Wednesday, December 17, 2014

How to enable and use AppleTV peer-to-peer AirPlay discovery and playback

One of the great new features of Apple iOS 8 is the ability to wirelessly connect iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch to Apple TV without first connecting to a wi-fi network. Previously, it was necessary to connect both your AppleTV and your iPhone/iPad to the same wi-fi network. Here are a few examples of where this feature is useful:
  • A sales rep brings their AppleTV with them to a client site and connects it to the client's projector. The sales rep delivers a presentation wirelessly from their iPad 
  • Enterprises equip their conference rooms with AppleTVs. Employees, clients and contractors can display their iOS screens wirelessly without connecting to a wi-fi network 

  • Latest model of Apple TV (REV/A) running the latest 7.x firmware. The model number A1469 is printed in very small type on the bottom of the AppleTV. Note that there are three versions of the black "hockey puck" Apple TV and only the latest model has this capability 
  • iPhone or iPad running iOS 8.x with wifi and Bluetooth enabled 

How to:
  • Tap on AirPlay on your iPhone or iPad, select your AppleTV. Your mobile device will be mirrored to the display. I've created a video below that shows the feature in action

Monday, December 08, 2014

Mobile shopping increases dramatically during Black Friday and Cyber Monday

It was a record five day span for holiday shopping between November 27 (US Thanksgiving) and December 1 (Cyber Monday), and mobile devices played a large part.  A few statistics:

  • Thanksgiving mobile sales were up 25.4% versus 2013, and browsing on smart phones and tablets accounted for 52.1% of all online traffic. 
  • Black Friday mobile sales accounted for 27.9% of total online sales, up 28.2% over 2013.
  • Cyber Monday mobile traffic accounted for 41.2% of all online traffic, up 30.1% over 2013. Mobile sales were also strong at 22% of all online sales, up 27.6% year over year. 
  • iOS devices continued to lead in mobile shopping with traffic more than twice, and sales nearly four times, that of Android devices during Cyber Week.
Unlike past years, I avoided the stores and did all of my shopping online - using my iPhone and iPad of course!  I'm a big fan of shopping sites like DealNews that automatically send me alerts for products that I'm interested in and I picked up some great deals on electronics, sports equipment and home appliances.

For more details, see the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark Hub


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

New solutions that promise to make e-mail more productive from Google, Microsoft and IBM

Over the last few weeks, Google, Microsoft and IBM have released e-mail solutions that promise to make the flood of e-mail easier to manage.   Here are a few initial impressions:

Google Inbox
Google Inbox beta was launched a few weeks ago and consists of a new web interface and mobile app.   I've been using it with my personal Gmail account which is my primary "personal" e-mail.  I've always liked the "tabs" feature of Gmail which organized my e-mail into groups like Primary, Social, Promotions and Updates.   Inbox has a similar feature to bundle similar e-mails albeit with a radically new user interface that leverages the new Google Material Design language.  I like the ability to mark e-mails "Done" and swiping e-mail from the Inbox on a mobile device like my Nexus 7 tablet running Android 5 Lollipop.

Microsoft Clutter
Microsoft has released a wealth of new products lately as part of its shift from a "devices and services company" to a productivity company.   They include:  New Office for iPhone apps which are now free, even for editing, Delve and Office Graph search and discovery,  Windows 10 tech preview,  Microsoft Band (fitness tracker), Office Mix for Powerpoint, Sway content aggregation and presentation and finally Clutter intelligent e-mail.   Similar to Inbox, Clutter promises to tame the inbox.   It's available now for Office 365 customers and I created this short video to show how to enable it (Clutter is disabled by default).    The Outlook Web Access mobile client also supports Clutter,  I'm looking forward to trying Delve (similar to Flipboard/Zite) when my Office 365 small business premium account is upgraded early next year.

IBM Verse
Announced on November 18, 2014 and shipping in 2015, IBM Verse is delivered via the cloud to both the web and mobile via a native client.   More than email, Verse leverages the power Watson to combine collaboration, social, analytics and e-mail into a single tool.

Link to IBM press release

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Google Android 5 "Lollipop" launches on Monday, November 3

Google officially rolls out Android 5 "Lollipop" the latest version of the mobile operating system to Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 smartphones and tablets on Monday, November 3 via an over the air update.   Google is also shipping the new Nexus 6 smartphone and Nexus 9 tablets with Android 5 pre-installed,  Android 5 will rollout to additional devices (e.g. Samsung) over the coming weeks and months.

Android 5 was announced at Google I/O in June and includes a number of new features including:

  • Improved user interface.  Google calls it "Material Design"
  • Expanded notifications
  • Improved battery management
  • Integration with Chromebooks similar to what Apple has done with iOS and Mac OS/X Yosemite (Continuity)

I've been running a beta version of Android 5 on my Nexus 7 (2013) tablet with good results.   I've been testing both consumer and enterprise applications as part of IBM's internal upgrade plans.  With over 100,000 mobile devices in use including both corporate-owned and bring your own device (BYOD), IBM is a mobile business.

Androidpit has a great video with an overview of the new features

Update 5 November: While Android 5 is now available for Nexus 5, the update for Nexus 7 and 10 are delayed until November 12

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The top 5 announcements from the Apple October 2014 event

While I didn't attend Apple's October 2014 event in person, I did watch the streaming video online.  The following are the top 5 announcements from the event:

  1. Apple Payments arrives on Monday, October 20 via a free iOS 8.1 update along with additional, minor enhancements.   Only iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, with include NFC, will be able to used to make payment in a physical, brick and mortar store like McDonalds, Whole Foods, Macy's and more. Other devices, including the new iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 3 and the iPhone 5S will be able to make online purchases, via apps and the web.  In both cases, you'll need to associate a supported credit card (e.g. Chase) with your iTunes account.   Apple Payments was the single most important announcement at the event and has the opportunity to revolutionize the industry.
  2. New iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3.  Evolutionary, rather then revolutionary changes, the new iPad Air 2 is thinner, lighter, adds TouchID, a faster processor, improved rear-facing camera and is now available in gold.   The changes to the iPad Mini 3 are more modest and only include TouchID, an improved rear-facing camera and is now available in gold.  I was disappointed that Apple didn't include more enhancements including updating the front-facing camera
  3. New iMac 27" Retina 5K and new Mac Mini.   The new iMac looks the same as previous models but sports a gorgeous Retina 5K display, a quad-code i5 processor, AMD Radeon video card with 2GB of RAM, and 8GB of system RAM.  Two years since its last upgrade, Apple upgrades the Mac Mini with a faster processor and integrated Intel graphics. 
  4. Mac OS/X Yosemite.   Available now, via the Mac App Store for free.   I've been running previous beta versions with good results.   Key features include a new user interface, integration with iOS (Continuity), iCloud Drive, enhanced Spotlight search and an improved notification center.
  5. I was disappointed that there were no announcements for AppleTV or MacBooks.  I'm a big fan of AppleTV and have owned every model (except the most recent REV A model introduced in January 2103).   While Apple has introduced a handful of new apps and minor user interface enhancements, a major hardware and software update is overdue.  HomeKit home automation capability was rumored but there were no announcements.  I was also disappointed that there were no new MacBooks announced.   The MacBook Air hasn't had a major redesign since it was introduced in 2008.  Perhaps 2015 will bring changes to both.