Flashback Friday - Future Computers in 1981

In 1981, BYTE Magazine's cover featured the first concept of a wearable device... the computer watch.  The image is kind of funny because the world had not encountered touchscreen technology yet, so the image showing a small screen with a virtually unusable mini keyboard and the awesome rendition of a side-loading floppy drive is classic.

Now, I was 3-years-old when this cover ran, so I would be curious as to what the readership thought. Most readers of BYTE Magazine were true hobbyists, so I am sure this drew some excitement of the possibilities.

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BYTE Magazine, April 1981

BYTE Magazine, April 1981

Productivity App Updates for July 1-8, 2014 [Android Edition]

Several productivity applications on Android got some much needed updates last week.  Here is a breakdown of some of the big ones...


Google Docs - Google split out several of the components within their Google Drive app, and Docs was one of them.  Some have complained about Google doing this, but overall it makes complete sense AND it has enhanced performance of the individual components.  Docs allows you to created word documents right from your mobile device and it is pretty slick. Version was uploaded to the Google Play store on July 2nd, and you can grab the app here.

App logos for the new Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides

App logos for the new Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides

Google Sheets - This is the second of three apps that got split out of Google Drive.  Create, edit, save, and share spreadsheet files.  Version was uploaded to the Google Play store on July 2nd, and you can grab the app here.

Google Slides - The third app in the Google Drive suite to get its own app was Google Slides, allowing users to create their own presentation files on the go.  Grab version 1.0.783.22 on the Google Play store now!


Google Search - For device owners running Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean), Google updated its search app with a few different enhancements, including:

  • Recommendations for things to watch on Chromecast
  • Public transit riders can now set an alarm to remind them when it is their stop (great feature for those that like to sleep on their commute!)
  • General bug fixes and enhancements

If you haven't gotten a chance to check out my Google Now articles, you can find those here. Version 3.5.16 was uploaded to the Google Play store on July 7th - grab it here!

Feedly - The RSS reader service, which has been having some denial-of-service attacks to deal with lately, issued a bunch of new updates this past week, including:

  • Fixing duplicate image issues
  • Bug fixes for Android 2.x and 4.x that was causing crashes
  • Long press to save and custom font size bugs
  • Fixes "pull to refresh" issues and left-to-right swipe lag issues
  • Implemented better support for Samsung 10" tablets
  • Smoother image rendering
  • Faster start up experience

You can grab version 22.0.0 on the Google Play store here.

IFTTT - This awesome app, which is still relatively new to Android, is one that I have written about a few times (here and here).  A recent version update (Version 1.1) that got released last week implements an Android Wear channel that can trigger recipes and notifications right to your wrist!  You can grab the 1.1 version on the Google Play store.


Personal Capital - This is a new application for me personally, as I just installed it this week.  The Mint competitor released two small updates, which consisted of:

  • Fixing a bug that was causing its widget to crash
  • Android Wear compatibility

Grab the latest Personal Capital updated app on the Google Play store!

Those were some of the most notable app updates from the previous week. Did I miss any big ones? If so, drop them in the comment section below!


How to activate Google Now's "Everywhere" feature

During my week-long voice command-only experiment, I am trying to find every trick in the book to become more effective using voice commands, and ultimately to become more productive.  My primary tool has been Google Now, which has proved to be very good.  Then yesterday, things got even better...

I activated the "Everywhere" setting in Google Now.

The "Everywhere" setting allows Google Now to recognize your "Ok Google" voice command from any screen on your device, including when it is charging or when the screen is off.  Below is a step-by-step guide to activating the Google Now "Everywhere" feature, which the latest Google Now app update makes available.

There are four slides in the gallery.  You start by opening the Google Now app, and go to the menu options.  From there, click on the options the yellow arrows are pointing to, and on the last slide make sure the two circled checkboxes are selected.

After you select the two boxes on the last screen, Google Now may ask you to do a three-step voice test. From there, I gave it a shot and have had pretty good luck.  Occassionally I have had some issues with it recognizing my "Ok Google" voice command when the screen is off, but in all those cases I may have had too much background noise.  Still testing, but overall, it works great from any screen I am on.

The Voice Command Experiment

I have decided to give my thumbs a break this week.

After having just about mastered the stock Android keyboard and several 3rd party keyboard apps on my various Android devices over the past several years, I am going voice command-exclusive this week.  From Google searches to composing text messages and emails to checking the weather forecast, every action I take on my smartphone or tablet will be conducted via voice command where applicable.  I started yesterday and so far, so good. I have found voice commands to be much better than I expected, but it is early yet!

For the most part, I am using Google Now as my main voice command service.  Occasionally I have used the stock Samsung voice command app, and definitely will try it out some more, but Google Now is available on both Google and Apple devices, so in order to give my best assessment to all my readers, I will primarily focus on Google Now.

Want to jump in and give Google Now voice commands a try before I complete my week-long experiment and share my feedback?  Below is a great infographic that can be used as a starting point for good commands to start with.  Would love to hear your feedback in the comment section below!

How Evernote Can Capitalize on All of Google's I/O Event News

One week later and I am still breaking down all the great stuff that came out of this year's Google I/O event.  As I pour through all of the tech blogs doing recaps of the event, I can't help but think about how other devices and services will play into the new things Google will be rolling out in the coming weeks and months. Specifically, how Evernote can capitalize further on the enhancements of Google platform.  Here are some of my thoughts...

Android One can bring Evernote to more individuals and businesses

Android One is Google's attempt to bring lower-cost smartphones to developing countries. Google will have direct say over the hardware and experience of the devices, which it probably wishes it could have over the carriers here in the U.S.  While exact specifications have not been defined yet, the hope would be Evernote would continue their tradition of supporting all devices, including these Android One models.  This would open up new markets of growth for Evernote.

Version "L" of Android offers a new design approach

Image courtesy of Lifehacker.com

Image courtesy of Lifehacker.com

The new flavor of Android is currently being referred to as "L" and it features a new cross platform UI called Material Design, which offers app developers more precise tools to make customized typography, grid, color changes and add smooth animations. The version looks to also support better lockscreen notifications and context-based authentication features (for example, if you’re wearing a paired Bluetooth watch while using your phone, it won’t prompt you for a pattern lock pass).  Battery life should also be improved in "L".  Evernote has always been ahead of the curve on design trends. For example, when iOS 7 came out, Evernote was one of the first apps to have the new design.  Here is another opportunity for Evernote to show of its design skills utilizing the Material Design approach.

Android Wear: Bringing the next generation of smartwatches

This is a no-brainer for Evernote. With Google releasing the details on Android Wear, their platform for hardware companies to include in the next generation of smartwatches, now Evernote can be right on your wrist.  This would not be Evernote's first appearance on a smartwatch, however. I was an early adopter with the Samsung Galaxy Gear last year and was happy to see Evernote had an app for that at release. Below is a video I published showing how the Evernote app works on the Gear watch.

I can't wait to see what Evernote puts together for the next generation of smartwatches, especially the ones running Android Wear.

Android Auto could bring Evernote to your car

The tech battle for the automobile is just getting heated up.  Google introduced Android Auto last week.  The completely voice-enabled Android Auto is designed to create a safe and seamless solution for using connected devices while driving. By connecting your smartphone to a compatible car, Android Auto will cast on the car’s screen quick shortcuts to location searches, suggestions and navigation. Drivers can also send and receive text messages using solely voice command features to keep their hands and eyes on the steering wheel.  Now imagine this with Evernote.  I can't tell you how nice it would be to create notes, checklists, and listen to the content of notes while in my car.  Considering all that Android Auto really needs is a smartphone device paired with it, an Evernote instance should already be existent.  It is the display on the dash that I am curious what Evernote engineers can come up with to display.

Evernote on your TV? Android TV could have an app for that

Display your notes, PDFs, photos - whatever you have in your Evernote account - could be displayed right on your TV. What about saving TV content or data to your Evernote account? Maybe that is a possibility.  So no matter if you are engrossed in a movie or TV show, Evernote could be one button away on your TV remote control.  Let the Evernote engineers dream up the possibilities!

Integrate your Google Fit with Evernote

Google announced its Google Fit platform that will be able to bring in health data from devices and services and put them all together.  I envision a two-way communication stream between Google Fit and Evernote to push and back-up health data to Evernote, and vice versa.  Tons of possibilities.

There was a lot more that came out of this year's Google I/O event, so I would expect those Evernote designers and engineers are gearing up for lots of great additions to the service for us loyal users!