How the Apple Watch (somewhat) changed my life

When Tim Cook introduced the Apple Watch, I was very excited and enthusiastic, as any good Apple fanboy should have been. This blind enthusiasm and the desperate need for something new to change the world was not impaired by the watch’s price tag in any way. Since we all know that Apple is working on becoming a luxury brand, everything seemed pretty reasonable for a paradigm shifting, game changing new device that would redefine time itself. For some reason, I opted for a Apple Watch Sport with a 42mm wristband and could resist the urge to choose the stainless steel version for just twice the price.

Trying on the Apple Watch - 4

 

Not much happening with the Apple Watch

Now, after almost 11 month and the recent Apple Watch OS 2.1 updates, things are still pretty slow with the Apple Watch. I am not talking about somewhat disappointing sales figures Apple is not really talking about for some reason (although these numbers seems to be growing and the Apple Watch will be great business in the end), but rather the slow adoption of the ecosystem by third party app developers. Up until today, there is basically no app whatsoever I am using on the Apple Watch apart from Apple’s own system apps. And I feel like I tried them all. Sure, 1Password, Airbnb, Camera+, DriveNow, eBay, Evernote, Foursquare, Lufthansa, Things, Uber, Withings and Yelp have updated their apps for Apple Watch, as did many others. But whatever they are doing, it’s not much. In addition the apps are so slow, it takes them forever to load and any potential advantage over taking out the iPhone and starting the apps gets lost on the way.

Here are a few screenshots of some apps I use on my iPhone. Make up you own mind wether their Apple Watch implementation blows your mind:

 

Still the Apple Watch changed everything for the better…

Although I am deeply disappointed by the Apple Watch ecosystem so far, I am still more than happy with my purchase. Finally I have full body contact with an Apple device. Apart from that, I enjoyed the sketch feature for a few weeks but it wore off pretty fast. What didn’t wore off, however, was how I use the Apple Watch for notifications. And this changed everything for me.

Until before I was constantly checking my iPhone for news updates, message notifications and all that stuff just because of the fear of missing out. I could have deactivated most notifications on my iPhone, but I really like their way of keeping me informed without having to start a bunch of apps. So basically I suffered through buzzing notifications every day for years. Also this led to me (and everyone else for that matter) being constantly on the phone, isolating myself from social interactions in some way.

With the Apple Watch I can basically use a different notification scheme, allowing me to focus only on the most important messages. That means turning most notifications off. Now my iPhone is in silent mode most of the day, not vibrating anymore. Anything that might be of real importance to me will come through to the Apple Watch, everything else just has to wait until I actually use the iPhone.

The results are: I am using the iPhone far less than before and I am not taking it out of my pocket while in meetings ever since. This is a liberating feeling, I can tell you that much. It allows a whole new level of concentration on the moment. In addition I also feel much more calm, since I  filtered out so much noise. It’s a huge improvement over how thing where before. This sounds like a tiny little issue, but in fact it changed my daily routine for good and for the better. This alone was totally worth buying the Apple Watch.

 

… even without wearing it

In addition I might add, that I haven’t worn wrist watches in the past years, although I really like them as a fashion statement. This led to me forgetting to put on the Apple Watch from time to time. Since I arrived in Sydney I left it at home to save my wrist from the otherwise unavoidable tan lines. The most interesting part ist, that although I haven’t worn the Apple Watch in almost 4 weeks now, I didn’t change my iPhone routine. This might be great. So even if things don’t pick up with the Apple Watch in the future, I broke my terrible iPhone habits… hopefully for good.

Adobe killed Flash, finally…

Last week Adobe announced to rename Flash Professional CC to Animate CC in 2016. In addition Adobe recommends to use modern technology standards such as HTML5 and WebGL. After many years of “Flash ain’t dead yet” this might finally be the beginning of its last chapter.

 

This might be a good time to take a look at Steve Jobs’ open letter “Thoughts in Flash” from 2010.

“Flash was created during the PC era – for PCs and mice. Flash is a successful business for Adobe, and we can understand why they want to push it beyond PCs. But the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards – all areas where Flash falls short.

[…]

New open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win on mobile devices (and PCs too). Perhaps Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future, and less on criticizing Apple for leaving the past behind.”

Source: “Thoughts in Flash” – Steve Job. April, 2010

Looks like they finally got the message.

Apple as a Service – What A Monthly Tech Outfit Subscription Model Could Look Like

Apple - get an all access pass

Source: Apple Music Membership – Apple.com

Apple has indeed changed very much over the years. I don’t want to talk about what happened in the 80ies or 90ies or how Steve Jobs saved the company. I also don’t want to talk about the iPod or the even bigger iPhone and iPad era. Neither do I want to point out how Apple might be changing since Steve Jobs passed away. That has been said and discussed abundantly. Recently I started thinking more and more about Apple’s rapidly growing software and services business with its subscription models.

“Once upon a time, Apple was a hardware company that also maintained a software and media ecosystem since it helped drive purchases of Macs, iPods and more. But over the years, the software and services side of the business has become increasingly important, and CEO Tim Cook even went so far as to state out right that Apple is “not a hardware company.” Not once, but twice.”

Source: Tim Cook Talks Up Apple Software And Service: ” We Are Not A Hardware Company” – techcrunch


 

Subscription Models

Quite obviously, I couldn’t agree more. iTunes, Apps, movie rentals and recent subscription services such as Apple Music are making up for a substantial share of Apple’s revenue. Most interesting are developments with the subscription models, I think. These services provide a steady and projectable revenue stream and might be very appealing in contrast to regular sales, which are more volatile even for Apple.

That’s probably why Apple is experimenting more with subscription based models for a variety of their products. There is iCloud storage, which is becoming more and more affordable, and Apple Music with family options but thats far from it. Apple also introduced a subscription model for the iPhone, the iPhone Upgrade Program, basically allowing customers to get a new iPhone each year for a premium starting at $ 32.41 per month for the smallest iPhone version. Apple is offering up to 0%  financing and leasing models for creative professionals and businesses as well, which could be considered as kind of subscription like as well.

iPhone Upgrade Program

Source: iPhone Upgrade Program – Apple.com


 

Apple Outfit on a Monthly Subscription

Apple could be offering subscription like models for every product they have, converting much of their regular sales revenues into projectable continues revenues. And since we are talking about Apple, they would not be not aiming for a $ 9.99 $ per month target, not even $ 99.99 if you think about it.

Take into consideration my current Apple outfit, which is far from high end compared im my opinion. I use a high end Macbook Pro 13″ Retina, a iPhone 6S 64 GB, an iPad Mini 4 64 GB, an Apple TV 64 GB, an Apple Watch, another moderately pimped Mac Mini, a Thunderbolt Display and some amount of adapters and software in addition to an Apple Music and iCloud storage subscription. Even if I consider yearly updates for the iPhone and updates for the Macbook Pro and everything else every 3 years (which I consider to be very conservative), it amounts to quite some money.

Based on current Apple product pricing (November 2015) in the US, this would amount to $ 9,137.16 over a 3 year period, not considering potential returns from reselling used products. But in fact, this might not be possible in a subscription model if things turn out the way they do with the iPhone Upgrade Program, where you are required to return the iPhone to Apple when receiving the newer version, as far as I understand it.

  • Macbook Pro 13 Retina 3.1 GHz, 16 GB memory, 1 TB flash storage = $ 2,699
  • iPhone 6S 64 GB = $ 649
  • iPhone 6S 64GB Upgrade Program = $ 36.58/month x 36 = $ 1,316.88 (basically 2 additional iPhones)
  • iPad Mini 4 64GB Wifi + Cellular = $ 629
  • Apple TV 64 GB =  $ 199
  • Apple Watch Sport 42mm = $ 399
  • Mac Mini 3.0 GHz, 16 GB memory, 1 TB fusion drive = $ 1,399
  • Thunderbolt Display = $ 999
  • Adapters & Software = $ 200
  • Apple Music Family = $ 14.99/month x 36 = $ 539.64
  • iCloud storage plan 200 GB = $ 2.99 /month x 36 = $ 107.64

This insanely sum would come down to $ 253.81 per month. This is without tax and without any interest for a service offering like this. I would suppose if Apple adds Apple Care and other support coverages, it would be even more. On the other hand, there might be discounts and various other factors, which could reduce sum considerably. Anyway, a conceivable Apple as a Service subscription service might come down to something of a medium 3 digit amount of $$$ per month easily, even with just a moderate Apple outfit. Just consider a creative professional using an upscale iMac or Mac Pro outfit with some additional peripherals.

Taking Apple’s huge profit margin into consideration (up from 1.23% in 2003 to 21.60 % in 2015), Apple might in fact be able to offer services like this for a select group of customers and could provide products in advance, collecting its revenue over the installment of the service.

In any case, it was kind of shocking to sum up the amount of money I spend on Apple products each year. Compared to any other subscriptions I have, this is definitely the most expensive one. But still, I wouldn’t want to miss out on any part of it.

Powermat Wireless Charging at Starbucks in Palo Alto

I recently went to Starbucks in Downtown Palo Alto for some Frappuccino to kill some time. While waiting for the hours to pass, surfing the web on my iPhone, I ran out of power quickly. This is when I noticed the Powermat wireless charging stations they offered in the store. This is how it works:

“Powermat lets you power your phone without wires or cords or worries. Simply visit one of our Powermat locations. They’re easy to find using our app. Plug in your Ring and place on a Powermat Spot to start charging.

When plugged into your phone and placed on a Powermat Spot, the Powermat Ring wirelessly recharges your battery. Powermat charges your devices just as fast as a cord, while being conveniently within reach (no more crawling around looking for outlets). The Powermat Ring comes in multiple colors and fits all Android and iPhone mobile devices.”

Well, I appreciate the effort and can say after some issues with the loading mechanism stopping when the iPhone goes to sleep, I was able to recharge my iPhone 6 Plus. There were only a few tables equipped with the Powermat Spots, so I also had to wait until a ring became available. Apparently many people are still using the old 30-pin iPod connector since they had far more of those rings than for lightning connectors. For some reason they also had usb connectors for Android user, but I didn’t see any at this particular Starbucks. Anyway, the charger worked well enough.

The main issue with this type of charging station is that I can’t really use my iPhone while charging. If the iPhone moves just a little, charging gets interrupted. So even when using the iPhone lying on the table, it hardly possible to keep charging. I suppose preinstalled cable based charging outlets would provide a better service for Starbucks’ customers and would work better. But that’s not very innovative and that’s what Palo Alto is all about, right?

Tumblr importer for WordPress – Why it sucks.

A week ago I decided to move my Tumblr blog to WordPress using the Tumblr importer plugin. I moved the blog for various reasons, more possibilities for customisation being among them. Ever since 2010 I only used Tumblr because of its easy of use. In 2012 I started using moritzrecke.com as a custom domain with my Tumblr blog. Since I didn’t want to loose old content or the corresponding URLs on my domain, I wanted to migrate all posts.

Tumblr importer

WordPress offers an importer plugin, allowing anyone to make a swift move from Tumblr. All you need to do is register a Tumblr app to get an OAuth Key for API access. To gain access to the Tumblr blog you also need to disable the custom domain on Tumblr for the time of the import, since the plugin can only access blog-name.tumblr.com configurations. Also you can import data from as many of your Tumblr blogs as you want. There is decent setup wizard included, so nothing can go wrong. All Tumblr posts and drafts will be recognised and get imported with tags and article formats intact. Only static pages are not supported.

tumblr importer - import tumblr posts to wordpress

If you want to keep using the old URLs on the domain from previous Tumblr posts (…/post/post-id/post-title), you need to configure 301 redirects for them. I used the Redirection plugin for this with a single rule such as:

Source URL: .*/post/\d+/(.*)

Target URL: /$1

This requires the “Permalink Settings” of WordPress to be configured to “Post name” (…/sample-post/). Now all old article URLs are redirected to the corresponding new address. Surely you could choose another permalink structure and adapt the redirect accordingly if you want to. If you choose to delete some posts on yourWordPress blog that existed on Tumblr before, you need to create additional redirects because of this general rule. Otherwise it will result in 404 responses. If you keep all Tumblr posts on your WordPress blog you are done.

tumblr importer - tumblr urls 301 redirect

It was a pretty easy process, taking just a few minutes of initial configuration and some patience during the import process. With me and my 444 posts it took around 15 minutes. Afterwards you can switch the DNS setting for your domain to the WordPress blog, adjust the general WordPress settings and you are done. The old Tumblr blog will stay available at blog-name.tumblr.com and is ready for further use or deletion, whatever suits you.

Issues after the import

When looking at the imported data in more detail, some problems surfaced. For one the plugin only imported image files that were contained in the photo article formats on Tumblr. I read about problems with files getting imported at small sizes. That was not the case, they were transferred in full resolution. The filenames were exactly the same as on Tumblr, which I suppose is ok but I would have preferred some kind of option to rename them to match the articles.

All other images in all other article formats weren’t imported at all. The images were embedded using the Tumblr URL instead. This means you have to import all other images manually, especially if you’d ever want to delete your old Tumblr posts at some point (I did). If you want to have image filenames that match the image’s content you also have to rename every image ever uploaded. Depending on the number of images, this might actually be a time consuming process no matter what tool you use.

Another issue is tags. I used tags quite heavily on Tumblr and would have appreciated some kind of selection process during the import to preselect the most important tags. Since I used to post photos from Instagram on Tumblr as well there were hundreds of tags I will never use again in the future. You could use the Tumblr mass post editor to delete any tags you  might not want to migrate (I unfortunately didn’t). Also if you plan to use categories on WordPress you need to either create new categories or convert some of your existing tags into categories using a plugin like Categories to Tags Converter (it works both ways despite the name).

There is even more. Any content I embedded in Tumblr posts didn’t make it to WordPress. This includes Youtube and vimeo videos, embedded Google Maps and other formats. For Youtube at least there is a note about the source so you know something is missing but the rest is just gone. So look forward to re-embedding all this content again.

I you optimised your Tumblr content for Google, get ready to do it again as well. Any metadata I had embedded in my Tumblr posts got lost. I am not that much into optimising articles, but I did some basic stuff like basic keywords using tags etc. Anyway, it’s gone.

Many more things could be said, but I will leave it at that. Now that I am through with most of the pain, I won’t roll back. I could, maybe even should have in the beginning, but now I won’t.

tl;dr

All in all, I appreciate the effort to provide an easy tool for the transition from Tumblr to WordPress but when you look at it in detail, the Tumblr importer is more work than fun. I would not use it again and search for another solution. If you plan to optimise every article anyway, I suppose you are better off reworking every post manually after all, unless you are tech-savvy.

The best way to visualize your screenplay. – Storyboard Fountain

The best way to visualize your screenplay. – Storyboard Fountain

Experiences with Google Apps from quite some time ago

While working at the international agency network Scholz & Friends, I implemented Google Apps as a SaaS business solution within the entire network across various locations all over Europe for 1200 users in 2010.

Google Apps Suite

In addition to some press around that project by Scholz & Friends, I was talking to quite some people about Google Apps at the time. One interview lead to a chapter in a book about ICT-Innovations: “ICT-Innovationen erfolgreich nutzen: Wie Sie Wettbewerbsvorteile für Ihr Unternehmen sichern” by Jens Böcker and Mark Klein, published in 2012.

I just stumbled over this book on the web a few days ago… I had almost forgotten about it. Although a lot has changed since 2010, many current reasons for starting with Google Apps or other cloud solutions are still the same. I hope the book was of any value for someone.

boomf @Selfridges

Do you remember boomf? It’s your instagrams on marshmallows! I came across them last year in June and they seem to be quite popular these days. Just before Valentine’s Day, I spotted them at Selfridges on Oxford Street in London.

selfridges-1

Basically, they offered a special Valentine’s Day special, allowing you to upload your favourite photos to their system on a local wifi to get them printed on marshmallows, cupcakes or macarons. Pretty cool…

boomf-at-selfridges-1

 

boomf-at-selfridges-2

 

boomf-at-selfridges-3

 

boomf-at-selfridges-4

 

boomf-at-selfridges-5

Also, you could choose from some preselected stock photos if you happen to miss out on any good photos of your Valentine. It’s about £15 for 9 marshmallow which certainly puts them on the pricy side…boomf-at-selfridges-6

On a side note: If you are interested in Selfridges or even more so their innovative founder, Harry Gordon Selfridge, there is a TV show by ITV Studios named Mr. Selfridge. There are not many surprises in the drama storyline, but it provides nice lightweight entertainment.

selfridges-2

Apple Reports Record Earnings and iPhone Sales: $18B Profit on $74.6B in Revenue for Q1 2015

Apple Reports Record Earnings and iPhone Sales: $18B Profit on $74.6B in Revenue for Q1 2015