20:20 vision

So, Google Glass was released in the UK this week. Somebody should write a blog about it. Wait, somebody did!

Click here to read more.

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Tackiness?

Ever dropped your smartphone? They are that bloody slippy and it’s almost like they attract dents, bumps, scratches and cracks. So, we accessorise our phones with an array of covers, bumpers and scratch resistant material. Hell, I’ve even managed to break a bumper! But what if there was something that stopped you knocking your phone off the table/desk/dashboard/ dropping it down the toilet? Well, there’s a solution at hand. It’s called Goo.ey. It costs about 15 quid and is available for iPhones and iPads (and probably other non-Apple devices) and you can buy it by clicking here. Basically it’s a tacky substance that is slim enough to attach to your smartphone case, that enables you to stick your phone to hard surfaces such as metal or glass but not your pocket. Because it only sticks to hard surfaces, it doesn’t pick up crap along the way. As you can see, it’s pretty useful if you’re following a recipe in the kitchen or if you want to stick it to the bathroom mirror for some reason. Or if you’re driving, just stick it to the dashboard…

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An admission of guilt?

So, another autumn, another ‘all singing all dancing’ iPhone launch. Only this time we’ve got two, the iPhone 5s and the ‘budget’ iPhone 5c. Great! You’ve probably read review after review of these wonderful new shiny hand attachments. But did you notice that Apple’s quiet admission of failure with the iPhone 5?

Let’s face it, upon release the iPhone 5 was incredibly underwhelming up against the competition and also served to annoy existing customers by requiring a change of cables. Now, you could say this is a first world problem and a pretty pathetic gripe but I’ve been buying Apple products for years and was incredibly frustrated that I needed to buy new cables and attachments to make the iPhone 5 compatible with my docks.

Anyway, traditionally, when Apple have released a new phone, they have discontinued a model whilst repositioning the old model as a budget edition. For example, when the iPhone 5 was released, the iPhone 4 was discontinued whilst the iPhone 4s became the ‘budget’ model.

Interestingly, following the release of the iPhone 5s and 5c, Apple have decided, rather than discontinue the iPhone 4s, they will keep it in circulation and discontinue the iPhone 5.

Why? Was it such a disappointment? Did it really sell so terribly? How many complaints did Apple receive for the device? Something has clearly triggered this change in strategy, discontinuing a product less than 12 months old. Maybe one day we’ll know the truth but this quiet erasing of the iPhone 5 from history is a clear admission of guilt that Apple got the iPhone 5 wrong.

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Going somewhere?

Finally feeling like I’m getting my head above water, so expect a few new App reviews over the next couple of days. I’ve been playing around with the updated Blippr, Summly and other assorted grammatically challenged Apps but first I’m going to share my thoughts on the updated Skyscanner App.

Skyscanner, if you don’t know already, is an Edinburgh based search engine for flights across all airline websites and helps you find the best price/ route that suits you. The App was updated in mid December and is optimised for the iPhone 5 however it works perfectly well, with a little less functionality, on the iPhone 4/ 4S and is now available in 27 languages. So, let’s get testing.

So… I want to go skiing. In March. To Switzerland. And I want to fly from London City, which if you don’t know, is the world’s greatest airport. So efficient! Just a shame that it’s fairly limited in terms of destinations. As you can see, all I need to do is insert where I want to fly from, where I want to go to, and within a few seconds Skyscanner is able to bring up the latest prices and times from all airlines that service the route in question.

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And wait, there’s more. The above functionality is pretty basic and minimal however the below functionality allows you to add a few filters to your selection. So if you’re going long haul, you can minimise length of waiting between connections, select times of the day that suit you and if you’ve had a bad experience with an airline previously, filter them out of the search results.

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Once you’ve selected your desired flight, just confirm your details and complete your transaction. And I feel I should reiterate the speed of the service. Look at the times of the screenshots. Seriously, 3 minutes from loading up the Skyscanner App to purchase. Pretty sweet eh? And perfect if you’re on the go. Some people might like the misery of trawling websites for flights. Not me. Some people might even like spending hours waiting for Travelsupermarket.com search results to load up. Again, not for me. 

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So, in conclusion, I really recommend this App. It’s really fast, clear and simple. The layout is easy on the eye however the only negative point is that once you’ve selected your flight, you have to conduct the transaction via the Airline’s own website. In this above example, I chose to fly with Swiss Air however as Swiss Air’s website is not optimised for mobile devices, you’ll need to pinch and poke on your screen to complete your transaction. But you can’t blame Skyscanner for that. Can you? 

Apple, unlike Access, is not your flexible friend

As a digital strategist I feel obliged to try and remain as up to date with technology as I possibly can. However I’m not silly enough to splurge vast wads of cash owning the latest device as soon as it’s released. Particularly when the upgrade on my current model actually appears to be more of an inconvenience than an improvement. Yes folks, I’m talking about the iPhone 5. Ok, so it’s an improvement on the 4, but is it really that much better? I was due an upgrade of my phone back in September however my initial perception was that the main difference was that the phone was thinner but taller, with a few other bits and bobs that didn’t really leap out. And add in that an upgrade would also include forced acceptance of IOS6 and that I’d need to buy new unsightly lightening cables to connect the new phone to my  music docks.

Ignoring these immediate negatives, the phone is not without merits but it’s not a great improvement. In fact it reminded me of a talk I attended with the great marketer Seth Godin a few years ago. Seth said that if you were trying to sell a consumer an upgrade of a product, whether they be your own, or that of a competitor, you couldn’t be just 5-10% better as it wasn’t enough to encourage consumers to upgrade. Now, if you were talking about a product that was say 50% better, consumers were suddenly interested. So, how could Apple have wooed me into a purchase? Well they could have started with improved battery life (like the Galaxy), or improved charging via wifi (Nokia Lumia 930), or even an improvement in the camera (Galaxy Cam looks pretty sweet however Nokia are rumoured to be testing a 40mp camera phone…), but they didn’t. The iPhone 5 is sitting in that 5-10% improvement category. I can still do everything I need to (listen to music, watch Sky Go, Whatsapp, Skype, read the Guardian/ Economist) and the phone is still in perfect condition without a scratch on it.

So, what comes next? What’s that 50% improvement that Apple are going to offer me to encourage me to purchase either the iPhone 5s or even the iPhone 6? If rumours are true, Apple have already patented an all glass phone (http://ow.ly/fPnHo ). Great! An all glass phone! That’s just what all those clumsy folk walking round London with cracked iPhone screens are looking for! As I mentioned above, my iPhone is unscratched however that has more to do with the fact that it’s housed in a rubber case with a thin slice of unscratchable plastic placed over the screen. I’ve dropped it many a time and often carry it in my pocket with my keys. Is an all glass iPhone going to have more life?

Maybe Apple are approaching things the wrong way? Maybe they should take more notice of what the competition are up to? Maybe they need to consider flexible phones. Something a bit more durable? Less scratchable . Rumours abound and prototypes released suggest that 2013 could well be the year of the flexible phone (http://ow.ly/fPo9C ). Wow! Seriously! Sign me up! Ignoring the obvious novelty of a flexible, bendable phone, it’s going to be a lot more durable than existing phones, without the weight or glass of current phones. Now, there’s no guarantee that the first roll out of these phones will be up to the mark, but it’s that game changing 50% improvement on my existing phone that might just get me buying…

Oh, and finally, I appreciate that younger readers may not get the reference to Access and the flexible friend in the title. This should bring you up to speed: