Tag Heuer maintains its commitment to Android Wear with a $1,600 modular smartwatch

Emboldened by the surprise success of its $1,500 Connected smartwatch, Tag Heuer is back with something even more expensive. Starting at around $1,650, the Connected Modular 45 once again finds the luxury Swiss watchmaker teaming up with Google and Intel, and this time living up to the “avant-garde” bit of the company’s tagline a touch more with a truly modular design.

That’s in-line with claims made by Tag’s CEO back in January, regarding the company’s forward-looking take on the staid world of smartwatches. What it means in practice is that those willing to pony up several times the price of your standard Android Wear device will get an extreme level of customization ahead of purchase.

Buyers will be able to pick from among all different sorts of colors, buckles and modules. It’s a key break from most smartwatches on the market, which, at best, offer a few different color options. All told, there are 500 different design combinations for the thing, according to Tag. Perhaps most compelling is the company’s trade-in program, which lets users swap the connected Android Wear module for something more traditional like the company’s Tourbillon Heuer 02-T.

 

It’s a clever addition to the system that flies in the face in the sort of forced obsolescence of other smartwatches, which have applied the two-year upgrade cycle borrowed from their smartphone counterparts. It’s one thing when you’re talking about a $200 watch — it’s another when it’s eight times that price.

“This is a Swiss watch which embodies the luxury codes of tomorrow, and which not only enables you to connect to the future, but also to connect to eternity thanks to its simple and smart modular design,” CEO and president of Tag’s LVMH Watch Division, Jean-Claude Biver said in a sufficiently hyperbolic statement attached to the unveiling. “This innovative, unique and distinctive watch is at the forefront of the latest technologies available in Silicon Valley and, at the same time, a genuine Swiss watch, bearing the Swiss Made label. It is the incarnation of our leading position with luxury connected watch and with this high level of technology.”

 Of course, the watch will run Android Wear 2.0, the much delayed version of Google’s wearable operating system that brings it up to speed with the likes of Apple’s watchOS and Samsung’s Tizen fork. That’s running on Intel’s Atom Z34XX processor. The partnership with the chip company also means the watch will eventually run its upcoming intelligent assistant.

That piece still seems a bit of a mystery at the moment. Like a number of other manufacturers, the companies are shying away from simply embracing Google Assistant, one of the biggest new features of Wear 2.0. It’s clear why Intel is going that route — the company has clearly had some stumbles in the wearable space of late, and partnerships with Tag and Oakley present the potential to gain a foothold without having to invest too heavily in their own hardware. Ahead of launch, Intel is claiming that its own in-house AI will offer up even better contextual info than the likes of Assistant or Siri.

As for why Tag is so committed to smartwatches at a time when the market appears to have, at best, plateaued, the Swiss watchmaker is clearly emboldened by the 56,000 units it managed to sell last time around. Granted, that’s not a huge number, but when you’re charging several times the cost of your average Android Wear device, you can get away with being a successful niche.

There’s NFC on the device, and the company has managed to make it waterproof to 50 meters. But there are certain now-standard smartwatch features like GPS and heart-rate monitoring that are conspicuously absent. Though it was already pretty safe to say the company wasn’t exactly edging in on Garmin territory with this one.

The notion of a $1,600 Android Wear device remains, as ever, hard to swallow. But at the very least, Tag is going out of its way to shake up a market full of dull and overly large devices. And if the last version of the Connected taught us anything, it’s that the market for such devices (while modest), does apparently exist.

Teams, Microsoft’s Slack rival, opens to all Office 365 users

After unveiling a limited preview of Teams in November last year, Microsoft is now rolling out its collaboration and communication platform, positioned as a rival to Slack, more widely: Teams is now available, and free, for all 85 million monthly active users of Office 365, Microsoft’s suite of cloud services and apps as a web app and native apps for Windows, iOS and Android.

Along with it, the company is announcing some 150 integrations with third-party services like Asana, Zendesk and Hootsuite, alongside the ability to chat (with other humans or with bots), security services, customization options and more.

(No word on when and whether Teams would expand outside the Office 365 ecosystem: “We’ve had some discussions but right now remain focused on our huge user base,” noted Mira Lane, Microsoft Teams’ UX lead.)

The wider launch comes in the wake of some reasonable success so far. Microsoft said the Teams preview has had some 50,000 organizations sign up and try out the service.

That figure includes both companies that have tried it as well as those who have stayed on to become active users, and Microsoft would only tell me that many stay on, with the number of people per company ranging from small groups to organizations with hundreds of users. (Notable customer wins, it said, include Accenture, Alaska Airlines, Conoco Phillips, Deloitte, Expedia, J.B. Hunt, J. Walter Thompson, Hendrick Motorsports, Trek Bicycle and Three UK.)

For a new app that is coming to the market after the meteoric rise of Slack, as well as other competing services like Workplace from Facebook and Hipchat from Atlassian, some might argue that Teams and Microsoft are late to the game.

In its favor, Microsoft is banking on the low-friction aspect of the service: Those being targeted are already using Microsoft apps like Excel, Word, PowerPoint, OneNote, SharePoint and Power BI, so there will be familiarity and convenience. And it’s free to try out.

As we noted when Microsoft debuted the service in November, Teams throws a lot at the user from the start. If you’ve ever used something like Word or Excel, you know that this is a very Microsoft approach.

The basic interface follows a lot of what you might already know for workplace collaboration products, which are often based around a left rail that lists discussion groups, and the main stream to the right that charts conversations.

 Within that, Microsoft takes you into a pretty huge range of different options that tap into its many other products. These include direct chats, the option to hold audio and video calls, the ability to call in spreadsheets and other documents, run some analytics and more, along with spaces for “evergreen” content as well as others for more rapidly changing data.

On top of this, Microsoft has built a chatbot framework that initially is dedicated to helping you use Teams better, but over time will include integrations built by developers to bring in a variety of other services too, similar to Slack, Messenger and a number of other chat services.

This seems to be intentional, not accidental or a sign of disorganization at Microsoft.

“The shift to modern working styles that are open and transparent by default are part of our core philosophy of one size does not fit all,” Lane said in an interview. “Organizations are different in how they do business and collaborate. Some will use multiple tools, for example Yammer for a CEO to speak to the whole organization, but for more tight collaboration they’ll use Microsoft Teams. We think it’s okay to be fluid.”

The strange balance that Microsoft is trying to strike here is between giving you too much to do, too many options; but also the lingering question of whether all this will be enough to sway users to the service.

This is not just an issue when considering Microsoft Teams compared to products from different companies, but when comparing it to Microsoft itself, which already has a number of applications where users can communicate and collaborate with each other, including Yammer, Skype and more.

So far, the experience has been that while some services have definitely gained traction (Slack now has more than 5 million daily active users, and 1.5 million paid accounts), given that there are millions more businesses in the world, there is still a lot to play for, and a lot to win. “We’re seeing people kicking the tires on all products and looking for something more enterprise grade,” Lane noted.

LinkedIn revamps timeline with Trending Storylines: curated, algorithmic news clusters

LinkedIn — the social network for professionals that’s now a part of Microsoft — has long been working on ways to get its 465 million users to stay on the site longer and use it for more than simply looking for jobs and quick networking exchanges — part of its bigger advertising and audience play — and today comes the latest development on that front.

The company is debuting a new feature called Trending Storylines — personalised news clusters based around topics of the moment, composed of content from outside LinkedIn’s walled garden coupled with related writing published on LinkedIn itself. Trending Storylines — which you access by way of the “Trending” tab on mobile, or a via a tab on the top right hand side of the desktop site — will launch in the U.S. in English-only at first, with an initial focus on stories in technology, finance and healthcare (more regions and topics to come down the line, product manager Tomer Cohen tells me).

Here are some screenshots of how Trending Storylines looks across both mobile and desktop, along with a look at what the alerts will look like on your phone if you opt in for push notifications from LinkedIn. A deeper dive into the product is below:

 Curated by a team of 24 editors, Trending Storylines also uses machine learning and other algorithms to tweak each cluster for specific users, based on who is in your network, what they may be writing, and what you have read or commented on in the past on LinkedIn. In other words, if two of you and I all look at the same Trending Storyline about, say, the latest personnel departure at Uber, the three of us are likely to see different things.

This is not LinkedIn’s first attempt at rejigging its timelines and infusing them with more news as a route to deeper engagement on the platform.

The company earlier this year debuted a completely revamped version of its desktop website that gave a new look for people’s home pages and put more of the content published on and shared on LinkedIn front and center. The timeline specifically was revamped with breaking news alerts and a whole set of actions alongside them: supplemental links to learn more; people on LinkedIn who are connected to you and relevant to the story; and links to relevant Influencer posts.

But LinkedIn’s efforts go back even further: in 2013, LinkedIn acquired Pulse, the app that aggregates and sorted interesting news for its users. LinkedIn subsequently incorporated the startup’s tech both into its main app, and made updates to the standalone app that brought it much closer to LinkedIn’s content.

I actually think that Trending Storylines appears to provide an experience that is very similar to what Pulse does, which might beg the question of what LinkedIn plans to do with that app down the line. Notably, Pulse’s iOS app hasn’t been updated in over a year; and the Android version, which has had no more than 1 million downloads (recall LinkedIn has 460 million+ users), last had an update in July.

“Yes, Pulse is staying a standalone app,” Dan Roth, LinkedIn’s editor in chief, tells me. “When we think about how to bring quality experiences to professionals, sometimes that means going deep and giving them a standalone app to deliver what they need — sometimes it means adding to an existing experience.”

There is also the push that LinkedIn itself has been making to push its own credibility as a publisher.

 Dan Roth, the company’s editor in chief, told me that currently there are around 160,000 posts written each week on LinkedIn with the total number of views in the region of “tens of thousands per post” (presumably for the most popular among them). Pushing another route to getting some of that content read even more through Trending Storylines will provide more incentive for those publishing to continue doing so.

What’s interesting to me is the shift that LinkedIn has been making into what kind of content is populating LinkedIn. In the early days, it felt like the majority of LinkedIn’s efforts were focused mainly around what you might generally think of as enterprise self-help: posts from (often successful or high profile) business people about running businesses and leadership.

Over time, LinkedIn has shifted that quite a lot to emphasize more need-to-know information and updates to help you start or throughout your day. “We compete with everyone and everything” for your attention, noted Roth. “You could be spending your time reading the WSJ and Twitter, or updating your Bitmoji, and we’re trying to provide useful information for to fill that time.”

The balance between filling five minutes, and hopefully tipping that into more than five minutes, is also an area that LinkedIn is playing around with a lot here.

In addition to a cluster of news around a specific topic,  you have hashtags and topic buttons to explore certain angles further (for example: a Storyline about Airbnb and a possible IPO might feature buttons about IPOs, collaborative economy startups, and travel startups). This is also in addition to LinkedIn suggesting completely different but related storylines at the bottom of each Trending Storyline cluster.

In an interview with product manager Tomer Cohen, I remarked on how it looked like LinkedIn was building rabbit holes and helping you go down them, and fittingly he told me that the internal name for Trending Storylines while it was being developed was “Project Wonderland.”

The new Trending Storylines feature comes in the same week that LinkedIn launched an enhanced Sales Navigator tier for enterprises, pushing another aspect of its business that focused on social sales and how LinkedIn the B2B product is inching further into the world of CRM.

Huawei starts delivering Alexa to its Mate 9 handsets

Two-and-a-half months after Huawei announced that its Mate 9 will be getting Alexa, Amazon’s smart assistant is finally arriving for owners of the handset as an over-the-air update. The announcement seemed to fly in the face of Google’s attempts to bolster the profile of its own helper, Assistant, though when discussing its decision to go with Alexa on its U.S. flagship ahead of this week’s launch, Huawei said, “Alexa is a very good third-party software, which offers consumers one more option.”

The company essentially means that it’s not picking sides on this one. And why should it? It’s certainly in the hardware maker’s best interest to offer as many options on its devices as possible. And while it wouldn’t specify whether it was approached directly by Amazon, this launch is the result of a partnership with the mega-retailer.

Both worked directly on a Huawei-branded Alexa app, one that features much (though not yet nearly all) of the functionality of the app for Amazon’s Echo line. Huawei also told TechCrunch as a followup to the briefing that the addition of Alexa will not preclude Mate 9 owners from using Google’s new baked-in Assistant if they so choose, saying “users have the choice to use either.”

When you’re Huawei and the offer’s on the table to work with Amazon, you take it, particularly if it means being the first Android handset to ship with the popular smart assistant — even at the risk of alienating Google. Though as Google Assistant product lead Gummi Hafsteinsson told me at Mobile World Congress recently, “I think it’s up to the user to pick. Hopefully that should be the case with any product they want to use. If you have a phone with Google Assistant, our goal would be to make it possible for users to have access if they want it.”

It’s all very kumbaya, but it certainly echoes Huawei’s opinion on the subject: open as many options to users and let them pick the one that’s best for them. One of the key things Alexa has going for it over Assistant at the moment is a truly mainstream install base, courtesy of the wild success of the company’s Echo line. That’s something Amazon could have only dreamed of when it infamously tried and failed to get into the smartphone market.

This offers the company an interesting backdoor onto phones. And surely Huawei users who own an Echo will see the immediate benefit in using the same smart assistant across devices. That said, there’s still some downside. For starters, the functionality isn’t truly baked into the device. Users will have to launch the Huawei-Alexa app and have it running to take advantage of the home assistant, which is likely not the level of integration many users were hoping for.

 Also, a lot of functionality is still forthcoming. Alarms don’t work yet, and food ordering is still coming soon. You can get weather and recommendations using the app, but the location is based on a pre-set in settings, rather than simply using the phone’s GPS to locate you. Huawei assures us that most of the kinks will largely be ironed out this year.

Meantime, the functionality feels more like an app than truly deep integration, and, as such, I suspect that Google Assistant doesn’t have all that much to worry about when it comes to Alexa raining on its mobile parade. The war for the living room, on the other hand, is another matter altogether.

And then there’s the recent report that the company is working on its own Chinese-language assistant even as it becomes the first to run with Alexa here in the States. We reached out to Huawei for clarification on that front, and the company told us, “The Huawei 2012 Lab focuses on research into future industry innovations that will underpin the company’s technology leadership for years to come. Huawei works with the best industry partners to provide customers with the ultimate user experience.”

So, more info in the years to come, apparently.

On the right path

The IT industry has laid red carpet for many aspirants where students and professionals are trying to keep pace with the ever changing technology. With thousands of apps developed everyday in Silicon Valley has laid a promising future for the enthusiastic aspirants. To help them enhance their knowledge and professional skill, Angular Js certification  training plays a crucial role.  The course helps in getting your things done promptly as it provides you with model for each development.

Image result for On the right path

Angular Js is a JavaScript framework designed by Google that provides you with advanced features of two way binding. It provides with the update information that is helpful in web development and smart phones. The irony about the concept is that it’s easy to learn, but hard to master. When you opt for Angular Js training in Dallas will teach you how you can use the framework in the real world and master it.

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The angular Js certification helps in refreshing knowledge of JavaScript framework and also-

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The aspirants who successfully take up the training programs are able to lead the projects with total dependency. They are able to share date between the controllers. It also facilitates the splitting of files at various locations. The basic knowledge on needs of modules is made understandable through this course.

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Their knowledge of web development helps them in various fields. Angular Js provides them with all the tools of success and growth in their professional fields.

The Angular Js will help you soak in the fundamentals of the course and set you on the path of development and bright future ahead. The training is provided by an expert of the filed with focus paid on the basics so that the entire concept becomes easy to understand. In an effort to help the enthusiastic learners, sample code and real life experiences are made available to the students so that they get real world experience. Thus, setting a successful and right pathway for them.

Skills needed to be a perfect product owner

Product owner plays the vital most part in the scrum team. He or she will be carrying out the team work, coordinating with them and at the same time will be collaborating with the customers. So, it is surely a tough task to be completed and for that there is need of Certified Scrum Product Owner Training. the training will show you what are the responsibilities that you will have to carry on and what are the expectations of you from your team and from your company. However, there must be something else that you must have. This else factor will be making you a successful product owner. Note down the important things that you will need to develop in order to be successful and apply the same in your career.

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Delight the customer

Being a product owner, you can very well manage the team and your work, but work alone doesn’t make a sense now, unless you make the end users happy with yourself. If you can make them delighted, your value will be double for the post to your company. To do so, you will have to understand what the customers are seeking and design your mails and other things in that way. Let the job be easier than your customers are expecting.

Story telling

Collecting the user demands and sending that to the developers will make the team work, but you are not only a director. Alongside of a director, you are a leader too. Being a leader, your part of the job is to motivate your developers. So, tell the story of the stakeholders in a way that will motivate your users and try to develop their sense in development. Create anonymous situations and direct that to the developers. Let the understand the case and find the solution by themselves.

Delegate authority

Product owner’s work is simply endless. If you thin that the entire work ca be done by you, you are making it completely wrong. You will be leaving some broken slits surely, from where a new tree will grow up. Your team members will be developing another partial product owner for their sake and that person will be your next contender. To seal your position and your authority, delegate authorities to others. This will make your task easier and your job even more effective.

Developer

Do not forget the fact that you are a developer also. You were once in that position where your developers are now. So, show that skill to your developers and allow them to reach you, while they face any issue with their work. This will help you in two ways. You will remain closer to all and at the same time your team will be motivated. You can even find the exact position where your staffs are now.

The above features are all to direct you and make you a better Product owner. To reach a designation is easier than to hold it down. With the Cspo Certification In Mumbai you can reach there, but your task is also to hold it. The above things will allow you to do that.

Pandora’s on-demand music service finally arrives

Pandora’s long-awaited alternative to Spotify has arrived today. The company this morning announced the debut of a new paid tier to its streaming service called Pandora Premium, which offers a combination of radio-like listening as well as the option to search and play any track and create your own playlists. Priced competitively with the other on-demand music services on the market, the new service is $9.99 per month.

The launch follows the arrival of other expanded offerings from Pandora last year, as the music streaming market shifted to favor on-demand services that expose you to new music through personalized recommendations — like Apple Music and Spotify both do. Music discovery was an area where Pandora had earlier succeeded, as its radio service would play other, similar songs based off the artist or track you initially played.

But given growing user demand for access to on-demand music, Pandora announced it would roll out new tiers to its service last year. Last fall, it launched Pandora Plus, a $5 per month service that offered ad-free music streaming with a wider feature set, including the ability to skip more songs, more replays and offline listening. The service arrived with a smaller catalog around 2 million tracks.

At the time of its launch, Pandora said that Premium would arrive by year-end. It took a little longer, apparently.

Pandora Premium is meant to challenge Spotify and Apple Music head-on, but it also tries to differentiate itself via feature set and user experience.

 The app’s design is inspired by Rdio, the streaming app it acquired back in 2015, remembered best for its beautiful interface. In Pandora Premium, for example, there’s an all-new “Now Playing” screen where the background dynamically changes color to match the album art of the music you’re playing. There’s also a new menu for collecting, downloading and sharing, and a new layout for playback control, including the replay button introduced in Pandora Plus.

Taking on Spotify by offering a better design is a viable angle, as Spotify can feel more utilitarian at times, rather than pleasurable to use.

In terms of its user experience, Pandora Premium tries to one-up its rivals on recommendations. Instead of focusing on new releases and popular tracks, it offers more personalized album recommendations based on your listening habits. That is, if you tend to favor a certain genre, you’ll be shown new albums from that category instead of just a broad selection of new releases.

The company says it also has filtered its 40 million songs to remove the “karaoke tracks, knock-off covers and pet sounds…that slow down other services.” As a representative explains, Pandora continues to offer access to the same content as its competitors, but is using human curation for quality and machine learning for scale to make it easier to locate the right tracks users want.

The service also takes advantage of the Music Genome Project to make playlist building easier. You can track a new playlist with just a few tracks, then Pandora will offer an “Add Similar Songs” option that will suggest other, related tracks to fill out the rest. (This is a feature Spotify already offers, known as “Suggested Songs.”)

Thumbs up/Thumbs down remains a core feature in Pandora’s premium service, but now you’ll be able to revisit your liked songs via a dedicated playlist of thumbs’d up tracks. This playlist, as well as any other playlist, album or song, also can be saved for offline listening.

More features are coming, including AutoPlay — which will continue playing more music after your playlist, album or song ends. Pandora also will bring Premium to more devices, including the desktop web.

The service may be able to convert some small portion of Pandora’s sizable user base of more than 78 million, but it’s unclear how many Pandora customers looking for an on-demand experience are still around — many of those who wanted more features have since moved onto Spotify, which recently hit 50 million paying customers, or Apple Music, which has grown to 20 million as of December.

Pandora One, its premium service that transitioned into Pandora Plus, had only around 4 million users, for comparison’s sake.

Meanwhile, Pandora’s service hasn’t broken much new ground at launch to encourage happy customers to switch. Things like personalized recommendations, song suggestions and offline play are standard features on its rivals. The best thing it has going for it at launch is its fresh, attractive design. Over time, we’ll be able to better tell how well Pandora Premium’s music discovery features hold up, compared with its rivals. Ultimately, this is the selling point that could win the service more users, if it works well.

See you tonight at the New York Micro-Meetup

In preparation for Disrupt New York in May I’m going to hold a few pitching workshops in New York for you all. We’ll listen to and critique 8 pitches on March 13th at 7pm at the Knotel space at 22 West 38th Street, 4th Floor. This is an informal pitch-off, but the two best teams will get two tickets to Disrupt New York and the undying admiration of millions of people (actually more like 80 people, because the room isn’t huge.) PLEASE BYOB. There’s not much budget for these, but they’re fun.

The folks pitching are BandHub, OLIKA, Nightcheers, Workshop, Flytechnista, Adventurely, StyleKist and Reefill.

RSVP here. I limited the number to 8 so we’ll have time to talk about the pitches. See you soon.

 We’ll be voting on the best startup during the meetup. To vote please download Rapid Square or just search for “Rapid Square Cards” on the App store or Google play.