Posts Tagged ‘google’

Google Fit: A Better Bet Than Apple Health

by Dirk on June 26th, 2014 - Comments (1)

Google Fit icon

In April we wrote about why Apple’s Health(book) was a bad idea. Two of those reasons apply to Google Fit as well: health information should be universal and consistent, and the parochial interests of a massive computing superpower should not also be the keeper of our health data. However, with Apple and Google declaring this a key battleground, we must expect that one or both of them will prove successful. Given that, we should hope that there is just one winner and that the winner is Google, not Apple. There are three primary reasons why:

  1. Google is much better at software. I can’t name a single piece of software that Apple does better than Google: Drive beats Cloud and the Docs family beats the Pages family. iTunes is my music software of choice only because I’ve bought so much music there that I feel locked in. Google actually does software well. Their strategy of “keep it simple” precludes most of their software from being great but ensures that very little of it is actually bad. On the other hand, Apple should be embarrassed about the quality of their software compared to their lovely hardware. Even their vaunted operating system, held up as the standard for more than a decade, gets worse every day as they try to cross platforms while Google’s “keep it simple stupid” philosophy makes theirs better. So, let’s hope the winner of this battle is the one that actually knows how to do good software.
  2. Google is far more open than Apple. Long-term I have my concerns about Google in this regard, but for now and into the immediate future Google pursues a relatively open strategy while Apple hunkers down within their decades-old walled garden. From a consumer electronics perspective I actually prefer the walled garden: Apple’s hardware is consistently excellent while the devices that serve up Google operating systems are a mixed bag. However, when you’re talking about health, you want openness and choices. Google Fit will be part of an infrastructure that fits into hardware made by dozens of companies and, taken together, clearly lead the device market. That’s what health needs: universality.
  3. Google’s potential is massive. Apple’s best days are likely over. During its legendary 35-year-plus history, Apple has been great only when Steve Jobs was around. Since his death almost three years ago, Apple has not announced even a single truly interesting project. Google created a wave of nerd envy with Glass while perfecting their driverless fleet of automobiles and rolling out high-speed fiber in communities around the United States. In fact, Google does so many things that more of them ultimately fail than succeed. However, Google thinks big and acts big. They make a lot of interesting bets and within them are some of the key technologies of the future. Tim Cook may be a competent manager, but his Apple has proven bereft of genius or panache. God help me, they act more like Microsoft than Apple, while Google continues to reach for the stars.

In a perfect world our health information provider would be a non-profit that worked with every technology provider, creating a single open platform that was easy and available to all. In reality, health is becoming the battleground of the mega-corporations with two of the most important technology companies, Apple and Google, right at the center of it. Assuming that one or both of them prove successful, we should hope that Google is successful here. Their superior software, relative openness, and trajectory of vision and ambition makes Google a far better steward of our health data than Apple.

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Microsoft Surface and the Unified User Experience

by Jon on June 18th, 2012 - Comments (0)

Today, Microsoft fired a significant salvo in the war for a Unified User Experience, with the debut of its Surface tablet. Taking a page from the Apple playbook, Microsoft is creating both the hardware and software for the Surface, a strategy it once executed successfully, with the Xbox 360 gaming console; and twice not so successfully, with the Zune MP3 player and Kin smart phone going down in flames.

Last February, when Apple announced OS X 10.8, Mountain Lion, software industry thought leader Jean-Louis Gassée coined the phrase Grand Unified User Experience to describe what he saw in Apple’s multi-platform operating systems that crossed mobile, desktop, and tablet and shared common foundational design elements. The essential idea was that no matter what the device, the user experience would feel the same, behave the same, and draw on similar patterns. Apple’s Mountain Lion, of course, brings UX elements from iOS back to the desktop experience, completing a cycle of OS behavior.

Just as interesting is Microsoft’s push into Unified UX, with its cross-platform operating systems consisting of Windows 8 and Windows Phone. Windows 8 — the “new Windows for new devices” — will run on tablets, laptops, and high definition all-in-ones; following a similar design structure and architecture. Fluid design tiles, plenty of gestural interactions, and a host of cloud-connected apps form the core of the Windows 8 experience.

The Microsoft Surface tablet

The Microsoft Surface tablet, running Windows 8, is a significant step forward in Redmond’s Unified UX strategy.

Within this Unified UX, be it Microsoft or Apple, the user will expect their devices to synchronize, not only data, but workflow. Start a conversation on your tablet and finish it on your laptop or phone. Write a document on the laptop and edit it on the way to work on your mobile device. While some of this is certainly possible now, the new Unified UX will further integrate the separate device experiences to make them seem like they fit together naturally.

In the coming war then, for a Unified User Experience, on one side we’ll have Google with its Android / Chrome OS, on another Windows 8 / Windows Phone, and, in the strategically enviable forward position, at least for the moment, of course Apple and OS X / iOS. With its reveal of the Surface tablets, Microsoft took a significant step forward today. How soon will Apple start feeling the heat? And how soon will Google step up its game?

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Online Privacy Needs Product Design

by Jon on March 1st, 2012
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In the new digital world, we are the sum of our trackable behavior. The web sites we read, the items we share, the products we buy, are all elements that contribute to our digital personas. Online marketers desperately want to collect our behavioral data so they can analyze our history, better target their offers, and maybe even predict our next […]

The Internet of Things, Seeding Boston Start Ups, and One User Experience for All

by Jon on February 22nd, 2012
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Here’s what we’re reading online, this week at Involution, on design, tech, and the digital life, in our links round up.

The Internet of Things Will Rise in Boston
With the advent of the mobile revolution, we’re now living connected lives, where our day-to-day activities are closely tied to the digital products and services that we carry with us everywhere […]

SOPA, Job Innovation, and Creativity in Isolation

by Jon on January 16th, 2012
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Here’s what we’re reading online, this week at Involution, on design, tech, and the digital life, in our links round up.

SOPA: Anatomy of a Public Uprising
As most of us of are aware, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) bill in the US House of Representatives, while purported to protect content providers, in fact hides within its depths the […]

Technology, Health, and Our Memory of Art in the Internet Age

by Jon on July 27th, 2011
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Here’s what we’re reading online, this week at Involution, on design, tech, and the digital life, in our links round up.

The Therapeutic Touch of the iPad
The iPad may be the most important new computing device since the PC, as evidenced by its beautiful interactions, rapid adoption, and stunning sales numbers. With the iPad and the proliferation of tablet […]

Lion Roars, Google Labs Shuts its Doors, and Math Gets a New UI

by Jon on July 20th, 2011
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Here’s what we’re reading online, this week at Involution, on design, tech, and the digital life, in our links round up.

Lion Roars
Apple launched the latest version of their ground breaking OS X operating system today with a host of UI innovations culled from their iOS mobile platform. As might be expected, these innovations were met with both […]

Facebook Domination, Driving Distracted, and NASA TV

by Jon on July 13th, 2011
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Here’s what we’re reading online, this week at Involution, on design, tech, and the digital life, in our links round up.

Facebook Closes the Door on User Data
Facebook is racing to shore up the walls of its garden, in an attempt to keep Google+ and others from leveraging its social graph and contact data.

According to ZDNet, […]

Talent Wars, Typography, and Standing Up

by Jon on June 30th, 2011
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Here’s what we’re reading online, this week at Involution, on design, tech, and the digital life, in our third links round up.

The Hiring Wars
The tech talent crunch, especially in Silicon Valley, is leading to all sorts of crazy stunts on the part of employers to recruit and hire the best dev and UX people, including acquiring their companies […]

Plugging in means exposing yourself

by Dirk on September 15th, 2010
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The widely-circulated story today that Google fired an employee for reviewing the “private” files and information of users, and even harassed a user based on their “private” information might seem shocking, but it’s really only illustrating something that those of us in the industry have known for years: anything we say, type or otherwise create that goes thru a […]

A new era of IT consolidation?

by Dirk on September 13th, 2010
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I don’t use the moniker “IT” very often, typically only to talk about the internal stuff at my company that has to do with computing technology in the vaguest way. Under “IT” falls our hardware and software that runs the gamut of business technology: computers, phones, Internet connection, printers, other peripherals…everything. However, with the recent wave of unexpected and in […]

Apple’s real iPhone vulnerability

by Dirk on July 15th, 2010
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Today the Droid X was released, Android’s latest salvo in the smartphone wars.

I’m taking an interest in Android phones because, as an iPhone user, I’ve been waiting for them to put the white version of the iPhone 4 on sale. Well, they still haven’t done it. Along with the well-publicized reception issues I’ve become more and more […]

Google App Inventor: an interesting little app

by Dirk on July 13th, 2010
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Unveiled yesterday, Google App Inventor aspires to provide everyday people – extensively tested with sixth graders – to easily build their own Android apps using a relatively simple WYSIWYG editor. The interaction model appears based on LEGO toys, taking different, interchangeable pieces and snapping them together to create a complete app. The New York Times exclusively introduced the […]

Open vs. Closed: A tale of idealists vs. realists

by Dirk on May 13th, 2010
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Today Adobe launched an aggressive ad campaign skewering Apple’s “closed” philosophy. Retaliation for Apple’s muscling Adobe’s Flash technology off their mobile operating system, Adobe is choosing to take a “high ground” argument by ignoring their specific exclusion and focusing instead on the closed ecosystem Apple prefers.

Facebook’s ascension reflects general ignorance of the web today

by Dirk on March 17th, 2010
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For the week ending March 13, 2010, and for the first time in its spectacular ascendancy, Facebook became the most visited site on the Internet. Already, analysts and experts are hailing this as a momentous event, one that validates the power of social networking in the rapidly evolving universe of the World Wide Web.

The Rise of Google, Part III: A decade of leadership awaits

by Dirk on March 3rd, 2010
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At the dawn of this new decade, Google sits comfortably atop the computing industry. Dominant in search – still the killer app of the Internet, with all due respect to social networking – Google has a variety of other essential and emerging products that put them at the very pinnacle of software.

The Rise of Google, Part II: From start-up to superpower

by Dirk on February 15th, 2010
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With apologies to Apple and Microsoft, Google is the most important company in computing. Their rise over the past decade has been meteoric: from a struggling start-up operating out of a small office in downtown Palo Alto, California to today representing the present and future of computing. To call this ascension improbable is a gross understatement. After […]

The Rise of Google, Part I: A history lesson

by Dirk on January 12th, 2010
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This is part one of a three-part series that will detail Google’s rise to becoming the dominant company in the computing industry. Part one will review the history of IBM and Microsoft, Google’s predecessors in this position; part two will take a close look at the last decade in computing and particularly at Google’s; and part three will look into […]