Monthly Archives: June 2017

Think back to the mobile phone you owned before 2007

It probably looked something like this: A silver clamshell device with numeric keys on the bottom and a low-resolution screen on the top. It probably had a simple camera, a calendar, and was capable of running a few basic games, but you used it primarily for voice calls and texting. In the early 2000s you might have upgraded to a BlackBerry 6210 — a favorite among text-obsessed teens and corporate employees tied to their email inboxes.

But in 2007 the cellphone industry was sundered. In hindsight, there is only before and after the iPhone. “An iPod, a phone, and an Internet communicator,” Steve Jobs famously said on stage at Macworld in 2007 when unveiling the first iPhone. “Are you getting it? These are not three separate devices. This is one device.”

The original iPhone, which went on sale 10 years ago on June 29, laid the foundation for the modern smartphone, forever changing the way we access the world’s information. It introduced two very important concepts that would remain at the core of mobile computers for years to come: the touch screen and the App Store. “The iPhone wouldn’t be what it is, and the smartphone industry wouldn’t be what it is, if you didn’t have a combination between two of those,” says Gene Munster, managing partner at Loup Ventures who previously spent 21 years covering Apple and the tech industry at Piper Jaffray.

So-called smartphones existed before the iPhone, but many of them were unwieldy and expensive. IBM’s Simon, which launched in 1994 and is widely regarded as the world’s first smartphone, had a touch screen and even supported basic applications like email, an alarm clock, a to-do list and faxing. But it weighed more than a pound, cost around $1,000, and wasn’t very intuitive.

With a dynamic touch-friendly interface and a central repository for discovering new applications, the iPhone was unlike any other mobile device. But the influence of the App Store — which launched in July 2008 to support the iPhone 3G’s release a few months before Android’s own marketplace debuted — can’t be overstated. It’s the reason we can summon taxis without speaking a word, dispatch magically disappearing photos and transfer digital payments with the press of a button. The Ubers, Snapchats and Venmos of the world wouldn’t exist without smartphones, and the iPhone was and remains the category’s foundation.

Read more: The 50 Most Influential Gadgets of All Time

Together, the iPhone and the App Store established the idea that an electronic device needn’t be functionally rigid: just a phone, or just a camera, or just a handheld gaming console. Today’s smartphones are computational Swiss army knives, capable of everything from turn-by-turn driving directions to housing all our work-related documents. But dubbing smartphones mere “pocket-sized computers” is too reductive, argues Munster. “[The iPhone] was more than a computer, because a computer wasn’t a camera, it wasn’t GPS, it wasn’t an MP3 player,” he says. “The illustration that it became a computer in your pocket really doesn’t sum it up.”

After the iPhone’s launch, smartphones quickly adopted slick, candy-bar shaped frames with touch screens. Google famously rebuilt its first Android phone from the ground up after Apple’s keynote. “Holy crap, I guess we’re not going to ship that phone,” said Android creator Andy Rubin after watching the presentation, according to journalist Fred Vogelstein in his book Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution.

The iPhone did more than change the way cellphones were designed, it both revitalized and redefined the category. It carved out the notion that technology could be a status symbol, and with each iteration somehow elevated its allure such that buyers were willing to pay boutique prices. The original iPhone started at $500, while competing phones like the T-Mobile G1 (the first phone to run on Android) cost $150 on a two-year contract. Even wildly popular phones like the Motorola Razr never attracted the attention or drew lines as famously long as those outside Apple Stores at each new iPhone launch. “It’s one of the reasons [Apple] did so well in China at first,” says Lauren Guenveur, consumer insight director for Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, a firm that studies technology market trends. “To own an iPhone was to own a status symbol.”

10 years ago, Apple changed the world with the iPhone. Now, it’s using the iPhone to kickstart its next big gambit, augmented reality, a technology that maps computer-generated graphics onto real world surroundings. During its Worldwide Developers Conference in June, Apple unveiled ARKit, a suite of tools developers can use to create augmented reality apps for the iPhone.

“I think what [Apple] is doing with ARKit is as significant as the App Store,” says Munster, expressing a view shared by many, namely that the practical uses of augmented reality (as opposed to the immobilizing niche-ness of wraparound virtual reality) is where the next technological revolution lies. Pokémon Go, a crazy-popular game about snatching fantasy monsters from real world locations, illustrates augmented reality’s potential for merging play with fitness and social elements. And companies like Apple, Microsoft and Facebookbelieve it will fundamentally alter how we interact with computers.

It’s too soon to say what those changes will look like, but one thing seems certain: A decade from now, when we think back to the smartphones we cherished in 2017, odds are they’ll little resemble the pocket-sized glass-and-aluminum slabs we carry in our pockets today. Everyone wants to make that next world-changing device — or in other words, the next iPhone.

Need to Stay Focused? Tune Out Distractions at Work Reading Time: 2 minutes

One of the recommendations I discussed to help you control your attention and ignore distractions at work is a streaming music service called Focus@Will.

You may already have a go-to work playlist, but you might be surprised to learn that your favorite tunes are actually really distracting. They cause you to sing along (encouraging your brain to recall the words), facilitate memories,  and maybe even make you tap your feet—all activities that will prevent flow, your state of optimal performance where you’ll do your best work. Conversely, the music on Focus@Will is productivity boosting: each instrumental piece you’ll hear was chosen and remastered to help you concentrate more deeply.

The science behind Focus@Will is pretty fascinating. The service was developed in partnership with neuroscientists including Dr. Edward “Ned” Hallowell. If you’ve read my book or seen me speak, you know that I’m a big fan of Dr. Hallowell’s research on attention. He believes that the constant distractions from our computers and devices dilute our mental powers. (And I agree!) This service is a great tool in your attention management arsenal.

You can see how Focus@Will affects your concentration by signing up for a free trial. In addition to individual plans, they also offers business subscriptions. If you’re a leader, making Focus@Will available to your staff could be a great way to help them do more focused work.

While you’re listening, be sure to read the full article in Forbes for more productivity-enhancing ideas. Writer Vickie An did a great job of creating a useful and entertaining roundup on preventing distractions at work.

Why Project Management Tools Must Change

Personal productivity tools make managing your own workload easier. And project management tools help with wrangling group work. But there’s a big gap between th

Think about all the tasks on your plate for the next week or so. Some of those tasks belong only to you. They’re your responsibility, and you’re the one tracking their deadlines. Some probably belong to a personal project of yours, and some are just one-off tasks that need to get done. Also, some of your tasks are probably part of group projects. On these tasks, a company leader or project manager also monitors your progress, and your work impacts others.

Hopefully, you’re already using a good personal information manager to enhance your productivity. Because of the scope and complexity of knowledge work today, online PIMs like Outlook or the Apple suite (Calendar, Address Book, Reminders, Apple Mail) are good choices.

Beyond your personal productivity system, chances are you also have to use your company’s project management tools when you’re involved in group projects. Some popular examples of these tools are Microsoft Project, Asana, Basecamp and Trello.

Here’s where the problem comes in. If you have to check both your personal task manager and your company’s project management tool for everything you have to do, that’s inefficient. You might feel like you’re spending more time tracking your work than actually doing it. But, at the same time, leaders do need to manage group project deadlines, and it’s valuable for everyone to be able to see the current status of a project.

Imagining Better Project Management Tools

We need better solutions — and I’m surprised they don’t exist yet. Why, for example, didn’t Microsoft create better integration between Project and Outlook tasks?

Ideally, I’d like to see project management tools that seamlessly sync completed tasks between personal information management tools and project management tools. The project management tool sync tasks  to an individual employee’s personal task manager, while still allowing the rest of the group to see the task and its status. In the personal task manager, the employee could assign whatever alarms, categories, contexts and personal due dates to the task that suit her. When the task changes status, this status change is synced back to the project management tool. This would require syncing at the specific task level.

Another solution would be project management tools that do a good job handling both individual tasks and tasks related to group projects. The tools on the market I’ve seen that do both of these things are complicated and are not intuitive for people to pick up on their own. They are more enterprise-level and require both technical training and training on the workflow behind the tool. They also typically rely on the project to drive the work, which requires users to contort their tasks to fit a project: for example, some people create a “project” called “personal,” which isn’t really a project at all, but it’s the only way to manage personal tasks in a project management tool. Instead in my tool-utopia, when a task is entered, the user could assign whether or not that task is part of a project, and whether that project is a group project (with a status to be shared by the tool with others) or a personal project that no one else needs to see.

Until something changes, though, we’re stuck with the extra work of tracking our tasks both in our personal systems and in project management tools for the benefit of our teams. It’s a roadblock to greater efficiency that I hope will be overcome soon.

e two, and that’s a problem.

Microsoft’s Unveils New

Microsoft’s event from last has gotten the Internet talking about it. From laptops to tablets to smartphones and even a smartwatch, it was a bucketful of surprises for the tech enthusiasts. And while Microsoft continues to be one of the most valuable brands in the world it owes most of it to its software business, 84% of PCs worldwide use various versions of Windows OS.

Even with its Surface tablets bringing in business, the company is not yet known for its hardware capabilities like Apple and Google, but with this new range of devices it might be able to turn the tables around. Have a look.

Microsoft had acquired Nokia’s handset business back in September 2013, and an year down the line in September 2014 it decided to drop Nokia’s branding from its Lumia range of smartphones. Now another year has passed, and according to statistical data by IDC, Microsoft doesn’t even stand in the top 5 smartphone makers in the world, and its Lumia phones shipments have been declining.
In order to uplift its smartphone sales and shipments, the company has unveiled 3 new Lumia smartphones – 950, 950 XL and 550, all running Windows 10 OS.

Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL

Microsoft has unveiled its flagship phone Lumia 950 along with its bigger version Lumia 950 XL. The 5.2″ big Lumia 950 comes with a 1.8 GHz Hexa core Snapdragon 808 processor and 3 GB RAM. Powered by Windows 10 OS, it has 32GB in built memory with an expandable card slot. It comes with a 20MP rear camera and Full HD 5MP wide angle front camera. It will be launched in November for $549.

Lumia 950 XL comes with a 5.7″ display and a 2.0 GHz octa core Snapdragon 810 processorThe other features are pretty much same as 950. It will be released in November for $649.