5 Features that can make the “iWatch” an Awesome must-have

So, just like I told you, Apple is turning its iPod Nano into a new wearable device coming soon. Given Apples history with these things, I predict it will be cool but fall way way short of its potential.

It’s unlikely any of this will actually be in version 1, but my 100% technologically and business-wise possible wish list is as follows. From my mouth to Jobs ears… Here’s what Apple could do to make this product tha bomb dot com:

1- Make it WATERPROOF.
Not water “Resistant” to where it can get splashed – iPhones are already that. They don’t advertise as such, but I’ve taken mine on enough boats and in enough oceans, lakes, pools, hot tubs and bath tubs to know that it can handle some spritz and even moisture (minimal, obvs) in the headphone jack and Lightning-butthole. The only iPhone I killed with water was Brenda1 – my first generation iPher in 2008 when my group stayed out on an offshore Hawaiian island too long and the tide came in and was rough so the swim back was equally rough, causing our waterproof bags to — whatever. The point is that a smart watch that doesn’t need to be removed in water is how to make watches a thing again. I used to love my old waterproof Fossil a girlfriend bought me back in the day to keep track of how many hours I was out in the waves and whatnot. Phones should be waterproof but I get why the care and expense isn’t taken to make them so. Theres no excuse for watches. Especially a smart watch. We already have an electronic thingy that we have to remove from our person before we go wake boarding. We don’t need another. A waterproof iWatch is how Apple can truly keep us connected with something actually useful: Get Facebook, Twitter and other notifications with you while in the pool. Don’t cut your surf session short waiting for a call – just check your wrist for important texts and incoming calls to tell you when you need to hustle back ashore. This is the #1 need for this device. All it would mean is wireless charging for the device – which is not a big deal but for some reason Apple doesn’t use that technology anywhere. The iWatch might be the first wireless charging device Apple finally releases though since there really is no sensible way to add power to a wearable device conveniently and in keeping with the minimalist Apple esthetic. And I’m not even talking about the electricity wifi that I invented and was laughed at for claiming was possible in 2001 – I just mean a charging dock with no plug-in. My tooth brush uses it. Why can’t apple? Their wireless mice should at least use it (with double-A recharbales inside that can be replaced with regulars if you choose) but doesn’t. Make the watch waterproof and that alone will get me to buy it.


2- Make it talk to other Apple products.
This is your chance to make being in the Apple cult really pay off, Apple. Wtf is wrong with you for letting Samsung punk you on that cool “bump phones to share a picture” feature? How was that not an Apple thing, you dummies? Especially when this iTV monster finally comes out after 4 years of developing – you’re gonna have to blend your shiz better. I want my iWatch to pause and play my iTV so I essentially have a remote with me at all times and I want it to know when I’m in the vicinity of my other Apple children so it can do things like log me into my computer without making me type in my password every time.


3- Make it loud AND make it silent.
Up until now, watches just beep and chirp at you. Apple has a chance to re-invent this product that’s been stuck in the 1980s for 20 years and give people a Walkman on their wrist and instead of calling it the iWatch – call it the iBand and make use of the play on words since you’ll have a music band within a wrist band. Put a speaker in this thing. Let me listen to a podcast or music playlist with the sound coming from my arm instead of a device in my pocket. That combined with its waterproof feature would make the watch fantastically unique.

For alerts, alarms and other messages: Morse code them to me with vibrations. You put your phone on vibrate and it still makes a loud “JZZZ JZZZ” sound. Put your iBand on silent and it subtly notifies you that you have something you might want to give attention to and finding out what it is not a cumbersome hassle of digging for your phone or retrieving it across the room just to see what has popped up on the screen – it’s as simple as glancing at your time telling device (which is perfectly socially acceptable in almost any instance outside of Presidential debate and other moments where you might be considered inapropes for waiting for whatever is going on to be over).


4- Make it a wallet.
Apple is inching towards this with it’s built in Passbook app that stores boarding passes, coupons, movie tickets, gift cards and more. Put it on the wrist. Eventually, I’d like to pay for my milkshake with money on my credit card by booping my wrist on a device in front of a register and getting an electronic receipt logging my purchase right away – but until then, I’ll just settle for paying for that milkshake with a gift card stored in my iBand the same way I can do now with Passbook on my iPhone. Put it on the wrist and give people one less thing they have to hold in their hand and dig in their pockets for. It’s the way of the future.


5- OBVIOUSLY open it up to the App Store
It’s really dumb that the Apple TV has existed for so many years and STILL doesn’t (and may never) allow 3rd parties to make apps for it outside of special deals made with Apple itself. Slowly, new features have been introduced to the device like Hulu Plus and a bunch of sports bullshit (baseball and basketball video streaming or something? Idk. I’ve never explored the icons) but it needs so much more. I assume this is Apple just holding back until their actual TV comes out in a million years to give it a bigger bang, make sure it works exactly how they want it to and that there aren’t conflicts of interest with their other products but it’s still lame. The iBand needs apps right away. I love the idea of having a hand-watch (which I’ve lost the ability to read) and a digital watch in the same device that is a tap away from switching back and forth in full-screen and I love the idea of being able to swipe left and right to see the local time vs time @ my destination I might be traveling to vs time in Kandahar – but that shiz is just the beginning. Make your watch a Mickey Mouse watch – put some screen savers on it that could be conversation starters – turn the screen stark-white to make it a makeshift flashlight – let me run the far superior (and free) Run Tracker exercise app on it instead of Nike’s super lame built-in iOs app that requires an external $30 device on your shoe – OPEN this thing up and it. can. Be. Awesommmmme.

These features are necessary, awesome and most of all: useful by being not redundant (ie: they achieve better ways to do things than currently exist even in other Apple products like the iPhone or any version of the iPod).


I rarely ask these closer questions (cuz it’s almost always just a cheap gimmick by authors to get viewers interactive) but I really wanna know: What do you want in the upcoming Apple-wrist-product?

Bottled Water Light Bulbs and Stinky Sock Mosquito Traps

A liter bottle of water with a few teaspoons of bleach is proving to be a successful recipe for dwellers in the light-deprived slums of the Philippines. The simple technology is spreading sunlight in places where it has never been, and saving residents money at the same time. Gemma Haines reports for Reuters:

Meanwhile, smelly socks are being tested in Tanzania as way to prevent malaria – and working.

Scientists think the musky odor of human feet can be used to attract and kill mosquitoes that carry deadly malaria. The Gates Foundation announced on Wednesday that it will help fund one such pungent project in Tanzania.

If they can be cheaply mass-produced, the traps could provide the first practical way of controlling malaria infections outside. The increased use of bed nets and indoor spraying has already helped bring down transmissions inside homes.

Apple TV remains unimpressive

Apple interrupted my stream of Dexter from my laptop to television to let me know that an update for the device was available and I got excited thinking I was in for the awesomeness I’ve been waiting for: Apps on the AppleTV. FINALLY, Hulu, ABC video, news – and eventually games like Angry Birds where you use your iPhone or iPad as the controller will now make this $99 device a little black brick of bodaciousness.

Alas… it was some meaningless bug fix. DAMMIT Apple… what is taking you so long to make this device something noteworthy? what is the wisdom in letting GoogleTV upstage you with these features in new tvs while you lag behind only to be late comers? It makes no sense.

This dude on Macrumors.com summed it up better than I and it’s from a post that is not even responding to the current update of the AppleTV:

When the time is right? Yes, instead of offering an innovative and interesting new product with all kinds of potential 3rd party support and things to look forward to, let’s offer the same old product that didn’t sell before for a somewhat lower price, take away all internal storage so it’s even less useful in some areas, ignore ALL previous customer suggestions (say 1080p?) and hope it sells anyway. Then we’ll hint that SOME DAY maybe we’ll offer something useful or interesting to consumers IF we sell a whole boat load of them, which we won’t because it’s uninteresting and out of date just like the last version that didn’t sell for squat.

Sometimes I TRULY wonder how Steve ever got where he did. He’ll show all this innovation in some areas like the iPhone but then appear to be Forrest Gump when it comes to something that’s actually pretty simple like home theater products (i.e. offer the best quality and state of the art features for a reasonable price offering all the conveniences of the best products that already exist).

For example, if Apple TV had 1080p from the start, a DECENT sized hard drive (even if that meant making SLIGHTLY bigger to fit a 3.5″ hard drive; imagine THAT!?!) contained a DVR and Blu-Ray drive with support to convert them to be stored in iTunes automatically (like they do for CDs; a license would make this possible), had a front panel display that at least had a CLOCK on it (rather than just a little led light that does squat) and maybe even display title/artist information so you can see what’s playing music-wise when the TV is turned off and don’t have to wear out your projector bulb just to see a flipping album cover endlessly…or perhaps offer a cool visualizer to watch while you listen? What’s THAT?!? ), put in place the ability to add features like Netflix support, etc. as they become available (i.e. give the thing proper hardware assisted video decoding) and supported ALL the available formats so you can watch your home movies etc. without having to convert them to M4V and left provisions in place for gaming (and included a “remote” that could be used for gaming ala the “wii”) and offered it for around $500, MAYBE just MAYBE the thing would have actually SOLD because it would have the potential to replace most of the home theater gear out there (just add receiver and TV).

THAT is what it would take to be as innovative as an iPhone. Apple TV should be a general purpose computing device with slick controls that can be upgraded to do just about anything you’d want it to do, whether it be a DVR or a cookbook display for the TV in the kitchen/dining room. If it had the proper connections (e.g. input video as well as output it) and the right hardware inside (hardware assisted encoding/decoding) with enough room to store apps/videos/movies (1.5TB 3.5″ drives and larger are DIRT CHEAP for goodness sake!), it could do for TV what the iPhone did for smart phones. But no, some of those things MIGHT cannibalize iTunes music/movie sales, so we cannot include them! Never mind that we claim we do not make much profit from selling those sorts of things. We simply CANNOT offer a user-friendly do-everything type device because we want to sell SD 480p movies with low-quality video encoding and Dolby Pro Logic 2-channel sound to people that don’t think there is anything better….

This device just doesn’t do enough… It needs services from 3rd parties, it needs games, and it *should* just be open to the app store like the iPhone is and allow developers to build their own stuff for the device. Imagine calendars, weather, and other features made for the big screen, not to mention a Richardland TV channel option to stream directly to the living room and finally democratize tv.

What is Apple waiting for?…

Electronic Pickpocketing

Coolest new mode of theft in awhile:

Credit card issuers, along with the U.S. State Department, have begun installing radio frequency identification (RFID) chips in credit cards and passports because the technology holds more data than magnetic stripes and can be read quicker.

But, that convenience, experts warn, can also put people at risk of having their information taken.

“I wouldn’t walk around in public with my cards exposed like that,” said Walt Augustinowicz, founder of ID Stronghold. “It’s too easy to do.”

RFID chips are commonly found in cards used to raise gates in parking garages and unlock doors at businesses. All one has to do is simply swipe the card in front of a reader.

Within the last few years, that same technology has been introduced to credit cards and U.S. passports, potentially putting holders at risk of being ripped off.

It doesn’t matter if the cards are kept in a wallet or a purse since they can transmit through them when prompted by a RFID reader, which are for sale on eBay.

Augustinowicz said it amounts to electronic pickpocketing.

“[At Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport], where you’ve got lots of crowds and a lot of people moving back and forth, no one is going to think anything of you walking by them with a briefcase with a higher-powered reader in it,” he said.

Using free software, he showed what hackers when using a RFID reader on a credit card. The account number and expiration date pop up on the computer screen almost instantaneously after the reader gets within a few inches of the card.

The only credit cards that are vulnerable are those that allow users to tap or pass a reader to pay rather than swiping. Some might also have a symbol on them that indicate they transmit.

Why do we STILL have to sit through FBI warnings on DVDs?

A writer sends this to Tech columnist David Pogue and it says it all. There is nothing to add. There can be nothing to add. I can’t, Pogue can’t – this sums up the insanity pretty perfectly:

Why, why, why is it still necessary for every single DVD that I buy to have the F.B.I. warning at the beginning? Why can’t they just put the warning on the DVD box? Oh wait— they already do. So why, EVERY TIME I want to watch a movie or TV show that I legitimately purchased, do I have to spend 30 seconds being told yet again that, if I choose to copy the DVD, the F.B.I. is going to come after me?

It’s an odd way of saying, “Thanks for buying this DVD.”

Incidentally, I live in Canada. The F.B.I. can’t do anything to me anyway. Still, the warning is on every disc I buy.

VHS tapes had this warning, too, but at least you could fast-forward through it. With DVDs, you can’t skip or even fast-forward through the warning. You have to watch it every single time you watch the disc. Click Menu during the warning, and you’re told that “this operation is not available.” If I fall asleep watching a movie, and the DVD player shuts itself off, I have to watch the warning all over again. If I buy a DVD set of a 24-episode TV show, I have to watch the warning 24 times (unless I watch multiple episodes in one sitting).

It’s a good thing the music industry doesn’t do the same thing. Imagine if every time you wanted to listen to a CD or a song from iTunes, you had to sit through an announcement about the consequences of illegal sharing.

Okay, I exaggerated the “no more to say” part cuz Pogue does add this bit which I’ve been saying for at least a decade:

I don’t understand why some movie studio doesn’t decide to become the Good Guys of the industry. Get rid of all those annoyances, all the lawyer-driven absurdities, and market the heck out of it. Be like the breath-of-fresh air new airline (as JetBlue was in its day) or cellphone company (like T-Mobile, the only company that drops your monthly rate after you’ve repaid the subsidy on your phone). Dare to be different — and win a lot of customer loyalty as a result.

Virgin Mobile $40 Internet is the best deal of it’s kind

The cheapest smartphone data plans are all $60 a month and that is just for a stupid phone. For that reason, I have opted out of data on my iPhone for the past 2 years of owning it and instead use an AT&T GoPhone month to month plan that I can fill or not fill at my discretion. If I shelled out double what I pay now for internet on my phone though, I would gain what? GPS? I have a GPS. Non-wifi use of Twitter? Not that important. If I could tether the internet from my phone to make a Mifi (mini wireless internet) spot, then that would be worth it, but for some reason that is frowned upon by most carriers and when allowed is at least $80.

A separate cellular modem is the only option for now but when I had my Sprint satellite internet in 07, I ended up not receiving the coverage as advertised, had trouble hibernating the service and getting charged for use I didn’t make. That’s when I decided the 2 year contract for cellular modem internet would not be happening for me again and unfortunately the $60 minimum data rate offered by AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint all come with that 2 year lock as well as a scoff-worthy 5 gigabyte monthly cap. Being limited to 5 gigs a month for 3G speed service (about as fast as DSL) that is spotty and not always available for an average minimum of $60 (T-mobile has a $40 monthly plan but the data limit and contract still apply) = I will not be using this service.

I just want what I have for my phone except for internet instead of phone service: an under $50 a month plan that I can cancel any time and shut on or off month to month. I’m also not playing this data limit game either. I want it unlimited. It appeared that such a service doesn’t exist.

Then I stumbled across this little gem: The Virgin Mobile MiFi 2200…

It’s so awesome that it is out of stock on VirginMobiles online store. Best Buy has them for $50 over the average price ($200 vs $150) but I found them in stock with an Amazon seller.

I was ready to buy but naturally, I went searching for the big catch – the fine print that makes this alleged mega deal not so mega. I found no such deal breaker and New York Times Tech columnist David Pogue didn’t either:

I’ve pounded my head against the fine print, grilled the product managers and researched the heck out of this, and I simply cannot find the catch.

Is it the speed? No. You’re getting exactly the same 3G speed you’d get on rival cellular modems and MiFi’s. That is, about as fast as a DSL modem. A cell modem doesn’t give you cable-modem speed, but you’ll have no problem watching online videos and, where you have a decent Sprint signal, even doing video chats.

Is it the coverage? Not really; Virgin uses Sprint’s 3G cellular Internet network, which is excellent. You’re getting exactly the same battery life and convenience of Verizon’s MiFi — for two-thirds the monthly price.

Pogue asks and answers “(Why would Sprint allow Virgin to use its data network but undercut its own pricing in such a brazen way? Because Sprint is focused on promoting its 4G phones and portable hot spots — even faster Internet, available so far only in a few cities. For example, its Overdrive portable hot spot is $100 after rebate, with a two-year commitment. The service is $60 a month for 5 gigabytes of 3G data and unlimited 4G data.)” – but later learned and explained in a follow up column that Sprint owns Virgin Mobile, which makes the price and feature difference even more bizarre. But whatever.

I just bought mine and am excited to use it over the Christmas break.

FINALLY: Spray on Shirts coming next year (video)

Anyone who’s seen me get dressed knows I have to find “the shirt of the day” or the whole cosmic flow of my life is irrevocably derailed. It’s finding the right size, color, shade and type of shirt that goes for that day that can sometimes be a tricky process. What if instead of searching, I could just spray on the shirt type, style, color and design?

Evidently I’ll be able to do exactly that starting next year… neato. But somehow I doubt that this is going to actually be a thing anywhere except mall kiosks that sell novelty clothes like those shirts with LED panels in them that react to sound.

But back to the shirt-can thing: Here’s a video of the inventor spraying a shirt on a topless girl

Continue reading FINALLY: Spray on Shirts coming next year (video)

Mobile Skype sticks to roam the workplace

The New York Times covers a silly but interesting new telepresence “robot” (they insist on calling it a “robot” despite it having no features of what we traditionally associate with the word other than its a machine) that allows users to remotely drive a video chat screen down hallways and to meetings.

David Pogue takes a lighter look at the device and notes that its kindov useless…