The Apple Watch- everything I hoped for and less. by Isabelle Ringnes

I remember it vividly. A cold morning, April 10th at 9 AM in Oslo. I was in fight mode, clutching my iPhone, staring frantically at my Mac screen beaming the apple.com homepage "We are making updates to our site. Please check back soon". My sister, living in New York, was staring at the same message ( to her agony as it was 3 AM her time and she had promised me that she would order the watch from there in case Norwegian networks failed me. I have a good sister).

A slightly frantic sister.  

A slightly frantic sister.  

Not surprisingly, the site crashed. A quick meltdown and 35 iMessages to my sister later, I took to Twitter for advice. My friend in San Fransisco saved me in the most obvious way. I blame my panic for the obvious (and embarrassing) fail. @isabelleringnes : use the Apple Store app. I can't believe you didn't do a test-run of today.

3 minutes later I found myself in a celebratory dance to the ding of Apple's order confirmation email.

8 minutes of frustration pushed me 4 weeks back on the waitlist, but I was still going to be one of the very first million Apple Watch owners. I could feel the nerd-adrenaline all the way to my spine.

6 weeks of feeling like a child waiting for Santa to slide down the chimney passed. The watch was on my wrist.

I have now been wearing the Apple Watch every day since that glorious day, May 28th. Two months. Despite gloomy reviews and rumors about luke-warm early adopters, slow sales and "too little, too late" my opinion of it is biased, but satisfied. Every time I meet someone with the watch, a silent understanding occurs. "You were one of the crazy ones too". 

The good

  • It does what it promised
    • All the features Apple promised are present. Apps, activity, notifications, images, messages, phone calls, payment. Check. 
  • I can text and talk on the go
    • It's surprisingly satisfying to deal with those sweet pings instantly. I can sense the curious looks when I am talking to my hand. 
  • Apple Pay is beyond amazing
    • I can not understand how anyone in the US would choose to not use Apple Pay. Many do not even know it exists. It is the smartest, easiest, safest and most convenient payment today (in my opinion).
  • I am constantly "in the know".
    • Dring. A notification on my wrist tells me its time for a meeting. someone re-tweeted me. My mom is messaging me. It's nice to not check my phone as often, especially in social settings. But I still use my phone more than what I would like to admit. However, looking at a phone is still more socially acceptable than playing with a watch ("don't you have time for me?")
  • What gets measured, gets managed.
    • No more excuses. If I haven't moved enough, it tells me repeatedly. So much so, that I might even do something about it. Like take the stairs instead of the elevator. 
  • It looks sexy.
    • I absolutely love the design. It makes me feel cool. I wear it with dresses and sports clothes. 
  • I love the haptic feedback. 
    • The tiny vibration that occurs with a slightly different vibration for each notification is addicting. Everything about it is thrilling. Weird, but true.

The bad: 

  • It is annoying. 
    • I do not want to be constantly reminded every time I am focusing that I need to stand up. Leave me alone.
  • It is sloow.
    • Every time I check the weather it still shows me the weather in a location I was at one week ago. Like now, I know it is sunny in New York. But I am in France. 
  • I don't really use it. 
    • Sure, I wear it all the time. I dismiss notifications. I check the time. I quickly respond "yes" to messages. Maybe I track my activity. But I have never checked any real apps on it, it is too slow and the screen size is too small for that. I save those goodies for the big screen. 
  • Siri is getting on my nerves.
    • She understands what I say about 80% of the time. And because the only way to text is through voice, the language barrier gets frustrating quickly. 
  • No one else has it. 
    • I was looking forward to sending my heartbeat and special smileys to my Apple watch buddies. But no one I know has one, so I have to keep my heartbeat for myself. Poor me. 
  • All the cables! 
    • I am actually pleasantly surprised by the length of the battery time. And the speed at which it recharges. But still, I am now carrying two chargers in my bag. Cables everywhere. Can we invent infinite battery time soon?
  • It has so much potential. 
    • But it is not living up to it yet. Upon questions of how I use it, I find myself sometimes white-lying about all the use cases. Yes, I know they are all possible. But the software is not fast enough for them to actually beat the convenience and speed of my iPhone.

Should you buy one now? No. Unless you are an early adopter, gadget-geek or an unparalleled Apple fan, it's not for you. The average consumer is less patient and tolerant, and this device requires exactly that. 

Will everyone have one some day? Maybe. It is still too early to say. Perhaps when Apple Pay is rolled out and accepted worldwide the benefits are more obvious. It has a lot of potential, but that's about it. 

Will I keep using it? Yes. I am not giving up. A software release is right around the corner, and being a biased fan, I am confident it is going to be legendary ;)

What is the future of the news industry? by Isabelle Ringnes

The media industry (or actually every industry) has been affected by the internet. The “EXTRA””EXTRA” component of a fresh newspapers on the sidewalk has evaporated along with its emergence.

News is at our fingertips, one click away. Information is no longer a scarcity, but ubiquitous and universally available. But is the quality and quantity emerging in separate directions?

I believe that in order to attract and retain news consumers, readers and subscribers, the industry needs to find means in which people will feel like it is worth coming back to the source. They need to be willing to pay for content; simply because the quality, technology and deliverable of the news experience is unique.

A great example of news organizations that have seen some success from applying these practices are Fast Company and The New York Times. Fast Company Magazine invests a lot in the technological aspect of their articles, making every reading experience unique and magical. Take this article as an example: instead of a static image they employ a format that allows the image to come alive while reading the article. 

This image seems static here, but I urge you to check out the article for the full immersive experience. 

nother example stems from the New York Times. They have invested in interactive content, that tells a story through videos, graphics and interactivity. It is really quite beautiful. They have an entire library of their best work here, but being a slightly biased Norwegian I suggest you check out their feature on a trip through the Norwegian fjords. It is a truly beautiful article and really makes the reader feel like they are present in the moment. 

Technological advancements:

I believe that in the future we will be moving away from the typical smartphone in our hand and start seeing information displayed on the world. Everyone has a different idea of what the future will look like, but it seems that the consensus is that we are moving away from a containment environment to information everywhere. The technology is available, but needs refinement and implementation to transform the world as we know it and disrupt the ways in which we consume news.

But will the news industry as we know it survive the rapid accelleration of technology coming our way?

I believe in the importance of high quality and reliable news sources. But in order to stay relevant, impactful media houses should push to revolutionize what people think of as the ultimate news experience by incorporating truly unique ways of experiencing news such as using augmented reality , projection technology and 3d holoGraphic technology.

The true journalists role will no longer be to just hammer out a script, but build stories that give users a new, innovative and exciting way of consuming news. I believe that this experience will be worth paying for, and without the added cost, it can not be produced.

But is it possible? 

Augmented reality has become a common concept, but this technology is about to transition into a form that can display graphics for each viewer’s perspective.

The technology is currently used by some advertisers to turn print ads interactive, magazines to make stories come alive and corporations pushing direct sales from scanning an image.

I imagine people being able to scan a particular place and and see the current news stories unfold interactively within their mobile device.

Using geo-location, the internet and surrounding data- you could walk around anywhere and receive real-time stories about things going on in your local area from news sources and social media. Imagine walking anywhere, scanning whatever is in your eyesight and see a projected augmented layer providing tidbits of news information on whats going on. By pointing your phone, glass or projector device to an area of interest or conflict you would automatically receive dated and current news, social media posts and pictures about that place in real time.

Haven’t you ever walked by a fire truck or police tape and wondered what the commotion is about? Imagine if you could point your phone at it, and satisfy your curiosity within seconds.

The basics is that a projector (on a phone or any wearable device; glass,watch, earring, necklace, button) can turn any surface into an interactive projected newspaper. A user can essentially examine the world, find and process the stories based on geo-location and personalization, aggregate information and pull data from news sites and social media and then project the information as a personal newspaper (like flipboard) wherever your eyes desire- be it a wall, table or your own wrist. This would give news consumers constant access to news in whatever form they wish in an entirely new and engaging way. The technology would be touch and voice activated, enabling the user to demand any action to be taken with the use of his/hers voice or gesture.

Using  gesture recognition technology, the users could interact with the projected information without using their phones, but simply by gesturing onto or around the image projected. They would flip pages like an old school newspaper by waving their hands over the projected interface.Readers and consumers could comment real time, using side notes and social media.

Sidenote: What is side notes? (click link to see how Livefyre is doing this)

News organizations can incorporate comments in their articles using “side notes” technology. This means that when you are presented with news anywhere at anytime- be it your bathroom, bedroom, livingroom, kitchen table or car- you can comment by voice/or a projected keypad to a specific sentence and contribute to the overall crowdsourcing of information derived from a specific segment in an article.

The projection hardware could read stories out loud, or the consumer could read or watch them themselves. In that way you can both experience the newspaper in a technologically advanced manner while still being a contributor and narrator of the global curation of news.

3d holographic technology:

This technology can unfold in two dimensions- both projected on a surface or contained within your phone’s screen.

Imagine reading an interesting story on your phone. Now picture being able to click it and see it come alive as a holographic 3D version in front of your eyes. Like a theatrical experience you would be able to see the events in Syria or the latest inventions from South by Southwest in holographic 3d directly in front of you.

Maybe I am wrong, but I believe that if journalists expand their skill set to offer these kinds of experiences consumers will come back. Not everyone can generate this high quality content. It will disrupt the cold, passive newspapers as we remember them.

And it may already be in the works. On april 29th, 2014 Apple acquired a patent for a holographic display technology that allows users to interact by gesture and touch with 3d objects for possible implementation in their hardware.

What do you think is the future of the news? What big trends do you see coming our way? What are the implications? 

Google "gives" glass to the public's eyes by Isabelle Ringnes

Google is expanding their initial glass explorer program to include anyone who wants to test the company’s wearable computing glasses, which are famously still in the beta development stage.

The giant tech company initially launched the (in)famous innovation last year to a small pool of lucky “glass explorers”. Curios techies were encouraged to creatively express what they would do #ifIhadglass on Twitter. The most creative tweets won the opportunity to pay the company $1500 (excluding tax) for a chance to see the world from behind Google Glass. But the majority of these “Glassholes”, a popular term in which these explorers have famously claimed, are not defending their pricey investments.

According to many of the beta-testers, the battery life is poor and their use limited, crediting it to essentially be a wearable camera with worse image resolution than your phone.

Google released the product targeting engineers and developers hoping that they would help improve the product before it reached the public eye. The device has received a significant amount of media attention, primarily for the flux of raised privacy and safety concerns. In addition to lobbying for it’s legal commercial usage in Washington, Google’s engineers are working hard to further improve the product, which currently offers video recording, email access, turn-by-turn driving directions and Internet search by voice and touch commands. However, the command phrase “OK glass” combined with the unusual design has yet to become socially acceptable. But despite the glasses exclusivity stamp, they are likely to be considered too expensive for the general public whom have shown little interest in acquiring a pair. Industry experts estimate the actual manufacturing price to be below $200 and express Google’s need to lower the price significantly before the average consumer will consider taking on more cyborgian appearance.

It may be smart to stay on the sideline for now, as both the product and price are expected to improve in the near future.