Fast forward: the future of travel tech

The future of travel is increasingly lightweight and eco-friendly © ferrantraite / Getty

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…As wearable kit becomes more discreet, the possibilities for travellers are vast: especially when it comes to bridging language barriers.

‘In the next few years, it’s easy to imagine something like a pendant, watch or similar doing real-time two-way translation well enough to let people have a conversation without speaking the same language,’ says Dean. But he thinks more progress is needed before travellers can expect wearables to go mainstream.

…Debates have raged for a while about how travellers build and book trips, but changes are already being felt, according to some experts.

‘We’ve seen Facebook and Instagram both add live features recently, but I’m predicting it will all be about “live” peer-to-peer chat,’ says Brian Young of G Adventures. ‘Instead of researching a destination on the internet for hours, people will just be able to “ask a local” in the destination, or someone who has been to the destination, for their opinion.’

Instant local advice is an exciting prospect. It remains to be seen whether live recommendations will eventually fall foul of the same criticisms – like partiality and fakery – as review websites.

 

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No One Is Buying Smartwatches Anymore

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Remember how smartwatches were supposed to be the next big thing? About that…

The market intelligence firm IDC reported on Monday that smartwatch shipments are down 51.6 percent year-over-year for the third quarter of 2016. This is bad news for all smartwatch vendors (except maybe Garmin), but it’s especially bad for Apple, which saw shipments drop 71.6 percent, according to the IDC report…

Looking at IDC’s data, the only company that really did well over the last year is Garmin. Its sales increased 324 percent, catapulting it to second-place among vendors. Garmin’s watches focus on health and fitness, two areas smartwatch owners actually seem to care about. Tellingly, Apple has re-focused its marketing and positioning of the Apple Watch away from fashion and more towards health and fitness with its new models.

… But the bigger problem is that it’s difficult to justify buying a smartwatch. Jitesh Ubrani, a senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers put it bluntly in the press release:

It has also become evident that at present smartwatches are not for everyone. Having a clear purpose and use case is paramount, hence many vendors are focusing on fitness due to its simplicity. However, moving forward, differentiating the experience of a smartwatch from the smartphone will be key and we’re starting to see early signs of this as cellular integration is rising and as the commercial audience begins to pilot these devices.

My rocky first 24hrs with the Apple Watch

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I’m an insufferable asshole, and I’m here to complain about my brand new $350 luxury watch that so far hasn’t lived up to my insanely high expectations, which I am publishing here on Medium using my 5k iMac.

…Wearing this watch in a movie theater is not a great idea. Any time you shift in your seat, your watch awakens. When you get a notification — if you look at it — you’ll learn some are small fonts on black backgrounds and not that bad while others have notifications with big white icons and light gray backgrounds that light up a room. My favorite unknown feature was the Apple Activity app informing me halfway into a movie with a forceful haptic jolt and message demanding I needed to stand for one minute out of every hour to remain healthy and I should do so right now because I hadn’t stopped sitting since the movie began. Also, when the watch comes to life unexpectedly in a dark theater, or you know, any other location you might be in that might be dark, there’s no way to instantly darken it besides covering the watch face with your other hand which you should hope is free to cover your expensive wrist computer.

The watch repurposes existing phone features and it’s not always great. The love notes and drawings/taps feature is keyed off your phone’s favorites list in your phone’s phone app. My phone favorites are my wife, two close friends I contact often, and my brother, whom I call every so often and usually only for urgent family matters. He is on my favorites to save time digging for his number halfway through my contacts every few months when I need to contact him, not because he’s a favorite per se.

So there is my brother every time I hit the button below the crown. Forever.

 

Activity Trackers May Undermine Weight Loss Efforts

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Wearable activity monitors can count your steps and track your movements, but they don’t, apparently, help you lose weight. In fact, you might lose more weight without them.

The fascinating finding comes from a study published today in JAMA that found dieting adults who wore activity monitors for 18 months lost significantly fewer pounds over that time than those who did not.

The results suggest that activity monitors may not change our behavior in the way we expected, and raise interesting questions about the tangled relationships between exercise, eating, our willpower and our waistlines.

 

Why I’m Breaking Up With the Apple Watch

Photo by Earl Wilson, for the New York Times

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I do not want to be defined by a talking point on my wrist… when I started wearing the Apple Watch (the 38-millimeter case with a Milanese Loop band, which is the smaller size with a flexible stainless steel bracelet), it became a subject of conversation no matter where I was: in meetings at work, at the bagel store, at my son’s track meet. It has been so everywhere, marketed to so many people, there was just no mistaking it.

First everyone wanted to know about it. Then they wanted to try it. Then they made certain assumptions about me.

…“Why is that more embarrassing than endlessly looking at a phone?” my friends said when I complained.

It’s a valid question, but after some contemplation I think the answer is simple: A phone is hand-held, and we are used to seeing people read things held in their hands. Like, say, books. But seeing somebody staring at her wrist (or merely sneaking a surreptitious glance at it) telegraphs something else entirely: (1) rudeness or (2) geekiness.

Life After Cancer: How the iPhone Helped Me Achieve a Healthier Lifestyle

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…This tiny computer, in its obviousness and unsurprising advancements, keeps me in check and tells me what I often forget about – that I should get up and go. From a technological perspective, Apple’s Health and the apps I use are solid and useful; from a conceptual standpoint, watching that step count go up and up is a reminder that I’m free.

…I can track and optimize my lifestyle with an iPhone. An entire ecosystem of apps, services, and devices capable of monitoring my nutrition, weight, fitness activity, and even sleep uses my iPhone as the central, private hub that I control. On the iPhone, everything is collected and visualized by a single Health app, which can be connected to more apps. As a cancer survivor who wants to improve his lifestyle because of a newfound appreciation of life, all this is incredible.

…Tracking my life with my iPhone makes my commitment real and the effects directly measurable. Being able to open an app and be coached through workout sessions or use my phone to track steps and runs is empowering. iPhone software has enriched my lifestyle and it has allowed me to be more conscious in my daily choices.