Mobile Phone

OpenSignal is Helping You Stay Connected.

iconAfter spending 5 days in the Colorado Rockies, and driving across western Kansas I can tell you that cell phone coverage pretty much sucks in rural America. I know that some of the issues are geographical. Cell signals can’t travel through mountains, and if cell towers are a hundred miles apart you might drop service. None the less almost every cell provider in the lower 48 will tell you that you will have uninterrupted service as you drive west on I-70.

OpenSignal in the UK (winner of the UK’s most innovative mobile company 2013) realized this problem is universal on both sides of the Atlantic and the startup has introduced an app  that allows cell users to report their coverage in real-time. This means that cell users can cut through clutter to find honest, crowd-sourced information about signal strength and reliability. App users can track signal coverage across maps, that also display nearby wi-fi networks.

“The most innovative aspect of our project is that every app user shares signal information with us, meaning that we have built up the most complete database on carrier performance in the world, much of which is viewable in-app or on our website opensignal.com. We’re trying to build a community to help dispel some of the mystery associated with how carrier’s networks perform.” Samuel Johnston, brand strategist, OpenSignal.

Oh and it works here in the United States as well as Europe.

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WhatsApp. 18 Billion Messages in 24 Hours.

If you have any doubts about how social media has impacted everything from the greeting card industry, to the postal service look no further than WhatsApp. The mobile messaging service processed a record shattering 18 billion messages on New Year’s Eve. That’s right, 18 billion messages featuring emoticons, text effects, pictures, etc. in 24 hours. That’s 75 million direct messages an hour, worldwide.

The 18 billion breaks down to 11 billion outbound and 7 billion inbound messages. The outbound figure is dramatically higher because outbound messages sent to a group reflect the total number of people. Inbound messages count as one.

If you are unfamiliar with WhatsApp, it is a cross-platform mobile messaging application that allows you to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS. WhatsApp uses the same internet data plan that you use for email and web browsing, there is no cost to message and stay in touch with your friends.

If I were in the business of helping people communicate in any form, I think I’d be taking a very hard look at this app and how I could do something similar, or better.

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iPhone 5 Predictions from Techbargains.

In one week the new iPhone 5 will be announced with the same Apple fanfare we have all come to know and love. With that launch will come the love/hate fest for Apple products. At this point you’d think people would get a life and move beyond hating a brand because of it’s popularity and success, but that won’t be the case. In a new survey conducted by Techbargains.com, they found that Six per cent of people won’t buy an iPhone because they hate Apple.

At the same time, 20 percent of Android users want the new Apple iPhone when it drops later this month.

It turns out that thirty percent say they don’t want the new iPhone, with 20 percent of this group stating they will never buy an iPhone because they hate Apple with a passion greater than the heat of one thousand suns. Another 35 percent won’t go with the iPhone because of they feel it is cost prohibitive.

In the survey Techbargains found 45 percent of the respondents want to get the iPhone 5, with five percent planning to camp out in line on the release day( I just don’t get this practice).

Now here is something interesting and very telling for one company. Of those who took the survey, 20 percent of Android users want the new iPhone; and one in three, (30 percent) of BlackBerry and non-smartphone users want to make to jump on the Apple band wagon.

There are more facts and figures in the infographic below, and the complete survey results can be read here.

Clean Your Mobile With, “PhoneSoap”

Your cell phone, you know that thing that is always glued to the side of your head, that thing you are always touching and playing with, your mobile, is a filthy bacteria covered breading ground for disease. Sorry folks, it’s true. Your mobile communication devices are dirtier than toilet seats for the most part. Now before you drop your phone in favor of a tin can with string, there is hope.

Over on Kickstarter, there is a new product idea appropriately named “PhoneSoap“. PhoneSoap is a small box that simultaneously charges your mobile device and sanitizes it at the same time using UV-C light. UV-C light is electromagnetic radiation that’s used in hospitals and clean rooms around the world. This short wavelength of light penetrates the cell wall of the bacteria and disrupts its DNA, effectively killing it.

The product has a really well designed form factor, and looks promising. Since your phone is covered in staph, E. Coli, and MRSA, PhoneSoap seems like something we should all be backing.

iAds for Android.

I think this is rather ironic. 2359 Media created an HTML 5 based iAd for the HTC Desire S to run on the iPad. OK, why is this ironic? Because the HTC Desire S runs Android, Apple’s biggest mobile OS competitor.

The iAd itself is well done and quite engaging, with full interactivity and animations that take advantage of iOS’s gestures, but it’s still an iAd for iOS, advertising an Android device. This just cracks me up. The iAd, which launches from a banner ad has a clean look that even feels like the minimalist Apple aesthetic. Was the ad a success? Apparently so. 2359 Media says on their website that users spent up to 500% more time on the site exploring the features of the HTC phone thanks to the rich touch-based interactions, animations, videos, and slick images, compared to other non-rich media ads.

3LiveShop, A New Kind of Online Shopping Experience.

It takes a lot to get me to say this is has the potential to reshape an entire industry, or our behavior and experience with a particular service. I have a feeling that 3Live is going to be one of those game changing pieces of technology. One of those things that in a few years we look back and try to remember what it was like without it. Not everyone is going to like 3Live, or for that matter even use it. None the less, this could be a real game changer in the online shopping business.

The 3LiveShop blends a seamless service and sales experience by using the camera on your computer or smartphone to interact with a living person in real-time. What this does is essentially deliver the bricks and mortar stores customer interaction benefits to pretty much anyone, anywhere, online.

What makes 3Live so different from what most of us currently experience (integrated chat application, or the occasional streaming webcam) is that 3Live is real, its seamless, and it is like having a personal concierge to the website while you browse a virtual brochure of products. If you watch the video, you will see how the multi-touch sales agent screen works, with a screen projected from underneath, onto a mirror that in turn is highlighted onto a glass panel with clearly marked navigation and interaction areas. This helps to create a more natural experience for the sales person, and allows them to have better and more meaningful interaction with the person on the other end. With the 3Live experience, the sales person isn’t just dragging, scaling and adjusting the auto-populated content as they take each customer down a thousands of user paths of online shopping. This way they can have multiple options on each screen so customers can clearly see the difference between products and services.

One of the largest benefits of the 3LiveShop is that the system helps take all of the thinking out of the process for the sales staff. The 3Live system helps provide them with the most relevant option at any given time, which allows the customer to be better informed about options.

There are probably a thousand reasons some of you will hate this, and there are somethings that big me as well. At the end of the day though, I could see this kind of system becoming more ubiquitous in our online shopping experiences. Especially as bandwidth becomes faster, and internet connected cameras become more prevalent world-wide. Hmmmm this brings up an interesting point. If you are connected to a person in realtime, helping you with your transaction, how will all the call and fulfillment centers overseas make out? Faking an accent is easy, faking a person not so much.