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Technological Disruption Is Evolving Beyond Our Control.

Technological Disruption has been on my mind for several months and yesterday it came to boiling point.

I wrote about this first in this post.

Technological Disruption: Truth and Consequences

Working backwards from yesterday we can see that unfettered disruption without testing and validation of the ramifications in the wild have major consequences:

The first death of a pedestrian by autonomous vehicle occurred yesterday in the US and while law enforcement are claiming that the car may not be responsible. Do pedestrians know how to interact with autonomous vehicles in the wild? Simple answer: NO. Especially as these vehicles fundamentally look just the same as your everyday vehicles. Where are the Asimov 3 Laws of Robotics?

Technology disruption - robotsImage courtesy of Microsoft Paint3D – Remix 3D library

Facebook and Cambridge Analytica have made us all feel naked and vulnerable due to the massive exploitation of our collective social footprints, our digital identities being taken without knowledge and used to effectively socially engineer us all regarding the 2016 US Elections. Freemium apps mean just this, you are ceding control of your digital identity when you freely share things. Our mobile devices have evolved around this whole precept but we have strong expectations of how that data is used and the transparency behind its use.

Technological disruption - Facebook

A few months ago an acquaintance was talking about how Waze has changed their quiet street where kids can play into a dangerous bypass route that cars speed down, anytime the adjacent major roads are blocked. Speaking to Waze (Google) and their City officials hadn’t made dent in the issue at last check.

AirB&B & Uber along with other sharing economy startups have a huge issue with background checks for hosts, guests, drivers and passengers … and the list goes on, not even counting data breaches like Equifax.

The Warptest POV

So I’m asking again, how do these companies challenge themselves to explore or test the ethical ramifications of their disruptive products before and after they reach the real world? Or is the genie out of the bottle and we need to learn how to live with this modern-day Frankenstein’s Monster.

Video clip from YouTuber iiAFX
This takes a special kind of mindset able to see technology as a product, an ability to perceive its place in different cultures and environments and how it interacts with all kinds of people in different demographics. Ultimately it needs a fearless mindset, a willingness to ensure that as an agent of change, the change is positive and beneficial.

Reliance on legislators is not a solution, whilst the EU are counting down to the deadline for GDPR compliance, other countries will legislate different standards eventually but these will be based on a variety of factors, not least the ability of public servants and politicians to comprehend what technological disruption is, how it works and the impacts we can expect. We can reasonably assume that different countries laws might end up being contradictory or intentionally in conflict. Good luck with that.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes – Who watches the Watchmen?

Facebook and others will need to police themselves better but ultimately freemium apps rely on us, our data, our willingness to exist in their virtual worlds. We are their fuel and their monetization.

I am not advocating like some a mass deletion of our Facebook profiles, remember the same company also owns your much loved Instagram and ubiquitous WhatsApp. Still Facebook, Twitter and others need to make this a priority. We are talking about a  fundamental comprehension that symbiosis beats mutually assured destruction.

Ironically, much of what is being suggested online to resolve these things is a symptom of the problem. Issues like this cannot be solved with a hashtag, 14 characters or a snarky meme going viral.

For years we have heard how important DRM Digital Rights Management is for music, movies etc. where is our personal DRM? Can we disrupt Technological Disruption without inhibiting innovation?

These disruptive companies need to be much more transparent about their practices but also about the ethical challenges their technologies face and how they are solving these issues.

So if you want to comment, share ideas on the subject or just chime in.. Feel free.

If you know of a company that has a Chief Ethics Officer or a team that tests the ethical impact of their products then for sure let me know.

One thing I promise, whatever you share.. I will only be using that data for good.

That’s Right Unity Is Not Dealing With This Critical Issue

Unity are one of the biggest, if not biggest 2D & 3D game engines on the market. The company supports every conceivable, mainstream platform from mobile, thru desktop, Web to Virtual / Mixed Reality headsets.

Unity logo

This is the company that Apple & Google speak to when they want to role out ARCore & ARKit. By the time WWDC or Google annual conference role around, there is a beta version of Unity waiting in the wings with support for these changes.

Unity - ARCore
Unity - ARKit

If you have used a mainstream VR/MR app on Oculus Rift, HoloLens or HTC Vive then the likelihood is, that it was built in the Unity Editor.

Over the last year, a lot has changed for the company, especially instead of major version roll-outs, each subversion being released into Beta isn’t just bug fixes and iterations. Instead, these Beta sub-versions contain major new features and Unity isn’t shy about being transparent with their roadmap.

The big news is that Unity are making major inroads into the movie industry. They teamed with Neil Blomkamp to create the amazing animations for his OATS Studios movie shorts.

Many pundits believe that Unity is preparing themselves for an IPO with these changes, several major new strategic alliances and changes to the company board.

What Does Unity Need To Fix?

Ultimately, Unity provides a software development platform in their Editor. Code is written in C# and subject to the platform you are building your game or app on, the code is converted (e.g. conversion to C++ for IOS via IL2CPP). Notwithstanding the inability of the Editor to provide Developers with a mechanism to select all the platforms needed and run a cross-platform build script; this is not the major failing.

Their Editor has built in facility for Unit Testing via NUnit as part of Unity Test Runner.

Unity - Test Runner

QA can preview the scenes in the Editor but, Unity does not support Automated UI Testing on devices.

Once you have built your apps, you have no way except hands and eyeballs testing (more commonly argued over as “manual testing”) to test whether your IOS / Android / WebGL app functions or delivers the UI as expected.

Anyone who works in QA knows that standard practice is to incorporate automated UI tests using frameworks like Selenium for web testing and or, Appium for mobile apps.

These frameworks rely on the ability to recognize and map UI elements and objects with the app UI but Unity apps are a Black Box as far as Selenium or Appium are concerned. If you can’t map the UI elements and objects, then you can’t script clicks, swipes, text inputs or other simulations of real user behaviors.

This leaves game and app makers with 3 alternatives:

Unity - Testing

Manual testing alone is labor intensive, time consuming and repetitive. Cost aside it depends on skilled testers with the ability to catch and report bugs.

Customer testing is an oxymoron and often a disaster waiting to happen and yet some companies have no issue releasing their applications to their customers after only catching the critical issues.

Crowdsource testing is a good interim solution where companies lacking the testing personnel and is done by paying a 3rd party crowdsource company to deliver the warm bodies needed to test on personal devices for what amounts to first-to-find bug bounties.

The Warptest POV

Over the last year, I along with one of my QA Engineers tested several so-called automated testing solutions for Unity apps. Most didn’t make it out of the starting gate. Others showed early promise but needed extensive investment in development and testing to be anything more than a proof-of-concept.

All you need to do is search Unity’s Community Forums to see this is in high demand. Many companies and Unity personnel I spoke to online were interested to hear what we had discovered but if Unity want their community of 2D / 3D game, application and movie animation makers to deliver robust, well-tested products then automated UI testing needs to happen.

Unity - GDC

Today at 6.30pm Pacific Time, GDC, the Game Developers Conference kicks off. Don’t disappoint me Unity.

UPDATE

This is Unity’s summary blog post of their keynote at GDC. Color me disappointed, no mention of automated UI testing. Now I get it, automated testing in VR is a big challenge but choosing between doing nothing and at least supporting web / mobile automated testing on device, the choice is simple. FWIW if I had to choose between Unity and a platform that supports automated testing, the choice would be simple.

This is me throwing down the gauntlet Unity.

LinkedIn Has Everything Going For It, Except …

Is livestreaming a major missing feature from LinkedIn?

LinkedIn - livestream - app

Until now, Microsoft has not ventured seriously into the livestreaming niche, allowing big guns like YouTube & Facebook to dominate unrestricted streaming and Twitter’s Periscope to compete over mobile.

Since Microsoft had no meaningful social platform of their own (until the acquisition of LinkedIn) and with the death-by-degrees of Windows 10 Mobile .. to be replaced by a new, unknown, no-deadline mobile strategy, it was hard for Microsoft to leverage the need for streaming.

Why Does LinkedIn Need Livestreaming?

LinkedIn has a fight on its hands as Facebook invades the job networking / search niche. Facebook doesn’t waste time, they leverage their tools for personal users, then pages and or groups.

LinkedIn - Facebook

You can be sure the full suite of Facebook tools will be available to job seekers or companies looking to find top flight candidates.

LinkedIn - fight night

What could be better than seeing how a candidate handles live engagement by streaming their professional interests. This is infinitely better than a static resume, (searchable) LinkedIn profile or seeing a candidate’s engagement in groups. Recruiters get to observe speech patterns, passion, body language and introversion levels.

Job seekers benefit by being able to leverage this tool to fully promote themselves. A smart candidate will build a strategy for ensuring what they livestream will be polished, professional and relevant.

The Warptest POV

Job hunting is about using every advantage to stand-out and be noticed for your skills, knowledge and personality. To show recruiters that you are a good fit for the role they are looking to fill. So why doesn’t LinkedIn have livestreaming to allow you to do just that?

Right now, Microsoft has the technology but needs to integrate it into LinkedIn. Maybe they don’t see the value or maybe this should be a Premium feature. Where is this technology? Gaming and Social. Microsoft acquired social livestreaming company, Beam in August of 2016 and it’s now ported to Xbox as MIXER. Mixer is live game-streaming for Xbox and a cross-platform app.

Meanwhile since I started writing this, Microsoft and LinkedIn announced the integration of Word as the Resume Assistant, as predicted in the Warptest POV here, back in June 2016.

Should Redmond decide to take the Mixer technology and port it to LinkedIn (or Office and several other Microsoft platforms or technologies), then imagine applying for a job in real-time by livestreaming. What else can they bring to the pot? Bundle this in Skype with social integration or integration with Office 365’s Stream and you have a serious killer app. Stream isn’t just your company YouTube, videos you upload provide searchable speech-to-text captioning and facial recognition of people in your video. The livestreams you record can be saved thru Stream into your OneDrive. Shared thru Stream and turned into searchable video experiences.

Microsoft has the technology, all they need to do is find a way to bring it together and LinkedIn will compete on an even playing field with Facebook. Are you ready to stream your next job application?

Satya we’re overdue for a chat about Windows Mobile

Dear Satya, It’s time we spoke about Windows Mobile.

Windows Mobile - Satya Nadella

It’s been a while since I wrote you. You’ve been doing great things, mainly in the enterprise arena but hey, earnings and stock value for MSFT are great. The accolades you are receiving are all deserved and fully earned. You’ve done incredible things as the driving force behind the new Microsoft. MSIgnite 2017 has been a rampant success so far again predominantly for the Enterprise.

That said, I and a couple of others (gross understatement) are concerned about Microsoft’s commitment to the consumer market. Whilst platforms live on, you’ve basically ceded the mobile handset market to OEMs and likewise with wearables and VR headsets. Microsoft has become a high quality, prototyping factory to drive the direction of these hardware markets and the OEMs who exist there.

I get it, I really do. Microsoft is not a hardware company. That said, ignoring the mobile market or killing what you have thru perceived ambivalence, benign neglect or marketer fear is not the solution.

Is Windows 10 Mobile in it’s current evolution nearing it’s end? It doesn’t matter unless like me you are a Windows Phone owner. Us Windows Phone owners are not the people you have to win over with the next evolution of Windows mobile strategy. That said, we are waiting, anticipating and serious about what’s next:

Windows 10 on ARM devices. We expect this to be a winning mobile strategy for everyone.

A Vision For Windows Mobile / The Warptest POV

I thought I should share with you all the things that are needed to make a disruptive reentry into mobile and win serious market share.

What does ARM and full Windows 10 mean? It means one OS (no RT, no W10M) with Fluent design and Cshell providing an adaptive UI for Windows, the OS and apps will actually be Universal. Allegedly the latest reports refer to this all as Andromeda OS.

This is nothing new for Warptest, the idea of a responsive OS experience has been pushed on this blog since 2014.

It means the idea of running full-blown 64 bit apps from a mobile device may come true. This doesn’t mean you have to shoehorn this into the enterprise niche but consumer and enterprise devices, why not?

A democratic PC in the pocket for all…

If Microsoft designs a handset to Surface design standards and materials and doesn’t compromise form factor or battery life then this might succeed.

Surface - Windows MobileImage of Surface Pro 4 with thanks to Microsoft

Any mobile device doesn’t just need killer design and materials. It needs a serious raft of accessories from brand names but, it also needs to compete in the AR/ VR / MR market against the expected iPhone, the Pixel & phones like the One Hydrogen. We need a Holophone.

Most of all the people like Joe Belfiore associated with Windows Phone need to progress up and out of mobile. Microsoft needs an aggressive new team, able and willing to evangelize to Developers and ensure deals with Twitter, Facebook and others for up-to-date features like FB Live, Periscope and frankly for Microsoft themselves to man up and deliver apps and features to Windows Mobile first. Keep in mind just how many features seen at the recent iPhone 8 / X launch event already existed in Windows 10 Mobile (if not Windows Phone 8.1).

I’m not telling you anything new here Satya, but it needs to be said and by association this strategy needs to be applied to VR and wearables, including a Surface Watch (not just a niche sports band). Microsoft can still win in the mobile arena and your loyal consumer base in mobile are one building block in this strategy.

When you are ready, get in touch and let’s win back mobile.

WhatsApp For Business Is Big Business…

Watch out Slack, watch out Microsoft Teams… it was inevitable that with Facebook Workplace we would get WhatsApp for Business in some shape or form.

Next up Instagram Enterprise? Will companies expect employees at conferences, corporate retreats and more to upload their images and videos to their company, shared Instagram?

Just how many FB apps are we going to end up with on BYOD handsets in the workplace and what is this going to mean for a work culture where people are always connected and apps like WhatsApp promote an expectation of real-time response no matter the hour.

The Reality: WhatsApp for Business

This is not what WhatsApp are planning. They are too smart to overload personal devices with duplicate apps. There is no added advantage to a separate app (skype vs Skype for Business anyone?)

The WhatsApp FAQ refers to the roll-out of Verified Business numbers:

WhatsApp for Business - verified business accounts

Since starting to write this, WhatsApp have expanded on what WhatsApp for Businesses actually means. They refer to several key elements worth noting: –

WhatsApp for Business - Major features

The Warptest POV

First the earlier comparison to Slack or Teams is wrong. WhatsApp are not looking to build a workplace group chat app in this case. WhatsApp for Business is to connect businesses to their customers. Furthermore, we can expect this connection to enable actions that until now occurred in the real world or the web: Customer Support, E-Commerce and more.

WhatsApp will become a channel for businesses to make money without they or their customers ever having to leave the app.

Facebook have mastered the business model of building apps into platforms for personal engagement, leveraging these into business tools and allowing their customers to monetize through their ecosystem. This is going to be no different. The real beauty of WhatsApp for Business is the comfort zone. Users confronted with support ticketing or commerce will engage thru a familiar UI / UX and there will be no learning curve. This is the same app they use for school groups, family chats and other everyday scenarios. WhatsApp’s ubiquity makes it ideal for business adoption but to make it a true success it needs the ability to create integrations with external tools and data-sources.

Personally, I find WhatsApp to be a huge daily annoyance. Truthfully, it’s probably not the app itself, it’s how people use it and that the web-app is not standalone. Amongst my groups, there are groups treating it as a workplace chat app. I have people who send endless streams of multiple photos. Come on folks, this is thoughtless and eats the battery of other people’s devices, even if they aren’t downloading all your photos.

I’m not a huge fan of WhatsApp and I feel the need to frequently cull conversations. For me it’s all about signal to noise ratio and the psychology of the app. That said, the WhatsApp for Business team are smart enough to acknowledge the potential for abuse by spammers or advertisers, so the FAQs explain how consumers can block businesses they don’t wish to hear from.

I think we can safely assume that there will be a clear monetization strategy behind businesses verifying and maintaining engagement through WhatsApp.

WhatsApp for Business - WhatsAppocalypse

So, WhatsApp for business, a shining hope or potential for WhatsAppocalypse? What do you think?

Windows Mobile Is Not Dead It’s Just Sleeping?

News and bloggers are gleefully reporting the death of Windows Mobile .. again.

Windows Mobile - Bullshit

In fact, Microsoft just announced end of support for Windows Phone 8.1, the version supplanted by Windows 10 Mobile.

The lazy, trollish and misrepresentative reporting has haunted Microsoft’s mobile platform throughout each of its evolutions.

This is not to say that Microsoft has not repeatedly managed to do a remarkably poor job of marketing the platform and their own flagship devices. Nor were Microsoft able to evangelize to the developer community to entice the same adoption as IOS or Android.

Microsoft has addressed the issue of app parity in the Windows Mobile ecosystem with the combination of the IOS Bridge to UWP, UWP apps themselves and Project Centennial to convert old-style Windows apps to UWP, there is still life in the brand. Redmond still needs to forcefully encourage as many apps as possible to build UWP versions.

As it stands, many Windows Mobile owners feel the benign neglect stemming from Redmond is a way of parting from the past of the OS while developing the rumored Surface Mobile Device;

Surface Phone?

The Surface “Phone” has been rumored to be designed for running full-blown 64 bit Windows apps; a phab form factor or the implementation of a patent for a foldable screen device that opens from phone to tablet seamlessly. One thing we know for certain, this device will maximize the full potential of Microsoft’s CShell for Windows 10.

Many believe the device is being held-back by a waiting game for the right ARM-64 processor and GPU combined with the latest alleged leak that the Surface Mobile Device will be an AR / VR/ MR supporting device… a Hololens Phone. This rumor is propped up by the allegation that brain-behind the Hololens, Alex Kipman is leading the charge to deliver this device, even though the head of Microsoft Devices is still Panos Panay.

HoloLens - Alex Kipman

One thing is for sure, Microsoft needs to get this right in terms of design, materials, feature set, spec, delivery and especially marketing.

Marketing this atop of the history of Microsoft’s mobile strategy requires radical strategy. Before all you ace tech reporters and bloggers dig Windows Mobile’s grave, check the facts and save us your hot air.

The mobile markets are ripe for a change. Go big or go home Satya.

RED Hydrogen Smartphone Was Just Announced. Be Excited…

Holy Holophones Batfans, say hello to the RED Hydrogen Smartphone. As predicted here on Warptest, back in 2008 and 2012, someone has gone and shaken the foundations of the smartphone market with a Holophone.

That someone is none other than super high-end, digital cinema tech creator RED with what appears to be a stunningly designed, Android phone that can support 2D, 3D, mixed reality, AR, VR apps and display via a holographic display.

We are one step away from peak “Help me Obi-wan” with the RED Hydrogen Smartphone.

The RED Hydrogen Smartphone

The design ethos is pure RED in-keeping with the stylized 99% black with red emblem we have come to expect.

Red Hydrogen Smartphone

The phone appears to have a USB-C port, is intrepid enough to keep an earphone socket. The phone appears to have inset hex bolts and a ribbed grip and back that would inspire the love of everyone who ever held anything with a Picantinny mount aboard.

The pre-order price for the basic model is $1200 but this is a radical break away from the glasses dependent world of AR/VR/MR or Holographics we know. Also, RED are not known for their low price-tags.

The Warptest POV

For the RED Hydrogen Smartphone to succeed the design and feature set cannot compromise two things: –

Battery life

Cooling (one hopes those aren’t GPU cooling fins on the back of the phone)

If RED can deliver a Holographic phone that has decent battery life and doesn’t heat up like tarmac on summer day in Death Valley then this phone will shake up a number of markets.

All you have to do is read the spec for this device to see how RED are incorporating it into their existing ecosystem. Meanwhile, one assumes the mystery port with multiple gold contacts is the high-speed data bus referred to in the spec.

Data transfer is a big problem. Shoot a series of RAW photos or high-res videos and transfer them off your device? Good luck with that. Make yourself a coffee and read the news. If RED solves this, that is a huge win for them.

Not for nothing did I mention the Picantinny mount earlier. The spec mentions that the RED Hydrogen Smartphone is the basis for a modular system. No existing smartphone maker has managed to deliver a modular phone system that isn’t kludgy or compromising design against features.

RED have shown us a glimpse of the future. If you are serious about photography, videography or AR/VR/MR then you should be considering this phone for your arsenal.

One wonders if RED are developing a drone too, just to disrupt one extra market.

========================

UPDATE

Since posting this article, much of the speculation around the Red Hydrogen One has been dispelled and major players in the tech blogging community have gone hands-on with the device prototype.

RED’s webpage for the device is sporting the final price for pre-orders based on handset material and let’s be honest, this is far and away a more exciting device to drop over $1000 on than the iPhoneX if you are not a full-blown adherent of IOS and are in the VR game.

I’m going to be keeping a close eye on this phone, and hopefully everyone in the headset / glasses market will be doing the same. Game on.

Meetings Suck

Come on, admit most meetings suck. They aren’t particularly productive; most people amble to and from work meetings in a semi-stupor and we tend to spend way too much time in them.

When was the last meeting you got to amped up?
When was the last meeting you left feeling inspired or driven?
When was the last meeting you ran that was on subject and you nailed it?

ABC - Officing

Why Do Meetings Suck and Why Do We Suck At Meetings?

Most of us know how to schedule a meeting from Google Calendar or Outlook but usually that’s where we start to cock things up:

Stop using vague titles.
Where is the agenda?
Do all those people really need to come to this meeting? All the wrong people in all the wrong places.
Do you fear attachments? Don’t worry, link to the relevant documents in your company cloud.
Timing is everything. Not just when in the day but how long. Most meetings can get to done in 30 minutes. Some need an hour. Very few need more than this and those need a break in the middle.

The fact is we suck at meetings because running a productive meeting is a skill. A skill that requires continuous improvement. We dump people in the workplace and expect them to know how to run a meeting and deliver results.

Most people don’t really understand the point of a meeting or how to run one.

What’s the Point of It All?

Understanding this one thing about meetings.

Screengrab from the 1991 Castle Rock Entertainment movie, City Slickers via YouTube.

meetings suck - one thing

MEETINGS ARE TO TACKLE A PROBLEM WITH WHOEVER IS NEEDED TO GET TO THE SOLUTION.

Solution means decisions. Decisions mean action items. A meeting with no decisions is a waste of time. What did you solve?

The Warptest POV

You attacked the problem and engaged people in the meeting. You made sure everyone got to speak and was heard. Now write down every decision and treat it as an action item.

After the meeting, you share a summary where these action items are assigned to specific people with deadlines. Without this, meetings suck and will continue to suck.

All your calendar and appointment apps are great at setting meetings, but then the reminder just disappears without asking you to follow up. Certainly, none of them integrate an action driven follow-up.

Cortana - Windows 8

In an age of Siri, Cortana, Google Now why aren’t these Digital Assistants integrated with your meetings to record meetings? Why aren’t they asking you to follow up? Why isn’t text-to-speech built in, so you can run the meeting without the distraction of taking notes?

Microsoft has already enabled Cortana integration with Office 365. This is the start. At Build 2017 they announced the preview of Cortana Skills to solve this kind of problem. Alternatively, you can add their new Dictate service to your Office 365 to allow Word to convert what’s said in the meeting to text.

WHAT WE ALL REALLY WANT ARE READY-BAKED APPS THAT TAKE THE MEETING FROM INCEPTION, THRU SCHEDULING ALL THE WAY TO ACTION ITEMS.

Game on Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook.

Apple WWDC 2017 Kicked Off Today…

Today Apple launched their annual conference and here are a few major announcements that should excite anyone. I’m usually the first person to be unimpressed by Apple but heck the sheer volume of news is overwhelming.

WWDC 2017 Hot News

ARkit: a series of APIs for Augmented Reality on IOS. Apple demonstrated marker-less spatial awareness on stage. The APIs will have Unity support.

Revamped App Store : this is touted as the biggest revamp of the Store in 9 years.

IOS 11: this is being launched in beta for Devs who sign up for it. The OS has a slew of new and improved features including a mode to detect when you are driving for safety.

WWDC 2017 - IOS 11 feature list

New iMacs built for VR: Apple returns to the glory days of iMacs with powerhouse machines that are designed with spec to support VR. These iMacs are not the candy colored, plastic bubble desktops from the late 90’s. The design is not a lot different from last Apple desktops but it’s what’s inside that counts.

Mac OS High Sierra with Metal for VR built-in: hardware is important but the OS has to provide for the performance demands of VR.

XCode 9 announces over-your-LAN run / install / test /debug to your IOS devices wirelessly.

WWDC 2017 - Xcode wireless development

The Warptest POV

  • ARKit – does their markerless demo spell the end for AR trackers? If so, are Apple going to let it die a natural death or will they decide to restrict IOS AR apps to their APIs?
  • App Store revampbesides the App Store currently being a colossal pain for app discovery, how will these changes impact App Ranking. If there is something new to learn here, then the quickest studies will get a leg up on app rankings.
  • IOS 11 – the list of features is extensive but can I yell “finally” over driving mode and screen recording? Even though this is unquestionably a Beta release, expect the usual fear, angst and loathing as fanboi’s fight overtaxed servers, download and then cry foul at Beta meaning buggy.
  • iMacs with VR support & Metal for VR on Mac OS High SierraThis apparently needs a high-end Graphics card connected to the iMac / MacBook by cable to Thunderbolt port. Conclusion: Kludgy design for Apple but this might be the only way they could have delivered in time for WWDC.

 

In a nutshell, these are just some of the highlights. If you are a Mac or iPhone owner or developer then you should be reading up on what’s coming. I’m not going to grant Apple that they have finally innovated under Tim Cook but WWDC 2017 is going to shake things up and that’s good for Apple and good stimulus for competition.

Update: with the announcement that Apple have added screen splitting, drag and drop and “welcome to the 21st century” a File Explorer app, IOS 11 gets one step closer to Windows.

That’s fine, homage is the greatest admission that your competition got it right.

Game On.

MicrosoftEdu 2017 Is On May 2nd

MicrosoftEdu will kick-off tomorrow in New York and whilst the hashtag and event name indicate an education-centric theme many are predicting a big hardware announcement.

MicrosoftEdu - Event

For those who want to follow the Livestream, the begins at May 2nd, 6:30 a.m. Pacific Time / 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

The technology announced will focus on the education market which is a highly competitive market. Microsoft and Google (and to some extent Apple) are fighting over school districts, teachers and students. Until now, the focus was on learning platforms and productivity suites / apps with Google holding the upper hand in the device market.

Google Chromebooks make a great hardware solution for schools who buy into the Google ecosystem. Until now, Microsoft could only counter this with OEM budget laptops but these came with full Windows 10. An Intel Atom device with an SSD certainly gave more bang for buck but was it the economical choice?

What Can We Expect Then?

Microsoft are expected to announce new hardware and going out on a limb, I predict the following at MicrosoftEdu:

  • Microsoft Surface Cloudbook:
    • A Chromebook killer / competitor.
    • Highly portable but probably classic clamshell laptop style.
  • Windows 10 Cloud:

Windows 10 Paint 3D - MicrosoftEdu

The Warptest POV

If MicrosoftEdu delivers a hardware – software ecosystem designed for educators and students in Surface design then this will light a fire under the existing fight for this market.

A Surface Cloudbook for education must be aggressively priced to compete and win over schools on old-style LMS looking to upgrade. Things Microsoft should be delivering at MicrosoftEdu to seal the deal:

  • Cortana for kids and or integrated into Microsoft Classroom. Especially with app integrations like homework reminders from Cortana & child filtered research for projects.
  • A strategic partnership with a multimedia content platform that can compete with YouTube.
  • Early adopters deal bundling Surface Dial with the Surface Cloudbook and added cloud storage.
  • Mixed Reality for education: if you jump to the HoloLens page, directly below the intro video is a link to the MicrosoftEdu event. Why? What could be more natural than to leverage HoloLens and the OEM Windows 10 headsets for the education market?

MicrosoftEdu - Hololens

I’m ready to be wowed, how about you?

Foursquare Pilgrim SDK Launched…

Dennis Crowley and the team at Foursquare launched Foursquare Pilgrim SDK a few weeks ago. The SDK grants app developers the ability to integrate the location powerhouse’s technology directly into their app.

What more do you need to know than that? In a week where Mobile World Congress failed to wow us, Foursquare did what they have done several times in the past. They went into stealth mode and demonstrated why they own the location app & data markets.

Who Is Foursquare?

The company started out competing for social location and recommendations, gamifying their app with check-ins garnering badges, leaderboards and mayorships of venues.

When the location market seemed tapped out, they split their app in two: Swarm for the check-ins and Foursquare for venue recommendations.

As Foursquare iterated into the commercial market, it became apparent that they had leveraged the big data behind their apps into the biggest consumer behavior database on the planet. Companies like Microsoft were interested in investing which sent Yahoo looking for competitive locational search and recommendation with Yelp.

Foursquare launched their API and now Pilgrim SDK enables apps to create personalized user experiences based on actionable location intelligence from within the app.

  • Personalized experiences
  • Tailored recommendations to their tastes
  • On their arrival to your physical location they can receive a curate list of recommendations thru your app
  • Drive foot traffic to brick and mortar locations

Thanks to Foursquare for making this video sharable
I wrote all this the day after Pilgrim SDK was announced but had trouble finishing the post: a combination of busy work schedule and I just felt the post was lacking punch.

A couple of weeks after I participated in a thread on Facebook where journalist Mike Butcher questioned the future of Foursquare. Foursquare CEO, Dennis Crowley owned the conversation with some winning stats. Then several days ago Entrepreneur magazine posted, After Years of Challenges, Foursquare Has Found its Purpose — and Profits. Proof of the pudding methinks.

Foursquare Pilgrim SDK - FB Mike Butcher

The Warptest POV

Foursquare have repeatedly lulled the tech bloggers and journalists into thinking they were done and then dropped the hammer on something new. Foursquare Pilgrim SDK brings everything that is great about their technology into your apps.

Prediction: we are going to see more big apps providing this kind of embedded / integrated solution.

Where are location apps going next? In the past I’ve posted about Foursquare and where I expected them to go. Here is my latest brainstorm on the subject:

Foursquare Pilgrim SDK - whats next

Anyway, congratulations to Dennis Crowley and the whole Foursquare team. It might be time to start using Swarm and Foursquare apps again.

If you are a developer then you definitely want to have a look at the Foursquare Pilgrim SDK.

Where do you think location apps are going next?

Chromebook will run Android Apps. That’s right.

Chromebook will be able to connect to the Google Play Store and install Android Apps. This was big news on the Google Chromebooks blog on May 16th 2016 and then we didn’t really hear about it again until CES 2017 last month.

The news at CES was about specific Chromebooks supporting this feature: the Samsung Chromebook Plus / Pro & the Asus Chromebook Flip to name two.

Chromebook getting Android Apps - First News

Not All Chromebooks are created Equally

CES showed us that if you are thinking of buying a Chromebook, and you have an Android phone, then you are going to want to examine carefully which of the new Chromebooks are going to support this feature. (I find it hard to imagine an iPhone owner with a Chromebook but stranger things have happened).

Furthermore, this might not be an out-of-the-box feature; according to the official pages of the Chromium project only 3 Chromebooks currently support this (although there is a list of those which will support it in the future, sort of an Ikea “coming soon” ticket).

To get the feature, your Chromebook may need to work in Developer mode. After testing this on a brand-new Lenovo (intel inside) Chromebook, I could enable this thru Developer Mode and access the Google Play Store once but since reboot I have not been able to replicate the scenario. Since then, I discovered this how-to from Google which means retesting this.

Chromebook - Android App Play Store

The Warptest POV

This is a bold and sensible move by Google. Running Android apps on Chromebook is going to make for an interesting and more competitive market. Android phone owners are finally going to have one more reason to make their main productivity device a Chromebook.

Will Android apps run in virtual machine or emulator like Google’s Arc Welder? If not, then Android apps are going need to look and act different from a floating phone / tablet app on a laptop screen. This implies that the next major release of Android Studio will allow Developers to build one app for both platforms with responsive UI. For now, the instructions on optimizing your Android apps are here.

Sound familiar? It should because this is the foundation of Microsoft’s UWP. The Universal Windows Platform has allowed Microsoft Developers to build once and deploy across device types. Admittedly the Microsoft suite of devices is more diverse but this has been a pivotal part of their success.

Chromebook - Android Apps sounds like UWP

Is this another knock Google for copying Microsoft post? No. A recurring theme in this blog is that competition stimulates innovation and emulating ideas is at worst a homage. Why reinvent the wheel?

Can Google emulate this success? Will this push greater Chromebook adoption amongst Android phone owners?

Will Android developers see the value of investing in building “Universal” Android Apps or not? What do you think?