This Week in Tech 544
Leo Laporte: It's time for TWiT: This Week in Tech! Great panel for you. Michael Nunez joins us from Popular Science, Serenity Caldwell from iMore, Jason Hiner from Tech Republic. They're back from CES. They've got the latest, the greatest, and the silliest CES gadgets. We'll also talk about the future of Twitter, Facebook, and a whole lot more. A big TWiT, coming up next.
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Leo: This is TWiT, This Week in Tech, episode 544, recorded Sunday, January 10, 2016.
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It's time for TWiT: This week in Tech, the show where we cover the latest tech news. And of course, the post CES show is always a mixed bag, made up of people who are exhausted and have nothing more to say about CES and who didn't go and are still bright eyed and bushy tailed. That's Serenity Caldwell in this case. You didn't go, right?
Serenity Caldwell: I did not go this year. I managed somehow to get off.
Leo: I just got off a boat, so I'm rested but completely confused. I'm stil going like this. But look who is back from CES. Jason Hiner, he's a little...
Jason Hiner: Hello! Did we start?
Leo: Editor in Chief at Tech Republic. Welcome home.
Jason: Thank you, yes. Back from Las Vegas, the worst city in the world.
Leo: And brand new to the show, Michael Nunez. I'm real glad to have him. He's the technology editor at Popular Science, one of the great magazines of all time. It's great to have you, Michael, thanks for joining us.
Michael Nunez: Yeah, thanks for having me. This is great. I'm glad I could join today.
Leo: You just got home.
Michael: Yeah. So if I'm a little rough around the edges or if my ideas are incomplete, I'm going to apologize in advance, because I'm still adjusting to the Eastern time zone.
Leo: We got to wrap this up because the golden globes is on tonight and I can't wait to see what a hash Ricky Gervais makes it all. He's already tweeted by the way. I can't show his tweet on the air because it's impolite. But I can show his picture. Minutes ago, Ricky Gervais who will once again host the Golden Globes and he says time to get up get dressed and perform for a bunch of humorless, and then he says a very bad word indeed. Setting the stage for what should be a very good Golden Globes tonight. The awards themselves are ridiculous, because its the Hollywood foreign press association, but it's the only award show where people are drinking before during and after, so anything goes. I bet Serenity, you seem like a Golden Globes enjoyer.
Serenity: In my former film life, it was definitely something where my film friends and I would sit around and snark. It's a ridiculous show.
Leo: It was Christina Warren who got me into it. She was the first who told me I had to watch it because everyone was drunk.
Serenity: The Globes is the perennial cluster fan. To put it in polite context.
Leo: Nicely said. CES, which stands for nothing in more ways than one. It used to be the Consumer Electronics show, and then no one will understand it CEA, it doesn't stand for anything. It's just CES. CTA?
Jason: Consumer Technology Association.
Leo: They don't like the word "Consumer Electronics?"
Jason: I think it's been more consumer electronics sounds likes your VCR from the 1980s. They're trying to embrace the fact that everybody who comes there, the venders who come there are much broader. It's really dominated by the car companies, this year, by the way.
Leo: Which is interesting, because the Detroit auto show will be this week, which would be the natural place for the car companies to go. Except they're trying to pretend that they're not cars.
Serenity: They're computers on wheels!
Michael: I think that was the major sentiment this year, was that the Detroit auto show would be a great launching pad for new 2017 models and sports cars from American brands, but the more interesting stuff is what is happening in the cabins and the motors of these vehicles. For instance, the BMW I8 or GT some of these future cars were rolled out into the CES showroom. People like me, who are generally not that interested in cars were actually attracted to these really well designed computers on wheels. It's a weird time to be looking at automotives.
Leo: The best of CES, and I'm sure according to Engadget, was the Chevy Bolt. Not Volt. Bolt. Electric vehicle with a 200 mile range, which is a lot for an electric vehicle. 30,000 dollar price tag. What's missing?
Serenity: About a hundred miles.
Michael: A nice design would be on my list. Obviously it's great. These electric vehicles that can drive a long distance are awesome, but I don't understand why they can't look like normal cars. This thing is closer to a minivan.
Leo: They do all have to have swoopy dopy lines, like they're trying to make them look a little futuristic.
Serenity: They're copying the Honda Fit, they're copying in some ways the Prius. Some of it is design. It's Chevy trying to follow the trend instead of set the trend, but whatever. Also, you have to have something that is easily manufacturable on a grand scale because if they're selling this as our consumer electronics, consumer EV car, this is the car that is affordable for everyone, not just affordable for people who want to give EV a spin or people who have enough money to pay for TESLA, they need it to be cheap to manufacture. Chances are they're still spending a butt-load on battery.
Leo: This is like a Tesla, the battery is all on the bottom, which gives it stability for handling and tipability.
Jason: It was clearly the biggest thing of the show.
Leo: Bigger than the Samsung refrigerator with a camera inside? Bigger than that? That got a lot of attention, for reasons I won't understand. It's not the first CES Samsung has introduced a computer refrigerator. It's probably the tenth. And you close the door and the light stays on because you have a camera.
Michael: I wouldn't consider that one of the best things I saw.
Leo: No. If this was your first CES then maybe. But...
Michael: Smart refrigerators. I think people are genuinely interested to see how quickly this stuff is going to be put into our homes so it's nice to take a look at what is going on in those things and to pay attention to how computers are being embedded in everyday objects, but there are very few people that would actually tell you that was one of the biggest pieces of news. I think it was all about virtual reality this year and self-driving cars and some of these new car features.
Jason: The car thing was the biggest leap forward. For the past few years... I wrote a story about this called "Self-Driving Cars won the week at CES 2016," in the past years they've talked a little bit about these things, but a lot happened this year in the space of EVs and autonomous. in 2015, Google said they're going to have one ready for consumers by 2020. They think there will be consumer autonomous vehicles by 2020. Tesla had their big 2500 dollar download that turned your Tesla Model S into a self-driving vehicle.
Leo: This weekend Elon Musk said by 2018 your S will come to you automatically.
Jason: He upgraded his prediction this fall. We're going to have the technology ready in two years, it'll take longer with regulations before they're in the hands of consumers, but the technology will be ready in two years. There's also the rumor, not just rumor, it was based on the guardian found these public documents that showed that Apple was working on an electronic vehicle that was also autonomous and so I think the auto makes felt a lot of pressure because of that, and you saw it in spades. Every single one of them was demo ing or talking about their path to an autonomous vehicle.
Leo: It's news when Samsung makes a refrigerator that comes to me. That I'd buy. Come to me.
Serenity: I want food that will travel in tubes and but itself into the fridge.
Leo: I'm on the waiting list for the Tesla X, the falcon wing, the hawk wing, but now I'm looking at this Bolt. It's about 1/3 of the price, it's got almost the same range, it has car play or Android auto which the tesla does not. I think that's pretty important for me. And it has a rear view mirror that is a camera.
Jason: Much safer, much wider angle and fuller view.
Michael: Leo, do you really want to be seen driving something that looks like the Chevy Bolt?
Leo: Do I want to be seen in something where the car doors go like that? I don't know.
Michael: This thing looks...
Leo: You don't like the bolt.
Michael: I don't. I don't like the design. I don't understand why they couldn't shape it like a Toyota Camry or something.
Leo: Make it a Sudan. This is a cross over. It does have al ot of luggage space. What did they say? 500 cubic feet? That can't be right. That's the size of a cruise ship.
Jason: One thing that got overlooked is the Kia Sole EV. I put a picture of it in the top of my article. The Kia Soul EV autonomous is being tested on public roads in Nevada. It's an EV, it's autonomous, it's got a real design because it's based on a design that's out there, and it's going to be...
Leo: You think this is good looking?!?
Jason: It's better looking than the GM.
Leo: It looks like a shoe!
Serenity: I hate the box.
Jason: The box thing is in right now.
Serenity: Not my style. Ultimately, for EV, my big things are not necessarily style. I love looking at stylish cars, but when it comes to buying a day to day vehicle, what I care about is reliability. I would love, I've been driving a Prius for the last year and a half, and I've been spoiled by gas mileage and I will never go back to an all gas car, however pretty it looks. But I would love for my next car to be straight EV, but it needs 250 mile range.
Leo: Electric engines are more reliable, but the batteries are still a little bit of an unknown.
Jason: This is what I said in my article, Serenity. Cars have always been about style, and they're still about style to a degree. Obviously we've been talking about it, but the future of cars, this is what I wrote, future of cars is going to be defined more by software and algorithms then by steal and rubber. These cars of the future are going to be shells for big data and algorithms. Of course the infotainment systems as well, Cloud. It's going to take until we get to.... we're not going to get that EV and that autonomous vehicle, the really great ones until there's 5G. The processing power is stronger. It sets up well for all these chip companies, because these cars are going to need and incredible amount of code and an incredible amount of processing power. They already have a lot. Ford said this week that the F1 50 has a thousand lines of code in it. How much does that have? In their booth where they had their self-driving testing vehicle, and they said a lot more than that. They didn't even know.
Leo: 150 thousand isn't that much, really. Windows is 150 million. There's two things here, there's electric vehicles which are furthered by Federal Regulation and emission rules. That's being pushed. There's also autonomy. In Nevada, state government is a mixed bag on this. Nevada is autonomous friendly, California just made a rule that said Autonomous vehicles not only need to have a steering wheel a gas pedal and a brake pedal, but a driver in the car who is licensed to drive an autonomous vehicle. They've made it very difficult.
Jason: California too.
Leo: If Nevada has self driving cars, big deal. What you really want is Urban areas. We talked yesterday about this on the New Screen Savers with Sameed who is a long time auto watcher. He was of the opinion that autonomous vehicles are going to happen, but in an interesting and unique way. That Urban areas, he said in London you already have a no drive zone where you have to pay extra to drive in this area. What is going to happen in these dense Urban areas, is you're going to have an autonomous vehicles zone. The real problem with the vehicles is not the software, it's the humans driving the other cars. What's going to happen is you'll have autonomous only areas, you'll arrive at the edge of this area, get out of your car and an Uber will pick you up, and that's what you'll use to navigate these Urban areas. That makes a lot of sense to me. Go ahead, Serenity.
Serenity: It's heightened public transit in a way. Except we're all going to be paying for it. It's essentially taking a bus or taking a train, except now it may be your car that's autonomous or you may be restricted to a park and ride, but instead of parking your car and getting on a train, you're getting into an Uber or a Lyft. I can absolutely see that happening. I'm not opposed to California's regulations at present time, because when we think about current autonomous vehicles, we're not in a position where anybody feels completely comfortable having autonomous vehicles on the road.
Leo: It's going to be a challenge for me to get in a living room on wheels and let it drive me somewhere. It's going to be a scary moment that first time. Not so scary in a congested urban area where it's not going very fast, it's almost like getting in a train or monorail.
Michael: Uber's presence in New York is everywhere. Everyone I know is using Uber several times a week.
Leo: There's some argument that all these extra cars on the road is one of the reasons why New York congestion has gotten worse, not better.
Michael: Of course. If you have a lot of autonomous vehicles chatting with each other, traffic will decrease and right now, Uber is door to door service. If I wanted to get to my office to get ready for this podcast to get an Uber from my apartment to my door at the office...
Leo: Already, by the way, it's probably cheaper to do that than to own a car. Right? Car ownership is very expensive in NYC, because you have to park. Insurance!
Michael: Insurance is higher than anywhere else in the world. I think that a lot of people are working in the city and using Uber regularly, it's obvious because companies are already tracking this information and they're using it in services like Google maps and other software. So, my version of the future is that, but without the driver. Instead of having these small talk conversations with people who have been driving for years... in the future I'll be able to read a magazine or relax or do something on the phone.
Leo: Serenity, as a woman, you might feel safer in a driver-less vehicle.
Serenity: I mean, there is a real advantage to being picked up at 11 or 12 at night and not getting into a car with a stranger. When I'm in San Francisco, Uber is a necessity if you're getting around and you're a guest in San Francisco. Lately I've requested the black cars as opposed to Uber X, because they're licensed delivery companies and it's more safe. Uber is interesting to me. I wish I knew the origin of this fact, but I was in a conversation with a friend that told me Uber makes a map of the city every time it drives around seven seconds at the beginning of 2015, and they're trying to get that down to four. When you think about how fast being able to map a city when you have that many cars on the road and what that might mean for autonomy and working with roads. It's incredible.
Michael: It's the private companies that are gathering all this information. Don't forget. Ways is another company that has a lot of traffic information and all of this is going into the hands of private companies that have business interest in lowering traffic and getting people to their point of destination faster, so I think that it's an infrastructure issue. On the technology side, it's all there. Our GPs are fast enough to process this information, there have been live demonstrations of autonomous vehicles for several years now and they're only going to get better. The price has to come down for the average consumer and obviously they have to start making these things for everyone to buy...
Leo: But that's what's interesting. It may also be the end of personal car ownership. Right? It's a luxury.
Jason: It'll be a huge luxury. When I talked to the auto makers, what we started this conversation with, the first place you'll see these is in fleets. They're going to be really expensive, they're not meant for average consumers to start with, unless you're a Tesla owner.
Leo: I'm thinking this might be the last car I ever buy.
Jason: It very well could be.
Leo: Partly because I'm really old. They won't let me drive a car in a few years.
Jason: It makes absolute sense to deploy them in fleets. Especially in urban areas.
Leo: Underlining that though, Michael said, every time I've talked to autonomous experts, including a few years ago, they've told me the technology is there. That's not the problem. It's psychological, it's governmental. We've got the technology to do this.
Jason: Honda was talking about this vision they had for commuter areas. The super fast lanes with autonomous vehicles that sense each other. They could go 100 to 120 miles per hour and only autonomous vehicles could go in there. Humans' reaction time isn't fast enough. People would be able to commute up to 150, 200 miles a day if we could have that kind of infrastructure.
Leo: Predictions anybody? How soon is this going to happen? Is it in the next decade? 20 years, 50 years?
Jason: 5 years.
Michael: I disagree. I think it's going to take up to ten years. The product cycles on these cars are ridiculous. The fact that they didn't gesture control is obnoxious in my opinion. That's something that's been available on the X Box and on Wii.
Leo: You want to drive your car like in Minority Report? I do gestures in my car, but I don't think they would help drive.
Jason: In a number of states, they're going to be on the road.
Leo: It's really hard with technology to predict. Partly because of insurance companies, but also the number of road deaths. Thousands of road deaths.
Jason: 33,000 road deaths a year in the US.
Leo: This is going to be a bigger and bigger issue.
Serenity: I think that once the tech is here without a doubt in five years. I think what's going to dictate what happens in cities and what happens in rural areas is largely based on how they show regulators that the tech is a) safe b) can make the moral decisions of let's say I'm coming around a cliff and a kid walks in front of me. That's the scary part, right? You're going around a cliff, a kid walks in front of you, do you save the tiny human and go off the cliff, or do you kill the tiny human and save yourself? That's a moral dilemma. Those kinds of things... that's an obscure case, and we're talking about a rural situation, but those are the kinds of things that regulators have to think about when they're saying we'll allow autonomous cars everywhere. Everywhere means the random remote rural areas.
Leo: It won't happen everywhere, but I will be riding in a congested urban area in the next five years, I think.
Serenity: Especially if you're going to San Francisco.
Leo: San Francisco, Manhattan. Yep. London. Let's take a break. We'll come back with more. That's just one story from CES. I guess the most important story, but there's VR goggles and Segways and all sorts of stuff to talk about. We've got a great panel too. Michael Nunez is joining us for the first time from Popular Science, he's their technology editor. Great to have you, Michael. You fit right in. You're a natural! Also Serenity Caldwell, our favorite Roller Derby artist, explainer of all things Mac N Tosh at iMore.com, I didn't know, is this new? Managing editor? Is that a new title?
Serenity: I've always been the managing editor of IOS when we reduced staff a little bit.
Leo: Renee is the editor in Chief? Wow.
Serenity: Renee is editor in chief, also editor at large working with some of the over-arking stuff.
Leo: You know what that means. He's in the Jason Snell career path.
Serenity: If you didn't know that about Renee Ritchie already.
Leo: That's good for you, Serenity. Get that dead wood out of the way. Also with us, Jason Hiner who is an Editor in Chief at Tech Republic. This might be politically charged for you, did C Net give up the best of CES to Engadget?
Jason: That was last year.
Leo: AOL spends a lot of money on CES, and of course Engadget is AOL.
Jason: Tech Crunch as well. They had huge studios for both...
Leo: The irony is CES is less and less relevant every year, but their coverage bigger and bigger.
Jason: C Net had huge coverage too. C Net was all over everything. They still have a bigger stage than Engadget.
Leo: At the end of this modern age with the Internet, these big trade shows don't have long for this world. Yet, CES seems to buck that trend.
Michael I would say it was busier this year than it was last year. There are a lot of haters out there that say CES isn't relevant, but I would say it's the best place to find demonstrations of the most cutting edge technology. You might not get your new iPhone, but you are going to see things like gesture controls in cars and virtual reality headsets and a lot of different augmented reality headsets. If you're able to see all of that, you should be able to make determinations about when to expect all of this stuff to hit consumers. To me, it's helpful. I still find it useful. There's a lot of noise and a lot of useless stuff, but there's also a lot of vision for road maps.
Leo: It is one place you can go to see it all, right?
Jason: Which is the worst part of it too, because you can't see it all.
Leo: And when it comes to TVs, you have to see it in person. You can't judge if HDR is going to make a difference unless you see it in person.
Serenity: Pictures of pictures don't really mean anything. The cool thing about CES to me is it always feels a little bit Walt Disney-ish. It feels World of Tomorrow, lets' go to the Expo world's fair. Those don't exist anymore, they're an old world thing, but CES feels like a world's fair to me where all the best and brightest of technology from big giant companies to little bittie places in Chenzen come together and say here's what we've been playing with. Of course there are companies that don't go to shows anymore, but they have their own events and it's very easy to find out what Apple's doing next because Apple will let you know when it's ready to announce something.
Leo: You don't need to go to CES for Apple.
Serenity: No. But if you want a wide swap with what are the trends in home automation, what are the trends in cars this year? What are the trends in television? It's a good show to get trends and see goofy stuff. Last year when I was there, there were so many robots, so many adorable robots. I may never have any of these in my house, but I'm so glad that I get to walk among rows and rows of ridiculous robots and see an R2D2 that can be a beer fridge.
Leo: That's the stuff that makes me think I don't mind this.
Jason: I made some robot friends.
Leo: You like the robots. I've seen you shaking hands with Asimo. We're going to take a break, and we're going to come back. Those of you returning from CES do not listen to this next commercial, it might put you to sleep. The rest of you, I want to tell you about my mattress. Casper mattress! Not only do I sleep on a Casper mattress, I slept on Casper pillows last night. They sent me some pillows as a Christmas gift. I'm in heaven. They're nice. Casper is an online retailer of premium mattresses made in the USA and because they don't have showrooms, it's a fraction of the cost. They come to you in a box, really surprisingly small box, you open it up and you got a mattress. Combining Latex and Memory foam. I almost don't want to say that because people have pre conceived experiences from other mattresses. The way they've done it is amazing. It's cool, it breathes, it's not too wooshy. You've got to try it, and you can for a hundred days. Risk free, you can buy it online, they'll send it to you, you open it up and you put it on your bed. If you feel nervous, keep your old mattress around. Anytime in that first hundred days, you call them and say you don't like it, they take it back. They actually donate it to a local charity. And you're back to where you were at no cost to you. They refund every penny. That's to reassure people. You're not going to do that. You're going to love this thing. It's so much better than trying a bed in a show room. Sleep on it! Casper mattresses. 500 dollars for a twin. They're biggest mattress, 900 bucks. Compare that to a mattress at the store down the street. This is a very good deal. It's even less if you use the offer code TWiT at Casper.com/twit. We'll take 50 bucks off any mattress. Some terms and conditions do apply. Find out more. Casper.com/terms. I don't know what they're putting in those pillows, but they are phenomenal.
Serenity: I need to try them.
Leo: Really? I bet I can get them to send you a pillow.
Serenity: I got the mattress. I have a crazy story about the mattress. We came back from vacation and the cat had gotten locked in our bedroom and peed all over our old mattress. We had guests coming, we were looking at a Casper anyway, hey Casper can I get this in 40 hours because I have a guest coming and I'd like to her to sleep on things. They express shipped me a thing and now we have Casper mattresses.
Leo: Aren't they the greatest? Nice service, nice people. I got a cat story for you. As you know we were gone for a week on a cruise and day one of the cruise we get a call from Lisa's nephew who is watching the house. The cat has disappeared. We spent the whole cruise worried about the cat, they never found the cat, they put up posters everywhere, we got back, no cat. Lisa is a dedicated cat owner. She went out every night, every day looking. Wednesday she hears some meowing. The cat is on the neighbor's roof. She's been on the neighbor's roof for ten days, couldn't figure out how to get down, the neighbor said we heard meowing. She survived though, even though pouring torrential rains. I don't know. Cats are interesting critters. I sympathize with your story, Serenity. They can get everywhere. She is now an indoor cat. Lisa has decided she's a dumb cat. Some cats will not go places they can't get back from. This one, no. It's not her first time. She got locked in the neighbor's garage earlier. Moving on, CES open panel. What else did you see at CES? Let me start with you Michael, since you are our virgin. What else did you see that was worth noting at CES this week?
Michael: Big question. I would say by far and away my favorite part of CES was trying out the new virtual reality headsets so there are three major ones, obviously Oculus, one from Sony that connects to the Playstation. It was great to try all those out and see how they compared against each other and to see where some excelled and where others didn't. All three will be released later this year, which is exciting, and I think it's going to be a big deal among gamers. Maybe not for the average consumer, but anyone who is playing first person shooters on an X Box One or a Playstation is going to want to try gaming at the next level, which is in virtual reality.
Leo: I was a little disappointed because a couple things. First of all, I saw that announcement. The Oculus Rift was available. I think a little more than we expected. $599.
Jason: One of the founders said 350 last year.
Leo: A little expensive. They also mentioned that the touch is not until the end of the year. And I tried all my Windows PCs. None of them are strong enough for the Rift. We're going to build a PC for it. At least a grand. We're going to make the ultimate VR gaming machine. Then, after all that, I found out I could have got a free one, I am getting a free one because I kickstarted it way back when. A little pat on the back to Oculus for doing this. 20,000 or early adopters who kicked in money and kickstarted it before Facebook bought them and I was one of them and we'll all be getting a free Oculus Rift, so that's nice. Now I have two.
Jason: Do not ever be in the same room as a person and have one of these headsets on.
Leo: Why not?
Jason: You look like a dork. You'll run into each other. At CES, these things were everywhere. The worst was Samsung had this big theatre. I have a photo of it on Instagram. When I posted it, I was like this will never make you put on VR headsets.
Leo: It reminded me of the pictures you saw in the 50's of people in 3D theatres wearing those stupid red and green glasses.
Jason: You see people looking around and looking up. You just look ridiculous when you're wearing one of these things and you see people taking videos and they're playing the games. It's socially they're not meant to be used in company, I think. Only virtual company. One thing that was clear to me is these things aren't meant to be used in company, unless they make one that looks like a Daft Punk Helmet.
Leo: Then you really will be up all night to get lucky. Of the three that you tried, Michael, did you have a favorite?
Michael: I've been following these closely over the past year, I and I would say the new HTC by the second generation, they're developer kit was the most impressive. They added this front facing camera to the VR headset so there's an element of mixed reality. If you were playing in your living room and there was a coffee table in front of you and a chair and anything else you didn't want to bump into, the VR headset would show you virtually that you're getting near it. It makes it more accessible to people. That headset also has spacial recognition, so you mount these little IR blasters and it's tracking your movement in the room, so you can walk around and grab things in the virtual world and you don't have to worry about bumping into furniture or anything that you wouldn't want to knock over. Obviously their partnership with Valve makes it attractive to a guy like me because Valve makes some of the best video games in the world and they're one of the best gaming distribution platforms in the world. That part shouldn't matter going forward, especially once people start sinking 1200 dollars into their VR machines and are going to want the most powerful ad most immersive experience.
Leo: You liked the Vive the best too?
Jason: We have a writer and editor, Aaron Carson, who has been writing about VR all year, has tested all of them, recently was at HTC at their headquarters up in Seattle and tested their recent one, and then tested the new one they released at CES. Her conclusion is the same. In terms of Technology, the Vive is the best one. The hand controllers... I don't think it's frame rate, it's content. It's also controllers. They have the controllers like the touch controllers, but they already have them. They're going to come out when the device comes out in the first half of the year. She said they're easier to use. She tested the half moon controllers, the touch controllers. They're much more complicated to use, there's more buttons, more going on. This is what we care about, obviously is uses for gaming and uses for training and presentations.
Leo: Yeah, but isn't it gaming that's going to propel this forward? The gamers are the ones that are going to spend 500, 600 bucks on this as an accessory.
Jason: Enterprise will too. You actually saw this at CES. There were these Smart Home companies and it was really hard, especially at Show Stoppers to show off their whole product, but they gave you a VR headset and that showed their product and it was quite effective. So for uses like that, I think you're going to see... also healthcare is all over this, education is all over this. There's a lot of potential uses for these things. HTC is playing that game. They're off to a better start than Oculus. They're taking that more seriously than Oculus is. They're really focused on gaming, which is what those guys have been focused on at the beginning. I think HTC has a lot of potential too. HTC as a company has some troubles. It's not as godo a patron for the Vive as Facebook is for the Oculus, so you have to keep that in mind as well.
Leo: Vive was the best gaming product at CES, according to Engadget. The Vive chaperone, is that it?
Michael; The Chaperone is what I described as the feature that prevents you from bumping into things in your living room. Chaperone comes into the game. It doesn't fully remove you from virtual world. It's a serious problem when you're asking people to set aside, most people don't have a room that they can dedicate to virtual reality. To accommodate for that is a smart move. Just back to this gaming versus enterprise thing, I think there will be Enterprise use cases for a lot of VR headsets, but for the most part, you're going to see augmented reality and mixed reality used in a lot of enterprise settings. For productivity, virtual reality because it's so immersive, I think in a lot of cases, you're going to see them used for entertainment, whether it's watching a movie and feeling like you're the only guy in the theatre or the war zone in a first person shooter or even light drawing, which is a really fun thing to do in the Vive because you can walk around your drawing and see it in 3D. That stuff is really exciting but those are all forms of entertainment. They haven't demonstrated how you might us this to practice surgery. That will be available, but what I have seen is a lot of big companies are more interested in translucent displays that allow you to merge digital information with real world information. If you're performing surgery, you might have digital information overlaid on your practice dummy or on a human, as you're watching someone do surgery. VR, because of the controllers and limitations with how you use your hands and how you react with the virtual environment, I think for the most case, there's a limitation there. You won't see a lot of productivity uses for these VR headsets. There's certainly social VR.
Jason: You'll see it, but I agree. AR is the biggest opportunity. We saw that at CES too. Sony has AR enterprise glasses. Some other companies as well.
Leo: Microsoft Hololens not there, right?
Serenity: They showed their most recent iteration of the Hololens... they've stopped going to CES. The Hololens isn't ready yet.
Leo: So I asked Michael, Jason, your pick for anything at CES? Besides VR and electric vehicles, what else? How about TVs? Did you see any TVs you liked?
Jason: No. I was giving some tours at CES and of course that's the thing everybody wants to ask about because it's what you think about when you think about CES. If you're in the market for a TV, don't buy a 4K right now.
Leo: There's no market and there's no standard.
Jason: Exactly. It's going to be 2 years before it's a thing. Who wants to watch House of Cards in 4K anyway? It's one of the only shows in 4K and it's not well suited to it. I think TVs were cool, they look incrementally better than they did last year, but it's hard to get excited about it because it's just going nowhere for awhile. I wasn't excited about the TVs. Obviously this is a hazard because of the stuff I focus on, more and more the stuff behind the scenes that's powering these is amazing. Things like the data and the AI, deep learning that's powering all these experiences. CES has finally caught up with this. It's more about experiences and it's more about what you can do with the technology and what the technology does for me or my society. CES is still a gadget show, but more and more, the great example was Intel. If you go to Intel's booth, you'd be hard pressed to find a PC there. You couldn't find a PC in that booth.
Leo: Why does Intel still go to CES? Apple and Microsoft don't.
Jason: I think partly because Intel's chips are powering more and more of these things.
Leo: They want to be mobile, they're not mobile yet.
Jason: They have a brilliant future in the car, and home automation and smart devices.
Leo: I will say this about Home TVs, I was talking with Scott Wilkinson, our home theatre guy, the good thing is the new HT Alliance introduced a new standard called Ultra HD premium that includes encompasses the broader color gamut, encompasses HDR. At least provides a standard that you should be looking for. The Bluray alliance has announced a bluray player. 500 bucks. Not bad. Movie companies have said there will be a hundred titles available for this new HD premium. We're making some progress. For ten years, I saw the first 4K TV at CES ten years ago. Forget 3D. I want 4K.
Jason: A really good 4K looks more 3D than 3D. You can see the contrast, the edges of things...
Leo: But there's no content. Somebody in the chatroom said if my TV died today, wouldn't I want to buy a 4K tv? Even today. Get a cheap HD TV.
Jason: You can get an amazing TV! In two years these 4K TVs are going to be obsolete, especially with the stuff we saw this year with HDR and other things. These ones here are going to look like puppies in a couple years. If you're in the market, you need a tV now, get a really great 1080 P TV.
Leo: In a couple of years, maybe the OLED HD premium TV will be affordable. Didn't they look good?
Jason: The things that I liked was the rollable screen from LG, I saw one from Panasonic and one from LG where it was just glass. The whole screen was glass. LG did this thing where the whole thing was glass, and all of the electronics in the speaker was in the base of the thing. If you hang it on your wall, that base folds under a little bit. That was beautiful and very cool. Panasonic had one where it was on a bookshelf. I posted on Instagram and part of the bookshelf was a piece of glass and it was a screen over top of it and at times it was opaque and at times it was clear and you could see what was behind it. It was super cool. I enjoyed that a lot. As much as I like 4K, most regular humans can hardly tell the difference between SD and HD. They're still watching SD channels...
Leo: Why are you watching the SD version of the Golden Globes? You could watch them in HD!
Michael: A lot of people are vastly underestiating how quickly 4K will be available to people. There might not be a lot of 4K content right now, but don't forget gopro is shooting in 4K, YouTube is accepting it. Netflix will be creating all its series in 4K, so I think that at this second, there's not a lot of content, but I don't think it will take long for that content to come out. Sure House of Cards is dated and not exciting anymore, but there will be a new Netflix show that you're going to want to watch in 4K.
Leo: But will streaming 4K be anything great?
Jason: No. It's a non starter.
Serenity: It's just going to slow down your Internet to a crawl and be too compressed for you to really tell the difference.
Leo: Did either of you take a ride in the one man drone quadcopter? It's called the e hang. I don't know if that's a great name. Whatever you do don't step out of it until the rotors stop.
Michael: It doesn't seem well thought out. It looks cool and is in theory interesting. I'm not going to be...
Leo: Were there any little drones worth mentioning?
Michael: DGI is ahead of the trends. They released a new drone ready 4K camera I think. Some of the controlling aparatuses are easier and better, but for the most part you're seeing the same approach to these drones, they're all quadcopters. They may or may not have a camera. At this point, a lot of it is about control, whether it's partially autonomous or fully autonomous, how the camera connects to the drone and whether it's on a gimbal that can be fitted with an icon or a cannon or just DJI. I think DJI is ahead of everyone. It's a modular design, they make it pretty easy to spot those things in and out. A lot of the drones have four propellers and can fly relatively high.
Leo: You covered the wearables. Including this. The HTC under armour healthbox.
Michael: This one is pretty interesting.
Leo: It's a scale activity tracker and a heart rate monitor all in a box.
Michael: A lot of people associated FitBit with the Health Tracker, Polar with the heart rate monitor...
Leo: Under armour has gotten aggressive with this.
Michael: They have to be. They want to compete with the top American Sports companies. Adidas and Nike. This is one way to do it. There were three companeis that worked on this. It's being marketed under under Armour, but HDC designed the hardware, they worked with a consulting group, Wolfgang Muller to identify this as something people would want. I think they're correct to do so, these products exist in other companies, but they're not in the same ecosystem, for the really fitness crazy active person that wants the full spectrum of health information at their fingertips, I think UnderArmour and HDC have done a good job of packaging it. I wouldn't say this is a technological breakthrough, all of this stuff has existed the past few years.
Jason: The data on the back end, because it's actually powered by IBM Watson, it gives you this advanced analytics. It tells you how you're doing and it has a virtual coach and virtual trainer. It's triangulating all your data sources. UA record is the name of the app.
Leo: Under Armor has been on an acquisition spree on health and tracker apps. They want to be the place for all of this. They bought my Fitness pal. How about FitBit? I pre-ordered immediately a FitBit watch.
Serenity: It did intrigue me up to the point where some of my coworkers saw it in person. It's ugly and it's big. This is the thing that frustrates me about SmartWatches. It has assisted GPS.
Leo: That's confusing. It says it has connected GPS, an Apple Watch has connected GPS.
Serenity: I think the folks behind FitStar are doing some great stuff, I have both of those apps.
Leo: Fitstart is built into this, right?
Serenity: FitStar does great stuff and FitBit does great stuff, but right now it's too bulky. It looks gigantic on a dude's wrist, when you put it on a lady wrist, it looks like you're wearing a cuff.
Michael: It reminds me of the original SamSung gear.
Leo: All right. I'll cancel my order.
Jason: Definitely cancel it. The thing that the other problem is the best thing it has going for it is 200 bucks. It's basically like an Apple Watch for 200 bucks, so that's good, but the design looks too much like the Apple Watch and the Apple Watch isn't all that much of a looker by itself. I wear one. I wore Fitbits for a long time, so I've been a fan of both, but the design is not good, and these things are still... they have to have some kind of style component if you're going to wear it around all the time. This is an epic fail and you saw it when the stock dropped 13 percent the same day.
Leo: The Wisdom of the crowds. My order is being shipped, so... I guess I'll be wearing that. Ships in March though. Can I cancel this? Your order is in the process of being shipped. Maybe I can cancel it still. Please, I don't want it.
Serenity: CES Guilt buying!
Jason: On the other hand, Samsung released their Smartwatch that has 3G in it. You don't have to pair it with a device. You can pair it, but I was talking to somebody from Samsung. What about battery, that's what everybody is going to ask. He said this was probably 7:00 at night. He showed me where he was wearing one. I've been up since 6 AM and I'm at 40% battery life. People saying they get two days out of these. I don't get two days. Here it is. He was easily getting a full day out of it. He says he uses it a good deal, he works out.
Leo: I like the ring. That’s the one with the ring in its face.
Jason: I do too.
Leo: I like that.
Jason: I think the ring looks better. It looks more a classic watch. Now, the 3G version is thicker because it has that radio in it. But it is small. Like Serenity was saying that some of these watches, you could not imagine you know, a woman wanting to wear one of these things because they’re so large. This one actually is smaller. It’s smaller than the previous Gear watches. It’s also smaller than the Moto 360 which is a nice looking kind of watch.
Leo: Do you have to have a Samsung phone to use this or can you—you don’t have to have a Samsung phone.
Jason: No, you don’t. You can but you, it can do—I think you might have to set it up with them. Actually I should qualify that. I think you might have to have Android to set it up.
Leo: That’s not a problem. But some of the previous Samsung watches are part of you owning a Samsung Phone.
Serenity: Oh, specifically a Samsung phone.
Jason: Oh, specifically.
Jason: I don’t believe so.
Serenity: No, that doesn’t.
Leo: I have a few Samsung phones lying around.
Serenity: I really like—
Michael: I think it runs on special Samsung software. I don’t think it’s Android Wear.
Leo: It’s Tizen, right? No, I’m sure it’s Tizen.
Michael: Yea, it’s Tizen it’s not Android.
Serenity: Yea, yep, it’s customized. You know I like, I like what Samsung’s been doing with watches. I think that it’s a different direction in some ways than the Apple watch is going and then very similar in others. I still think it’s a little too big. But they have at least been making strides. I remember trying on, I tried on the LG Urbane earlier this year.
Leo: Oh, that thing was huge.
Serenity: Yea, well the Urbane with the Moto 360 with the first Samsung Gear and all of them, I was wearing them up here to make them even look remotely like they belonged on my arm. And even so I was just kind of like, “Uh.” It’s hard, right, because you want to be able to put a certain amount of information on the watch. And I won’t deny, 38mm, like I’m wearing the 38mm watch.
Leo: That’s the little Apple Watch.
Serenity: Yea, it’s the little Apple Watch. And it fits my wrist well. But there are definitely times where the space crunch gets to my ability to actually interact with the watch. It’s a little harder to tap on than the 42mm and some of the Gear watches that I’ve used. But I still, like there’s got to be some way for smaller wristed folks, ladies and dudes, to be able to enjoy these without feeling like they have to wear it boyfriend style. And that doesn’t even work for health sensors because if you’re going to wear it that big, the health sensors can’t even tap into your wrist data, so, I don’t know.
Jason: Along those lines, Huawei also released their new watch at CES. The Jewel, which actually there’s 2 models, the Jewel and the Elegant. And they say that they were aiming these specifically at women. That they were trying to make it smaller and they’re trying to make it more, have more style options available. I still felt they were pretty big. I still thought they were about the same size as the Samsung even though they had said that. So but I thought it was, it was interesting of them to say that they were aiming these specifically at women when they made the announcement at their big press conference there. And it is decent looking. It’s very similar looking to that, to the Galaxy Gear S2 that we were talking about just a bit ago. But it is also I think, kudos to both of them for I think some steps forward in style for both of those 2 watches anyway.
Michael: One thing that I noticed at CES was just the level of redundancy with a lot of these wearables. There was a lot of excitement surrounding wearables prior to the Apple Watch unveiling. And I think that sort has calmed them down quite a bit in the technology community. They had a lot of these wearables featured in The Sands which is sort of this secondary part of the entire convention spot.
Leo: Whoever make it into The Sands, that’s ridiculous.
Serenity: The Sands was huge in wearables in 2015 last year when I went, so I’m not surprised.
Leo: I’m just so grateful to you guys for risking life and limb.
Serenity: Oh, it’s fun. You know what? It’s exhausting but I did kind of miss not going to CES this year.’
Leo: Did you?
Leo: A little FOMO going on.
Serenity: Yea, again, like I said before it’s a little bit like Disneyland for new tech but I don’t know. I’m glad that I didn’t go but—
Leo: : I changed my attitude. I’ll be honest with you. I thought it was crap and now I—by the way, Amazon’s Echo kind of sneakily became one of the stories at CES. Amazon wasn’t there but a number of companies announced integration including Ford. I think that Echo is rapidly becoming my favorite home tech product.
Serenity: It’s a fun little thing.
Jason: I’ve heard so many people say that. Everybody I know who has it loves it. I don’t have it. We have one at the office obviously that we tested.
Leo: Turns out that the voice interface is the best interface. And it just needs to talk to all the automation stuff. And then you just tell the house to do what you want it to do and it’s fine.
Jason: The Ford thing was really interesting. Again it’s like data and you know, natural language processing which is also in this deep learning and that kind of thing. I saw this in so many products everywhere this year and I was glad to see it. That it’s so much about experiences rather than just sort of raw hardware kind of thing. As much as even we’ve been talking about the raw hardware and style and all that which is great. But design and experiences are what define CES as well as every other bit of the technology world now. And you know, a lot of this is powered by other sort of back end systems. And that’s why—I asked this of the car makers because I was like, “If that thing, if that car is a shell for a lot of cloud and data and services and that, then you know you guys have some pitching up to do.” That’s why Ford—not Ford, why Google and Tesla, that’s part of their DNA already. And you guys don’t have that as part of your DNA and so you have some work to do. And several of them kind of acknowledged that and clearly with all the stuff they were doing at that time, they were trying to show that they have the chops to do it.
Leo: Let’s take a break. More to come with our panel. Jason Hiner from Tech Republic is here. Serenity Caldwell from iMore.com. Michael Nunez from Popular Science. And I think we’ve done CES. We’ll move on to other topics including Peach. Because that’s all I did this weekend. But first a word about shaving. I did shave. Of course because I have a nice Harry’s razor with that great Harry’s shave cream. I fell pretty darn spiffy. Guys, 2016 is here. It’s a new year. It’s a fresh start. May be time to stop overpaying for a great shave. Harry’s was started by 2 guys passionate about creating a better shaving experience by delivering great blades and shaving cream directly to your door. They also are nice guys. They give 1% of their sales and 1% of their time back to the communities that the serve. So the way Harry’s decided to do this, its classic startup. They said, they investigated. “How do we make better blades? How do we make lower cost? We’ll buy the factory in Germany.” This is a factory that’s been creating the best shaving blades in the world for more than 100 years. Harry’s owns it. So they’re selling direct to you from the factory. They designed these blades for performance for beautiful design and engineering and sharpness. Over a million guys now have made the switch to Harry’s. And it’s easy. You go to the website, it will take you less than 30 seconds to place an order. You’ll have a great customer service experience. Start with a Harry’s kit. I use The Winston set. And I love it. Oh, they’re still selling The Winter Winston. I’m glad. That’s a beautiful copper handle. There’s also The Truman which is less to start. Every kit comes with a handle, 3 blades, the travel cover and of course your choice of Harry’s great foaming shave gel or Harry’s cream. And all of this is going to cost you about half as much as razors, the big brands in the drugstore. Look at the Truman set. $15 dollars, $15 dollars and in fact I’ll get you $5 dollars off your first order when you use the offer code TWIT5 at Harry’s. H-A-R-R-Y-S. Harrys.com. get started with Harry’s. Hey for $10 bucks you can get a real—and by the way, this is not a sample size of the foaming shave gel or the cream. It’s the full size too, the full size bottle. Harrys.com. use the offer code TWIT5 and save $5 bucks off your Harry’s purchase. I saw you, Serenity, on Peach. Aren’t you on Peach?
Serenity: I am. Yes, I joined pretty quickly. As I was saying before the show, I have user name terror. I want to make sure that my—you know, you never know what’s going to jump and what’s going to not.
Leo: So you just have to get your name everywhere, right?
Serenity: Yea. Pretty much, pretty much. So I mean granted not many people but the Swedes are signing up with Settern but just on the off chance—
Leo: Oh, Jason just joined. Jason Hiner brand new on the—I have not decided whether to friend everybody who asks me or not. So what is, so I’m just going to say no. What is—
Serenity: I started it first, friending everyone and then realized pretty quickly, you get, I mean you have this nice little list of people where you have your own thing and then you also have this list of individually, you have to tap on people to look at them.
Leo: There’s not timeline on this which is kind of interesting.
Serenity: No, it’s just kind of, it’s just kind of people. And they’re out of order, too. It’s not like the newest things on top.
Leo: It’s chronological. Oh, no, isn’t this the—
Serenity: It was. I thought it was chronological but then I occasionally found people that were 23 hours ago so I’m not really entirely sure how it’s organized.
Leo: Mine is still chronological but who knows. You’re right, yea.
Serenity: There’s so many—see there’s like 2 days and then it jumps back up to 1 day. I don’t know. It’s odd. It’s a fun little distraction. I will say that. Christina Warren, bless her soul, told me about it on Friday and I’m like, “Ok, what is this nonsense?” And it feels a little bit like a Twitter Tumblr timeline.
Leo: With a little Instagram thrown in.
Serenity: Yea, it’s fun. I enjoy the fact that you can draw with it and it’s very cheery. I don’t know if I like not being able to talk directly to someone other than through Facebook-like pokes. That’s a little strange. But I do, I do really, like I love drawing with it. I love sending like ridiculous photos and GIFs. The GIF engine is pretty fun.
Leo: So what’s really interesting about this, it was created by Don Hoffman who was the Vine guy, right? He sold Vine to Twitter.
Serenity: Yea, co-founder.
Leo: Co-founder of Vine. What’s interesting, I mean first of all, there’s a million messaging platforms. But this isn’t exactly messaging.
Serenity: Not quite.
Leo: It’s not exactly Twitter. It’s kind of its own thing. And I think it bucks the trend in the sense that it came, first of all it came the Friday at the end of CES. So that’s perfect timing for the tech elite to try it and get involved in it. And then I thought really interestingly, it has a lot of hidden nooks and crannies. Like it’s got unusual features that you don’t really find. For instance you can, if you’re in the message section you can type certain keywords. I’ll type G-I-F and then you can search for an animated GIF and I’ll say, I don’t know, what should I say? Cakes. I don’t know, I don’t know what I’m going to get. And it will search—a lot of messaging platforms including Facebook’s Messenger will do this kind of thing where you can—and I’m just going to put that on my timeline because wow, that’s awesome. And so it’s full of stuff like that. But you know, it’s also, people can, you can write stuff and people can comment on it. And so there’s threaded commenting as well. It’s got, you can post your battery life, your ratings, the date, the time. It’s got a very interesting and kind of almost eclectic set of features. Maybe it’s just a flash in the pan but on the other hand what it really reminded me of is how anxious I am and how I think I’m not alone, to get rid of Twitter and find something better than Twitter.
Serenity: I don’t want to get rid of Twitter. I love Twitter.
Serenity: But I am, but yea. I’ve been using Twitter since 2007 now, 2008.
Leo: Yea, me too.
Serenity: I don’t know. I enjoy short form messaging. I think there’s something really, really unique about it in the context of all of our other very multi-media heavy social networks. But there’s the question of what does Twitter want to be. And if Twitter goes anti-chronological I think I might have to leave it.
Leo: 10,000 characters they want to do, right? That’s the next thing.
Jason: I want somebody to buy Twitter and give it back to the community. Like give it, like this is not going to happen obviously, but you know like give the API back to the developers.
Leo: Oh, wouldn’t that be nice?
Jason: That would be amazing. Like if somebody wants to put you know, their whatever $20 billion dollars, I can’t remember how much it would take, but I have actually thought about this. Maybe Bill Gates. No, he has more important stuff that he’s working on. Somebody—
Serenity: Curing hunger or something.
Jason: Exactly, curing malaria. And fixing schools. So somebody but it. And there’s all kinds of billionaires that waste their money on all kinds of really dumb irrelevant things. But Twitter and give it back to the community.
Leo: It’s market cap is $13.84 billion. It’s expensive.
Serenity: No big deal. That’s like 13 Power Balls? Something like that.
Leo: It’s less than WhatsApp. WhatsApp ended up being, WhatsApp ended up being $22 billion?
Serenity: It’s crazy.
Michael: Yea, and they’re growing [bad connection]. I sort of have a love and hate relationship with it. It’s obviously—
Leo: Everybody does. You’re not alone.
Michael: Yea and there are, there are definitely important things that it provides. Certainly anonymity being one of those things. I think you don’t have to be a verified user whereas Facebook will move more and more in the direction of making everyone verified. And so I think there’s like—there’s a part of me that liked the hacking aspect and sort of the shady aspects of Twitter I guess, but I just don’t think that they’re commercially viable. Those aren’t the types of things that make you a lot of money and I think that Twitter as a company will see that in the long run. I mean there are other use cases that are important to you know, shared screen experiences or dual screen experiences, watching live TV. I’m sure the Golden Globes right now are trending.
Leo: Oh yea. I’ll be watching the Golden Globes on Twitter. Absolutely. Yea.
Serenity: Live snarking is the best part.
Leo: Live snarking, yea.
Jason: Live snarking.
Michael: Yea but what’s preventing Facebook from doing something like that? I mean in reality, Facebook can update in real-time. You can actually share more meaningful information because there’s no character limit and so I just don’t think that you know, Twitter reminds me of Groupon in a lot of ways. It’s like it was unique at the time but now a lot of people are doing what that company is doing. It’s just not, it doesn’t have any unique proprietary software of coding behind it. I think it’s just sort of, it feels redundant to me. It feels like---
Jason: The live internet though. Everything about Twitter is that it’s the live internet.
Serenity: It is live. And you feel it. And what I really love about Twitter and what I’ve loved since pretty much day 1—I was reflecting on this the other day where when I’m not doing technical related stuff I do a geeky podcast with Jason Snell of SixColors and we do a podcast called The Incomparable. And we did one on Star Wars: The Force Awakens which you know, is just a reoccurring thing. But a couple of hours after we posted it we ended up being able to interact with people from Lucas Film who were like, “Oh, yea, we saw or we listened to your podcast. We really like it. We wanted to compliment you on this.” And like that’s the kind of experience you’re not going to get on Facebook because of the, because of the way the friending works. You might get like a comment or a thumbs-up like from a page owner but you don’t necessarily know if that page owner is actually that person. It doesn’t, I don’t know, I feel like spontaneous conversations is what I love about Twitter. That 2 people that never met or don’t know anything about each other can have a human conversation like virtually face-to-face. And of course there are some downsides to that. There are still major harassment issue that Twitter has. But on the whole, it’s a really great platform for that. For real-time messaging, for real-time interaction, for interacting with your readers and for musicians and actor with their fans in a way that’s not so, there’s not so much—
Michael: They’re very informal. I mean I would say that. And yea, I think you’re right about sparking up random conversations but you know, outside of the media I think that most people aren’t looking to have those types of conversations. Like if you worked for a company and you’re using Twitter as part of your, as part of your job, whether it’s as a journalist or as a PR person, I think that that makes complete sense. But I just don’t think there’s a lot of value in having people tweet, you know, their favorite sports athlete or you know, any type of celebrity I think that more meaningful interactions will be available in the near future. We already have Periscope. We already have Facebook Live and I think interactions like that will be more meaningful than like 140 character acknowledgement of someone’s fandom or like you know, just tweeting at Kobe Bryant and saying like, “Nice slam dunk” or something like that. I just.
Serenity: Yea, see I agree with you on some respects because I think that most actors and most folks in sports are not necessarily using Twitter the way that a journalist may use Twitter. But I’ve also seen it in 2 very different communities. Before I was in tech I was in the web comics community and that’s a community that’s continued to thrive and pretty much any internet based community loves Twitter and thrives on Twitter.
Leo: Interesting. All right.
Serenity: Because that’s one of the major ways that you reach your fans and you interact with your fans.
Leo: So that’s a different perspective than I have. So that’s a good thing to know.
Serenity: Yea, and actually a great example is, I don’t know if you guys have heard of the musical Hamilton.
Leo: Yea. Oh yea.
Serenity: It’s kind of the hottest thing on Broadway right now. But it’s—
Jason: Maybe ever.
Serenity: Yea. The creator of Hamilton, Lin-Manual Miranda basically spent probably a third of his day when he’s not working on his future projects or on stage interacting with people, not just like “Thanks for the show, glad you liked it.” But just sharing interesting behind the scenes tidbits about the show, answering questions from fans. His musical director and arranger Alex Lacamoire answers questions from people almost constantly. And it’s a very interesting dialogue. But I don’t follow many celebrities, true celebrities on Twitter because as you said, it’s a very one way experience and if you want the one way experience you can go to Periscope. You can go to Facebook. But then there are people like Miranda or Amanda Palmer, Neil Gaiman is another example of people who actually take time to interact with people. Not to just like, “Glad you liked my book,” but actually answer their question or, “Oh, you made a funny point. I will expound upon that.” Meaningful conversations not just like, “You’re ok.”
Jason: I’m holding my Hamilton water bottle—
Serenity: Did you go? Have you gone?
Jason: No, no, no. No, I tried to when I--
Leo: He couldn’t make it to the show but he has the water bottle.
Jason: I do. I’ve got the water bottle. I stood in line. You know they have that lottery. I stood in line for the lottery, yea for Ham. So it was, there were probably that night 1,500 people in line for 21 tickets, you know, for the lottery. And the theatre itself only seats 1,300. So there were more people in line for Ham for those 21 tickets than could have fit in the whole theatre which is—that tells you how hot that show is. And it is also amazing. I mean you can listen to the cast album and the music is just phenomenal. It’s really changing Broadway and it’s changing—I know, it’s not a Broadway show. But it is, the way that they’re using technology has been significant. The way that they’re using social media particularly I should say. They’ve tried to make that, they actually had a technology snafu. They tried to make Ham 4 Ham the ticket lottery digital. And it crashed.
Serenity: It fails.
Jason: Yea, and so they had to go back to main.
Serenity: Over 50,000 people applied for the lottery. And this is just one day’s lottery mind you. And the only people who can apply are people who live basically within city limits who could get to the theatre within an hour of the lottery drawing. 50,000 people and it crashed the Broadway system because they’d never seen that happen before. And immediately Miranda et al were kind of like, “Well, so we’re going to go back to the other system while we fix this. But eventually we’ll like to go digital for the winter because it’s cold outside.”
Jason: Yea because they do a little, they know that people can’t all come to see it so they do a little 5 minute performance for you. They know that most people won’t get to see the show and so they come out and they do a little show. And then somebody YouTube’s it every time. And then Miranda re-tweets it whoever a good, the best sort of YouTube version of it.
Serenity: Yea, Howard Sherman works across the street from The Richard Rodgers, comes out of his office building and is friends with Miranda and he comes down and video tapes it pretty much every night. Those are crazy. And those originated on social—like those wouldn’t exist except for the fact that Miranda tweeted before the very first night of previews, “Hey, oh my God there’s so many people here. We’re just going to do a little thing because hey there are like 300 of you here and not all of you are going to be able to get out to the show.” They’re so cool. Like it’s such a neat way to incorporate social media into a Broadway performance.
Jason: Totally. And the performances are amazing.
Michael: But look at where the reference video is from. And look at where they’re posting these things to.
Leo: Instagram, yea.
Michael: Yea, they’re uploading the video onto YouTube or Instagram and then retweeting on Twitter. So I just don’t think it’s like ultimately that great of a broadcast network and I think even for things like live tweeting events, there will be better versions available in the near future when our TVs get smarter and when our homes are more connected, I just don’t see—I just don’t think the user interface is that great. And so I do like informal discussion but I don’t think that Twitter has figured out how to present the most meaningful information at the right times and part of that has to do with our commitment to reverse chronological of the waterfall of information but yea, anyways I’m a little bit skeptical about Twitter’s future. I just don’t think that they’re doing enough to stay relevant and certainly not doing enough to make their investors happy and make money.
Leo: It’s so interesting. I totally love your idea Jason of let’s just buy it back and open it up and bring back the API.
Jason: The API.
Leo: Because that’s how Twitter got there. And Jack Dorsey, come one. That’s all you have to do. And I understand it’s tough when you’re a publically held company because the shareholders are going to get peeved. But that does—I think that is the only solution that makes any sense is let its users determine its future.
Jason: I love the metaphor. It’s like the dial tone of the internet, right? It is the live internet and it’s not that it shouldn’t have some product behind it but if anything was meant to be open source, it’s almost like this thing could just thrive and do the kind of things that we’re talking about. It does need to change and it does need to adapt and it does need to get better and as other interfaces and mobile and things becomes a more part of the user experience that that needs to be part of it to. So I think the community could do it better than one company.
Leo: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Serenity: Absolutely. Well the funny thing to me always about Twitter is I don’t understand why they’re not doing more with their potential analytics in terms of they have access to all of this public information. You know it’s Facebook you have privacy settings. And you have a vast number of privacy settings because you share a lot of information on Facebook. Twitter I think there’s a goldmine of information on that service that I know that Twitter does sell some of their firehose to various services but I don’t understand why they are not the 21st Century Nielson. Where they have so much data on television, on movies, on musicals, on shows. The fact that they haven’t figure out, they haven’t gotten some really, really smart numbers people and be like, “Let’s build a program that essentially can sell all of this data, essentially previous data to people.”
Leo: This is a good example why a privately held organization or even a publically held company, actually especially a publically held company maybe isn’t the best steward to something like this. This should be a public service. Because if you had an API and you gave the firehouse to anybody who wanted it, somebody would build that.
Jason: Lots of people probably would.
Leo: Lots of people.
Jason: And then there would be all kinds of different things. I mean people are doing some of it now, but the kind of sentiment analysis—
Leo: Let’s nationalize Twitter. Let’s just nationalize it, just take it over.
Jason: There’s your title.
Serenity: Oh God. Let’s not turn it political.
Leo: Well, but you know what? I think that’s the solution. That you can’t--- I don’t see another company buying it as the solution. I think it could be a public, it’s a utility. It’s a public utility. It’s like the dial tone. What would be, what would be—that’s such an obvious correct thing to do.
Jason: Like what would it take?
Leo: What would it take?
Serenity: I wouldn’t rule out Jack Dorsey opening up the API honestly. Because there have been talks about it in the last year or so. Rumors mostly but I wouldn’t—Twitter has taken a very big about face in terms of its root, the way that it interacts with developers in the last year. I’m kind of hoping that that eventually means—
Leo: They’re going to have to really step out though because developers have been so burned by it that they really have got to convince them that this is a genuine move.
Jason: That would be so gangster if he did that though. If he just said, “You know what? We’re going to open this thing up. We’re going to become a platform again. And we’re going to build stuff on top of it and we’re going to invite everybody else to build stuff, to build their own sentiment analysis, to build their own applications.”
Leo: Doesn’t that make it more valuable for the shareholders ultimately?
Jason: I think it makes it infinitely more valuable. Infinitely more valuable.
Michael: Well you would think though. Yea, it’s definitely a big assumption let’s just say that it will for sure make the company more money but I don’t think it’s a far reach to say that Jack Dorsey would potentially open things up. I mean he’s been a big advocate for the programmers and the developers, where his background is—
Leo: It was Dick Costello who shut it down, who shut down the 3rd parties, right?
Michael: Yea exactly. And getting the founders of that company to even agree on a single idea I think has been at least from my understanding, a huge pain over the course of Twitter’s lifetime. And so you know, it’s no shock to me that Twitter’s having an identity crisis at this moment in time and I mean Jason, you’ve made a great point. The more open that Twitter has been in the past, the more successful and at least more, the more that I’ve been able to get out of it and I think that that would make it way more attractive to me and I think to more people. But yea, you really just never know what these publically traded companies. I mean consider My Space and some of the discussions that probably happened around that after it went public. I mean that thing tanked pretty fast and you know, I would say that Twitter doesn’t seem to be all that much different.
Leo: It’s an interesting—politically it is very interesting because increasingly social networks are more than a private company. They are really about, they’re the social common ground. The commons and they really should be treated as the commons because no one entity, no one business entity should control them. I think they should be open.
Jason: Remember when the Iranian, when there were those protests in Iran? And the US Government went and Twitter was about to run some kind of maintenance.
Leo: Yea, right at the same time. And said don’t.
Jason: Several of the governments went to them and said, “Please do not.” They’re like, “You cannot do this. This is one of the few ways that people and activists inside have to communicate with the outside world.” Because so much of communication was being shut down. I mean I think that was the moment that we all realized this thing is way bigger than what we originally thought.
Leo: The kinds of steps Jack has taken so far like maybe increasing to 10,000 characters, that’s not what we were looking for. What you were looking for was a wide open API and a firehose that’s available. Now I understand the problem with having the firehouse available, that’s the full stream, is that’s expensive. But I’m sure you could get, you know, support for making that totally available. Or just charge people for access. Charge them a reasonable fee for access. Because there’s so much value in that.
Jason: Yea, charge them for the amount of data that they use or something.
Leo: Yea, treat it like a utility.
Jason: That’s a dumb pipe. And the argument that they’ll say is that’s a dumb pipe, right?
Jason: There’s lots of dumb pipes that make a lot of money.
Leo: Dumb pipes, good. Dumb pipe is how you get innovation because then it’s a platform. An open platform.
Jason: And people build on top of it. Now it’s making me mad.
Leo: What about Facebook? Let’s talk about Facebook. You know all the growth, ok so I’m by the way now deleting Peach because that’s not going anywhere. But Peach is trying to do is kind of conflate Twitter and messaging. And it’s very clear that messaging is a very important platform. But I feel like Facebook is going to own this. There’s not much we can do about it at this point. Am I wrong?
Jason: The users, you know? They’re just like, kind of—
Leo: And that’s critical with messaging, right? You don’t want to, I used this analogy a couple of weeks ago. You don’t want to buy a phone that can only call 10% of the populous. You want a messaging platform that speaks to everybody if possible. There isn’t such a thing yet. But Facebook is the closest.
Jason: I held out on Facebook Messenger for a long time.
Leo: Me too.
Jason: And finally people kept messaging me and then I kept, I was tired of opening up the browser on my phone. So finally I was like, “All right. Forget it.” And I gave in.
Leo: I gave in. I don’t want to give in. And Facebook like Twitter you love to hate. It’s another one of those.
Serenity: It’s such a pain. It’s such a pain to have different apps for, you know.
Leo: Right. Don’t we want one app?
Jason: It is.
Serenity: Yea, Facebook in general frustrates me on a number of levels. I almost left about 4 years ago and then got sucked back in because of roller derby. And I’m still kind of, “Ah, it’s just…”
Leo: Facebook because of roller derby?
Serenity: Yea because of roller derby.
Leo: Sure (laughing).
Serenity: I have no concrete things to say except, “Ugh,” because that’s how—
Leo: Everybody feels that way. Because everybody you know including your family is there, you have to use it.
Serenity: It’s the AOL of 2010.
Jason: Oh, it’s totally AOL.
Michael: For that reason I think it doesn’t irritate me as much as the normal person. I actually openly embrace Facebook. I mean it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Sure they know a lot of information about me but so does Google.
Leo: Yea who cares about that? I’m not worried about that.
Michael: Yea I feel like Facebook provides a greater utility to me than any piece of software site that I use on a daily basis. I mean Facebook to some extent is more meaningful than my Gmail account. I think, sure I get a lot of work done via email, but Facebook is showing me the perspective of a lot, of thousands of people around the world that I’ve met over the course of my lifetime. And allows me to interact with those people immediately, instantaneously about any subject. And so yea, I think they’re the clear winner in this case and they’re still growing financially and also from a user perspective. And the fact that they bought WhatsApp and Instagram in the past few years and those 2 services are still growing makes it hugely attractive to me. And also to further this point I think that Zuckerberg has done a really great job of clearing his name. I think for a long time people considered him a really awkward nerdy sort of an opportunist even to a certain extent The Social Network the movie was released. But in the past year maybe year and a half I think Zuckerberg has done a great job of sharing more of his personal life with people on Facebook and introducing them to things like the moment he vaccinated his daughter within the past week or his trip to North Korea where he posted a 360 degree video. He is one of the smartest people in the world at this moment in time. He’s certainly one of the richest. I’m excited to see how he matures as an individual. I think you know, he is the Bill Gates of our times. He has made humanitarian issues a really big part of his life and I think that he’s building a service that people need to use. And the people that refuse to use it are ultimately going to fall behind. I think that it’s a service to them and I think that it’s more about their either self-confidence or their ability to embrace these things more so than it does about you know, what it’s doing to society. You know Facebook is connecting more people than ever before. And I don’t see how that can possibly be a bad thing. I think when you talk about sharing ideas quickly and that sort of thing. Yea I’m sure a lot of that happens on Twitter because it’s informal and people use anonymous names and that thing but I think slowly we will all make our way over to Facebook. It just, it seems really obvious to me everything that Facebook is doing.
Leo: Doesn’t that worry you?
Michael: No, not at all. I mean I think it’s you know, something that they created years ago. Trying to get rid of email by having everyone move over to messages. And I think to a certain extent they’re right to pursue that. I don’t see anything wrong with it. It’s just, in layman’s terms it’s sort of like the phone book I guess of the modern era. But you know, with more capabilities. You can send videos and gifts and photos and any type of media that you can imagine and it’s all in one place. And to me that’s hugely important. I mean I’m not going there for like creative inspiration necessarily but I am going there for like meaningful interactions with my family and friends from around the world and I would personally pay a huge premium for that. And I think people have shown that they will in the past too and so yea. I think Facebook is uniquely positioned because they’re gathering so much information about different people. They’ve certainly invested in a lot of interesting catagories in the past couple of years and I think they’ve done a great job of making people fear Facebook less. Making people not fear the security issues and things like that.
Jason: And make it more mobile.
Leo: And even the news feed is better. I mean frankly, whatever—maybe it’s me using it more or whatever but I actually started to like the newsfeed.
Serenity: It’s not terrible.
Jason: I don’t love Facebook. I do think it’s difficult to use.
Leo: (Laughing) it’s not terrible.
Jason: Especially to try to—you know, their settings are just so convoluted.
Leo: Oh, it’s gotten worse.
Jason: I think that’s terrible. I don’t think it’s a great user experience but I think I do agree. So many people are there that it’s, that’s the only thing that really has, I think that what it’s got going for it the most. I do think that they’ve, the biggest thing they’ve done over the last couple of years is they went mobile. I thought they were dead. They were dead if they hadn’t gone mobile. But they, the most impressive thing they ever did, two most impressive things they ever did in my mind. One was their shift to mobile you know recently. They did it in a very short period of time to where most people I know now use it on mobile. But the first thing they did and made Facebook Facebook is it was always up. Social networks in the late two thousands, mid to late two thousands as you guys remember, they were just a pain. They were slow. You know Twitter especially was down all the time. It didn’t work. I think made Facebook Facebook was that they had an amazing engineering culture that created a product that was always up. You could always go there and you could get your stuff posted. You could get your photos uploaded because it was primarily a photo—for the longest time it was a photo sharing and gaming site. And still primarily that’s what it is. But that’s why Facebook I think is what it is. And that does bode well for their future and that technologically they also, the reason why they’re successful now as a public company is they understand data much, much better than Twitter does and they understand how to monetize data. And they are a better platform. It’s kind of dirty that they’ve made small businesses and brands pretty much disappear from the feed unless you pay to do it. But when you pay it actually works and they show you great analytics on it.
Leo: It gives me a better experience though. I don’t want to see all those businesses and brands.
Jason: Well that’s true. But at the same time, why don’t they let you decide that.
Michael: Yea but I guess what bothers me is that you know, I hear about a lot of different people championing big data and the importance of artificial intelligence and a number of these things. And Facebook is the company that is doing that as the best. It’s between Facebook and Google.
Jason: Oh, yea. I’m agreeing.
Michael: Google’s predictive search is obviously super helpful and a lot of the things that they’re doing with Google.com and bringing that information to you much more quickly. But I would think close behind is Facebook. And actually they more quite a bit about everyone. They know more about you and your friends than probably you do. And so you know the fact that they killed reverse chronological order and now the newsfeed just promotes what they think you would want to see, I think that that’s a huge step towards where we need to be. And that actually is advantageous over Twitter which is frankly hard to sort through.
Jason: Agreed. That’s why they’re winning as a public company. Because they understand the value of that data and they’re using it very well and they’re making a lot of money because of that. They’re printing money. They’re printing money because of that in the same way that Google was printing money when they first started AdSense. And that’s why they are making so much money and why they are able to buy all of these companies. And so they are a force to be reckoned with because of that. I absolutely agree.
Leo: Let’s take a break. We have more coming up with our great panel and lots more to talk about. Rene Ritchie is not here. I was looking at Facebook and I saw a post from Rene. Apparently Apple’s updated—I’m sorry (laughing). But also from iMore.com, Serenity Caldwell is here. Rene’s with us in spirit. He’s always here.
Leo: He’s kind of the ghost in the machine. Also from Popular Science, Michael Nunez. Thank you for being here. And Jason Hiner from CBS Interactive and Editor in Chief of the TechRepublic. We had a great week. My first week back. And here’s a little bit of what you might have missed if you missed anything this week on TWiT.
Narrator: Previously on TWiT.
Megan Morrone: I want to move on to something else that you said you saw called insertable wearables. Was that a joke or a real thing?
Fr. Robert Ballecer, SJ: The internet of things now includes the internet of insertable things. And it’s just like it sounds. It’s just like it sounds.
Megan: Oh really? I’m so glad I asked you about that. Thank you.
Narrator: TWiT Live Specials.
Fr. Robert: Once a year the tech worlds gathers in Las Vegas, Nevada, for well, the most important event on the calendar. It’s the Consumer Electronic Show. Actually now it’s just called CES. I’m Fr. Robert Ballecer, the digital Jesuit for TWiT TV with a behind the scenes look at the gadgets of CES.
Narrator: This Week in Google.
Leo: Hey what do you guys think about 10,000 character tweets coming soon to a Twitter near you?
Gina Trapani: Weird, weird, weird, weird.
Lynne d Johnson: It becomes a publishing platform so now you’ll be spending more time with less stuff. So that less stuff has to resonate.
Narrator: Tech News Today.
Megan: The New Tech News Today, the show where we talk about technology with people who are passionate about technology.
Jason Howell: We saved a spot at the head of the table just for you.
Tom Merritt: That was amazing. Thank you.
Jason: We thought this would feel comfortable.
Narrator: TWiT. Friends don’t let friends miss TWiT!
Leo: Got a great week ahead for you. In fact tomorrow it’s going to be a lot of fun. We’re going to talk to photographer Vince Laforet. He has just published a new book called The Air Book. Beautiful, incredible photos of cities from the air. He’s a film maker. First guy I met that used the Canon 5D for films. He’s really a great photographer. He’ll be joining us tomorrow on Triangulation. Our show today brought to you by Stamps.com. If you are sending stuff, whether you’re an eBay seller, an Amazon seller, maybe you sell on Etsy, and you’re still licking and gluing stamps to the package or carrying them down to the post office, I’ve got a better way. Every minute of your time is valuable. Every dollar for your small business is important and Stamps.com takes advantage of that to make you more efficient. You can do everything you can do at the post office without getting up from your desk including buying and printing US postage from your computer, your printer. Do you not need an expensive postage meter. You don’t have to drive to the post office. The mail carrier comes to you. And it makes your packages look more professional. You can even print your logo on it. It prints on letters. Any class of mail. Prints beautiful labels with your logo, your return address. It can auto-fill your recipients address from your website. Automatically fill out international custom forms, certified mail, return receipt. You even get discounts at Stamps.com that you can’t get at the post office on package insurance and other things. You can use cost codes to track your postage spending by customer. It takes your address book—here’s the deal. You’ve got to try it. It’s the best thing to do. Just go to Stamps.com. Stamps.com, easy to remember, right? And you click the microphone that’s up in the upper right hand corner. And that’s if it said heard you on the radio or a podcast and then put TWiT. Just T-W-I-T as the offer code. What you’re going to get is a 4 week trial of Stamps.com but a lot more. You get $110 dollar bonus offer including $55 dollars in postage coupons that you can use in the first few months of your Stamps.com membership. You get a digital scale so you never have, you always have the right postage. You never have to put extra on or accidentally put too little on. That’s a bad way to send stuff out. The scale is phenomenal. Plus a $5 dollar supply kit. And again a 4 week trial. Stamps.com. click the radio microphone in the upper right hand corner and use the promo code TWiT. Try it free today. Stamps.com. Jason Hiner is the author of a book in which I appear. It’s the closest thing I will ever get to a biography.
Jason: I don’t know about that.
Leo: Followthegeeksbook.com and it’s finally coming out.
Jason: Yes. January 26th is the release date. It will be on Kindle. It will be on Audible. Dan Patterson is reading the audio book.
Leo: Oh nice. Oh, that’s great.
Jason: Yes. It will also be in soft cover from Amazon and we also have a hard cover version as well. You can pre-order on our site now. You know it was so fun to do this and Lyndsey Gilpin is my co-author. And she and I just interviewed some of the smartest people we know.
Jason: Yea, Lisa Bettany.
Leo: Love Lisa Bettany. Gina Trapani. Tom Merritt. I mean everybody. Veronica Belmont. Om Malik. This is so great. Chase Jarvis. These are people I love. Some people you might not have heard of like Juliana Rotich. She’s great. Ushahidi founder. And the last one I love. It’s a 15 year old entrepreneur named Maya Penn.
Jason: Who is just phenomenal. She started her own company when she was 8.
Leo: Wow. Wow.
Jason: Yea. And you know, coded her own site, was building her own computers and then started a company where she was making her own clothing line with organics. Anyway, all these people are just amazing. Leo, you know, people like you who were so generous with your time with us to talk about your story. And it really is about the future of work is a lot more entrepreneurial. And whether you’re at a big company even in big companies people are working in smaller groups and having to be more entrepreneurial in their own groups. And so the book is really about the future of work and people that have had figured out some of the secrets. And we took their stories and all people that we wanted to learn from. And we put them in. Wrote a chapter about 10 really great folks. And so I’m really thrilled that it’s almost here. It’s been a lot of fun.
Leo: You’ve been working on this a year, haven’t you?
Jason: Yea really a year and a half. We started in June 2014 and so we released all the chapters—
Leo: Whoa. I didn’t know that. Wow. More than a year, yea.
Jason: Yea, we released all the chapters one at a time as we published them on the internet with the idea that we would get great feedback from the community, the technology community and we did. And that made every chapter better. And at the end of the final version of the book, we have some of the best comments from the community. We published some of the best comments about each of these folks.
Leo: Oh, nice. Oh that’s great.
Jason: And so that makes it fun too.
Leo: Followthegeeksbook.com and it’s time to pre-order because it comes out January 26th.
Jason: Yes indeed.
Leo: Serenity Caldwell, what are you working on at iMore these days?
Serenity: Oh, gosh. Well we actually just published a big thing called The State of iMore 2016. We’re going to be doing a lot of really exciting stuff with the site. Rene and I and Georgia and a couple other special guests are going to be working on something called iMore Select, working title which hopefully allows us, we’re going to try to build a place where we can present our more long form feature articles, hopefully with fewer or no ads which we’re pretty excited about.
Serenity: So we’re working on the sort of the mechanics to get that into place. But we’re also launching a couple of cool new columns including a Help and How To column for getting some MAC and iOS 101 stuff out the door.
Leo: I love the 101 stuff and the help stuff you do. I actually read it all the time.
Serenity: I’m glad. I feel like it’s really important and I’ve gotten this comment more than—a couple of my friends in wildly different areas are like, “You know I Googled for this random thing and I ended up finding an article you wrote.”
Leo: Always. Yes.
Serenity: Which is so funny. The last thing we’re working on at iMore, we’re doing a thing called iMore Pop which is basically, Rene’s joke is, “All of the apps that Serenity and I don’t play because we’re busy watching Star Wars for a 5th time.” So we’re going to have a couple of contributors come on and write about the Kaomoji’s and the Crossy Roads and all of the crazy games.
Leo: How fun.
Serenity: And little poppy things, Snapchat all of the things we just don’t have time to do because we’re doing all the other stuff.
Leo: You have found a great home. I am so glad after you left Macworld that you went to iMore.
Serenity: Me too.
Leo: I was mad at first because I wanted to steal you but I think that this is really the place for you. I think you’ve found a great home.
Serenity: I know. It would have been hard for me to work for you from across the country.
Leo: Yea. No, where as it is easy at iMore, yea.
Serenity: Exactly, exactly. And then I still get to be on TWiT.
Leo: Yay! We get our share of Serenity so thank you for being here.
Serenity: Of course.
Leo: Michael Nunez, Popular Science. We met because you wrote a piece and interviewed me for it. And I said, “Michael, you’re great. We ought to get you on TWiT sometime.”
Michael: Yea that’s right. And thanks for doing that by the way. So that will be available for everyone in our March and April issue. It’s a double issue. And on the cover will be someone that everyone knows. He’s a great leader. I don’t think that I can mention him by name at this point but we’re all very excited about this cover and yea. In terms of what I’m working on at Pop Sci, so we’re getting that issue ready. We’ve just come back from CES and I’ll actually be joining Gizmodo next week so this is breaking news I guess in that sense. But I’ll be the new technology editor of Gizmodo.
Leo: Oh, you got a new job.
Michael: Yea I did, yea.
Leo: What the hell?
Michael: Yea, I haven’t really announced that.
Leo: Congratulations. That’s awesome.
Michael: Yea it’s cool. It’s really exciting.
Leo: Going to work for the AOL.
Michael: No, no, not for AOL.
Leo: No, they’re Gawker. They’re Gawker.
Michael: Correct. They’re owned by Gawker.
Leo: That’s right.
Michael: It’s really cool, yea. We’ll be—
Michael: Just doing a lot of new stuff over there and so I still have a lot of friends at Popular Science. I’m still working on some things over the course of the next week. But yea, that transition will basically be done and CES was sort of where some of that started. So yea, all really exciting things.
Leo: No wonder you like CES. I went to CES and I got a new job (laughing).
Michael: Well, yea, some of those arrangements were sorted out before the conference.
Leo: That’s great. That will be fun.
Michael: It’s just been a blast. And this time of year it’s been really, really exciting for me, so.
Leo: Good. Well and I hear Gizmodo gets invited to Apple events again so that’s good too.
Michael: Yea, yea and hopefully you know, hopefully a lot more people will see just what we’re working on on a day to day basis. I’ve been fortunate enough to do a lot of TV in the past year and I think we’re hoping to continue a lot of those relationships. So I would say the mission statement like pretty closely aligns with Popular Science. You know we’re really excited about the future. We focus on drones, robots, cars and gadgets. And I think there’s just a healthy amount of skepticism at Gizmodo and there are a few different types of stories that we can write there that I’m just unable to write at Popular Science. So yea, there will be a little more freedom and it will be cool. I’m excited.
Leo: Congrats. Serenity just wrote an interesting article on iMore. Of course one of the big stories in the Apple world is that rumor that is growing stronger and stronger that Apple’s going to abandon a headphone port in the next iPhone. They just won’t be there. Is that because they want you to use the lightning port or they expect all headphones to be wireless going forward?
Serenity: I think it’s a combination of a couple different factors. Taking away the headphone jack allows them a little bit more space for battery as well as for a slight reshaping of the case. The lightning port isn’t that much, or the headphone jack isn’t that much bigger than the lightning port.
Leo: It’s not just to make it thinner I hope.
Serenity: No, no. But the point is it goes into the device. So it’s actually you know, of my 6S Plus here, the headphone is taking up about that much space on the interior of it. That’s all space especially with drivers that Apple could use.
Leo: There’s already a petition, many, many signers saying, “Don’t take the headphone jack out.” 200,000 people.
Serenity: No, you know what? I’m ok with this. I’m normally anti-port removal for Apple. The new MacBook is not a computer that I’m going to buy anytime soon.
Serenity: But for the 6S Plus I actually think it makes a lot of sense. Or the 6S Plus. For the future generation of iPhone it makes a lot of sense. For one thing, the lightning connector offers a serious amount of power inherent in it. And I think that if you want to talk about wired headphones, there might be a way to make the sound quality better by going via lightning. And I know some analog traditional headphone users will be like, “That’s fie on you, Serenity Caldwell. That’s horrible.”
Leo: Oh yea, but I have to say if by taking the DAC out of the iPhone and having external DAC, because the lightning port will give you digital audio, you could really improve it. If you have expensive headphones this is actually a good move for you. You’re listening to a kind of not so great DAC in the iPhone.
Serenity: Yes. Absolutely. And there are a lot of things that they can do with this. It encourages the adoption of wireless headphones which, you know what, I’m wearing wired, cheapo wired headphones right now but I actually recently bought my first pair of really good wireless headphones and I’m you know, even with Bluetooth not being the best connection in the world, it’s still, it’s incredible. I did not expect to enjoy the wireless headphone life as much as I am. And I’m like how did I ever deal with this cord being attached to my world?
Jason: I’m jealous. I’m jealous. I’ve been wanting to do that too.
Leo: Is anybody going to buy these Bragi Dash, in-ear Bluetooth, tiny little.
Michael: Oh man those are definitely attractive.
Leo: Did you see them at CES? I guess they’re shipping now.
Michael: Yea they were there. I didn’t see them. I’ve seen things like them from other companies that have gone and released. But I mean these wireless earbuds are definitely coming whether they’re from Bragi or any other company. And I think for anyone that goes to the gym, it’s like a no brainer. You just don’t want, you know there are Bluetooth wireless headsets that require you to wear a necklace or—
Michael: Or they’re wired together in the back.
Serenity: Too much stuff.
Leo: But how much battery life can these have? They’re so small.
Serenity: So these only have 5 hours and then they come with a little charging case that I guess charges them up.
Leo: 5’s not bad.
Serenity: Yea, 5’s decent for work. It’s not like 1 and a half. My main thing with the Bragi. I think it’s a really interesting proof of concept and I love that their little case is also a charger because that’s a way too-
Leo: Motorola did that. Motorola did that with their little earbud, their Bluetooth earbud. And that worked very well. I’ve been using that and it works well.
Serenity: Yea, it’s interesting. But the thing about the Bragi that intrigued me and I actually got tipped off to this by a reader on Twitter. Again, the idea that it has a built in music player. It doesn’t need to connect to your phone.
Leo: Oh, it has memory.
Serenity: Yea it has 4GB of memory so you can actually put in your stuff. So I was talking completely unrelatedly on the iMore show. We were talking about the future of the iPod. And I was joking, you know, I originally thought last year the future of the iPod was the Apple Watch because that’s you know, it’s wearables. But what better place to wear an iPod than actually in your headphones.
Serenity: I don’t know. I wrote this article and I’m like there’s some pros and some cons to this. And battery life is one.
Leo: Well Apple owns Beats Headphones.
Serenity: They do. They do.
Leo: So they’re positioned to do something like this.
Serenity: Exactly. You can enjoy my really poorly drawn illustration.
Leo: Who is—is that me ringing? Is my phone ringing?
Jason: I thought that was me and I was like oh my goodness.
Leo: Ok, I think somebody else. It’s not me. There’s your problem, that headphone. So I think, no, that’s a very interesting idea. I mean Apple’s not selling many iPods anyway. Everybody’s got a smartphone with music on it.
Serenity: Well, exactly. So the only really, for the iPod to have any kind of future I feel like it has to be wearable in a way. Because the people that are still using iPods for iPods are runners and people with huge music collections who want to take their music collection and you know, either listen to it in the car.
Leo: But if you had, if you have an Apple Watch and wired headphones you can already do that. Apple Watch Store has music.
Serenity: You can but it’s just one playlist’s worth.
Serenity: So it’s essentially 24.
Leo: Well the good news is, isn’t there a new Apple Watch coming out in 2 months?
Serenity: Theoretically yes. We’ll see how much more space they can cram into this tiny little thing. I prefer more battery than more space but we’ll see.
Leo: Yea, yea. I don’t know. I don’t mind. As long as I get through the day. My Apple Watch gets me through the day very easily. Doesn’t it?
Serenity: Are you on the 42 or the 38?
Leo: Oh, you have a 38. I have a 42.
Serenity: The 38 gets me pretty close. The 38 gets me close if I’m not working out heavily.
Leo: I buy big Apple everything. I have the 6S Plus. I have the 42 inch watch because I want battery life. Wow, these Bragi’s are $300 dollars.
Michael: What are you using this Apple Watch for? I’m still, I’ve tried just about every smart watch on the planet and I can’t, I wouldn’t dare replace any of the analog, mechanical watches that I have. They’re just way nicer. They look way cooler and I haven’t found a killer app or a killer feature on any of these watches.
Leo: No, absolutely not.
Michael: What’s the point is what my question is to all of you.
Jason: The thing is people were thinking that the Apple Watch is a computer on your wrist when it’s actually just a slightly smarter Fitbit.
Leo: Yea, that’s right. That’s about right.
Serenity: No I mean what I enjoy, for one thing, I’m not an analog watch wearer and I’ve never, I haven’t been since I was about 12.
Serenity: So having the Apple Watch on my wrist actually fulfilled the like, oh, I have a watch again. That’s nice. The big things for me and I’m actually going to write something on iMore about this. The big things for me almost a year into my Apple Watch ownership is the fitness tracking is hugely important. There’s an app called Heart Aware on the iPhone now that I think’s like one or two dollars. But that’s fascinating. It takes all of your Apple Watch data and it’s able to show you averages and all sorts of things with your heart. So if you’re at all, if you’re interested in exercising or if you’re someone who needs to keep track of their heartbeat for medical reasons, that’s a really cool way of doing it.
Michael: But isn’t it true that the heartrate sensor in the Apple Watch is actually inaccurate and—
Leo: No. I found it to be very accurate.
Leo: Because I’m on a treadmill and I have you know, handles that will measure my heartrate which is very accurate. And it is almost always exactly the same. Within a beat or two of my Apple Watch. So I found it to be very accurate, at least for me.
Jason: What was that app called, Serenity?
Serenity: Heart Aware.
Leo: Heart Aware.
Serenity: Yea I found out about it from Federico Viticci over at MacStories. It’s pretty neat. The heartbeat sensor will malfunction for me occasionally. But I’d say it’s accurate probably 90-96% of the time which is better than a lot of others.
Leo: I’m guessing Michael’s got tattoos all over his wrists. Your boyfriend does, doesn’t he Serenity?
Serenity: Yea my fiancé.
Leo: I’m sorry. Fiancé. Congratulations.
Serenity: Thank you.
Leo: Congratulations. I saw it on Facebook. That’s how I know.
Serenity: Ah, see there. Facebook.
Serenity: But aside from the heartrate, what I’ve been really using it for, I still use it for notification deference where when I’m out I just leave my phone in the bag and that’s really, really nice. As somebody who gets a lot of emails and a lot of texts and a lot of like things that are important for me, it’s very easy for me to glance down and be like, message from Rene. Ok, it’s about Star Wars. It can wait until after I’m finished eating. Or something like that. It’s not, “The site is burning down. We need you right this second.” The other thing that I really like is with Watch OS2 and the complications. 3rd party complications have basically become my lifeblood. There’s—I don’t know if I can really, I’m going to try to show it upside down here. I have Carrot Weather on here as a complication.
Leo: Yea, a snotty weather app.
Serenity: Yea, super snarky and it’s like it’s fracking sunny. Go order some sunglasses. I like instant weather glances. I like the fact, there’s an app called Just Press Record that has a complication. So essentially this will record voice memos at any time. So if I have an idea while drawing, or while driving all I have to do is press the complication and it immediately brings up that and starts recording.
Leo: I’m going to get that. That sounds good.
Serenity: So that I can, yea. That’s one of my favorite Apple Watch apps. And it’s built for the Watch. So unlike every other Watch app which is like loading, loading, loading, loading, loading, it loads instantly.
Leo: No, that’s good. What’s that called?
Serenity: Just Press Record.
Leo: Just Press Record. Ok.
Jason: Just Press Record.
Serenity: It’s great. It’s one of the few great apps.
Leo: That’s good for any journalist, right?
Serenity: It’s very, very good.
Leo: Hey, El Chapo, tell me what your plans for the future are. If only what’s his name had had this. If Sean Penn had one of those. How about this? This was at CES. The Owlet Smart Sock. See I think that the smart watch, I’ll be much more interested if it would take my blood sugar, my oxygen, when it can really tell me, you know, it can get some good, important numbers. Then it’s going to be hugely valuable. This is kind of interesting. This is a sock that monitors your babies heartrate and oxygen level and can tell you, warn you on your smartphone if your baby’s in trouble.
Jason: Yea, baby tech and senior tech was real huge at CES this year.
Leo: Everybody’s one or the other at some point. Maybe both if you’re lucky.
Serenity: I will say the worst baby tech story that I saw was an intervaginal music player for the expecting mother.
Leo: No, no, no.
Serenity: Play music in the womb.
Leo: No, no, no, no, no, no (Laughing).
Jason: Put in on the belly. They can hear through the belly.
Serenity: Put the headphones. This is not a problem that needed solving.
Leo: Ah, honey. Is your thing singing to me?
Michael: It needs to play some lullabies. Yea I mean I think that, I think that you’re right, Leo. The health and wellness, you know what I found—
Leo: That’s what we need.
Michael: The health and wellness category as a whole is sort of ripe for the taking. There’s going to be a lot of growth in health and wellness over the course of the next 10 to 20 years.
Leo: As we age, yea.
Michael: Absolutely. People want to more about their health. I mean I think any well educated person wants to know how healthy they are and basically how their body’s holding up over the course of time and what they can do to be better about that. And whether it’s eating better or exercising smarter.
Leo: Didn’t you write about the Under Armor, like the smart clothing that they were doing?
Michael: Yes, so I’ve written a bit about some of this embedded technology. Project Jacquard is another one through Google.
Leo: That’s from Google, yea.
Michael: And a lot of that stuff is great but like you said, it’s just about who’s providing the most helpful information. And what I’ve found with basically a large majority of the wearables market is that there’s redundancy across the board. So the Apple Watch doesn’t seem to be doing anything that, even the Fitbit Blaze which is a total piece of vapor wear—
Leo: Which I still can’t cancel.
Michael: I am sorry. It’s just silly to me to see how much redundancy there is across the board. And that’s the one thing I’ll give Under Armor with this health box. They’ve at least packaged all of this stuff together in one big box so you can get it all at once. But for the most part they’re all doing the same thing. They’re all using accelerometers to count your steps and pulse ox to tell you—
Leo: It’s a market, it’s a nascent market which at some point will really become important. But at this point it’s not.
Jason: The differentiator is going to be the data. The data, you know Under Armor is going to be really interesting because they have this data processing monster on the back end, right. And data is going to change health and medicine immensely over the next couple decades. We’re going to look back in 30 years from now and think like, “Oh my God. Like we barely knew anything. We were treating all these things. We were just throwing crap at the wall to see what would stick.”
Serenity: In the dark, yea.
Jason: This is going to lead to the era of personalized medicine. We’re seeing that already. The data is going to enable medicines to be able to be customized to you and treatments to be customized to you based on how your body reacts to medicines and to exercise and to food.
Leo: Forget smart cars. Let’s get that going, would you please?
Michael: Yes. I totally agree. I mean right now these gadgets can tell you like how many steps you’ve taken and what your heartrate is.
Leo: They’re fancy pedometers, yea.
Michael: And those two things are helpful certainly. It’s better to know those things than to not know them. But like you said, there’s so many other pieces of biometric information that they can be feeding you. And right now they can’t. And a lot of the technology is available in hospitals and so there’s going to be this weird trickledown effect were the things that are available in hospitals will slowly reach consumers. And as they do, we’ll live healthier and longer lives and you know, I just don’t think that the Apple Watch is going to present that either in its first iteration or in 2016 iteration. I don’t think that I’ve seen really any consumer electronics that can provide that level of detail.
Leo: There’s a lot of reasons including FDA approval and jus the lack of capability. Hey we’ve got to take a break. We want to wrap this up but I have one more bit. I want to yell at John Legere. But first a word from Audible.com then I shall rant. Our show brought to you by—the company of all the advertisers we have that I’ve been using the longest. Since 2000 I’m an Audible lover. I have been, since I had a long commute and I discovered audio books and I was buying, renting boxes of cassettes and then along comes Audible. My life changed for the better. Now, today, 180,000 titles rich. Books but also performances and lectures and by the way the great courses are on Audible now. You can listen to the best college lectures on every subject. I am a huge fan. We’re going to get you 2 books for free. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that one of the books I’m reading right now is that book by Marie Kondo on tidying up. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. No snickers from the peanut gallery. Ok.
Michael: Well, no I think I’ve heard of this book.
Leo: Yea, it’s huge.
Michael: You ask yourself whether each object in your home brings you happiness and then get rid of the things that don’t.
Leo: And spark joy. And I plan to get rid of everything that doesn’t spark joy. So we’re going to be having a massive garage sell pretty soon. But I also listen to a lot of science fiction. I’m now listening to Neil Stephenson’s Seveneves and loving it. It’s hard science fiction in the sense of great science. They’ve gone back and recorded some of the classic science fiction books of all time. Here’s one of my favorite audio books of all times, Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt, one of the classics. And Frank reads it in his beautiful Irish accent. It’s a tragic tale but it’s his life. And it comes to life in his narration. That’s one of the things that I love about Audible books. The readers make this—it’s not someone reading a boring. It is a performance. And if you haven’t, you may have seen The Martian in the theaters. If you haven’t listened to R.C Bray bring The Martian to life and Mark Watney’s incredible story, you’ll love this too. I just, there’s so many great books. Here’s the deal. You’re going to get 2 books for free. You’ll be going to Audible.com/twit2, Audible.com/twit and the number 2. You’re going to choose 2 books. Basically you’re signing up for the platinum account. That’s the 2 books a month account and it also includes the daily digest of The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal. I hear, this will be a good one too, the Star Wars novelization of The Force Awakens. I’m told it’s excellent. Really well done. And this is kind of a dramatization I think it comes to life as you’re listening. Here, I’ll play a little bit of this. Audible.com/twit and the number 2.
Audible: And in response the figure of Kylo Ren turned and looked sideways directly at the soldier.
Leo: Ok, enough, enough, enough. No spoilers.
Serenity: The music!
Leo: The music is building. I love this. Audible.com/twit2 I’ll tell you what. Whether it’s a commute, a boring hour on a treadmill, walking the dog, doing the dishes or tidying up your home, there’s nothing like having an audiobook. And by the way, if you have an Amazon Echo you can have it read to you. I do that all the time too. Audible.com.twit2. You will love it. All right. So a little John Legere action. I think John Legere, the CEO of T-Mobile has taken a page from the book of Donald Trump. He’s realized if you’re going to make something up, say it loud. Yell, a little profanity wouldn’t hurt. The Electronic Frontier Foundation starts this story by talking about T-Mobile’s new Binge On service saying, “Hey guess what? Binge On doesn’t optimize the video feeds of its Binge On providers.” Binge on, the idea is you get free, you know, no bandwidth use viewing of Netflix and other stuff. Not YouTube. Turns out what Binge On does is just takes any video stream, if you’ve got to turn it on as a T-Mobile customer, it takes any video stream and just downgrades it to 1.5MB. It doesn’t optimize it. If you’re watching TWiT and the server you’re on hasn’t noticed that you’re at a slower bandwidth, it will pause, it will hiccup, it will freeze. It is, it is throttling pure and simple. Now you can turn off by turning it off. That’s why John Legere says, “It’s not throttling. You can turn it off.” He said, “It’s BS to complain about it.” And he said, “Who is this EFF anyway?” Wow. Oh, Legere. Oh, my my. You know, I’m a T-Mobile customer. I love T-Mobile. I don’t like zero rating. That’s this thing some of these companies do where it doesn’t count against your bandwidth to watch Netflix or to listen to Google Music or Spotify. I don’t like that. It’s really anti-net neutrality. Customers love it though, right? What’s wrong with that. But it makes T-Mobile kind of the arbiter of what’s successful and what’s not. He says, “Well anybody can enjoy Binge On. It’s not about that.” It’s T-Mobile slowing down all video to 1.5MB. And T-Mobile had confirmed that. Even if John Legere says it’s BS.
Serenity: This is their free thing, right?
Leo: Yea, the idea is if you are a T-Mobile customer and by default Binge On is turned on, you won’t have to pay for bandwidth for Netflix. I can’t really play this because he’s very angry and he swears a lot.
John Legere: It includes a proprietary technology. And what the technology does is not only detect the video stream, but select the bit rate to optimize—“
Leo: Not so. Not so. It turns all videos down to 1.5MB. The EFF was able to demonstrate that. It does no optimization. And I can’t play part B of his answer which is profane (laughing). “Who are you EFF? Why are you stirring up so much trouble? Who pays you?” I pay them because I’m a donor and a lot of other people pay the Electronic Frontier Foundation to call BS when they see BS. Shame on you, T-Mobile. Shame on you, John Legere. We know what you’re up to. The big lie does not work. All right. I think we’re done. We got to go watch The Golden Globes.
Jason: The Golden Globes.
Serenity: Got to go live snark.
Leo: Live snark time. I’ll be following you, @settern. S-E-T-T-E-R-N on Twitter. That’s Serenity Caldwell, iMore.com. Always a pleasure.
Serenity: Always a pleasure to be here. It was fun.
Leo: Thanks. Michael Nunez, now of Gizmodo. Can I say that?
Michael: Give me a week.
Leo: Currently technology editor of Popular Science Magazine. He’s Michaelfnunez on the Twitter and soon to be—what will your title be at Gizmodo?
Michael: Technology Editor of Gizmodo.
Leo: That seems like a good job.
Michael: I’m excited about both. You know, Pop-Sci’s been great. Gizmodo will be-
Leo: Love Pop-Sci. A legend.
Michael: Yea, it’s a phenomenal place to work. Yea, there’s no hard feelings here. I have a lot of friends that will keep working there.
Leo: Where are you located? I never asked.
Michael: I’m based in Brooklyn so that’s what you’re looking at here. And work out of Manhatten.
Leo: Ok. Nice. And that will be the same for Gizmodo?
Michael: Yes, correct.
Leo: Of course my good buddy, Jason Hiner, who declared me many moons ago the president of the internet. President of the internet for life I might add so don’t ask for another election.
Jason: It wasn’t up to me. I just put you up and the internet elected you.
Leo: (Laughing) and then honored me with a chapter in Follow the Geeks. Followthegeeksbooks.com. And of course Jason is editor-in-chief of TechRepublic. Thanks for being here, all 3 of you. I really appreciate it.
Jason: Thank you.
Leo: Thanks for everybody who joined us.
Michael: It was a great conversation.
Leo: Yea, what a great conversation. I love it when we get smart people together and we talk about important things. There’s nothing better. That’s what TWiT’s all about. If you can watch live, we’re 3:00 PM Pacific, 6:00 PM Eastern time, 2300UTC on Sunday afternoons or evening depending on where you are. But you can always get on-demand versions after the fact at our website twit.tv. But best to subscribe on Apple TV, on Roku. There’s apps everywhere. Stitcher, Slacker, iTunes, everywhere. If you’d like to be in the studio, we’d love having you. Great studio audience today. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll put a chair out for you. And we’ll put a canned ham under each and every chair. Oh, gosh, we forgot this week. Sorry. Thanks for joining us. And we’ll see you all next week! Another TWiT is in the can. Bye-bye everybody.