iOS Developer WatchKit

Wearable technology

Wearable technology – The industry’s latest craze

Although wearable technology has been around in one form or another for quite some time, it has gained a lot of attention in recent years, with more and more manufacturers recognising its potential.

Not only does this latest fad open up the possibilities of new product categories and new types of consumer, it also provides potential for valuable revenue streams in a highly competitive technology market.

From the headline-grabbing and somewhat controversial Google Glass, to more humble and modest Kickstarter projects such as the Pebble smartwatch, wearable technology looks like trend that won’t be disappearing anytime soon.

In fact, according to analysts at leading global financial services company Credit Suisse, wearable technology will be “the next big thing,” and is forecasting the market to jump from around $3-5bn today to $50bn over the next 3-5 years.

So what products are currently available? What are the latest developments? And what does the future have in store?

Google Glass

Just in case you’ve somehow missed the hype surrounding the biggest news in wearable technology for the past 12 months, here is a quick recap.

Google Glass is a type of wearable computer that features an optical head-mount display (OHMD). The device displays smartphone-like information in front of the user’s eyes and is controlled via natural voice commands, as it is Google’s mission to create a mass-market ubiquitous computer.

Just in case you’ve somehow missed the hype surrounding the biggest news in wearable technology for the past 12 months, here is a quick recap.

Google Glass is a type of wearable computer that features an optical head-mount display (OHMD). The device displays smartphone-like information in front of the user’s eyes and is controlled via natural voice commands, as it is Google’s mission to create a mass-market ubiquitous computer.

As opposed to inputting information physically, a Google Glass user can connect to the internet, take pictures, record videos, access online content, receive directions and translate dialogue through speech alone.

At this year’s Google I/O, the search engine’s annual developer conference, Glass generated a huge amount of attention from the event attendees. With official Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr apps making their debut, numerous developers were expressing their interest in the device.

However, Google seems to have taken a backseat in the promotion and development of Glass. Now that willing participants to Google’s Explorer program are testing the device, the tech giant seems happy for Glass to evolve naturally.

In some ways, this is a risky strategy, as concerns over privacy and social applications still exist. What’s more, Google Glass seems to have numerous critics, with wearers sure to be the subject of ridicule. But, only time will tell whether Google’s organic approach to mass-market acceptance will work.

Apple iWatch

Although there has been no official word from the company, it is clear that Apple is taking wearable technology very seriously. Since the passing of Steve Jobs, the company has been under pressure to release new and innovative products, which has been somewhat lacking under new CEO Tim Cook.

However, at the AllThingsD conference earlier this year, Cook said that wearable technology was “profoundly interesting” and was “ripe for us to get excited about.” So much so that speculation over the Cupertino-based firm’s iWatch project has gained significant traction in recent months.

If rumours are to be believed, the connected smart wristwatch, which will notify wearers of messages, calls, events and reminders, is currently being developed.

Along with registering the iWatch trademark in Japan, Mexico, Russian, Taiwan and Turkey, Apple has also been aggressively hiring staff to work on the project according to sources familiar with the matter. Despite having a pool of talented technical experts, engineering and development problems have apparently been a big issue.

In another recruitment drive for potential wearable technology, Apple recently hired Paul Deneve, the outgoing chief executive of Yves Saint Laurent to reportedly work on “special projects,” which could include the iWatch.

Optimistic Apple fanatics were hopeful of a wearable tech indication at this year’s WWDC (worldwide developers conference), but attention focused on iOS 7, OS X Mavericks and the new Mac Pro.

Other wearable tech products

Having been financed via crowd-funding platform Kickstarter, the Pebble E-Paper Watch is a wearable tech solution that already exists for iOS and Android smartphone users.

Featuring a low power LCD screen, vibrating motor and a three-axis accelerometer, the Pebble can display standard notifications as well as lifestyle apps including weather forecasts and running trackers. The unique and innovative USB-cable charges the device magnetically, so as not to compromise water resistance.

Another notable product currently on the market is Nike+ FuelBand, a health and fitness-inspired digital bracelet that connects to a user’s iPhone.

The band’s accelerometer has the ability to track daily movements and exercise routines, with progress displayed on the FuelBand’s red, yellow and green LED display. Further information can be viewed on the paired iOS device and users can share their achievements on Facebook or Twitter.

Therefore, with analysts predicting future success, manufacturers pursuing new ideas, prototype versions being developed and finished products available to buy today, wearable technology is most definitely here to stay.

Computer Science in UK Schools

We need to encourage the youth of today to take more of an interest in coding and computers beyond the latest video game consoles and Christmas gadgets. We cannot let our children fall behind developing countries, only to go on to become consumers of the latest software.  The UK Government certainly recognises the importance of the digital age and is introducing “Computing Science” to schools.  This is important step forward.

The world is constantly evolving around us and computers are now a part of our everyday lives. No matter what industry we choose to go into, whether its the environment, engineering and even nursing etc, we can always be sure of one thing, no matter what job you do computers will definitely be involved.

We are living in highly competitive and interconnected globalised world and in order to keep up and stay ahead with the world’s emerging economies we cannot afford to be a nation of consumers.

We need to give to our children a head start in today’s digital age, and coding lessons at an early age will definitely give them those all important life long skills. Coding will not only enable your children to work and program computer software at an early age but it will also condition their young minds into thinking methodically as well as rationally and will go on to prepare them for – the working environment of the future.

We have to take example from the prominent computer luminaries of our times like Steve jobs, Bill Gates or Steve Zuckerberg. These guys learned coding at and an early age which in turn helped them to go on to become visionaries of the future. If you expose your children to computer programming a from an early age, hopefully they will also become the techno wizards of the future but unless we give them a platform to hone their skills on we may never know.

We must look at people like Nick D’aloisio who developed an application for a mobile device at a grand age of 12 which he subsequently went on to sell to Yahoo for £30 million pounds. If you can introduce your children to coding from an early age, who is to say what they can go on to achieve in later stages of their lives.

The introduction of computer science and coding at an early age has been proven as being highly beneficial to student later on in their lives. Parents however have responsibility as well. Instead of taking an easy route and buying their kids the latest ipads or playstations they should really think about coding devices like Raspberry PiThese are cheap and easy to use coding devices that are perfect for young minds to learn from and get ahead in life.

Youngster can also take part in the hour of code initiative, attend coding tech camps and learn from computer science online tutorials.

You might have the next John Carmack (a popular computer game creator and multi millionaire) in your home, but unless you introduce him to computer programming at an early stage of his development you will never let him realise his true potential.

Food for thought!

Apple WWDC Highlights

Apple WWDC 2013 highlights

Which annual event routinely sells out within 71 seconds of its $1600 tickets going on sale? A Rolling Stones concert? The Super Bowl? Think again. Apple Worldwide Developer’s Conference is one of the most popular tech events of the year.

Past keynote events included Steve Jobs introducing the world to new gadgets such as the iPhone and the iPad.

The keynote address at 2013 Apple Worldwide Developer’s Conference was no exception. This year Apple made a few announcements, from the completely redesigned MacBook Pro and MacBook Air to the AirPort Time Capsule–a lightning fast Wi-Fi base and backup device, complete with Apple’s trademark sleek design. Yet some other notable changes unveiled at the keynote address were in the arena of mobile development.

  • From cats to dogs. When Apple revealed OS X 10.9, the company explained that they had run out of cat names for their software, and that all new versions will be named after locations in California. The latest version is OS X Mavericks, named after a California surfing hotspot. However, Mavericks is also a breed of German Shepard, which has some Apple enthusiasts joking that the company has made the switch from cat names to dog names.
  • Extreme Makeover: iOS7. In what’s been hailed at the largest overhaul since the iPhone was first released, Apple announced the release of its newest mobile operating system, iOS7. The upgrade consists of flatter icons on the lock screen, folders which allow users to place apps in multiple locations, and simpler access to notifications. iOS7 has also completely revamped Safari: expect full-screen browsing, a parental controls option, and dropdown tabs. Apple also claims that the mobile iOS7 will be fully integrated with Mavericks.
  • Music on the go. In a move that will allow Apple to compete with Pandora and other streaming music services, iOS7 will include iTunes Radio, a totally free streaming music service.
  • Photos revisited. The photos app in iOS7 will much more user-friendly than the current version. Not only will you be able to swipe between the camera, video camera, square, and pan, but you’ll also be able to edit your snapshots with updated features similar to Instagam.
  • Siri. Your virtual assistant for everything iPhone-related just got an upgrade. Not only does Siri have an entirely new interface (think sleeker and cleaner), but now you can choose between a male or female voice in English, German, and French. The new Siri can also adjust brightness settings, turn on Bluetooth, and operate your Wikipedia, Twitter, and Bing apps.
  • Siri goes for a spin. The new Siri also features tons of great updates for the car. You’ll be able to access messages your car display, and Siri will dictate your messages to you. Siri can also access your other apps while you’re at the wheel, including iTunes and Maps. And yes, Siri will be more than happy to pull up the new iTunes Radio so you can rock out while you drive.

These are just a few of the exciting announcements to come from the Apple keynote address in the 2013 Apple Worldwide Developer’s Conference.

Google IO Conference

Google I/O 2013 highlights

Bringing together thousands of developers all under one roof for three days of hardware and software excitement, Google’s annual I/O rarely disappoints. Last year, the search engine giant introduced Google Glass, the highly anticipated wearable technology device that still divides opinions and creates several talking points to this day.

At Google I/O 2013 however, there were no major product unveilings or important hardware news. Rumours had suggested that Google would tell an expectant crowd about the latest Jelly Bean OS or revised versions of its Nexus tablets. Instead, the event at San Francisco’s Moscone Centre mainly concentrated on new and existing software product offerings as well as the expanding Android ecosystem.

Android activations and developer improvements

During the event, it was revealed that more than 900 million devices using Android have now been activated, which is up from 400 million a year ago. This doesn’t even include several million smartphones in China that also use the Android Open Source Platform.

What’s more, 48 billion apps have now been installed on Android devices around the world, indicating a shift in momentum from the iOS App Store to Google Play.

Therefore, Google has been working hard on some developer improvements to make life easier for countless coding experts that tirelessly create interactive content for Android users.

In an attempt to end fragmentation woes forever, Google has introduced a system called Android Studio, which will be its first all-inclusive developer tool. This promises to offer virtual multi-device display testing as well as in-app real-time views of multiple language translations.

In a somewhat confusing turn of events, Android Studio is available on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux, despite the Chromebook Pixel using a web-based operating system.

Even so, developers benefit from optimisation tips, revenue graphs, beta-tester control and metrics from analytics. These features should improve productivity, save time and make the whole app creation process a lot easier.

Developing for Glass

It was inevitable that some time would be set aside for Google Glass, with numerous applications showcased at the event including offerings from CNN, Twitter, Tumblr, Evernote and Facebook.

While some lucky attendees were able to get up close and personal with the device, Timothy Jordan, senior developer advocate for Project Glass, said Google was working on a Developer Kit, which would allow apps to work offline and make use of the accelerometer. However, he advised developers to be careful when producing content.

“Avoid the unexpected,” he said. “It’s bad on any platform, but particularly dangerous on Glass.

“Be honest about the intention of the application, of your Glassware. Be sure people know what they’re going to get when they sign up.”

Google Maps

Elsewhere at the event, Google made several announcements regarding Maps. These include directory services through Google Plus integration, a revised interface, tweaked visuals and a long-awaited iPad app.

Based on your search history and preferences, Google Maps will now suggest tailor-made restaurants, attractions, activities and events. There will be more information about each destination too, including comments from Google Plus friends.

Maps will also feature user-generated 360-degree images via photo sphere. Google believes that this sharing feature “will only get better and better” over time as more people submit pictures.

Google Play Music All Access

Although there is no shortage of subscription-based music streaming services, with Spotify and Rhapsody currently leading the way, Google has decided its time to enter the market.

Stealing a march on rivals Apple, who are also expected to unveil a similar service in the future, Google Play Music All Access is described as “radio without rules”.

Subscribers can search for various artists and add their favourite tracks to a cloud storage solution with room for 20,000 songs. Google says the service will have no advertisements and allow unlimited playback for users.

Available for $9.99 per month in the US, Google hopes its service can differentiate from competitors by allowing users to easily listen to songs whenever and wherever on any device.

Stock Galaxy S4

Although many expected Google to launch a new phone, it surprised the crowd by revealing a Samsung Galaxy S4 with stock Android 4.2.2. Therefore, Samsung’s flagship device effectively becomes another Nexus handset.

While numerous commentators will be pleased to see the back of Samsung’s TouchWiz skin, it leaves just 9GB of available storage on 16GB models.

For those unaware, the phone itself features a 5-inch Super AMOLED display, a 1080p Full HD screen resolution, a 1.9GHz quad-core processor and a 13-megapixel rear-mounted camera.

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