Tag - mobile

Doxo makes bill-paying fast, mobile, and (almost) painless

(Initially this was going to be posted at VentureBeat, but another writer beat me to it.)

In some magical fairy-tale world, beautiful women and handsome men laughingly pay gas company bills while watching fluffy pink unicorns dance through purple Alpine valleys. In the real world, giving your hard-earned money to the man sucks, especially when the process of paying bills is mind-numbingly complicated.

That’s the world Doxo is trying to fix, using your smartphone or tablet.

Launching today, the Doxo Mobile app for Android and iOS will include doxoPay, integrated bill-paying functionality that will allow users to see, manage, and pay bills, all while riding the bus back home from work.

Currently, it’s not so simple. As Jim Bruene, author of the NetBanker blog says: “Whether the bill is received digitally or in paper form, payment is often a three step process – read the bill when you receive it, open it again to pay it, and then file it somewhere else.” Doxo integrates the steps, simplifying users’ lives.

One challenge: the company you want to pay has to be set up in Doxo’s system. Today that list includes AT&T, Sprint, Kansas City Power and Light, 12 state and county governments, and many more, but it’s not clear exactly how many service providers have joined. To tempt more businesses into signing up, Doxo touts savings of 80% for sending paperless bills, and notes that consumers pay their bills an average of 10 days earlier when using the Doxo mobile app.

But it’s clear that for consumers, having all their bills in one system is going to be a much better value proposition than just having a few, or even most. This is the single greatest problem for Doxo if they want to scale this app to millions or hundreds of millions of users.

However, Doxo is taking the right tack with regard to a single, unified payment app. Other mobile payment solutions exist, but no consumer in their right mind is going to download multiple apps, one to pay each service provider.

One other benefit of the Jeff Bezos-backed payment company: a digital file cabinet integrated with Dropbox or Box in which users can store key documents such as insurance policies, important bills, and statements. Storing all the details of your financial life in one place has the potential to vastly increase manageability. As an aside, it also increases the need for extreme security.

In a statement, Doxo CEO Steve Shivers said: “The Doxo mission is to massively simplify the experience of interacting with providers and paying bills. The new capabilities of our mobile app make bill paying simpler than ever.”

One unanswered question: when will Doxo become an e-wallet that will not only allow users to manage and pay bills, but also make immediate, point-of-sale payments? Given the trajectory of the Doxo app, one has to assume it’s coming.

Now that almost might be worth dancing through purple Alpine meadows over.

Piggy bank and bill images via Shutterstock

Getting MobileMe errors on your Mac? Complete your move to iCloud – here's how

I’ve been getting odd errors in iPhoto lately – MobileMe alerts saying they didn’t recognize my password. Something like: “MobileMe didn’t recognize the stored password for …”

That’s fairly odd, since I’ve been using Apple’s new iCloud service for months, and haven’t knowingly used any part of the old MobileMe service for months, if not years. Finally I got annoyed enough to check it out (it usually takes more than a few alerts to stir me up enough to do something about it) and fix the situation. If you’re getting similar warnings, here’s what to do …

Complete your move to iCloud
You probably are already using iCloud, but you may not have completed the move. That’s because there’s still a MobileMe preference pan in your System Preferences (who knew) that may still be active. Or, at least be trying to be active:

MobileMe is deprecated (fancy for cancelled) so that’s the cause of your errors. But that handy little Move to iCloud button at the bottom of the screen is your savior. Click that, and you’re solving your problem.

Now you’re cooking with gas
When you click that button, you’re going to be taken to an online interface to move all your MobileMe data over to iCloud. If you’re like me and barely used MobileMe for anything at all, it’s a fast and simple process.

When finished, you’ll see something like this:

Sign in (and check “keep me signed in” if you wish) and you’re all set. Cloudy goodishness is yours for free (well at least 5 gigabytes of it).

Simple, easy, and no more Mobile Me error messages!

First post @ VentureBeat

I’m a little pumped. I managed to connect with VentureBeat over the past couple of weeks and just wrote my first post: 5 Reasons Mobile Fragmentation is Actually Good for App Developers.

In it, I argue that a very competitive mobile landscape with Windows Phone and BlackBerry in addition to (of course) Android and iOS is a good thing for mobile app developers … even if it makes life more complicated in some ways.

As I check it now, a few hours after posting, it’s not doing too badly:

  • 73 tweets
  • 46 shares on LinkedIN
  • 2 +1s (this is not good for Google+ marketing!)

Writing the post was fun, as was finding and interviewing 3-4 experts in mobile computing. I’m hoping to do more 🙂

11 inches or 13?

So I’m in the Metrotown Apple store in Burnaby, BC. Yeah, Canada.

And I’m looking at the MacBook Airs … which I have been coveting for some time now. The core question is the cause of this post’s odd title. Should I get the 11″ or the 13″?

More screen is better, when you’re tied to a desk. More portable is better, when you want to be mobile. It’s a challenging question, since I’m not sure there’s a huge spec difference other than the screen size. And I’m not certain what the exact mix of my use will be.

The weight is almost immaterial … 2.38 pounds versus 2.96. If you get the slightly upgraded 11″ model, you can get a processor within 100 MHz of the 13″, plus the 4GB of RAM, which I think is important. One thing I do like about the 13″ is the SD slot … making it simply to transfer your photos, and potentially other data, without having to worry about cables. Other than that, they’re almost identical.

Screen size is the biggest differentiator. Of course 🙂

I’m writing this on the 11″ model right now, in an attempt to convince myself that this is all the screen I need. I’m not certain if I’m being successful …

Which would you pick?

[ update ]

So, I chatted to an Apple sales guy here. He asked what I was going to use it for, and found out I already have an iPad2, which I can pair with my ZAGGfolio for typing. Turns out the iPad screen and the 11″ are almost identical in size. That’s pushing me over the edge a bit, towards the 13″ …

Apple: please simplify the iPhone unlock screen (by killing it)

Apple is the epitome of simple, right?

Well yeah, but not always. And one example is right in your pocket: the well-known iPhone lock screen.

Do we really need it?
Seriously, how often does the home button get pushed in your pocket? I know the lock screen is intended to stop spurious input and the infamous pocket dialing, but has that every happened to you? Not me.

To me, the unlock screen is just a time-waster that puts 2-3 extra seconds between me and whatever tasks I’m trying to accomplish. I don’t like it, I don’t need it, and I don’t want it. I’d at least like an option to remove it.

Extra-bad with password
The lock screen is one thing, but when you pair that with a password-protected phone, it’s even worse.

I hate password-protecting my phone, and I would not do it personally, but there are corporate email accounts on it that require safety settings.

So, now I have to:

  1. Unlock my screen
  2. Enter my password

It’s pretty obvious that your password is a pretty effective unlock screen protector in and of itself. So, at a minimum, Apple should automatically disable the lock screen functionality if you have a password-protected phone. The password protection, when in place, is the lock screen.

Any functionality on the lock screen – alerts, etc. – can still be implemented on the password screen.

Simpler, faster, better
Anything that gets me faster to my apps, phone, email, or whatever, is better.


Massive Google local search fail

When you’re searching on a mobile device, and you enter the letters B-A-R, you are probably not looking for the Bureau of Automotive Repair in California. You are even less likely to be searching for the meaning and significance of bars on Wikipedia:

Most likely, you’re looking for a place to meet some people, grab a drink, have a snack, watch a game.

Google should know that …

1000 Foursquare check-ins

Yeah, whatta nerd:

I just wish I had been using Foursquare while I was doing all my travelling for EasyBits Software a few years ago. A bunch of checkins from Cairo, Tokyo, Shanghai, Bucharest, London, Amsterdam, Lisbon, and so one would have been really cool.

BTW, I haven’t used that discount code, so if you want some cheap Foursquare schwag … be my guest!

How Apple's iOS 5 is going to utterly destroy local search

iOS 5, Apple’s newest operating system for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch is coming in late summer or fall. And I’m predicting it will completely reinvent local and mobile search.

First, some groundwork
Local search is just search for stuff that’s around you.
Mobile search is search on a phone or small device.
And most searches that are mobile, are local.

Done is the new search
Search is an outmoded concept. Most of us just don’t know it, and even for those that do, we can’t really live it yet. I’m betting that’s all going to change in just few months time.

Very simply, search is a process. The goal or object of the search is the product. And since flint knives and sparking rocks, humans reinvent processes continuously to achieve products quicker.

So why search when you can just do?

Laying it all out
Most local/mobile (let’s just say LOMO) searches are action-oriented.

  • Where’s the nearest bar?
  • What’s the best restaurant near here?
  • Is there a movie theatre near here playing XYZ latest & greatest movie?
  • Can I get a cab here?

The search intent, or goal here, is pretty obvious. Shoot me the latest twofer deal at the nearest bar, get me reservations at the restaurant, buy me tickets at the theatre, send a cab to pick me up.

Today, to do that, most people have to:

  1. open a search app (or several)
  2. enter search terms
  3. sort through data
  4. select an option
  5. phone the option
  6. make the reservation/booking/buy

To do this, you might have to open 3-4 apps (a phone is an app), switch context at least that many times, actively personally speak (or wait on hold). Basically, you have to do it yourself.

But wouldn’t it be nice if you had a personal assistant do it all for you?

Enter iOS 5 … your personal assistant from heaven
Apple has a huge problem. That problem is a green little robot dude named Android. And while iPhone is still the best smart mobile platform in the world, Android’s hybrid vigor and essential free-ness to telcos and amazing plasticity is driving huge growth: faster growth than iPhone.

Apple doesn’t need to be bigger than Android, but it absolutely needs to be better.

So Apple is making iOS your new best friend … that does all the annoying little detail work for you. And it’s via an acquisition they made over a year ago, Siri, and a massive data center in the clouds of North Carolina.

Imagine this: pull out your iPhone and say: “I need a flight to Toronto on June 9, arriving in early afternoon, a downtown hotel that doesn’t cost more than $200/night, and tickets to a Blue Jays game that weekend. Oh, and by the way, make me dinner reservations at a good French restaurant for Friday night.”

Rocket science? Star Trek? Prerogative of wealthy execs with personal assistants and fat expense accounts? Rich man’s reality, poor man’s dream?

Think again. This is what Siri does … and this is the future of iOS.

Get ready
Done is the new search. If you’re in the LOMO industry, get ready.

The one potential flaw in Apple’s ointment? Apple doesn’t do social real well … sort of like another tech giant we all know well.

As LOMO becomes SOLOMO (social/local/mobile) this opens doors for others who play nicely together.

Perhaps there’s an opportunity here …

. . .
. . .

Some background resources:

My 3-part series on the future of local search from earlier this year:

TechCrunch on Apple’s new data center and iOS voice plans, and a prior article on iOS 5 and Siri.

And Robert Scoble’s very informative overview and demo of Siri.

Anything else worth linking to here? Add it in the comments …

If your iPhone 4 battery life sucks, here's how to fix it

I recently upgraded from my iPhone 3GS to an iPhone 4.

Usually, I’m the first of all my friends and relatives to get the new tech, but this was a work phone … and it took some time. However, the wait only sharpened the anticipation – and one of the things I was looking forward to was better battery life.

With my 3GS, I got maybe a day and a half of battery life – less if I used my phone a lot. I was hoping for much better from the iPhone 4. It was a huge disappointment, therefore, when my new iPhone 4 seemed to lose all battery charge daily.

The loss of charge was so bad I suspected getting a lemon. Even overnight, when I put my phone in airplane mode, I’d lose about 10% or more. The 3GS had never lost more than 1 or 2% of battery charge overnight. I seriously had to recharge my iPhone4 daily. So I did some investigation.

It turns out that if you set up your new iPhone 4 from a backup of your old iPhone, some old settings which relate to battery life get installed on your new iPhone … and your battery use is totally de-optimized.

The solution: set up your iPhone 4 as an entirely new phone.

Here’s how:

  1. Connect your iPhone to your computer
  2. When iTunes opens and your iPhone is active in the source list, select the Summary tab at the top
  3. Click the Restore button
    (this will delete everything off of your phone, so be sure you’ve done a recent sync and no important information is only on your phone

  4. After your phone is restored, set it up as a new phone in iTunes
  5. Re-sync all your data, email, songs, apps, etc. over to your new phone
  6. Enjoy your new much longer lasting battery life!

After doing this, my iPhone 4 battery life is MUCH longer. Currently, I’m at about 2 days with reasonable usage … and my battery is still at 34%.

Now that’s what I expected from my new iPhone!

BlackBerry: Mac users not wanted

Does BlackBerry hate Mac users this much?

I can understand not loving Apple, who dethroned RIM as the smartphone leader. And I can understand not promoting BlackBerries to Mac users, who are much more likely to use iPhone.

But actively discouraging Mac users from even exploring App World? It’s passive aggressive nonsense that does nothing to evangelize their platform or their product. And … did RIM not notice that Microsoft now has their own phone platform out? Will App World block Windows next?

Who are you going to sell to then, RIM?

Google Contextual Search and Microsoft Paperclip

Marissa Mayer, former head of the Google search team and now head of the Google’s mobile/social ambitions, has made no secret of her goals. Lately she’s been hyping “contextual discovery” … or search without search.

The idea is simple and compelling: you happen to be at the office, you often go out for a coffee at 10AM, and your phone mentions a new coffee shop around the corner. Or you’re in a new city halfway across the world, and your phone finds a coffee shop to wake up in … without being asked.

The challenge lies in execution: how to be helpful without being annoying. Basically, how to avoid being Cliff Clavin in a pocket.

Microsoft faced a similar challenge a decade ago. After all, 90% of the features in Word and Excel are used extremely occasionally – 10% of the features meet 90% of our needs. So there’s a discovery problem … if you’re Microsoft and want to justify new versions with increasingly more options and features.

Microsoft’s answer was Office Assistant, building on the foundations of Microsoft Bob. The visual representation of Office Assistant was a paperclip … hence Clippy … hence Microsoft Paperclip. Clippy would “notice” that you were doing something (like writing a letter) and offer advice or assistance. Unfortunately, Clippy was intrusive and annoying, and its assistance was wrong, stupid, or just plain obvious – a user experience disaster.

Here’s the question: how will Google avoid the Clippy fate?

Getting the right information at the right time is wonderful, excellent, and good. But there’s more opportunity to fail than to succeed:

Right fact Wrong fact
Right time Party time! Woohoo! Annoyance & anger
Wrong time Annoyance & anger Annoyance & anger

At first glance, it looks bad, but not too bad. After all, it’s a 25% change of hitting pay dirt right? But actually, it’s much worse than that.

How does Google know what is the right fact … one you’ll be interested in? And not just interested in generally, but interested in now? Can a smart contextual search app trace the route you’ve been following and the speed you’ve been maintaining and make some judgements about whether you’re being hurried and purposeful (and therefore not too interested in random desiderata this morning, but maybe very interested in traffic data) … or leisurely and rambling (and therefore maybe touring, and perhaps interested in historical facts that add color to your experience).

These are not trivial problems. And they’re just the beginning.

How, for example, will Google send the notifications? Will they use the same channel/interface as text messages? Will the user need to set a preference that “now I’m interested in various facts?”

I don’t have the answers … but there are a lot of questions to answer before a truly useful and non-annoying tool can be successfully launched.

Shout-out: congrats ConquerMobile

I just have to shout out some quick congratulations to ConquerMobile in Vancouver.

They make some amazing mobile apps … and some very cool tools for very simple app creation. And now they’re one of 8 Vancouver startups who have won free “tech space,” otherwise known as office space, in the Generator Challenge.

Very cool, and kudos to Aaron Hilton and Angela Robert!

Mark Betteridge, the CEO of Discovery Parks (where they’ll be getting the free office space) had some words of high praise:

“We selected the winners from a pool of very strong applicants, and believe that these companies could be BC’s next Hootsuite, Cardiome or Electronic Arts, in terms of technological innovation and impact on our economy.”

More details here on Techvibes.

Device ubiquity: this is why Amazon will win

You buy it in physical form from Amazon, they win. You buy it in physical form on Amazon from another retailer, they win. You buy it digitally on a Kindle, they win. You buy it digitally on Kindle on iPad, they win. You buy it digitally on a PC or Mac, they win:

Plug in whatever device you want … smartphone, PC, eReader … Amazon has it covered.

This is smart, and this is the future: device ubiquity.

In other words, don’t force your customer to choose. Provide your product or service wherever your customer is. Make it simple, make it easy. And … go the extra step to ensure synchronicity within your ubiquity – so that, as Amazon enables, a user can start reading on Kindle on the iPad, and finish on their PC. Same place, same bookmarks, same notes.

Smart. Very smart.

Android can win … but Google may still lose

There is only one reason why Google is investing in Android. And it’s the same reason that Google invests in just about anything else:

To gain access to (and if possible to control access to) information … so that it can sell ads and otherwise monetize data flows and resultant behavior.

Android is of course a mobile play, and mobile/social is where there is tremendous growth. So if Google is going to parlay its amazing success in traditional search, Google needs to be on the phone. In Apple’s new mobile garden, data access and behavior flows are app-centric … not web-centric. They use the internet, but not the WWW.

That’s deadly for Google, because it conceals activity and favors silos of data over the all-knowing oracular Googleplex. This is precisely the reason why Android development kicked into extreme high gear well after the release of the Apple iPhone … when it became clear that apps and not the web was the focus. So Android is a power play to ensure that the mobile internet/web is open to Google (and perhaps favors Google).

But Google has a problem.

And the problem is this: Android is open source and anyone can do anything to it that they wish. More precisely, Android uses an Apache-style license, not a GPL-style license (see a good explanation here). Most precisely of all: organizations that want to modify open source software released with an Apache-style license can integrate it with closed-source code and do NOT have re-release their modifications.

Mix that together with a carrier-centric distribution model where the telcoms all want to do exactly what is in their own best interests … and you have a recipe for fragmentation, for forking, for slowing development (or at least release), and many (slightly) different proprietary forms of Android – if not significantly at the code level, at least at the user interface level.

And that means that Google’s attempt to remain the arbiter of all information in the mobile world is at the tender mercies of the telecoms’ desires to make money. Hmm … smell any problems yet?

MG Siegler laid out some of these problems in a TechCruch article recently: Android Is As Open As The Clenched Fist I’d Like To Punch The Carriers With. Imagine multiple apps stores, where developers have to add and validate their apps in 5-10 stores instead of one. Imagine crapware pre-loaded onto phones, just like cheap PCs at Circuit City, because the carrier will be paid for placement or use. Imagine limits on what software you can or can’t install. Imagine funky UIs dreamed up by HCI neophytes who thinks it “looks cool,” even though it’s completely unusable. All this adds up to a bad user experience and an annoying client/provider relationship … none of which will help in a fight against the iEmpire.

But the worst possible news from Google’s perspective is getting kicked off their own phone platform. And that’s precisely what might happen, if Microsoft’s marketing and financial muscle is put in play. There’s already rumors that Bing will replace Google on Verizon phones. Just imagine the consequences for Google.

And yet, it might serve them right.

Google has gotten to where it is by destroying a lot of business models. Gmail commoditizes email; Android and Chrome commoditize operating systems, Google Docs commoditizes productivity apps … the list goes on, and on, and on.

Wouldn’t it be poetic justice if Android ended up commoditizing Google?

Apple: This is why you need more than 1 model

The iPhone 4 fiasco continues unabated today, given that numerous independent testing agencies have found its reception lacking. The highly-respected Consumer Reports review might be the final straw:

Apple will be forced to recall the iPhone 4 following Consumer Reports tests proving the “Death Grip” antenna issue is not software related, but a hardware flaw, PR experts say.

“Apple will be forced to do a recall of this product,” said Professor Matthew Seeger, an expert in crisis communication. “It’s critically important. The brand image is the most important thing Apple has. This is potentially devastating.”

via PR Experts: iPhone 4 Hardware Recall Is “Inevitable” | Cult of Mac.

Here’s the main point, though: this is why you don’t just do one model. One model, as the iPhone as always been (color and capacity aside) is dangerous … because mistakes happen.

This is why you spread your risk. This is why it makes sense to have your eggs in multiple baskets.

Apple: do the right thing and give bumpers for free to all iPhone 4 purchasers … or an equivalent value towards any a case.

If not … a recall is a more and more likely scenario … plus death by a million pinpricks via class-action lawsuits.

One of the downsides of Android …

… is that every carrier will customize it slightly differently.

Not only does this lead to potential differences in app compatibility, it also (and worse!) can lead to horrible security as companies who have no clue how to create and ship a secure mobile OS start tinkering with things they don’t know anything about.

As you might know, I’ve been poking around in the guts of the HTC EVO with some other developers during the last few weeks of early EVO ownership looking to get access to root. It turned out to be fairly easy – a few hours into the investigation and we had access to root.

It turns out that this is a really, really bad thing for users. The Sprint customizations of Android are so bad that an Android application could get access to all of your data with very little work. It’s so bad that I would not recommend purchasing the Sprint EVO or Hero.

This is not good news for the Android world …

via HTC EVO 4G: Nice Hardware, Horrible Sprint Software « grack.com: Matt Mastracci’s blog.

iPad needs social sharing features

I’m a sharer.

That’s why I’ve got a few thousand followers on Twitter, why I blog, why I save links to del.icio.us, post videos to YouTube, and so on …

So I need social sharing features when I surf … and I just got an iPad. Most social sharing is done through Javascript “bookmarklets.” They sit on your browser, and when clicked, take action: sharing, saving, or doing something else with the active webpage:

Mobile Safari lacks this, at least so far as I’ve seen:

You can add a bookmark, add a web page to the home screen, or mail a link (how 1990s!) … but I can’t yet find how to share it on Twitter, ideally with the Bit.ly URL shortening engine.

I’m not sure yet if they can be added, or if I’m going to have to move to Opera, or if Apple will update Safari.

All I can say is: there has be a better way than:

  • Tapping and holding
  • Selecting “select all”
  • Selecting “copy:
  • Switching to a new browser tab with Twitter active
  • Tapping and holding
  • Selecting “paste”
  • Writing a blurb about the link

If and when I find a solution, I’ll update this post.

Eric Schmidt on Google’s “mobile first” attitude

Speaking at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., where the Atmosphere conference takes place, Schmidt said:

“What’s really important right now is to get the mobile architecture right. Mobile will ultimately be the way you provision most of your services. The way I like to put it is, the answer should always be mobile first. You should always put your best team and your best app on your mobile app.”

via Eric Schmidt on Google’s “mobile first” attitude, weaknesses | VentureBeat.

Big question: Microsoft on the iPad

I’ve been wondering lately what Microsoft will do for the iPad.

As everyone knows, Microsoft is one of the major software developers for Mac … Office being the most obvious example. They’ve also dabbled in iPhone applications.

But now we have the iPad. And now mobile apps have an opportunity to be more and do more than ever before. And … Apple has thrown down the gauntlet by developing special (and cheap!) versions of its own office applications for iPad – the iWork suite.

iWork includes Keynote (PowerPoint), Pages (Word), and Numbers (Excel). How is Microsoft going to respond?

Putting their own apps on iPad is a big, big move, from a lot of perspectives:

  • It would require huge redesign (lots of work)
  • It would implicitly be blessing Apple’s new semi-mobile platform (both annoying and strategically dangerous)
  • It would be at a much lower price point than desktop office … iWork is about $15 on iPad, versus about $100 on a Mac (also strategically dangerous and very financially risky)

And yet, to not do it risks being left in the starting gate as the race for mobile software really starts taking off. Above all else, after all, Microsoft is a software company.

What will they do? My guess: not get in until it’s too late, then jump in with both feet.

By then, Microsoft risks becoming irrelevant.

Android or iPhone? Wrong Question « abovethecrowd.com

I wonder if this will have any anti-trust implications ….

<blockquote>That’s right. Google will give the carrier ad splits that result from implementing the Google search box on any Android phone. FBR Capital Markets suggests that Google is taking this idea one step further in its November 24, 2009 report titled Implications of a Potential Share Shift to Android-Based Wireless Devices. “Recent support for Android-based devices appears to be correlated with significant up-front financial incventives paid by Google to both carriuer and handset vendors.” FBR goes on to suggest that these incentives may be as high as $25-50 per device. This is simply an offer that no carrier can refuse, particularly when U.S. carriers are currently in the habit of paying $50-150 per handset sold in subsidies.</blockquote>

via Android or iPhone? Wrong Question « abovethecrowd.com.

Official Google Blog: Our new approach to buying a mobile phone

The first phone we’ll be selling through this new web store is the Nexus One — a convergence point for mobile technology, apps and the Internet. Nexus One is an exemplar of what&apos;s possible on mobile devices through Android — when cool apps meet a fast, bright and connected computer that fits in your pocket. The Nexus One belongs in the emerging class of devices which we call “superphones.” It’s the first in what we expect to be a series of products which we will bring to market with our operator and hardware partners and sell through our online store.

Manufactured by HTC, the Nexus One features dynamic noise suppression from Audience, Inc., a large 3.7″ OLED display for deep contrast and brilliant colors and a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon™ chipset for blazing speeds. Running on Android 2.1, the newest version of Eclair, the software includes innovations like a voice-enabled keyboard so you can speak into any text field, fun Live Wallpapers, a 3D photo gallery for richer media experiences and lots more. Of course, it also comes with a host of popular Google applications, including Gmail, Google Voice and Google Maps Navigation.

via Official Google Blog: Our new approach to buying a mobile phone.

To everyone who is nuts about FourSquare

FourSquare is an up-and-coming social web app that provides context to place and people, allowing you to:

  1. Find your friends
  2. Get points and badges
  3. Discover cool things to do

To all those who are endlessly plugging it – many people in the web2.0, social media sphere – I have a few questions:

  1. Do you have a regular 9-5ish job?
  2. Do you have a spouse?
  3. Do you have children?

If the answer is no to all three questions, I understand your passion for FourSquare. Your life probably revolves around your circle of friends, what you’re doing tonight, where you’re going to eat, and who is going to be with you. You’re probably also in your 20s or early 30s. You are a grown-up teenager.

But for many more people, the answer to those three questions is yes. And for those, I think FourSquare is just not that interesting. The first (and probably most important) use of FourSquare – finding where your friends are – is just not as relevant. For these people, they’re busy, they’re eating at home with spouses and kids, they’re taking kids to lessons and practices, etc.

As for the second use – points and badges – umm … are we in grade school again? Get real, buy yourself a used Tamagotchi.

The most realistic use I can see is the discovery feature: what people have done that is cool and interesting and unique … and you want to do it on the weekend.

Am I wrong? Go ahead, flame me.

Unbelievable iPhone Numbers

Read this slowly:

But late last year, he crunched the numbers and came to a shocking conclusion: that the 13 million owners of iPhone owners had already downloaded as much software as—are you sitting down—1.1 billion other cell-phone owners.

The “he” is Jeff Holden, an Amazon alumnus, and founder of Pelago, a mobile applications development company. The quote is in a BusinessWeek article announcing that iPhone users have downloaded 500 million apps from Apple’s App Store.

Think about that: 13 million iPhone users … more software than 1.1 billion other cell phone users.

If anyone thinks that the game has not changed, they are deluding themselves.

If anyone thinks that there’s nothing all the special about the iPhone, they’re delusional.

If anyone thinks that all the iPhone excitement is just hype, they’re not living in this world.

This is simply amazing. And the reason is: a device that works, a device that is friendly, a device that is usable, a device that invites use.

More on that last though later … as my wife just got her first cell phone: an iPhone.

Please, no: the iFart invasion

The walls are coming down, the barbarians are storming the gates, civilization as we know it is coming to an end.

Yes, you guessed correctly: iFart is now the top paid application for Apple’s iPhone. It’s just as the slogan says: thousands of reasons to love your iPhone:


This is a sad day for highbrows … but maybe not quite so bad if you have a sense of humor!

Not so mobile me

I signed up for a 60-day trial of Apple’s new MobileMe service today only to find it is not currently compatible with OS X 10.4.11, more commonly known as “Tiger.”

The latest version of Mac OS X is 10.5.x, or “Leopard.” My home machine runs Leopard; my PowerBook still runs Tiger – and the preference pane that is supposed to be Mobile Me is still the old .Mac.

Which means, unfortunately, that all of Apple’s instructions regarding how to sync my iPhone and laptop are useless.

Hopefully an update will soon be forthcoming …

Turns out the mobile web is just … the web

Russell Beattie should stand up tall and proud. The Yahoo! alum gave up a secure job (well, sorta secure) and a steady paycheck to tread the uncertain waters of the startup life, and unfortunately was sucked down.

He developed Mowser, a mobile web browser for small-screen mobile devices (OK, that’s a fancy phrase for cell phones). Mowser made big fat web sites small and lean for tiny screens and narrow pipes. (Example: check out Sparkplug9 in all its Mowser glory.)

But then iPhone showed us that the future of the mobile web was … err … the web. Not some “baby internet,” in His Steveness’ words, but the real internet. In your pocket. On your phone. On your iPod. And those of us who had tried to scrunch the web down onto our 2″ screens jumped up and said Amen.

Here’s how Russell says it:

The argument up to now has been simply that there are roughly 3 billion phones out there, and that when these phones get on the Internet, their vast numbers will outweigh PCs and tilt the market towards mobile as the primary web device. The problem is that these billions of users *haven’t* gotten on the Internet, and they won’t until the experience is better and access to the web is barrier-free – and that means better devices and “full browsers”. Let’s face it, you really aren’t going to spend any real time or effort browsing the web on your mobile phone unless you’re using Opera Mini, or have a smart phone with a decent browser – as any other option is a waste of time, effort and money. Users recognize this, and have made it very clear they won’t be using the “Mobile Web” as a substitute for better browsers, rather they’ll just stay away completely.

I can’t agree more … as unfortunate as it is for someone who’s sunk his life savings into making the web work in miniature.

In any case, he’s now looking for a job.

Someone will benefit by having him on-board. Not only is he new media savvy, he’s just spent his life savings figuring out what doesn’t work. Some smart company is going to be the beneficiary of that hard-won wisdom as he starts building what does.

. . .
. . .

More analysis, insight, and general reportage:

ReadWriteWeb sort of agrees
Last 100 disagrees
Mobile Marketing Watch might want to buy Mowser
Another one hits the deadpool
Venture Chronicles thinks the mobile model is wrong
Larry Dignan at ZDNet mostly agrees

FastCompany.tv on AppleTV

I’ve been wondering lately if the shows that Scoble is putting on FastCompany.tv will be available on AppleTV.

See, here’s my problem: I’m interesting in the shows that Scoble (and presumably other) will be doing. They’re with fascinating people doing interesting things. All great and good.

But the times when I’m browsing are NOT times when I’ll kick back and watch a 15, 20, or 30 minute show.

I’m usually browsing to take a quick break – it’s lunch, I want to know what’s going on, and I surf my favorite blogs and PopURLs for a couple of minutes. But my break is short – I’m not going to put my feet up and just watch something.

So the only other alternative is to let the video run while I’m working. Sorry, that’s a non-starter. I need to focus and be intent on what I’m doing, and I can’t have a running distraction like a podcast or a video.

So …

I need FastCompany.tv to be available in my evening downtime, when I might look for something to watch on TV. Most shows on regular TV are a waste of time, but there are a lot of great podcasts – and I’m thinking FastCompany.tv shows would be among them – that I’d like to surf and watch.

But that would mean that FastCompany.tv would need to put its shows on either YouTube or the iTunes directory.

So … the question is … will they?

I see on Robert’s latest post that FastCompany.tv will be available via iTunes. See #4 of what they’re working on … “RSS Feeds that work with iTunes. That’s the first thing to fix after the developers get some sleep (they were up most of Sunday night working on this).”


Thanks to an extremely generous brother-in-law, I’m blogging this from my new iPod touch.

Far, far, far too cool.

Of course, I quickly picked up the $20 extra apps package from Apple, which really makes this useable as a mobile platform …

Well, enough for now.

I’m super-happy with the Touch, but I’m not going to start writing novels on a touchscreen.