The timeline and cost for completing the Purple Line is up in the air after a judge ruled that contractors may quit in the middle of the project. Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich weighs in on that, the latest coronavirus news and more.
Google is re-designing its Android mobile operating system and delivering it to new platforms: your smart watch, car and TV. Last week’s announcement of the Android expansion continues an industry-wide quest to lure customers into a single company’s ecosystem and keep them there. The Computer Guys and Gal explore Android’s new look and locales, along with other new technologies like digital displays that don’t have to be rectangular and this month’s release of the new Amazon Fire Phone.
- Allison Druin WAMU Computer Gal; Chief Futurist at the University of Maryland Division of Research; Co-Director of the Future of Information Alliance, University of Maryland
- Bill Harlow WAMU Computer Guy; and Hardware & Software Technician for MACs & PCs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting, Inc.
- John Gilroy WAMU Computer Guy; Director for Business Development for BLT Global Ventures
Apps Of The Month
Trello (web, iOS, Android)
Trello is a free and simple to use project management application. It’s web-based and also available for iOS and Android devices. I like it because I find it very easy to follow tasks through a project and assign people to them. It’s simple project management for a simpleton like me. -Bill Harlow
Yo, The New Messaging App -John Gilroy
The Photo Cookbook-BBQ Grilling (for iPad and iPhone $3.99)
A private in-home-grilling-course that gives you 60 recipes … and makes me hungry every time I look at it! The step-by-step photos are particularly awesome. -Allison Druin
Tech Talking Points
Android L, the new Android OS unified across devices: Unified design seems to be a big thing at Google now. They’ve developed user experience and style guidelines to hopefully bring more consistency to the Android experience. Android L will power tablets, phones, TVs and in-car tech, so this consistency is more important than ever. Google has also improved notifications, multitasking, and (my favorite feature) battery efficiency in Android L.
Android Auto in-car computing Apple has CarPlay and Google has Android Auto. Google has a history of success in bringing maps and navigation to the masses, and I think that good will could go far in making Android Auto a success. If you look at the members of the Open Automotive Alliance that are backing Android Auto, you can see it has plenty of support.
Android One, a reference platform for low-cost smartphones: Since I live in the US I take owning an iPhone for granted. But it’s an expensive device! Android One’s goal is to make sure certain minimum standards are met within a low maximum price; low-cost without being junk. And it’s a reference platform for new devices. Google wants smartphone users in emerging markets to have current devices, not warmed-over products from last year. Some features stood out to me: Stock Android, dual SIM card slots and an FM radio receiver.
Sharp’s Free-form Display:
Since there’s lots of news developing in wearables and automotive computing, Sharp’s advances in the shape of displays is pretty compelling. Typical LCD screens need to keep circuitry in the bezels. Sharp demonstrated displays with circuitry embedded throughout the screen, enabling arbitrary shapes and reducing the need for full bezels (as far as I can tell a bezel is only needed on one side).
Amazon Prime Air drones grounded: The FAA has reiterated its prohibition of the use of drones for commercial purposes except in exceedingly rare cases. Generally drones can only be flown legally by hobbyists and amateurs. Amazon continues to lobby heavily to expand the commercial use of drones, and it’s clear they understand that Amazon Prime Air is years away from becoming a reality.
Maybe don’t buy the new entry level iMac:Just had to toss this warning out there since it looks like the new “budget” iMac is a loser’s bet. I know its $1099 cost is tempting (includes a nice 21.5″ 1080p display), but it’s in many ways a MacBook Air without an SSD. Which means it is slow. Macword’s benchmark tests show just how slow.
How “Zapping Rachel” can help WAMU listeners(I’d rather zap Allison!)
Google I/0 Conference They were lined up for miles to hear what the announcements would be yesterday. Among them: lots of new bells for Android and for your home, car and wrist (this sounds a lot like what Apple announced last month!). Android Wear is very interesting. And then there’s Android TV!There’s so much from this conference we talk forever about it, though I wonder if they’re going to flounder as Apple has.
Google I/0 Cardboard Demo
It is AWESOME!!! They gave to all the developers a version of the Oculous VR Headset made out of cardboard and you can fold it up with your cell phone and it’s home made VR. Watch the video. It was an awesome Oprah moment!
How The Supreme Court Ruling Affects Aereo, The Cloud And You A 6-3 Supreme Court decision last week found that Aereo, whose antenna-plus-cloud-storage technology streams over-the-air TV signals, is illegal if it continues to operate without paying broadcasters any fees. It handed a victory to the networks’ owners, some of the biggest media companies in the world, in their fight to shut it down.
Test Drive T-Mobile on the IPhone 5s They’ll actually send you an iPhone in the mail so you can see if it runs any faster than your current phone. Then, just return it in good condition to a T-Mobile Store. It’s a bold move!
Keeping Cool-Good Reads Around The Web
Raising Responsible Digital Citizens
This is a very nice summary of what to do to help your kids stay safe. How to follow their digital footprints, teach simple tricks to stay safe.
Facebook is as white, male, and Asian as the rest of Silicon Valley Maxine Williams, Facebook’s Global Head of Diversity, discusses what Facebook is doing about the diversity issue.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," connecting your neighborhood with the world. Of course, connecting by way of the Computer Guys and Gal today. They join us in studio. Allison Druin is Chief Futurist at the University of Maryland Division of Research. And Co-Director of the Future of Information Alliance at the University of Maryland. Allison, welcome.
MS. ALLISON DRUINThank you.
NNAMDIWhat's with the green today? The rest of us didn't get the green memo, apparently.
DRUINI'm wearing my WAMU tee shirt.
NNAMDIWell, but there's also a green cap that's going along with that.
DRUINOkay, so that goes with my NPR look, so, sorry.
NNAMDIWell, you should be wearing USA soccer colors.
DRUINOh, all right. I forgot. Gosh.
NNAMDIMaybe you brought a change of clothes. John Gilroy is Director For Business Development for BLT Global Ventures. John Gilroy, always a pleasure.
MR. JOHN GILROYIs that a sincere statement? Is that a sincere statement, Kojo?
NNAMDINo, it's not.
GILROYI can see right through that statement. Call security.
NNAMDIAnd Bill Harlow is a Hardware and Software Technician for MACs and PCs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting, Incorporated, who celebrated a birthday yesterday. Happy birthday, Bill.
GILROYWhat's the number? What's the number, big fellow?
MR. BILL HARLOWAll I can say is yo.
NNAMDIWhich we'll be talking about later in the broadcast. You'll be hearing a lot of yo's in this broadcast.
GILROYWas that 4-0?
GILROY4 yo? 4-0?
HARLOWIt's a celebration of Aaron Paul. I'm sure it's his favorite app.
NNAMDIAnd you should know that we gave Bill a million dollars for his birthday.
HARLOWAnd a cough drop.
DRUINAnd a cough drop.
GILROYWait a minute.
HARLOWThey all chipped in and got me a cough drop.
GILROYOr a cough drop. That's really what it is.
DRUINIt's my cough drops.
HARLOWI picked the cough drop.
NNAMDIFollowing in the footsteps of its rivals, Google held its big developers conference last week and made a play for greater customer loyalty to the Android universe. The company is planning a re-design of the Android mobile operating system. And hoping to push it beyond phones and tablets to your smart watch, your car and your TV. Here's the question. Are you an Android user? What update would you like to see? Give us a call. 800-433-8850 or send email to email@example.com. You can shoot us a tweet @kojoshow using the hashtag techtuesday.
NNAMDIBill, Google unveiled this new system. It's called Android L, coming out this fall, with an emphasis on design.
NNAMDIAnd creating a consistent experience for Android users. Why is unified design so important?
HARLOWWell, I think part of it is the initiative of putting Android everywhere. I mean, they've got Android Auto in car computing. They've got tablets. They've got phones. And for a long time, especially with the tablets, the issue was that it felt like a scaled up phone interface. So, I think the idea of re-thinking this and understanding the context it's going to be used in is important so that you have a tablet like experience on a tablet. You've got an experience suitable for a car. When you're using a Google TV, that should look like something that belongs on a TV.
HARLOWSo, that's part of the big deal. And I think the other thing, too, is enforcing this design with third parties. They're publishing guidelines and really encouraging people to use this, so that when you're on an Android device, it would be really great if, across the board, it felt like you're on one consistent interface.
NNAMDI800-433-8850. Would you use an Android system built into your car or use Android TV to stream shows? Give us a call. 800-433-8850. Allison, what will the new Android screen look like and how will it compare with or rival that of the iPhone?
DRUINWell, we're talking about flat design here. Okay? It's actually the anti-tech world. What people have been talking about is that these are sort of retro icons. They're almost like the original icons of like the MAC and of some of the earlier things. Because what you have is the same constraints. It's -- you've got smaller screens and fewer pixels. So, what do you have to do? You have to make it not just useable, but glanceable. And so, if you have smaller real estate, you've got to make sure that these screens are consistent.
DRUINAnd so, I actually think that Google is finally catching up to the likes of Apple. It's fascinating to read the Google guidelines. If you read this, this is hysterical. So, the first line. A material metaphor is a unifying theory of -- that rationalizes space and assistive emotion.
NNAMDIHold on. I have to wake up John Gilroy.
DRUINThis is like...
GILROYYou were at the conference...
DRUIN...this is like a book that I used to read when I was in graduate school. Or, actually, undergrad for design. And, you know, it's great, because they're suddenly getting the religion, but it's like -- you know, this is great. But...
NNAMDIYou make a fascinating point, though. You've got -- they've got to make it glanceable?
DRUINYes. They have to be glanceable, because here's the problem, is that we're constantly looking at our stuff.
DRUINGlancing. And it's not just about the cell phone anymore. It's about what we wear on our bodies. It's about what we see in our cars and we're not -- it's not about sitting behind a computer and looking at something for two hours.
HARLOWPeople look at a screen and occasionally staring at the road, but mostly looking at the screen.
GILROYI mean, if...
DRUINDon't tell me that.
NNAMDIGlancing at the road.
NNAMDIJohn, one theme of Google's presentation was the creation of a family of devices that take your input in whatever form it comes and works seamlessly together. Why is that the way of the future?
GILROYWell, let me tell you about the past. Then we'll talk about the future. I did some corporate training last week and I had a screen of Google up there and I turned to the audience and I said total world domination. And I think it used to be, don't be evil. Now, I see total world domination. I mean, I don't know if I trust these Google folks. I mean, they're gonna find out where your car's at, where your phone's at, what you're buying, what movies you're watching, what food you eat. And what do you think they're gonna do with it? Just be benign and store it somewhere? No, they're gonna use it and use it and use it. And I'm just -- I'm real wary of that and I've been following this guy named Larry Kim.
GILROYHe has a company called WordStream. And his people watch Google carefully. And now, they're starting to identify whether or not you're a parent. And so marketers, I mean it's, at what point do you say, okay Google, get off of my cloud.
DRUINYeah, but it's about this tech ecosystem. Okay? It's about the ubiquity of our machines. It used to be like, I make something on one computer, and then I have to email it to another computer. Or I have to sneakernet it to another. Now, they know about each other. And that's important. And so, basically, Apple and Google have said, where are these computing -- where are these computing devices going? Home, car, body, mobile. Now, how do you deal with that?
NNAMDIBill, what are the key changes that Android smart phone users can expect when the update becomes available in the fall?
HARLOWWell, other than the big user interface is gonna experience changes and unifying the look and feel, there are a lot of smaller things, too. The big one to me is that they're going to have -- I mean, this is big news to any mobile piece of tech, in my mind. Better battery management. One of the goals they want to have is to have a way to make the battery last longer, so there's going to be a built in power saving mode. And, you know, I made fun of somebody over the weekend for the flip phone, but guess what? His phone lasts all week.
HARLOWI would love my iPhone to last all week. That would be a noble goal.
NNAMDIBattery life extension. We move to Joanna in Winchester, Virginia. Joanna, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
JOANNAHi. I am an Android user, and you were asking about what -- what would be something that could make it better, and one of the things that I thought was now they are not actually supporting Adobe Flash player on Android anymore. So, that makes it kind of difficult to go from watching everything on your phone that you would normally be able to see on your computer.
HARLOWWell, it's not just -- it's not just, it's not really Android. It's Adobe saying, we're not doing this anymore. I think that it didn't really gain much traction. And guess what, there are a lot of downsides to running Flash on a small device with a small battery. And I think with time you're gonna see watching everything become more common because I think a lot of people are getting away from using Flash for that. I mean, you can get apps for just about any major streaming service these days on both iOS and Android. And a lot of video embedded in the web now will automatically switch and play for mobile devices.
HARLOWIt's not everything, but I think, at least whenever I go someplace, and I'm on an iPhone which is even more restricted in what it can and can't play. More often than not, I can play the video.
DRUINYeah. No, Apple was the one that actually started that move.
HARLOWWhich I think was good move. I know people hated it, but that's what really helped push it.
NNAMDIOn to Benjamin in Alexandria, Virginia. Benjamin, your turn.
BENJAMINHello. Thank you for taking my call. I'm an iPad user, but I have an Android smart phone. And whenever I use my iPad, it's a very fluid experience, I can hold a ton of stuff. And I guess I have like a really cheap Android phone, so I'm kind of biased, but I feel like the whole experience -- I like the Android system, but I just don't feel like it's quite at the level of the user experience of Apple. And I was just wondering on your comments, do you think this is going to bring Android into that space?
NNAMDIFascinating question. Allison?
DRUINYeah, I absolutely agree with you, and in fact, that's why many people have not moved into the Android space, because of the user experience. And guess what? Google figured it out. And so, Google like pushing these design guidelines and saying, folks, third party, you can't mess with this design anymore. You cannot make it worse so that it can be cheaper to put on a device. I think you'll see big differences in the coming months.
GILROYIt's also part of the reason why whenever people ask me for recommendations for Android devices, I tend to recommend the higher end ones.
HARLOWBecause the lower end ones I don't really think cut it. The higher end ones do feel a lot nicer.
NNAMDIBenjamin, thank you very much for your call. You too can call us at 800-433-8850. Would you use an Android system built into your car? Or use Android TV to stream shows? Bill, one of the developments that Google announced last week is Android Auto. It's an Android system you access on a screen built into the car's dashboard. Why is Google moving into my car?
HARLOWWell, I'm sure they want to move in everywhere. That's part of the reason. But the other thing is, I mean, the writing's on the wall. I mean, I -- whenever I looked at new car purchases, you can get this really expensive nav system that's never updated. You know, is usually slow and clunky. And right now, I've got a little dock in my car where I pop in my phone. And I love using it. I'd prefer if I had maybe one of the new systems from Pioneer or Alpine coming out, which would support car play in the future.
HARLOWAnd the other thing is it's a low bar. In car entertainment, in car controls, in car touch screen and software. They're just terrible, right Allison?
DRUINOh my goodness, I tried to declare the lemon law on my car. It was so bad, the software. Oh my goodness. And if I could upgrade my Microsoft software right now, take the whole thing out and put Android in, I would do it immediately, because we're talking Google Maps. Who doesn't use Google Maps over and over and over again. I am dying for this thing.
NNAMDIIf you want a really complicated experience, try to get your local jurisdiction to instruct you about applying the lemon law to your car. Allison and I can talk about that.
HARLOWWhat are you guys driving? I need to make a checklist here.
NNAMDIThere's a big alliance of car companies behind this new Android Auto system, Bill. What does that mean for Apple in the future? Are we gonna have to choose one ecosystem or the other when we buy a car?
HARLOWI really don't want it to be a religious choice here, when buying a car. I like what some of them are doing, notably Volvo, Honda and Hyundai, which is they're systems will be a little more agnostic and support either. I hope that's the trend, because they're both really, really popular. It would seem to be -- I think it would be a bad move if a company only supported iOS or only supported Android Auto.
DRUINOh, I totally agree.
HARLOWSo, that needs to be the future, I think. Support for both.
NNAMDIAllison, Android wants to control my television, too. What will Android TV offer me?
DRUINWell, basically, again, it's control with other devices. So, instead of having that horrible, what it called, you know, the clickers to try and figure out where am I gonna find stuff? You can use your phone, you can use your Android watch. You can use whatever tablet you want. And so again, it's ubiquity between the devices that's going to make the difference. But you know what, they failed once. Apple's failed many times. So, who knows? Jury's out. This is, I think, one of the hardest appliances to make right in terms of the new software devices.
HARLOWI think part of it's just because you have so many content providers who want to lock down their video, especially. So...
GILROYAnd where's the TV world heading? You know, I mean, I don't think that's a good bet to place on. I think, you know, it's going to hand held devices and mobile and I think TV's maybe something -- you invite Kojo and your friends over and you watch the Superbowl or soccer.
HARLOWWell, I guess my TV, a large screen in your house.
DRUINYeah. It's really, it's the look.
GILROYThat's the word.
DRUINIt's about video and it's about how do you find your video or your games or whatever it is your content is. And I think it's the right place to go, but boy, have they all failed. Apple, how many times? Android, at least once. So, this ubiquitous approach, if they will stick to those crazy design guidelines, and I tell you, it's like reading, you know, the Zen motion of design. But it might work. It might work.
NNAMDIBill, Google announced the play for the low-end Smartphone market with its new Android 1. How is that intended to give people in emerging markets with low-cost phones a reliable Android experience?
HARLOWWell, they're actually defining it. It's not just, hey, what have we not sold -- what leftover inventory do we have with the older LS? Let's sell that. It's actually, okay, let's give them a new device. Let's lock down what you can and can't do with it, so that means, you know, no third party user interface on it. It's going to be stock Android. The idea of making it low-cost means it doesn't have to be junk. And I think that this is a good way to go here. Have a reference platform that other manufacturers can build around, and release something that serves the needs of the people there.
HARLOWSo some of the things that means is in addition to being new and stock, it's got to have the right batteries for the -- the right radios for the right area. Apparently dual SM slots are really popular in a lot of markets because they need to be support for multiple networks. And one of the demos they showed actually included an FM radio receiver in the device.
DRUINYeah. No, this reminds me of Netbooks. You know how people sort of got on the bandwagon, it's got to be, you know, $100 laptop kind of thing. And people really designed -- really thought about the low-end market. What -- those things sort of failed in some way but they actually influenced the laptops we see today. And so, in fact, I'm very excited about this because this will push, hopefully, prices down as well as better design.
NNAMDII don't think Ben in Berryville, Va. is as excited as you are. Ben, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
BENHey, when Android first came out, and basically being the new PCOS for mobile devices, they were like, well, it's scalable and you can make it simple or you can make it more complicated. And where is Android's Jitterbug phone for my parents' generation, you know, where I can be across the country, set up their contact wand, put them into their phone remotely. And, like, you could keep it very basic so that they're not scared of it. And then you can gradually unlock features as they get more comfortable.
BENAnd the idea that the TV could work with the phone and you can show pics -- you know, say both Android, you can just send pictures that you took with your camera phone up to your TV to show friends. That's all great but it needs to be simplified for my parents. And I need to be able to do it without actually being there.
DRUINI completely agree. And, in fact, I was one of the big fans of the Jitterbug phone when it came out. I think that the reason that Google is trumpeting this from the rooftops is because they know they missed. They know they missed in the design world really badly. And I think that they're trying to play catch-up to Apple. And I think they understand that if they can do this right, they will have many more segments of the market, including older adults.
HARLOWThis is the opportunity for developers to build a better mousetrap right here. This is like back in the days of MS DOS and early windows. Different programs -- you come up with unique programs that would sell. I think this is the opportunity for all those thousands of developers all over the world who are learning this code. I mean, there's got to be a way around it. And then if there's money to be made there's gonna...
GILROYI'm also wondering if it will be an Android device but not in the way you think from a third party. Like a look at Amazon's Kindle tablets, the Kindle Fire and they've got that mayday feature built in which allows you very quickly -- and I think the average time's only like seven seconds -- you can get hold of an actual person. They can immediately remote into your screen and help you find things.
GILROYIt may be a company like Amazon or someone we haven't thought of yet who comes out and makes, like, a really -- an Android-based product that is really streamlined in design for people who just aren't comfortable with the current products out there.
NNAMDIGot to take a short break. When we come back, wearables. Do you have a smart watch? Which one did you pick and why? Give us a call, 800-433-8850. It's the Computer Guys and Gal. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back. The Computer Guys and Gal are here. We're going to be talking about wearables. Do you have a smart watch? Which one did you pick and why? Give us a call, 800-433-8850 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Wearable technology is a popular category that has some people excited. Others deciding to skip the big clunky watches that do everything from answer email to counting calories.
DRUINAllison Druin, Google is planning innovations in its wearable technology. What will the new Android wear do for Android users in the smart watch market?
DRUINWell, it's interesting because it looks like you're going to be able to use that watch to actually open up your phone. So if you're wearing a watch, that's a way of authenticating your phone if you connect the watch and the phone together. Also it will have essentially, you know, The Google now. You'll be able to answer texts, you'll be able to look at weather. It'll be glanceable. There's not going to be full features.
DRUINBut I have to tell you, it's still ugly on. I mean, I don't know if I'd want to wear that thing. It's...
HARLOWThat's the thing. We're nerds and even we wouldn't want to wear these things. The average person's not going to put this on his or her wrist.
DRUINI'm really hoping the Apple mythical eye watch -- I mean, of course, we don't know when or if it will ever happen, but I have to tell you, even the mythical guesses of what the eye watch is going to look like look better than these watches. Again, they're still square. They're clunky. I don't know.
GILROYThey come out in July 7. There's two of them. One by LG, one by Samsung. And one costs 200 bucks, other costs 300 bucks. But to tell you the truth, if I was, you know, on the train and I saw Kojo with one of those watches, I'd kind of take a couple steps back and go, oh, what a nerd. I mean, they do look nerdy.
HARLOWThere's a company called Withings, which has a new -- it's just a fitness tracker. It's on a full smart watch but it looks like a watch. It's actually stylish. You would actually have this on your person. And one battery lasts a year. I mean, that's the other things too is like any of these smart watches, if I have to charge it every couple days or as often as an iPhone, I'm not going to wear it.
GILROYThere's some issues like looking at the watch in bright daylight. I mean, if you got out of the train and you're in sunlight and you want to know what time it is, you expect to be able to see what time it is. I think there's some issues with that. And there's a phone coming out down the road, is it the Moto 360 or something? There's a phone coming out that has all kinds of promises, be much better than this first generation or the bleeding edge here.
NNAMDIOn to Sylvia in Alexandria, Va. Sylvia, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
SYLVIAOh, my goodness. Yeah, I want to apologize for calling with a question that is not about all these wearable things that you are describing.
SYLVIABut I want to know, we are now told or asked to download things to our cell phone that you can do banking. And today I got a thing from my financial guy saying you can download so that you can check on that. Why did I have to buy (word?) for my regular computer and I don't have to be considering security in my iPhone -- I mean, in my -- well, I have an Android, I'm sorry -- in the phone?
NNAMDIYour mobile devices, Bill?
HARLOWWell, you do have to worry about security on your mobile devices.
GILROYYes, you do.
HARLOWSo, you know, it's your comfort level. I would say that if I was checking banking on my phone, I'd be pretty uncomfortable if I was on a public hotspot someplace. And the other thing too, especially with Android phones, is they are more susceptible to malware -- I wouldn't say it is an epidemic but it's a reminder to -- when you use an Android device, stick with vetted applications from the Google Play store.
GILROYAnd Sylvia, I'll bet the user agreement for these apps is about 20 pages long and 50 lawyers wrote them, not responsible for anything so...
HARLOWAnd for a lot of it it's kind of like, we're not responsible for any data...
GILROY...of course the banker's going to tell you that. I just -- you know, if I believe everything a banker told me, I'd be broke.
NNAMDISylvia, thank you very much for your call. Yes, you do have to pay attention to security. Here is Mark in Sterling, Va. Mark, you're on the air. Go ahead, please. Hi, Mark. I think Mark dropped off. We got a tweet from Raymond who says, "I'd totally pay for an Android watch that tells me with a glance whether metro is or isn't delayed as I approach any stop."
NNAMDIThe last month has seen the introduction of several new technologies from the latest Smartphone to display screens that do not have to be rectangular anymore. Give us a call. Are you planning to get an Amazon Fire Phone? Where would you like to see a digital display screen that's round or asymmetrical, 800-433-8850? John, Amazon is jumping into the Smartphone market with the July 25 release of its first one called the Amazon Fire Phone. What does that offer?
GILROYI think Jeff Bezos has jumped in my back pocket, that's what I think. And that's -- he wants to control my wallet. And this is what it's all about. I'm going to be like, easy for you there, Kojo, my friend. All you have to do is carry this Amazon Fire around and all day long we'll suggest things for you to buy. And, hey, boy, what a great idea for Bezos and what a bad idea for the typical consumer because consumers are vulnerable to some of these pitches.
GILROYYou know, Google's going to provide information to Amazon or Amazon's probably going to use their own services to learn about everything. Well, Bill is a Nationals fan and he's driving downtown. Maybe he's going -- who knows what -- have lunch before and have a message come right to him for that. I would be very wary of these innovations from Amazon. Now, Amazon web services I'm a big fan of. But these individual consumer items, I'm scared of them.
HARLOWIt's a fine line though because there are a lot of times where I do generally want to buy something I need on my...
NNAMDIMr. Bezos says one of the things people want to do with their phones is buy stuff from Amazon and in general.
GILROYYep, from them, of course.
HARLOWRight. But just in general, if I'm on my phone and I want to buy something and there are multiple steps to check out and everything and it's inconvenient, that does bother me. But maybe the flipside is make it one stop shopping so that I can just think it and Amazon's already shipping it to me.
DRUINWell, it's the buy-more-stuff phone, okay, let's face it. But you know what? Already they're taking a look at the sales of this phone. The sales are already down. Because, you know, in fact it's about the features of the phone. Why do I get this phone versus an Android or an iPhone?
HARLOWEspecially at a premium price. It's not subsidized.
DRUINOkay. And, you know, like they have this dynamic perspective 3D. So if you move your head slightly, you can start to see this sort of 3Dness of the screen. Not sure that's enough to buy this phone. You know, you can use hand gestures. Still not quite -- I mean, this is for geeks, if you get real excited about it, but I'm not really quite sure that this is the way to go. And it's -- you know, it's out at the end of July. And jury's out whether or not people want it.
NNAMDIHere's Brian in Bethesda, Md. Brian, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
BRIANHow you guys doing?
BRIANSo I'm a huge Google fan and I use Google Now a lot. I have reminders, the GPS locations and such. And so with the integration of all this automobile, wearables and such, I'm wondering how far away are we from having something similar to her where I can talk to my phone or a similar device that will tell me -- you know, I can say, you know, remind me when I get to Giants to pick up apples or something like that? But even more so, activated mainly by a command word.
DRUINWell, actually if you believe the YouTube videos that Google's already put out on the auto...
NNAMDIYou should be able to do that.
DRUIN...you should be able to do that on Android Auto. So, you know, it's -- basically they're going to start to understand a little bit more about who you are. So they're going to know that if I pass a Whole Foods I'm going to need to stop there because that's what I do and they're going to remind me, oh look, a Whole Foods is here.
NNAMDIAll you might have to say is, yo, but we'll have that discussion later. Brian, thank you very much for your call. Here's David in Washington, D.C. David, you are now on the air. Go ahead, please.
DAVIDHello. Thank you for taking my call. I just wanted to bring up the point as though where my reluctance would come from to buy this kind of Android or Google-connected universe. I think most of it stems from the fact that you have kind of these big data concerns out there, data aggregators.
DAVIDSo I think my largest concern in purchasing a connected universe is my data is now going to all flow into one central repository. So whether it be marketing or criminal -- the criminal aspect, I don't feel comfortable having a watch, a cell phone, the telematics of a vehicle all communicating into one system where I rely on one company to manage kind of my virtual identity that exists out there.
DAVIDSo I don't know what plans there would be to manage that but I think the privacy aspect is what would keep a consumer like myself away...
NNAMDISo on the one hand you're happy with last week's Supreme Court ruling that says that the police cannot search your phone when they happen to arrest you for anything. On the other hand, you're concerned about having all of this data in one place because, A, you can either lose it all or, B, it's instantly accessible to anyone who can get to it?
DAVIDYeah. I mean, I guess it's almost a confliction in itself because I would want everything connected for a convenience factor. But as far as keeping your data safe is the other concern as it's all in one repository. So either losing it or theft of data...
NNAMDIThat's the world we're living in.
DRUINYeah, well, it's interesting. I mean, look at Facebook and all those psychological experiments they did...
NNAMDIWhich we'll be talking about tomorrow on this broadcast.
DRUINI know, you know, but where they literally had all that extra data and they just manipulated people's posts and such. It's scary. So look...
GILROYAnd let you know after the fact too.
DRUINYeah, exactly. So, you know, do no harm. I -- you know, you've got to believe that if -- you know, if people realized how bad they were, you know, in terms of doing something, then guess what, people would migrate away from it.
GILROYMaybe take a look at the black phone that just came out which is an Android device that is basically built around privacy. It actually has a version of Android called Priv OS specifically so you can't be tracked.
HARLOWAnd it's getting good reviews.
NNAMDIOkay. Thank you very much for your call. Bill, Sharp has an interesting innovation. A display screen that doesn't have to be rectangular. How is the company embedding the circuitry throughout the screen rather than in the edges of the display to allow new shapes?
GILROYWell, if I knew that I would've made it myself and made a whole bunch of money. But traditionally the circuitry was built in the bezel around the screen. And there seems to be still one piece where you can't hide all that. It needs to be on one side. But the rest is embedded throughout behind the screen. So they were demoing how you could make something that is basically completely digital dashboard with round gauges and everything and, you know, seamless edges that could flow around buttons and other controls.
GILROYAll these smart watches you see, like the Moto 360 which is more or less round, they're going to benefit from that. And right now they're just showing some obvious demos but I'd really love to see if this becomes something that they can do affordably. I'm sure it's expensive now, that they're doing cool things with screens we haven't even thought of yet.
NNAMDI800-433-8850. Where would you like to see a digital display screen that's round or asymmetrical? We're talking with the Computer Guys and Gal. Bill Harlow is hardware and software technician for MACs and PCs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting, Inc. John Gilroy is director for business development at BLT Global Ventures. And Allison Druin is chief futurist at the University of Maryland Division of Research and co-director of the Future of Information Alliance at the University of Maryland. Back to having all of our data in one place, Mark in Sterling, Va. you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
MARKI wanted to comment about the converged platforms and, you know, the car and the monitor. I don't even call it a TV. It seems to me that all of this is converging into a common interface where perhaps they can track us. But who doesn't want to have access to Google maps in their car? And who doesn't want to be able to just have a monitor and stream that information directly to the monitor of their choice wherever it might be, be it in my car, be it in my home.
MARKAnd for me the PCs no longer a personal computer. It's my phone. I wouldn't even use the term. I'm calling my phone a pocket computer because it's just that powerful. So I'd like for your guys to see if they can address for me this whole idea of converged platforms.
DRUINYeah, I totally agree with you. It's -- this has been in the research labs for easily ten to twenty years. Actually Xerox Park in the early '70s coined the term ubiquitous computing. And it was the idea that essentially wherever we are there will be embedded computing. There will be mobile computing. It will be a part of who we are. It will be furniture. And so this -- right now I equate the technology still is candy computing, okay, which is that it's very special and we have to go places for it. And if we have it we're special, and so on.
DRUINIn the future, it really has to be furniture computing where it's everywhere. It is what we need. And you know what? It's for everybody, not just the special people.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call. Any other comments on that? If not, Nate in Springfield, Va. has been waiting a long time for some guidance. Nate, thank you for waiting. Go ahead, please.
NATEI have a Nexus 7 tablet. I do not have high speed internet. I use it at the public library. To give you some idea of the level -- I'm in my 70's -- to give you some idea of my level or lack of level of expertise, I was a science librarian. I got my masters at the University of Maryland...
NATE...under the Chisum regime. I know about UNIX. I know about Lenox, but I have this Nexus 7 tablet. And I've downloaded a bunch of apps from their store, the free ones. And just like there's no manual that came with the Nexus, there are no manuals that come with the apps. How do I learn how to use the apps? Are there user groups like there used to be for PCs? Do I go to YouTube, someone tells me, and somehow or other I find something?
NATEI have -- one of the apps I have is a programmable calculator that I can't make do anything. Do you have any suggestions how I can find out how to use the apps that I...
NNAMDIHere's Bill Harlow.
HARLOWWell, I would say take a look at whoever publishes these apps. There might be a link in the Google Play Store, or if you do a quick Google search for the product, go there 'cause, more often than not, they're going to have FAQs, tutorials, and very likely...
NNAMDIYep. It's what I did.
HARLOW...a user forum where people can get in there and share tips, have conversations about what they can and cannot do.
GILROYAnd I am amazed, too...
NNAMDIAnd you'd be surprised at how many people are having the same problem you're having when you go to those forums.
GILROYWhat's amazing is the searches that are done on YouTube are done for very technical topics, like predictive analytics, and done for simple things, like, how do I replace the faucet on my kitchen sink? And I'm sure there's got to be some incredibly simple video for this. I -- the searches on there are just fascinating.
DRUINWhat you can do is actually type in how do I blah, OK? And then do it first for Google, then for YouTube, then for images, and you can just go through all the different kinds of search, and you'll get all the different kinds of information that are available on the Web.
NNAMDIThank you very much for you call. And good luck to you, Nate. We got an email from Alan in Rosslyn who says, "I recently bought a smartwatch and decided to get the Pebble Steel because it's one of the few that looks like a regular watch and because its primary focus is being a watch. For other features like maps and writing emails or reviewing the Web, do I really want to do that on a tiny screen?" Well, Alan, what may be tiny to you may not be so tiny to others, is what I'm discovering as my eyes age.
DRUINWell, it also may be -- it's not that it's going to do it all on your phone. But it's going to be a key or a lock to work with other devices. And that actually may be why you might end up wanting to use this thing. Also, they're talking about these watches, combining the healthcare aspects of it, so, you know, you may end up being able to track your steps, you may be able to figure out, you know, how you're doing in terms of your running and so on. So it really depends.
GILROYThe new Samsung has a step-counter built in and a heart rate monitor built in, so $200. And some people may benefit from that.
NNAMDIYou can tell time from all kinds of other devices. Got to take a short break. When we come back, more with our Computer Guys and Gal. If you've called, stay on the line. We'll try to get to your calls. If you haven't yet, the number's 800-433-8850. You can shoot us a tweet, @kojoshow, using the #TechTuesday or email to email@example.com. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back. It's our July edition of the Computer Guys and Gal with Allison Druin, chief futurist at the University of Maryland Division of Research and co-director of the Future Information Alliance at the University of Maryland. Bill Harlow is a hardware and software technician for Macs and PCs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting, Inc. And John Gilroy is director for business development for BLT Global Ventures.
NNAMDIWe take your calls at 800-433-8850. John, after so many cases of stolen credit card numbers and credit card fraud, many banks will begin issuing cards next year that put identification information in an electronic chip inside the card rather than on a magnetic strip. What's the timing for the new chip technology? And what about it makes it more secure?
GILROYWell, it's about time, isn't it? I mean, they're responding to consumer needs. Friend of the show, Wayne Rash, you can Google him and find out...
GILROYAnd he's a great guy. And he's bringing up something, and everyone remembers what happened at Target. And people got flipped out and worried about everything else. Well, finally, they're kind of moving up to the 1990s is what I think you're doing with making credit cards at least a little bit more safe for consumers. So if it goes -- this is what the prediction is -- it's 70 percent of U.S. credit cards to include the EMV by next year sometime. So anything they can do to try to reduce the fraud with credit cards, I just see -- I see people who aren't very savvy getting taken advantage of. And I think this might prevent that.
DRUINWell, here's the thing. I was in Denmark two weeks ago, and that's probably why I sound like this, like I swallowed a frog. Anyway, and I was in Denmark, and I kept trying to give them my credit card. And every time I give them the credit card, they said, well, it's not working. And I said, well, why not? And so it turns out, in Europe, most of these places now only take a credit card with a chip. So they said, oh, you're going to have to sign this. I mean, and it was so, like, oh, my goodness.
DRUINHow reckless of you. You're going to sign something...
HARLOWWas it like a social faux pas?
NNAMDII forgot to write in cursive.
DRUINOh, and so I could -- you know...
HARLOWWere people staring at you?
DRUINI had such a hard time paying for anything. My poor cohort -- my researcher cohort, she had to pay for everything because my credit card wasn't usable there. It was crazy.
NNAMDIYes. I've been reading about that. Beware of that. Allison, the maverick phone carrier T-Mobile has come up with a clever way to let potential customers test drive its service. How is T-Mobile using a loaner iPhone to lure new customers? A loaner?
DRUINYeah. They actually will send you a mobile phone with T-Mobile on it, OK, with, you know, an iPhone with T-Mobile on it. And so I think it's really gutsy of them. And, you know, they take all your information and your credit card information, and I'm sure, guess what, you don't send it back, you get the phone, OK?
DRUINBut it's great because what you want to do is you want to test your high speed network use in terms of your apps, so anything that's streaming. You want to figure out, how's the call quality? Are there dropped phone calls? Do they -- you know, is it usable in hot spots? Is it usable in terms of large public events? And, you know what, we should all be testing things like this. This is great. This is like kicking the tires on a phone, so I'm very impressed with T-Mobile.
NNAMDIA caveat from the Houston Chronicle. I signed up immediately on Thursday and noted that folks who rely on debit cards should be wary. While you do get to use the phone absolutely free for a week, T-Mobile puts a hold for the value of the phone on a credit or debit card that you supply. For debit card users, that means about $700-plus is not available for spending.
NNAMDIIt says the hold could continue for a while after returning the phone. Debit card users who don't keep much cash in their accounts could run into trouble.
DRUINYeah. Be careful of that.
NNAMDIJohn Gilroy, beware. We move on to -- actually, he has no money. Angela in Hyattsville, Md., you're on the air. Angela, go ahead, please.
ANGELAHello. Can you all hear me?
NNAMDIWe hear you, Angela.
ANGELAOh, good 'cause I'm hands free. I am an Android user. I'm not tech savvy at all. And I'm saying this based on the aging demographic of our continent. I'm finding that, you know, we want to keep building the $600 phone with the interfaces and the software. But I'm finding that Steve Austin is getting to a point where he can't see. And I need a phone where it has the QWERTY keypad, and I'm finding that those phones are just becoming obsolete, that they just don't exist anymore.
ANGELABut I'm finding that our aging demographic needs things that are bigger. I see the things are getting smaller and are getting -- want to make things faster. But, you know, we need to make keypads, and we need to make screens where it fits people who are aging, who are getting older. And I'm just finding that the types of devices are going away. And I really don't get it because, like I said, our continent is getting older.
NNAMDIWhat happened to the overwhelming influence of the Baby Boomers, John?
GILROYYes. That's what I'd like to know. Well, Bill, you're the oldest one here. Tell us what...
HARLOWAs your senior, what I shall say is that, well, BlackBerry's not dead yet, and they have a new device coming out called the Passport, big square screen, QWERTY keypad underneath it, looks pretty slick. For iPhones and probably for a lot of popular Android phones, you can actually get keyboard cases that attach to it and give you a proper physical keyboard.
HARLOWAnd personally, when it comes to phones, to me, they're all getting too big, so that might be right up your alley. 4.7-inch seems to be the low end for most Android phones. And some get as big as 6-inches, as far as screen sizes go. So they are getting bigger. I think part of that all seems to be building in -- especially on Android -- building in better accessibility features, giving you more control over how you can size things on the screen, so you can see it better.
DRUINYeah. Angela, I mean, the problem is with the Androids, that they don't have those great settings that they do on the iPhones in terms of increasing the size and the boldness of things. And so, you know, it's coming because I read those design guidelines from Google, and that Android L, boy, is going to be as slick and as -- and really simplified as they possibly can make it, again, for glanceability, for readability. So I would say hold on for a little bit longer, and I think that people are getting what you're saying.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call, Angela. You too can call us, 800-433-8850. Or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Now we turn to the apps of the month. John, your app of the month we've been discussing earlier in the show with the use of one word, yo. It's gotten a lot of press. Please explain how Yo works.
GILROYWell, it's not just...
HARLOWYo, that's how it works.
GILROYYo, yo, yo. Two word -- not only impresses a guy. He's gotten money. He's got a million dollars in funding. So this guy comes over here from Israel, and he starts his company on April 1. And the company, all it is is just equivalent of a text message saying, yo, to someone. It's an alert. And, by the way...
HARLOWIt's a ping. It's not even alert.
GILROYAnd, by the way, this fits in perfectly with -- Allison talked about glanceability. So let's say you're out running around this afternoon doing errands, and all of a sudden, your Yo can say, hey, game, come after four o'clock. Make sure to get over to Bill's house and watch the game coming up, the soccer game. So as far as glanceability goes, I think this is one possible use of this Yo. Now, I don't know whether a business model there is here. Have you seen it, Bill?
HARLOWI've seen it. I -- it's cute. Maybe actor Aaron Paul loves this app 'cause it's all he knows how to say apparently. But I can type yo pretty fast on my -- in my messaging apps, too. So...
DRUINWell, my fear is...
NNAMDIYo activates and deactivates it, doesn't it? Yo.
DRUINYes. Yo, it's basically -- it's a toggle. It's an on-off switch kind of thing.
DRUINMy fear is that my children would get a hold of this, and I'd be Yoed to death. But...
HARLOWIn that case, this sounds great.
HARLOWIt sounds like a lot of fun.
DRUINBut here's the interesting -- the important part of it is that it actually could make push notifications much easier, could be -- they've got underlying technology there that would make one interface for all your notifications and that you could actually make better use of the lock screen for information.
GILROY'Cause people are ignoring email or spam and overwhelmed with so many messages and IMs and texts and Twitters.
HARLOWAnd now I got a new way to get annoyed. This sounds great.
DRUINOh, yeah. And for my kids.
NNAMDIBill, your app is called Trello, and it's a project management tool. Why do you like it?
HARLOWI know it's weird. I've brought up something useful.
DRUINI know. That -- yeah, what's up with you? Are you getting, like, more games?
HARLOWSo what I like about it is that I am a simpleton, and I want a project management app that is good enough -- easy enough for someone dumb like me because a lot of them revolve around learning complex systems. I'm never going to use them. So you just create these cards that you can move around, and I can't really do it justice. But it's free. Try it out, trello.com. They also have apps for Android, for iOS, and it's elegant. And it works, and I find it really convenient and easy.
NNAMDIAllison, for everyone who loves to cook dinner outside in the summer, you have an app called The Photo Cookbook - Barbecue Grilling. Will this make me a great griller?
DRUINYeah. It might make you hungry, though. I mean, basically, it's got really great visual recipes. And it -- essentially, it's got all the ingredients laid out. I'm not a great cookbook reader for recipes and for cooking. I like just to see something, and then I'll just try it out. And this is great, $3.99 on your iPad, iPhone. And it's, you know, all kinds of grilling, 60 recipes, and, you know, hey, it's all about the food.
NNAMDIWe got a tweet from Jeffrey, John Gilroy, who said, "Why did it take so long to go to a more secure credit card platform? Why?"
GILROYI think there's just a resistance to change in the United States. In my advanced age, Bill, I've noticed that human beings are actually resistant to change. Well, we've always done it this way. Anytime I go into a meeting with corporate executives, that is the objective. I know it's in the back of -- well, we've always done it this way, and it's safe. And people don't want to change.
NNAMDIDon't talk about how the rest of the world views our reproach to the metric system. That's a whole 'nother story.
DRUINI actually think it's because we -- it's about how we pay for our credit cards. Back in Europe -- back in Europe. In Europe, okay...
GILROYIn old country, the old country, (word?) ...
NNAMDIIn the old country...
DRUINIn the old country, they don't actually -- if you -- if someone steals your credit card and gets, you know, and basically pays for a million things off your credit card, you're responsible for that -- for the cost.
DRUINHere, we didn't have that, so we had less of a reason to actually make our credit cards more secure. But in Europe, they were definitely wanting this because, basically, you know, people are so frantic about losing money from their credit cards.
NNAMDIHere is Angela in Hyattsville, Md. Angela, your turn. Angela, you are listening to us on the radio. I can tell 'cause I hear it in the background. Turn it down and speak to us on the phone.
DRUINI sound terrible. Oh, my goodness.
NNAMDIAngela, are you there?
ANGELAAnd people are so...
GILROYWow. That raspy voice.
DRUINI know. I sound terrible. My goodness.
HARLOWI said husky.
GILROYSounds like Lauren Bacall, I'm happy.
NNAMDII'm going to have to move on to Pamela in Washington, D.C. Pamela, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
PAMELAHi. I'm wanting to go back to what you were talking about earlier with the convergence of our virtual data being used by various organizations, and it's all going to be convenient for us. But in a very comic noir kind of way, I find it hilarious that, as...
PAMELA...society, we were horrified that the NSA might have been fiddling around with our data. And yet, with corporations, such as Google and Amazon and Facebook, we're giving them our information hand over fist on a daily basis. And I...
NNAMDIWell, go ahead.
PAMELAI just find it amusing.
NNAMDIWell, we were doing that even before the digital world came along when we took out credit. Before the digital world came along, you were giving your information to a corporation. What do you see as being the difference now?
PAMELAWell, it's not really different. I just find it interesting that when it's a government organization, we're horrified by it. But when it's a commercial organization, we don't have the slightest problem with it.
DRUINWell, ideally, you actually -- in some sense, you know that you're supposedly giving away your freedoms here, OK?
GILROYYeah. There's an implied quid pro quo, isn't there? I mean, if you're not paying for the product, you're the product.
DRUINRight. I mean, the other thing is, with the NSA, there was a lot of stuff that people didn't realize they were giving away. And that, I think, was something.
HARLOWAnd I've given information to the government willingly, but the NSA was a different animal entirely, was a case where we felt like this was being taken from us, not given to them.
DRUINI think that's the amusement part of it, yeah.
NNAMDIIf it's being taken from you by a security institution, then that makes it a whole different matter. Finally, we go to Dave in Germantown, Md. Dave, you got about a minute.
DAVEYeah. I just thought I'd weigh in as a certified smartwatch nerd. I started with a Pebble, and I've graduated to the Samsung Gear. And I really like it. It's very convenient. One of the greatest things that it lets me do is unlock my phone very easily.
DAVEI have it, you know, secured with a pass code, but if it's -- if I actually have the phone near my watch, I can -- I don't need the pass code.
NNAMDIWell, the major concern of our panelists that I'd last like to ask you about, what kind of fashion statement do you think you're making?
HARLOWYou know, it's a better statement than the Google Glass statement. I'll say that.
DAVEWell, I have a -- no, no. I'm not quite to the Glass stage, but I kind of like my smartwatch. I mean, I'm sure it looks pretty goofy. But it's very functional for me and I get a lot of...
HARLOWGuys, are big watches still in?
GILROYSo, Dave, is this, like, the oblong one on the wrist that I've seen? Is that what it looks like?
DAVEThis is a Samsung Gear. It's one of the newer ones. I think it looks kind of neat.
DAVEIt's not too bad. I have a pretty small wrist, too, so it probably looks especially goofy on me. But I don't care 'cause I like it.
DRUINGo, Dave. Yay.
NNAMDIDave, thank you very much for your call. That's all the time we have. Allison Druin is chief futurist at the University of Maryland Division of Research and co-director of the Future of Information Alliance at the University of Maryland. Bill Harlow is hardware and software technician for Macs and PCs at Mid-Atlantic Consulting, Inc. And John Gilroy is a swimmer.
NNAMDIHe's also director of business development for BLT Global Ventures. Thank you all for joining us. And thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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