Monday, December 30, 2013

What's Next For FaceTime?

It's great that we now have FaceTime Audio.  It is a feature that should have easily come along with the video chat feature but I figure it's likely that Apple did not include it in the beginning to avoid roughing too much weathers with the carriers.  Now that we have it, great.  What's next for FaceTime?

It's important to remember that we humans are social creatures.  Most of us are anyway.  Most of us not only want social interaction but need it.  FaceTime has allowed many people to stay in touch over the years from vast distances - fostering and retaining relationships.  And let's not forget how many parents and grandparents are able to keep in touch with their families because of it. 

Now I ask this:  what is next for FaceTime?  What will Apple do to take FaceTime to the next level to make it a more robust mean of communication?

I like to be able to see a conference feature - allowing more than just the one-to-one chat available now and expand on that into a group chat.  It would be great if we can do this with both video and audio.  On top of that, I like to be able to record chats - both audio and video as well. 

Personally, I think those features are forthcoming.  We already know that this is possible on the Macs because other chat services like Skype and Google Hangouts are already possible.  And with the new 64-bit chips the iPhone 5S, iPad Air, and iPad mini with Retina Display all have powering iOS, maybe that's what Apple will finally let loose what FaceTime is meant to do. 

On top of this, FaceTime conferencing would be a powerful feature that businesses can use to stay in touch with its own people as well as clients.  This could be one singular feature that Apple can offer that none of its competitors can hope to match. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

New Mobile Device On Christmas? What You Need To Do

Source:  CNET.

Got a new smartphone or tablet?  Well, let me be the first to welcome you to the mobile rank.  You're about to be more connected, productive, and in a few days or weeks, you'll forget your old life or wonder how you managed with your new trusty sidekick.

CNET has a post that suggests six things a brand new mobile warrior should do with his or her smartphone or tablet.  Personally, I think the first thing you should do is a happy dance.  Then after that, take a deep breath.

If it's an upgrade, you already know what it is like being a member of the mobile society.  If you're a brand new mobile warrior on the 25th (or later if UPS or FEDEX happened to still have your Christmas present), you've stepped into the future.  Future because of how fast the mobile market is moving and you better be ready.

Even before you follow CNET's suggestions, I think you should do the following:

  1. Gather all your e-mail and social credentials.  This could save you some time. You don't want to be in the middle of setting up your e-mail or chat account and have to stop to go find your passwords.
  2. Consider carefully what new services you'll need versus what you'll end up signing up for in all the excitement.  Some devices have their own crapware that you don't need to worry about and can likely ignore.
  3. Check the Web for information if you need.  Or go to the manufacturer site if you're not sure.  And if you think you did something you should not have, don't worry.  You can probably go back and undo it at some point. 
  4. You'll probably want to go to the app store and load up on apps.  Here, I'm gonna recommend you take another deep breath.  It's fun to download apps like games for the first time but you want to be sure it's safe - regardless of whether it's Google's more open Play Store or Apple's iOS app store.  Do some research first.
I'm not sure I care for CNET's suggestion to download app launchers or new wallpaper apps.  I almost never do that because I am just afraid they're black holes for user information.  What I do agree that you see if there are any update from the manufacturer.  Sometimes, an upgrade could mean new features or security updates.

So again, welcome to the mobile rank.  You've stepped into the future.  Have fun.  Be safe.  And enjoy your new mobile life.

Sex Toys - Mobile and Social Coming to Android Devices (They Mentioned Apple But I Doubt It)

Source:  Android Guysindiegogo.

I'm surprised we haven't seen more of this or mobile and/or social sites haven't given this more attention.  Sex toys that the mobile and social environment we now live in should allow two people vast distances away to "connect".

Lovense, as they've stated in the Youtube video, provides sensation from one partner to another using your good old sex toys.  Honestly, I've never seen one or held one in person so I've got no idea how it already works and how much better it will be now that there will be feedback and "sensational" input from a remote sex partner.

The idea is simple.  Feedback from one partner's device will be felt on the sex toy belonging to the second partner (or maybe even partners?).

Oh, and if you're just alone or your partner needs to charge his or her device or mobile device, well, there is still a way for you to entertain yourself.  In fact, it could move to any music you have in your library.

It's not a product you can buy yet.  The Lovense developers need your help!  With 18 days left, they're only little more than 1/3 of the way there to the $50,000 they need to fund the project on indiegogo.

What's also of interest to possible backers is that the Lovense engineers are working to optimize algorithms to provide the best experience possible.  Perhaps, who knows, there could be future firmware updates as well?

Based on the types of fundings, most backers are interested in rewards for both the male and female toys.

The backers claim that it'll work with iOS devices.  Okay, Android I get but I have my doubts whether Apple will approve Lovense apps for the app store.

Note:  So far, all the comments appear to be very generic.  Like, you know, those written by those from the company.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Mobile: External Batteries Popular in Asia

Battery issues are something I write significantly if not almost weekly. I've bought myself a couple of 10,000+ mAh batteries that has more than once saved me. And currently overseas, they're getting the workout that they were meant for. I thought I would be one of there few folks who carry around a battery pack or two in the US and even less so in Asia.

Boy, was I surprised. In fact, I think one out of every three mobile warriors here could conceivably be carrying a battery pack with them.

In fact, it is very common to see battery packs of all capacities bring sold right in phone stores, 7-11 stores (there are a freaking lot of these), small convenience stores, markets, and public transportation stops.

It goes to speak about the state of mobile in Asia and the dismal state of the battery technology. Be it the iPhone, HTC, or Samsung, there simply isn't enough battery life in these phones to sustain the growing role of mobile devices in our lives.

And the race to making devices lighter and thinner isn't at all what mobile warriors want. As I walk around, ride on trains, wait for rides, practically everyone has their eyes on their phones. Some are testing, updating their Facebook statuses, chatting or talking, or streaming videos (which is very popular here in Taiwan because their 3G services are fast, unlimited, and, as far as I can tell, not throttled).

As for who makes these battery packs, there are many generic brands that I've never head of before. Some have no labels beyond what is required by law here. But in the phone stores, you can find batteries from Samsung and Sony.

In the US, I don't see a huge market for external battery packs since most of us either drive or are on our offices - both places offered plugs when we need them.

I'm hoping manufacturers will run into barriers that prevent further thinning of devices and use whatever space savings they get to pack more battery into them.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Social: Apple Gets Into Social Data with Topsy Buyout, What It Could Be Used For, Should We Worry

Source:  MacrumorsWSJ.

A couple of weeks ago, the big news was that Apple acquired a motion sensing company, PrimeSense (On Apple) that once made sensors for Microsoft's Kinect for the Xbox.  Late today, we learned that Apple has made use of its billions with another buyout: Topsy.  This one is just as significant and targeted as are other Apple buys.

According to reports, Topsy is a search (interesting) and analytical company indexes social data - like being in business with Twitter since 2006.  Now, in the past, people have suggested that Apple buy Twitter.  It's common sense that it would never happen.  So why buy Twitter when you can buy the tweets?

Does that mean that Apple will begin spying on its own ecosystem - iOS And Mac users?  Not likely.  However, it's possible for Apple to push ads, apps, contents, and whatever else in its ecosystem based on user tweets or just general trends based on all the information it already has collected about its users.

Interestingly, Topsy has data on Google+ as well (Facebook not mentioned which is not a surprise).  We'll see how long Google allows this given the change in Topsy management.

What is of interest from the privacy side is what Apple will be sharing, if any, with advertisers that utilize iAds and iTunes Radio.  In the past, Apple has blasted, without naming Google, of how the search and ad giant collects data from Android users.

Now, let's having fun with this.  Apple's very own search engine?  Probably not.  But it would be interesting to see just how Apple can go about creating one and how effective and accurate it can be if it ever wants to stop relying on Google, Microsoft, or anyone else.

I want to go down this unlikely road because, according to WSJ, this deal would not have gone through had Twitter not given Apple and Topsy its blessing.  A search engine filled with tweets would be an effective tool against Facebook and Google for Twitter.  Furthermore, it would allow better information to be collected and monetized that would be beneficial to Twitter's bottom line.

It is also possible that Apple is more interested in the technology behind Topsy.  With this $200 million acquisition, Apple likely bought itself a top notch social data and search apparatus as well as some valued engineers and analysts.

Furthermore, it could beef up Siri's own database and responses to user inquiries.  It'll be interest to see how Siri would utilize social data.

While I'm excited about this acquisition by Apple (most Apple acquisitions generate a great deal of attention), I am concerned about the possibility that Apple might share iOS and Mac user data with third parties.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Wireless: Wi-Fi Blanket in Taiwan, Whether It Can Work In the US

I'm currently in Taiwan.  On vacation and visited work for a short while.  During the trip so far, it's been fun.  I've also suffered from food poisoning.  Better now.  One of the things I've noticed about Taiwan is the great mobile service.  Great single and decent plans.  In fact, I got a 3G sim card for my iPad.  It costs about $20 a month and it's data you want.  Unlimited.

And as far as I know, I have yet to encountered any throttling.

However, there is one issue that I found perplexing.  Wi-Fi isn't free.  I walk into a Starbucks expecting the same complimentary free Internet access in the US was no where to be found.  I was met with a Chinese mention that requires a paid log-in.  (I was told the local Starbucks here, and maybe elsewhere in the world, are not wholly-owned by Starbucks and are franchises.)

Then I was told that in the capital city of Taiwan, Taipei, blocks of the city is blanketed by a Wi-FI cloud.  That is, in fact, free.  Where I live here in a part called New Taipei, that service has not come here yet.

So, 3G but no Wi-Fi.  How about the US?  There are cities that have free Wi-Fi services.  I'm curious to see how it works when I get a chance to go into Taipei and see just how far the service is extended.

Supposedly, there are 57 cities in the US that provide municipal Internet access (wiki).  These municipal wireless networks are key to business and educational developments, and in some instances, bring Internet services to those who are unable to pay for them.

In general, I'm pretty optimistic about blanket Internet services because of how they can be used to augment cellular data networks by offloading access to other networks, taking the load off the cell towers and limited bandwidth and spectrum.

Furthermore, while it has been slow going in the White Spaces market, I'm optimistic that it will be key to the next generation of wireless access. Google has been a big proponent of White Spaces and recently opened up its database to others (Gigaom). The database will allow builders and developers to make products and services in spectrums not used by licensed users and to make sure that there are no disruption with existing services like TV signals.

More on White Spaces later as a lot has changed since we talked about this more than a year ago. Suffice to say, things are looking up in general for better and more reliable wireless access.  However, a wireless utopia is still decades away.

iPad and WWDC Prediction: Apple Will Upgrade Siri And Users Will Not Be Able to Choose Between ChatGPT or Gemini

At this year's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple is set to unveil major upgrades to its virtual assistant Siri. These enhanc...