A weekly round up of news and views from the tech, creative and business world.
Google have launched Android Wear, a version of the operating system specifically for wearable technologies – launching with a video talking about a smart watch concept. Wear has launched with a full set of interaction design principles, based on three key experiences; ‘contextually aware and smart’, ‘glanceable’ and ‘zero/low interaction.’ The ambition is to create an experience that ‘feels personal and global, simple and smart, unobtrusive and ever-ready.’
Whilst the principles are solid and could/should be applied to the ever increasing number of connected devices – we can’t help but wonder whether the relatively early-stage technology will hinder their success. Products like Pebble Steel and the Galaxy Gear are making a concerted effort to evolve the smartwatch design – but the square ‘faces’ and slightly thicker than normal bodies make it very clear that the technology is holding things up. It’ll be a race of form vs function to see if the technology advances fast enough to match current levels of interest – as seen in Twitter’s response to this currently unfeasible smartwatch concept that’s undoubtedly ‘simple and smart, unobtrusive and ever-ready’.
Putting the silly into silicon valley
Bill Gates has been a busy billionaire, giving a plethora of interviews and talks about the current state of technology and it’s place in the world right now. Rolling Stone ran a large piece, which painted a positive portrait of the multi-billionaire as an optimist, saying, “In his view, the world is a giant operating system that just needs to be debugged.” In the interview (which can be read in full here), some of the topics Gates covered were Facebook and that acquisition, the NSA and government’s failing approach to real technology issues we are facing today. He also interestingly came out as an advocate for the ‘silly’, saying that it’s fine that half the companies in California right now may be ridiculous as “the dozen or so ideas that emerge out of that are going to be really important”.
Gates also gave a talk at the American Enterprise Institute, where he gave us a glimpse into the future of the workforce, and how that future is robots. He urged people and businesses to prepare for job losses, especially in labor roles such as transport and nursing. He sheds light on an issue which organisations and most importantly, governments, are currently not preparing for.
“Hello? Can I order some shares please?”
Online takeaway food service and saviour of hangovers Just Eat is preparing to float on the London stock exchange, with an expected valuation of £700-900 million. The move would mark the biggest initial public offering yet from London’s ‘Tech City’.
Founded in Denmark in 2001, Just Eat is one of many Scandinavian firms which have found recent success in the UK, along with Spotify and King.Com, maker of Candy Crush Saga. Just Eat lets consumers order food online from a searchable list of local takeaway restaurants, charging 11% commission to restaurants on meals ordered through the system. On average, online customers spend 30% more than over-the-phone orders, which CEO David Buttress attributes to consumers shopping “the whole menu rather than each person in the family just shouting out their usual favourite dish”.
Total revenues for Just Eat last year grew to £96.7 million, despite only 20% of UK takeaway orders being made online. While there is certainly room for expansion in the competitive sector, this figure suggests that there are still underlying issues with trust, reputation and familiarity that keep takeaway phone-numbers on speed-dial across the country.
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