Archive for the ‘Phones’ tag
Afgelopen week mocht ik een kijkje nemen op de Innovation Experience van Philips. Mooi om te zien hoe het “gloeilampen”-bedrijf van weleer is uitgegroeid tot een multinational die oplossingen biedt voor hun vier grote thema’s: Livable Cities, Healthcare, Personal Space en Sustainable Living.
Met name de discussies over de cities of the future hadden mijn aandacht, maar ik mocht ook iets zeggen over de Personal Space. Altijd fijn om vrijblijvend tien jaar vooruit te kijken:
Meer informatie over leefbare steden vind je op de Innovation Experience website.
Android: Apex launcher is one of the most popular launchers out there for Ice Cream Sandwich, but this week it updated to bring a number of cool Jelly Bean features to those users that haven’t gotten their hands on the new OS. More »
Getting Married? Wedding Party Collects Photos From Guests’ Phones To Create Beautiful Online Albums
Many of the startups targeting the weddings space today are focused on offering better services for the bride and/or the couple, but with a new mobile application called Wedding Party, that model has been flipped on its head. Wedding Party wants to offer a better wedding experience for the guests first, which then, in turn, will benefit the couple being married.
The app offers a simple way to allow wedding guests participate in the creation of a digital wedding album by sharing photos, notes, and later on, videos. It’s the modern-day equivalent of the guy running around with the video camera, bugging you to “say something nice about the couple.”
The idea with Wedding Party is that, instead of putting people on the spot, guests can share the photos they captured during the celebration, or even write their own their own personal messages to the couple which will later be compiled into an online album. The startup has also just inked a deal to have that album integrated into the wedding websites from MyWedding.com, which will help it gain exposure in the increasingly crowded weddings space.
Based in Mountain View, the bootstrapped company was founded by Ajay Kamat, Himani Amoli, Gordon McCreight and Dan Perez, all with previous social community building experience thanks to their earlier project called MicroMobs, except for Dan, who was at Coupons.com. After seeing many of their friends getting married, they saw there was a big opportunity to build something in the mobile and social weddings space, instead of the more general “friends and family” space which MicroMobs addressed.
“From the moment a couple gets engaged to the time they get married, there’s an incredible amount of excitement, not only only on the part of the couple but on the part of their friends and family as well,” explains Kamat. “And people close to the couple are really looking for an outlet to share in this joy and excitement….[Wedding Party] allows friends and family to participate in an engaging way that really wasn’t possible,” he says.
When the big day is over, Wedding Party sends a link to the couple’s inbox the next morning with all the photos collected, and it also organizes them in an online gallery and minute-by-minute timeline for later viewing. This same photo collection is available to MyWedding.com users as well, allowing it to be another feature of the couple’s wedding website.
Prior to today’s public debut, Wedding Party has been in private beta testing with a couple of hundred of weddings, and Kamat says the response so far has been “tremendous.” Today, the application is becoming available to all, as a free download in the iTunes App Store. Don’t worry: an Android version is on the way. The app will always remain free, but the company may offer some premium features in the future. You can also find the company tweeting away at @wedding on Twitter, which they fortunately managed to grab.
Google just added a new feature to its mobile search page that lets you hand-write search queries in cursive and block letters. Once you have enabled this new feature, you can simply start writing on your screen and Google will translate your scribbles into a legible search query. The new feature will work on iOS5+ devices, as well as Android 2.3+ phones and Android 4.0 tablets. You can write both single letters and complete words on the screen (assuming they are short enough to fit on your phone’s screen). In our brief test, this new feature worked surprisingly well.
As Google notes, this feature should come in especially handy when “you’re standing on a busy street corner, in a bumpy taxi ride, talking with a friend, or sitting on the couch with your tablet.” The company says it has designed this tool to “complement rather than replace typing.” There are, of course, already a number of mobile apps on the market that offer handwriting recognition and Android users can use tools like Swype to make typing easier, but as far as I know, this is the first time somebody has implemented this feature on a mobile site.
To enable this feature on your phone, just head for the settings menu at the bottom of Google’s mobile search screen (or on the top right if you are on a tablet) and look for the new “Handwrite” option. Once enabled, a new icon will appear in the bottom right corner of the Google.com search screen that allows you to activate the writing surface. Clicking on this icon also opens up a new bar at the bottom of the screen that gives you space and backspace keys.
Google recently released an addendum to their guidelines for optimizing for smartphones that gives more detail around how to optimize for feature phones as well. I know some of you are thinking, “Feature phones? What is this, 2005? Let me pull out my Razr and look for ringtones on WAP sites….
Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.
According to the latest data from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, more than half of the adult cellphone owners in the U.S. now use their phones while watching TV. The main reason they do so isn’t to talk about a program they are watching on Twitter, though. Instead, the majority of cell owners (38%) used their phones to keep themselves occupied during commercials or breaks. Quite a few of these “connected viewers” also use their phones to fact check something they heard on TV (22%) and marketers will be happy to hear that 35% of smartphone owners use their phones to visit sites that were mentioned on TV.
Smartphone owners, unsurprisingly, are far more likely than feature phone users to use their phones while watching TV. While 58% of smartphone users said they use their phones to have something to do during commercials or breaks, for example, only 17% of other cell owners said so.
As for the demographics of these “connected viewers,” chances are you can already guess what these look like: younger viewers are far more likely to use their phones while watching to than older users (73% of those 18-24 do so vs. 9% of those 65 and older). The same goes for those living in households with incomes over $50,000. Education doesn’t seem to make a huge difference, though the report notes that 42% of those with at least some college experience use their phones for “distracted viewing,” while only 34% of those who didn’t attend college do so.
The Pew study did not find many meaningful differences between how man and women used their phones while watching TV, with the exception of texting (21% of men said they did so vs. 25% of women), posting online comments about a show (9% vs. 13%) and voting for reality show contestants (4% vs. 8%).
There are some social aspects to how people use their phones while watching TV, too. About a quarter of the respondents said they texted somebody who was watching the same program in the last 30 days, for example, and 11% of cell owners said they posted comments about a program online.
Image credit: Flickr user John Atherton.
India’s Prizm Payments On Track To Hit $50B In Transactions, Plans Square-Style Service For Feature Phones
One of the more innovative moves in mobile commerce has been the rise of services like Square, PayPal’s Here, iZettle, Payleven, and mPowa, which are based around using a dongle to turn a smartphone into a payment processor. Now Prizm Payments, an India-based payments company, is eyeing up how to bring that concept to its home market’s 670 million+ mobile subscribers, by offering a similar service that will work not just with smartphones, but with the feature phones as well.
A limited rollout of its service, covering about 200 merchants, is expected to begin this month, with a wider-scale deployment coming down the road. The move comes at the same time that Prizm, which counts Sequoia Capital India as one of its main investors (others include Axis Bank and Silicon Valley Bank), has hit other milestones the point to a rising use of non-cash payments in the country: Prizm is on track to process $50 billion in transactions this year, up from $35 billion last year; and it now has 30,000 point of sale processing devices and 10,000 ATMs in the country.
And Prizm is also gearing up for a new round of funding that sources say could raise between $100 million and $200 million to help fund new payment innovations like mobile payments, as well as a bigger drive into e-commerce and international expansion. The Indian telecoms giant Tata Communications is among those that have been reported to be interested in making a strategic investment.
As with Square, Prizm’s dongle-based payment service would be targeted at those merchants that either currently lack the facilities to accept card-based payments already, or want added functionality to accept them on the go, such as in the case of deliveries, says Loney Antony, one of Prizm’s co-founders and managing director of the company.
Prizm has not yet spelled out many details about the sevice, although it’s ralready listed as a partner for one dongle provider in the country, mswipe. Antony says the move to offer mobile payment services is part of a bigger strategy to target mobile with other with other financial services like money transfers and bill payments — effectively a move to transform people’s phones into additional ATM terminals.
The decision to focus on feature rather than smartphones is down to the bare facts of the mobile economy in India, Antony says. Indeed, although Google has made some headway with Android in the country, people are still mainly using feature phones in India. In the first quarter of this year, smartphones only made up just over five percent of handsets sold in the country. Samsung accounted for about 40 percent of those, with Nokia at about 26 percent, according to CyberMedia Research.
“We are focused on moving away from smartphones and more on something that the majority of people can use,” Antony says of the emphasis on payment services that work with feature devices. “Any mobile payment service [in India] would have to work on a feature phone if we want it to become popular.”
India is, after China, the second-biggest mobile market in the world, and it’s growing fast, with some 6.5 million subscribers joining the ranks of mobile users in India in the month of April alone, with around 80 percent of them on prepaid services.
But approaching something like mobile payments will come in gradual steps. One of the bigger issues is that the market is still largely dominated by cash, with card payments still relatively nascent. Antony estimates that right now there are about 280 million debit cards in circulation in the country, with an additional 18 million credit cards on top of that. But with a total population of over 1 billion, “We have a long way to go,” he says.
Signs are pointing in the right direction, though. Antony says that currently the number of cards in the market is growing at a rate of 26 percent, with 50 million cards getting added last year. The fact that people are using them more for purchases, bill payments and other services is also having a knock-on effect to people getting more used to making other non-cash transactions around e-commerce. E-commerce, Antony notes, is a market that is currently generating around $10 billion in revenue annually in India and is growing at a rate of about 35 percent annually.
Outside of India, Antony says the plan is to extend its payments platform into Southeast Asia and Africa, specifically markets that have yet to see a lot of development in card-based payments and therefore don’t have any established leaders in the field yet, he says.
Of all the disappointing details heard during RIM’s most recent earnings call, the company’s decision to push back the launch of its first BlackBerry 10 devices was among the most devastating to the company’s loyal legion of fans.
Bummer though it may be, we may now have a clearer view of RIM’s hardware plans for the next year thanks to a newly-leaked roadmap obtained by BlackBerryOS. You know the drill folks — have those grains of salt at the ready.
RIM CEO Thorsten Heins confirmed earlier this year that the first BlackBerry 10 device to launch would be a full touch device (the BlackBerry London/L-series), which would be followed shortly by a QWERTY handset (the Nevada/N-series). What Heins never disclosed was how quickly that second smartphone would launch after the first, but the slide confirms that both of them will be available at some point during Q1 2013.
Perhaps more interesting is the inclusion of a new tablet into the mix that’s apparently being prepared for release in the third quarter of next year. The slide is awfully light on details but the so-called Blackforest may sport 128GB of internal storage and appears significantly larger than the revamped 7-inch PlayBook 4G that’s slated to launch by the end of this year. It’s possible that the Blackforest could be the long-rumored 10-inch PlayBook, and if so, it seems as though the rumors of its demise have been exaggerated.
The slide is also peppered with a few other, less-detailed launches — something called the Nashville is expected to launch between Q2 and Q3, while RIM aims for a Q3/Q4 launch date for the Naples. Those names have popped up in the BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha build so it’s pretty clear that they’re devices in the works, but there’s still no detail on what they’ll bring to the table.
If RIM’s plans for 2013 look a little sparse, it’s likely because RIM is looking to put more wood behind fewer arrows — as Heins stated during the earnings call, the company will have “fewer devices in a market at any given time.” It’s an approach that plenty of other smartphone players are running with these days, though only time will tell if they can survive this nasty transition period.
We are spending less time talking on phones than ever, and more time using them for other things:
Phone Calls Now 5th Most Popular Smartphone Activity – Paul Sawyers via TNW
According to O2’s ‘All About You’ report, which was based on a survey involving 2,000 people, we spend around 2 hours a day on average using our smartphones, which also includes other activities such as testing, emailing, reading books and taking photographs.
“Smartphones are now being used like a digital ‘Swiss Army Knife’, replacing possessions like watches, cameras, books and even laptops,” says David Johnson, General Manager Devices for O2 in the UK. “While we’re seeing no let-up in the number of calls customers make or the amount of time they spend speaking on their phones, their phone now plays a far greater role in all aspects of their lives.”
O2 commissioned the report to mark the launch of the Samsung Galaxy SIII, the all-singing, all-dancing device that looks set to cement the Korean mobile manufacturer’s position at the forefront of the smartphone market. The report also found that smartphones are replacing other possessions including alarm clocks, watches, cameras, diaries and even laptops and TVs as they become more intuitive and easier to use for things beyond calls.
- Over half (54%) say they use their phones in place of an alarm clock
- Almost half (46%) use their smartphone instead of a watch
- Two-in-five (39%) use their phone instead of a dedicated camera
- Over one quarter use their phone instead of a laptop (28%)
- One in ten have gotten rid of a games console in favour of their smartphone (11%)
- Perhaps indicative of where things are moving, one in twenty smartphone users have switched to use their phone in place of a TV (6%) or reading physical books (6%)
My iPhone is my favorite reading device, now. It’s my only alarm clock, and only camera. I still use my MacBook Air extensively, however. And I don’t game at all.
When Microsoft announced their intentions to jump into the hardware space with the unveiling of their new Surface tablet, the next logical question seemed to be whether or not the folks at Redmond would do the same for smartphones.
After all, the model seemed to be doing well enough for Apple — was Microsoft considering adopting a similar approach to help give their Windows Phones a new leg up?
The answer, it would seem, is no. Information Week spoke with Windows Phone senior marketing manager Greg Sullivan, and when he was posed the question, he was quick to confirm that the company had no such plans.
“We have a strong ecosystem of partners that we are very satisfied with,” Sullivan went on to say.
It goes without saying that Microsoft has quite an ecosystem of hardware partners churning out Windows-powered PCs too, but it seems as though their focus on cracking the smartphone space has put their relationships with companies like Nokia, HTC, Samsung, and Huawei on another level entirely.
After all, PC players like Dell, HP, Toshiba, and the like don’t have much of a choice — if they value their stake in the traditional computing business, they’re going to continue to push out laptops and towers that run on Windows. What else are they going to do, switch to shipping Ubuntu on their products?
Things are much hairier in the mobile realm, with multiple platforms continually duking it out for dominance (though some clearly have an edge over others), and Microsoft knows they have plenty of lost ground to make up when compared to rivals Apple and Google. As such, Microsoft can’t really afford to alienate their mobile hardware partners, and revealing that they would create their own Windows Phone device to compete alongside those of their partners would certainly ruffle some feathers.
That’s not to say that Microsoft will never do it. They managed to keep the Surface wrapped up very tightly prior to its launch, so it’s clear that they still have the ability to pull off some surprising stunts. If they do venture into creating their own branded mobile hardware though, it’s going to be way, way down the line, after they and their hardware partners have established Windows Phone as a viable player in the smartphone space. Though some analysts see that as a matter of when and not if, Windows Phone isn’t quite there yet.
And that’s assuming they get to that point — for now, one of Microsoft’s big jobs going forward is to help build market momentum around their platform, and ensuring that their buddies push out timely, solid hardware is going to be a crucial part of that.