Technology

WWDC just around the corner

wwdc14-home-branding

Apples’ annual developer conference WWDC is now only days away the rumour mill is rife with what to expect during this years event.

Last year I was convinced that the iWatch was going to finally be previewed during the keynote speech but I was left disappointed – industry insiders are still doubting that Apple will feature this at the event this year and with a release of Apple TV SDK also being touted as unlikely it really is making me wonder if Apple are going to announce anything worthy of note that will really get me excited!

It is expected that Apple will announce iOS 8 but my view is that this will not be radically different to iOS 7, the significant changes in the current version of iOS caused a lot of upset amongst consumers some of whom did not like the radically different interface, it therefore stands to reason that any update is likely to be more akin to evolution rather than revolution. Perhaps this year we can expect to see a more radical overhaul of OSX, my concern is that won’t be enough to keep consumers excited about Apple’s Innovation.

I am rapidly reaching the conclusion that Apple need to find a game changer and announce the next big thing! The last true innovation announced by the company was iPad and that was released back in 2010, 4 years in technology feels like a life-time and as a true techie i’m desperate to be wowed! I fear that from what i’ve read so far this year is not going to be that year and we may have to wait until 2015 to see a true innovative twist! That said I will still hanging on every word of the keynote speech on 2nd June and can’t wait for the spectacle – Apple really do know how to put on a show!

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Data Access in America

You may remember that last year I blogged about the costs associated with Data Access in Europe. Coming to America I knew that using my mobile wouldn’t be cheap; or at least that was my assumption before I travelled. I have, however, come up with some innovative solutions that have surprised me as to how cost effective communicating transatlantic can be.

1. O2 TuGo

My mobile phone contract in the UK is with O2, thanks to the new TuGo app I can make and receive calls and send text messages from anywhere in the world via wifi. They charge me as if I were using my handset in the UK so any call time or texts comes out of my contract minutes. If you haven’t found the app yet or want more information take a look at this website.

2. An American Sim Card

Fortunately I had remembered to ensure that both my iPad and Mobile phone were unlocked so I have been able to purchase American Sim Cards for the devices. This obviously makes data access significantly cheaper; unlimited data on my mobile phone costs around $3 per day.

What surprised me more though was that for an extra $10 I am able to make unlimited calls to UK landlines.

Both of the above solutions has made me realise how far behind we are in the UK in terms of data and calling plans on our mobile devices. I called O2 before travel and was told that using my phone abroad would cost more that £1 per minute to make calls and around £0.90 per minute to receive calls. It seems to me that there is something amiss here – why is it cost effective for American carriers to offer reasonable calling plans but not for UK carriers.

What is your experience of calling and using data from abroad?

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Meeting People through the use of Technology

When I arrived in San Francisco on Sunday I didn’t really know anyone and had no plans for the day. I had been using a great app called Glassboard to share ideas and experiences with other attendees so posted a message asking if anyone else was at a loose end.

Within a few moments a message popped up from another developer also free and very quickly we ended up heading out for some lunch.

A similar thing happened on Monday, someone posted on Glassboard looking for people to have dinner with, within 30 minutes 12 people had congregated in the foyer of Moscane West and we all headed out for an Indian.

In both of these cases technology has enabled me to become more social, had I not had access to Glassboard I might well have ended up eating dinner alone and wouldn’t have made new and exciting connections.

It seems to me that social media is often viewed in he wrong way. People often consider that technology is causing people to become less social and live their lives online but the more I use social centric technology the more I realise that this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Has technology helped you to be more social recently?

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Are you ready to “vine”

We all live in the age of social media and I’ve adopted pretty much everything going. I remember doing my a-levels and MySpace was the big thing. My space was founded in 2003 and I loved it. At the same time we had other sites such as Bebo which although I had an account never really “took off” – at least not in my world.

MySpace was the first site that I actively communicated with my friends via an online medium – but when I took my gap year back in 2004 I didn’t consider using it as a way to keep in touch with people. It was more about bands and music – it wasn’t what I would consider social.

Then in 2007 something happened that revolutionised online socialising – I found Facebook! It was new, innovative and different and for the firs 18 months I was logged on 24/7 finding friends and updating my status every 5 minutes. It was cool and everyone was doing it!

It took me a little while to find Twitter and get to grips with it; but like FaceBook it did change the way I communicated online. When I connected FaceBook to Twitter I felt like my online life was complete.

Now there have been copy cats, I’m not a fan of Google plus and I don’t buy into these websites that are trying to be “FaceBook” but I am ready for more innovation.

In recent months Pinterest has caught my attention and in some ways I’m finding that I use this more than FaceBook especially in a work context. It feels creative and I like that. A couple of weeks ago I found myself on Pinterest and I came across a link to “vine” which was founded in June 2012 and has recently been bought by Twitter. Vine allows users to create 6 second video clips that loop and then embed in them in social networking sites such as Pinterest, FaceBook and Twitter.

My question is given all of the other social networking sites out there, and the fact that I already spend so much time sharing my life online – is there room for a service such as vine? Or could Vine actually change the way I use Pinterest in the same way that Twitter changed the way I use FaceBook.

One thing is for certain any good social networking site needs a verb to describe the activity. I currently Tweet on Twitter, Pin on Pinterest , Share or Like on FaceBook …… How will we describe “To Vine” if it does indeed become the new “in way” to communicate. Any Ideas?

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Online and in flight

Following my thoughts on data access in Europe I am now flying home from Italy and I’ve started to contemplate Internet access in the air.

Remember the days when you walked into a hospital and were told to switch off your mobile phone? Then one day this seemed to stop being important – someone realised that mobile phones didn’t effect hospital equipment ….. or maybe technology advanced.

It was also once impossible to get wifi on a train. Then suddenly it’s common place particularly on virgin trains and I find it immensely useful particularly when travelling for work.

Planes are one place where the still insist that you switch off electronic devices, or at least switch them to flight only mode – is there a serious risk to the aeroplane if someone makes a telephone call mid flight or uses the Internet over a cellular network? (Answers on a postcard please)

It occurs to me that this is one place where a wifi hotspot could make a fortune. Airlines have a captive audience often for several hours and I know that I would pay extra for the privilege if it were available.

I guess in posting this I’m looking for more information from someone who is in the know re: the possibility of wifi in the air. Science fiction? In the pipeline? Or someway off?

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Data access in Europe

This week I’ve taken a holiday to Sorrento in southern Italy. Naturally I couldn’t come away without bringing some technology with me – I have my iPhone, iPad and (in the hotel room) my laptop has come along for the ride.

Something which I’m finding slightly frustrating is that the SIM card in my iPad doesn’t work while I’m abroad, yet despite being on the same network the SIM card in my mobile phone works just fine. I knew this before I travelled having checked with O2 but sitting here in the picturesque Amalfi I’m wondering why.

Having said that my iPhone works fine, it does but my provider places certain restrictions on usage. O2 send me frequent text messages to remind me that I can use up to 25 mb per day for £1.99. I enquired about the cost of going over this allowance and was told that if I did regularly I would be charged £0.65 per mb.

In a normal month I use an average of 1.5 gb worth of data which is around 50mb per day, it therefore occurs to me that a 50% reduction in data usage when I’m using my mobile phone more (particularly navigation, and the Internet to research places I’m visiting) means that I’m not getting what I want out of my provider. Coupled with the fact that my iPad sim doesn’t work abroad I’m actually feeling very disconnected.

I suppose you could argue that I’m on holiday and therefore should be relaxing and revelling in this apparent connectivity restriction; on many levels I agree with you, but it still leaves me asking the question why is it such a problem to use as much data as I want to in 2012? Surely this problem is just going to get worse in years to come as more and more people connect multiple devices to the Internet. Is it because operator costs increase by providing access abroad? Or is there some other reason?

According to Ofcom there is some other reason. A 2012 ruling has regulated charges that mobile operators can impose for providing these services and the maximum charges are on a decreasing sliding scale over the next 2 years. By summer 2014 operators will be able to charge a maximum of 20 cents per mb for using data abroad.

My experience in 2012 tells me that one way operators are getting around these price limitations is by simply capping the amount of data their customers are allowed to use when abroad or in the case of the iPad simply not supporting data access. Surely this cannot be a sustainable model? I can’t see my data usage decreasing over time …… One solution would be to buy a local sim card when I go abroad but again this seems tiresome …..

Have you had data access issues in Europe? How did you solve your issues? Also if you’re a mobile operator how do you see the future developing for data access abroad?

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Working on the move

In recent years its become much easier for people to work on the move no matter what their location. This was brought home to me when I was in Dublin recently and I received a text message from a client. With relative ease I was able to connect to a wifi network, logon to his system and make changes all without impacting upon the purpose of my overseas visit.

The Internet has opened up a world in which people expect an immediate response. This is obviously a good thing because it means that things advance quicker but it also means people are less tolerant to delay.

Before the advent of e-mail communication it was common place for a worker to send a memo via internal or external post, which might take a day or two to arrive – naturally the response may also take a day or two meaning that a relatively simple communication could span over a week or more. In today’s Internet world that interaction could be completed within minutes arguably making employees time much more productive.

It also means that people expect response within a much quicker timescale. If I send an e-mail and haven’t received a response within 24 hours I usually start to think about chasing the receipient. If its a known person I often chase if I haven’t heard back within a few hours. Does this mean that technology is making us more impatient as a society? Or are we becoming more efficient?

Regardless of your standpoint I personally believe its important now and again for us all to take stock and to become incommunicado. Switch off your iPhone / iPad, don’t respond to e-mails for a few days – nothing is ever so important that it can’t wait … Or is it?

To my mind switching off is the only way to take time out and truly recharge your batteries. If like me you’ve been known to wake up in the middle of the night and answer an e-mail or two while in bed I believe this is particularly important – does anyone else find themselves rarely switching work off? Answering e-mails on the couch? On holiday? Assuming the answer is yes I guess the key question is what long term effect that is going to have on our mental capacity. Can work become a drug like addiction?

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What does it mean to be technology native?

When I did my IT GCSE I remember having a great deal of discussion about technology immigrants versus Technology natives. At the time we were all told that as 16 year olds in 2002 we were technology natives because we had grown up with technology. Our teacher on the other hand was a technology immigrant.

Since 2000 we have seen tremendous technological change, we’ve seen the introduction of social networking, developments of technology such as iPhone, iPad, and a cultural shift in the way technology assists in the workplace.

All of this has happened since I have “grown up” so does that mean that I am still a technology native? Or as new technology emerges that I start to adopt am I slowly starting to fit more into the category of technology immigrant.

At risk of opening up a huge can of worms could it be suggested that there is no such thing as a true technology native? I’m sure when the calculator first started to appear in schools the children of the day could have been referred to as technology natives ….. But as technology has moved on I’m sure those individuals would not consider that they have grown up with technology; much more that technology has developed around them as they have got older.

The truth of the matter is that as each new piece of technology emerges we all migrate towards it making us all technology immigrants. Only when technology stops developing will the next generation be true natives and I don’t see technology ceasing to move forward in the imminent future.

That said as technology advances people do become more comfortable adopting it. I for example am much more comfortable using technology than my mum. This suggests that the as technology advances the learning curve to start using it is easier for those who have grown up in the digital age – I wonder if technology will ever advance to such a level that I find it difficult to adopt? I’m sure my mum never had difficulty using a calculator in school so why is it that she is scared of the iPad?

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