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Jawbone is breaking up with consumers to get their PhD

(BUSINESS NEWS) There have been rumors floating that Jawbone has been working on a medical device for some time, and the move away from consumer-based wearable technology should not be much of surprise – here’s what’s going on.

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The band-wagon has left

A couple of years ago, it seemed like every wrist you looked at in the gym had some form of fitness tracker on it. Whether they specialized in climbing rocks or the corporate ladder, it seemed everyone was busy counting their steps and their calories- well, for the first few months of owning the band at least. Over time, of course, the data gathering would begin to lessen before dying out completely, often hand-in-hand with said individuals’ New Year’s resolutions.

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However, it is unquestionable that for some the desire to remain healthy remained, largely in part due to the newfound game-ification of being active. Whether it was counting steps or questionable metrics (Has anyone ever figured out what Nike’s Fuel Points actually are, by the way?), the fitness band did, and continues to inspire individuals to live healthier, more active lives.

For now, anyway.

One foot out the door

But as smartphones continue to increase in their number of functions (most coming out of the box featuring pre-installed health-tracking software, and built-in pedometers), and with the advent of the smart watch, consumers seem to be questioning the necessity of these extra wearable pieces of technology. For hardcore athletes and health nuts, these devices still retain some value- especially as many current models feature heart rate sensors.

Still, the every-person can’t help but be left wondering if it’s worth shelling out the extra $50-100 just to count the extra 130-odd steps they took during the day without their phone.

Jawbone, maker of the “UP” line of fitness bands, and longtime nemesis to wearable tech heavyweight Fitbit, seems to have asked themselves the same question. Recently, they appear to have come up with their answer. Per a TechCrunch report, the San Francisco-based company will be shifting focus and moving into the B2B wearable market, manufacturing medical-grade devices marketed toward entities such as health-care providers and clinicians.

There have been rumors floating that the company has been working on a medical device for some time, and the move away from consumer-based wearable technology should not be much of surprise.

Though they were one of the early players in the wearable technology market, their products have long been plagued by mediocre reviews, often coming to the consensus that their fitness bands offer too little for too steep a price.

Dig deeper and you’ll find a barrage of complaints from dissatisfied customers, often regarding an inability to contact customer support.

It seems Jawbone may have been planning this shift for a while.Click To Tweet

Fitness protection program

Amid reports that the company has run out of money, and near constant legal battles with rival Fitbit over the last few years, the change in direction is likely to be thought of as a step in the right direction.

The company having weathered several changes before – Jawbone started out making noise-cancelling headsets in 1999, before moving to making speakers in 2010, and eventually wearable fitness bands in 2011 – would similarly help the move be met with anticipation instead of trepidation.

Can they find their niche?

Regardless of whether their next device is a success or a flop, hopefully other companies will take note of the adaptability Jawbone has displayed throughout the years and follow accordingly.

No one knows exactly how long a market for wearable technology will be around, but it seems safe to say that a market for activity trackers has a very finite amount of time left before becoming irrelevant. Over the next few years, we will likely see many brands follow Jawbone’s lead in slowly moving away from manufacturing consumer-grade hardware.

Finding a niche need that they can fulfill will likely play a significant part in these companies’ future successes, or failures.

#Jawbone

Andrew Clausen is a Staff Writer at The American Genius and when he's not deep diving into technology and business news for you, he is a poet, enjoys rock climbing, monster movies, and spending time with his notoriously naughty cat.

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iOS 15 beta has blur nude photos opt-in, but its not without fault

(TECH NEWS) To protect children from explicit content, the most recent beta version of iOS 15 includes a feature that allows users to blur nude photos.

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Woman looking at Apple iPhone representing new iOS 15 beta that will blur nude photos.

In a move to protect children from explicit content, the most recent beta version of iOS 15 includes a feature that allows users to blur nude photos received in the Messages app. Amid privacy concerns, the feature has yet to be released.

The option to blur nude photos is opt-in, reports The Verge, and does not prevent users from choosing to view the photos in question even after being implemented.

This iteration of the feature is distinct from the original one insofar as it will no longer alert a parent or guardian when nude photos are encountered. While this may seem like a controversial change, several experts pointed out that exposing nude content on a child’s device in some households could result in abuse or, as Harvard Cyberlaw Clinic instructor Kendra Albert suggests, the outing of “queer or transgender children to their parents.”

With the most recent version of this feature enabled, children who receive inappropriate photos via the Messages app would be able to do two things: choose to avoid (or see) the content, and choose to send a report to a trusted adult if they see fit to do so.

Blurring photos is just one of several aspects of Apple’s Communication Safety suite, a feature that aims to prevent child sex abuse by making it easier for children to avoid and report predatory content.

 

Child on electronic device- iOS 15 beta that will allow blur nude photos should protect children.

Another feature that Apple has tested – but not released – is their Child Sex Abuse Imagery Detection (CSAM-detection), which scans and reports iCloud content that shows child pornography or abuse to Apple moderators for further review. As one can imagine, the feature drew mixed criticism, the majority of which came from privacy advocates.

While the vast majority of humanity can (hopefully) agree that fighting against child exploitation is a noble cause, these groups argue that scanning and reporting individuals’ personal photos via an algorithm opens the door to government interference and increased surveillance. Switching the algorithm’s baseline to scan for things like anti-government content, for example, would be easy, these groups posit, making the feature extremely dangerous in principle.

There is no current release date set for any of these aforementioned features, though iPhone users can reasonably expect them to drop at some point during iOS 15’s development.

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Amazon Music debuts synchronized text transcripts for popular podcasts

(TECH) The first feature to hit Amazon Music is auto-generated and synchronized text transcripts for their most popular podcast shows. Sign us up!

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Amazon Music Transcripts

Amazon set out to accelerate the growth and evolution of podcasts last year by acquiring the podcasting network, Wondery. Now, the company is doing just that with the launch of its auto-generated and synchronized podcast transcripts feature on Amazon Music.

According to an Amazon Music tweet, with this feature, you’ll be able to “Roll it back, jump ahead, and follow along” with the podcast you’re listening to. For instance, you can scrub through the transcript to find that line of text with that quote or movie and book suggestion you can’t quite remember. When you tap on a particular line of text in the transcript, you’ll be able to jump straight into that specific part of the podcast. I can already see all the time saved! But, if you just want to read along as you listen, you can do that, too. The transcript will match the audio as you’re hearing it.

Right now, the company is only rolling out podcast transcripts in the US on both iOS and Android devices. When it will expand to other countries isn’t known, and the feature isn’t available for all podcasts yet. For now, it is only available on a selection of popular podcasts like Smartless, Crime Junkie, This American Life, Uncommon Ground, and Modern Love, but more are coming.

Amazon Music Homescreen

To use it, all you have to do is open the podcasts tab on Amazon Music and select one of the podcasts you’d like to listen to. Of course, you’ll need to select a show with the podcast transcription feature to see it. When your show is playing, on the top of the album art and in fullscreen mode, the transcriptions will be available for you to read along to.

Oh, and if you’re worried about having to read through the ads, you have nothing to fret about. Ads won’t be transcribed. Instead, the transcription will read “audio not transcribed” when they are playing.

So far, Amazon seems to be going strong in the podcasting game with the release of podcast transcripts. The feature makes it easy to search and find what you are looking for in a show. And, for those on a long and noisy bus and subway ride, you’ll finally be able to read the information you previously couldn’t hear.

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UX design: If you don’t have it, get yourself an audit made easy

(TECH NEWS) UX design is important. By conducting a simple audit to make sure your site is accessible, you can minimize the number of people that quickly go away.

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Two UX design people standing in front of a whiteboard with a UX map.

A good UX design is essential in attracting and retaining customers. A seamless and positive experience will keep customers happy and bring your business many benefits, like increasing audience engagement and sales.

But, how do you know if your user experience is in need of help, so people don’t bounce away quickly? Well, if UX is not your forte, the best thing to do is to hire a good UX designer. Unfortunately, sometimes hiring one isn’t always within the budget.

So, what do you do then? The next best thing is to conduct a UX audit of your website or app. Not sure where to begin? Fulcrum’s Do It Yourself UX Audit kit is one place to start.

According to the website, this DIY UX audit “can help you gain valuable insights about the usability of your product.” The tool detects problems in your UX, prioritizes them for you, and finds out how you can fix any existing issues.

The tool is made out of free easy-to-use Notion templates. These UX audit checklists are all customizable, and you can print them or save them on your Notion dashboard to use later.

Inside each template, there are cards with descriptions and examples. Depending on if you meet certain criteria or not, you drag and drop the card into the “Yes” or “No” column. When you’re finished, you will easily see what issues you have, and you can work on fixing them.

The templates are divided into Junior and Middle-level templates.

The Junior level has templates for things such as field and forms, login, mobile UX, and architecture. Most of these templates help make sure you cover your basic UX bases. For instance, it looks at whether your website is desktop and mobile-friendly, and if each element makes sense and is easily identifiable.

The Middle Level dives in a little deeper. The “Visibility of system status” audit checks if you are keeping your audience informed on what’s going on. Things like battery life, loading, or Wi-Fi connection indicators can make a huge difference. No one wants to stare at a screen with no clue if what they clicked on is working or not.

If you can afford it and want a UX virtuoso to do the work for you, you can get a UX audit from Fulcrum. The experts will conduct a full-fledged UX audit and create wireframes with solutions for your UX issues.

However, no matter how you go about it, a good UX design is important. Higher rate conversions and user retention won’t happen if your product is just pushing people away.

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