Tag Archive: insider
Sony and Microsoft today both issued separate statements on how their next-generation consoles sold in November, based on data from market research firm NPD. Unsurprisingly, both companies spun the story to say they won.
Sony said its PlayStation 4 was “the top-selling console for November and PlayStation was #1 in sales overall for home consoles.” Microsoft said its Xbox One was “the fastest selling console on the market in the U.S.”
As always, the devil is in the details. The PlayStation 4 launched on November 15 while the Xbox One debuted on November 22, and these figures are only for one region, not worldwide.
Unfortunately, Sony didn’t share how many PS4s were actually sold according to NPD. Microsoft said the group found 909,132 Xbox One units were sold in the US in the console’s first nine days of availability, or an average of more than 101,000 consoles per day.
That doesn’t really tell us which console is selling better. Sony’s “top selling” angle means nothing because more console units will sell given more days of availability, so it’s no surprise the PS4 came out on top if it arrived earlier in the month. Microsoft’s “fastest selling” angle means nothing because more console units will of course sell closer to launch, so it’s no surprise the Xbox One comes out on top if it arrived later in the month.
All that we do know is that Sony has sold more than 2.1 million units of the PlayStation 4 while Microsoft has sold over 2 million units of the Xbox One.
The real question will be which console hits the next milestone, like say 10 million, significantly ahead of the other. December figures for the US will of course be highly scrutinized, given that it will be the first full month of sales for both consoles, but it won’t be the deciding factor.
In the meantime, we’ll continue to hear Sony’s and Microsoft’s PR teams battle it out with statistics about gameplay broadcasts and total hours played. The early winner, if there is one, won’t be revealed till 2014.
See also: PlayStation 4 review: Technical issues hold back Sony from greatness and Xbox One review: A multimedia extravaganza that also plays games
Tado, the smart thermostat that can automatically moderate the temparature of your home, is now available to buy in the UK.
With the Internet of Things, smart cities and connected everything, central heating is one of the areas just waiting to be dragged into the next generation – and Tado’s not alone, with rivals in the form of other companies like Honeywell and Nest, it’s going to be a hotly contested space.
Unlike a normal thermostat, Tado’s system is controllable from a smartphone (iOS or Android) thanks to a little box you plug into your router.
This connection allows the app to send data to and from your phone, and is what allows it do to things like switch off your heating automatically as you leave the house, or use GPS to sense when you are approximately 20 minutes from home and then switch it on again, so that your house is nice and warm when you get there.
It’s a pretty appealing prospect, particularly with winter drawing in.
The system itself is relatively simple, once installed, and the idea is that with most of its functionality automated, you really shouldn’t have to set things manually at all – that’s not to say you can’t though, of course.
It really does promise to be properly smart too. Tado knows that houses heat up and cool down at different speeds and will learn over time what works best for your home. It also knows that some days will be unseasonably warm or cold by checking weather reports automatically online, and then makes adjustments to your heating schedule for the day.
Similarly, that GPS feature that senses when you’re approaching home and switches the heating on can also learn that perhaps you only work around the corner so are within range of your house all day. In this scenario, rather than keep the heating on all day in anticipation of your arrival home, it keeps it at a lower temperature, ready to heat up quickly when you do actually start to return.
The app also supports more than one user too, so the whole family can get in on the Tado action.
While this is all great in theory, those features depend on one key thing: getting it installed, a feat I never achieved.
When I attended the UK Tado launch in London a few weeks ago, the product was being pitched as primarily self-installable. The exact words bandied about were “if you can change a lightbulb, you can install this” and “if you can put together Ikea furniture ,you can do this”. I can do both of those things, but following Tado’s instructions nearly got me into hot water – pun intended.
Because each system needs to be tailored to your heating system – the type of boiler and thermostat, plus potential external controllers – each comes with its own self-installation workflow. Unfortunately, while the section to remove the mains-wired thermostat was correct, the section on connecting it to the boiler wasn’t, meaning, if I had I followed it, I would have incorrectly connected the Live, Earth and Neutral wires directly into my boiler’s control panel. Fortunately, I did not.
Instead, I let Tado know and they provided me with a new set of instructions, and while less incorrect, they were still incorrect and resulted in no power to my boiler whatsoever. I then rolled back what I had done and decided I no longer wanted to install the Tado myself. I can change a lightbulb, but that has never involved tampering with my mains electricity before.
Again, I let Tado know the situation and as a result of the feedback the company said it will no longer recommend self-installation as the default. Instead, an engineer is now the recommended default installation method and will be provided free of charge for customers that buy the system between now and January 2014. After that, it’s chargeable – currently listed on the site as 89.
This means that from January, it’ll cost 249 for the Tado kit and 89 for installation. Delivery is just under 10, making the total 347.80. There’s also an option to rent the system, at 6.99 per month. The total cost for taking this route for 12 months is 182.68 (including the initial installation and delivery costs) and then 83.88 for each year after that.
While not prohibitively expensive, the apparent need for an engineer visit does add quite significantly to the overall price. Renters might also want to bear in mind that your landlord or management agency is unlikely to be too pleased with you having changed the controls for the central heating, so you’ll probably want to have it removed before you leave – meaning another engineer visit or braving it on your own.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that there’s a good chance it might not be compatible with the system in your next house too, if you’re renting your home.
For home owners or people with no imminent house move in sight, these kind of concerns are, of course, less of an issue.
The future of heating?
The kind of experience that Tado is aiming to deliver is undoubtedly the future of central heating, but with a few companies already in the space – or looking to soon enter the UK market – like Honeywell and Nest, whether Tado will be the company to crack it remains to be seen.
For home owners wanting to modernise their central heating and potentially save a little cash too, Tado is one of the options available right now – and with a consistently good design running throughout Tado, whether that’s the UI on the apps, the website or the (incorrect) workflow I attempted to use – it certainly looks like something I’d be interested in using. I just wish I’d managed to have gotten it installed.
Featured Image Credit – Tado
We’ve previously covered Hojoki’s efforts in the enterprise space, as it has gradually beefed out its newsfeed for cloud apps. Now, it’s looking to build on this groundwork with the launch of a brand new standalone app for iPhone.
CatchApp serves as a newsfeed for the workplace, offering users an easy way to catch up with everything the team is working on, connecting with Basecamp, Box, Dropbox, Evernote, GitHub, Google Calendar, Google Drive, Highrise, Twitter, Zendesk and more.
You an set up a multitude of ‘lists’ that let you restrict your tracking to key criteria, based on tags, folders, notebooks and so on, and the app sends push notifications for any new update on a given list.
CatchApp can be used by freelancers, managers, and anyone involved in tracking a project, and makes it very easy to monitor processes across a myriad of people and apps. It also automatically creates reports based on recent team activity.
CatchApp provides the first one hundred updates for free each month, which it says should be enough for most users. But more updates can be bought, starting at a dollar per one hundred.
CatchApp | App Store
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It’s been almost two years since Spotify first integrated with Songkick, to help surface live gigs based on the artists and bands they listen to through the music-streaming service.
Now, however, artist pages on Spotify will automatically display upcoming concerts from the country in which a person is using the service.
Granted, it would be better if it was city-specific, given that you could be hundreds of miles from the nearest live show, but it looks like this is something that could come in the future through a better use of geo-location.
Also, if you click the concert on display you’ll see more information on the upcoming events, but you will need to install the Songkick Spotify app to access that.
Songkick Blog: Discover more concerts with Songkick & Spotify
Microsoft today launched a Bing Offers test in Seattle that aims to automate and simplify using and redeeming deals found through the service. The rather poorly-named program “Bing Offers Card-Linked” is a partnership with transaction processing leaders First Data, but more importantly extends to payment networks like Visa and MasterCard.
The Bing move is part of a broader initiative also announced today called the CardLinx Association. Founding members include Microsoft, Bank of America, Discover, Deem, Facebook, First Data Corp., Linkable Networks, LivingSocial, MasterCard, Affinity Solutions, CardSpring and Cardlytics.
Here’s the idea in a nut shell:
As the “offers” space has become more popular, consumers have often found it cumbersome to take advantage of the variety of offers, which has slowed growth in the industry. Card linked offers help solve that problem by giving merchants and advertisers the ability to deliver an offer or deal to consumers via their credit, debit or other payment cards without having to use a paper coupon, voucher or promotion code on their mobile devices. The mission of The CardLinx Association is to establish increased interoperability, eliminate friction and promote the growth of the card linked offers industry.
In short, Microsoft is trying to respond to Bing Offers feedback from users who do not want to pre-purchase deals that they might forget or not use due to inflexible redemption options. Furthermore, there are also frequent complaints about having to print up coupons or display QR codes to redeem savings.
Microsoft thus figured the best way to address these problems is to link your credit card to all its offers. This may require more effort on your part to get started, but once you’re set up, the whole deal-savings business should be much easier.
Bing Offers Card-Linked is a three-step process:
- Sign Up. You can sign up by adding just 2 pieces of information (Microsoft Username/Password and Credit/Debit card) on the http://www.bing.com/offers website (1-time requirement). All available deals are then linked to your card and ready to use right away.
- Discover. You will be reminded about local deals on the Bing Offers website, via email subscriptions, and on a variety of Microsoft devices and services, such as Skype and Bing Apps.
- Shop & Save. When you use your card to make a qualified purchase at participating local business, just as you normally would at a retail store or a restaurant, you are immediately notified about your savings and you will receive the discounts directly on your card statement.
Microsoft says Bing Offers currently gives you access to more than 200,000 unique offers in over 14,000 US cities. The service assembles leading offers from sites such as Groupon, Living Social, and Restaurant.com so you can see the best deals in your area all in one place.
Bing Offers Card-Linked aims to make the redemption part of the deal-hunting process easier as well, as long as you use a credit card for your deal purchases (and make sure it’s the same one). Hopefully the test works out, and Microsoft scraps the awful name by bundling this feature into all of Bing Offers.
Top Image Credit: AFP/Getty Images