Life & Technology – 2GB 15th March, 2015

We found out a really important date this week: April 24. April 24 is the day Australians will finally be able to buy the Apple Watch.


There’ll be three models, Apple Watch Sport, Apple Watch and Apple Watch Edition. The Apple Watch Sport is made from aluminium and has a synthetic rubber strap. It will start at AUD$499. Add $70 for the larger size. The regular stainless steel and sapphire glass Apple Watch will start at $799, and go as high as AUD$1629 if you want a stainless steel band too. And at the high-end, the 18-carrat gold Apple Watch Edition begins at a crazy AUD$14,000 and tops at an insane AUD$24,000. These are all almost the same – the materials are different, but functionality is the same.


Following the announcement, I had a chat to app developer and director of Wyoming Digital Mike Boyd to discuss what kind of apps we'll see on the Apple Watch. During the keynote, Apple highlighted everything from Instagram to Twitter to Uber – Mike said that he thinks companies will be very keen to be one of the first on the Watch, taking a leadership position. However, Mike doesn’t think all apps will work – Instagram is definitely better suited to a 5-inch display, not a 1.5-inch display, but everyone is still going to give it a shot. It will certainly be interesting to see what sticks.


Metadata, specifically metadata retention, has been one Australia’s most contentious issues in the last six month. For those not in the loop, the idea is that the government will require carriers and telcos to store everyone’s metadata for two years, which can then be accessed without a warrant by law enforcement authorities. Whether you agree or disagree with the scheme, there’s been one big question in regards to the scheme – how do you define metadata?


If you’re a Telstra customer, you’ll soon be able to know exactly what the telco / government has on you. From April 1, all Telstra customers will be able to request their metadata – that’s no joke. Simple requests will attract a fee of AUD$25, whereas more complicated requests – especially those covering multiple services across several years – will be charged at an hourly rate. The telco claims that it bills law enforcement agency requests in the same manner.


I've got three daughters, so it's always interesting to see unconventional toys for girls. This week I had a chat with Alice Brooks, Roominate's co-founder. Roominate makes toys for girls that promote a greater understanding and learning of STEM – science, technology, engineering and maths. Alice describes Roominate is a hands-on wired building system made for girls six and up. Unlike other building systems such as Lego, Roominate involves motors and circuits in order to build up dollhouse like structures with the goal of getting girls excited about these kind of concepts when they pop up in school. I might just have to pick up a playset for home! You can learn more about Roominate here


Lenovo aren’t really known for their smartphones, especially in Australia, but one of their handsets caught my eye when I was at MWC, the Lenovo Shot Vibe. The Lenovo Shot Vibe is the kind of device I’m not quite sure whether it’s a smartphone that has a camera, or a camera that has a smartphone. I’s design is even more than a little camera inspired, but it’s a full-fledged Android smartphone at the same time. However, its camera apps have all been optimised to make it feel more like a camera, and there’s even dedicated shutter buttons. For more on the Vibe Shot, click here!


In other phone news, I had a chat with Stephen Baxter, Microsoft's Product Manager for its Lumia smartphones. One of Microsoft's key focuses with its Lumia handsets will be upgradability to Windows 10. Once Windows 10 is available, the vast majority of Windows Phone 8 devices will be upgradeable to Windows 10, whether they're low-end, mid-range or flagship. Not all phones will get all features, but no device will be left behind.


Apple made one other big announced this week: the new MacBook. Simply called the MacBook, Apple’s new notebook is its thinnest yet, undercutting the already thin MacBook Air. It’s just 1.3 cm thick. The way Apple has managed this is they’ve gotten rid of everything but one port and the headphone jack.


The new port is a USB Type-C connector, a versatile new style of USB that can be used to charge the laptop, and when coupled with an adapter, double as a HDMI, VGA, Ethernet or regular USB 3.0 port. The new technology is very cool, but I kind of think it needs at least two USB Type-C ports. It kind of feels like a notebook made for 2018, not 2015. It might be a little too futuristic for its own good.


Otherwise, the MacBook is powered by a Intel Core M processor, mitigating the need for a fan and bringing the weight down to about 900gram. This one should be available mid-April and will start at AUD$1799. Even if you think it’s a stupid idea, you really have to see this one in person, as the sheer thinness is pretty incredibly.