Jason Ball's TechBytes

Technology & Venture Capital. Early stage venture capital news mixed with personal views and comments

The Invisible Internet

One area I’m thinking about these days is what I call the “Invisible Internet”, so I thought I’d put a post out there in case there are apps and products I should be looking at. Feel free to reach out if you’re building a company in this space…

Big data is gaining a lot of interest from VCs. e.g. companies that can crunch data and find patterns for large corporations. I’m interested in Big Data for the Little Guy. We invested into Worksmart Labs, who make a great product called Noom. Noom is a pedometer for your Android device. It’s fantastic because once you’ve installed it, you don’t need to do anything else to gain benefits from the app: it sits there and watches you, tracking every step you take. Of course, you probably installed it because you want to know how much exercise, walking etc you’re getting. But that’s the beauty of it – it just sits there silently tracking you. Piling up that data, zero effort from you (except the walking).

I have a withings scale at home, which works on the same principle. I weigh myself every day, but my withings account captures all the data and starts crunching. Fitbit has just announced its wifi scale as well. Strava.com is a cycling site that compares me to others, crunches my data to tell me how hard any given ride was (Strava’s Suffer Score). I love it.

Clearly, wireless healthcare is an area where I’m seeing the Invisible Internet become productized, but there are other areas as well – self writing journals that track where you go, smart home applications that monitor your energy consumption, etc.

Maybe it’s age, but more and more I’d prefer my apps just figure out what it is I’ve done, and what it is I want vs having to work on getting the information in and out of them – I want to be surprised and delighted by insights or information that I would have missed out on otherwise.

I hope to see more of these apps in the future. Or maybe not ;-)

Filed under: Android, Apple, Apps, Artificial Intelligence, Cycling, iOS, iPhone

iPhone usability tip: slide to open

We all know you can “slide to unlock” your iPhone, but did you know you can “slide to open” your various alerts?

This is what happens when you get a text message (or any alert for that matter) and slide it:

This will open directly to the message vs opening the phone, then drilling down to the message.

Enjoy your new-found productivity.

Filed under: Apple, iOS, iPhone

If you can’t take it with you, it’s not yours

I picked up an Android device earlier in the year – I’ve been watching the platform and app ecosystem develop, and decided it was time to make the jump…

That’s a huge deal for me, the Apple Fan Boy, bought a non-Apple piece of hardware. Turns out, the hardware switch wasn’t as critical as the software switch. And I don’t mean the OS.

I stopped buying any content from Apple a long time ago. Sure, I used iBooks to test it out, but that’s all. No Apple content lived on my iPhone. When you buy digital content from Apple, you don’t actually own it, so getting your iTunes library, iBooks library, etc onto an Android device is a no go.

Having options (for portability) is very important; owning your data (or content) is more important. And, as we all know, if you can’t take something with you, it’s not yours…

In many ways, I now care less and less about owing content, and more about content portability, or more importantly accessibility. Cloud services like Spotify and We7 have made my music life so much easier. Password = Music. What could be easier?

Amazon’s Kindle Cloud Reader is all about accessibility (and circumnavigating the 30% Apple App Store tax). Via Amazon’s Cloud Reader, Password = Book Collection. On my iPhone, iPad, Android and Desktop. Easy.

Photos are slightly better than purchased content, but Apple still makes your life difficult. Photos on your photo roll in iOS will live there (mostly) thanks to restrictions by Apple. The new iCloud sync means they get backed up, but online access/sharing would be better. Password=Camera roll restore, which great, but… for Android, Lightbox is pioneering the way with an awesome “connected photo roll”. Lose your phone, log back in, and all your pictures are there.  And there’s a great online gallery where you can edit and share, so Password = Photos. Easy.

Everything else I use lives in the cloud anyway…  which I can get ubiquitous access to. The implication there is, data security will mean everything in the future. Both Google and Facebook (!!) will allow you to export and backup the data you’ve stored with them. Definitely a good alternative if you’re storing all your pictures and memories online.  Look for a future post  on data security-“it’s 4am, do you know where your data is?”.

Filed under: Android, Apple, iPhone, Mobile, Music, Software, Technology

What a difference a decade makes

This picture says it all… Graphic by Brett Jordan.

Filed under: Apple, iPhone

Cool iPhone Apps

Hi there! 

No, I'm not dead- this blog is live… I've just been too busy lately to blog. So, to get me started blogging again, I thought I would share a few apps that I'm using regularly these days:

Sleep Cycle- actually monitors your sleep pattern by using the accelerometer in your iPhone. $0.99 to see how you've been sleeping. The best part is you set what time you'd like to wake up, and the app decides when you're in the best state to be woken. The sleep graph shows you the "quality" of your sleep the night before.

Remember the Milk- the app is for premium RTM users, and it's worth every penny. The best part: Location based To Dos. If I'm on Regents Street I can open up RTM and it shows things I want to do/see nearby… This is the only to do list I've seen that leverages location. 

Amazon- never miss another book recommendation. Open the app, search, ask "is this the book you mean?" When you get the nod, click add to basket. Wonderful…

BBC Weather- I live in England, so I'm overly preoccupied with weather. I'm a cyclist which means I'm obsessed with weather. It's a web app, but it's light and snappy. BBC has the best hour by hour forecast out there. For anywhere besides England, I've found Accuweather's hour by hour forecast is the best one on an iPhone.

Ocado- UK online grocery store. So easy to add "Milk" to your upcoming order.

Tripit- Getting your trips into tripit can be tricky if you're not in the US, but if you can, this is the best app for travel, hands down.

Convert- I'm always converting currencies and units. This little app is a lifesaver. Costs $0.99.

Foodspotting- If you like food, this is your app. Figuring out what to eat takes on a whole new dimension with Foodspotting. Instead of reading reviews, you look at pictures of food. And what looks good, is where you end up going. Fantastic site. The iPhone app intelligently filters based on location.

I'll post another set of apps in the near future. Feel free to add your favorites/recommendations in the comments section…

Filed under: iPhone

Would the real iPhone please stand up?

I agree, the iPhone looks snappy in those Apple TV commericals. I love my iPhone, but it doesn't work *exactly* as advertised. Some guys with too much time on their hands decided to make this comparison video- the "TV" iPhone versus the "Real" iPhone.  

Filed under: iPhone

Under the Hood- Apple iPhone 3G Chipsets

If chipsets are your thing, then feast your eyes on the latest iPhone teardown:

PmiPhone_boardtopBIG
It’s interesting that Apple have chosen to go with so many components – making the iPhone larger than it could have been if they had used integrated, monolithic die. It’s interesting to see Infineon seem to be taking over the board though…
“…Infineon won big. It supplies the UMTS transceiver, suspected to be the PMB 6952, as well as the baseband processor, which is actually a two-chip module in a single package. The first chip is the X-Gold 208 (PMB 8877), which caters to GSM/GPRS/EDGE waveforms. The second chip is marked the PMB 8802 and is suspected to be the WCDMA/HSDPA accelerator for 3G. While there’s still some debate as to whether this combo package with Apple markings may in fact be Infineon’s XGold 608 (PMB 8878)

Filed under: iPhone

iTunes Downloads- 5 Billion Served

Apple announced today that iTunes downloads have now topped 5 billion. I posted back in January 2007 that iTunes had hit 2 billion purchases…

I note we’re now comparing downloads with purchases- which may or most likely may not- be the same thing, but the growth curve looks very impressive:

Itunes5billiondownloads
It’s worth highlighting that the number of weeks required for the second 2 billion downloads took less than half the time that it took to reach the first 2 billion…hence the exponential curve, not a straight line…the rate of change growth is accelerating… Ray Kurtzweil would be pleased to see exponential growth in action.

Filed under: Apple, iPhone, iPod, Music

iSurprise with Kleiner’s iFund

Wow, who would have thought Steve’s “One more thing” would be a $100 million fund dedicated to iPhone apps. (It’s not everyday that I can blog about Apple AND Venture Capital in the same post…)

The only part that threw me was it’s Kleiner Perkins and not Sequoia. Unless my history is wrong, Sequoia backed Apple, not KPCB- so why aren’t they running the iFund? Accel are running the Facebook Fund. If you back the original, surely you back the ecosystem too?

That aside, I’m really excited that Kleiner are putting some muscle behind development for the platform.

Filed under: iPhone, Venture Capital

iSurprise with Kleiner’s iFund

Wow, who would have thought Steve’s “One more thing” would be a $100 million fund dedicated to iPhone apps. (It’s not everyday that I can blog about Apple AND Venture Capital in the same post…)

The only part that threw me was it’s Kleiner Perkins and not Sequoia. Unless my history is wrong, Sequoia backed Apple, not KPCB- so why aren’t they running the iFund? Accel are running the Facebook Fund. If you back the original, surely you back the ecosystem too?

That aside, I’m really excited that Kleiner are putting some muscle behind development for the platform.

Filed under: iPhone, Venture Capital

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