Mobile Messaging is Broken

We hear see it in the communities all the time. People in every single camp arguing over how great their respective platforms messaging app is or isn’t. However I feel what people fail to see is that messaging as a whole is simply broken and I do not see it getting any better. Instant messaging is like email and if it is not cross platform it kind of just sucks.The Messaging Closed Garden

iMessage is great for iPhone users and their iPhone using friends. However the minute 1 of your friends jumps ship, they are at risk of losing a message or never receiving one because either…they have an iPad which got the message and it never got delivered to their Android or Windows phone as a SMS…or an array of other weird delivery problems. The issue here is that iMessage is not cross platform, which in the end makes it only as good as what device the person your sending it to has. It is a seamless and elegant application but it doesn’t solve the mobile messaging problem.

The Messaging Cross-Platform Jungle

Now on the other side you have multiple cross platform apps for messaging. You have Hangouts, which will has SMS integration. This great because you can send and view SMS messages and Hangouts all in one app, and it is cross platform. Problem solved…right? Not really. Hangouts problem is actually the complete opposite of iMessage. Hangouts requires everyone to be using Hangouts, which for the most part probably is not going to happen that much with iOS. In addition Google decided to inelegantly separate SMS and IM messages in different threads which makes absolutely no sense. Even with Android…users are dispersed between FB Messenger, WhatsApp, ChatOn and others so the problem is even worse. Plus to add a little more, even if a user used Hangouts or another app on iOS…it cannot act as its default SMS provider, so it brings us back to the initial problem of juggling multiple messaging apps.

Which brings us back to the original claim, that mobile messaging is broken. Yes it works well for the pocket of users each messaging platform supports but in the end for many people messaging will continue to stay an array of 2 – 3 Apps users use to communicate. For me who carry’s a iPhone for work and Nexus 5 for personal…

– WhatsApp on my Nexus 5 to party chat with my sisters
– Hangouts on my iPhone and Nexus 5 to chat with my wife through IM and SMS for everyone else.
– iMessage on my iPhone for SMS and sometimes IM’s from my baby sister and my dad

Yep for me that is 3 apps. This is the new normal for mobile messaging, and I don’t see it going away

Nobody Wants Stock Android

Another discussion on Google+ got me thinking about the whole discussion about stock Android. And the one thing I realized is that nobody wants stock Android.

Stock Android is AOSP, and for the most part nobody wants AOSP in its pure form. They want AOSP+.

For example, with the Nexus 5 what you are seeing is Google’s skin on top of AOSP. Google replaced the browser, messaging, camera, dialer, and search apps specifically to meet Google’s needs. For the most part Google did to AOSP what every other OEM did to AOSP, but less intrusive and arguably more elegant and useful.

Call it what you like but the Nexus does not run stock Android it runs Google Android, and it will only get more googlier in the future.

Reviews…..Its All Perspective

Like almost every year it is beginning to become a continuous cycle in regards to new devices and reviews. That is nobody is ever happy. I think for the most part folks are using reviews as a sort of ammunition to incite their ongoing Fanboy arguments and wars…

I.E

Fanboy A: Phone A is Better than Phone B

Fanboy B: No it is not, Phone B is way better

Fanboy A: Well Phone A got a higher score on the review so it must be better

Fanboy B: Reviewer X, doesn’t know what he/she is talking about

 We have seen everywhere. But the one thing I have learned is that reviews are all about perspective from the person reviewing the device. No ones perspective is the same, as certain things will annoy certain people more than others. Looking at the Nexus 5 reviews from multiple sites some consider it..better than the iPhone, some don’t, many consider the devices equal relative to the different ecosystems. It is all a mix bad.

Having recent moved my company phone from a blackberry to iPhone, I now understand this using both Android and iOS throughout the day. My perspective is that while the iPhone has great hardware and takes great pictures, it works counter to my usual workflow, which is why I do not prefer to use it as my personal everyday device.

I think many of us have to look at these reviews not based on the quick wins or lows, but based on who is using the device and how are they using the device. Basically, focus on the context in addition to the content.

About These Smart Watches….

Throughout most of the recent tech stories about watches including those in the Verge, there seems to be a fascination about Smart Watches and their future that reads like, “SMart Watches are coming…can they beat Apple’s iWatch”

For example…

Gaw believes that the renewed interest in smartwatches we’re currently seeing is little more than a bunch of gadget makers trying to get a jump on Apple’s much-rumored smartwatch. Despite the wide variety of options that have launched and will continue to launch in the coming months, offerings from the likes of Samsung, Sony, Qualcomm and others aren’t expected to see much interest from buyers. Qualcomm itself has even acknowledged that there isn’t yet any real demand for smartwatches.

http://bgr.com/2013/10/30/smartwatch-demand-holidays-2013/

Beyond that, retaining some smartphone independence will be valuable, but the real attraction for everyone will be the promise of this being the perfect iPhone accessory. For that to happen, Apple will need to carefully balance functionality against the demands of battery life and accessible pricing. It’s probably because of that task’s high degree of difficulty that we haven’t seen the iWatch emerge yet. As Tim Cook puts it, “to convince people that they have to wear something, it has to be incredible.”

http://www.theverge.com/2013/10/17/4842228/state-of-the-smartwatch-art-in-2013

Now sure everyone keeps thinking Apple will make a watch, just like they thought they would make a television set but there is almost nothing except for a rumour that points in that direction. However everyone is assuming the only company with enough talent to get this right is Apple.

The thing I find funny is that there is a company out there outside of the usual OEMs that does have the talent, and egineering know how to get this new piece of tech right. Its Google, however for whatever reason no one seems to really bring them in the conversation. There is way more evidence pointing to a Google powered Smartwatch than anything coming from Apple…This includes the following

  • Google having purchased WIMM Labs for almost and year. WIMM Labs already had a watch developed at the time of purchase since 2012, including apps and a app store
  • Google’s Patent fillings in October 2012 and May 2013reveal that they are already looking into smart watch Functions
  • Google already has contextual based notifications with Google Now. Apple purchased Cue a month ago and rumors started flying it was for a iWatch.
  • Google has Motorola, which for the most part already has a functional smartwatch with the Actv for fitness tracking, which by the way runs a customized version of Android
  • Android 4.3 Introduces BT LE and a Notification listener for external devices
  • The Nexus 4 passes gets 2 new profiles in October adding HID over GATT Profile and Scan Parameters Profile. The The ScPP is used to provide devices with information to assist them in managing their connection idle timeout and advertising parameters to optimize for power consumption and/or reconnection latency. The HID over GATT profile defines the procedures and features to be used by Bluetooth low energy HID Devices using GATT and Bluetooth HID Hosts using GATT.

Besides the recent rumors that the thing is practically done. I think for the most part Google will actually produce the better smart watch out there in regards to functionality and use. Android still handles notifications better than iOS for the most part. I think Apple will be able to get the masses to buy it, but in the end it will be Google who shows us how a smartwatch is supposed to function

OPINION: Why I Think Project Era Will be a Success

There seems to be a significant faction of people who think Moto’s Project Ara is dead before arrival. While some of their points are valid I think if Motorola plays it right, this could be the next big thing.

Project Ara is just the next step in Motorola’s focus to provide build to order custom phones for consumers. The Moto X was are first taste of that, and though we are still waiting for Moto Maker availability on all carriers the idea for the most part is solid.

Project Ara is just the next iteration of that, customize your phones down to the hardware in it. Do you know what industry boomed because of this? PCs. Right around 2003ish Dell came out with a method to build custom PC’s and ship to consumers within a short time frame. That idea is what made Dell the powerhouse it is in the PC hay day. Can you imagine not being able to customize the Ram, CPU, HD, or other parts in your PC now? No because it has become standard operating procedure for the PC industry.

Motorola, I believe, is trying to imprint the same method of custom PC’s into the mobile industry. So you buy a phone you decide on the camera sensor, RAM, CPU, display, and other specs that matter. If you think back, Motorola is already doing this with their X8 technology. Back when the Moto X came out the said they could uses any SoC with the X8 allowing for different future configurations.

Everyone keeps saying this is for tech geeks and people who want to build their own phones, which is a small market. I don’t think that is the case. This is for Motorola. Motorola wants to make themselves the Dell of the mobile industry. Where you buy the things you want in your phone based on your needs. Motorola could easily have 5 or so standard setups of the most common configurations. If you want to upgrade you can go to a Authorized dealer who will swap to modules out, and the old ones can be recycled there or sold on the market.

Yes there is the argument of standards, but why would the matter? Why would they need to mater? Size, will be the biggest roadblock, but I think with the years of knowledge Motorola has in phone manufacturing and where technology is today…this will not be as major as everyone thinks.

As tech enthusiast we are always bashing the Google’s, Apple’s, Samsung’s, etc of the industry for not bringing enough innovation, however when something comes around that is truly innovative in our sector and could change how we look at mobile…some criticize that too. Like is said it could be a success, which is entirely based on how it is implemented, but I believe Motorola has the brains…and the Google cash, to make something really major happen.

Chromebooks are the Future….

We Just Don’t Know it Yet.

As I see all the debate back and fourth about Windows, Mac, Office, iWork, and everything else you can imagine it occurred to me that the key features between everything here is internet connectivity. The internet is the must have app, and without your product is reduced to a market of Niche users.

In comes the Chromebook. Everyone says both how great and how useless they are but I think Google is playing a long game here that we are yet to see. That is more bandwidth. As technology matures, the more bandwidth we get which makes having the internet more of a requirement than an option. When you think about the things you need your laptop to do…for the normal consumer it comes down to

  • Productivity Software
  • Web Browsing
  • Music
  • Video

In the latest debate around productivity software we have Google Docs, Office, and iWork. Each having great little things about them. On a Chromebook I can access all of the above through the cloud, with offline access in Google Docs. Now you might say it is not as good as the standalone, but for most consumers…isn’t that enough? Most people using these productivity suites will for the most part be using them when connected to the net.

Web Browsing…I think this point is self explanatory so moving on

Music. Music is more and more going cloud based with the likes of iTUnes Match, All Access, Soptify, Pandora, and all the others becoming the norm for how people consume their music. Again, all these services require a network connection and are limited where there is not one.

Video. People’s TV’s are becoming their notebooks, as more and more people are consuming their video mediathrough Hulu, Netflix, HBO Go and other internet streaming services. Again all requiring an internet connection. Yes there are still a ton of people who save movies directly to their device for offline access on flights and other things, but with WiFi and cellular service starting to become more of a thing on flights, I see this offline becoming the way of the past.

The key conclusion here is that we are moving to a always on society, where being offline is considered weird. Being able to seamlessly bounce from device to device is what we expect, and having our data available to us no matter what device we are using is what we want. I think Chromebooks offer a lot of this functionality out of the box at a cheap cost.

I think in the next 5 years it is not going to be a Mac vs Windows debate on the consumer front, but a Chrome OS vs Mac OS debate. I could be completely wrong but time will tell.

Conspiracy: Cue Was Bought for a Smart Watch

Now Yes I know it makes perfect sense that Apple bought Cue for it’s Today screen in the notifications and to bolster Siri. But I am just going to think outside of the box here.

We all know Apple and Google side step each other when it comes down to features, these days it seems like a race about who can get to a certain feature first. So my theory is based on what I think Google will do with it’s smart watch. I feel wearables for Google will have similar UI’s, and Google’s watch will match the UI of Google Glass, which in the end is all powered by Google Now. So long story short Google’s watch will be Google Now on your wrist.

Fast forward to Cue. I think Apple knows that, these type of contextual notifications are what should really be on a true “smart watch”. However, they have nothing like this with iOS. So why reinvent the wheel?…Buy the closest thing. I think in the end the Cue purchase is ultimately for Apple to release contextual Google Now like notifications on a wearable device. In addition it also could have been Apple ensuring that Google doesn’t scoop up the closest competition to Google Now, just like they did with Waze.

This news also comes very close to new rumors making their rounds that Google will release a watch this month with 4.4. I

Anyway I am probably completely wrong, but I think it makes sense

Bump, Google, and the Future….and Flock!!

So We all know Google acquired Bump, and many people where questioning the reasons behind the purchase, as no one really uses bump, and NFC basically is Androids current solution for simple transfering data from phone to phone.

However when you think about it and get into the weeds I think there is something to the Bump Acquisition, which is really centered around payments. NFC for payments is great and would have been great, but the carriers and their Isis Payments pact basically put a nail in that coffin. And it seems that Google just would rather not fight that fight. But like the TV space, payments is another space that companies are all vying for.

So here is my theory. Bump was acquired for several reasons.

Payments

Bump Pay was an app that was initially built into PayPal to initiate payments between users. If you just look at the Google Wallet allowing transfer of money to users, I feel they will augment the wallet technology with Bump Pay. Now what could happen here is that Google could use Bumps technology over Bluetooth 4.0 LE, similar to iBeacons, but allow users 3 different options for payment. Tap To Pay, Bump to Pay, and Contexualized Payments. What does does is effectively offer a payment solution which is cross platform, and can be implemented in several ways. NFC is already built into many POS, so that is a given. Google could even use WiFi technology that knows users are in a store and completes transactions through Google Wallet.

Better Sharing

 

  • Bump to Google would be AirDrop to Apple. However you would not Bump Phones. I can see Google Building an Sharing functionality around its BT sharing options already in Android. I would call it DirectShare or Google Share. The features would be tied to Google Drive and they would do the following
  • Share files (Videos, Pictures, Files, Keep Notes, etc) between users which automatically drops files into their Google Drive account
  • Pushed notifications to users to show a file was shared, with extended notifications giving the user the option to accept or reject the file. These notification will also be extended to the Chrome Rich Notifications for Google Drive
  • Pictures and Videos can automatically be accessed and shared on Google+ with the Google+ and Drive integration
  • Files would be added to synced folders on your Mac or Windows desktop, without having to copy or pull anything down.
  • Android Beam will have the option to share items through BT/WiFi Direct or Android Beam can be set to have items sent to your phone through Google’s servers. To make the sharing seamless. It will not replace Beam as contacts, webpages, and youtube videos, and other items requiring instant interaction work well with Beam. However for those times where your not sitting next to someone, someone has an iPhone, or other reasons you need to share a file this might just be the way.

I’m not a software engineer so maybe I am off, but I think people are focusing on the physical “bump” aspect of Bump, and not focusing on the technology behind it. I think in the end the Bump acquisition was to bolster the sharing and payments services which could use some improvements.

PICTURE SHARING!!!

Just noticed that Bump owns this app called Flock, go to https://theflockapp.com/#detailsfor more information. They could be adding this feature to Google+ to boost the picture sharing across devices.

What if the iWatch was more of a iBand?

Appleiwatch-1361439886_medium

Now I know this iWatch rumor has grown legs and everyone is thinking there would be an iWatch. But what if that is not even the case. Apple saw that the Nano Watch band thingy did not catch on as much as they thought, so would extra features really make an actual iWatch any better?

No, I don’t think so.

I think Apple is not going to make an iWatch but more of an iBand. A fitness tracking band designed o do what things like the FitBit Flex and FuelBand do, but with a little more. Basically adding an LCD display for watch and notification options, using Bluetooth LE.

I am assuming this for several reasons.

  1. I think Apple will flatly absorb Nike’s Fuelband business, and this is the reason why they decided not to make an Android App…because it will be under Apple’s umbrella going forward.
  2. The hired the Fuelband Designer Jay Blahnik which to me reinforces the first point that this will be more of a band than a watch.
  3. Fitness bands are way more popular than watches and appeal more to the cross platform mass market.
  4. Also Apple’s patent filling is not for really a watch but more of a flexible wearable device, which to me fits more to a band than a watch.
  5. Tim Cook always mentions, “We have some exciting new product category.” The smartwatch is neither exciting or new to the masses. However a Smart Band just might be it, as it is neither really a smart watch or a fitness band. It is a Smart Band…..hmmm…new category?
  6. Finally Apple is trying to move it’s recent image as a “Me Too” company to the “I did it first Company” and a smartwatch is just not the right way to do it in my opinion.

Now I could be completely wrong. But that is just my take.

The Nexus Line and VoLTE…Why it Matters (Part 2)

Hi Folks,

So I wrote a post about the Nexus line and VoLTE back in November 2012 when the Nexus 4 was announced without LTE and created the a backlash of various commenting. You can read the entire post here: The Nexus Line and VoLTE…Why it Matters

They key points of that post..well my predictions over the next 2 years were..

  • Google releasing a Nexus device unlocked with LTE on all carriers using VoLTE
  • VoLTE going live nationwide within a year
  • Unlimited Data Plans making their way back
  • Unlocked Better priced Contract Free Mobile devices. No more $650 Off contract phones
  • More competition, with more and more customers becoming month to month non contract users

Well fast forward 8 months and one major announcement just occurred,http://news.cnet.com/8301-1035_3-57591213-94/verizon-says-first-lte-only-phones-to-arrive-in-late-2014/, yes Verizon will pushing LTE only phones across the network late in 2014.

What do you all think? I think LTE only phones will be the next big thing in mobile wireless service? With major carriers like Verizon not able to control or locked down LTE only phones, due to Open Access rules, I think competition and pricing of phones will get better for the consumer. And Google will finally be able to offer the Nexus on every carrier.
Your thoughts?