Live video comes to iphone !!!

Live video has arrived to the iphone users and in a BIG way. The following 3 apps will metmorphize the way iphone is used (again):

Ustream Broadcaster & Qik Live: These 2 apps allow you to broadcast live to the web (where the world could watch) and then gives you an option to save the video and upload to youtube. The best part – they work on all models pf iphone !!!

Knocking Live Video: This app will allow you to Knock another iphone users and then stream live video from your iphone to his/her iphone !!!

As I said, iphone will never be the same again. However, there are huge privacy implications and in one of our discussions yesterday, we could think of plenty of ways these features could be misused (One of my colleagues jokingly said that she could use it to spy on her spouse. I have warned him already :)).
So, expect these features to be in the news and not all for good reasons. But the possibilities that these features offer are endless – stream a birthday party, a function, a meeting, share the beautiful sunset, even use your iphone as a baby monitor (I have tried it and works great :)) Enjoy !!!!

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10 Predicted Features for Apple Tablet

The apple tablet will soon become reality (probably by end of Jan 2010) and right know its like a big jigsaw puzzle. As related bits and pieces become known, one can literally start putting the tablet together. Here is my take 10 features the tablet is probably going to have (or should have):

1. A 10 inch LCD touch screen: Well, there have been many reports in the media about Apple ordering 10 inch LCD screens from its suppliers in Asia. So this one was not that difficult to predict. Click here for the story about the same.

2. A touch keyboard with tactile feedback: This is going to be cool, as soon as you engage the keyboard, the touch screen will change(?) to provide a contour for the keys. No, this is no science fiction. Click here about the technology patented by Apple.

3. Capacitive touch screen: Ever wondered why the iphone screen won’t respond to a stylus? The answer is the capacitive screen (Vs the traditional resistive screen) and that has resulted in incredible responsiveness and has contributed immensly to the user experience and its success. So the tablet has to have this and obviously support the multi touch capabilities that was introduced with the iphone. Click here to learn about the different types of touch screens.

4. Iphone app support: Recent reports have surfaced that apple has asked its iphone app developers to super size their apps to work on larger screen. So the obvious inference is that there will exist a tablet version of many iphone apps. Click here for this story.

5. Support for iLife: Since its all Mac OS (even the iphone OS is), there is bound to be support for our favorites – iPhoto, iMovie etc.

6. iTunes & App Store integration: Goes without saying.

7. All in one hardware Features: It will have built in webcam, accelerometer, magnetometer, GPS, Wifi, 3G support and maybe even GSM/CDMA support. These hardware support will in turn spawn multiple usability features (e.g. state of the art mapping software)

8. Integrated E-Reader: Many news & media outlets are readying special content for the tablet and Apple is said to be in talks with many book publishers for selling through itunes. This one is again a no brainer. Even without special features r support, you can always read books/browse news using the tablet. Click here to read about the same.

9. Streaming content (music & tv): With Apple buying lala and being in talks with media outlets like CBS & Disney for TV streaming point to this feature. And of course, as long as it supports Hulu and Fancast,  we don’t really care about these deals (since they usually cost the consumers per use).

10. What’s it going to be called? After going through the rigor of naming my newborn, I sympathize with the marketing folks at Apple. But here are the probable names so far: iSlate, iGuide, iBook, iPad, iGod, iSteve and the list goes on..

Google Nexus One: Iphone Killer or Droid Alternative?

Its Out .. Its Out .. Its Out …

Well, the Google Phone (a.k.a “Nexus 1” meaning there is plenty of scope for 2,3,4 etc.) has been handed to the Google employees and the web is abuzz about the next big thing. There are even some videos out there showing this “futuristic” google device. The longest one from France is embedded at the bottom of this post. For those of you who have not been following the buzz, Nexus One is the phone that Google has designed and outsourced the manufacturing to HTC.  With Nexus One, Google is no more a purely service oriented player. With AMOLED screen, 5Mp camera, 3G for TMobile and the ususals with a pleasing form factor, the Android fans are already salivating 🙂

So is this a great phone or what? But is it going to be an iphone killer? Coming from a self professed iphone fanboy, this may or may not mean a lot but “I don’t think so”. Nexus One definitely seems to have a superior hardware (and so does droid) but its the same old Android OS and the same old school architecture. If you have used the iphone, the differentiator is not the hardware or software in particular, its the user experience. Apple boldly rethought the phone with  iPhone with one thing in mind – the user, not so with the Android OS. Its just Unix/Linux ported to run on your phone with a good UI – Thats a bit harsh but its pretty close to the truth.

In my mind, Nexus One does not bring anything new to the iPhone VS Android battle. Motorola Droid already did that with superior hardware & blitz marketing. And what Nexus One will do is this -“Droid Does and so does Nexus One”. I can only speculate on whether the companies creating phones for the Android OS knew about Nexus One. If not, its kind of back stabbing by Google and if they did, what were these guys thinking? Imagine if Apple had released their open source Mobile OS to the world and after companies had invested huge amount of money (and changed their strategies to switch to that OS), imagine Apple coming out with the iPhone. That’s kind of an impossible analogy (since Apple will never ever release an open source OS cause it might be free :)), but that’s what has happened here and its a pretty bold (and risky) move by Google to do so. It kind of muddles the strategy for Android OS.

Bottom-line, with so many android alternatives out there,  another hardware running the same OS will not be a game changer. But for all you Google fans out there (and that includes me except for few things), knock yourself out !!!

Click Here for a full feature list for Nexus One posted on Engadget

Google Vs Apple: the way I see it

It all started when Google launched Android and it reached a crescendo when Apple refused the Google Voice App. But is it really Google Vs Apple? And who loses from it? Me ? Me being an apple fanboy with an iPhone.

Yes and No. And “No” does not signify that I am in denial 🙂 Hear me out.

Yes I definetly miss out on really cool apps from google (voice, latitude, navigation etc.). But Google misses out too because sadly there are alternatives to that in the ever growing app store. So it Misses out on millions of iPhone users including me. And we are certainly not going to switch to an android phone any soon. So does google care? It should because android will certainly not wipe out iphone in my lifetime. Not even close. So, it cannot ignore such a huge consumer base for long especially since it knows that any of its app would become the No. 1 App on the app store in a heartbeat. Does Apple care? Not really. 100-150k apps trump a few apps from Google any day and dilutes the significance of the issue. However, it should relent just so that it does not disenchant its loyal fans due to all the bad PR that its got because of this.

But does apple care about the android platform? You betcha. And maybe the shutting out of Google Apps is a offshoot of its bigger strategy to outdo Android. Since MS failed to step up and pose any serious challenge to Apple Iphone, Google stepped up and in a big way. Everybody agrees that Android will be challenging the iphone pretty soon. So what happens now? Well this is exactly what an Iphone user wanted – someone to give tough competition to iphone to keep Apple on its toes so that the updates and enhancements keep coming. And this is healthy competition and as per conventional wisdom, when companies compete, consumers win.

It will however be interesting to see who comes on the top. These are 2 companies with very different philosophies and business model – one charges for everything and the other offers everything for free, one believes in tight control over its users and the other believes in total freedom. So as I said, its going to be really interesting.

I will not touch on the brewing OS battle between the companies – Apple is supposedly releasing the apple tablet and companies (like the eviGroup) are already out with an android based wallet and a tablet. But as I said .. That discussion is for another day since my bus is reaching home and this is all I have time for 🙂

The road to Apple Ipad (aka Tablet). Why we(I) need it NOW.

As the media and fanboy frenzy grows in anticipation of the ultimate device (our salvation …), I thought I will take some time to explore my own road to this mythical device and why we (I) need it NOW.

My dad was a geek when it came to gadgets and I guess he passed that on to me. So few years back, when I came into a position when I could afford these gadgets, the first ones I got was an ipod for my music, an HP Ipaq for carrying my mails,calendars and documents with me & a sony erricson phone (which I don’t remember the model). Though I would feel really geeky flashing 3 (fairly advanced at the time) mobile devices anywhere I went, it also felt really inconvenient. And my ipod could not play video so I had to keep a slew of SD cards (256MB each) for my Ipaq for watching the videos :).

Soon I realized that this was too much and I needed a change. I guess the industry also realized that and soon I could afford an Ipod video & a smart phone (HTC 8525). I was elated. I could carry all my media in my ipod and carry all my office stuffs in my 8525. Down to 2 devices. Right ? Wrong. Right about this time, my passion for books & reading had overwhelmed my home and my wife 🙂 There was no more room for the books I would come back home with on my weekend hunts. I found the answer to that problem while browsing the net one day – eBook reader. I have tried reading books on the PC before but without success – there is no way you can sit & stare at the PC Screen for 12 hours straight and enjoy it at the same time. But the eBook reader looked promising. And it turned out to be. So my next device was a the Sony eReader & I was back to 3 devices 😦 And with sony PSP, I was now at a record 4.

And then came the device that revolutionized the world and my life (in a small way). The iphone. Here again, I had the opportunity to combine 3 of my devices into 1 (and be cool at the same time :)). Of course, I was tied into a contract with AT&T and could not get my hands on the Iphone till the 3G model came out (which turned out to be a good thing though the 3GS model that my wife now owns would have been a much better proposition.). That brings us to today and why I need the iPad.

I am at 2 devices – Iphone & the eReader and almost ready to get the 3rd one – a netbook (the new craze on the block). No matter how well you can browse the net on the iphone and do stuffs, it has its limitations. A netbook would make me complete (again). It will also throw me back to the days when I was cool, geeky and highly uncomfortable carrying 3 devices around.

That’s why the answer has to be the Ipad. I need the Ipad and I need it now to replace all the myriad devices that I am about to carry around. It has to be my salvation. Since its a mythical device as of now, I can attribute whatever feature I wish for –

  • With inbuilt phone, all I would need is a bluetooth headset
  • With plenty of storage and high def screen, I can enjoy all my media wherever I go.
  • With its special low contrast reading mode, I can easily read my ebooks without straining my eyes or draining the battery
  • With built in 3G (or 4G) & an unmatched Apple UI, I can browse the web in ways that I cannot imagine ….
  • It will be a perfect gaming device with advanced graphics chip and hi def screen ….
  • And more ….

So here is my wish to Santa, if not the real thing, at least a release date 🙂 And yes, please keep it affordable – As always, I need to convince my wife that its worth the dough.

The best Iphone News Apps

I am a voracious reader and like to keep abreast with the latest in the world. So when I downloaded my first “News” Iphone app (almost an year back) – USA Today & NYT, I was thrilled. Both the apps proved to be an excellent source of quality news and proved a great replacement for hard print media (sad but true). Since then, my iphone has seen a myriad collection of news apps – some  really great and some so-so.

However, with 100K apps in the app store vying for the real estate on your iphone(you can just download 129 non-apple apps at a time), you need to be real picky 🙂 So, if you are a news buff, here is my pick of the top news apps that you would wanton your iphone.

To evaluate a news app, I will use the following high level criteria since most of the news apps have the same basic “features” more or less.

  • Scope of the Content: Obviously, the scope of the content has to meet your interest – Global Vs National Vs Local.
  • Category of the Content:  Entertainment Vs Political Vs Tech Vs Everything
  • Format of the Content: Images Vs Text Vs Video

My top apps are: CNN, AP Mobile, USA Today, NYT, Yahoo Finance, E! Online & Wired. See below for comparisons/detailed reviews.

And Of Course, you can never go wrong with a RSS Reader. After being disappointed with many cool (& bulky) RSS Reader apps, I am now recommending the simple and light weight RSS Runner.

So.. Enjoy. And let me know what you thought of this personal preview.

-Vivek.