Apple Watch: I’ve changed my mind. Just not about the Watch.


Dick Tracy: Smart Watch Pioneer

Seven months ago, I wrote a post about the Apple Watch and how I was yet to be convinced of the need. Concerned that in the wake of the clamour for wearable tech, I’d suddenly become a Luddite, I decided to immerse myself rather than take the easy, skeptical route.

So in October 2014, I became one of the first owners of a LG G Watch R, which at the time was certainly the smart watch of choice.

I duly installed Android Wear on my HTC One and ensured I did all I could to exercise every feature of my new watch. On several occasions I even publicly addressed my wrist to ask for directions, drawing inevitable what-a-muppett looks from those around me.

But try as I might, I just couldn’t realise the value. Android already bombards users with notifications so if anything, having them duplicated on my wrist was actually an irritation. When I run, I’m not interested in analyzing the minutiae of pace and heartbeat. The fact I’m still alive after a 10k is sufficient for me. And if someone calls me, my phone tells me. If I’m too far away from my phone, the watch won’t ‘see’ it anyway. Changing watch faces is fun but that hardly constitutes the case for as opposed to the case against.

I tried, I really did. But its probably testament to the level of interest in wearable tech that a month later, someone bought the watch on eBay for more than I paid for it.

Days away from the launch of the Apple Watch, have I changed my mind? Well, yes and no. Yes, in that I’ve changed from an Android phone to an iPhone (those notifications and the lack of decent OS-level management of them eventually drove me to distraction) and no, in that I’ve still yet to be convinced about the Apple Watch.

Maybe sending someone my heartbeat will change my mind. Or maybe just running 10k and remaining alive will be enough.


Cross-device publishing finally exists!

In May last year, I wrote a post relating to the abundance of systems (or rather posters and presentations of systems) claiming to represent the much-vaunted ‘content-goes-in-here-and-comes-out-working-everywhere’ solution.

At the time, I was working as Chief Product Officer at an international agency. The agency worked with many brands, all of which had a significant interest in – if the many presentations, posters and banner ads were to be believed – the myriad solutions available to them.

The problem, as it turned out after much research, was that none of the systems actually delivered on the claims. Sure, some excelled in one area or another, but none provided the ability to assemble, animate, integrate and measure the same content across the many devices our brand customers demanded. This represented a real challenge, especially as I was under pressure to propose a solution for a retail client desperate to provide its customers with an interactive derivative of their catalogue on iPad.

Working closely with the tech team, we architected a solution that drew upon some of the elements of some of the systems available. It was never going to be a scalable platform solution, and would certainly mean that processes and workflows would have to be duplicated to produce subsequent catalogues, but at least it would provide the vehicle for our client to launch an attractive, ecommerce-enabled catalogue on the iPad. It was pretty successful as well, going straight into the Guardian’s Top30 iPad apps list – much to the joy of our client. Everyone was happy. Until the second catalogue.

You see, the inevitable impact of not having a platform solution, a solution that addresses many of the repeat tasks associated with producing subsequent pieces, is that processes must be repeated. The producers on the project had to repeat tasks; Developers had to repeat tasks; Our customer’s own design team had to repeat tasks. OK, the result was going to look great but the work involved was also great. There was an unavoidable cost implication.

At this point I want to make something clear: I don’t write this blog as a means to publicize or promote. I write it purely as a commentary on what I experience in the industries in which I work. My opinions are my own and they are always considered. I feel it’s important to mention this given that I’m about to refer to a solution, a platform, in which I have a stake.

Let me explain: Having left the agency last year, I joined a small tech company with which I’d been associated a few years prior.  The company intended to launch the supposedly ubiquitous solution I’d been searching for: a SaaS-based platform providing the tools to create, animate, integrate and measure, interactive, shoppable content experiences that work across web, tablet and mobile. Sound simple? Of course not.

A few months ago, the first version was launched. We expected some hiccups and we had them. But since then, thanks to the brilliant product team and the scrum process to which they so diligently adhere, we have released no less than 20 new versions. And last night, we went live with undoubtedly the most significant version to date.

I’m not going to use this post as a feature list, or even explain the significance of yesterday’s update. All I’m going to do with absolute confidence, is say the solution, apparently ubiquitous in May last year, finally exists. It really does.

And guess what? the first live App, produced by Conran, with no need for coding whatsoever,  went straight into the Guardian Top30 iPad apps list! (This time for a fraction of the cost to the customer…)

The website is here. The product is truly impressive. And yes, mine is a thoroughly considered opinion!

It’s been ages since my last blog post..

Bless me, God of Blog, for I have sinned. It’s been ages since my last post. Not because I’ve been holed up in a Venezuelan jail, or conducting a magazine-style off-the-grid experiment, or lost my fingers navigating the north face of Everest, but simply because I’ve been ridiculously busy.

By way of contrition, I’ve drafted a couple of new posts, I intend to write very soon. So there.