All posts by Greg

Brooklyn, NY
smart-homes-Social-Media-in-Business

The Apple TV as gateway to the Smart Home

Throughout much of the Aughts, Apple had pushed the digital hub metaphor to it’s minions. In this scenario, the PC was the center of your digital universe. Your music, your photos, your movies… they all ended up on your computer (or iPod). It worked. But Apple sought to market the future and they recognized that our need to be mobile and free of the desk led us to the cloud. iCloud became the center of the digital hub and the PC got demoted to being simply another access point. A tool.

And yet… my Apple TV sits in the living room and has so much potential.

The TV, being the biggest screen in the home, puts it squarely at the center of your digital world. A gateway to consumption. But it’s also, quite literally, the center of your home. You spend most of your time in front of that tube whether you want to or not. Granted, you could make a case that the kitchen is the center of your home too, but its more of the heart. We’re talking about the brain.

The Apple TV sits there right along with your TV. Sitting on a goldmine of potential to become the brains of your entire house. The Smart Home. While this has insofar been a nerd’s fantasy or a promise of the World’s Fairs of the past, Apple is the one company poised to unify that vision. Many companies have tried to make this dream a reality, but in doing so, severe fragmentation has occurred. Trying to unify all of the myriad protocols takes an engineering degree. Basically it’s really fucking hard to pull off.

Apple could very easily come in, use the proliferation of iOS/iDevices that already exists, and along with a common standard like Wi-Fi, finally consolidate the masses. It could create its own smart home ecosystem and finally make your home the Einstein of the block. Throw in Siri and you have a house that is voice activated, proximity aware (with iBeacons), and almost turnkey in getting things set up. License the standard to appliance makers, electronics companies, device creators, etc and lets get this thing going!

Imagine watching TV and asking Siri to preheat the oven. Or coming home and having her greet you with a friendly hello, options for dinner, and a reminder to take the clothes out of the dryer because they’re done. Or lowering the temperature just by asking. Or setting the lighting in the room for love….

Apple, fill this void. Wearables are cute, but the living room, and by extension, the home, is the next great space for tech.

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Extending Siri

With iOS 7, my relationship with Siri has finally settled into a more stable- she lets me stay out late with my friends/I do the dishes and not throw my clothes everywhere type of arrangement. It seems many of the under-the-hood updates in iOS 7 has made Siri much more useful and more accurate. But as with all relationships, it’s not just the software… it takes work. You have to learn how to use Siri and train her a bit and she’ll reward you. I have found using Siri to be much faster for many things. Including things that I used to say, “Siri sucks, it’s faster to just do it myself.” I get it now. And so does she apparently.

So I’ve changed my tune. Siri is pretty great. And now I want more. There’s so much possibility, and I want it all now now now!

Lets list of all the ways Siri can be extended or improved by adding new services.

Shazam
No brainer. Before you ever whip out Shazam, you’re usually turning to a friend to say, “What song is this?” Why not just to turn to Siri?
You: “Shazam this song?”
Her: “Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus.”
You: “Love it, let’s buy it from iTunes.”

Uber
Getting a car or taxi from Uber is already so easy, this one is ripe for the Siri treatment. Afterall, personal assistants book cars all the time anyway.
You: “Siri, have a car pick me up from here as soon as it can.”
Her: “Got it. The car is booked and will be here in 10 minutes.”

Seamless
We can already book a table with Siri via OpenTable, but we’re being lazy tonight. We’d rather order in. She could already have a list of your favorite places to order from and could ensure she’s getting the complete order before placing it.
You: “Siri, let’s order in the red curry from my wife’s favorite Thai place.”
Her: “Sure, do you want a large or small?”
You: “A large please.”
Her: “Anything else with that?”
You: “I’ll get a side of brown rice and lets add pork to that red curry.”
Her: “Order updated, ready to place the order?”

Apple TV
I like my Apple TV for the most part. Gives me access to loads of content and connects my plasma to my iOS ecosystem. But navigating it is such a chore. Anything to ease this pain and speed things up would be welcome. That’s why I need my girl…
You: “I want to watch a movie, what are some new releases on my TV?”
or
You: “Start iTunes Radio on the TV”
or
You: “Start the screensaver on the TV”

In the future, if Apple were to go this route, integrating your cable system into Apple TV would make this even better…
You: Switch the channel to AMC.
or
You: “DVR the next episode of Girls.”

Netflix
I watch Netflix almost exclusively on my Apple TV as well, but Siri could make discovery on Netflix much easier (and fun). Netflix has been testing out “Max” on PS3, which helps you decide what to watch in an irreverant, gamified way. Siri could function in a similar fashion.
You: “I’m in the mood for something light. Something with Hugh Grant.”
Her: “How about one of these movies from Netflix?”
You: “Lets do Love Actually.”

or simply
You: “Go to my Netflix instant queue”
or
You: “Search Dark Comedies on Netflix”

Home Automation
We’re getting into Minority Report/Iron Man territory here. With iOS 7, changing settings on the phone was opened up to Siri. Let’s go a step further and change the settings on our house! (And while we’re at it, why not make an updated Apple TV the main brain of your smart home?) Ask Siri to turn on lights. Turn on the TV. Start brewing coffee. Preheat the oven to 350 and let you know when it’s ready.
You: “Siri, it’s cold in here, can you raise the temperature a few degrees?”
Her: “Glad you asked, I was cold too, I’ve raised the temperature to 71 degrees.”

Here’s a little taste of what this could look like.

or this

Now it’s your turn. How else do you see Siri improving your life or making things easier? How else can we extend Siri with services that already exist?

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Glass

My father was a glazier. I guess he still is. You don’t simply lose those kinds of skills when you retire. Growing up in a house of mirrors made me a special blend of vain and insecure. There was glass everywhere. Mirrored walls. Tables made of mirrors. Mirrors next to mirrors. Infinity. I couldn’t leave the house as a kid without checking my hairdo at least 10 times. I had to inspect every available angle, which in a house like this, was 360 degrees.

Apple TV

Apple TV should be free

Here’s the solution to a problem Apple apparently doesn’t know it has. The next great tech battlegrounds are shaping up to be wearable and the living room. And while everyone scours the internet for a glimpse of the mystical iWatch, Apple already has an outstanding stake in the ground in the Apple TV. Not the actual Apple Television, but it’s hockey puck-sized A/V media center that’s been available for several years. Although it was famously called a hobby by Jobs and Cook hasn’t done much to turn that perception around, the Apple TV is actually an awesome little device that has loads of content available to it, an easy to use interface (mostly), and a lot of potential. Apple sells it for $99, but it really needs to give it away to stay on top.

The living room is the logical next step for gadget makers and content distributors and unlike smartphones and tablets when Apple disrupted those markets, this one is much more mature with numerous players vying for that coveted real estate by the couch.

Although it was famously called a hobby by Jobs and Cook hasn’t done much to turn that perception around, the Apple TV is actually an awesome little device that has loads of content available to it.

Make the Apple TV a free accessory to anyone buying an iPhone or iPad. In my mind AirPlay is the killer feature of this thing and the true beauty of the little black box is only realized when paired with an iDevice. Content availabilty is absolutely crucial to its success, to be clear, but no device compliments your iPhone quite like an Apple TV. And thats because of AirPlay. Not only does it allow you to flick video from the 4 inch screen in your hand to the 80 inch screen mounted on your wall, but it allows you to offload processing power to your phone. While everyone is looking for an app store for the Apple TV, they are missing the one that already exists. Using AirPlay, games are available right now that can be played on your living room set. There are endless possibilities to what you can do with AirPlay, but not many developers are taking advantage of it.  Giving it away  would be the best way for Apple to Trojan horse into people’s living rooms. Giving developers the scale they need to start writing apps for the devices.  It already acts as a store window for iTunes. Let it do much more.

Don’t want to give it away? Fine, but bring the price down as low as you cam go. The Google Chromecast made a splash earlier this summer and is little more than an HDMI dongle and a $35 price tag. Even if Apple is breaking even on each unit, in the end it’s in Apple’s best interest to get an Apple TV in as many living rooms as possible. (Admittedly, I do not know Apple’s current margins on the Apple TV) This way, when the Apple Television finally does become a reality, consumers have two options to to let Apple own their living room, either buy the Apple Television or convert your current TV into one with the Apple TV… The user experience should be the same on either one.