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Posts Tagged ‘Apple

The iPad Pro: It Has Serious Potential

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I was hesitant, for good reasons, on pulling the trigger on getting an iPad Pro. I managed to locate a Space Grey 128GB version yesterday at a Best Buy location near my home (it was the only one in the City of Atlanta and suburbs across all different stores that I could get my hands on physically – one day after launch).

My primary reason for hesitation was what if I won’t put it to use – and it would be a wastage of the money. Case in point I had bought the 1st and 3rd Generation iPads – and both were used only for watching movies on flights but no real work. I had also bought a Logitech Keyboard case for the 3rd Generation iPad (the model before they switched to Lighting connectors) hoping I would do real work on it. I did use the iPad but I could have also done without it. Here were the reasons:

  1. Too heavy to hold in the hands and read especially in contrast to the iPad Mini or the Nexus 7 tablets.
  2. Did not have enough capabilities to do real work besides email mostly

My hesitation before buying the iPad Pro was also related to the Pro being big, may be bulky – and I knew reading wise it could be a challenge. None the less – I wanted a “device” that had a large screen, and could function for work and entertainment – mostly after 9 to 5. I use for my work a 15″ Retina Mac Book Pro connected to a 27″ Apple Thunderbolt Display – and everyday I would undock it and carry it around for meetings or after work.

I had mixed feelings if the iPad Pro would fill the void described above so when I bought it yesterday I mentally prepared myself that this could very well be a waste of money just like the earlier iPads were more or less.

Having spent less than 24 hours with the iPad Pro, I am pleasantly surprised that I am actually loving it, here are the reasons:

  1. I read on the iPad Pro last night – in my bed – while I could not hold it in my hands I propped it up against my legs folded up. It was pretty good to read on it and browse and do email last night – simply because it has a large screen.
  2. The display is simply awesome. And I caught up on videos that I had transferred over to the Pro
  3. Email, writing thsi blog post, Microsoft Office experience was much better than previous iPads – not good as a laptop but for the objective I have in mind it does the trick.
  4. Reading Comics on iComics App or even on the Kindle App (I had bought Calvin & Hobbes) was fantastic on the large screen.
  5. I don’t sketch but I like to doodle or scribble when taking notes or thinking – and it was much better to do it than any digital experience before this. I scribbled and played around with the Jot Script Pro stylus in Penultimate and with the “Pencil” in Paper by 53.

I am going to wait on getting a Smart Keyboard. The Logitech Create is supposed to be better than the Apple one but I read that it is not easy to remove the iPad Pro from the Logitech Create – and being able to go without Keyboard or with it easily is going to be the key to success for my experience with the iPad Pro.
I am using an Apple small Bluetooth Keyboard, and the “Compass” by Twelve South to prop up the iPad Pro.  

 
So far I think it is going to be an useful device not just a new gadget fad… 

Written by Ashu Joshi

November 14, 2015 at 12:08 pm

Posted in Consumer Electronics

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4 Implications of Apple’s HomeKit

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HomeKit defines a language, API, taxonomy (albeit for IOS devices only) to discover, pair, and control home automation devices (more about it here). The technology is very interesting, but it has implications and raises questions:

1. AllSeen/AllJoyn defines a protocol for a proximal network (i.e. local to the premise) and is limited to Wi-Fi with some support for Bluetooth. HomeKit is solving a very similar if not identical challenge. What would manufacturers prefer – AllJoyn/AllSeen or HomeKit? With limited resources would they give priority to AllSeen/AllJoyn?

2. The basis of HomeKit, appears to be a common database where information on the Accessories is stored – there location within home, the common name given to them, rooms they are in etc. Would for example the IOS App for Comcast Xfinity Home or AT&T Digital Life be willing to give access to their devices to other app developers? I am willing to bet because their solutions are anchored on professionally managed security, they probably will not.

3. AT&T and Comcast (as an example because their home automation & security service is widely deployed in the US) may not open up access to devices their systems control in their IOS apps however consumer apps for Philips Hue or NetAtmo using HomeKit would probably allow access. Do you think the likes of Philips Hue or NetAtmo would be ok with that? Or would be their policy controls in place during app approval or access controls allowing some degree of control to Philips and NetAtmo as an example?

4. HomeKit will have complex scripting capabilities – going beyond what IFTTT can do. HomeKit possibly solves the software challenge much better than Revolv with its consolidated app for controlling many things through its hardware (in reality controlling the Wi-Fi or Ethernet connected devices such as Philips Hue or Sonos does not require their hardware/gateway). What role do companies like IFTTT (from a HomeAutomation perspective only, not the many other functions it provides. IFTTT has simple if-then rules only today operating through the latency of an internet connection) or Revolv play with HomeKit? Did Apple disintermediate the likes of IFTTT for Home Automation and Revolv?

Written by Ashu Joshi

June 10, 2014 at 9:50 pm

8 Things to know about HomeKit

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I had an opportunity to review Apple’s HomeKit (by reading here, here and here), here is a short summary of what it is, and how it works:

1. HomeKit is positioned very well tIMG_2623o solve the the “App Fragmentation” problem on the IOS device – it is a framework that will enable having an application that can control multiple Home Automation devices through a single User Interface. The foundational premise of HomeKit for solving the challenge is to have a common database, and a common taxonomy. Apps using HomeKit will store the information related to the Home Automation devices (or Accessories as Apple calls them) in common database locally on the IOS device. Apple is enabling developers to go after the really hard part of having the best user experience of using home automation by coming up with HomeKit.

2. Apple with its HomeKit has defined a common language and hierarchy to discover, define, and communicate with devices – or what are called “Accessories” in the Apple parlance. The root of the hierarchy starts with the “Home”, then works its way down to the “Room” and to “Accessory”. Accessory is the “thing” – the lamp or the switch that controls the lamp – and it has characteristics. There are ’services’ associated with Accessories.

3. Zones, Scenes, and Service Groups can be created.

4. HomeKit supports APIs for discovering, pairing, and organizing accessories, and associated actions with them using the extensive, but simple to use HomeKit framework. Accessories, and services to an extent can be assigned names – and here is the interesting part – because they have ‘names’ – Siri can be leveraged. Xcode will support a simulator that would mimic accessories supporting the HomeKit protocol – allowing developers to get started.

5. Common accessories such as Garage Door Openers, Lights are defined and to open up the eco-system – both Custom Accessories and Custom Services can be defined by manufacturers and partners.

6. There is “HomeKit” protocol defined between the IOS device and the Accessory (or the thing/device). The APIs on the HomeKit leverage this protocol to communicate with the accessory.

7. While no specific mention of ZigBee or Z-Wave was made, non-HomeKit accessories or things will be supported using the notion of a “bridge” [for example the Philips Hue bridge, whose functioning I covered here]. The bridge would be a device or piece of software that can translate between the HomeKit protocol and whatever is on the other side.

8. My guess is that ‘licensing’ the HomeKit protocol is covered under the MFi program (just as AirPlay is Apple-licensed protocol).

 

Written by Ashu Joshi

June 4, 2014 at 7:14 pm

IoT Stories (Week Ending May 31st 2014)

Pew Research Center recently released a report titled The Internet of Things Will Thrive By 2025. This was, obviously, picked up by many news and blog sites. Washington Post’s Mohana Ravindranath wrote about it in a post titled “Some see possible drawbacks in ‘Internet of Things’”, and provides a good summary.  The post has one typo – it claims 1,900 people responded, whereas actually of the 12,000 people canvassed 1,606 responded. He has summarized inputs fromVint Cerf, Andrew Bridges, John Senall and Miguel Alcaine. Mohana has captured good set of quotes from one of the authors of the report – Lee Rainie, director of Pew’s Internet & American Life Project. Wired has good summary of the report as well.

Scot Stelter over at RFID Journal mentions the report but points out the lack of coverage in that report with respect to RFID, his post (RFID Stakeholders Need to Prepare for the Internet of Things) has good insight into how RFID will be important, and professionals in the RFID field need to be prepared for IoT.

Alain Louchez over at InformationWeek takes another Pew Research report and explains how the manufacturing in the US can benefit with the aging workforce and IoT.

Last week was the week before Apple’s WWDC – and lot of speculation on how Apple is going to play in Home Automation and IoT started out by Financial Times in Apple seeks to work Jobs magic on the internet of  things (paywall). GIgaOm’s Stacey Higginbotham explains it well in Here’s how Apple’s smart home program will work.  EETimes in “Apple’s IoT ‘Good Housekeeping’ Label: MFi “ gets into a little bit more detail and indicate that it involves around the MFi program (just as Stacey’s post) but indicate that it would support ZigBee protocol as well. Roger Kay at Forbes jumped in with “Will Apple Play Nice On The Internet Of Things?“. Roger makes the case that Apple won’t be in a position to dominate unlike the Smartphone or Tablet segment. While I agree with that analysis, Apple may continue to influence and benefit because Smartphones & Tablets will be an integral part of most IoT solutions.

The Economist gets into the over-hype around IoT – a very nice and thought provoking article titled The internet of nothings. It covers the chart put together by ZDNet on showing the surge in Google search aassociated with IoT, how the acquisition of Nest marks a tipping point. Two interesting observations:

#1. The post points out the real challenge is connecting the Cloud and the Node (Sensor or Actuator):

Devising sensors and algorithms to handle the front- and back-ends of the IoT are the easy part. Unfortunately, few developers are tackling the really difficult bit in the middle—the myriad infrastructural gaps that lie between the sensors in things at the edge of the internet, and the data collection and analysis performed by servers in the cloud at the centre.

#2. It questions the numbers being published (on number of connected devices) especially claims being made by Cisco:

…while Cisco Systems, a network-equipment firm in California, expects there to be no fewer than 50 billion. Cisco is so enamoured of the IoT that it has installed a “connections counter” on its website. On May 26th, the number of “things” connected to the internet was over 12.4 billion and counting.

The vast majority of the billions of things connected to the internet on Cisco’s website, for instance, are not the toasters, refrigerators, thermostats, smoke detectors, pace-makers and insulin pumps that the IoT’s true believers enthuse about. Almost exclusively, they are existing smartphones, tablets, computers and routers, plus a surprising number of industrial components used to beam performance statistics back to corporate headquarters.

Talking about Google, Business Insider is covering its rumor to buy DropCam (originally reported by The Information). It is probably pure speculation but if it bears fruit – Google could be really powerful in combining Dropcam, Nest, and Android (and YouTube/GoogleTV/Chromecast in the living room) and bringing order to Home Automation & Monitoring.  Dropcam cameras have motion detection, Nest has a proximity sensor and between the two they could make for a solid, self-managed security system as well.

This week’s links also has a story with a cliche headline “With ‘Internet of Things,’ your fridge will know when milk is low“. This resulted in an interesting exchange on Twitter which you can read here. The blog post title is misleading because the focus is more on security. It has been distributed over many different websites – for example you can find it here and here.

Intel, Qualcomm and Freescale are three semiconductor companies that tend to show up in IoT Articles. This week I came across a post by Lee Schafer that starts off going over the Texas Instruments Launchpad:

On the Texas Instruments eStore it takes only $19.99 to jump into “the Internet of things” by purchasing a Connected LaunchPad unit to bring an everyday device onto the Internet. Better be patient, however, because they are sold out.

Finally a post on Wired is definitely worth reading – ‘Beautiful mistakes’ will form groundwork for the internet of things. The essence of the post:

Similarly, it will take user-generated products and hacked physical connections for brands to make sense of the internet of things. It will be ugly, soldered-together networked devices (not the gamified toothbrush) that will light the way for them. Beautiful mistakes and unexpected outcomes that will form their strategies.

 

Written by Ashu Joshi

June 2, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Apple: Design Excellence as Competitive Advantage

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Steven Levy in the June 2011 issue of Wired Magazine describes how and why Apple rose to dominance, the following stands out:

Still Apple’s full-on devotion to something as lowly as a cover is a classic example of how the company concocts advantages in the areas that rival previous hadn’t considered all that important.”

Written by Ashu Joshi

May 30, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Posted in General

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Peacetime & Wartime CEOs

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Ben Horowitz @bhorowitz on the type of CEOs needed during expansion vs. war. Google is entering a “war” and that couldn’t be truer! Gives high accolades to Andy Grove & Steve Jobs for being great Wartime CEOs.

Amplify’d from blogs.forbes.com
Interestingly, most management books describe peacetime CEO techniques while very few describe wartime.

In peacetime, leaders must maximize and broaden the current opportunity. As a result, peacetime leaders employ techniques to encourage broad-based creativity and contribution across a diverse set of possible objectives. In wartime, by contrast, the company typically has a single bullet in the chamber and must, at all costs, hit the target. The company’s survival in wartime depends upon strict adherence and alignment to the mission.

Wartime CEO is too busy fighting the enemy to read management books written by consultants who have never managed a fruit stand.
John Chambers had a great run as peacetime CEO of Cisco, but has struggled as Cisco has moved into war with Juniper, HP, and a range of new competitors.

Be aware that management books tend to be written by management consultants who study successful companies during their times of peace. As a result, the resulting books describe the methods of peacetime CEOs. In fact, other than the books written by Andy Grove, I don’t know of any management books that teach you how to manage in wartime like Steve Jobs or Andy Grove.

Peacetime CEO aims to expand the market. Wartime CEO aims to win the market.

Read more at blogs.forbes.com

 

Written by Ashu Joshi

April 14, 2011 at 10:39 am

Apple vs. Samsung: Tales of Supply Chain

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Apple is known for clever partnerships yielding the best supply chain management. Imagine the Apple A4 & A5 chip are built by Samsung, using Samsung IP and building blocks but Samsung cannot build their own chip but has to use Nvidia.

The article talks about how conglomerates have to keep barricades up between different divisions. I suspect that in this case – Apple is also muscling its way for better deals. And why shouldn’t they?

Amplify’d from www.businessweek.com

Steve Jobs likes to poke bears. The Apple (AAPL) chief executive officer has ribbed the likes of IBM (IBM), Google (GOOG), Adobe (ADBE), and Microsoft (MSFT). In many cases, he rips into these companies even while Apple depends on them as partners. Adobe and Microsoft, in particular, have long provided valuable software for Apple’s operating system. No matter. They’re still subject to abuse from the man in the black turtleneck.

His latest whipping boy: Samsung, a rival to Apple in the consumer electronics business. During the iPad 2 unveiling on Mar. 2, Jobs roasted Samsung, making fun of one of its executives who tried to defend sales of the Galaxy Tab, the company’s answer to Apple’s first tablet computer. He also gave Samsung top billing in a chart proclaiming 2011 the “Year of the Copycats.”

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See more at www.businessweek.com

Written by Ashu Joshi

April 6, 2011 at 11:52 am