UPDATE – Another one Bites the Dust – So Long Olio

I have a small update to this post…

I’ve always liked watches, but it appears I’m a much bigger watch geek than I thought I was. I’m still watching, still waiting for something to come out of Olio; and like most of what’s going on in wearable tech today, I continue to get disappointed.

If you click on the link, above, you’ll be taken to all that’s left of Olio’s website – an HTTP403 Forbidden error.

olio forbidden

As I write this on the eve of Apple’s Fall iPhone event, its nice to know that Apple will be releasing – or at least announcing the release – of watchOS 4 tomorrow. The Olio Model One, while nearly almost completely devoid of its original functionality (except anything that is directly provided by its connection with your mobile device, like notifications, phone and music control), remains a favorite of mine. It looks really nice and it still tells time. However, I’ve noticed that lack of a connection to my iPhone causes it to fall behind as far as telling time is concerned… which is very confusing… There appears to be a LOT of communication going on between the Olio Model One and my iPhone that I – and likely EVERYONE else wasn’t aware of.

I told the sad tale of how Olio died about a month ago. You can see that article here. Unfortunately, at this point… things are worse.

Related Posts:

I got KO’ed by Kanoa

I think this is the last product I’m going to pre-order…

Kickstarter and Indiegogo are pretty cool sites. They allow entrepreneurs and product visionaries to bring their product to life and perhaps… just perhaps… begin a startup company that takes the world by storm and creates a revolution. That happened with Pebble… but those successes, to be honest, are few and far between, and unfortunately, for Pebble, things don’t always end with a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Pebble was acquired by Fitbit and that platform have essentially died and are no longer around.

I’ve backed a total of 5 projects on Kickstarter, the latest being the Nomatic Backpack and Travel Pack, and after what happened to me yesterday, they will be the LAST pre-order I make.

EVER.

A little over 14 months ago, as of this writing, I pre-ordered a set of wireless earbuds. At that time, Apple’s AirPods were all the buzz. There were folks out then – and still today – where that form factor doesn’t quite fit right or work; and, like me, were looking for an alternative.

I found that alternative via Kanoa; and up until now, I’ve been content. At least I thought I WOULD be content, if and when, the product arrived and I had my pre-order fulfilled. Unfortunately for me and a number of different “backers,” that isn’t going to happen.

Yesterday – 2017-08-23 – Kanoa closed down without any warning.

Yesterday, all Kanoa backers got a note from the company, directing them to an “important notice.” This notice describes a “roadblock” that the company has encountered.

Just last week, the company started shipping earbuds to some – not all – but some, Batch 1 backers (those that ordered prior to 2016-02-27). As of this writing, the company has ceased operations, laid off all their staff, and have killed all their social media sites (including their Facebook page, and Twitter account). Any remaining Batch 1 orders and all Batch 2 orders will go unfulfilled… at least until further notice.

Kanoa had their backer(s) pull all of their funding. I’m not certain if that’s due to issues with their smartphone side software – which went through a couple of beta rounds via Apple’s Test Flight and then was formally released via the iOS App Store on 2017-08-13 – or if that’s due to some bad press that may have been received via some sketchy beta reviews; or if there were additional production/ manufacturing issues/ bugs/ delays, etc. Whatever the problem was, Kanoa’s backer(s) pulled their funding, leaving the company in a state of limbo.

At this point, anyone that has backed the product and hasn’t received their earbuds can expect to NOT have their order fulfilled. While Kanoa is trying to procure new funding or even a sale to a technology company, it’s clear that this is just another startup that failed to launch and failed to fulfill their vision.

Unfortunately, for all who backed the project and preordered their earbuds, that money is gone; and your likelihood of either getting your money back or having your preorder fulfilled is slim to none, at best.

So for me… I’m not backing any additional Kickstarter projects (I was never a big Indiegogo fan…), or preordering any product where the preorder requires the full purchase price to be collected prior to shipment.

Should you want to read Kanoa’s notification to all of its backers, you can see it here.

This year has been full of disappointments. First Olio, now Kanoa.

I really need to stop backing losing horses…

Related Posts:

Another One Bites the Dust – So long Olio

I’m sorry to report that Olio Devices didn’t make it… as far as I can tell.

Back in 2015, I spent most of the year doing an extended round up of smart watches. I’m sorry to report that most of the devices that I reviewed as part of that round up, including

The Microsoft Band
The Fitbit Surge, and the
Pebble Time

have all met a rather disappointing demise. None of these devices are available for purchase today, not even two years since I published each review (or there abouts…)

Microsoft introduced Band in December of 2014; and it was one of the HOTTEST items for that Holiday season. I was fortunate enough to get one for both me AND my wife. Unfortunately, they weren’t very comfortable and the battery life sucked. Microsoft followed Band up with Band 2; but then discontinued the device in the middle of 2016. The entire team had their direction refocused on Microsoft Health; but even THAT is nowhere to be found. It seems Microsoft’s foray into wearables and in the health market doesn’t have a consumer presence to speak of, and never will.

The Pebble Time wasn’t as well received as the original Pebble or even the Pebble Steel. As such, Pebble sold itself to Fitbit; and they laid off all their people, closed their software store, and called it a day in December of 2016. They were the first on the market with any real success, but they didn’t last, unfortunately.

Since Fitbit purchased Pebble, there really hasn’t been anything out of Fitbit of note. While they have released the Alta and the Alta HR, those devices aren’t innovative at all and don’t offer any new features that the Charge 2 does.

Fitbit’s best asset is its software, the Fitbit App. It’s really some of the best fitness tracking bits that I’ve seen. Unfortunately, their hardware leaves a great deal to be desired. I was hoping that Fitbit might be able to do something innovative with the IP from Pebble, but it hasn’t emerged yet, and we’re coming up to a year since the acquisition. If “it” isn’t out by the 2017 Holiday Buying Season (whatever “it” might be…), they likely aren’t going to do anything of note with it.

So, the Band and Pebble are gone; and the Surge is a huge non-influencer (like the rest of Fitbit, in my opinion…). Unfortunately, the other big watch player I reviewed in 2015 is also now… gone.

The Olio Model One has also been discontinued. Their website is still active, and has been most of the year, but every model of every collection they have, including Steel, Black, Rose Gold, and Gold, indicate that they are sold out. Unfortunately, as I mentioned, this has been the case for the better part of the year (2017).

I got in touch with Steve Jacobs, the former CEO of Olio Devices, and he confirmed that th company has indeed been sold. While the organization existed for four years, this was apparently their entire overall goal (as it is with many start ups…). Olio was hoping to be purchased by someone… whom that might be, however, is unknown.

While Mr. Jacobs and I are acquaintances, and we did have direct and open communications during 2015 and the early part of 2016, I can only assume that part of the conditions of the sale of Olio Devices included keeping the entire deal confidential. Steve simply won’t give up the goods on who purchased Olio, or what they plan to do with the site, the watches or the IP.

As it stands, right now, the site, while still active, is a ghost town. The software used to manage the smartwatch, Olio Assist (iTunes App Store Link, Google Play Store Link) while technically available if you’ve previously downloaded it, may or may not be available for new users to download.

The biggest problem with it, however, is the way the software was designed to work. As of this writing, its nearly completely deprecated.

Olio watches are designed to pair with an Android or iPhone smartphone. The device software must be running on your smartphone – not just merely installed – while using the watch. For most smartwatches, this is usually enough. However, Olio Assist has an additional dependency. In order for its digital assistant to work, Olio Assist must communicate with a central server. Olio Assist only communicates with this server when the watch is paired and actively in range of the smartphone, with the software running.

The central server knows exactly which watches are connected to which smartphones. It provides data to support ALL of its complications, including weather, time zones AND your schedule. That last one kinda surprised me. Olio Assist doesn’t synch contact or calendar data between your phone and the watch, it synchs it to the central server first, and the server provides data to the complication, back through your smartphone and the app.

With Olio Devices now no longer functioning as an active entity, all of their servers are off line. The only thing that the watch can do now is get notifications, because they are sent directly to the watch from the smartphone itself. The watch will also notify you of incoming calls and will still control music playback. However, everything else… every other feature that Olio Assist provided, Schedule and Weather complications, time zones, Rules, Earlier, Now and Later Services, and ANY part of its Digital Assistant, now no longer work due to an interruption of communications with their central servers.

Steve Jacobs also indicated to me that it is very possible that even those services that are currently providing value, may also stop working. If this is the case, then the watch is living on borrowed time; and the $450 to $650 price tag that many paid for this device may soon become a huge issue.

Most luxury watches costing this much work for years, if not decades. This apparently won’t be the case with the Olio Model One… and that’s hugely disappointing.

My suggestion for you is this – buy an Apple Watch. It’s the only one that I reviewed that is really still around and that is being improved on. Apple will be releasing watchOS 4 in September of 2017. If you must have an Android Wear watch, make sure you get something that is either made or branded by Google directly or from Samsung. Otherwise, you may find yourself trying to figure out how to make an expensive orphaned device work after it’s no longer being actively supported.

And that… totally sucks.

Related Posts:

No Band for You!

You come back, one year!

microsoft-band

The wearables market isn’t an easy one; and its one that for many, still remains untamed. I spent a great deal of time last year covering the wearables market.

The first device I reviewed in this year long series was the Microsoft Band. In the end, at least before the Apple Watch was released, I considered it to be the go to device that I would have recommended to everyone, largely because (it had)

  • An inexpensive point of entry
  • A cross platform set of apps
  • An easy to use UI and smartphone app

When, a year later, Microsoft released Band 2, I felt vindicated – at least for my initial recommendation – because a second release of Band meant that Microsoft intended to stay in the market, at least for a while.

Yeah… about that…

Microsoft announced earlier this week that it is pulling Band 2 from all of its Stores and won’t be releasing a Band 3 this year.

Later, Microsoft also removed Band’s SDK from their site, which makes sense, since they’re no longer selling the device. They also appear to have disbanded the software team that was tasked with bringing Band in to Windows 10 as a native device and the hardware team responsible for design and engineering of Band hardware.

The one thing that Microsoft is NOT doing, however is dropping Microsoft Health. Microsoft still intends to provide that software and service to users of other fitness bands.

However, Apple Watch users, or those MS Health users looking to switch to Apple Watch, shouldn’t get their hopes up. It’s very unlikely that Apple will provide an API that would permit 3rd party support of Apple Watch with Microsoft Health or any other health monitoring application.

So you can put Microsoft Band into the heap of dead and dying tech revealed recently, including, of course, Blackberry manufactured hardware.

Related Posts:

FEATURE REVIEW – iPhone 7 Plus

After the initial out of the box experience, here are my thoughts on the iPhone 7 Plus

Introduction
I’m going to try to make this quick, as I’m currently working on a number of longer articles for Soft32 that I really want to get done in September as opposed to October; but to be honest, this one really can’t wait. If I don’t get it posted, its value and relevance will really fall; and I just can’t have that…

I’ve been an iPhone user on and off since 2008. I originally bought an iPhone 3G (or what could now be called the iPhone 2). It was the second iPhone that Apple released; and back in the day it you had a choice of two (2) colors – white or black. I was at a local AT&T store and while I wanted black, I had to take white, as all of the black phones were sold out. It’s also the last time that I actually stood in a line to buy a phone.

Things have changed a great deal in the last eight years.

I’m running with an iPhone 7 Plus this time around. I’ve had it for about a week; and I’ve developed a few opinions about it. Let’s take a quick sec and run over them… Shall we..??

Size, Finish and Form Factor
Damn, this phone is big.

I remember back in the day – and we’re talking 2004 to 2006 time frame – having a device with a screen larger than four (4) inches (measured diagonally) was a dream to view content with; but was considered a major issue because it completely interfered with one hand operation. The iPhone 7 is 4.7″ diagonally and the 7 Plus is 5.5 inches diagonally.

I found the following picture of all of the iPhones that Apple has ever released. It clearly shows the change in size over the past nine (9) years.

iphone-history

The iPhone 7 can still be used one handed, but requires a larger hand to really make this work without risking some serious and possibly painful, stretching. The iPhone 7 Plus simply can’t be used with one hand. At 5.5″ diagonally, the form factor (often) requires two hands to hold the device, let alone, use it.

I’ve got a serious case of arthritis in my hands, and to be honest, I don’t even think about trying to use the 7 Plus with one hand. For me – and I would think most of the Plus user base – it just isn’t possible.

If there was one thing that hit me when I got into my 7 Plus, it was the size of the device. My wife has the iPhone 6s Plus, and has been using that for a year; and of course I’ve occasionally used it; but it’s a different story when your daily driver is as large as the Plus size devices.

I know I will get used to it, but this is going to take me some time. I need to stop stretching my hands across the device to the upper left corner, trying to reach things. It’s just not going to happen…

With the device’s increased size, I’ve noticed that its rounded edges are a problem. The device is so smooth that it really feels like it wants to fall out of my hands when I’m holding it. If there was one thing that I would change about this device, it would be squaring off the rounded edges, making it a bit similar to the design of the iPhone SE and the iPhone 4/4s/5/5s. It would just make it a lot easier to grip and hold on to.

At the end of the day, the screen size is a huge reason to upgrade, but it makes the device a lot bigger (duh…) and it requires a bit of getting used to, especially for someone with arthritis issues, like me.

I purchased the matte black iPhone 7 Plus. My wife got the jet black iPhone 7 Plus. Both colors are VERY black. This is not charcoal, or a dark space gray. This is black.

My wife’s jet black 7 Plus arrived on 2015-09-27. The best way to describe it is as having a black, glossy, glass finish all the way around. The back looks as though it is covered with the same glass as the front is. It looks beautiful.

The Full 360
Here are some comparison photos of the iPhone 6, the iPhone 6s Plus and the Matte Black, iPhone 7 Plus.

dsc_1317 dsc_1318
From left to right, the front of the iPhone 6, iPhone 7 & iPhone 6s Plus From left to right, the backs of the iPhone 6, iPhone 7 & iPhone 6s Plus
dsc_1319 dsc_1320
From left to right, the bottom of the iPhone 6, iPhone 7 & iPhone 6s Plus From left to right, the left side of the iPhone 6, iPhone 7 & iPhone 6s Plus
dsc_1321 dsc_1324
From left to right, the tops of the iPhone 6, iPhone 7 & iPhone 6s Plus From left to right, the right side of the iPhone 6, iPhone 7 & iPhone 6s Plus

Home Button
This is a huge change in iPhone 7; and aside from the loss of the headphone jack (see below…), is perhaps the biggest, most controversial change in iPhone 7. 7 Plus.

The Home Button is no longer a physical button. The TouchID sensor is hidden under a haptic enabled, Force Touch/ 3D Touch, round, recessed section of the screen. User adjustable, haptic feedback simulates a click or press when you press on it with your fingertip.

The “button” works via capacitive touch. There is no physical, depressive hardware or button mechanism that depresses when you push the button. Like the trackpad on a MacBook or MacBook Pro equipped with a compatible trackpad, the new home button simulates a press when you “push” it.

I’ve noticed that while this is similar to the experience and feeling on the MacBook or MacBook Pro that’s equipped with a Force Touch trackpad, its simply does NOT work the same way. The trackpad “click” feels like you’ve actually clicked a trackpad. The feeling you get from the Home Button on the iPhone 7/ 7 Plus does NOT feel like you’ve pushed the Home Button on an iPhone 6s/ 6s Plus or earlier, and it never will.

While you WILL get used to this change over time, it’s the miniaturization of the haptic engine and the other components in the “button” that make this implementation of this technology different. It works on the trackpads because everything is a bit bigger, there’s more surface area to work with and the vibration from the haptic engine can be applied to a larger area and has a better chance to dissipate a bit to help simulate a depressed click, all without any physical, moving parts.

Because it has no moving parts, AND requires a capacitive connection, you can’t get a press out of the button with a finger nail. You have to have a physical, flesh to button connection. This coupled with the new click feel, is going to require some getting used to.

As a quick aside, iOS 10 also implements a, “press home to unlock,” process. This was done in large part due to complaints that Apple received from users of the iPhone 6s/ 6s Plus who indicated that the performance of the touch sensor on those phones was too good, unlocking the device before they had a chance to read all of the notifications on the lock screen. You can “disable” this somewhat by changing the Home Button behavior in Accessibility Settings.

You’re going to be pressing the Home Button a lot more, so you can either get used to it all, or change the settings to better match the way you work. Your call…

Headphone Jack
First things first… Apple did NOT simply cover up the headphone jack on the iPhone 7/ 7Plus with the new, left side speaker grill. They removed the jack and all the associated hardware from the device completely. Please note that drilling a hole in your iPhone 7/ 7 Plus looking to “activate” the “hidden” jack under the speaker grill is only going to destroy your new iPhone. There is no hidden jack.

Plainly put – drilling a hole in your phone is just a mark of stupidity. Don’t do it. Period. The headphone jack has been removed from the iPhone 7/ 7 Plus, not hidden.

That nasty bit out of the way, the big question is, “how has this affected me?”

The answer is, “not much at all.”

I love music. It’s a key part of my life and a large part of who I am. I’ve got songs – originals and covers – running through my head all day, every day. Literally.

The main place I listen to any audio content is my car; and I’ve been listening to it via lightning connector/ USB cable connected to my car radio for about five (5) years. The only time I’ve ever really used any of the ear buds I’ve received with any of my iPhones – or any smartphone, for that matter – is when I’ve needed to make a phone call while having both hands free (and I wasn’t in my car). I very rarely listen to music at the office, as someone is likely to say something to me, and I’m not going to hear them if I’m plugged in. At home, I play audio through desktop speakers set at the appropriate volume level.

Now, that isn’t to say that I will NEVER use a set of headphones at office. However, when I do, I’ve got that covered. iPhone 7 and 7 Plus both come with a Lightning to 3.5mm Headphone Jack Adapter (a $9 accessory). If I want to listen to music at work, I’ll put that adapter on the wired end of the Beats Wireless On-Ear Headphones I bought on Amazon.com.

Yes, they can also work wirelessly; but I never use the wireless connection any longer. I’ve had too many problems. The wired connection is much more reliable. So, again, I’ll just put the adapter on the AUX cord that came with the headset and leave it there.

While lots of folks hate change; this one isn’t bothering me much. At the end of the day, we’re going to do the same thing that we did when headphone jacks moved from 1/4 inch to 3.5mm… we’re going to get an adapter, attach it to our favorite headset, and we’re going to get over the fact that the jack we’re used to is gone.

Camera
There are a great deal of camera improvements in the iPhone 7/ 7 Plus. The table below compares the camera in the last two iterations of Apple’s flagship phone.

Feature

iPhone 7

iPhone 6s

Sensor Size 12MP 12MP
Aperture WA: f1.8, T: f2.8 f2.2
Zoom Optical: 2x, Dig: 10x Digital Only: 5x
OIS Both Plus Only
Lens 6 Element 5 Element
Lens Cover Sapphire Crystal Sapphire Crystal

I’m a decent amateur photographer, and quite honestly, the above features are the ones that I’m really interested in and concerned about when it comes to the camera. These are the core camera features that anyone really interested in the camera will really care about. The faster rating (f1.8 vs f2.2) on the iPhone 7’s rear camera means that it should take better pictures in low light situations. The camera should also be better at capturing sports or other fast action shots.

To be honest, these are all still photo feature related. While the ability to take video is also nice, I don’t do it much. Thankfully for me, though, the video camera feature set between the iPhone 7/ 7 Plus and the iPhone 6s/ 6s Plus hasn’t changed. It’s the same as last year’s model.

Since I’m coming from an iPhone 6 to the iPhone 7, I haven’t really had a chance to take or play with Live Photos. To be blunt and honest, I’m not impressed. Live Photos are three to six second movies that your phone takes. The photo appears as a still until you either press and hold or apply Force Touch to your screen.

Live Photos is turned on by default and are taken in Photo (default) mode. I’ve found them to be some of the worst photos AND videos I’ve ever taken. The still shots in them are mediocre at best and the videos are often blurry. When most stills are in the 175kb to 512kb size range and Live Photos are about 2MB in size, they are really nothing more than a waste of space, I’ve found. Unless you’re in a really well lit, naturally lighted area, I’d stay away from them.

Other photos I’ve taken with the iPhone 7 Plus look really good. Take a look at the table below. I’ve got two photos of the same subject taken with both devices and their Info sheets, below. Both photos are of our new puppy, Maggie, a havanese puppy, about 16 weeks old.

img_0102 img_0102-info
img_5820 img_5820-info

There’s nothing special done to either of these photos. I haven’t applied any filters or retouched them in any way. You can see the photo taken with the iPhone 7 Plus has much more detail and is a much clearer, more focused, sharper picture. That’s what a faster lens with a longer focal length and 4 additional mega pixels will get you. The quality and improvement is unquestionable.

When you look at these two sample photos, it’s clear which is the better one – the one taken with the iPhone 7 Plus. It also clearly illustrates why the camera on a smartphone is perhaps the single biggest reason why people upgrade their phones every 12 to 24 months. Their phone is the camera they carry with them everywhere they go.

When you make quality jumps like f1.8 from f2.2 and 6.6mm from 4.5mm, upgrading your smartphone to get a better camera is easy to understand. While I’d quite honestly rather have my DSLR with me to take pictures, this point and shoot camera on the iPhone 7 Plus is really a good substitute in a much more convenient form factor.

NOTE: I’m going to say just this about the pending Portrait mode and the Gaussian blur effect it performs – the blur needs to be more pronounced than some of the sample photos I’ve seen taken by those individuals running the update on an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus. Currently, the effect doesn’t feel strong enough to me. You can see some sample pictures published on c|net, here.

I am NOT currently running the iOS 10.1 beta that has this update, though I have access to the software. I wanted to be able to review my iPhone 7 Plus without the possible issues that may come from early betas of this first major update to iOS 10.

Battery Life
The iPhone 7/ 7 Plus and the iPhone 6s/ 6s Plus are effectively the same size. Each corresponding model in each device series has the same dimensions as the other. However, the inner workings are a bit different and are laid out differently. As I understand it, the batteries in the 7/ 7 Plus is slightly bigger than the batteries in the 6s/ 6s Plus.

Battery specs for the iPhone 7 Plus and the iPhone 6s Plus are below. You’ll notice that the battery ratings for the 6s Plus are slightly better than the 7 Plus. While the battery is slightly bigger, the lower battery life ratings can be accounted for in the updated A10 processor, extra 1GB of RAM (the 7 Plus has a total of 3GB of RAM where the 6s Plus has 2GB of RAM) and the higher resolution display.

Feature

iPhone 7 Plus

iPhone 6s Plus

Improvement 1 hour Longer

N/A

Talk Time – 3G Up to 21 hours on 3G Up to 24 hours on 3G
Standby Up to 16 days Up to 16 days
Internet Use Up to 13 hours on 3G
Up to 13 hours on LTE
Up to 15 hours on Wi-Fi
Up to 12 hours on 3G
Up to 12 hours on LTE
Up to 12 hours on WiFi
Wireless Video Playback Up to 14 hours Up to 14 hours
Wireless Audio Playback Up to 60 hours Up to 80 hours

During the day, I take and make a moderate amount of phone calls. I have some moderate app use. I play a couple hours of games; and I’ve always got at least one smartwatch connected to it – either the Olio Model One or the Apple Watch Series 0. With the iPhone 6, I found that my device’s charge would drop to between 15 to 20% power by the end of the day. I’ve found that with the iPhone 7 Plus, I can make it through the day with well over 55% charge left. That’s about 1/3 more battery life. I find that it also charges back up fairly quickly. I’m usually back up to 95-100% by the time I’m back home from work (a 45 to 60 minute ride).

Conclusion
I have some work to do getting used to the increased device size of the iPhone 7 Plus. I know I’ll get there; but right now, knowing that I have to finish adjusting and have to learn to feel comfortable using two hands to run the device instead of just one will take some time.

The jury is still out for me on the Home Button. We’ll have to wait and see what happens. I’d like to “like” how the device functions since I’m technically stuck with this until at least next year.

I’ve moved on from the loss of the headphone jack. You should too. It’s not that big a deal… really. As long as I have the 3.5mm to Lightning adapter on my Beats headphones audio cord, I’m fine. If not, then I have to go across the street from the office to the Apple Store to get a new one.

The camera is really great, but I need to spend some more time taking pictures with it. It’s a huge improvement over the iPhone 6 that I’ve been using and its enhancements warrant some serious work.

Battery life on the 7 Plus is decent. While its somewhat less than the 6s Plus, its enhanced components can explain that away, and honestly, it’s a lot better knowing that I’ve got extra battery power to get me through the day when I really need it.

The iPhone 7 Plus would have been a good upgrade for me regardless of the metrics or reasons and results of my first week of use. The device has a larger screen, bigger battery, a better camera and an extra 1GB of RAM (for a total of 3GB) than my iPhone 6, so this was a slam dunk based on those older device specs. Everything else I got was just gravy…

Related Posts:

Olio Keeps Trying

You have to hand it to a company that keeps on trying…

Over the past year, I’ve done a lot with wearables. Again, here’s all the links to the articles I’ve written on them.

Microsoft Band

Fitbit Surge

Pebble Time

Apple Watch Sport

Olio Model One

Waterproof-Watch-5

This list is in sharp contrast to the state of the wearable’s market now. It’s not as prolific, and its currently stagnating a bit, as everyone – and every device – that’s still in the market tries to decide where the next step is.

Case in point – the Olio Model One. It looks awesome; but at the time of review, if you tried to use it past a 2-4 hour window, you’d be out of luck. The battery life was atrocious. It was effectively, unusable due to the battery burning through a charge, especially if it was out of range of your phone.

However, Olio hasn’t given up on the Model One; and despite me being bitterly disappointed and down on it out of the gate, I continue to be hopeful as new software updates come out for it.

Another case in point – Olio has recently released Model One Software Version 1.4; and boy..! What a difference a release (or two) makes!

Olio has included the following in this update:
Gesture – You can now select ‘High’ for a sensitive gesture response, ‘Medium’ for the current default that you’ve been experiencing with gesture on, or ‘Low’ for a less sensitive gesture response and optimum battery life. The gesture feature is located in Settings on your Model One.
Bluetooth – This update also includes improvements to Bluetooth connectivity,
Overall UI Improvements,
Battery Life optimizations for iPhone users

I’ve noticed the following with this update:

1. Battery Life – Battery life is improved by 3x. I can now make it through the day – 12-14 hours without having my watch run out of power. The device is now (in the most basic terms) usable. I can use it without having to recharge or worry about if and when (not it… WHEN) my watch will run out of power.

I still have to make certain that I take my phone with me to meetings. Bluetooth will still go haywire, trying to reconnect to my phone if I’m out of range…

This still needs to improve. The Model One can’t be considered a success here until it can go at LEAST 24-36 hours without needing a charge. Heck, the Microsoft Band version 1 (Part 1 Part 2) can do that.
2. Bluetooth – Yes, it connects quicker. Yes, it seems to find my phone better; but when it loses connectivity, it still searches like mad.

What needs to happen here is that if the phone goes out of range or the watch “loses” the phone, the watch needs to check your schedule. If you have an appointment during the time of communication loss, then the watch shouldn’t try to reconnect until after the appointment ends. Then it should try three times on its own, and then give up. The watch face should turn red (or give some other visual clue that its lost connectivity and has stopped trying on its own to connect) and then give the user the opportunity to reconnect manually. Olio Assist can house the settings.
3. Gesture Sensitivity – High is too high, low is too low, and medium… can be a weird combination of the two at times. Unfortunately, for me, medium is NOT “just right.”

Stay tuned. Olio promises many more updates and improvements to the Model One in the coming months. I’ll have an update on those that make an impact posted to Soft 32 as soon as I can.

Related Posts:

Smartwatches for Everyone!

You Can Turn ANY Watch into a Smartwatch with Chronos

Chronos

Those of you that know me and have been following me over at LEAST the past year know that for me, 2015 was the year of the smartwatch. I reviewed the following smartwatches in 2015:

Microsoft Band
Part 1

Fitbit Surge
Pebble Time
Apple Watch Sport
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Olio Model One

There were good and bad smartwatches in this list. I’ve really chosen the Apple Watch Sport as my daily wearable. I’ve been wearing it more consistently than any other smartwatch that I reviewed. Both the Microsoft Band and the Fitbit Surge have been retired. I gave the Pebble Time to a friend of mine at Church; and I’m still working with Olio on what I would still consider some issues with the Model One.

However, if you have a standard, non-smartwatch, watch that you are totally in love with and don’t want to give up or put into semi-retirement but really want a smartwatch, then you really need to take a look at Chronos.

Chronos is a 3x33mm disk that adheres to the back of ANY watch via micro-suction. Its water resistant , non-magnetic, and provides both vibration and colored LED light notifications. In addition to this, it has an accelerometer for fitness tracking, allows you to use your watch as a remote for your smartphone’s camera and music player. You can even use gesture controls to skip songs. If you’ve misplaced your phone, you can use Chronos to “ping” it to help you locate it.

Chronos on Watch

Chronos has Bluetooth 4.0 LE with a 50 foot range; and has a rechargeable lithium polymer battery with a battery life range of up to three (3) days. The device charges via wireless charging, so you can charge it while it’s still connected to your favorite watch of choice.

The best thing here is the price – at least at the time of this writing. Chronos will begin shipping in Spring of 2016 and retails for an MSRP of $129. If you preorder yours now, you can get it for $40 off, or $89.

I’ve requested a review sample from Chronos and hope to hear back from them soon, as I feel this would make a wonderful, final edition to our Wearables Roundup. Stay tuned to Soft32 for more information, and hopefully, a full review!

Related Posts:

Olio Releases Model One Firmware Updates 1.1.71

Well… At least they’re making an effort…

DlAmpsIrIf you recall, my review of the Olio Model One wasn’t very flattering. I still think its problematic, and something that most people probably should wait on purchasing. However… they ARE trying; and for that, their grades are improving. Recently, you may recall, they released a firmware update. Well, Olio has released another firmware update, updating their Model One to version 1.1.71.

Version 1.1.70 was released on 2016-01-22. Version 1.1.71 was released on 2016-01-23. Olio again caught a bug, post release, and followed it up with a quick fix. While this shows diligence – to an extent – airing their laundry like this probably isn’t helping them very much… Olio should have kept the information to themselves and just released version 1.1.71 without saying anything. However, the following is a list of updates and fixes that have been released.

  • ALS (Automatic Light Sensor) fixes: All watches should function normally on Auto brightness.
  • Watches rebooting: We have implemented a fix for those of you who saw your watch frequently rebooting.
  • Rapid battery drain: You should now expect a full 12 hours of battery life with Gesture On, and 18+ hours with Gesture Off.
  • Incorrect weather: The weather Complication should no longer display question marks, and the current weather should be accurate.
  • Repeating alarms: Repeating alarms will now get set properly.
  • Images not loading: Watch hands, Bluetooth or battery icons, and other image assets should now load consistently and immediately.

Please remember that the Olio Model one has a passive firmware updating system. You don’t download anything to either your (iPhone or Android) phone. Instead, charge both your watch and your phone, and make sure they are connected via Bluetooth in the Olio Assist app. If your phone app does not say connected, restart Bluetooth on your watch to reconnect. If this does not resolve the connection, please email Olio support and they will assist you.

As mentioned above, unresponsive watches should be fixed with this update. If you your watch turns off on its own, Olio would like you to contact them. They will likely want to take your timepiece back to their San Francisco headquarters for servicing. If it can’t be easily fixed, Olio will replace the watch at no cost to you. Please contact support@oliodevices.com for more information.

Olio has more to offer by the end of January 2016. They are in the process of updating both iOS and Android versions of Olio Assist; and those may already be out by the time this article is published. Please check the appropriate app store for an update if it hasn’t already come down to you.

Olio’s next firmware update will come in mid-February and is currently scheduled to include the following:

  1. Bluetooth enhancements
  2. Navigation in Control Hub (it does currently exist as a notification)
  3. Voice control
  4. The ability to update various watch preferences from the phone apps
  5. Time zones
  6. Silence notification Rule improvements

I’ll have more on all of this at that time, or as I update my Model One. The passive update system is difficult at best, as there’s currently no way to download the firmware update and push it to your phone. Somehow the stars have to align just right before that happens, and there really isn’t any way to set that into motion. It either happens or it doesn’t.

I’ve suggested that Olio needs to provide an “advanced mode” that will allow people to update their watch on their own, but they have so far refused to provide that level of service. While I understand their reasoning why – this stuff is all just supposed to work in the background without any forceful action on the user’s part – it doesn’t “just work.” I’ve had my watch sitting on my desk now for at least two days waiting for this to happen.

So far… Nuthin!

This isn’t supposed to be rocket science; and I’ve followed all of the instructions that I’ve been given. I have no idea why this is such a difficult process. Unfortunately, this is partially escalated due to all of the problems and issues that the Model One has.

If the product were functioning as designed, then there likely wouldn’t be a need for any kind of “advanced mode” that allowed you to download and push a firmware update to the watch.

That may just be me; but I suspect that it isn’t. I’m pretty certain that the issues, problems, frustrations and concerns that I’ve got are ones that are being voiced by every single Model One owner.

If you have any ideas, or additional information on any of this, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me via the discussion area below. I monitor all of my postings here on Soft32, so it’s easy to get in touch with me.

Related Posts:

Stay in touch with Soft32

Soft32.com is a software free download website that provides:

121.218 programs and games that were downloaded 237.780.356 times by 402.775 members in our Soft32.com Community!

Get the latest software updates directly to your inbox

Find us on Facebook