WhatsApp as a social network

WhatsAppWhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging apps. In the early days, BBM (Blackberry Messenger) was used by everyone but was limited to Blackberry devices. WhatsApp provided a free messaging platform for Symbian (still popular in emerging markets), Blackberry, Android, Windows Phone and iOS. It was one of the first apps to be truly cross-platform, not just iOS and Android. With Symbian and Blackberry widely used in emerging markets, it got a lot of market share. Dozens of messaging applications have emerged since then, but there are two important aspects to such an application: (1) mass adoption by networks of people, and (2) being truly cross-platform (not just Android and iOS).

When using a utility application for Mail or IM, its easy to switch to a better application. With messaging, it does not make sense to switch when five of your contacts are using it versus hundreds on the other platform. So people are not likely to switch. What developers also forget is that Android and iOS are the major OSes, but only in North America. Asian and South American markets are still dominated by Symbian and Blackberry devices with Android gaining market share rapidly. Also when messaging patterns for WhatsApp is analyzed, its heavily used for international communication. When all of you contacts are in the US, you could use texting as most carriers now offer unlimited free texting. But for international messaging, apps like WhatsApp are used primarily. This means that supporting platforms in those markets is as important as iOS support.

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Smartphone race to emerging markets has begun

Smartphones for Emerging markets Smartphones are at the center of everyones life. They have transformed from a communication device to a lifestyle accessory that manages everything from social life to finances. As smartphone reach a high adoption rate in developed nations like US, Canada and Europe, there is a huge opportunity to bring them to emerging markets. India and China have a combined population of over 2 Billion. While popular smartphones have high price points which work in the developed world, emerging markets need a smartphone at a lower price point. Local smartphone makers like Micromax and Xiaomi have sprung up in these countries and are gaining huge market share in emerging markets.

 

While Mobile World Congress this year has been about LTE updates in Europe and Samsung unveiling more wearables, Nokia announced its line of Nokia X Android phones (after being acquired by Microsoft) at a price below $100. While this is a good step for Nokia, Mozilla’s Firefox OS phones are being made for developing nations which would be sold for $25. Of course, the $25 Firefox OS phone is not yet released. If Mozilla is able to meet the $25 price point, it can gain significant market share in Latin America and African regions. This can make it harder for other makers to penetrate into these markets. While Nokia expects its Nokia X phone to do well in emerging markets, the local makers have already gained some market share and popularity in the regions and it would be interesting to see adoption rates for the new line of devices. As Mozilla and Nokia enter the emerging markets, other makers are expected to announce a range of smartphones targeted at emerging markets this year.

Android Update – Infographic

Android OS Update

Android is one of the most popular smartphone operating systems. What makes Android so wide spread? Any device manufacturer can build smartphones with Android. HTC, Motorola, ASUS, Acer and countless regional manufacturers. While this made Android one of the major smartphone operating systems, there are often complaints about its consistency across carriers and devices. When Google releases Android 4.4 KitKat, it is first made available to Google Devices (Nexus brand devices), followed by Google Play devices (unlocked developer devices) and finally other devices. Some devices like HTC phones can get an update early, and other HTC phones can get an update months later. Verizon devices can get an update sooner than T-Mobile users. The nature of the updates can be very inconsistent based on the device model and carrier. This is because when Google announces a new version of Android, it has to go to chip manufacturers like NVIDIA and Qualcomm that make drivers for the system. Then its passed to phone manufacturers that add customizations and finally to carriers that add even more customizations. It goes back and forth till its tested and approved by everyone. Finally, its pushed as an update. HTC has released an infographic explaining the process, for those who want to know what goes on behind the scenes.

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Trend Micro shows you what 2020 is like

2020Japanese computer security company Trend Micro has started a web series about the future. The year is 2020 and everyone uses glasses with augmented reality. Everything can be accessed through your glass. It is the only gadget you use and the most important one. The series is based on an ICSPA report entitled Project 2020.

The technology is futuristic yet seems achievable in the near future, considering the speed at which it is evolving. The glass technology featured in the series seems impressive, yet shows how much humans depend on technology. Scenes where humans wave and gesture their hands to control their glass also seems bizarre, as everyone is highly connected yet very isolated.

The series consists of 9 episodes, out of which 3 have been made available so far. You can watch all the episodes on the link provided below.

Link: 2020 by Trend Micro

 

 

How smart are smartwatches?

Smartwatches Smartphones have made their way from enterprise users to the masses. With everyone being connected through texting, tweets, check-ins and status updates, smartwatches have been formed, giving you access to your phone at those rare times when you don’t actually have your smartphone in your hand.

As smartwatches gain some traction and attention from the media and the public, the question arises: How smart are these smartwatches (or what can they do besides tell you the time)? Some obvious answers are: show you the weather, alert you when you get a call or text, and maybe let you make calls and act as a bluetooth speaker. Does it need a special app? what devices does it support? what are the different smartwatches available today? Here is a look at some options…

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Products that Google has killed – Infographic

Google graveyaed

 

Google, once known as the search engine giant, is now known for its other great products and services as well, including Gmail, Google Maps, Android, Google Chrome and Google Docs/Drive. These are all excellent products and services that are used by a vast amount of users. How does Google have so many successful products? It’s simple. They have 10 times more products and most of them fail, leaving behind some that become very successful. In this entrepreneurial startup age where every country is creating its own Silicon Valley, people have learned that most startups fail. Google keeps launching new products across multiple areas and most fail, but every now and then, they have a winner. These winners are what Google is remembered by while the failed products are discontinued every year during their annual spring cleaning. See the Google Graveyard infographic about some of their products that have been killed (including Google Reader).

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Points is the future of street signs

Points street sign

 

Breakfast, a New York based company, is building Points – a new street sign for the digital age. Points can dynamically change text on the street signs and rotate the sign to point towards different venues. It can also be programmed to show different places at different time of the day. For example, it can point to the “Zoo” during the day and when the zoo closes in the evening, the sign can rotate and change the text to “Saturday night bar”. Another example can be displaying events like “Giants game” instead of “Stadium”, which gives people an idea of what game is on while enabling easy interpretation for people going to that game (in case of multiple stadiums in cities). The distance can also be flashed to show miles and hours/minutes based on online traffic data, which can be helpful. Besides a street sign, Points also acts as a kiosk for people walking on the street. The buttons on the pillar can be pressed to change directions visible on the street sign. A pedestrian can choose “Restaurant” and the signs will show different restaurants. One problem this can create is that a car passing by that wants to go to the stadium will also see the restaurants chosen in the kiosk. I think they should add a small screen near the buttons to act as a kiosk rather than changing the signs.

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Are phones the new gaming console?

Smartphones have transformed from PDA devices used by business executives to a multimedia device primarily used for entertainment. Smartphones such as Blackberry and Windows Mobile provided E-mail service with sync capabilities to enterprise servers. It allowed executives to stay connected to their work network. Today, smartphones have almost nothing to do with E-mail, enterprise or even compatibility with enterprise systems. A smartphone is criticized if Angry Birds does not run on its platform or it does not have enough “apps”. Not many people review the different types of VPN protocols supported by the platform. The main consumers of smartphones have drifted from business to teenagers. The heart of the platforms has become social media. Facebook and Twitter have become core OS features which are built into the platforms. This has even drifted to Apple’s Mac OS X Mountain Lion and Microsoft’s Windows 8 systems, which have Facebook integration built-in across the system.

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Disable Metro in Windows 8

The Windows 8 launch is right around the corner. People that have purchased PCs recently will get incentives for upgrading to Windows 8 by either getting a license for a lower price or even a free upgrade. While the new Metro interface brings Windows to new tablet devices, its not the best interface for desktops or even laptop computers. The horizontal scrolling makes it tedious to use the Metro screen with many non-touch devices. Some users might want to use the good old Start menu in Windows 8 and disable the Metro screen completely. Windows does not have a setting for this but there are third party applications that let you do this.

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A dive into Windows 8 RTM

Microsoft just released Windows 8 RTM (Release To Manufacturer) today. This is the version this is given to the manufacturers and will be shipped to consumers. This means that I had higher expectations from this release. When I first boted into Windows, I noticed the new blue logo (yes, the colored flag is not the logo anymore). The interface is completely Metro – feels like a Windows Phone device. The first startup screen asked me to login with my Microsoft Account (Hotmail/Windows Live Passport) and then I got an SMS asking me to confirm the association with Windows PC. I clicked on the link and confirmed the computer. After a few minutes, my desktop was setup. The first thing you see is the Start screen with Live Tiles and Apps. This version also has the Windows Store (which is separate from Windows Phone Store). There are a few apps published, I downloaded Box and iHeartRadio from the Store and was able to login and use the apps. I also used Connect with Facebook and the app worked as a mobile app would. The Desktop is similar to the old Windows desktop with a few UI changes. But the Windows 8 focus lies on Tiles and the tablet functionality.

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