gadgets

According to Forbes, Microsoft will launch its wearable device in the coming weeks in time for the holiday season. It’s a health focused device and will work with Android, iPhone and of course Windows Phone.

I had written my concerns about the viability of a Microsoft wearable device before, and now that I’ve used the Moto 360 daily the last few weeks and the Pebble before that for over a year, my skepticism has only increased.

Let’s first examine the upside. Assuming Microsoft can pull off a great product and generate lots of interest and sales, it could undercut Android Wear and Apple Watch. Why develop (hardware and/or software) for a restricted platform, when there’s a successful multiplatform-platform available?

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If a PC company had flat sales, you might think its CEO would go, “Phew, not bad when the overall market is declining.”

Not really though: Lenovo, HP, Dell Acer and ASUS all increased sales the past quarter even though the overall market declined. Apple too. It’s not clear which PC company is suffering, but the strong get stronger while the weak exit.

So flat iPad sales — despite whatever Tim Cook may say — is alarming to Apple and Apple watchers. Moreover, now that Apple is selling larger phone sizes, people are finally realizing that you don’t need a big phone and a small tablet. The bigger iPad will need to grow a lot faster for the overall business to grow.

The iPad may not be one of the weak, but it is not one of the strong either. What should Apple do? The company has two possibilities: 1) make the iPad more appealing to a new market segment, and/or 2) deliver the same proposition to the existing market segment better.

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Google announced three new devices today: the Nexus 6, the Nexus 9 and Nexus Player. Of the three, I predict the Nexus Player will yield the greatest influence.

The Nexus 6 looks like a good phone but it now has a $650 price, which means it competes with all the other flagship phones. Chinese manufacturers like OnePlus and Xiaomi continue to offer the best performance-to-price ratio on the market.

The Nexus 9 wants to be a productivity device with its detachable keyboard, but its 9-inch display is simply too small for it to be a capable laptop replacement. It might fill a niche, but it won’t be the converged device I’m looking for.

Of the three Nexus devices announced today, the Nexus Player is the most interesting. It will compete with other streaming boxes like Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, WD TV, Boxee, et. al., but that’s the boring part. Where the Nexus Player has the potential to disrupt its competitors is in games, which Google is taking seriously enough to launch a dedicated game controller. Android’s already extensive game library will be the Nexus Player’s differentiator. Apple TV, your move.

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The Wall Street Journal is reporting some interesting Apple rumors:

  1. The existence of 12.9-inch iPad Air Pro (now delayed to early 2015)
  2. The existence of a new, 12-inch MacBook Air (production starts this December)
  3. The continued struggle to make enough iPhone 6 Plus supply, a factor that no doubt contributes to the popularity of the easier-to-get iPhone 6

Think about that for a second. Apple is going to release a tablet with a bigger screen than the newest generation of its most popular laptop!

It looks like Apple just might share my vision for a large, light, 15-inch tablet that can be used for work and play and that will prove to be the single most popular computing device.

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There is a future where instead of a computer in your pocket, it’s the one on your wrist that you use most. Instead of your finger, you use voice to control it.

It’s the device for keeping updated on your digital life. When someone messages you — text or photo — your first preference will be to read it on your watch and reply with your voice. When someone invites you to an event, you accept or decline from your wrist while your smartphone stays in your pocket.

The smartphone is only for when voice is inconvenient, for consuming content and for bigger tasks like taking and editing photos. For everything else, especially the frequent, small interactions we have with friends, the smartwatch is our gateway.

This is the potential future of the smartwatch. Or my interpretation of it anyway.

Enter the Moto 360, powered by Android Wear. How does it deliver on that vision?

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I’ve always liked these kinds of stories on other tech blogs — i.e., what gadgets nerds use on a daily basis — as it gave a “bottom line” that individual reviews of products on loan can’t give. So today I’m sharing what I use and carry, and why.

Smartwatch: Pebble, Moto 360

The Pebble is a great device. Its super solid in a way that Apple is known for; it does what it’s supposed to and it does it well. There are lots of interesting watch faces for it, the battery lasts for days, and it’s good for monitoring notifications and incoming calls. The main downsides are that it’s not particularly attractive or comfortable to wear. The screen has no color and is very low resolution.

I also recently got the Moto 360. A review will go up this Monday or the following Monday, depending on how the weekend goes.

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I have the Chromecast and some things are awesome on it. Unfortunately, it’s a limited device in that strictly speaking, the Chromecast doesn’t mirror content, it streams from the web. This means that outside of a few phones, you can’t project games to your TV, which I’ve argued could disrupt the games industry. It also means you can’t project your PowerPoint presentation to the TV.

That changes with Microsoft’s Wireless Display Adapter (awful, awful name). It uses the Miracast standard to mirror your Windows and Android devices to the TV so you don’t even need Wi-Fi to make it work. Check out the video to see how Microsoft wants you to use it:

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