Developing Perspective

#201: On Expedition.


00:00:00   Hello and welcome to Developing Perspective. Developing Perspective is a

00:00:03   podcast discussing news of note, and iOS development, Apple, and the like. I'm your

00:00:08   host, David Smith. I'm an independent iOS developer based in Herndon, Virginia. This

00:00:11   is show number 201. Today is Friday, October 31st. Developing Perspective is

00:00:17   never longer than 15 minutes, so let's get started. All right, so today what I'm

00:00:21   going to be doing is talking through some of the little exploratory

00:00:27   expeditions I've been on recently.

00:00:29   And the role in which these types of things

00:00:31   are probably important are things

00:00:33   that we need to be thinking about as developers.

00:00:35   And specifically, what I've been doing

00:00:37   is spending the last-- I guess it's about the last month

00:00:40   or so-- trying very hard to make sure

00:00:44   that I am ready for when the Apple Watch SDK appears

00:00:49   sometime next month, and moreover,

00:00:51   be ready for when the actual Apple Watch appears

00:00:54   sometime next year.

00:00:56   And first, it's probably fair to say, just a quick note

00:00:59   about my background.

00:01:00   So when I came to iPhone development,

00:01:03   I was coming from a place that I was fairly confident

00:01:07   about that type of development.

00:01:09   My first development effort was on the Palm,

00:01:12   and then I did work on Windows Mobile.

00:01:15   And so when I came to iOS, there was a certain experience

00:01:20   that I'd had with that type of development,

00:01:22   with that size of development, with that type of development.

00:01:24   And so when I dove into it, I kind of knew what I was doing.

00:01:28   When I look at something like the Apple Watch,

00:01:29   it is very different, both in terms of interface,

00:01:33   as well as in capability and attachment to the user.

00:01:40   And so it is something that I'm a little bit-- apprehensive

00:01:43   is probably the wrong word.

00:01:44   But it's in that vein where I don't necessarily

00:01:47   feel like I have a great idea about what a user would want

00:01:51   to be able to do and how in which the manner I

00:01:54   by which they would want to be able to then do that.

00:01:57   And so I've been trying to think about ways

00:02:00   that I could get a head start on this,

00:02:02   because I want to have this as nailed down as I possibly

00:02:05   can before I dive in, rather than trying

00:02:08   to start from ground zero when Apple comes out with WatchKit

00:02:11   or when I get my hands first on a device next year.

00:02:16   And so what I've been doing is playing around

00:02:18   with other devices.

00:02:19   And so this is this process that I've been going through.

00:02:22   And I think it's some interesting things

00:02:23   I've learned, and also just to kind of share that experience more generally.

00:02:27   So the first thing I did was I got a Jawbone Up24.

00:02:32   So this is focusing, this is a little device, it's a little bracelet, there's probably a

00:02:36   fancy term for the type of it is, but it's a thing I wear on my wrist, and it was basically

00:02:41   an activity tracker.

00:02:42   So I've written one of these called Pedometer++ that uses the M7 chip and now M8 chip on your

00:02:48   your iPhone, taking a number of steps you've taken,

00:02:51   number of floors you've climbed and descended,

00:02:54   that kind of thing.

00:02:55   And so I'm familiar with this type of data collection

00:02:58   and kind of vaguely what I could do with it.

00:03:00   But what was interesting is when you start to have a device that

00:03:03   is always on you, some kind of wearable,

00:03:08   it allows a different level of insight

00:03:10   into your actual activity.

00:03:12   Because when you wear a device essentially 24 hours a day,

00:03:16   seven days a week, you get a much clearer and more complete picture of what you're doing.

00:03:22   And it's been kind of interesting to have something like that on my wrist. And I started

00:03:27   to see some of the things that I think are a bit lacking in that device, like not having

00:03:31   an actual interface to really show you and interact with you, and having to rely on an

00:03:37   app running on the phone is actually kind of awkward. So I'm sure they do it for battery

00:03:40   life reasons and simplicity and durability reasons, but the F24 band doesn't even really

00:03:45   doesn't show you anything on it.

00:03:47   It just is a data collector.

00:03:49   And so that was interesting.

00:03:50   And it's an experience that I thought was really cool.

00:03:53   And especially when I started to get into something

00:03:55   that I'm not actually sure if Apple Watch is going

00:03:57   to be able to do based on what they've been talking about.

00:04:00   But it gave me a start to get into sleep tracking.

00:04:03   Now, sleep tracking was something that I didn't really

00:04:06   have much of a sense of how useful it would actually

00:04:08   be ahead of time.

00:04:09   But when I started using it-- so this

00:04:11   is the kind of a thing where you sit down at night,

00:04:13   You push a button on the band, and it goes into sleep mode.

00:04:16   And in sleep mode, it kind of tracks how you sleep.

00:04:19   And it's really actually interesting and compelling

00:04:22   to have a sense of how well did I actually sleep objectively

00:04:26   last night.

00:04:28   I have a couple of young kids, so sleep isn't always

00:04:30   necessarily something that I have a lot of.

00:04:32   But it's nice to actually be able to have

00:04:34   an objective measure where I'm like, man, I'm tired today.

00:04:37   Why am I tired?

00:04:38   And I can look and say, was it because I

00:04:40   didn't sleep well last night?

00:04:42   And if it is, great.

00:04:44   And if it isn't, then, hmm, is there something else going on,

00:04:47   some other choice I've made with nutrition or activity

00:04:49   or something that is causing this lack of energy?

00:04:52   And so it's been actually kind of really interesting to have.

00:04:55   And so that's something I hope, actually,

00:04:57   that Apple can work into the Apple Watch.

00:05:00   I'm sure of everything I hear, like the difficulty

00:05:02   is going to be in battery life.

00:05:03   And if it has to charge overnight,

00:05:05   it gets hard to measure sleep.

00:05:07   But if there's any way they can do that,

00:05:09   Or if I can work out a way to, you know, it's great to charge a device, for example, when

00:05:14   I'm sitting at my desk at work because I'm not doing anything, so an activity tracker

00:05:19   isn't missing any data.

00:05:20   But that was something that I found that was really interesting, and I'm kind of glad that

00:05:24   I've had that experience.

00:05:26   So then yesterday, for me anyway, it kind of came out of nowhere.

00:05:31   But yesterday, Microsoft announced their Microsoft Band, they call it, which is kind of awful

00:05:38   as a name, band. What are you wearing there? A band. But anyway, they came up with this

00:05:44   band. And the band is actually really kind of cool. So I've had it for about a day now.

00:05:49   And so this is kind of an interesting device because it is much, much closer to an Apple

00:05:54   Watch than it is to just like a Fitbit or Jawbone Up or one of these fitness trackers.

00:06:00   It's kind of in that middle ground where it interacts with your iPhone to do a bunch of

00:06:05   stuff like notifications, so when I get a text message, my wrist buzzes, and I can take

00:06:12   a look at that notification, as well as also doing all the other tracking things.

00:06:17   So it tracks your sleep, it tracks your activity level, it has a heart rate monitor built in

00:06:22   and a GPS receiver built into it, so it can track a lot of what you're doing physically

00:06:27   during the day.

00:06:28   And that has been kind of cool.

00:06:30   So like I said, I only had it for about a day, but having just a day with this device

00:06:35   has made me 10 times, 20 times more excited about Apple Watch.

00:06:39   And what a device like this that is actually deeply integrated

00:06:43   into iOS would be capable of.

00:06:45   Because the interaction that the Microsoft band can do and run

00:06:49   at Pebble or any of these other devices,

00:06:52   they are severely limited in terms

00:06:54   of the degree to which you can actually do things.

00:06:57   It can tell you stuff, but it can't really act upon it.

00:07:01   So I get a text message and it pops up,

00:07:03   But it's just you piggybacking on top

00:07:05   of the normal, of the general Bluetooth notification

00:07:08   APIs and things that I don't really know anything about.

00:07:10   But as best I understand, there's

00:07:12   a bunch of standard Bluetooth operations

00:07:14   that a phone can make available to devices it's connected to.

00:07:19   And so that's kind of cool, but it's also not really useful.

00:07:23   I get a text message.

00:07:25   I can't just do the thing where I respond back and send

00:07:28   a message.

00:07:29   Or I get a notification.

00:07:30   I can't necessarily interact with that,

00:07:33   which is an alternative, is the kind of thing

00:07:35   that I believe Apple Watch is going to allow in spades.

00:07:38   Because the OS and the wearable devices attached to it

00:07:43   are going to be so tightly connected

00:07:45   that all these things now will now finally be possible.

00:07:48   So that's really exciting.

00:07:50   Having a sense of this is kind of cool.

00:07:52   And it's interesting in really odd ways.

00:07:54   So one of the things that I found that was perhaps

00:07:56   one of the most unexpected benefits that has kind of really

00:07:59   got me excited is-- so this actually

00:08:02   started with when I first got the Jawbone up tracker,

00:08:05   and now even more so with this Microsoft Band,

00:08:09   is the degree to which I can untether myself from my phone.

00:08:14   So ever since I got a pedometer plus plus,

00:08:17   I've had this sense that in order for it to track my day,

00:08:21   I need to have my phone on me all the time, which in all

00:08:26   honesty, I probably did anyway.

00:08:29   But a lot of times, I've been finding recently anyway

00:08:32   that it would be good for me to disconnect a bit from my internet life, whatever you

00:08:38   want to call it.

00:08:39   Being less connected is probably a good thing.

00:08:42   It's probably something that would be a good thing for me.

00:08:45   And so it becomes kind of odd and awkward when, in order for me to get that benefit,

00:08:52   in order for me to track my steps, in order for me to see how active I was in a day, I

00:08:56   have to then have my phone with me and always have that readily available.

00:09:01   And so what I noticed was happening

00:09:02   is when I first got my up end is that I was finally

00:09:05   able to kind of leave my phone sitting somewhere.

00:09:07   I could leave it on the counter and not have this feeling

00:09:09   like, oh no, I'm missing these steps.

00:09:11   Because when you get into this kind of a thing,

00:09:15   it's kind of fun.

00:09:16   And in some ways, it's a little insidious.

00:09:18   Because you're suddenly motivated to make sure

00:09:20   that you hit your goal every day.

00:09:22   There's so many-- there's a really nice positive feedback

00:09:25   loop that can be created.

00:09:27   And so it's really cool when you do hit your goals.

00:09:30   So you want to have your phone with you all the time

00:09:31   to measure it.

00:09:32   But if you have one of these devices, you don't need that.

00:09:34   Your steps are always being counted

00:09:36   and they loop back into your device, which

00:09:39   is really kind of cool.

00:09:40   And then even moreover, as I got this band, which

00:09:45   is something that sends you notifications when things

00:09:47   are happening on your phone, one thing that I wasn't expecting

00:09:50   is that it completely eliminates, or at least

00:09:52   strongly reduces, that kind of latent urge

00:09:54   that if you're anything like me, you'll

00:09:56   feel about your phone, where if I haven't looked

00:09:59   at my phone in, I don't know, half an hour, I'll start to get this kind of itch that it's

00:10:04   like, "Hmm, have I missed something? Did something happen? And I don't know. Do I need to check

00:10:11   it? Do I need to check it?" Which is probably a sign of some kind of a little bit of a problematic

00:10:17   mindset situation. But I don't think I'm alone in this. I know from a lot of people that

00:10:21   you kind of have this feeling that you always need to know if there's something on your

00:10:24   lock screen. You make sure you're always aware of what's going on. And the funny thing is,

00:10:30   when you have a device on your wrist that will tell you when something happened that's

00:10:34   important, you don't worry about it quite as much. Like, I can now essentially leave

00:10:38   my phone on silent, away in a drawer, as long as it's within Bluetooth range, and I know

00:10:44   that I won't miss anything because I'm not going to miss my wrist going bzz, bzz. You

00:10:50   Like if one of my servers has an issue

00:10:52   and I get an outage notice or something,

00:10:56   I'm going to know about it.

00:10:57   I don't have to worry about missing it.

00:10:59   In the same way, if someone sends me a text message,

00:11:01   I don't have that feeling of like, oh, am I going to hear it?

00:11:05   If I put my phone over there, is it going to be loud enough?

00:11:08   All those things go away.

00:11:10   And it's really cool.

00:11:12   So this is just kind of-- I don't

00:11:13   know how useful this is necessarily for someone else,

00:11:15   because a lot of these things you just need to experience.

00:11:18   But I would say that it is something

00:11:19   found to be more compelling and more useful than I necessarily would have initially guessed

00:11:24   when I started out in this process in terms of getting ready for the Apple Watch.

00:11:28   I think this, I'm much more excited. I used to hear Mike Hurley talking about how much

00:11:32   he loved his Pebble, which I will say is a device that I thought about getting, but seemed

00:11:37   a little one step too far back in terms of where this technology is advancing to. And

00:11:44   so I never quite pulled the trigger. And then now that this device has come out, the band,

00:11:48   And more so, I feel like it has even more capability

00:11:51   with all kinds of other little sensors and things

00:11:53   that are much more compelling.

00:11:55   But I remember him saying how it changed how

00:11:58   he interacted with his phone.

00:12:00   And I can now start to see the glimmers of this.

00:12:03   And so now I'm feeling pretty excited to next month

00:12:06   be diving into working on the QuatchKit apps.

00:12:09   And I don't really know what that's going to look like.

00:12:11   There's some speculation about exactly how much

00:12:14   is going to be open to us initially,

00:12:16   whether we're going to actually be able to build full scale

00:12:18   native apps, if it's just going to be kind of an extension

00:12:21   capability.

00:12:22   And then maybe at WWDC next year, they open it up more.

00:12:25   We'll have to see.

00:12:27   But at this point, when I look at it,

00:12:29   I'm very excited about what this could do.

00:12:31   And I really-- and especially even-- like,

00:12:34   I know some of the-- just from the things

00:12:36   that I've seen about Apple Watch and the people who have seen it

00:12:39   who I've talked to, I think Apple is really kind of hitting

00:12:42   it.

00:12:43   There's a few things they're going

00:12:44   to have to get right in terms of battery life

00:12:46   and actual usability and so on.

00:12:48   I think they're heading very much in the right direction

00:12:50   there, as well as other companies, too.

00:12:53   It's a really fun, competitive environment

00:12:55   that is pretty exciting to be a part of.

00:12:58   And so now I've got my list.

00:12:59   I've got a list, an omni-focus of app ideas,

00:13:03   whether that's extensions to my existing apps, some of which

00:13:06   are kind of obvious, as well as a whole bunch of other apps

00:13:08   that I think would be kind of cool,

00:13:10   things that I've started to think about,

00:13:12   where if I have a device on my wrist that

00:13:14   has a connection to my phone, what would I want it to do?

00:13:18   And the list is getting long.

00:13:20   And in some ways, it's probably a good thing

00:13:22   that I'm kind of known for being prolific,

00:13:24   because I may actually be able to address a lot of those

00:13:27   and to be able to really be diving in to it.

00:13:30   And I'm kind of clearing my decks to do that.

00:13:32   Some of the projects that I've been working on otherwise

00:13:35   are kind of probably getting a little bit wound down.

00:13:37   So I can focus on this next month

00:13:39   or whenever when Watch Kid comes out,

00:13:40   because it's interesting as the way I make my living.

00:13:45   And we actually had an interesting example this week

00:13:47   where James Thompson, the maker of Peacock,

00:13:49   had a weird thing where Apple came in, pulled his app,

00:13:51   or told him he had to fundamentally change it

00:13:53   and how much of a beat down that was.

00:13:55   And then thankfully, Apple relented and great.

00:13:58   But as somebody who makes my living essentially

00:14:00   riding the coattails of a large corporation, in this case,

00:14:04   Apple, that's how I make my living.

00:14:07   I need to be very careful and understanding that I

00:14:09   am riding their coattails.

00:14:11   And so if they're heading in a direction,

00:14:13   I need to make sure I'm heading in that direction too.

00:14:16   And whether or not Apple Watch is the best tracker out there,

00:14:19   the best wearable, or whatever, it only sort of matters to me.

00:14:22   What matters is that do I think that I

00:14:25   can continue to make a good living working

00:14:28   on this platform?

00:14:28   And so far I have been.

00:14:30   Apple Watch, I think, will be the next step in that.

00:14:33   And so I'm doing everything I can

00:14:34   to make sure that I'm ready and on board with that.

00:14:37   And I'd encourage you, if that's something

00:14:39   that you're interested in, is to be doing the same,

00:14:41   to making sure that you're kind of immersing yourself

00:14:43   into this because Apple is clearly spending a lot of time and energy and effort and marketing

00:14:47   capital on making this project a success.

00:14:50   And so I think there will be a lot of coattails to ride.

00:14:53   All right, that's it for today's show.

00:14:54   If you have any questions, comments, concerns, complaints, I'm @ DavidSmith on Twitter.

00:14:58   Have a great weekend.