My replacement Nike FuelBand arrived a week or two ago; it’s the Nike Fuelband SE. The packaging and the device look exactly like the first model of Fuelband, so I was a bit confused at first, but once you plug the device in, it’s a big difference.

For one thing, the display animations are much faster, requiring less time to check your progress or see what time it is. The most important change in the user experience, though, is the data sync. In the first version of the fuel band you had to press and hold the button (you know, that button that always broke for me on four different fuel bands) in order to sync. It would then link via Bluetooth to your phone and update the app with your progress. It did this very slickly and seamlessly in early versions in the app, but later versions were kind of wonky with this feature.

With the new model of the FuelBand, they do it the way it should have been done in the first place. Launching the *app* will just automatically sync up with the band and get the progress. Much more intuitive, and it seems to work much more reliably as well. It should also put a lot less stress on the button — I’m hoping the new model has a more reliable button mechanism to begin with, but I also will use it less as a result of this change, which is good thinking on their part. The FuelBand works best as a ‘put on and forget’ device.

Nike must be feeling the competition from other fitness trackers, or perhaps the upcoming Apple Watch — the Fuelband SE now is $99 for the stock models, and there are a couple of glitzier-looking colors that run $149.

This article about the iOS8 Message app has a lot of great insight about how one can improve a commonly-used feature , and the importance of attention to detail. The genius of this change is that they added an amazing amount of power, but what the user sees is not so different from iOS7 that they would get lost.

The only downside is that the change isn’t easy to discover for everyone. Tap and hold is pretty common now — he points out that many messaging apps like WhatsApp have it, and it’s something that Pinterest uses as well — but it’s not always clear in an interface what things support it.

These instantly sent pieces of media are also ephemeral. You have to explicitly ask to save them, or they self-destruct after 2 minutes.

tl;dr – if you tap and hold on the microphone or camera icon in your iMessage screen, you can send voice or pictures or video without launching another app. They’ve also made tapping on the camera icon show you the most recently taken photos so you can send them without searching. Easy-to-miss, but smart changes.

My Nike Fuelband died yet again (which is definitely the subject of a future story), and this time they didn’t have replacements immediately in stock, so I’ve been band-less while Nike was inspecting my returned device and issuing a voucher. The good news is that my replacement is going to be the Fuelband SE model, which has more functionality, and presumably a better switch; I cannot complain about Nike’s Customer Service in the least.

The not-so-good news is that Nike Move, an M7-enabled iOS app, makes for a very poor substitute. For one thing, while it collects NikeFuel, their secret-sauce proprietary substitute for steps, calories, etc., it does not seem to integrate with the Nikeplus.com website. As a result, I can’t sync Fuel points I earned while my device was AWOL. The Nike Move app is integrated with Game Center, rather than Nike’s own gamified site. It’s also not integrated with HealthKit, even though NikeFuel is unique among the measurements captured in Apple’s Health app, the only proprietary measurement there.

Nike has some fabulous real estate in the HealthKit ecosystem, and none of their apps seem to take advantage of it yet. The Fuelband app is still not integrated with Health, though it is superbly integrated with the NikePlus site.

The other thing about Nike Move is that it is very poor at actually using the M7 co-processor. The app seems to need to be running to capture data, and even then it has days where it just forgets to get any. Runkeeper’s Breeze app, Lose It!, and Withings HealthMate app, are all capable of going back as far as the max 7 days of M7 data and calculating the steps. They don’t resolve the M7 events to exactly the same numbers, but they don’t miss any, either.

It seems like Nike is waiting for its next move in the tentative months before the Apple Watch comes out. Perhaps their developers are knee deep in WatchKit, but the shortcomings in Nike Move are a big missed opportunity to keep their mindshare in health monitoring alive.

An analysis of apps in the Apple App store by price, ratings, etc. Some interesting insights, including that 60% of the apps in the app store have no ratings.

WWDC 2014 tickets will be offered via a lottery You have until 10am PDT April 7 to register for a chance to attend, and people will be notified that evening. Given the limited size of the conference, which has maxed out at 5000 attendees to maintain a 5 attendees-per-Apple-engineer ratio, this is my first chance to go in years.

This analysis of Apple’s Arm processor micro architecture suggests that there is a lot of untapped power that iOS apps aren’t using yet.

This new tool provides a quick way to generate code to animate iOS transitions.

With Amazon’s new Fire TV and a rumored new offering from Google soon, this may very well be the year that iOS apps move to the Apple TV. The LA Times compares the current crop of TV boxes here.

Clearly the streaming media race is heating up: Amazon is rumored to be going after Spotify with a new streaming subscription service soon.

Speaking of Spotify, their newest version on iOS is beautifully designed, and very in-line with the iOS 7 aesthetic, with a content-forward look-and-feel. I haven’t had time to completely explore it, but really like what I see so far.

Microsoft has announced Cortana, their answer to Siri and Google Now. While the reference to the character from Halo probably resonates with the Xbox crowd, it seems like an obscure choice to pick for an already underdog mobile platform. I had no idea who Cortana was myself, having never played Halo. The interesting thing about the feature is that it’s powered by Bing — this may be the time for Bing to actually shine, the Bing team has some great technology that has been largely ignored, but maybe mobile is the right venue.
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This new service, Reamaze, provides small businesses with a social-media based CRM solution. Great idea, and another example of leveling the playing field between small businesses and their huge enterprise competitors. Social media can be very time-consuming for smaller businesses, but done right is a very cost-effective channel for customer service.

People trying BlackBerry 10 for the first time. Sounds like there’s a learning curve for the completely-gesture-based system. ¬†Wonder how easy to use it will be once you’ve learned it. ¬†Swiping from the bezel onto the screen has become a common enough gesture on mobile that people may get it quickly.