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Voice-forward phones: Google Assistant and the next billion users

A range of new flagship phones got shown off at the MWC19 trade fair. At one end of the scale, Samsung introduced three variations of its premium Galaxy S10 and a new model, the Galaxy Fold, with its innovative folding screen and almost $2,000 price tag. At the other, the Wizphone WP006, a phone made only for Indonesia (where it will be sold in vending machines), costing about $7.

The WP006 is a featurephone; it has a hardware keyboard, no touchscreen, 4G connectivity, runs on KaiOS (an operating system based on the abandoned FirefoxOS project), and has a prominent microphone button—it’s a voice-forward phone, powered by Google Assistant.

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Using Airtable to manage a trends-tracking email newsletter

For the last couple of years part of my job has been to keep my colleagues and employer up to date on technology trends; to make sure that everyone knows the moves in the technology landscape, and to try to follow trends in the market to help the company position itself well to meet them. This post is about a new process I’m implementing on a couple of aspects of that part of my role.

I have two problems that I want this process to solve. The first is that I want to be able to better track trends in technology, to understand new product releases and actions with better reference to what’s happened before. The second is that I send a weekly email newsletter with curated links to the most relevant and useful stories about the technology landscape, but my current method of assembling it’s cumbersome. I’m experimenting with a solution to both of these problems using Airtable.

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Trends in Consumer Digital Technology for 2019

For the past few years I’ve got into the habit of starting the new year with an article consolidating my thoughts on where we’re at with consumer digital technology; looking at the landscape, and at what the biggest players are doing—my focus is mostly on Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, but it’s not exclusively on them. I want to tease out a few trends to help orient myself in my role for the year ahead. I try not to make predictions, but perhaps play out some possibilities.

There are two big declines at the core of this year’s trends, which I think set the tone for where consumer tech might head in 2019. They are the smartphone decline, and the Facebook decline.

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The Best Quotes I Read in 2018

I read a lot. For pleasure, for work, and for my newsletter, The Thoughtful Net, which is a little of both pleasure and work. As well as books I read a lot of online articles, especially long-form; I save a lot of links to Pocket, which is synced to my Kobo eReader, and then I read on my commute to and from work—averaging probably five or six articles per day. I share the articles that I like to my colleagues, on my Twitter, and a rare few exceptional ones to my newsletter.

What I enjoy very much is to collect quotes (or quotations, if you’re that type of person). A nice turn of phrase or a point that makes me stop and reflect, or think of something entirely differently, always gets saved to my Keep—with the hope that it will one day spark a new line of thought in me, or be added to a presentation deck to support my argument.

In this article I present the quotes I read this year that I felt were worth saving and sharing. The quotes aren’t necessarily from this year (some of them date back to the 19th Century) but they were new to me. Most of them, in some way, are linked to technology, which is both pleasure and work to me.