that. 4K (2160p) TVs with curved displays are a technical path to a better future while 3D TVs were not. 4K will lead to new possibilities, serendipity. In time, the infrastructure and content will come along. It's a solid path to the future, and those who want the future to happen faster will make it happen. Just watch.

Along those lines, here is a fabulous, short technical piece by Marco Arment that explains some of the 4K nuances for Apple customers. "How and when the iMac and Mac Pro can go Retina."

I've written before about how IBM's investment in supercomputer technology, in contrast to Apple, has and will pay off. And so, without further ado, here's one of the payoffs. Medicine. And more. "Watson the supercomputer gets its own business division."

Finally, Apple followers are familiar with the DOJ's lawsuit against Apple and major book publishers. Apple lost that case and is still dealing with the consequences, but the other side of the coin is how the whole affair impacted less mighty players than Apple. This is a short but excellent summary by Brad Stone of how the market is playing out, how Amazon is benefitting, and how Barnes and Noble is suffering the consequences. It's a must read by a solid author. "Barnes and Noble's Nook Nightmare, Starring Amazon and the DOJ."

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Teaser image via Shutterstock.

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Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro's observations and opinions about a standout event or article of the week combined with a summary of articles that didn't make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holiday weeks.

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12 Comments Leave Your Own

geoduck

RE: whether 4K UHDTVs and monitors can benefit from their extra resolution
So I have a mix of 42” and 45” LCDs. My viewing distance is 10-15 feet. According to the articles and the chart I don’t even benefit from HDTV let alone 4k. So why would I bother to upgrade? I don’t have room for an 80” TV so I don’t see EVER wanting to upgrade my TV or connection.. I don’t think I’m alone on this. Most TVs sold are in to 42-60” range and viewing distance is “across the room, usually 10-15 feet. Thyere’s no benefit from UHD for the majority of viewers. That’s why I just don’t think it’s going to catch on very fast.
RE: “how Amazon is benefiting, and how Barnes and Noble is suffering”
There are certain legal events that become landmarks, Dredd Scott or Brown vs The Board of Education for example. In the computing world there will be two huge landmarks that will, I believe, be used as examples of the legal system utterly blowing it.
When the Bush Administration seized defeat out of the jaws of victory and settled with Microsoft. After that Microsoft became more careful and conservative and as a result is essentially moribund now. A serious shakeup in ‘98 would have left it as a (or possibly several) more nimble companies that would be doing much better. It would have benefitted the whole computing industry much as the breakup of AT&T left the field open for other carriers, other options, and other technologies that AT&T would never have been willing to push.
The DOJ vs Apple which will be shown to have screwed up e-book sales for at least a decade. As Amazon finalizes it’s stranglehold on e-book sales it will hurt other book sellers, both on line and brick and mortar, publishers, authors, and the reading public. Prediction: in 5 to 10 years the DOJ will be filing an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon and the result will be, after huge expense, that Amazon will be forced to break up much the way AT&T was and for the same reason. It s already abusive. Becoming an abusive monopoly is only a tiny step away and Amazon appears to be more than happy to cross that line. It’s been simply disgusting how the DOJ is aggressively helping them to become one.

geoduck

One more thought
Smart watches as health monitors. I see this as a wide but shallow pool. Sure everyone is interested in their health but how many really want to have a device with them all day that will read out pulse or distance walked or calories burned. I’m, for various reasons, more concerned than most with the state of my health. I check my BP nearly every day and my weight weekly. But that’s it. Once a day and on Saturday. Even I don’t need more data than that. I don’t really want to have a monitor on my arm all day. It’s just data that I won’t have time to review and that my Dr. won’t bother with. I really suspect that most of these wearable, health oriented devices will end up as “a gadget that’s fondled, toyed with, then placed in a drawer and forgotten.” once the novelty wears off. For a wearable tech to succeed it has to do something, or more likely some several things, that people will actively use all day.

Bashful

That’s a great bunch of debris to sort through. Thanks for all the great links I missed during the holiday season and into the new year.

@geoduck:
My hope is that as many baby-boomers age they spend less time in front of 4K TV’s and more time being active, monitoring their vitals with an iWatch, if only intermittently.

CudaBoy

That iWatch concept is ridiculous. Can anybody here say that Steve would approve an ugly brick like that - that looks like it weighs a ton??
There will be an iWatch but it will be a small shiny band - not a brick stuck on a band - that’s just not Jonny’s style imo.  The band will be the display with scrolling crawls and other graphics. And it will be a conduit to unbelievably cool sensor enabled clothing and toys like phones and tabs, key fobs, cams etc.
4k is not a fad. Since when has “better” been a fad? Name one example? 3-D doesn’t count because it was clearly Not Better just different. Sony’s $2k 4k camera will be $500 a couple years or less. As you get older your eyes get worse - it happens to all of us - 4k allows for better viewing at a closer distance than lower resolutions - I won’t need a 70” 1080p screen since a 40” 2k display will give me the same or more resolution while sitting closer in my small studio.

mhikl

“If there’s one thing that seems to fall into that category, it’s personal health and fitness monitoring. That’s why I think that if Apple really plans to ship an iWatch, it will be an independent device, something useful in its own right, that still fits in with the family.” John Martellaro

Exactly, John. I’ve been thinking along these lines myself this past week or two. The iPhone connect thing has always seemed the rub that makes the iWatch easy to criticise and the butt of jokes, but something in the back of my mind seemed to keep me interested in its possibilities. Recording health signs, steps taken, hours of sleep, the possibilities are vast and when Apple comes out with its vision, I am sure we will all be amazed.

A wristwatch is not a terrible incumbrance but few seem to wear them anymore. I can’t remember the last time I wore one but I think it was in my Palm pilot days when books, notes and time were always at hand. With the right gizmo, I’d happily add one to my wardrobe.

d'monder

“What’s the ONE New Thing You Have Time For in Your Life?”

Eliminate the four remotes on my coffee table, and the cabinet full of devices that barely work together (along with the rat’s nest of wires tangled behind them).

Content would be nice too.  Would happily trade the 500 channels of idiot mush for quality on-demand.  Mix in the better networks and local programming.  The Apple TV is on the right track, but it needs to be fully realized.

mhikl

Geoduck, I would agree with you if that is all an iWatch could do. But what if it could gather enough information form pulse rate,  changes in the skin like moisture, electrical intensity (?), possibly interpret when one eats and the changes to other rhythms during the period of digestion, analyse what a very short jog does, a sudden moment’s sprint (which is supposed to do wonders for cardiovascular without the stress long distance running can do), a walk up a flight of stairs, hours spent in a chair, possibly even warning of an impending stress to the vitals is beginning?

The possibilities are beyond my understanding of medicine and technology but for those interested in either or both it might be a must have device. For example, I do not do well on carbohydrates or protein intakes other than in small doses. Fat seems the be the fuel I do best on and what keeps my specs above average even though my doctor thinks I need my head examined and sends me for tests. What if an iWatch were able to measure one’s vitals after a meal and give one some idea what stresses the body and what vitalises it in this regard? That is sort of where my thinking is going on this subject and I don’t think the answer will come from any other than Apple.

CudaBoy, agreed; ugly and bulky ain’t going to work, i.e., sell. The real work (detailed info) will end up on the iPhone and computer; basics will be enough on an elegant strap on the wrist: for example “You’re about to died-I’ve called ambulance-get to door!” would be a handy feature.
And the rest of PD must wait for Saturday morning coffee.

aardman

I have a feeling too that 4K will turn out to be the mouse that everyone hoped would roar, but whimpered instead.  Viewing habits have just been moving towards smaller screens not larger.  We have 3 flat screens at home ranging from 27” to 50”, and my kids hardly use them.  When they do watch TV shows it’s on their phones or laptops.

TVs have plateaued just like recorded music.  Most viewers/listeners will not need the best tech; they’re happy enough with good enough because they literally can’t tell the difference.

Lee Dronick

Good points Cudaboy

  Eliminate the four remotes on my coffee table, and the cabinet full of devices that barely work together (along with the rat’s nest of wires tangled behind them).

Spot on with the remotes and cables.

Lee Dronick

See yesterday’s Joy of Tech comic

http://www.geekculture.com/joyoftech/joyarchives/1947.html

Lancashire-Witch

I just can’t get excited about 4K TV.  I know geoduck can’t! 

However, I’d be very interested to see a 12.9-inch iPad Pro with retina display.

wab95

John:

Fascinating reading this week. Sadly, time conspires against all but one short observation.

While I believe that Brian Meyer’s piece on what comes after OS X was intended as an exercise in unfettered thought, it reflects, in my view, a limited if not misconceived grasp of two points:

1) What constitutes a mature OS, and

2) Where Apple are going with their OS - and this is the key concept - as a function of their still evolving ecosystem of products and services, at least insofar as we can extrapolate from their trajectory thus far.

From my limited layman’s perspective, a mature OS is defined by the balance between demand and actual performance. Waxing more poetically, it is the interplay between aspiration and delivery, and whether these are in balance insofar as end user demand is concerned. That is, what is a device, in this case a PC, intended to do (based on what we aspire it to do) and how closely does it come to doing that? A mature OS goes further. Not only does it deliver what we popularly wish and demand, it does so in ways that are efficient, efficacious and enabling. It permits us to access this PC functionality in a way that is harmonious with the way in which we work on the PC, without requiring us to interrupt that workflow to cater to the idiosyncrasies of the OS, and do something arduous and unintuitive in order to access required function. The mature OS then, is extension of the human mind and soul that facilitates creativity and productivity on a specific device. OS X then, in my opinion, is a mature OS on a mature device. This doesn’t mean that it is perfect by any means, merely that it is in balance between expectation and performance, permitting us to be maximally productive without interfering with cognitive and creative processes. Bugs and minor annoyances will always bedevil all things human, OSes being no exception. For the OS to change fundamentally means that the device too much change, in such a way that it evolves beyond our current concept of a PC into something else. That will only happen, in my view, when we reach an inflection point, perhaps even a cross-roads, between aspiration and delivery on the PC and truly require it to be something other than a PC as we’ve known it. While I do believe we are rapidly headed in that direction, I don’t think that we are there yet. Thus, whatever further modifications to the OS that powers the Mac may come, by whatever nomenclature it is known, they will be along those lines that simply refine that balance between expectation and delivery.

iOS, on the other hand, is not a mature system, if for no other reason than that the iPad (and indeed the iPhone), as a component of the Apple platform, is not mature but rapidly evolving. We have yet to even reach consensus on aspiration and expectation. Confusion reigns amongst the masses as to whether the device is primarily for consumption (and of what content) or productivity (and of what output) and to what extent of either. I concur with John Brownlee that the iPad’s form solves the design issue, and that it’s form is unlikely to substantially change, however it’s the role of the iPad in our work and play that remains to be sorted, and thus the iOS that must undergo further, perhaps substantial evolution in capacity if not interface, if it is to conform to our consensus needs. Thus, iOS is a work in progress whose mature form and function we have yet to discern.

Even were it popularly desired, and I don’t think that it is, to combine OS X and iOS, doing so in the foreseeable future would be an inefficient and wasteful investment, and would likely do little to satisfy either aspiration, which is uncertain, or delivery, which has yet to be defined.

We have already entered a new frontier (the apparent blindness of some pundits notwithstanding) in which we have a mature platform working in concert, but not always in harmony, with an emerging one. We are in process of transferring aspiration, at least for some tasks, from the old to the new platform, a process that is limited, at this stage, to the capacity of the latter to perform. As it gains in capability, not only will that transfer accelerate, but because the iPad has nascent potential that the PC never had (being last Century’s creation), aspiration and function yet unsuspected will be invested into the iPad. New uses will emerge that will be facilitated and enhanced by new devices and services that will need to be created to address 21st Century exigency.

Expecting mergence of OS X and iOS is thinking rooted in the past. The future beckons and will, as it ever has, call us to heights, and with it products and services, that must and will surpass what we have today.

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