Just got a notice on my front door that UPS could not deliver this package because I was not home to sign for it. After checking the tracking route I was surprise to find that it originated from China. The estimated arrival of my iPhone7 was not until Sept 21 so I was quite surprise that Apple processed and delivered it so quickly and from China no less. Unfortunately UPS won't come back out on Saturday afternoon so I opted to pick it up from the main pickup point on Monday. Time to backup my iPhone6.
Anyone who has an Apple mobile device, be it iPod, iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad has one of these, the white USB to 30 pin docking cable that attaches your device to your computer or power plug. And if you are like me you might have several of them. Now if someone asked me to innovate on this product, the first thing I'd do is come up with color variations. It's not rocket science but what I do find quite amazing is that someone right here in Hawaii was the first to come up with this idea. Laurens Laudowicz calls his product Juicies and they come in an assortment of colors; pink, yellow, green, blue, purple, orange and gray. If you're an entrepreneur looking to start a business you might ask yourself, "Why didn't I think of that?" But what looks obvious now wasn't so 6 months ago. I spoke to Laudowicz by phone and he told me he wanted to get into business but it took him a lot of research to find the right niche. He was looking for a product what wasn't already "modified." Obviously cases and covers for the iPhone and iPad are already crowded and you can already get earbuds in all manner of color. But these 30 pin docking cables were only available in white (and sometimes black). So once you have the idea, it's all about timing and execution. In a matter of months, Laudowicz tested options to create his own color cables and settled on having an existing cable manufacturer produce them. He then set up a deal on Kickstarter to help fund his project. The nice part about the Kickstarter deal is that anyone helping to fund the project will get a Juicie in return. He also got the word out on Twitter and Facebook to let the world know that the Juicies are available. This all done before anyone else could get the jump on him. Today (April 22nd) is the debut of Juicies and one day does not make for a successful business. But as of this first day, Juicies has already gained 113 backers and achieved over 50% of the $5000 funding goal. As a small business owner and startup entrepreneur, this immediate feedback must be extremely gratifying. The Kickstarter deal will last for 30 days, until May 23rd so there is still plenty of time to back this project and get your Juicie. I will continue to follow the progression of this novel idea and report back on its development. You can also hear more about Juicies from Laurens Laudowicz on this week's (4/27) Bytemarks Cafe.
These Android phones are coming out fast and furious. Late last year I got to touch a Motorola Droid. It was a little heavy compared to the iPhone and it had a built in keyboard that nobody liked. Next up, the Nexus One was sold by Google early this year with quite a bit of fanfare as the tech pundits predicted how Google was going to disrupt the cell carriers distribution model. Less than four months later Google pulls the plug on their online sales strategy. Despite all these fits and starts the Android phone, independent of manufacturer, is gaining fast on the iPhone. Obviously people are looking for an alternative and the competition is good for the smartphone marketplace. What I like about Android is how Google and the carriers are willing to try new models and offerings. Some things work, others don't, but innovation continues. In spite of its clunky keyboard, Verizon Wireless and Motorola are now pitching Droids for a special two for one sale. Over the past two weeks, Verizon Wireless loaned me a demo HTC Incredible to play around with. I will admit, I am a staunch iPhone fanboy but am a little infatuated with the Android operating system. Its Google app (Voice, Goggles, Maps, Gmail) integration and open architecture are enticing. And now, with HTC's streamline design I am about to come out of the closet. The HTC Incredible does not have a hardware keyboard making it a very light unit. Lighter in fact than the iPhone. Anybody used to typing on the screen will easily adapt to the Incredible. The 480x800 touch screen is very sharp. Some of my geek friends complaint about HTC Sense, the overlay UI (user interface) that connects you to Android, but I found it quite responsive. The power/lock button on the top of the unit is slight to the touch (compared to the iPhone) and I found myself putting the device in sleep mode inadvertently. I love the 8 megapixel camera that comes equipped with a flash. The addition of an FM tuner was also a nice treat. What I did not like about the HTC Incredible was the lack of Mac support for syncing. I connected the USB cable to my Mac Mini and the unit indicated it was recharging. Outside of that there, was no recognition by my Mac of the device. Others on the HTC Forums seem to have similar problems. One person suggested a third party application for syncing to the Mac but paying for an app that I think should be a basic feature with the phone goes against everything I believe in. All in all a nice job engineering the HTC Incredible in to a compact package but still lacking elements that make it ready for prime time. If HTC/Google fixes the syncing problem I might reconsider, but for now I am sticking with my iPhone. Update: 6/1/10 - I got a chance to talk to Verizon Wireless today and found a way to connect to the phone's disk drive. Forget what they say in the Quick Tips Guide. To get to the drive you need to plug the USB in and watch the top menu bar on the phone. You can drag that bar down to reveal additional options. One option is "Disk Drive". Once selected you can see the unit in Finder and it also automatically launchs iPhoto for picture downloads. Not too intuitive but it does work. My appreciation for this phone just went up a notch.
About a week ago, friends over at Archinoetics asked if I wanted to be a beta tester for their new iPhone app called Epic Tracker. I had heard about Epic Tracker from following Roz Savage's row across the Pacific on her "epic" solo row. The program's first iteration was called Roz Tracker and on her recent leg from Kiribati to Australia, I noticed it had evolved to Epic Tracker. Now, I am not about to row across the Pacific or scale the heights of Mt. Everest and chances are the only epic treks I will go on are those in my own mind. Nevertheless, I love the idea that you can embark on a journey and mark your course along the way. As it turns out, I had the perfect excursion to field test out Epic Tracker. On the day of the LOST series finale, my friend Ryan Ozawa organized an outing at Kualoa Ranch to visit some of the notable filming spots. It was great timing and the perfect epic trek I can handle. With iPhone in hand, it was quite simple to capture a spot with a photo and sending to to Epic Tracker. The input screen allows you to title, provide a description, tag and select your multimedia content of choice, photo, video or audio. Since I like the point and shoot immediacy of photos that's the route I took. As for GPS, I selected automatic GPS since I was not prepared to manually input GPS coordinates. Once you've assembled all your content, you click Submit Post and away it goes. I felt there should be some validation before hitting send but that might be due to the newness of the application and my not wanting to lose data. I've noticed with the iPhone GPS, you can never be too sure about your location accuracy. This is the result of cell phone tower triangulation which is problematic in remote locations, but then again, I have been in urban Honolulu locations with sketchy results. Once I completed my trek submissions, it wasn't until I got back on my desktop computer that I could see my completed trip. Not surprisingly several locations were way off. It was a bit of a challenge to relocate those spots since the Epic Tracker did not provide a way to move your map point. I ended up going into Google Maps and approximating where the location was and got lats and longs from there. That got edited back into Epic Tracker for a more accurate display of the LOST sites we visited. I later found out that by tapping the GPS Signal indicator on the screen, you would get a display of your map location. But you still couldn't adjust it. I suppose if you were on a real epic journey you would have a GPS device that you could manually input coordinates into Epic Tracker. The social media features allow you to send out your posts to Twitter and/or Facebook. I was blasting my ET posts to Twitter and getting updates from Ryan when he saw them. As you can see, the message starts off with a hashtag for EpicTracker. The title is the only user generated message. I could have probably been more informative but at the time I thought my description was also going to be included. The rest of the tweet is an Epictracker url. An obvious suggestion would be to use a url shortener. Maybe they can work something out with Turkey and get Epic.tr. Back on the website, more work needs to be done to add a social element. I can see a lot of my friends using this service and I would like to follow their travels. Right now there doesn't seem be that feature. The website also seems to be split into two parallel views, one HTML and the other Flash. Once in the Flash view you aren't able to one-click back into HTML view. You need to type the entire url. There are other idiosyncrasies but I will chock it up to being early beta. In all fairness, I can't be too critical since this version of Epic Tracker is not publicly available. My role at this time is to kick the tires and report back. So far I like what I see and if some of these improvements are made for the public release I am sure you will like it to. I'll keep you posted.
My buddy Ryan turned me on to this cool iPhone app called Trailguru. I am already carrying my iPhone where ever I go but this app now gives me reason to carry it while I go running. Trailguru is a free app you can download from the iTunes app store. It's very simple to run. Click Start and away you go. It will track your time and distance as well as map your travel coordinates on a Google map. You can take pictures along the way. Once you've completed your run, you post your results to your account on the Trailguru.com website. It's that simple. A couple of things you need to remember. One, you need to leave it on, i.e. it has to be in the foreground and active. I clicked off the screen once and the app stopped recording my run stats. Two, be sure to start off with a full charge of battery. Leaving it on during your run will deplete your charge. After a one-hour run, you can see my power meter is already down 50%. The camera integration is nice. If you are on a hike (or even when I am running) you can stop and shoot a picture. Trailguru will store the photo, geocode the location and map it on your route. My complaint about the photos is that it remains in the Trailguru application until you post your run to the website. At which point the photos are deleted from the phone. The photos are not accessible from the iPhone camera roll. Another aspect of the photos in Trailguru is that it is limited to 800x600 pixels, so even if your iPhone camera can take high res photos you are limited to a photo about 120K in size. Perhaps this was done to not overtax the uploading process. If so it is understandable. I was quite interested in how the Trailguru iPhone app is integrated into the website which is based on open source Mediawiki. As you know Mediawiki is the wiki platform used to power Wikipedia. With this wiki platform, Trailguru has the potential for being the place to crowd source the running routes, bike paths and hiking trails people frequent. Overall, Trailguru is a great Free app that I will find myself returning to frequently.