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Twitter Do This Now

Twitter has enough problems with user retention, competing as a textual platform against the rise of Live video (something they are investing in themselves with Periscope) and general app improvement malaise.

One of Twitter’s power features are the lists. Anyone who uses 3rd party tabular apps like Tweetdeck, Hootsuite or Tweeten will love the ability to create logical groupings of Tweeps you follow and then have them displayed in filtered, tabular format. Even better, Tweeps are notified when added to a list, making it a nice opt-in feature.

Twitter - Mission Statement

 Lists Are Cool, So What

The other day I had written a blog post I felt was interesting to one of the Lists I maintain and wanted to share with the people there. You can’t just @<List_Name> and then share with all the members of that list. You have to use your time listing each person. To be fair, the name of the list is probably already somebody’s Twitter name. Still, there should be an easy way to do this. Forget about the repetitive strain or the years of Twitter including names in the 140 characters. This is a powerful, useful feature and it fits Twitter’s mission statement in the image above:

To give everyone the power to create and share ideas

and information instantly, without barriers.

The Warptest POV

The use case here is pretty neat and enhances the power of the List feature in Twitter. Think “mailing list”. This is one more channel for easy content distribution and apps like Buffer or Start-A-Fire could piggyback on it. Heck, Mailchimp might even decide this is something they want to buy into.

 Twitter, if you are reading this, realize that features that are one-click or force multipliers increase user retention and new user adoption. In the war for users, you need to bring you’re A-game. Just one caveat, make this a feature that can’t be abused and you’ll really be on to a winner. One thing is for certain, this will change the way we build, maintain and use our lists.

 Does this feature help you? What other feature would you like to see?

Snapchat, you know who they are, right?

What the hell Snapchat? GSMArena threw the world of Windows Phone all a tizzy this morning with the announcement that in a dramatic reversal, Snapchat are working closely with Microsoft to build an app for Windows Phone. To be fair, by the end of the post GSMArena mention in passing these are the unconfirmed comments of a member of Lumia Support in Spain.

Snapchat - Snapchat

Their CEO, Evan Spiegel has been notorious in his disdain for the platform in the past, and became the object of dislike amongst Windows Phone users for blocking 3rd party apps. Snapchat had cited security concerns as the reason for the ban, after their user database of 4.6 million users was hacked at the start of 2014. Many felt this was a convenient excuse and wondered why, when so many companies were capable of releasing secure APIs allowing 3rd party development, Snapchat couldn’t.

Snapchat - Evan Spiegel on Windows Phone

 Recently Snapchat have released an API that seems limited to their earth-shaking foray into the world of advertising. Why the possible reversal on Windows Phone now?

Satya Hit Snooze On Windows Phone…

Windows Phone has allegedly died more times than Kenny in South Park or Tom Cruise in Edge of Tomorrow combined. Still the platform has clearly evolved from Windows Phone, the Lumia handsets (and OEMs) to Windows 10 Mobile. With Microsoft’s shift in focus to the OS and Universal Apps one might think they are all but out of the handset business.

With the rumors of the Surface or Panay phone coming, Microsoft are hard pressed to choose between marketing the absolutely fabulous Lumia 950 / 950XL. Especially as these may be the last of the Lumia brand. The Surface phone is expected to be a radical reimagining of Microsoft’s mobile hardware strategy, combining incredible design, the evolution of features like Continuum, Hello & Cortana. Most important the Surface Phone is expected to be a PC in your pocket. A handset capable of running 32 (possibly 64) bit applications.

With the announcement of advances in Universal Apps and a 32 Bit Desktop to Universal App converter tool at BUILD 2016, we saw how this strategy ties together.

The Warptest POV

No one is expecting the arrival of Snapchat alone on Windows 10 Mobile to suddenly cause drastic changes in market share. However, since apps like WhatsApp, Vine, Facebook (Beta), Facebook Messenger and many more are going full force into Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile with Universal Apps (WhatsApp is not Universal) perhaps, Snapchat woke up and smelt the coffee.

The market share being fought over here (or ignored until now) are the 300 million+ and growing, Windows 10 devices of all types.

Snapchat is huge, Hillel Fuld has told us this, Gary Vaynerchuk has told us this. So is it too weird or fantastical to speculate that Satya might want to buy Snapchat and this is how Windows 10 Mobile is getting Snapchat?

After all, Microsoft just bought LinkedIn and that blew our minds.

For similar reasons, to gain access to the customer database and then to resolve some of the issues Snapchat still has like user search, limited API, analytics (where the <redacted> are the analytics?) doesn’t it suddenly make some weird kind of sense? Microsoft could do all this… Still this is just speculation.

If Windows 10 Mobile gets a universal Snapchat app, many Windows Phone owners will be happy. Then the only major social apps missing will be Periscope and a personal favorite, ZCast.

So do you think we’ll see a Universal Snapchat app?

Trello Just Launched Their App For Slack

Yes, Trello uncrowned king of the Agile task management apps are jumping into Slack, the must-have, killer collaborative app.

Trello App For Slack - Obi Wan

This integration means that users can just stop jumping between apps and be productive on the fly within their work chats.

Let’s face it, having to switch between apps; either desktop windows or different browser tabs gets old fast. Being able to make task allocation, management and tracking part of the conversation means a more dynamic and natural process.

Anyone wanting to view the changes in the Agile post-it chart style still can, allowing for an overview for managers, Scrum Masters and the like.

You Got Your Chocolate In My Peanut Butter

If ever there was an obvious and called for integration, it’s Trello and Slack. Both are full-blown cross-platform tools, both are independent, strong companies who have carved a substantial market share in their fields.

The work productivity market is booming and competition is strong. No one wants to use a tool that doesn’t seamlessly communicate with their other tools. The world of isolated work applications is dying even for the Open Source / Bootstrap Startup ecosystem.

The Trello app integration allows users to use the /trello command to create, allocate and more from within the Slack conversation with your group or team.

The Warptest POV

Whilst many people clearly were asking for this, there were also external push factors. Microsoft have made huge inroads into collaborative work productivity in Office 365 with the launch of new apps like Planner (Redmond’s Trello-killer) and Gigjam built atop Office Groups and Graph.

Microsoft are driving hard for an all-encompassing cloud ecosystem that companies of all scales can pay one subscription and get all the tools they need. Tools that know how to talk to each other which work with automated workflows and the new Bot Framework. Like Trello and Slack, Microsoft are offering cross-platform / cross-device apps.

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Trello and Slack had no choice but to sprint forward with this or be left behind. Their biggest competitive advantage is twofold: –

  1. Each company’s clear subscription model. This is something that Microsoft repeatedly hear regarding Office 365.
  2. There are people who will choose the unicorn cred of Slack and anyone who integrates with them over Microsoft.

For Microsoft to crush their competition they need to continue to evangelize the reimagined, reinvented company that is delivering on Satya Nadella’s vision.

Meanwhile if you are a Trello user not using Slack or vice versa, I’d be seriously checking out the benefits of using both in concert. Repeat the phrase force multiplier.

If you are undecided about what your work productivity tools need to be then I’d be comparing Trello and Slack to Office 365 as described above.

What other apps would you like to see working with Slack?

Barbie Are Celebrating The 50th Birthday of Star Trek…

… by boldly going where no Barbie has gone before. You can check out and purchase (should you desire) the special Lt. Uhura, Spock and Kirk dolls from here.

Barbie - Star Trek

As you can see from the screengrab Bones, Scotty, Sulu & Chekov are sadly missing but there are other pop culture collections too. Of course none have the cachet of TOS.

Warning: do not surf to the above page with children lurking around your computer screen 😉

Lt Uhura. So What?

Whilst many will either see this as just another merchandising venture, for Star Trek to reach 50 years and still be rebooting movies, spinning off new TV series and more is an incredible testament to what Gene Roddenberry created.

 

All this aside, Lt Uhura and the show as a whole, broke social and futurist ground 50 years ago with a female Communications Officer aboard the USS Enterprise. Lt Uhura was basically the mother of the bluetooth headset and smashed racial barriers on primetime TV with her and Captain Kirk’s onscreen kiss.

Barbie - Star Trek - Lt Uhura

The Warptest POV

All the lead characters of Star Trek TOS and subsequent shows have had a huge impact on individuals and how we conceptualize tech and innovate. Flip phones, space exploration and more owe a huge hat-tip to Star Trek and no doubt this will continue to be so.

Should you consider all the Star Trek 50 years collectibles an investment? I’m not sure but if you do buy all these from Barbie, make sure you hide them away in pristine, boxed condition from your kids.

Live long and prosper.

WWDC 2016 Is Here…

I’m about as excited by WWDC 2016 as I was by their March 18th Product Launch. If Apple launches something innovative or ground breaking, it will be despite the management of Tim Cook. Not because of it.

WWDC 2016 - case in point

Everyone and their brother in the blogosphere are making predictions about what we can expect to see from Apple.

Don’t get me wrong, I want Apple to deliver radical, inspiring products. I want them to yell from the rooftops,

“Game on Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Amazon.”

What’s Your Vision, Apple?

Tim Cook has not delivered a clear vision for Apple the company. Not the way Satya Nadella has at Microsoft.

  • Are we expecting new feature laden versions or sweeping bug fixes for iOS / OS X?
  • Can we expect better development tools? Will they be subscription or not?
  • Will there be thinner or bigger devices launched or a total reimagining of MacBook?
  • Will Apple finally get their thumb out and compete for the colossal Cloud computing market against Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure?
  • Are Apple going to jump into the Bot revolution like just about everyone else and come on Apple, Augmented and Virtual Reality?
  • Most important, which apps will Apple shamelessly have copied in time for WWDC?

Apple seems to tease us with rationed tastings of their vision but no overall mission statement, why?

As Apple announces beta versions of various software, developers will go thru their annual 7 stages of coping:

  1. An Apple engineer leaves a new (unreleased) iPhone in a bar.
  2. WWDC 2016 announces the new betas: try to download and site is overloaded by requests.
  3. Downloads start working but lag is awful.
  4. Downloads of OS / Development tools / other software in beta installed to work devices and users begin reporting all the bugs.
  5. Apple reminds people these are beta versions.
  6. Remembering that this is just like last year.
  7. Guilt, anger, recrimination, despair and multiple conversations in Twitter and Facebook over how to roll back.

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The Warptest POV

Apple is THE frontrunner with consumer mobile devices. That said, Apple today is not Apple under Steve Jobs.

Meanwhile, Microsoft are planning a party for developers after WWDC and to truly rain on Apple’s parade, announced their acquisition of LinkedIn today.

Am I annoyed at Apple for not bringing their A Game? Yes. Challenge the market, push your competitors to compete and don’t fall back on the same old successes.

Forget “Game on Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Amazon.”… “Game on APPLE, bring it.”

LinkedIn and Microsoft, That’s Right.

LinkedIn just accepted a hefty $26.2 Billion from Microsoft for their acquisition. This has left techies, bloggers and astounded and scrambling to understand what just happened.

How much?!??

;

What Is LinkedIn?

All you have to do is jump over to LinkedIn’s About page:

LinkedIn - About Page

Nutshell, Microsoft just acquired “the world’s largest professional network with more than 433 million members in 200 countries.”

Start from the data, connections and analytics available. Now think about your connections. It doesn’t take much imagination to see the value of this kind of big data set. Do the math, how much Microsoft paid against the number of users…

What will Microsoft do with LinkedIn? We can expect UX refinements in iterations but not a sudden drastic change. Will LinkedIn end up with New Windows UI? Probably down the line.

LinkedIn is all about connections, networking and building relationships within the network. It’s about professional development for workers and sourcing for the employer. LinkedIn lets us build better profiles, in some ways replacing the conventional resume and references but more than that, it allows discovery. Discovery of potential job prospects and potential recruitment candidates.

Many people have faulted LinkedIn for their UI / UX choice but there are a few other big issues: –

  1. Discovery and ranking: how does LinkedIn actually improve your chances of discovery? There are different things you need to do to ensure a complete profile. In addition, you cannot neglect your profile nor fail to interact.
  2. Job suggestions: the algorithm behind this doesn’t learn from choices and often offers many false positives.
  3. Interaction: LinkedIn sends a slew of emails, and the more groups etc you participate in, the more email you have to wade thru.
  4. Groups: LinkedIn groups should be incredible but the groups are the successor to online forums and have not solved the problem of recurring discussions instead of a continued thread.

The Warptest POV

Satya Nadella has a vision, a mission statement for Microsoft. To empower each person… to do more. Microsoft is about productivity and collaboration and they have gone full-bore into cross-platform and open source.

Microsoft BUILD 2016 was where we saw much of this vision come together and it is not hard to see how this will be applied to LinkedIn:

  1. Metro New Windows UI: LinkedIn will iterate to a flat UI like the rest of Microsoft. Not overnight.
  2. Office 365: this is a no-brainer. Business Insider shows Satya Nadella’s letter regarding the LinkedIn acquisition and he makes clear reference to tighter productivity integration. Will we see “build a Word resume from your LinkedIn profile and save to OneDrive”? This, in-app use of templates and more Office 365 goodness can be expected.
  3. Cortana: as Cortana continues to evolve, acquire an increased skillset and integrate with more apps, we can expect to see Cortana integrate with LinkedIn.
  4. Bots: Microsoft launched their Bot Framework and this may offer a better solution to job suggestions, discovery and excess emails.
  5. Bing: Microsoft has integrated Bing with several other external platforms including Siri & Facebook (in the past). Logical and somewhat obvious.
  6. Office Graph: Office Graph and Delve make intelligent discovery seamless within Office 365. This will amp up job and candidate discovery.

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This doesn’t even factor in Microsoft location or ad services.

So Microsoft has the biggest dataset of professional connections in the world, new companies, who is looking for work, who wants to source the best candidates and the trending discussions in groups of different high profile jobs. This is all actionable intelligence for the biggest company selling Enterprise and Consumer IT solutions.
 
Now bring AI, bots frameworks, analytics and search-discovery to bear along with the most powerful productivity suite in the world.
Get ready for a better LinkedIn. I know I am.

Google Made The News This Weekend…

*** Google Chrome Extension Story UPDATE *** Gizmodo posted a follow-up to this story indicating those behind this plugin have wider plans than just the Chrome extension. They have a GitHub page (currently down and hopefully due to GitHub banning them). which when up has the code for a Firefox plugin and or sideloading the extension. Worse still is that this GitHub page had a list of all the echo tagged Jews. ***

Google may have pulled a Chrome Extension designed to identify and target Jews by allowing online racists to tag the names of journalists, bloggers (etc) they believe to be Jewish. This was done using (((alleged Jewish Name))) around the name, this became known as the echo. Once Google became aware of this, the extension called Coincidence Detector was pulled. There are bigger questions that need addressing: –

1) Are Google working with Law Enforcement to ensure the company and developers responsible for this face justice?

2) Are Google working to improve their review process for their Extension and App submission process to ensure hate-apps do not even get approved?

Approximately 8800 people were identified by this extension allowing anti-Semites to harass and threaten them and have no doubt, this would have escalated. It’s time for Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and others to aggressively police themselves, their app stores and social networks they manage.

Make no mistake this “hate-app” may have been caught but others will be out there and the unpoliced hate-speech should be cause for concern for us all.

Fear Lead to Hate, Hate Leads to Anger & Hate-apps Lead to Violence…

This would not be the first time technology was exploited by anti-Semites to target Jews. The Nazis exploited the German subsidiary of IBM to access their technology. This enabled them to tabulate and collate lists of Jews and other minorities for extermination during the Holocaust.

Just last week we read that Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Microsoft agreed to apply EU rules to a code of conduct regarding online hate-speech. One of the contributory causes to this decision between the EU and these tech giants has been the increase in hate-speech online, recent terrorist events across Europe and the unquestionable increase in online recruitment by terror groups. However, the Verge’s post on this leaves one with a feeling that this is not an improvement. I strongly recommend you read that post carefully. Why are these companies not adopting a worldwide stance that goes beyond the letter of local laws?

The Warptest POV

For us to entrust these companies with our personal and commercial data we need to be sure that these companies can be trusted to do what is right and just. There is no question that anyone who would develop technology to target any specific group for harassment or threat will escalate to physical violence.

Many of these companies have not done enough in the past to handle their acting as a funnel for this kind of hate and the spread to apps and extensions is both logical and foreseeable.

google - stop hate-apps

If so, why is the approval process not designed to catch this? To be fair, a smart developer will do everything to obfuscate the intentions of such a hate-app. This doesn’t mean that these companies shouldn’t be doing more. Nor does it mean that governments or law enforcement should be ceding the fight to private corporations.

These corporations are currently fighting to allow access to their customer and user data. Law enforcement needs to demonstrate a responsible attitude not the greedy “give us all your data” and we’ll find the criminals stance. The NSA with PRISM and the FBI with their petition to decrypt the San Bernadino terrorist’s iPhone demonstrate the balancing act needed here.

Ultimately, the public needs protection from these new threats to their safety. Do we sacrifice freedom of speech or privacy for this? Tough questions and ethical dilemmas abound but ultimately this is about peoples safety. This means at the very least, the debate should be a burning issue right now.

There are others out there who will undoubtedly be working to actively locate and identify those behind this new threat. I expect we will know the names of the developers behind this particular Chrome Extension within short time.

One ray of hope and a tinge of humor was an article on Tablet Magazine explaining how astute journalist Yair Rosenberg used twitter to crowd-source an appropriation of the echo tag (((alleged Jewish Name))). Well played Yair for showing that Twitter is still relevant and is a valuable tool in combatting this kind of hate.

In a nutshell, there needs to be a zero tolerance standard adopted by these companies. A standard that acts to prevent these threats from going live online. A standard that publicly outs these provocateurs of hate and racism. A standard that willingly supplies the identities of these people to Law Enforcement. Not cleaning up after the fact.

Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and others: this is your call to action.

Deadpool Has A Lot To Teach Us About Startup Management

Yes, Deadpool. The hit NSFW superhero movie from Marvel. Actually, much of the incredible success of the movie is due to these 10 secret tips.

Pay attention because these habits need to be learned, internalized and applied. Superhero startup management here we go…

With thanks to Marvel & 20th Century Fox for the Trailer

SPOILERS AHOY!

If you haven’t seen the movie and don’t want certain parts spoilt for you then turn back now.

 The 10 Successful Startup Habits of Deadpool:

  1. To quote the merc with a mouth, “Maximum Effort”. A successful product will not invent, build and launch itself. Get ready to work hard.
  2. Compromise can be the most R-Rated phrase you’ll hear. There was major pressure to tone down the movie but the cast and crew stuck to their guns. When people tell you to compromise, ask yourself if this matches your vision or product values.
  3. Break the 4th wall. Deadpool is notorious for his often hilarious conversations thru the 4th wall. In your case this is all about knowing what your customer expectations are.
  4. Testing, testing, testing. Our hero starts off in a white hooded romper, moves to spandex and chooses “Deadpool” over “Captain Deadpool”. Whether A/B, beta or product testing, it’s crucial to apply the results to building your best product. TESTING = SUCCESS.
  5. Give your fans what they want. The movie delivered everything the fans wanted and they loved the movie for it.
  6. Superhero team-ups rock! Deadpool encounters Colossus & Negasonic Teenage Warhead of the X-Men and later asks for their help. You can’t do everything yourself. Get help when you need it.
  7. Have a plan. Eat, breath and live it. Our hero wants payback from Ajax for his disfigurement and various other evil acts. He hunts his way up the bad guy food-chain with an enviable clarity and purity of purpose. Build your roadmap for delivering your product. It may change on the way but can you implement as decisively as Deadpool?
  8. Count your bullets. One of the two big fight scenes in the movie sees Deadpool with only twelve bullets and counting down as he goes. In your case, resources. Plan how you are going to use your resources and expect the unexpected.
  9. Branding. Is your product branded in a distinct manner? Deadpool chooses a red costume,” … so the bad guys can’t see him bleed”. Also the product marketing for the movie was almost too much with special clips for Australia Day (for Wolverine star, Hugh Jackman), Valentine’s Day, post-production clips and an ingenious billboard emoji ad. How will your product stand out?

    Deadpool - emoji billboard

  10. Own your mistakes. Wolverine (X-Men Origins) gave us a different Deadpool and it was awful. The new movie had several jokes mocking the earlier interpretation.

 

The Warptest POV

The merc with a mouth has a lot to teach us, if we are willing to listen and learn. Remember though, this is R-Rated so choose carefully who to see this with.

Make sure you have a pen and paper to take notes for your startup because it’s not every day you encounter a guru / sensei / ninja of startup wisdom like Deadpool:

Deadpool - the tem tips summarized

If you catch anymore Startup tips from Deadpool, I’d love to read about it in the comments.

(Disclaimer: no mercs, super-villains or henchmen were harmed in any way while writing this post.)

Tweeten Is A Twitter Desktop Client…

Tweeten appeared in a dark time, when Hootsuite and Tweetdeck weren’t delivering for me in the browser. When Tweetdeck client was behaving badly, freezing and hanging at regular intervals.

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Having a desktop or browser Twitter app that doesn’t make it easy to tweet is one more, big reason why so many users were tweeting less and less.

What’s the kicker?

Tweeten started as a wrapper for Tweetdeck. Twitter’s lackadaisical attitude to development allowed someone else to build a better Tweetdeck. After buying Tweetdeck, Twitter has killed several versions of Tweetdeck but not done any substantial development to improve the app performance or feature set.

In the several months that Tweeten has been available they have not just matched but surpassed Tweetdeck in performance, functionality and more recently going cross-platform. Currently Tweeten is available for Windows (32 or 64 bit versions), OS X, Google Chrome and Edge with expected releases for Linux and Firefox in the pipeline.

Tweeten managed to do this by building with Electron. Electron was initially designed for GitHub’s Atom Editor but since has experienced massive adoption by Slack, Microsoft, Facebook and many others:

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As this is GitHub there are also a slew of development (and testing) tools for working with Electron. (click on the iFrame above to jump to this page.).

Tweeten - Electron Dev Tools

The Warptest POV

Tweeten is an easy to use, easy on the eye Twitter app that does better than Twitter themselves. I personally don’t like using Hootsuite so I was happy to find a good alternative. The desktop app is well served by development in the fantastic Electron, supports multiple accounts and pretty much everything you’ve come to expect from a Twitter app.

I’ve repeatedly called out Twitter for their failure to invest in improvement of their apps, mobile and desktop. The new Windows Twitter (Windows 8/10) app is IMHO a lazy attempt to take the mobile app and port it to desktop. One of the strongest features Twitter has are groups / lists. Tweetdeck and subsequently Tweeten deliver this feature marvelously. I would love to see a radical improvement to this in Twitter mobile apps and an investment in improving Tweetdeck.

Wake Up Twitter!

To be fair Twitter aren’t just sitting on their hands, as The Next Web reports, we can expect photos and links to be excluded from the 140 character limit on Tweets. Big news to be sure.

For now I’m happy to get back into Twitter on my laptop using Tweeten. How about you?

Cortana Is An Integral Part of Windows 10…

Cortana Mobile and Desktop plays a huge part in the strategy for Microsoft’s ecosystem. The intelligent personal assistant AI is part and parcel of Windows 10 Desktop and Mobile. In addition, there are versions available for Android and iOS.

cortana - android play store cortana - itunes app store

This makes Cortana the most wide-spread cross-platform AI app available today. When Windows Phone users heard this, there were many who feared that Microsoft were giving away the farm.

Jump Forward In Time

To BUILD 2016 and we are hearing about Cortana – BOT integration / Windows / Office integration. Shortly thereafter, Cortana (on Windows 10 desktop) started notifying users about missed calls in real time, with the user able to send a message back to the caller. That’s right: personal assistant, so it makes sense she should be handling your calls this way, no?

There is a catch. This feature is available to Windows Phone users who are logged into the same Microsoft account on their Windows 10 Phone as their desktop. Right now this feature is exclusively available to Windows 10 Mobile.

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The Warptest POV

As someone who spends a lot of time working on his laptop, and a Windows Phone user, I love this feature. Sending a potted or custom message from my Windows 10 laptop is a useful feature that allows me to respond rapidly and get right back to work. No switching devices.

Whilst Apple have gone the whole hog with making / answering calls from a Mac for the iPhone, I have no doubt that Cortana will receive upgrades and enhancements to this feature in the future.

Seeing Windows Phone exclusive features is a reassurance when many are wheeling out the tired old “Windows Phone is dead” rants. Since this feature is dependent on having the same Microsoft account on phone and laptop, it will be interesting to see if Cortana for iOS or Android ends up supporting this integration with Windows 10.

As predicted, Cortana is only going to become more versatile, more integral to our daily use of Windows 10 (and other apps). If you aren’t using her yet, you should be.

Here’s how you can learn everything Cortana can do for you. Get cracking.

Microsoft Productivity Solutions …

Microsoft Productivity Solutions are a crucial milestone for Satya Nadella’s reimagined company in 2016. The foundation for this was the plan to get Office everywhere, a move that began during the Ballmer days of Microsoft.

Since then Microsoft has flipped reality on its head by becoming the uncrowned king of cross-platform even bringing apps to iOS or Android in place of Windows Phone.

It’s no secret that the path to success is not walled communities or a locked-in, isolated ecosystem (you know I’m talking to you Tim Cook). Microsoft have already taken the next steps towards a productivity ecosystem that is open to conversation & interaction between their products and 3rd party services.

How Are Microsoft Enabling This?

What we are seeing is a 3-step plan to maximize productivity in workplaces that use Microsoft technologies like Office 365 and or Windows 10: –

  1. Office Connectors: currently over fifty popular 3rd party apps can connect and interact with Office 365.
  2. Cortana and Proactive Actions: at BUILD 2016, Microsoft announced that Developers could register to turn Cortana’s insights into triggers for specific responses.
  3. Flow and Power Apps: users with educational or work accounts can easily turn their data into apps and create automated workflows between apps and services.

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This week Microsoft announced the roadmap for an overhauled, revamped Sharepoint with a strong cross-platform mobile, cloud orientation. The really big news about this is that much of the 3-step plan above will end up integrated into the new Sharepoint.

The Warptest POV

All this is more of the game changing plan introduced by Satya Nadella. This is creating a cohesive, unified experience where there is increased ROI to choosing Office 365 and or Windows 10 (especially in the workplace).

The automated actions between 3rd party apps like Twitter, Slack and Cortana or Office 365 are a logical evolution. Microsoft realize that there are web applications and services out there that deliver solutions they don’t.

What’s more enabling this is an incredible force multiplier for Microsoft productivity solutions.

All this grants us greater efficiency, improved collaboration and again, increased productivity through: –

Microsoft Productivity Solutions - Force Multiplier

Nor should we forget that Office 365 has another super-powered aspect, Delve. Adding all this external data to the mix is not going to decrease content discovery if Delve is enabled by your Office Admin.

Whilst Proactive Actions for Cortana are a developer oriented solution the other aspects of this plan are not.

All this places Microsoft productivity solutions at the front of the race for users’ hearts, minds and data. There are a couple of questions: –

  1. Will real-time data be transient (by default) when used by Microsoft productivity solutions?
  2. Will all this new data flowing inwards impact on storage requirements?
  3. How will this affect pricing models for Office, Sharepoint or OneDrive?

If consumers choose this model then it could spell and end to tolerance for Apple’s walled garden model.

Are you ready to dive in and maximize your productivity?

HoloLens Was Released as a Developer Edition…

HoloLens shipped to developers on the first day of BUILD 2016 and it played a mainstay in the Day One keynote. Previous demonstrations showed us a toolset for building holographic animations. At BUILD, Alex Kipman introduced a demo from Case Western Medical School, showing how they use HoloLens as an immersive teaching tool. In addition, the Galaxy Explorer app was demoed along with NASA-JPL’s Destination Mars app.

The multimedia content displayed looks incredible, as do apps like Skype on HoloLens.

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Microsoft provide everything developers need to get started. The tools needed are mostly what developers already have aboard their PC. Developers don’t even need a HoloLens to get started, as Microsoft has created an emulator.

This is all true but what about creating photo, video and livestream holograms?

Creating Holograms, VR and Immersive Content

If you follow the race to deliver affordable, consumer technology for creating immersive content then you know that this is an open market right now.

We are seeing GoPro developing high-end and consumer rigs, companies like Luna with their ball-cam. Recently, Wired featured an article exploring how a Microsoft engineer created a Star Wars-like hologram of his daughter. Nutshell, to create this hologram of a person takes an array of 3D capture cameras.

The problem is a device like HoloLens is only as good as the ease with which you can get an immersive experience on it.

Many consumers may be able to afford a HoloLens but being able to setup 3D video or image capture to create holograms seems pricey and complex. When most people want to Snapchat, Instagram, Vine etc. there are not going to be comparable Holographic apps without affordable, easy consumer capture technology.

The Warptest POV

There is a flawed expectation, if we have incredible technology for photo and video capture on our smartphones that we will get the equivalent for HoloLens now. Work usage of HoloLens in many use cases relies heavily on 3D CAD or animation. Consumers are going to want to see their photos, videos or livestream video chat holographically on HoloLens. How are Microsoft going to solve this before HoloLens launches as a mainstream, consumer device?

  1. Microsoft created Photosynth to solve the issue of 3D capture and rendering from PC and smartphone. A HoloSynth version would allow a wraparound or full synth hologram.
  2. Dual lens smartphones are not entirely a new concept. Using dual lens cameras Microsoft could create stereographic 3D capture apps. (Surface Phone anyone?)
  3. Right now I’m experimenting with simultaneous image capture from multiple smartphones. Theoretically an app to sync the capture from several devices could also result in a render / synth solution.
  4. The rebirth of the photo booth. When was the last time you saw, let alone took photos in a photo booth? Now imagine Microsoft takes their existing 3D capture tech and creates digital booths. These could be in each Microsoft Store. This will at least allow you to holo-stream to HoloLens Skype or, take holographic photos and video.

Each of these have pros and cons. Cost versus compromises in image or video quality. The ability to create holograms from your smartphone using an app, even of lower quality add value to HoloLens as a consumer device and open up the potential for app creation.

HoloLens - Superman III Photo booth scene

A physical photo booth means going to the booth but this is comparable to using green screen technology. The benefit of paying once to create your holograms opens this up to anyone who wants to opt in but doesn’t want to buy the hardware themselves. Let’s face it, photo booths were cool and fun. This would also make holographic video and photos accessible for app developers.

It’s important to remember that HoloLens is in the early days of its journey to mainstream consumer use. This means that solutions to these challenges will come but not right away. It also means whoever develops software and hardware solutions for the consumer market stands to clean up nicely. It’s a safe bet to expect hologram sharing platforms, social and drone integration to name a few other directions.

Are you excited by the possibilities that HoloLens is offering us?