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Mobile Technology News, January 6, 2015

As developers for tablets and smartphones we like to keep abreast of the latest mobile technology developments . This is a daily digest of mobile development and related technology news gathered from the BBC, the New York Times, New Scientist and the Globe and Mail to name a few. We scour the web for articles concerning, iPhone, iPad and android development, iOS and android operating systems as well as general articles on advances in mobile technology. We hope you find this useful and that it helps to keep you up to date with the latest technology developments.

  • VIDEO: Should planes be tracked in real time?
    The difficulties in finding wreckage of AirAsia flight QZ8501 has raised questions about whether we should be able to track airliners in real time.
  • Samsung call to open up net of things
    The push to create an “internet of things” will not succeed unless electronics firms collaborate more, warns Samsung.
  • Sony condemns 'vicious' cyber attack
    Sony has publicly condemned the “vicious” cyber attack that led to it suspending the release of its film The Interview.
  • Toyota opens up hydrogen patents
    Almost 6,000 patents relating to hydrogen fuel cells owned by Toyota are being made available to anyone to use royalty free.
  • VIDEO: Electric roller skates 'save time'
    A French inventor has unveiled what he is claiming is a “personal transportation system” at the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas.
  • Global Citizenship: Technology Is Rapidly Dissolving National Borders
    Besides your passport, what really defines your nationality these days?

    Is it where you were live? Where you work? The language you speak? The currency you use?

    If it is, then we may see the idea of “nationality” quickly dissolve in the decades ahead. Language, currency and residency are rapidly being disrupted and dematerialized by technology.

  • Follow-up: Apple said to have fixed iDict hacking tool vulnerability
    Apple appears to have fixed a flaw in its password security just one day after a hacker announced a new tool that could conceivably breach the existing protection against “brute force” attacks on accounts by taking advantage of an exception. On January 1, a new tool called iDict emerged in a rough state that could bypass repeated password-attempt blocking due to an exception made for iPhones. On January 2, Apple closed that exception and began locking accounts iDict was being used against.



  • Lookahead 2015: 'The future is here'
    Data breaches, citizen coders and smart car parks
  • 'Burglar's shopping list' flaw fixed
    An online service recommended by most of the UK’s police forces has fixed a privacy flaw after being alerted by an expert.
  • Lumia 830 Unlocked Now Available At the Microsoft Store for $499

    For the first time you can now get a Lumia 830 unlocked from the Microsoft Store for only $499.  The “Affordable Flagship” phone has to this point only been available either on or off contract from AT&T but today it because truly unlocked for anyone user on any network.  The $499 price is only $50 more than what you can get it off-contract from AT&T at the Microsoft store. The Lumia 830 is a great phone with some outstanding specs: 5-inch display 10MP PureView camera 16GB storage (expandable with up to a 128GB MicroSD) Windows Phone 8.1 It also runs

    The post Lumia 830 Unlocked Now Available At the Microsoft Store for $499 appeared first on Clinton Fitch.

  • Uber Adds 'Safe Ride Checklist' For Users In Boston And Chicago After Rape Allegations
    Uber has released a “safe ride checklist” for app users in Boston and Chicago, following allegations that drivers in those cities sexually assaulted female passengers.

    “We are being responsive,” Uber Chicago general manager Chris Taylor told The Chicago Sun-Times. “Given there have been some accusations… we want to make sure everyone knows how to use the platform in the safest way possible.”

    The checklist, which Galen Moore tweeted a screenshot of on Jan. 2, includes three bulleted points:

    Uber should roll out these checklists in cities where its customers haven’t been raped yet. http://t.co/kIeeDIJubY pic.twitter.com/anUS4JY4yu

    — Galen Moore (@galenmoore) January 2, 2015

    The checklist comes in the form of an in-app pop-up screen, encouraging riders to make sure that they get into the correct vehicle with the correct driver. Anna Merlan at Jezebel pointed out that, while the guidelines themselves are sensible, the checklist does not address the existing issue of registered Uber drivers assaulting passengers:

    Certainly no one can argue with “make sure you’re getting in the right car.” But the issue has never been that women are getting in the car with someone pretending to be an Uber driver. In virtually every incident we’ve heard about, the women are getting into cars with actual Uber drivers, who then assault them.

    Incidents involving Uber — such as the alleged kidnapping and rape of a young female passenger on Dec. 6. — are not limited to Chicago and Boston. In October, a Los Angeles woman claimed that an Uber driver kidnapped her and took her to an empty parking lot. The ridesharing app was banned in New Delhi after a driver there allegedly raped a female passenger. And in December 2013, law enforcement declined to prosecute an Uber driver accused of raping a 20-year-old woman after driving her home in Washington, D.C..

    When asked if the checklist was directly related to the sexual assault allegations, a representative for Uber told The Huffington Post: “Uber is committed to developing new technology tools that improve safety and communication. The Safety Checklist was developed to ensure that safety features built into the app are being fully utilized.”

    Abigail Tracy at Vocativ called the checklist “disappointing,” writing that it puts the responsibility on the customer not to get assaulted. “Here’s the bottom line: A company probably shouldn’t have to advise its customers on how not to get sexually assaulted by its employees,” she wrote. “And if it does, a ‘How Not to Get Raped’ FAQ is a pretty lame response.”

    Learn more about Uber’s new safety initiatives here.

  • 8 Apps Boomers Need Right Now
    In an effort to better serve her non-paying clientele, Life in the Boomer Lane has made an exhaustive, as well as exhausting, survey of some of the 10 billion apps that are now available on smartphones that enable people to live healthier, more stress-free lives. This research was done between the end of one cup of coffee and the trip to the kitchen to refill her cup. For that reason, she is limiting the list, and not including the following:

    • Health apps telling you how many calories you are consuming, how many steps you are walking, how many beats your heart is beating, how high your blood pressure is and how many brain cells you are losing per minute as you go about your day. The answer to the last item is “a lot.” You seriously don’t want all this information.
    • Music apps, including every song every written since the dawn of time, every bit of information about every person who has ever sung a song since the dawn of time, and a personal tracker for Justin Beiber, Beyoncé and Lil Wayne.
    • Sports apps, including 24/7 scores for every sports game being played across the planet, live video feed of said sports and statistics proving that the 2007 Swedish Bunny Jumping Team was way superior to the 1993 North Korean Prison Chain-Rattling Team.
    • Celebrity apps, including a special Kim Kardashian sub-app showing exactly what fabulous and selfied activities Kim is engaged in while you are going about your meaningless drudge of a day.

    Instead, she now presents some apps that will actually help you navigate the tsunami of life:

    1. Find My Car: LBL has spent the better part of her waking hours in an often unsuccessful attempt to locate her car. While she appreciates the classic design of most underground garages and the orderliness of most outdoor parking lots, she is becoming increasingly aware that she may not have enough years left in her life in which to pursue this fun pastime. This app allows you to actually find your car, leaving plenty of free time to lose other items of importance in your life.

    2. Tile: If, like LBL, your car is merely the tip of the Lost and Found Iceberg of Life, Tile allows to tag all precious items with actual tags. These actual tags emit some kind of space age rays into your phone, which then finds your item. Anything can be tagged, including the phone itself as long as you have an iPad. Other useful items to tag include car keys, the TV remote, the land line phone, the cat, one’s coffee mug and one’s spouse/children.

    3. Eye Reader: This dandy app is actually a magnifying glass for pesky restaurant menus or whatever else one wants to magnify beyond all reason. A note of caution: Do not use this on your skin, especially that of your hand. Aside from getting a manicure every once in awhile, looking at hands should be avoided entirely.

    4. Parkmobile : Forget having to use your credit card on a smart meter. Forget putting in too little money and then forgetting to go to the meter and then you run out and you already have a ticket because the cops are spending all of their time watching your meter and not arresting known felons. This app connects to your credit card. Punch in the meter numbers, get the time you want and, when you are running down on minutes, your phone alerts you. Of course, if you are in the movie theater and have turned your phone off, we wish you the best of luck.

    5. LevelUp: This allows you to pay for store purchases via iPhone, using the square thingy symbol on items. LBL wants to call it a G Spot, but it’s actually called a QR code.

    6. Evernote: This app allows you to capture whatever you want to on your phone: notes, anything written, photos, anything anyone tells you that you want to remember. Of course, EverNote has no ability to remind you of all the wonderful things you have stored, so this may not be as helpful as one would assume.

    7. Life 360: This app enables you to stalk everyone in your life, as long as they are on the same network. Personally, LBL doesn’t care where her friends and family are during the course of a day, unless they are approaching her door and she isn’t wearing a bra.

    8. Easily Do: This allows you to keep all of the data from your life in one handy place. LBL avoids anything that reminds her of everything going on in her life. She prefers to take things one at a time, especially if those things are limited to Eat. Repeat.

  • Mobile Millennials Are the Tough Marketing Challenge for 2015
    Millennials are the talk of the town. Now in their late 20s and 30s, they’ve adopted digital like no other. Mobile is their choice. No surprise there.

    As we go into 2015, mobile is on a roll. Forecasts indicate that mobile will outpace all other forms of digital advertising. Skyrocketing sales of new smartphones, an explosion in the number of apps and the growing influence of the millennial generation are coming together like never before.

    The data are convincing. According to comScore, the research firm that looks at how people navigate digital, Millennials use apps more than any other age group:

    “Those between the ages of 25-34 spend more time on mobile apps than any other segment examined – slightly edging out the younger 18-24 year-old demographic. At 75 hours of mobile app usage per month, the 25-34 year-old age group topped those ages 35-54 and those 55 and older by nearly 11 hours and 25 hours per month, respectively.”

    For the full report, go here.

    Mobile got a dramatic boost when Steve Jobs opened the iPhone operating system to developers. What followed was a wave of entrepreneurship that would become a driving force behind smartphone use and pave the way for mobile advertising.

    Only a few days after the launch of the App Store in 2008, it was clear that something big was taking place. Steve Jobs announced: “The App Store is a grand slam, with a staggering 10 million applications downloaded in just three days.”

    Within five years, Apple would report 50 billion app downloads and the number would climb at the rate of two billion apps per month.

    As Millennials move up the ranks in business and their spending power increases, they’re becoming a coveted target for marketers. Escalating app usage, leveraged by steadily climbing new smartphone purchases, point the way.

    But do traditional advertising techniques work with them?

    We know that Millennials are different than the generations before them. They have been described by The Pew Research Center as “forging a distinctive path,” “detached from institutions” and unattached from many of the traditions that have influenced earlier generations. Loyalty is hard won, questioning is the norm and proof is key. At the same time, they are closely networked with friends.

    This makes them tougher to target because they don’t often respond to the same role models and opinion leaders as in the past.

    When I talk with my millennial children, the message I get is that they ignore most traditional advertising. They actually tune it out. They might be entertained by a cute commercial but the message is lost. Specifically when it comes to smartphones, while they use Instagram, they pay little attention to the sponsored photos. They say they are tiring of Facebook and, on Twitter, they often ignore what they see as innocuous chit chat.

    With social media, Millennials take pride in searching for themselves and then deciding. They see Flipboard, for example, as offering choice, a broad perspective and what they view as objectivity. They are skeptical, determined to find what’s credible. And those same impulses are behind the backlash against “clickbait.”

    That said, how best to market to these Millennials?

    Perhaps the answer means coming full circle and reminding ourselves that the most effective marketing is — and always has been — word of mouth. Simply because it is trusted.

    If so, then these mobile Millennials are to be among the toughest marketing challenges of 2015.

  • In the Trenches: 36 Things I've Learned as a Founder
    Over the past five years, I’ve accrued a lot of advice — some of it invaluable and some not so much — as well as lessons learned the hard way. I’ve also collected quite a few notes and reminders along the way. These are not irrefutable truths; they’re simply my observations from my own journey. If nothing else, I hope they’ll help you define your own.

    2015-01-05-IMG_4914.JPG

    1. If you know it is foolish to learn to drive a car from someone who has never been behind the wheel, use the same yard stick to decide who gives you advice about your startup.

    2. There is nothing wrong with learning that you don’t like working for a startup, building a startup, or being an entrepreneur; choosing not to leave a well-paying job to chase a dream is a completely valid decision.

    3. Don’t expect anyone else to understand your decision to walk away from security if you choose to launch your own company, but if your spouse doesn’t, think twice about your decision; marriage is tough going no matter what, but it needs both of you pulling in the same direction if you’re going to weather the stress of building a company from nothing.

    4. Don’t believe your feelings when you hit the lowest lows or when you arrive at the highest highs; it is the balance of those days that are a better measure of whether you’re coping with the roller coaster ride of entrepreneurship.

    5. Don’t confuse someone giving you investment with success; investors tell you if they believe you might have it right, but the customer is the only one who can tell you if you’re actually doing it right.

    6. Don’t take investment until you absolutely need it or until not taking it will mean not growing fast to meet market demand; there is nothing wrong with bootstrapping.

    7. When taking on family or private investment, founders can still retain control of the growth, pivots or exit of their company, but once institutional capital is invested, a countdown begins and is determined by the investors’ timeline. Be sure your team understands that timeline and the outcomes before accepting venture capital.

    8. Some money is far too expensive to accept — whether it is from family, angels or venture capitalists; not all investors bring the same value, and some investments come with so much baggage or future problems that it isn’t worth the runway it buys.

    9. If you take on investment that turns out to be more problems than it was worth, don’t expend energy on regret; focus on using the funds wisely to get out to a better position so you don’t ever have to make that kind of deal again.

    10. If you find yourself facing a quandary, use your investors as a resource. If you have quality investors, they’ll be invaluable in helping you solve your problem, and if they’re not, better to know that as well.

    11. Don’t gossip. Just don’t. You’ll burn bridges with those you throw under the bus and anyone else who decides you are not high enough quality of character to deserve their interest, support or time.

    12. Never, ever hire out of gratitude. EVER. Neither of you will end up grateful or even happy if you hire anyone who doesn’t fill a real need in your company.

    13. It is not your job to give someone 50 chances to step up and do the right thing, and your investors are trusting that you won’t waste their money on someone who has proven to be a problem.

    14. Don’t fire an employee when you’re angry; it could end up being a rash decision that hurts your company’s ability to meet milestones.

    15. If you have any inkling that someone is stealing, doing drugs or sharing company secrets, consult a lawyer before a confrontation; you’ll be able to position your company to come out with the least amount of damage.

    16. You will never be sorry for telling someone you appreciate their effort or sacrifice, and while praise will not pay their rent, it banks a lot of good will against difficult times in a startup.

    17. If you’re generous with telling your team what they did right, they will hear you better when you have to point out what they did wrong.

    18. If your startup is a side project to your regular job, don’t lull yourself into complacency by thinking you have all the time in the world to work on it at your own pace. Someone else is out there building something very similar, and they’re going for it with all of their time and money — if you don’t feel the heat, it’s because you’re too far away from the fire.

    19. If you are going to be brave and visionary enough to call others on their baloney, be sure beforehand that you’re tough enough to weather the consequences.

    20. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from those ahead of you or too selfish to help those following behind.

    21. Not everyone who is highly visible lives in a walled garden, and you won’t know if someone is willing to help if you don’t ask.

    22. Don’t squander any opportunity someone else makes possible for you; they will definitely remember if you blow it off, and it will be the last time they want to help you.

    23. It may seem rude, but it is kindness to not waste even an hour of someone else’s time when you know you have nothing to offer.

    24. If you want to connect one of your contacts with someone else you know, ask before you share their information; it could put all of you in an awkward position if that person isn’t willing to help, and it will definitely leave you with less access to that contact than before.

    25. Helping others can sometimes be a feel-good distractor that prevents you from working on your own problems and solving your own challenges; be careful about being too generous with your time.

    26. The secret to social media isn’t to have the most followers and chasing that goal is probably the most ineffective use of your time with the exception, possibly, of watching cat videos on YouTube.

    27. Be authentic, engaging, and interesting if you want to make useful connections on social media.

    28. If you can’t figure out how to effectively use social media, emulate Marc Andreessen; he is probably the classiest, savviest user on Twitter today, using his network to challenge the thinking of others as well as his own and engaging with those he knows well or not at all.

    29. Using your network well can extend your reach far, far beyond your current circle, but it won’t happen if you’re sending canned messages out into the ether and focusing on your image instead of your interactions.

    30. ‘I don’t know‘ is a valid response, so don’t pretend to know what you don’t; when your gaps are discovered, you’ll look like a liar and a fraud instead of an insecure entrepreneur feeling inadequately prepared for the question at hand.

    31. Build a team that fills in the gaps of each other and of your areas of weakness.

    32. If you’re bad at numbers, then make sure someone on your team is good at numbers, and that it is someone you can trust implicitly.

    33. If you don’t know how to market, then don’t build an entire team of highly technical individuals who don’t know how to sell; you’ll likely end up with a killer technology and no customers or revenue.

    34. No one expects you to be the smartest person in the room, just that you be the one with the clearest vision and ability to lead those around you.

    35. Don’t call yourself a successful entrepreneur until you have the numbers or exits to prove it; better to be considered humble than not be taken seriously.

    36. Just because it’s written in a blog doesn’t make it so — including this. Think for yourself, question what you read and don’t let someone else’s facts become your own without a lot of due diligence.

    Previously published on Mama CEO.

  • LG tries again with curved phone
    Electronics firm LG has shown off a second version of its curved smartphone at CES in Las Vegas
  • Vinyl Sales In 2014 See A 52 Percent Boost In U.S.
    After surviving near-extinction last decade, vinyl made an exceptional global resurgence with purchases increasing more than sixfold. The U.S. continued this trend in 2014, seeing a 52 percent increase in LP purchases from 2013.

    According to data collected by Digital Music News and Wall Street Journal via SoundScan and Nielsen ratings, 9.2 million vinyl albums were sold in 2014 — the highest sales number recorded since the industry started monitoring LP sales in 1991. While 9.2 million albums only accounts for 6 percent of total album sales in the U.S. in 2014, streaming services saw an increase of 54 percent, jumping from 106 billion song streams in 2013 to 164 billion song streams in 2014.

    On the other hand, paid downloads dropped by 9 percent for albums and 12 percent for songs. It’s important to note, for example, that digital song purchases fell from 1.26 billion in 2013 to 1.1 billion in 2014, so it’s clear that streaming services are digging into digital purchases. However, vinyl seems to have a promising future, and music consumption seems to have a counterintuitive interest in both the most recent and earlier technology.

    For more, head to the Wall Street Journal.

  • Leadership and Transparency 2015: The Social Media Imperative
    2015-01-02-5496634282_880170cfc3_z.jpg

    By the time “trends” get mentioned in new year forecast blog posts, they can be a little more “old” than “news.” Though forward motion is always worth celebrating, change usually happens more slowly. Take, for example, the call for more transparency in business leadership. While today’s startups are more likely to intentionally bake this into their corporate DNA, 100+ year old companies have a lot more embedded business culture to counter.

    Still, no matter the corporation’s size or long-established “ways,” the imperative of transparency really is, to be festive about it, “nipping at their toes.” Governing bodies now require regular reporting on natural resource use, and accounting and legal issues, to name a few. And, the general public could well have interest in much more. The unique opportunity I see heading into 2015 is this: developing more social media-engaged leaders to embody that transparency.

    Transparency As The Rule

    “The currency of leadership is transparency,” as a recent piece in The Economist quoting Starbucks’ Howard Schultz reminded us. And, it is true. Companies can choose how to use that currency for themselves.

    But, at this point, there really is no choice about whether to be transparent. Anyone with access to social media can see what is going on in most corporations (good and bad). So, companies have to be ready. While some will choose the proactive and authentic approach, using business missteps as lessons to be shared — and learned from — along the way. Other companies, with a more embedded and opaque culture might continue with a “wait and see” reactive approach, hoping against hope that their various transgressions will go unnoticed.

    Either proactive or reactive can be a short term solution, but only bold, intentional transparency will succeed over the long term. If a company honestly pursues solutions and engages with stakeholders toward moving sustainability and social responsibility forward, for example, it will create a deep, trust-building foundation. Relying mainly on transparency constructs like the well-worded press release, splashy marketing campaign or grand philanthropic gesture, however, won’t produce enough substance to survive scrutiny.

    Executive Leadership As The Key

    While today’s business and consumer markets have both become a lot savvier in, and suspicious of, the usual marketing and cause efforts, leaders who are comfortable in the public eye and can build person-to-person trust are 2015’s “secret weapon.” Getting out from behind that Wizard of Oz corporate curtain and communicating in human-scale is what matters.

    Especially in the business-to-business (B2B) realm, the authentic accessibility of leaders is worth the time and effort. The idea is that, by making sure a business leader is comfortable using social media, any interested party — whether employee, investor, vendor or general public member — should be able to develop a better “sense” of what that person stands for, what they are passionate about and how that reflects his or her corporate affiliation. Whatever methods are used (speaking gigs, writing, or social media engagement, for example), the proactive efforts to develop some online archive of content or personal digital profile contributes to that foundation of trust. And that, either separately or in combination with more traditional marketing and communications efforts, can have major impact.

    Social Media As The Tool

    Speaking of being proactive, social media might be the most effective — albeit still surprisingly under-used — tool of them all. To be clear: I am not referring to the business-to-consumer (B2C), brand marketing type of social media, but to the type of intimate social media engagement that connects humans to each other.

    In business leadership, the more truly “known” individual leaders can become, the more their social media conversations will help elevate and amplify industry developments, cross-sector thinking and global change. Using social media, leaders can more fluidly share what their companies are up to, more easily form new collaborations and more productively engage with the communities, employees, vendors and investors. It’s about building social capital before there becomes reason to need it.

    Transparency Won’t Wait Until 2016

    Not surprisingly, companies continue to hedge their bets about the professional social media practices of their leaders, and that gets them no closer to its transparency-enhancing possibilities. Press releases, web site copy, conference presentations and any other such content or marketing collateral – in and of itself – are no match for being in what feels like “personal” touch with the individual leaders. Two who are known for doing that well via Twitter already are Apple’s Angela Ahrendts and Tangerine Bank CEO, Peter Aceto.

    By the end of 2014, even boards of directors had started to understand the importance of CEO social media savvy, as Ted Coine and Mark Babbitt wrote in their December 4, 2014, Harvard Business Review piece:

    Five years ago, when boards were searching for a leader, social media competency wasn’t even on the radar. Now, according to the board members and CEOs we interviewed for our book, a strong social presence is often high on the list of factors they consider when vetting CEO candidates.

    For those professionals who do dive into social media, learning this new relationship building and thought leadership tool can become a very personally rewarding practice too. But, there is no carefully choreographed communications team-managed way to get up to speed. It takes individual interest and commitment to truly do its transparency power justice.

    The socially savvy leaders I’ve known and/or coached over the past few years have taken social media on for their own professional development, with no major agenda otherwise. (But, it has only helped make the jobs of their company’s marketing and communications teams easier). Through their experiences, these women and men have observed things like the following:

    • They can’t believe how fun and rewarding it is.
    • It has helped them discover information they’d otherwise have missed.
    • They now look forward to conferences and public appearance obligations, because that’s where their social media relationships tend to become real life business friendships.
    • They are surprised by how quickly they’ve realized social media’s benefits, but they are also surprised by how few of their competitive peers have joined in.

    Leading with transparency involves a feedback loop, where what comes into the exchange is as important as what goes out. The insights discovered or connections made one-to-one feed the corporate reports or formal information shared, and vice versa. Business leaders who brave social media participation as their authentic selves make the best conduits for such interaction. And, THEY are the ones who will make the biggest difference for corporate transparency in 2015.

    Special thanks to Farrukh for use of the image.

  • Wearable Tech Products Hope To Get Ahead Of Apple At CES 2015
    The Apple Watch is this moment’s “mythical 600-pound gorilla” in the world of wearable technology, according to Engadget editor-in-chief Michael Gorman, but its absence at the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show opens the door for other smart accessories to be noticed.

    Gorman spoke with HuffPost Live’s Nancy Redd on Monday from Las Vegas, the site of this year’s CES, about what to expect as the industry’s latest and greatest rolls out from Jan. 6 to Jan. 9. Since the Apple Watch won’t be at the show, Gorman expects others products to jump at the chance to make a splash.

    “What you’re going to see at CES is a lot of companies are trying to get out ahead of [Apple], so you’re seeing a lot of smart watches, you’re going to see a lot of fitness bands,” he said.

    Those products are expected to showcase new functionality and innovative ways to track the body, and they’ll also be pushing aesthetics that are more fashion-forward than most wearable tech.

    “A lot of the watches and wearables that we’ve seen are not necessarily something you’re going to wear to a black tie event,” Gorman said. “They’re more suitable for the gym than a business meeting.”

    To that end, Gorman listed several brands that have gotten creative with their designs, including Misfit, which has developed a fitness tracker covered in Swarovski crystals.

    Watch Gorman’ smart watch forecast in the video above, and click here for the full HuffPost Live conversation about CES 2015.

    Sign up here for Live Today, HuffPost Live’s morning email that will let you know the newsmakers, celebrities and politicians joining us that day and give you the best clips from the day before!

  • Where Will All the Workers Go?
    NEW YORK — Technology innovators and CEOs seem positively giddy nowadays about what the future will bring. New manufacturing technologies have generated feverish excitement about what some see as a Third Industrial Revolution. In the years ahead, technological improvements in robotics and automation will boost productivity and efficiency, implying significant economic gains for companies. But, unless the proper policies to nurture job growth are put in place, it remains uncertain whether demand for labor will continue to grow as technology marches forward.

    Recent technological advances have three biases: They tend to be capital-intensive (thus favoring those who already have financial resources); skill-intensive (thus favoring those who already have a high level of technical proficiency); and labor-saving (thus reducing the total number of unskilled and semi-skilled jobs in the economy). The risk is that robotics and automation will displace workers in blue-collar manufacturing jobs before the dust of the Third Industrial Revolution settles.

    The rapid development of smart software over the last few decades has been perhaps the most important force shaping the coming manufacturing revolution. Software innovation, together with 3D printing technologies, will open the door to those workers who are educated enough to participate; for everyone else, however, it may feel as though the revolution is happening elsewhere. Indeed, the factory of the future may be 1,000 robots and one worker manning them. Even the shop floor can be swept better and cheaper by a Roomba robot than by any worker.

    For the developed countries, this may seem like old news. After all, for the last 30 years, the manufacturing base in Asia’s emerging economies has been displacing that of the old industrial powers of Western Europe and North America. But there is no guarantee that gains in service-sector employment will continue to offset the resulting job losses in industry.

    For starters, technology is making even many service jobs tradable, enabling them to be offshored to Asia and other emerging markets. And, eventually, technology will replace manufacturing and service jobs in emerging markets as well.

    Today, for example, a patient in New York may have his MRI sent digitally to, say, Bangalore, where a highly skilled radiologist reads it for one-quarter of what a New York-based radiologist would cost. But how long will it be before a computer software can read those images faster, better, and cheaper than the radiologist in Bangalore can?

    Likewise, in the next decade, Foxconn, which produces iPhones and other consumer electronics, plans to replace much of its Chinese workforce of more than 1.2 million with robots. And soon enough voice recognition software will replace the call centers of Bangalore and Manila.

    Job-reducing technological innovations will affect education, health care, government, and even transportation. For example, will we still need so many teachers in the decades to come if the cream of the profession can produce increasingly sophisticated online courses that millions of students can take? If not, how will all of those former teachers earn a living?

    Governments, too, are shedding labor — particularly governments burdened by high deficits and debts. And, by transforming how services are provided to the public, the e-government trend can offset the employment losses with productivity gains.

    Even transportation is being revolutionized by technology. In a matter of years, driverless cars — courtesy of Google and others — may render millions of jobs obsolete.

    And, of course technological innovation that is capital-intensive and labor-saving is one of the factors — together with the related winner-take-all effects — driving the rise in income and wealth inequality. Rising inequality then becomes a drag on demand and growth (as well as a source of social and political instability), because it distributes income from those who spend more (lower-and middle-income households) to those who save more (high-net-worth individuals and corporate firms).

    Obviously, this is not the first time the world has faced such problems, and the past can help to serve as a model for resolving them. Late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century leaders sought to minimize the worst features of industrialization. Child labor was abolished throughout the developed world, working hours and conditions became more humane, and a social safety net was put in place to protect vulnerable workers and stabilize the (often fragile) macroeconomy.

    As we begin to seek enlightened solutions to the challenges that the Third Industrial Revolution presents, one overall theme looms large: The gains from technology must be channeled to a broader base of the population than has benefited so far. That requires a major educational component. In order to create broad-based prosperity, workers need the skills to participate in the brave new world implied by a digital economy.

    Even that may not be sufficient, in which case it will become necessary to provide permanent income support to those whose jobs are displaced by software and machines. Here, too, we should attend carefully to the lessons of the past.

    This piece also appeared in Project Syndicate.
    © Project Syndicate

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