Interview with Felix Thea from Shopify Masters


A few weeks back I was asked by Felix Thea if he could interview me for his podcast Shopify Masters. Being a big fan of his podcast of course I said yes!

You can listen to me ramble on about how we generated so many good reviews, trademarks, patents and all that type of jazz here >

You can also subscribe to Felix’s podcast on iTunes here >

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Initial Reactions after a week with an Apple Watch

If you’ve read this before and want to jump to my conclusion click here.

There’s been a lot of hype about the Apple Watch and being in the business of making accessories for the iPhone a lot of people has been asking me if it will have an impact on what we do. My answer to that question is yes, it will have a positive impact. My reasoning being that the Apple Watch relies so heavily on the iPhone that if anything it should increase iPhone sales and hence build a bigger market for our accessories.

Before I get into my thoughts on using an Apple Watch I want to make two things clear.

1) I’m not a watch person. I have never worn one and don’t like having anything attached to my body. My wife insisted I wear a wedding ring and that is the only object that has remained on my body for more than a month. I have tried fitness trackers and they usually get about a week before I stop wearing them. It will be interesting to see if I am still wearing my Apple Watch this time next week.

2) I am an industrial designer and I love Apple products. I grey imported the very first model of the iPhone from the US way before they were available in Australia. Using it is where I came up with the idea for Quad Lock so I am always pretty keen to try out new Apple products to see if they generate any new ideas.

The Chronograph Watch Face

Day 1


Seriously Apple? Does a watch really require this much packaging?

The packaging is typical of Apple, a long white box with nothing but the Apple Watch logo embossed on the top.  I was surprised with the large size and weight of the box. It seemed excessive. Considering Apple ships millions of these things around the globe it seemed very wasteful having so much excess ‘air’. You could easily package them in a thin box allowing four watches be shipped in the same volume as one in the current packaging.

Did you really have to mention that the tiny pin on the band is 316 Stainless Steel? Guess So…

Inside the white box you will find a high gloss injection molded capsule. I assume Apple provided this as something you could store your watch in but seriously I don’t think anyone will. It would make a pretty nice pencil or storage case but when you remove the form fitting tray from the box the lid has nothing to locate with so that rules our that idea. No other Apple products come packaged with this type of storage case and again its excessive. It would add a fair chunk of cost to the product and I don’t think it adds much value.

First reactions

When I finally get the box apart my first reaction to the watch is that it’s tiny! Its a lot smaller than I thought it would be. I ordered the 38mm sports watch as I have small wrists but still, its smaller than I thought it would be. The design and quality is amazing but you’d expect nothing less from Apple and would be disappointed if it wasn’t. The material used in the sports watch strap feels awesome, its kind of like a cross between rubber and leather. It’s also very light. I haven’t compared it with the stainless steel version but when its on you barely notice it.

Putting it on for the first time it feels pretty good. The strap is easy to use and fits my wrist really well. Comparing it to the 42mm I am glad I went with the 38mm. Syncing with the iPhone is super easy and is done so using the iPhone camera. Once it see’s a trippy video on the Watch screen it’s synced. This must be how it recognize which watch to sync to if there are multiple watches close by. Navigating through the various screens takes a little getting used to. Its very different to the iPhone and I found I was pushing the button to go back when I should have been pressing the crown.

Force touch is very cool and I can see this being added to the next iPhone. Sending drawings as text messages is cool but the screen is so small you can’t really draw much except for dick picks. Sending your heart rate is cool but a novelty which will wear off quickly, but it does the vibration from a heart beat does feel pretty cool. Taking phone calls from your wrist makes you look and feel  like a dick but its handy if someone is calling you and you can’t find your phone.

The fitness tracking features of the watch are killer and this is one of the main applications I see people using the Apple Watch. It easily stomps on all other fitness trackers I have tried. It gives you live updates of pace, distance, calories and heart rate and is super easy to use. I’ve only used it while walking home from work but it did a pretty good job of it. So far I really like it. Apart from feeling a little sweaty under the band I don’t mind wearing it as much as I thought I would, but time will tell (pardon the pun).

Day 2

Still got it on my wrist! Liking it so far. The integration with Apple TV and the remote App is pretty handy as I hate it when I can’t find the remote. Being able to control Apple TV from my wrist is pretty cool.

Day 3

Went for a drive using the Apple Maps navigation and discovered that the Apple Watch sync’s with the turn by turn direction giving you 3 clicks for left, 3 different clicks for right and one click to go straight. Nice touch Apple.

Day 4

I am looking at and using my iPhone a lot less since strapping on the Apple Watch. Main behavioural change is from viewing text messages that don’t need to be replied to from the Apple Watch. I’ve also turned off a lot of the notifications from other Apps as they were getting annoying.

Day 5

The novelty factor has started to wear off. The main reason I am using the watch for now is checking the time (duh!). The watch face I am using has room for 3 different time zones “complications” which has been handy when organising Skype calls with people in the US and UK. Besides time, I am also using it for tracking activity and viewing text messages but apart from that not much else…. How long will it last on my wrist is anyones guess.

The Modular watch face that after a few days both Joel and I settled on using.

Day 6

I’m starting to forget I have the Watch on which is a credit to how comfortable it is on the wrist but also an indicator that the excitement level is no longer there and I am not using as much as I thought I would. Again the main uses are checking time, viewing text messages and as a remote for Apple TV/Netflix.

Day 7

I forgot to put on my Apple Watch this morning but I didn’t notice until later afternoon. Uh oh…


After seven days with an Apple Watch yes I’m still wearing it, but I don’t know if I will continue too… At least not every day. I am in no way near attached to it like I was my original iPhone. I went to the extend of importing an iPhone from the USA as they weren’t available in Australia when first release. I recall spending ever spare second I had playing with it for almost two weeks. It was a serious game changer and was the spark that ignited the idea for Quad Lock. Alas, unfortunately for me, the Apple Watch has not had the same effect.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the product and think the engineers and designers at Apple have done an amazing job fitting so much technology into such a small, beautifully designed package, but I am just not using it as much as I thought I would.

As I have said before, I am not a watch person so it was always going to be an uphill battle to get me just to wear the damn thing. Unfortunately the limited functionality it provides isn’t enough to convince me to strap the device to my wrist everyday. Keep in mind we don’t have Apple Pay in Australia, which is one of the Apple Watches core features, but when we do it may be enough to change my mind. However if I could completely replace my phone with an Apple Watch I would do so in a second. Why?

Because the best part about the Watch, and I might sound a bit contradictory here, is that you wear it. Unlike a phone its very unlikely that you will lose it or accidently leave it somewhere like in the back seat of a taxi. It’s strapped to you, not in your pocket so you never miss a call or a text message. And you spend a lot less time wondering where the remote for the Apple TV is because you can use your watch!

I will not be the first to admit that taking a phone call on the wrist makes you feel like a wanker but if there was a small bluetooth ear piece or even head phones which paired with the phone I would be more than happy to ditch my iPhone completely and run with just a watch. Sure the screen is too small for email and browsing the web but I can do that on my iPad or my Laptop and hey, if more people had watches instead of phones there might be more social interaction instead of people staring blankly at their smartphones!

So should you buy an Apple Watch? If you’re a watch person, can handle the price and don’t mind charging it daily (which is pretty effortless using the magnetic inductive charger) then sure go for it. But if your hoping the Apple Watch will change your life… maybe hold off for version two…


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Smartphones are the center of the Universe

japan subwayWhether you like it or not smartphone are the central hub of your life. If you can name just one person you know who does not have one (apart from your grandparents) i’ll be surprised.

And it will come as no surprise that we’re not attached to our smartphones purely for communication purposes. The average person would spend more time on Facebook and playing Candy Crush than making actually making phone calls. But for some reason we feel the need to carry these with us 24/7 so we are never out of reach. But with the way technology is heading we’re going to be reliant on our smartphones for a whole lot more than just google.

I recently installed a Kwikset Kevo lock on my house which allows me to lock and unlock the front door via bluetooth using my iPhone. To me this is great because I no longer have to carry a key to get in my house. The downside is if I get home late at night and my phone is flat I’m stuck outside, that and my wife recently discovered it keeps track of all locks and unlocks so she knows what time I really leave for work in the morning. But I am happy to take the chance for the convenience of not having to carry a key.

If I am driving somewhere I have never been before I use my phone to provide directions and traffic updates. I threw out my street directory a long time ago. If I go for a ride I connect my phone to my bike using my Quad Lock bike mount and it monitors my speed and distance travelled. I ditched my Garmin cycling computer in favour of this as its much easier to use and saves me from having to remember to bring another device. Last week I was at Sauced and I was able to pay for my lunch (4p’s pasta is the bomb) via Paypal with my iPhone. Why don’t all stores have this?

The smartphone has replaced a lot of “dedicated devices” and its going to replace a lot more in the future… And its not just devices… credit cards, and cash are two which come to mind… guess I no longer need to carry a wallet.

But can the smartphone be replaced? Wearable technology you say. Well it has been generating a lot of buzz lately but its not going to replace your smartphone, at least not in the near future. Google glass needs to pair with a smartphone to be able to do pretty much anything. A Smart watch isn’t very smart if it can’t connect to your smartphone. Activity trackers can’t tell you much until they sync with your smartphone to diagnose the data.

Until they can figure out how to fit the same amount of technology in your smartphone into something this size of a 20 cent piece, or smaller, and with decent battery life, the Smartphone still reins king.

If you don’t already cherish your smartphone, you better start to, as they are becoming a critical component to interact with the world.








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Kickstarter Available for Australian Based Projects from November 13th!


It’s been months since we went to a presentation put on by Kickstarter at York Butter Factory informing us that Kickstarter would be opening to Australian based projects. And now finally they have put a date on it. In an email update this morning Kickstarter announced that from November 13th Kickstarter is open to Australian based projects. From what we were told, Kickstarter will process all the payments directly on their site so project champions won’t need to set up an Amazon payments account and backers will be able to back projects directly on the site using their credit cards, in AUD mind you.

This is great news for Aussie creatives and we can’t wait to see the flood of Aussie projects hit the crowdfunding scene. The official word on Kickstarters blog can be found here.


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iPhone 5 Bike Mount

As you guys know, I designed a pretty sweet iPhone bike Mount called the Quad Lock. Originally funded on Kickstarter, the ol’ Quad Lock has proven to be quiet a popular product and, as far as we know, is the lightest and most secure iPhone bike mounts on the market. So you’ll be pretty wrapped to know we’re just about to launch the iPhone 5 Quad Lock Case at CES 2013. I’m personally pretty stoked as we decide to go the extra mile and run with an overmolded PC/TPU design which makes the case way cooler than the original and heaps nicer to hold and use.

For more information check out

Quad Lock Case for iPhone 5

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Seth Godin interview for the Good Life Project

I first heard about Seth Godin through the Shopify build a business competition in late 2011. As chance would have it we managed to win our category in the competiton and were very fortunate to have the opportunity to fly out to New York to meet him. Seth is a marketing guru and has this ability to get straight to the point and understand the most complex situations with an uncanny clarity. He was recently interviewed by the good life project about his recent book that he launched on Kickstarter. If you have a spare 37mins its a great insight into how he views he’s “projects”.

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Variable pitch Quad Rotor

I am fascinated by Quad Rotors. They make a super stable, super agile platform for flight. I believe they will become a viable method of human transport in the near future. The introduction of variable pitch designs means that a single conventional petrol engine could be used to power it, instead of four individually controlled motors.

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