Thursday, December 29, 2016

Five Funky Little Android Widgets

 The World of Wonderful Widgets

Who would have thought that something with a silly name like ‘widget’ would one day play such a big role in our daily lives? We’ve all heard Apple’s slogan, ‘there is an app for that’ and there is an app for just about everything under the sun, but what about widgets…

There’s a Widget for That

In an age where time is a precious commodity, minutes – and even seconds are becoming more and more valuable. And this is why widgets are so important. The basic difference between apps and widgets is that you have to open an app to access its functionality, whereas a widget functions in the foreground and thus saves you precious seconds. 
Here is a list of some of the best widgets around:

1. The Dashclock Widget

Everybody needs a clock, but this is no average clock. Dashclock is customisable with various extensions including world time, battery stats, weather updates, and even a word of the day. You can also customise the way it looks. 

2. Google Keep

The Google Keep app is great for things like making notes, drawing up to-do lists and saving images, but the widget is essential for seeing everything you kept with the app in one place. It can easily be set up on your home screen and syncs smoothly and quickly over multiple phones and tablets.

3. Plume for Twitter

If you are a Twitter fan Plume lets you set up more than one Twitter account if you need to. If you set it up full-length on the home screen it makes replying and re-tweeting super-quick - and it updates Tweets in real time.

4. Power Toggles

Power Toggles does exactly what it says on the tin, it toggles powerfully between functions like GPS, Mobile Data, WiFi and more, saving users a good few swipes and taps.

5. Zooper

If you are into epic looking home screens and creating your own custom widgets, the Zooper Widget is for you. It is all about preferences and the possibilities are endless. 

There are tons of widgets available for Android phones and tablets – if you can think it up, it's probably out there. 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Do you Really Need Smart Headphones?

Smart Headphones: Smart Move? 

In the early 1990s the world was taken by storm with the first smartphones making tech history. The idea behind smartphones, and other smart tech, is to connect to other devices or networks with wireless protocols like WiFi and 3G. Smartphones was just the start – now there are phablets, smart watches, and even smart key chains, smart cars and bikes.

In 2013 Jason Hardi started Muzik – a headphone company with the goal of ‘connecting the world’. Sound familiar? Yes, Hardi started creating smart headphones. He has been showing off his fancy hardware for years and even got a nominal investment from social media giant Twitter this year.

Smart, Smarter, Smartest

How can we measure the relative value of all of these devices? Phablets are great for those who are tired of carrying a phone and a tablet around. Although hybrid products are not always winners, there is usually a market for all-in-one devices. Think printer/copier/scanner combinations and hybrid cars. Smart watches are the most accessible wearable tech and are becoming increasingly popular – and functional. The ever-growing list of options for smart watches include mp3 players, GPS receivers, digital cameras, altimeters and barometers - to mention but a few options. In effect, most smart devices have more than one function, and are pretty useful. Most of them…

What’s So Smart About Smart Headphones?

Let’s go back to Jason Hardi and Muzik. After years of development, Muzik’s new-fangled smart headphone product was finally unveiled and is called Muzik One. Launched in partnership with Spotify, the One is a set of headphones that allow you to share whatever you are listening to on social media. While that is rather nifty, whether it is a big enough deal to warrant spending US$300 is not clear.

The One Is Quite Nice

Smart tech song-sharing functionality aside, the One headphones look and feel good. They're constructed with aircraft aluminium and soft leather, fold inwards and have passive noise isolation (although this is nowhere near as fun or functional as the active noise cancellation that Bose has). You can also choose between on-ear or over-ear cushions that are interchangeable with magnetic clips. 

Unfortunately, with all the incredible inventions doing the rounds in popular tech, ‘quite nice’ does not cut it. The One is more or less like all the other premium headphones, and the song-sharing will probably not warrant the hefty price tag. Maybe Jason Hardi should get Twitter to sponsor him to construct premium headphones with the same (useful) functionality that smart watches come out with, or even with built-in VR goggles or GoPro.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Future of Retail

Emerging technology is impacting on every industry these days and the retail sector is no different. According to research, retail store formats are being overhauled and various digital technologies are integrated. 

All in the Name of Overcoming Challenges

What is the ultimate aim of technological advances? It is to meet and overcome various challenges from consumers. The emerging tech trends in retail are aimed at doing just that. Consumers these days have to deal with fast-paced lives, and their shopping experiences have to meet the needs created by this. In this increasingly demanding world, customer experience is enhanced with various technological applications. 

High-Tech Shopping

Consumers are given more options with online shopping. The popularity of social media is leveraged to achieve instant feedback and product reviews. Instead of phoning in enquiries or driving from store to store, price comparisons take mere moments. In an increasingly mobile world, access to goods while consumers are on-the-go is becoming effortless. Retailers strive to create a unique, personalised shopping experience with targeted messaging and marketing by using big data. There are drive-through pick-up locations aimed at buyers who prefer time-efficient and targeted shopping trips instead of large stock-up shopping excursions. Remote, interactive product showrooms enable shoppers to try out products at their leisure without the help of programmed sales associates. Before buying, they can now have an immersive experience. It seems like shopping is fast becoming akin to a sci-fi film.

Is It the End of People in Retail?

Despite the phenomenal developments in retail tech, all the digital dooh-dahs in the world still don’t stand up to the human touch. The human race is fundamentally a helpful bunch. We are programmed to be that way. We are also programmed to expect something in return for being helpful and this is where money comes in. Conversely, when we spend money, we expect some level of service and we have come to get used to being served. Luckily, it all works out in the end. Yes, technology is deemed a threat to many retail workers, but it should really be seen as a way in which an outstanding workforce can be even better. Retail workers can rest assured that the machines are not taking over. At least, not yet…