Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The iPad Mini version 1. Don't pack up the backpacks yet!

I have not yet seen the presentation tonight for the iPad Mini, but I must say that I am a little disappointed by what I have seen on the specs page.  There is one glaring omission from the specs that I fully expected to see at the rollout:  The Retinal Display.

I suspect that it must be very difficult and indeed expensive to produce retinal displays.   This is the only reason that I can fathom for Apple not having one included on the iPad Mini. And this is a big deal!

The iPad Mini has been touted for schools and reading, with an updated version of iBooks available today on account of the iPad Mini's presence.  Further confirmation that Apple is promoting this as a reading tool to take on Amazon, Google and Barnes & Noble.  But take a look at the following Specs and we can see that this is not going to be a pleasurable long term reading experience:

Amazon Kindle Fire HD $249.00  7"   1280 x  800   (216 ppi)*   720p HD.

Google Nexus 7  $249 (16 gb) WXGA (1280 x 800) LED backlit IPS panel,  (216 ppi)

Apple iPad Mini  $329  1024-by-768 resolution at (163 ppi)

* ppi  "Pixels per inch or PPI is a measure of the number of pixels displayed in an image. A digital image is composed of samples that your screen displays in pixels. The PPI is the display resolution not the image resolution."   (http://desktoppub.about.com/od/glossary/)

(To learn more about ppi, go to About.Com (http://desktoppub.about.com/od/glossary/g/PPI-Pixels-Per-Inch.htm)

If you are looking for a comparison, look no further than the non back lit Amazon Kindle Keyboard and Kindle Touch.  Both display e-ink wonderfully in sunlight, but the display is made for this type of resolution.  Both have resolutions of 167 ppi.  A fourth generation iPad costing over $300 should not be on par in resolution with either a $69 or $139 device which are the respective prices for the Kindle Touch and Kindle Keyboard.  Granted, one will do a lot more with the iPad Mini than with a Kindle, but if you are going to tout the excellent reading experience, any PPI < 200 should not even be considered for long term casual, let alone technical reading.   It's just not a suitable device to do this.  Additional eye strain will ensue when reading as it did with the glaring screen resolution of the iPad 2, which I own.

Perhaps the advertising gurus at Apple will tout the ECO-System that Apple has, along with the automatic scaling of current apps to the new display and screen size; or  tout the iPad Mini's excellent form, relatively fast chip and convenience.  Perhaps.    But what cannot be touted with version 1 of this device is the aspect of long term reading.  This is just not the device to do that.  And for this I am afraid that I will have to pass on the iPad Mini for my own kids who were initially excited about the device, but who are now, for the reasons that I have just explained,  sad and disappointed.  You see, this device would have doubled as a textbook holder for about 3 thick textbooks which are also available online.   Add to that, the iBook store and Amazon's Kindle store having all of the books needed for their English and Drama classes and that large back pack would have been downsized.

Not to worry kids, we all know better than to buy version 1 of a Tech Product.   Version 2 may give us everything that we really want.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

iMessage - A Real Game Changer.

I always knew that iMessage was a game changer, but I never really realized how much of a game changer it was until I traveled abroad.  During my travels, I had to turn off all cellular data and essentially use the iPhone as an expensive iPod, until I realized that a few apps would save me from ridiculous phone bills upon my return.

First, you should and must download SKYPE.  It is a necessity.  Without it, my phone calls back to the United States would have been over $1 per minute after all of the overage charges were assessed.  But iMessage, with its reliance on only WiFi*, which was available at a lot of the hotels, family homes and businesses made texting to and from many of the Caribbean and Atlantic Islands a real possibility.  Not only was it a wonderful addition to my armament, it was fast and free!   Although many in the Caribbean use an app called WhatsApp to deliver text messages, I was a little queasy about giving up my 500 member Contacts list to a third party developer while outside of the U.S.  What was nice was the fact that just about all of the people that I needed to contact carried iPhones.  It meant that even in small villages, I could still communicate quite easily with friends and family, as long as I had WiFi.  For those who did not have an iPhone, WhatsApp would have sufficed as well.

The wonderful thing about iMessage is its ability to be completely non discriminatory when it came to texting data.  I sent an 80 mbyte video easily to a family member during a diving trip without a hiccup.  And when I was ready, I used Skype to communicate with folks in London and New York.

Granted, I wasn't knee deep in the Amazon rain forest, for which this whole WiFi scenario would have been moot, but the Caribbean and Atlantic islands are immersed in intermittent WiFi - the quality of which is not equal unfortunately, but it affords a few free avenues of communication if you have a smart phone - and one particularly brilliant and flawless avenue if you have an iPhone.


Interestingly, for all of the chatter about Facetime on 3G/4G, I did not use it at all during my travels.  I don't know why, but it didn't really feel necessary.  Something I found rather interesting.  Perhaps not everyone is as interested in seeing you as much as they are in just talking to you.

*  Facetime was not available on 3G when I originally penned this article in August, 2012.

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Travelling abroad with an iPhone - Here are my must-have apps.

So, you're stuck in the Amazon rain forest and you would like to communicate with your family to tell them that you will not be home for a while.   What do you do?

Well, unfortunately, I hope that you purchased a satellite phone for that particular bit of travel, because an iPhone isn't going to help you.  But if you are a little more sane and go on vacation where there is at least some semblance of technology, then your iPhone will suit you just fine.  As long as you remember to find a wifi hotspot and download a few apps before you go.   Now, the "before you go" reference is very important.  There are some hotels in the Caribbean that have significant restrictions placed on their outgoing internet service.   Some have Certificates that interfere with the App Store so that you end up with messages, after intermittent and spotty wifi service that state:  Unable to download app.  Attach device to the computer to complete download.   

This happened a number of times to me while in the West Indies, but I soon found out that going to another area wifi provider resolved the issue.   What is nice is that the App store is available from any where in the world and so too is iCloud.  So if you mess up your address book, you can log into a computer and retrieve it from Apple.

On my recent travels abroad, I found myself having a need for certain "Don't leave home without it" Apps.  Below is my list, which is no where near a full list, but should provide a start if you are going abroad:

1.  SKYPE.

                 Trust me on this one, download it and pay the pennies per call that they offer.  AT&T and Verizon will rip the shirt off your back if you go for their international rates.  And God help you if you decide to use the text messaging options of either carrier.   If you have wifi available, Skype is amazing.

2.  WhatsApp.

                Although I did not use this app, due to not wanting to reveal my address book, the app is found on almost all iPhones in the Caribbean.  It uses wifi to deliver texts to just about any phone on the planet, regardless of whether it is linked to a wifi or 3G connection.

3.  iMessage.

               Standard with the iPhone.  Advantage is that it sends multimedia and text messages to anyone with iMessage on their phone.  Disadvantage:  Only sends/receives multimedia and text messages to/from anyone with iMessage on their phone.  Yes, it is another Apple walled garden product.  But boy does it work well.  I sent an 80 mb video to a friend in the States in less than 4 minutes over a relatively slow wifi connection.   You do need wifi as noted above.

4. Star Walk.

               Yes, I know, you're asking yourself, what are you doing?   Well, I really loved this app, because on many of the islands that I travelled this summer, there were no factories and on many cloudless nights, I could actually see constellations.  Not being Carl Sagan, I used this app to identify many of the stars.  While looking at Vega, I was able to see a number of shooting stars.  My kids were impressed at this life changing event.  But it was made all the more possible by this app.

5.  SayHi Tranlate.

              Fantastic and actually works abroad in a hotel where everyone but you speaks fluent Spanish or Creole.  There have been a few other apps in this genre, but this was the one that I discovered first.  I would venture to say that this is an app that I must have at all times with me.  Brilliant technology.

6.  Dropbox.

              So you've taken a number of brilliant videos using your incredible iPhone.  Where do you store the information?  If you've got an iPhone, HD video is 1mb/second roughly.  If you leave the U.S. with 6 gigs free, you will be down to 1 gig before the end of day 3.  So where do you store the video?  Well, the first thing that you will want to do is make sure that wherever you store the video, it will NOT be compressed.  Many of the online services, including the brilliant and pay requring SMUG MUG compress the video, despite allowing for infinite uploads.  Dropbox has been the only place that I have found that will save your documents without compression.  Additionally, I would strongly suggest bringing a laptop, jump drive or 320 gb small portable disk drive or iPad to offload your videos if you have a large video library while on vacation.  This was something that I had to do eventually due to the slow wifi and the large amounts of data that I ended up with using video.   Dropbox is good for 2 gb. (Why the big deal about compression?  See addendum below).

7.  Shutterfly.

Gratuitous Doggy Picture :)
            I was always a big fan of KodakGallery for uploading files, but with its banishment, I have chosen Shutterfly to store my vacation photos. Like Kodak, they do not do videos, but they have a nice uncluttered file system that I can always go back to.  Editing on the computer is easy when you get back to the States and the uncompressed files can be renamed in batch, making it easy to import into iPhoto, Aperture or Lightroom.  The new batch upload feature makes this a wonderful addition.  As a plus, if you don't want to download and send photos, you can direct people to certain areas to view your photos.

8.  SmugMug (Camera Awesome)

         Another photo storage site, but you have to pay for this one.  They lack the batch upload feature on the iPhone, but the sharing and security on this site is second to none.   This is one that many Pros use, but it is not as easy to navigate as Shutterfly.  The one feature that this one has however, is the ability to take a photo and (with wifi available), have the photo go directly to SmugMug for storage.  Neat.
Please note, that the link is to Camera Awesome, the app made by Smug Mug.  The Smug Mug App, which was their first app still does not have batch uploading and is quite flaky and slow, even on a fast wifi connection.  It requires a lot of set up from the computer.

Camera Awesome is a much better application with a lot of very nice features for taking photos and having them look near professional.  Download both, but you'll probably only use Camera Awesome.  Don't forget that you will need an account with Smug Mug to do anything, but you can upload your photos to other sites as well. 

So there you have it.  Your next travel trip should have at least 5 of the above if you plan on using your iPhone for most of your filming and photo needs.  Feel free to comment and leave suggestions below.



When using HD cameras, the idea of adding additional compression to your image is something that you want to avoid.  When you import your document to use in a movie editing program such as iMovie, iMovie HD or other software, the act of compressing the file BEFORE IT IS UPLOADED will degrade the video quality substantially.  Remember that when the software has finished adding its effects, it will - depending upon what you use as your final output - compress the video further.  Over compression or multiple compression will lead to washed out colors (particularly Red) and a video that lacks the sharpness that HD offers.  You will especially notice these nuances in night time filming, where there will be a lot of noise and the black colors begin having white grains in them.   So, it's better to save your videos uncompressed if possible.  Of course, sometimes it's not possible, but if you can, go the uncompressed route.

By the way, compression on the iPhone takes a lot longer as is seen when sending a digital image to the cloud (ie. SmugMug and others)The phone must compress the file and then send it in its reduced form and size to the cloud for safe keeping.  A full 5 minute video sent to DropBox uncompressed is a lot faster than a full 5 minute video sent to SmugMug where 20 minutes of compression takes place on the phone before the transfer begins.

So, as I have suggested previously, bring storage with you.  Your laptop etc should suffice. 


Monday, July 9, 2012

Assistiveware and iOS combine to help patients with disabilities

This is one from the archives, written a few months after the iPad was released.  I needed a few permissions before posting, but after getting them, I forgot to hit PUBLISH.  So here is an old story that I hope will encourage many to see iOS devices in a different light. 

AssistiveWare has created a series of software platforms for use on all iOS devices called Proloquo2go.  If you are not versed in what this company does, then let me explain the advantages that this company has just produced for a vast majority of people.

Previous example of an early stand alone assistive device.

Stroke victims, patients who have communicative disorders, spinal cord injuries, congenital disorders and many of whom are wheelchair bound have difficulty in communicating with the public.  Basic needs that we - the ambulatory and vocal -  take for granted are difficult for these patients - especially children with developmental and physical disorders.  Take the concept of saying "Yes" for example.  For us, it is easy to open our mouths, nod our heads, raise a hand with a thumb gesture etc.  But for the paralyzed and those who cannot speak or comprehend fully this is not possible.  This is especially true in children with developmental disorders.  This is where assistive devices come into play.  The main drawback to many of these devices is the cost, which can be quite prohibitive.  (The cost link will take you to the planning stages, while the Prohibitive link will take you to an actual cost center chart for such devices in a nursing home environment).

Enter Assistiveware.  This company uses iOs devices to produce software that is intuitive to people in need.  As the pictures from their website show, the software is quite similar to other stand-alone devices costing thousands of dollars. 

For patients with disabilities, the device + software has been reduced by as much as 1/3rd. For example if we look at the Software (which is not cheap, but available on iTunes for $189.99 and the iPad hardware at $499.99) for just under $700 one can get an Assistive Device that has other features built in.  Not to mention that in a family setting, the device can double as an entertainment device as well.  In addition to this, let us not forget that if you own a copy on your iPad, you also own a copy on your iPhone/iPod Touch.  Thus the software can be taken everywhere and transported to other handheld devices.

This would also be a great tool in a Doctor's office for patients who cannot communicate well.  It could serve as an entry point, even for patients who speak a different language. But more importantly, it serves as a wonderful conduit for people with disabilities, particularly children who are struggling to communicate.  Another fantastic deployment of the iPad, whose mere existence was questioned back in february.

*Some images used are taken from Assistiveware.com with permision.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Magnificent 7: A brief look at Jack Of All Trades Software....

HP Officejet Pro 8600 Plus e-All-in-One CM750A#B1H


Software  is the bane of our existence on our Smart phones.  It is what separates one phone from another.  But Software is nothing if all it represents is a way to make money for the developer and to have the user engage in mindless banter.   As a Physician, I am often looking for simpler ways to do things  - Recalling trivial facts, important formulas, dosages of medications in age specific populations etc.  In the past I used my Palm Pilot, but the iPhone (and for that matter, the Droid and other Smart phones) has set the bar so high that it is a wonder how I ever lived without the device. From work to play, the smart phone, and for the sake of simplicity I'll constantly refer to the iPhone since it created the genre (yes, you could argue Palm),  we have all been transformed, changing the way that we do things, from looking up directions to asking questions.  

But outside of this I look for medical reasons to use this device as well.  That's where things get a little more difficult.  A lot of so called Medical Apps are "Health" Apps, oriented towards patients.  Some of the Medical Apps are still rudimentary first generation Apps, transported from Palm to the iPhone.  For example iSilo hasn't really changed since its Palm days.  A few Apps have been a bit more innovative, but require a major leap of faith due to cost.  $50-$90 is a large leap of faith for an App.

And then there are the Apps that are not really medical, but can be used in a myriad of situations.   I love these Apps the most and I call these the "Jack-of-all-trades" Apps.  Here is a listing of my newly cloned Magnificent 7:  Jack of all trades apps:

Say Hi 

 This, to date, is the most innovative and impressive App for language translation that I have ever seen.   I discovered it completely by accident, looking for something else.  Say Hi is an App that has an interesting twist.  Instead of typing your phrase in English, you speak your phrase into the microphone and watch as the dictation comes up in near perfect English and the translation to whatever language you choose occurs simultaneously.

The dictation element is smartly handled by Nuance, while the translation is done by the company.  And I have to tell you it is very accurate.  In response to a question that I asked recently, I was told by a company representative that the company has developed its own "sauce" for the translations so you are not looking at a clone of Google Translate.  In terms of accuracy, I cannot believe it.  I would say easily 99% most of the time and 95% for a brief period.   It even understands Medical Spanish.   And yes, "Dos Cervezas por favor," was easily translated to English, making it a perfect travel App as well :).

iPhone Screenshot 4I wrote about this App earlier.  A real game changer that will transform the way many simple Apps are made and distributed.  I do not think that it will challenge the official App store in any way, but it is definitely a game changer.  This is still, in my opinion, a proof of concept App showing you that it is possible to create a simple App for yourself without spending any more money or having any knowledge of Objective-C, the programming language of iOS - the operating system of the iPhone.  There are some draw backs, including storing your stuff on someone else's server; not being certain how much private data you can leave in the App and as someone pointed out, not knowing if the data stored in your App is searchable via a search engine.  This is especially true for address book Apps that are easy to make on the iPhone with the MyApp software.   Another weakness is the inability to create standard, stand alone non web Apps.  But for simple tasks, such as a web based bookmark or a simple address book or even a simple company web app to introduce your company, it's quite good.   The finished product, the App is also accessible in all mobile phones, not just the iPhone.

A full detailed report to follow on this game changer. 

Addendum:  I was just informed of a competitor called App.cat.  I haven't used it yet, but it looks interesting also. 

DescTweetbot has been around for a while and really, if you have an iPhone you are essentially wasting your time, your patience and your mind looking at any other App to cover Twitter.  There simply isn't anything on the market that comes close to this App.  It is perhaps the best App ever written for Twitter on the iPhone.  I know, you think it's Hyperbole, akin to my Video Player blog posts, but seriously, don't waste your time downloading anything else if you have an iPhone.  This App actually makes tweeting fun.  And the developers continue to improve on perfection.  Unless you use Twitter none of this makes any sense.  But this weekend as I traversed this great country of ours I was able to see the goings on at other conferences and "hear" about other events, books, presentations etc.  Twitter is amazing.  And it is all the more amazing when you have an App that understands Twitter and how Twitter works.  

In terms of its medical uses, I have run into several authorities on medicine and have actually asked for advice in some instances.  Every one's essentially equal and many people on Twitter are quite receptive and willing to answer questions.  If I'm on call, I can find someone else in the USA or somewhere far such as Australia or New Zealand who is on call too and we can commiserate together.   Amazing.

It's also a great place to meet fellow physicians and people in your medical circle.   Surprisingly, when I joined Twitter I had no intention of having any physicians follow me, but many did, along with other non physicians.   I am really happy that they did and I am really happy that others follow me too.  It's innovative and a fast learning environment.   

One of the greatest things about Twitter is the early dissemination of news.  I figure that we will know the results of the General Election long before CBS or any of the other networks get around to it just by looking at the trending data.   If you haven't signed up, you should.   Tweetbot makes everything easy, even translating your foreign tweets for you. 

iPhone Screenshot 5

Okay, there are a few Apps that you should always have around on your iPhone or on your Desktop.  This is one of them.  The other is Evernote, although you may have some issues with your Firewall, if you have that cumbersome Websense Firewall at your job.   Instapaper is a brilliant App that essentially saves your articles in a stripped down format, leaving only the articles and the pictures.  No ads and no cumbersome pop ups or pop unders.  Well worth every penny that its founder and programmer Marco Arment charges for it.   A great application for journal articles.  It is also found in Tweetbot.

iPhone Screenshot 4If your company allows you to store articles, documents and other stuff in your personal cloud, then Evernote is brilliant, inexpensive cloud storage.  However a serious caveat here.  Don't go around storing patient information on Evernote, especially if it is easily identifiable.  That is a no-no and totally HIPAA non compliant.   The potential to do this is why it's banned in my neck of the woods.   Other than that, it's a brilliant App.  Especially useful for colorful brochures, manuscripts and long form documents.   It was one of the first truly utilitarian cloud Apps that made it easy to store and access documents from your smart phone, desktop and just about anything that could access Evernote.  In 2009, I truly felt that my data could be accessed from anywhere and I wasn't tied to a computer.  

Week Cal

iPhone Screenshot 2Have you ever wished that your calendar could do more than just show dots on a screen?  Did you know that if you open up the calendar App that comes with your iPhone and turn it sideways, you will get an overlay view, albeit not perfect, but present anyway so that you can see if you have any scheduling conflicts.  Not a lot of people know about this and that's not your fault.   Apple doesn't exactly broadcast that you can actually do this with the Calendar App. 

It also doesn't mention, because there isn't an ability to do so, the ability to view your calendar in many different ways, from task, mini-month, week, among others.   Nor does it have emoticons and other color changes for meetings, major and minor alerts, URL, Contacts and notes.  That's because Week Cal is able to do all of these things.  More importantly, the makers of Week Cal, didn't just make a calendar program that stands alone with no integration, it is fully integrated into the indigenous calendar App that Apple provides with the iPhone.  So, if you make a change in Week Cal, it shows up in the Calendar App.  If you make a change in the Calendar App, it shows up in Week Cal.  It's literally seamless.   If you want to make just a simple entry for say tomorrow's grand rounds there's no reason to use Week Cal, just open up the regular Apple Calendar App and do so.  But if you want to make that Grand Rounds occur every second Thursday of the month, you will need to have Week Cal. 

Oh, and do you support a major Football/Soccer/Hockey team?  Or do you need to know exactly when Apple will report something big?  Or does your company have a RSS calendar of events?  You can subscribe to premium calendars in Week Cal and get an overlay of upcoming games and announcements right in your calendars. 

Worth every penny.  I cannot live without this one. 


iPhone Screenshot 1This one's been covered elsewhere, so I won't belabor the point here.  But if you have an institution like mine that changes its passwords for logins at least once per month and you have a plethora of numbers and logins to remember ( 15 for me at any month), then you need to invest in 1Password.  It's a little expensive on the desktop side, but your peace of mind is so worth the investment. 

1Password will also log into websites for you if you have the login set up, thus thwarting those pesky key loggers.   Another one that I cannot live without. 

So, do you have a Jack-of-all-trades pick?  Why not list it here and share it with the world?   Remember, Jack-of-all-trades refers to the app being able to be used in a number of different occupations and not whether the app does a gazillion things (ie. AppBox Pro). 

Thanks for stopping by...


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Innovation City or Kickstarter is amazing....

I Love KickStarter

This week has been tremendous.  I find very little in the way of new software, hence the lack of writing for a while.  But a new website, actually one that is a few years old now, has caught my attention and raised my awareness about the ingenuity of people who continue to work in garages.  I have taken the time to join Kickstarter and support a few projects that have been offered.  The beauty of the site is that the crowd becomes the Angel Investor in a small company.  Usually the company has failed to attract the financing needed to go the extra yard.  To be honest, there are a lot of companies out there that are not ready for prime time.  Whether they are not ready or because they have an audience that is too narrow - so called niche players, the usual  Angel Investors - mainly from Silicon Valley - will not pay attention to them because the reward/risk ratio is too low.   This is where crowd sourcing comes in and where Kickstarter leads the way.

The way this works is that you invest as much as you can and if the investment hits one of the goals specified - which could be either a letter of thanks (usually a $1), a gift or the actual product itself - you receive a response from the inventor.  The one caveat is that the company has to make its goal otherwise no one gets anything.   And you, the investor lose no money.  Your credit card is not touched.  It's a relatively fool-proof way of garnering an investment and getting your company off the ground.

So, I became a crowd source Angel Investor in a Start up company, along with others.  It's really interesting to see, because the investing also applies for non techie stuff as well, such as movie makers, book and song writers who offer thanks in their credits.   You get to choose what you want to invest in.   Of course, there is some room for fraud, but a recent attempt at fraud was rooted out "by the crowd." Apparently, with crowd sourcing, the companies that are in tech at least have a track record of some type and people know and trust them from previous endeavors.  If something sounds fishy, there is a loud and cantankerous roar of disapproval in the comments section.  Remember, nothing gets paid to the seller/creator, until/unless the goal that was set from the onset of the offering is reached.

With that introduction, I want to tell you about a few products that I am absolutely crazy about:

1. The Pebble

Photo-littleFirst of all, I never thought that I would fall in love with something like this.  I hate watches.  I haven't worn one in over 10 years.  But this company appears to have made a watch that will deliver on the pr
omise of a changeable device that can make you keep your phone tucked away some where.

First of all, although The Pebble is a stand alone watch, its main functionality is its direct link to the iPhone (or Droid).  The functions can be programmed and the company is touting the ability for the watch to receive SMS messages via the phone.  Unfortunately, SMS messages are not allowed to be transferred to the watch from the iPhone, but will work with a Droid.  But I believe iMessages can.  So you can receive an SMS message, information on who is calling you, while being away from your phone.  There is no microphone, so the phone is basically using information gathered from itself and sending it via short distance by Bluetooth to the watch.

The downside is that the company will use Bluetooth 2.0 instead of 4.0.  Although the power consumption is lower with 4.0, the older Bluetooth will be used for the initial model, unless things change.  A full listing of things that the watch can do are listed below:



Apps bring Pebble to life. We're building some amazing apps for Pebble. Cyclists can use Pebble as a bike computer, accessing the GPS on your smartphone to display speed, distance and pace data. Runners get a similar set of data displayed on their wrist. Use the music control app to play, pause or skip tracks on your phone with the touch of a button. If you're a golfer, feel free to bring Pebble onto the course. We're working with Freecaddie to create a great golf rangefinder app for Pebble that works on over 25,000 courses world-wide. Instead of using yourphone, view your current distance to the green right on your wrist. These apps will be the first, with more in the works!


Pebble can change instantly, thanks to its brilliant, outdoor-readable electronic-paper (e-paper) display. We've designed tons of watchfaces already, with more coming every day. Choose your favourite watchfaces using Pebble's iPhone or Android app. Then as the day progresses, effortlessly switch to the one that matches your mood, activity or outfit.


If you need to stay on top of things, Pebble can help with vibrating notifications, messages and alerts. Dismiss a notification with a shake of your wrist. Don't worry, it's easy to disable all notifications.
  • Incoming Caller ID
  • Email (Gmail or any IMAP email account)
  • Calendar Alerts
  • Facebook Messages
  • Twitter
  • Weather Alerts
  • Silent vibrating alarm and timer
Android users can also receive Text Messages (SMS) on their Pebble. Unfortunately iPhone does not expose this data. Have any suggestions for other notification types? Leave us a message in the comments!


Want your watch to tell you when your next bus is leaving? Maybe you're jonesing to see your compile status or recent github commits.. Think push notifications, directly to your watch using the data connection on your phone. Want to check-in on your watch, or create an app that can monitor your sleep? Pebble can send data from the accelerometer and buttons back up to the internet.
Pebble can receive simple alerts and notifications from if this then that (ifttt.com) or our web-facing RESTful endpoint. More adventurous developers can use the Pebble SDK, with its Arduino-like abstractions and simple C structure, to gain full control of the watch. Multiple apps can run on Pebble, along side watchfaces and regular notifications.
  • Load apps using Bluetooth 
  • 144 x 168 pixel display black and white e-paper
  • Bluetooth 2.1+ EDR
  • 4 buttons
  • Vibrating motor
  • 3 axis accelerometer with gesture detection
  • Distribute apps via Pebble watchapp store
Detailed SDK specs are available on our Pebble Dev Blog. 

2. The Slingshot

This was my second buy.  I think that I laughed this one off for a long time until I watched the video of the device.  The Slingshot is essentially an iPhone bracket that can be used to stabilize your videos as you take them.  I though that this was tacky, until I saw the other uses for the device.  These included various flexibility options to make the Slingshot bend in different shapes for difficult shots; disconnecting the handle portion of the device enabling the bracketed iphone to install upon a standard Tripod - That was the deal maker for me!

You have to see the video for this, particularly if you feel that this is a bit of a joke, as I did initially.  In addition, I could not believe the price --- $14, including shipping and handling.  I've seen worse, offering less for more!  I couldn't help but donate $14 to the project.  Charles Waugh, the founder of the company is quite a character as well.   I'll write a review on this when it arrives this summer.


Pop over to Kickstarter to see all of the fun:

The Slingshot http://kck.st/H7NbML
The Pebble http://kck.st/HumIV5