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10 Of The Best Autechre Songs

I’ve been enjoying a lot of listening time lately and stumbled across this piece on Discogs. Seeing as I have these albums and EPs I put things together into a playlist to give it a go.

Autechre have been rotating through my listening habits since first discovering them around 1995. I’ve never found them to be an acquired taste though I’m certain most (including my family) would disagree.

Anyway thanks to Cloudplayer, I’ve got pretty easy remote access to my collection as needed which is pretty awesome. Not quite the level of detail Roon provides at home but until something comparable comes along…

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iMessage. Really?


I keep reading things about the stickiness of iMessage and I frankly do not get it … While I in no way discount the stellar design, performance and appeal of the iPhone I simply do not get the need for iMessage as a core service — meaning something that would keep me attached to the platform.  There are literally countless ways to engage with people through messaging and depending on your age / need most likely a few in play at all times as well.  The digital ink spilled about being a green bubble in a blue bubble conversation is ridiculous to me.

In our house of 5, there’s a healthy mix of use cases as we have two adults and 3 kids (12, 9 and 7).  My wife and I no longer use iMessage or Apple Messages at all.  We don’t have a home Mac anymore (Chromebooks are totally adequate and performant for our home tasks) and neither of us use an iPhone.  My kids do use iMessage, but the level of usage truly varies by age and I can’t see it being a sticky point for them moving forward since it’s quite clear that needs and usage changes with age and experience.

At 7, my son is the youngest and does not have a phone, but uses his iPad Mini as a portable games and video machine.  He uses iMessage to connect with his sisters and the neighbors to arrange quick get togethers.  He’ll also use Facetime to quickly call and hangout with the kids next door when they can’t quite get together in person.

Our middle daughter (9) uses iMessage to text us (though I’ve been migrating her to Allo without any resistance) and maintains a few group chats with kids at school.  The kids don’t seem to require or use anything special to stay in contact.  In fact it’s really just text with a good bit of emoji mixed in.  Facetime does come into play here too actually as the iPhone is the default phone for the kids at school, but voice and video usage seem to pale in comparison to text chat … what’s really taking over however are the use of other platforms like Musical.ly, Instagram and Snapchat.

My oldest (almost 13) has quickly become a power user as you might expect.  She certainly uses iMessage and Facetime to chat with friends, but mostly is all over Snapchat and Instagram.

Similar to the other kids there are no special iMessage features of any kind being used that I’m aware off aside from the occasional piece of flair. I’m struggling to see the true importance of knowing that everyone is on the same platform vs just being able to reach one another.  Migrating away has some technical challenges which have been well documented thanks to how messages are routed but really is not that big a deal. I’m not suggesting Allow or WhatsApp is the ultimate but my bias is certainly towards cross-platform opportunities. 

BMW Films is Back!

BMWFilms was amazing when it launched in the 90’s … truly setting the bar for branded content.  Great to see them bring it back especially with such a strong start and the return of Clive Owen as the Driver.

BMW Films – The Escape

The New Google Playbook


This week as much of the world noticed, Google unveiled a substantial number of new hardware products and an AI consumer-focused strategy linking things together. As was alluded to ahead of time, 10.4.2016 would be a day people will reflect upon in the future though clearly now not for the reasons many people might have projected.
From my perspective, Google came out swinging and hard. They are finally taking a bold stance with their brand and it looks like there will be some considerable marketing to follow. While on the surface, it would be easy to draw some parallels to the Nexus products of the past Pixel re-claims the previous higher end category, but pushes matters forward as the primary, rather than niche approach. Google very clearly drew comparisons to Apple with the Pixel phones (mainly physical) but as I’ve let things sit in, it’s even more clear how aligned this playbook is …and should be given the clout they can rightfully claim.

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MadebyGoogle is the tag defining Google themselves planned and designed the full stack experience on the devices. Previously they had consulted / designed, but partnered with an OEM to co-brand and market the products (Nexus, OnHub , AndroidTV…) but this is a new game. Google is the maker and sure HTC is the actual contract manufacturer (and a grreat one) but that’s the end of it if we believe what’s been stated publicly and I see no reason to doubt matters. Google’s role will also be to manage the channel, partner with retailers and develop the carrier strategy which in the US is to utilize Verizon as an exclusive partner. Verizon is touting the Pixel on their home page and actively promoting things through some online units as well. The OLA I spotted may actually be Google helping to promote Verizon as it links back to the Google Store vs VZ. Verizon does not seem to be adding anything to the device – no branding and no carrier apps – a refreshing change and of course exactly the same as the iPhone.

There was some hubbub last night around the Pixel specific features within Android 7.1 not coming to the broader base of Android devices including Nexus. I don’t see an issue with this and frankly believe it’s the right choice for Google to make. If Google is going to take a strong position their devices need to be empowered and maintain a POV comparatively. While there are certainly going to be Android OEMs and others to consider (for now anyway) Google has proclaimed it’s position at the top of the pyramid. The reason to choose something MadebyGoogle vs another should be obvious and I’m clear … and committed.

AI is threaded through the main products announced this week and works behind the scenes to personalize and enhance the collective experience. On the Pixel, we have the Assistant which until now has been quietly sitting inside the Allo messaging app. Instead, the Pixel releases the Assistant, replacing the Google Now experience on the Nexus. Now cards (thankfully) remain with a swipe to the left on the Pixel launcher (and interestingly not in the leaked version) but the Assitant as Sundar suggested is designed to provide a personal Google for everyone. On the Google Home device, which I think is an absolute Alexa killer, the Google Assistant will provide answers, control various devices and with a supposedly great speaker let you enjoy the streaming media of your choice. Because I’m so invested in the Google ecosytem, I’m confident that the information provided by Home will be relevant to me … I’ve been seeing suggested content in Now for a long time and stay signed in all the time so I’m basically all in which is clearly the goal. One question remains which is how a household will be managed … I’m hopeful that voice can serve as a future token for multiple accounts without too much effort on the user-end. Since our Google Home will initially sit in the kitchen, my whole family of 5 will make use of it … my kids were quick to identify Alexa’s weaknesses in answering questions and know how much more easily Google can provide a solution compared to Siri. If we were to have more than one Google Home (like say in the kids’ rooms) and each was signed in by that person how or would they all still work together? I’m sure that will be answered within the coming months … especially as each of us will start to expect the recommendations and learning be applied on a more individual level. AI will also be loaded on the Google Wifi system to help manage connections and ensure the best is provided to each device as you move through your house – especially if you choose the mesh option (as we’d likely do) to cover a whole house.

On the marketing side, I’m very curious to see how this all plays out. During the keynote and in the launch video for the Pixel, Google took a swipe at Apple for the headphone jack which was cheeky and a bit of a wink (no number name, headphone jack and the clear Apple storage alert) though it’s sets the stage for who they see as the competition. To reach a scaled level of awareness there’s going to have to be a real push on the outbound side beyond the typical digital ads you see. I’d expect some co-marketing for and from Verizon as they have a new halo device to sell. Google interestingly offered an exclusive color for VZ, but limited the capacity of the device to 32GB compared to the up to 128GB option in the other two colors directly sold by Google or other retailers as they light up like Best Buy. There seems to be an interesting moment for Google to get into the minds of switchers here too … as there’s been some ok but not great reception to the evolution vs revolution status of the iPhone 7. In the box and on the device is a switch app and connector designed to migrate everything from your iPhone …. or other device. Holidays are always an interesting time for CE purchases so I’d expect a boost through the end of the year just as part of our natural consumer purchase habits. Hopefully that will inspire a broader push and we’ll see Google with their foot on the gas going forward … Apple has a helluva headstart.

UPDATE — Looks like an NYC popup shop is coming to SoHo …Oh and some very solid partnerships are lined up as well:

Trying to make food tracking easier Lose It launches Snap It


How quantified are you? If you have an activity band you are partly there.  In my own case I’ve tried at various times over the past few years to capture and track it all. Things get challenging pretty quickly. Having worn a few different products I transitioned to Garmin this past summer to have as much associated data collected in the same place. At that time I also gave MyFitnessPal another go but like previous tries food tracking fell out of habit pretty quickly. Food tracking is hard. If you don’t eat a steady flow of packaged products you can’t simply scan a barcode and move on. 

Today Techcrunch notes LoseIt trying to make this easier with a feature called SnapIt. Essentially you take a food, wait patiently and get some data back to fill in your charts. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this type of app … A few years ago Massive Health (acquired by Jawbone) had Eatery which offered a similar approach. Eatery focused on more of a red/yellow/green approach to things while LostIt is apparently going to try a deeper analysis.  

Advances in machine learning have me wanting to believe this will work. The trick will be ensuring there is enough data quickly enough to build some repeatable actions.  Seems worth a shot to me … Having a holistic view of myself would be great … Especially if it isn’t such a pain to capture and collect real data.  

Activity tracking for kids 

This morning as the kids were getting ready we took a quick look at the Garmin Vivofit Jr which was just announced.  My 7yr old son immediately wanted the digital camo one as it’s reminiscent of the infamous Minecraft pattern.  A quick poke around on this and it’s a very cool concept and one that very well might make its way into our home.

Garmin has given this band some very solid consideration. First, it’s swim-proof and the battery will apparently last for about a year!  No charging is huge … Additionally this seems to really be about building and rewarding good habits. Aside from basic activity and sleep tracking you will be able to track and reward chores and home responsibilities. The app looks simple enough though not clearly linked to the broader Garmin Connect system at least not obviously so I cant quite tell how or if my family can “be friends” to compete and share activity. This doesn’t seem to ship for at least a month so hopefully more info beyond the press release will be available soon.

This isn’t the first product to offer activity tracking for kids but Garmin has the cred and enough adults already connected to make me think this has some real potential.

Google’s Project Ara and Modularity

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Horace Dediu has an interesting and thought provoking piece at the Christensen Institute which highlights come very interesting thoughts on whether a truly hardware specific modular approach computing is really ready for the consumer market.

A modular hardware (in addition to a modular software) computer may be conformable to buyer behavior but it may not offer opportunities of collaboration to producers; or vice versa.

The demise of Project Ara is not a testament to the demise of modularity. Modularity is abundantly evident throughout the smartphone business ecosystems. Millions of apps act as modules that enable completely different experiences for users of the same device. There are a vast set of accessories available through a myriad of interfaces such as bluetooth, USB and WiFi. The hardware subsystems are provided by a multitude of suppliers, and the products are assembled by various contract manufacturers.

Project Ara was an attempt to offer a particular interface across a boundary inside a device, but it offered no incentives to those who built devices or components. In contrast, apps offer interfaces “on top of” the device and offer great incentives for experimentation on solving pressing user problems. Modularity isn’t a theory that all boundaries should be open. It’s an observation that value chains evolve. How and when they evolve depends on an understanding of buyer behavior and producer incentives. via Christensen Institute

As Ara was cancelled, Google perhaps thought otherwise though one thing to keep in mind is that the ATAP team works in roughly 2 year sprints to try and develop an idea from prototype to product.  It’s possible that Google (and I have no information) may actually be working on something else … Even though considerable resources were likely deployed and some potential partner bridges built … Google has a pretty solid history of working on multiple concurrent efforts aka the Thunderdome Method.  I still think that this model has some legs … though perhaps not today.

While Dediu makes some solid points about the interface challenge as well as access to the stack, a hardware accessory (or module) could certainly trigger a software event to enable a more integrated experience … when you plug your car and phone together for Android Auto you get a unique experience only available in this situation.  Yes I know that’s an all-Google thing … but it’s a great example of how the phone shifts into a new mode.

 

Pixel vs Nexus

Image via Android Central

For those playing at home, the Pixels are the first and third devices above and as you can see they are slightly smaller than the Nexii which are currently out today.  About a week ago I swapped by primary sim back into the 6P from the Samsung S7 Edge and I’ve been super happy again with the device.  Having something slightly smaller for better one-handed use will be great as I’ve experienced with the S7.  Importantly the pure Google experience will be the core.

Nexus has historically been solely an enthusiast niche device … some might say platform reference or even developer phone depending on you who you ask.  In thinking about this I can recall using and owning just about all of them … I only borrowed the original G1 from the office briefly and while impressed with the sidekick style went back to my iPhone.  Since then I’ve used the S, Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 4, 5, 6 and as mentioned have the 6P running now.  In each case there has always been a touch of Google’s modesty built-in and I believe and hope those days are about to shift towards something bigger.  The greatest under-utilized asset Google has is the Google brand.  The MadeBy site that’s been setup and the ad running across my pre-roll universe features a taste of the track Come and Get your Love which I hope is a not so subtle signal of the mojo we will see strut on the stage next week.

Pixel and potential future plans are a direct opportunity for the core Google to come forward, be proud and enable a clear path forward.  Android is indisbutably a winning platform, but the true Google experience is being concealed by OEM preferences.  At this point in 2016, we have a two horse mobile race and Google should take the reins and make it very clear how great things can be when they are delivered on a platform that is clear, stays current with updates and leverages all the services without carrier or OEM intervention.  Are there likely to be carrier or OEM politics here … of course.  But Google is big enough to push it through just like Apple has always done from the start.  If people still want to buy devices clogged with carrier or OEM crap – that should be their choice vs the only option.

 

Rumor: Google planning ‘Andromeda’ OS Device in 2017

 

OK OK OK … This is one of those super long range, but exicting rumors.  Seems like Android Police has a good degree of confidence in their sources and frankly if the OS is real, than a halo device makes total sense.  The challenge of course is that it’s a year away … so while we are actively excited about what is expected in a week, we can’t get distracted by the plan for next year.  That said … I’m in!

Bison is planned as an ultra-thin laptop with a 12.3″ display, but Google also wants it to support a “tablet” mode. It’s unclear to us if this means Bison will be a Lenovo Yoga-style convertible device, or a detachable like Microsoft’s Surface Book, but I’m personally leaning on the former given how thin it is. Powering it will be either an Intel m3 or i5 Core processor with 32 or 128GB of storage and 8 or 16GB of RAM. This seems to suggest there will be two models. It will also feature a fingerprint scanner, two USB-C ports, a 3.5mm jack (!), a host of sensors, stylus support (a Wacom pen will be sold separately), stereo speakers, quad microphones, and a battery that will last around 10 hours. The keyboard will be backlit, and the glass trackpad will use haptic and force detection similar to the MacBook. Google plans to fit all of this in a form factor under 10mm in thickness, notably thinner than the aforementioned Apple ultraportable. via Android Police

I don’t know how you can reliably predict hardware internals a year away, but still … I’ve already been thinking about how a Chromebook + Android Apps makes a ton of sense for my own needs.  A device that’s the next generation of this design process would likely be killer for me and many others as well.

Yesterday I actually found my self distractedly browsing the  HP site looking at the Chromebook 13.  Reading the reviews and scoping the specs you can see it’s a higher end piece more in line with the current edition Pixel devices. While it lacks a touchscreen it’s still a compelling device for this generation, but without that touch UI it will be left behind pretty soon as the Android Play connections begin to light up through the rest of the year.  Looking ahead, having more power, more memory and touch are going to be need to have details in any mobile machine … Google is likely to up the ante on capability and even form factor moving forward.

Quick update — A bit more consideration just popped up at 9to5Google … it may be possible that a tablet device could even show this year.  The now dated Nexus 7 tablet (I use mine bedside daily) could be coming in ready to rock as possibly a developer piece of kit ahead of the more broad transition to Andromeda next year.

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