Posts Tagged Mobility

How Google is Useful

Recently I blogged about Orientating around Android Devices.   While I did mention the use of applications and services in that post, I didn’t call out any in particular.

However, this screen shot, demonstrates one really useful service, I have become increasingly fond of and reliant upon.

That service is Google Now

Screenshot_2014-07-31-13-25-05

As a reasonably frequent traveller the information provided is succinct, timely and ultimately useful in assisting me plan, and schedule my actions.

As it covers a number of topics, including sport, useful local information, etc, and it is available on the desktop too – it is a pervasive, multi-device digital assistance.

Certainly in terms ecosystem and service, lock-in and increasing consumer dependency, I think Google Now, leads the field.

What do you think?

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Orientating around Android devices

 

At the start of May I received a replacement for my broken Blackberry 9300 Curve.  I am very glad to say it wasn’t another Blackberry, instead I received a Sony Xperia M – a reasonably modern Android phone running Android 4.3.

Moving to an Android based phone, has been a boon for me as it will nicely compliment my Nexus 7 tablet.  In fact the commonality of Google and Android is the basis for an almost complete repetition and synchronicity of many of the applications and services I use.  I still use a Windows operating system on my laptop, but is not a conflicting factor, as many applications and services are also accessible via the Google Chrome browser.

While of course the Microsoft Windows desktop operating system is still very dominant in terms of usage in the laptop | desktop space and more so with Windows Surface tablets.  Having such good quality access to applications and services  on two Android form factors (phone and tablet), has made me question the necessity of remaining on Windows as the operating system of choice for the laptop device.

Already core Windows Office suite applications and services (Outlook | MS Word, Excel) etc. are already or being made more tablet or browser compatible.  Think of the Office 365 service, and the Office Web Apps functionality, so further diminishing the requirement to have an actual application installed onto a Windows operating system as a necessity.

While most enterprises can’t consider abandoning Microsoft Windows as a device platform altogether, I think the personal consumer and many SME/ SMBs could strongly consider the possibility of an entirely Android (and here I stretch the term a little to include Google Chromebooks) based device eco-system.   Google Chromebooks are now a maturing and full featured alternative to the Microsoft Windows based device. 

Of course Apple also offer a very compelling set of devices, coupled to a very well integrated operating system and application set.  So both Google and Apple offer opportunities upon which to orientate or consolidate on to bring more common device harmony into a business.  We should not discount the option to consider a more explicit Linux based desktop system, such as Ubuntu or Linux Mint etc.,  though having tried them for a while, I believe they will always remain a more niche player in the desktop | laptop space, especially with such dominant competition from Apple, Google and Microsoft.

This brings in a further opportunity to consider moving away from device centric applications and data,  and how the virtual desktop (VDI) and application virtualisation options also need to be considered along side the choice of device eco-system.  

Other aspects to factor into these considerations include

  • Data and content storage and delivery – will this all be cloud based – e.g. Google Docs or Microsoft O365 – or are there other factors to be considered?
  • Do certain use cases necessitate the use of a local application and data set?  (e.g. Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Project)
  • Device management strategy – patching and updates – how will they be managed and delivered

Having also tried a Google Chromebook, (having used one while on a holiday break),  I can see how it could easily cater for 85% of the work and processes and I engage with as an Information | Knowledge worker.  Only that I need to work with and build fairly complex spreadsheets (using Microsoft Excel) is keeping a Windows based operating system as a necessity.  I do also wonder how well a device such as Google Chromebook caters for multimedia activities consumers need around managing and connecting with peripheral devices like cameras and editing videos etc.

More and more frequently I’ve seen the Apple Macbook Pro (or the Osx UI – via web meetings) appearing, and presume those users are benefitting from a harmonised device experience between the Apple Mac and their iphone device. 

Of course Microsoft also offer their Windows Phone based devices, which also offer a similar integrated operating system and application set.  However, the application ecosystem for Windows Phone devices, doesn’t offer the same breadth of application support and availability that Apple and Android devices users have at their disposal.  Which for me is a detractor for opting to orientate around a complete Microsoft Windows device ecosystem.  Though in terms of UI design and strategy, I think both Apple, Google and Microsoft offer are continuing to recognise the need for distinct and yet harmonious and cohesive UI across all their device form factors.

As both device manufacturers and application developers, build services that accumulate pertinent personal data sets (photos & videos, music collections & playlists, quantitative data (location & travel, health & exercise metrics)), so increasing data transfer inertia or lock-in.  I think consumers will need to seriously consider which particular eco-system and device arrangement makes sense for them, as it look likes it will turn into a long term affair, and with not insignificant hurdles to overcome to move or transfer across manufacturers.

  • Do you share this view?
  • Have you already made a considered choice around a particular device set or eco-system? 
  • What were the determining factors for you?   

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Visual Magic with Word Lens

Google recently acquired Quest Visual – the developers of Word Lens – the incredible language manipulating app, that translated language in real-time while using input from the mobile device’s camera.

Word Lens

The app is currently available for free via Google Play.

To see how amazing it is – have a look at the video

It is currently available for Andriod, iOS and even Google Glass

For any traveller or language enthusiast this has a must have app.

And for Google  this plays very nicely into the Language and Translation service portfolio e.g. Google Translate

  • Have you used Word Lens?
  • What other mobile language tools would you recommend?

 

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Speaker Dock for Android

Since I’ve had a Google Nexus 7 tablet.  One item I’ve looked out for is a Speaker Dock solution.

However, whilst Android based mobile devices are leading market share, in the Mobile docking market, Apple compatible devices are still dominant.

But I’ve recently acquired a Philips Fidelio docking speaker (AS351) with Bluetooth® for Android

The product page has a lot of images, videos and detail on the product so I recommend having a look. Here are a couple of product images.

What I find particularly thoughtful and innovative of Philips is the FlexiDock part of docking solution design – which the following image shows in more detail

The Philips FlexiDock is perfect for Android powered phones. Its unique design cleverly docks most Android powered phones – whether the phone’s connection socket is at the bottom, on the side or even on the top. This extreme flexibility is the first of its kind, catering to Android powered phones that are made by different manufacturers with no standardised position and orientation for the micro USB connection socket.

This I’ve put to good use by adjusting it to simply dock the Google Nexus 7  – which you can see in the following image

IMG_4149

In Review:

It’s a recent acquisition but my first impressions are favourable,  it has a solid feel to it, and a re-assuring touch of quality about it.   Sound wise it seems fine to me, it’s not a hi-fi system or top of the range dock, but the audio quality is reasonable and meets my expectations.  A nice feature is that it charges the device without being “switched on” itself, so the tablet is always charged and ready to go.  Of course it receives the audio signal over Bluetooth so support playback from any Bluetooth compatible device and even has an audio input jack too.

The specifications mention –

  • Shielding technology to block mobile phone interference
  • Precisely tuned bass pipes for deep, tight bass reproduction

Which are sensible design features to reduce noise interference and enhance the quality of the audio playback.

The Philips Fidelio (AS351) is what I think of as the mid of range device this list is the full range of Philips Android docking stations:

One of the things I recommend is if you’re interested in an Android docking system is to check recommendations posts like:

Also hunt around for the best price – there are good deals out there!

Let me know if you thinking of getting some like this as an Android device owner.  I certainly think the market will see more options come available as more and more Android devices are in the hands of consumers.

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Reflecting on 18 months of Enterprise Mobile Connectivity

Since I received a Blackberry (8310 Curve) a replacement to my standard corporate mobile handset. I’ve become an avid user and I consider it an almost indispensable tool for keeping in touch and connected to colleagues and other networks. I have only used a blackberry (this model), so am not in a position to give a comparisons against other MIDs/smartphones.

However, once you get a device with an unlimited data service, you quickly start to take for granted the vast differences in feature set and services these devices possess over ordinary mobile phones.  While the form factor, and interface of the devices are many and varied at the moment they share some common traits which make them so convenient and useful.

  • Size & weight :– made to be handheld and comfortable to carry in a pocket
  • Screen :- though at a premium (due to above), is a key feature and needs to be colour and as large a possible.
  • Interface :- Most blackberries provide a full qwerty keyboard, and combined with the trackball makes these very easy devices to use and navigate. The interface is the most influencing factor for the whole user experience, and a critical area for manufacturers to get right.
  • Connectivity :- I’m envious of those with 3G services – but still do have connectivity to the internet, and therefore public cloud as well as corporate services.  And this is perhaps the driving force behind the increasing adoption of MIDs as the corporate and consumer mobile device of choice
  • Personalisation :- An important feature for the user, a flexible UI to allow user to position key application, a make preferences around ring tones, themes etc.
  • Variety of services :- This where all vendors involved in the internet are on game – lead by Apple with the appstore, there are literally a cornucopia of applications available covering a spectrum of uses and needs.
  • Indistinguishable Endpoint :- This is the clever part, the combination of slick UI’s, applications and connectivity makes the interaction to services as convenient as mainstream desktops and laptops. As these devices mature this will continue to improve. Changing attitudes to how and when we choose to interact with services these devices provide access to.

As a business tool these bring a step change in terms value

  • Connectivity & Availability :- Great for staying in touch and on the ball, but need to careful about impact on your work/life balance!
  • Productivity :- For large enterprise providing access business critical services on mobile devices, brings immense value and returns for keeping business connections and processes moving and flowing.
  • Data portability :- Not that they actually store this locally (though the actually local capacity is increasing at a rapid rate), but more that access point to that data is convenient and handy.

With the advent of virtualisation technologies, and mobile/cloud OS platforms, which help integration with other applications and devices people may have.  These factors will help continue to influence how much we rely on these devices as part of our everyday world.

Andy’s post has a great paragraph capturing some of the change in sentiment and attitude to the types of devices that are influencing how technology impacts on people.

“People want computing power and access wherever they are, in a form factor that fits.”

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Why I like Twitter

A short post… this link to the Commoncraft show was brought to me via Twitter; and has been blogged many times already.

But I like what Commoncraft do, and I like Twitter; they explain it better than me.

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Lotus Connections and Blackberry

I know there has been a good deal of noise about Apple’s iPhone and the Lotus Notes client.

Lotus and iPhone demo

However, this is also good news.  I’m sure this will be on the back of the mention of closer working between IBM and RIM during the Lotusphere OGS.

social software for business

BlackBerry gets fruity with Lotus | The Register
BlackBerry – BlackBerry Press Releases

Blackberry and  Lotus Connections

At the moment, I’m not sure it will include the Activities features of Lotus Connections only…

“The new BlackBerry Client for Lotus Connections features:

  • Mobile access to Profiles: Users can find internal subject matter experts with an intuitive and flexible search.  Users can consider details about current role, background, and areas of interest to identify internal subject matter experts, and contact them instantly.
  • Mobile access to Dogear: Users can save precious time on research by accessing their colleagues’ “pre-vetted” bookmarks, searching them by tags and adding new bookmarks directly from a BlackBerry smartphone.

I think I’ll welcome the Profiles features, but surely the Activities feature available on a mobile device is more the “Killer App” here!  Where single or multiple activities engage across a number of people in varying locations and connectedness; and still being linked into a collaborative thread of actions “activities” sounds very powerful.

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To IBM Lotus & RIM – please don’t forget the Activities part!

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