At source restrictions on mobile adverts

EE, Britain’s biggest mobile operator, is considering introducing technology that will hand smartphone users the power to control the advertising they see online, in a clampdown that would cause major upheaval in the £2bn mobile advertising market.
Olaf Swantee, EE’s chief executive, has launched a strategic review that will decide whether the operator should help its 27 million customers to restrict the quantity and type of advertising that reaches their devices, amid concern over increasingly intrusive practices.

This is a whole new ball game. More at The Telegraph.

on the facebook

Lately I’ve been thinking about how good Facebook is at what it does, and how it has become a unique cultural venue for people to write and be read and to stay in touch with casual acquaintances across gaps in time and space.

There have always been ways of staying in touch with people you were close to: e-mail and various instant message programs online, regular mail and phone, but those all had terrible “discoverability” (you had to get the address or number though some other channel) and were almost exclusively one-to-one communication...

Well worth a read. More here.

4GEE Capture Cam

If you like sharing all the fun moments in life with friends and family, the light and wearable 4GEE Capture Cam will take that sharing to a whole new level – by letting you share them as they happen.

It’s so small and light you can clip it onto your bag or jacket and you’ll hardly notice it’s there.

And it’s easy to use too. No complex settings or fiddly controls – just one quick click and you’re streaming life’s best bits straight to the simple new video sharing app skeegle, where you can invite all your friends and family to watch at the same time.


Disney apps, songs, movies and books for £9.99/month

I'm not so much interested in this particular service, but the fact that someone has finally seen the potential of bundling various media into one subscription. Will we at some point see a subscription service from the likes of Apple or Google that covers films, TV shows, books and music? It sounds incredibly difficult to achieve at this time given the way licenses are handled, but it could happen. More about DisneyLife here.

Unlimited streaming in the UK (if via 3G/4G, data charges may apply).
Enjoy your favourites on the move (Streaming within the UK or download in the UK before travelling).
Create up to six profiles so each member of the family can personalise their experience.
Add up to 10 compatible devices.
Manage your kids’ time with built-in parental controls.
Watch movies, TV shows and read books in up to five different languages – English, French, German, Italian and Spanish.
No in-app purchase costs once you have subscribed.

Two men bought the same watch on the same day. One paid $950,000 more than the other

Say you’re on the hunt for one of Rolex’s greatest watches – arguably the pinnacle of the Crown’s 20th century design – the reference 6062 triple calendar moon-phase. And say you’ve got your heart set on a pink gold example with a star dial, the so-called “Stelline.” Well, you’d be in luck because this past month, we saw two of them for sale in the Geneva auctions. On paper, they were identical, and in fact they were just 17 watches apart from each other based on serial number. But one of them sold for 1,265,000 SFr, while the other brought in 315,750 SFr. The price difference there? 949,250 Swiss Franc, or about a million bucks. Why? Well, this is just one example of the disparity we are seeing in pricing these days – and here I’ll try to explain a little bit in hopes that you, learn a little something from it. Which buyer got the better deal? To be honest, it could be either one of them, based on how the future of collecting goes.

Welcome to the weirdly wonderful world of watch collecting. More here.

A £99 Moto G. Why would you buy anything else?

I recently purchased a Moto G (3rd generation) from Vodafone for £99. It required unlocking, which was completed on eBay in 3 minutes, for £3 and I then had a phone that ticks almost all of the boxes for almost all of the users.

The camera isn't great at all, but for everything else the performance is great. The battery is better than most other Android phones I have tried recently, the screen is good and the performance is easily smooth enough to never create a feeling that this is a budget phone. Decent build quality, a sparse interface and some subtle software touches by Motorola round off what is a brilliant smartphone for anyone who does not want to spend a fortune. And you can even change the battery cover to add some extra personality to the look.

It highlights why choice is so beneficial in the Android market and why choice is causing it so many problems. Why would I spend £500 on a Samsung Galaxy Edge when I could buy one of these which ticks 95% of the boxes a phone needs to tick?

Over the past 12 months I have read review after review of the latest Android phones and sat bewildered at what people are trying to do here. I understand geeks always wanted the latest and greatest thing, but it has become quite hit and miss in the Android world. The newest Samsung offerings are nothing special, the latest HTC phone is crazily priced and LG can't seem to catch a break despite some innovative hardware. The Nexus devices are pretty good, but each and every one has a drawback that puts some off.

Choosing what to buy in the Android world has moved from "Which one of these amazing phones shall I buy?" to "Which one doesn't have a big problem that will annoy me?" Seriously, with so much differentiation and so many problems it does not feel like Android is moving forward at all, and this may explain why the iPhone is selling better than ever.

It is brilliant that Apple offers little choice when it comes to buying an iPhone, brilliant for Apple. We are left paying a lot for a phone, but at least it is a phone that genuinely does tick every box for the majority of people and it will still be worth some money in a few years.

When I use the Moto G, I realise that I am extremely unlikely to buy a high-end Android device in the forseeable future. And if I did want to spend that much money, I would buy an iPhone. This the big problem Android manufacturers face at this time.

Selling Feelings

I’ve been a longstanding critic of Apple’s approach to the App Store, most recently in From Products to Platforms. Specifically, I think the App Store’s refusal to support trials makes it difficult for superior products to differentiate themselves and thus charge a higher price, and the absence of upgrade pricing and customer data makes it difficult to get more money from a developer’s existing user base.

Good article. Thanks to Paul.

Adele's new album will not be available to stream

For weeks, the music industry has been awaiting the release of Adele’s new album, “25,” with a mixture of excitement and anxiety. The album is all but certain to be a gigantic hit, but Adele had not revealed whether she would release it on streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music.

The answer is no. With less than 24 hours before the album’s release on Friday, the major digital services have been told that “25” will not be made available for streaming, according to three people with direct knowledge of the plans for the release. The album is being released by Columbia Records in the United States, and by an independent, XL Recordings, in Europe and most of the rest of the world.

This feels really strange to me. I genuinely have no device that can play a CD, I subscribe to a subscription service so I don't want to buy a digital album when it will hit that service at some point. I am confused. You can read the full article here.

Apple is destroying design

Apple is destroying design. Worse, it is revitalizing the old belief that design is only about making things look pretty. No, not so! Design is a way of thinking, of determining people’s true, underlying needs, and then delivering products and services that help them. Design combines an understanding of people, technology, society, and business. The production of beautiful objects is only one small component of modern design: Designers today work on such problems as the design of cities, of transportation systems, of health care. Apple is reinforcing the old, discredited idea that the designer’s sole job is to make things beautiful, even at the expense of providing the right functions, aiding understandability, and ensuring ease of use.

More here. Thanks to Paul for the link.

Outrage at Paris attacks masks our racism

We are still trying to civilise brown people. We still think we have the right to change them, bend them to our will, improve them by force. We still want to lecture them, condemn them, threaten them, overturn their elections, arm their oppressive leaders, plunder their resources.

And after we have destroyed their societies, we expect to be able to shut our borders to them as they make desperate journeys to find some peace, some safety away from the war zones in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and elsewhere we either created directly or supported with our money and arms.

The full article is here.

Bye bye Apple Music, hello Deezer

Yesterday, kevwright posted a link on Twitter to an offer for Three subscribers. You get 6 months of Deezer for free and can cancel at any time during that period which is an exceptional deal. 

I decided to give it a try and after 24 hours I have decided to turn off my Apple Music auto-renewal. To be honest I was dithering anyway because Apple Music is slow very often, we have had to reboot and sign-in many times because it keeps forgetting we exist and the interface is a jumbled mess.

It didn't take long to realise that Deezer is everything Apple Music is not; super fast, organised and a complete pleasure to use, with the free 6 months offer too good to say no to. Sadly, it appears that a family plan is not coming any time soon which means that the service will be cancelled on all 4 phones in our house within the 6 month period, but it does highlight how un-special Apple Music really is.

If Spotify or Deezer is able to match the Apple Music family plan pricing then we will move to that in May next year, but as it stands Apple Music simply cannot compete in all of the ways a music subscription service should. 

Marketing smart watches by pretending they are something else

Tag Heuer took on quite a challenge with the new Connected smart watch, but at no point did the company stray from a marketing strategy which has been present in the watch industry for decades.

When it comes to watch marketing, imagery is all important. There are many watches for which the specifications will form a large part of the selling process, ranging from budget timepieces to high-end mechanical works of art, but ultimately the photos spark the initial interest of the buyer. That has always been the case and it always will.

Take a look at the Tag Heuer Connected image below. Notice how it looks like a high-end mechanical watch and how there is no sense that it is in fact a screen rather than a dial.

Now, the image below shows what the screen actually looks like in the real world without special filters to reduce the screen effect.

There is no doubt in my mind which looks best and I find it strange that the marketing is trying very, very hard to make it look like a real watch. Not one of the images on the official site shows the Connected watch as it really is which is somewhat perplexing.

Then again, this is far from unusual and is demonstrated in the images below-

It may be subtle in some cases, but time and time again I see smart watches marketed as though the screen is not actually a screen. The problem is that they are using screens which never look like a real watch no matter how intricate some of the watch faces are. 

I'm not sure that I can think of another technology category that advertises itself so blatantly as trying to be something else, something that it is not and I'm not sure that this is a good move at all.

As it happens, the Apple Watch is marketed to look exactly as it does in the real world and despite not being a fan of that particular device or the design, some credit should be given to Apple for not trying to pretend that it is something it is not.

Tag Heuer Connected Watch

I admit to not being a fan of modern Tag Heuer watches, 80% marketing and 20% watch if you ask me, but I am interested in what the company is trying to do with the Connected Watch. The premise of trading in this watch for $1,500 after 2 years to get said discount off a mechanical Tag that looks exactly like the connected watch is a curiosity. It suggests that this is an experiment and that many will want to dive back into the world of 'real' watches after that period. Surely it would have made more sense to offer a discount to trade up to the next connected watch?

Whatever, it is a novel approach, but the nicer a watch looks, the more strange a smart screen looks on it. Just like with the Apple Watch, I am convinced that luxury smart watches are the strangest combination of all and I just don't see where the future lies in them at this time. It would be a different story if smart watches were ubiquitous because adding luxury makes all the sense in the world, but while they remain a niche product, the luxury watch should remain as it should be; exclusive, traditional and a piece of art which only needs looking at, wearing and nothing else.

You can read more about the watch here and I would suggest watching the launch video as well. Jean-Claude Biver is just great, especially when cutting the cheese.

It’s hard to complete with iPhone familiarity

Look at the image above. It is a screenshot of iPlanner from 2012 when I first started using the app to note down my wife’s shifts, annual leave and other important events that needed to be referred to from time to time. My wife uses the app as well and we keep the schedules synchronised so that each of us know where the other is if a hospital appointment for the kids or something else pops up. It is easy to use, completely familiar in every single way and 4 year’s later we are still using it without ever thinking about how seamless the experience is.

The same is true of TomTom, PocketMoney, Awesome Notes, MiCal, Evernote, PocketCasts, Notefile, Kindle, Instapaper and so many other third party apps that have been installed on my iPhone for a very long time. Add to this my over-familiarity with Messages, Photos, Clock, the Camera, Safari, Mail and most of the other defaults and it has become a ‘no-think’ device that I just pick up and use multiple times a day to get things done.

I don’t think about processor speeds, customising the interface, other phones which may do things a little better and all of the other aspects that used to capture my imagination when I was heavily into phones. I watch people still trying phone after phone and wonder what the end game is there. I get that it is a hobby and can understand that, but even they must know that it is a futile one that is driven by looking for the perfect phone, something that will never exist. If you stick with something for a long time and it becomes incredibly familiar, and if it is very reliable of course, that perfect phone will come to you and you will save a lot of money.

So, for many of us the iPhone is ‘the’ phone and the chances of moving away from it in the future are close to zero. It is embedded in our lives, it works every single day and it is just there. Why would I change? 

Despite owning more than a few Android devices, and I still have some here for freelance work, I have never felt that way about an Android phone. They feel temporary, as if something much better is around the corner, and they do not give that same sense of permanence I get with the iPhone.


On 1 September, Daniel Fleetwood, an avid Star Wars fan, was given two months to live after surgery and chemotherapy treatment failed to stop the cancer cells spreading to his lungs.

The 32-year-old mental health counsellor started the hashtag “Force For Daniel” to try and get the attention of the film executives behind the latest Star Wars film. Daniel’s dying wish is to see an early screening of the latest film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens - which is only due to be released in December.

Over the last week the hashtag has amassed over 34,000 tweets. Warwick Davis, who played an Ewok in a previous instalment of the franchise, showed his support by tweeting directly to Disney Studios, saying: “Daniel Fleetwood’s dying wish is to see #TheForceAwakens. Please make his wish come true”.

I really hope he gets to see the film in time. You can do your bit by using #ForceForDaniel on Twitter. More at the BBC.

The Bulova Moonwatch Re-Edition

On October 1st of this year, we were thrilled to break the news that the one and only privately held lunar-worn chronograph would be coming up for sale. This was big news because as we told you then, all of the Omegas that made it to the moon were, are, and always will be property of the United States government, meaning you would never, ever be able to own one. But, Captain Dave Scott and his personal Bulova chronograph, on the other hand, also worn on the moon, is a different story. That watch ended up selling for a whopping $1.62 million two weeks ago. Now, Bulova has released a watch that looks just like it. And it only costs $550.

Time too save some pennies. More at Hodinkee.