Posts Tagged ‘Smart Phones’

So AR is the future of marketing and the future of taking full advantage of your smart phone.  Here are a few of my favorites who have broken into the AR tech. early.

1.) Google Sky Map 

You probably have heard of Google Sky Map and quite rightly too. Whether you are an amateur astronomer or simply a Carl Sagan look-a-like, being able to gaze up at the stars and identify constellations, stars and planets drip in geeky-cool.

All you need to do is point your phone upwards toward the night sky and everything is identified in front of you in real time. Move your camera around, and the details will change with the direction you’re pointing at. Brilliant for educational purposes too. And as you should expect from Google, the application is smooth and super-easy to use.

Price: Free
Requires: 1.5 and up
Market Link: Google Sky Map
Developer: Google Inc.
Full Review: Google Sky Map

2.) Layar 

Layar was the first Android AR app I ever tried and watching an early demo of it encouraged me to buy an Android in the first place. Layar adds a variety of ‘layers’ to your phones camera world-view. The app really is a bundle of different apps in one as you can search for houses for sale, local people on Twitter, play games or even identify places where crime has taken place!

There are loads of different layers available through the app so well worth exploring in depth to get the best out of it. The UI is incredibly polished and intuitive, blending useful function with a good-looking interface. While most AR apps usually work quite well, few have as good an interface as Layar.

Price: Free
Requires: 1.5 and up
Market Link: Layar
Developer: Layar
Full Review: Layar
3.) Color Blindness Simulator 

Color Blindness is a clever app that demonstrates vision from the perspective of someone who is color blind. Through the camera the view splits into a normal view and a color blind view, enabling you to compare and see how color blindness can affect people.

You could actually also use this if you think you might be color blind yourself. If you cannot tell the difference between the two images it might be worth getting it checked out!

Price: Free
Requires: 2.1 and up
Market Link: Color Blindness Simulator
Developer: Seewald Solutions
4.) Junaio 

Another AR browser, you can view different things through Junaio depending on your preferences. So, if you are out and looking for the nearest fast food restaurant the app can tell you through your camera viewer. It also features a comprehensive bar code scanner and the ability to save favourites.

While not quite as fully-featured as Layar, Junaio works very well and includes a number of different functions. I particularly enjoyed a virtual tour of Valencia in Spain, but there is lots to play with in the app.

Price: Free
Requires: 2.1 and up
Market Link: Junaio
Developer: metaio GmbH
5.) GeoGoggle 

GeoGoggle lets you view accurate geographical information around you. It lets you see your longtitude and latitude, altitude, direction (via a 3D compass), and speed, as well as the distance to a specified location. Using your GPS the app can integrate with Geocaching apps like c:geo. You can also take pictures using the app.

An additional feature of GeoGoggle enables you to view a map and see where you have taken particular photographs in a certain location. The app has a rich UI, is very polished and works incredibly well, providing a great information resource; it’s ideal for outdoorsy-types and adventurers.

Price: Free
Requires: 2.1 and up
Market Link: GeoGoggle
Developer: peko56
6.) Paintball 

Paintball allows you to play real-time AR paintball through your Android. Simply get a few Android-toting buddies to download the app, link up and away you go. The game lets you build up points for bonuses too, and you can earn new virtual paintballing weaponry. The game detects the color of shirt your opponent is wearing, allowing you to target them. You can set times for specific matches and actually save your best shots to view back.

While it might be a hassle to get enough friends with Androids over to try it out, it is great fun and works really well… and you avoid the massive bruises and hurt egos you get from normal paintballing!

Price: Free
Requires: 2.2 and up
Market Link: Paintball
Developer: Mambo Studios
7.) Wikitude World Browser

Wikitude World Browser is probably the king of augmented reality information apps. In your camera viewer it lets you see Wikipedia articles, ATM machine locations, local restaurants, Tweets, FourSquare locations, Flickr pictures, YouTube videos and lots more… all local to you. The UI in the app is superb and the AR is accurate and well displayed.

Price: FreeYou could also download ‘Wikitude Drive’ which presents a unique sat-nav experience. Instead of following the map, simply follow the lines placed right along your route. The app is great for exploring new places or making the most of those around you. Wikitude World Browser has won various awards and should be considered one of those ‘essential’ apps people talk incessantly about.

Requires: 1.6 and up
Market Link: Wikitude World Browser
Developer: Wikitude GmbH



8.)  SpecTrek  <– good halloween app

Go ghost-hunting with this fun and clever game! The app recognizes your location and places around you a number of ghosts and bonuses. You

must find these ghosts and trap them. In order to do so, simply get as close to them as possible and fire a special net at them. You can see the ghosts through your viewer, hovering scarily in front of you! You can time games and build up points and bonuses.

SpecTrek is great for getting out of the house and improving fitness, especially as the game gets gradually harder, with more area to cover the more you play it. Brilliant for children too.

Price: Free or $2.49
Requires: 1.5
Market Link: SpecTrek
Developer: Games4All

For a more complete list and written reviews of each app check out a full article HERE





Well kinda sorta.  It is actually just a launcher app for android in the market, but we know that Android can already do everything Apple does already. Reference iOS5′s Top Ten “New” Features That My Android Has Had FOREVER. [TECH REVIEW]  Check out the app HERE


Espier launcher is a mobile phone/tablet desktop software based on Android 2.2 or above version.It brings you the new Android operating experience. For example, it’s easy to operate shortcut icons, folders, and function switches. You can manage multi task and uninstall programs conveniently. Also the natural gestures operation gives you smooth and fluent user experience.

Please visit Espier launcher official microblog:



So the “NEW” iOS5 is rolling out and the tech blogOsphere is, like normal, kissing Apple’s big white shiny…well…Apple, but the “newest”, “coolest” features of iOS5 are not all that new or cool. Unless of course, you have been living in the dark ages of iOS4. So below is an article written for Gizmodo and I am sure paid for by Apple, about the best 10 new features that the iOS5 offers, and i can tell you this my android phone has been able to do all of these things for at least 9 months. my comments are in [ ] after each listed item. Also if you want a good review of the iPhone 4s look HERE

iOS 5: The Top 10 New Features

The new iOS 5 goes live soon, bringing with it revamped notifications and more than 200 new features for your iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. These are the top ten, and then some more.

Some of these features you already had in your iPhone or iPad. They just came in third-party apps.

If you used apps like the must-have WhatsApp, which allows you to message in an extremely easy way with all kinds of phones for free, you already were enjoying something like iMessage (even while iMessage adds important services, like device-wide conversation synchronization). If you had the awesome Instapaper, you already had some of the features of the new Safari. Or if you had something like Remember the Milk, you already had a great reminders service.

However, there are features that weren’t available before; either because they are completely new or because they are system-wide. And there are real jewels too.

Things that may sound silly, like using the volume + button as a shutter in the Camera app. Or more important stuff, like well thought Notifications and the ability to run your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad without having a PC. Your iDevices are now completely autonomous.

All these features put iOS on par again with some of the features that you could already find in Android, Palm or Windows Phone 7. Some of their implementations, surpass those platforms. But even while none of these new features are extraordinary per se, all of them together are quite impressive.
iOS 5: The Top 10 New Features

1. Notifications [This is actually a direct copy off the notification system that has been on android since the beginning, it would not surprise me if this causes law suites.  However if Google really wants to stick to its open source policy, they have to let Apple use it, I guess.]

The first big feature is notifications. At last, Apple will get rid of the annoying popups that break your flow. And with “annoying popups” I really meant “stupid dumb boxes that makes me want to smash my f*cking iPhone against the wall when I’m playing a game or chatting with strangers in the night”.

They have replaced those with a new app called Notification Center. It’s very similar to Mobile Notifier, the iOS notification app—which makes sense, since Apple hired its developer a while back. It not only includes app notification, but mini-widgets that show live information from apps like Weather and apps.

The notifications extend to the lock screen too, so you can see more stuff right away without unlocking your phone. Sliding your finger on it will automatically lead you to the app that generated that notification.

Notifications are clearly and by far the best part of iOS5—particularly coming from the stone age pop-up mess of previous versions. Everyone on staff who’s used iOS5 is in love, and the upgrade is the must have feature.

 iOS 5: The Top 10 New Features

2. iMessage [On Android this is called Google Talk, or if you have set up a Google Voice# you could use that as well. Google Talk is also an open source messaging system which means that you can talk for free to people who have any type of phone with any OS not just Android to Android or like with iOS5 Apple to Apple.]

Another new useful feature, which will hurt Blackberry and the telecommunications companies wanting to sell you stupid SMS and MMS contracts: Apple has implemented a new messaging system called iMessage.

It works between all iOS 5 devices, allowing you to leave conversations on your iPhone and continue them in your iPad (again, I will not be surprised to see this integrated into Lion at a later date). It comes with delivery notification as well. However, unlike WhatsApp, it doesn’t work with other non-iOS devices. Maybe Apple thinks your Android and Blackberry friends are not worth talking to for free.

 iOS 5: The Top 10 New Features

3. New Camera app and photos [The iPhone 4s has a decent 8 mega-pixel camera and the ability to record in 1080 HD, however the new Android phones are looking at 10-14 mega-pixel cameras and Google+ fully integrates Picassa into the phone offering much better photo management than iOS5 or any Apple device will ever be able to offer.]

The new Camera up gets two of the most-requested features in the history of iOS. The first is a shortcut in the lock screen to access the camera right away, so you don’t have to unlock and then click on the Camera icon, which often makes you lose the moment.

The other one, which is something we have whined about endlessly, is using one of the volume button as the shutter button. Just press + and that’s it: CLICK! This is a very welcome addition.

The new app also includes basic photo editing. It includes quick enhance—which basically sharpens your image, making shadows and highlights more detailed, and correct color automagically. It also include red eye reduction and cropping, both welcome additions to those who don’t have the Camera Plus already.

iOS 5: The Top 10 New Features

4. Newsstand [Again this is almost a direct copy off another service Google has offered for years. GOOGLE BOOKS.  And Google Books allows you to access your books on any internet connected device either through a built in app or through the web app through most browsers…lets see iOS5 do that]

Apple has built a virtual newsstand right onto iOS 5, very similar to the iBooks app but exclusively for magazines and periodicals. It looks like a cross between iBooks and a folder view, actually.

iOS 5: The Top 10 New Features

5. Twitter integration everywhere [I am not quite sure why the chose to integrate twitter into their phones, most likely because Google has Google+ and Microsoft and Facebook have been getting pretty cozy, but this too is nothing new.  Android integrates all social platforms on their devices.  At any point in time you can share from any app or webpage or picture to a wide variety of social platforms right from the in android options.  For Apple to boast this as a new feature makes me wonder if they have ever even used an Android phone.  From a development standpoint this is child’s play.]

iOS 5 will have Twitter integration everywhere. Apps like camera will be able to directly post the image to Twitter. The YouTube App, Safari or even Maps will support direct sharing in Twitter. It also adds a new Twitter address field to your Contacts application.

iOS 5: The Top 10 New Features

6. A new Safari [HOORAY, a new version of the same old flash-less crappy web browser that can’t even come close to competing with the Android version.  Not to mention the new Ice Cream Sandwich release is going to have a mobile version of Chrome as the browser. And I would love to hear someone even try and argue that Safari is as good of a browser as Chrome…LMFAO, lets look at one key feature listed below, the ability to reformat a site on the fly, Google calls this re-flow i believe and the very first android phone that is 4 years old now was able to do that, thanks apple for finally joining the party but you are still way behind.]

Safari has been revamped with new features. Reader will allow you to reformat a site on the fly, taking out ads and reformatting text so it looks better on your iPad or iPhone screen.

This feature flows into Reading List, which is a way to save those pages for later offline viewing, keeping them synchronized between all your iOS devices and Lion. Presumably via iCloud.

Apple’s web browser also adds tabs in this version. Your open pages will line up right below your address bar. According to Apple, switching between pages is “lightning fast,” so perhaps they have made some magic with the memory management to reduce the reload of pages in older devices.

iOS 5: The Top 10 New Features

7. New Reminders app [Do I need to say anything to this besides Google Calendar…I think not]

The new Reminders app makes it easy to make to-do lists. The interface is very simple and it’s synchronized between iOS 5 devices and your Mac OS X desktop or notebook.

The really cool thing about Reminders is that it’s location aware. Imagine you add that you need to buy milk, but then you forget about it. When you pass by the grocery store, the app will tell you that you need to buy milk.

8. New Mail app [I would love anyone to argue that their is a better web mail service than Gmail.  Please try to in the comments.  I will be able to you one argument for the entire time.  Gmail can do anything you can do, but it can do it better. Beside iOS mail is terrible, this was the first thing I noticed when I switched to an android phone. Yes i was a loyal Apple fan Boy for the first years of smart phone development, but i left and joined the android takeover and hve never looked back. ]

Mail includes a barrage of enhancements

• Rich Text Formatting, which will allow you to annoy the hell out of everyone bolding every sentence in your mails.
• Indentation control, which allows you to control the level of indentation of your quotes from other messages.
• Draggable email addresses, which allows to drag and drop email addresses into to, cc and bcc fields.
• Message flagging to call your attention over a particular mail later.
• Swipe to Inbox, which makes it very easy to access the list of message in portrait mode on the iPad, instead of clicking on a button for a weird pop-up dialog.

iOS 5: The Top 10 New Features

9. No PC required [WOW, has android ever required the use of a PC.  Also just and FYI for you Apple users if you want to update to iOS5 you will need to buy lion in order to sync your phone to your iTunes, just a little trick apple uses to squeeze out some extra profits from their loyal fan boys who are to blinded by the whiteness of the apple to realize they are getting ripped off.]

At long last, the most important feature of them all: You will not need iTunes and PC anymore to use your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. Apple has caught up with Android and Windows Phone 7. The new iOS 5 will allow you to set up your new device easily: Turn your new gadget on and a Welcome screen will appear. All software updates will happen over the air.

All the applications will now be completely autonomous. You will not have to go to iCal or some other desktop app to create a calendar, for example. There is no need for a desktop or laptop anymore, for anything.

10. New Game Center [I love how Apple has been spewing PR to try and say they are going to be the gaming system of the future. That gives me a good laugh every time I read it.  For starters since when has Apple been good at gaming? If any phone OS company can make that claim it should be Microsoft not Apple. But for the purpose of this article can anyone tell me where Apple is better at gaming than anyone?  This seems like a completely worthless #10 to me, its like the author of this article was paid by apple to come up with a list of 10 things and he struggled to get 9 so he just pulled the 10th right out of their ass.]

The have enhanced Game Center too. Unfortunately, they have not renewed its awful casino interface, which looks as dated as always. But they have added much needed concepts from Xbox Live and other gaming systems:

• Achievement points.
• Access friends of friends, so you can compare and play with a wider range of people.
• Photos in your profile, so you can flirt with other nerds pretending to be women online.
• Game discovery, to play with whoever wants to play with you at any given time.
• Game downloads within Game Center.
• Support for turn-based games like Words for Friends and Scrabble.

  iTunes synchronization over Wi-Fi [Again this is at least 2 year old tech but glad apple thinks its “NEW”.]

 Advanced gestures: It will allow you to pass from app to app on the iPad by using a simple swipe gesture, without having to use the home button. This was a feature has been in testing for a long time and, trust me, once you try it you will not be able to live without it[This is because of the lack of built in gestures that android has at the bottom of the device.  In order to counter this Apple has you making complex geometric shapes with your finger on the screen. I can see the problems now… I want to go back to my email from this webpage, “is that a star, a polygon, or a triple finger drag,  lol again makes me laugh.] 



I found a better way to watch your .avi files on Android.  There is a new “converter app”  that changes the file type to .mp4 so they are compatible with your stock player.  Link here–>  Enjoy.

Cover art



So one of the biggest pains about switching from an iPhone to an Android device is that all of your videos recorded on your iPhone are in .AVI format.  This is Apples way of keeping customers using Apple products and making it more difficult to stop using iTunes.  This is because .AVI movies can only be played on QuickTime media player which is the movie player built into iTunes.  So instead of putting the movie files in any number of more open source formats apple tries again to trap its users by only offering them to play/edit movies recorded on their phones in apple software programs.

This simply does not have to be the case anymore.  VLC media player will play any and all types of media formats include .AVI formatted files.  Sorry Apple the open source nature of my Android device again will allow me to get around your controlling ways and play my old iPhone movies on my Android Phone now.

Check out the article below for more info.


Get your MKV’s, AVI’s and ANIME’s ready! Android developer/modder extraordinaire, CVPCS, was able to compile a working pre-Alpha version of VLC media player for Android. If you’re unfamiliar with VLC, it’s essentially a open-source (we like those words around here) media player for Windows, Mac and everything in between that allows you to play virtually any video format on your desktop. That alone should help you see the value in bringing this amazing tool to Android.

Because of the way VLC is built, it can’t (or wont) support all Android devices. Instead, it separates them according to your processor, into 2 categories: NEON and NO-NEON. How do you find out if your device is NEON? Simply use a file manager app, dig around in your system files and locate the folder /proc/cpuinfo and then take a look inside. You should see something like this:

Processor	: ARMv7 Processor rev 2 (v7l)
processor	: 0
BogoMIPS	: 1597.74

Features	: swp half thumb fastmult vfp edsp thumbee neon vfpv3
CPU implementer	: 0x41
CPU architecture: 7
CPU variant	: 0x1
CPU part	: 0xc09
CPU revision	: 2

Hardware	: mapphone_CDMA
Revision	: 0000
Serial		: 0000000000000000

Take a look at the Features line and look for the word “neon.” If it’s there — then you have yourself a NEON device. If not — then you’ll have to use the NONEON version of VLC. Okay, let’s get to the good stuff. The download. Seeing how this is such an early pre-Alpha build of VLC for Android, CVPCS will not be providing support. If you want to try out VLC for Android still in its early stages:

NEON VLC for Android

NONEON VLC for Android

If you wont a ton more information on VLC for Android, hit up the source link for all the technical details.


NVIDIA has announced a new chip set coming to phones next spring/summer that is a double grouping of chips. First it is going to have a single 1.5 GHz core that will help manage battery usage by running the background applications and managing the syncing of data. The next group is the really exciting part.  It is a 1.5 GHz quad core processor that will give most laptops a run for there money.  This means high tech graphics processing the ability to crunch massive amounts of data, and the ability to completely replace a normal users laptop. We are talking gaming and everything. I can just imagine these phones synced up to a TV or a computer monitor or even used on one of those nifty Atrix Laptop docs, only this time with enough power to run a full Linux OS, Chrome OS, or even Windows 8 maybe…

Are You Waiting for Quad-Core?

by Quentyn Kennemer on September 23rd, 2011 at 10:10 am


Phones surely have come a long way. We’ve gone from 528MHz processors to 1GHz processors, from single-core to dual-core, and we will soon go from dual-core to quad-core (in tablets, at least). Dual-core devices are still relatively new and we’re already about to see quad-core. Is dual-core enough for your or are you always striving to get as much power as you can get?

Earlier this week, NVIDIA released whitepapers detailing their Kal-El chipset (which is essentially the successor to the dual-core Tegra 2 chipset). Alongside four powerhouse cores, they’ll be bringing a companion core to handle background tasks such as syncing email and playing music in order to preserve battery life. The GPU on that chipset is said to have 12 different cores. With it, “Extreme HD” graphics will be possible.

It wasn’t too long ago I asked if we even needed phones and devices as fast as they were getting. I said I was very satisfied with the 1GHz single-core device I had. Then I upgraded to two different dual-core devices and I almost slapped myself for thinking there was no reason for these extremely powerful chipsets.

Now, I’m waiting to see how big of a jump we’ll take from dual-core to quad-core. We’re supposed to be seeing first chipsets inside tablets later this year or early next year. Are you willing to wait that long?

According to today’s college youth iPhones  are no longer cool because lets face it who wants to have the same phone that their parents have.  Apple has gone the way of the cool local bar.  When it first comes out it is the hot spot, with great live music and cheap drinks. Then somehow all of a sudden it changes into the local cougar bar where no young people want to hang out.  This is where the iPhone is now.  Yes its iOS is extremely user friendly and makes the phone a viable option for even the least tech savvy of users, (YOUR MOM), but this also makes the device less cool. Part of what young people like and think is cool about new technology is that the OLD PEOPLE can’t use it with them.  This is the same with why Facebook WAS cool and why it is not anymore. This may also be the reason why androids fragmentation is an advantage to the company on its coolness factor. It allows for young users who are concerned about the hipness of their phone to continue to quickly advance away from devices their parents start to use which in turn allows them to feel like they are ahead of the curve and therefore more COOL.  I however think iPhones aren’t cool anymore for different reasons like, the lack of freedom, the lack of features, the lack of customization, just to name a few.


Don’t tell anybody in my Los Angeles neighborhood, but iPhones aren’t cool anymore. The president of HTC says so.

During a presentation at the Mobile Future Forward conference in Seattle, Martin Fichter, acting president of HTC Americas, said that he discovered that the kids don’t think the iPhone is cool anymore after he spoke with the dormitory friends of his daughter at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, and informally polled them on their smartphone choices. According to a story fromMashable, Fichter found the students having skipped Apple’s devices as belonging to the previous generation.

‘None of them has an iPhone,’ Fichter said, ‘because they told me: “My dad has an iPhone.” There’s an interesting thing that’s going on in the market. The iPhone becomes a little less cool than it was. They were carrying HTCs. They were carrying Samsungs. They were even carrying some Chinese manufacturer’s devices.’

That’s an interesting viewpoint, and skipping over the not-minor detail that HTC is a major competitor of Apple’s, if the kids don’t think iPhones are cool anymore, it doesn’t seem to be hurting Apple any.

In fact, the release of the iPhone 5, expected in the first week of October or thereabouts, seems set to break some records. Rumor has it that both T-Mobile and Sprint could be carrying the iPhone 5 this fall. The iPhone 4 is currently the best-selling smartphone there is worldwide, and Apple has reportedly been making some big orders in preparation for the launch of the new device. Rumor has it the company has made orders of its suppliers somewhere in the order of 26 million iPhone 5’s (or whatever it ends up being called) for the end of the year, with another 30 or so million iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS models. That’s a heck of a lot of “uncool” iPhones.

While it’s possible the iPhone is “Dad’s phone” in Portland, it’s certainly still hip everywhere else in the world. Much of the growth of the iPhone has been fueled by new markets. Rumor has it that Apple is adding another carrier in China, much like it did with Verizon in the U.S., which could seriously drive sales in the country. China has already been a huge market for the iPhone, and Apple has also expanded elsewhere in Asia and South America.

Fichter might not be altogether wrong, though. As Mashable reports, a recent analysis from recommendation engine Hutch finds that the iPhone is popular among older, more affluent people. Android devices are attracting a younger, hipper audience, and are popular among people who have a high school diploma but not necessarily much higher education. That does, in many respects, drop Android owners right in the middle of “cool,” as marketers see it.

Still, and not to sound like an Apple fan or anything, but it seems highly doubtful that the sales numbers will bear out Fichter’s opinion this fall. Perhaps he is seeing a growing trend as far as perception, but the iPhone still is hugely user-friendly. It’s absolutely bristling with games. It includes more apps than any other available platform. Those are things that surely help to circumvent the perception of Apple’s device being the smartphone of choice for the uncool generation.

I am a big fan of making my cell phone bill as small as possible. I switched to an unlimited data plan a few years back before they were made extinct, and have been taking full advantage of finding new ways to use that data plan to stick it to my cell phone provider by making my bill as small as possible.  Below is an article originally posted HERE that will help you pick the best way to eliminate your Text Messaging charges from your cell.

Personally I used a combination of two different apps both brought to you by Google.

First I use Google Voice to send all of my text messages and manage my voice mail.  If you are an android user and want visual voice mail like on the iPhone you need to take advantage of this program.  It not only can manage your voice mails, which it transcribes into text in case you are somewhere you can’t listen to them or you don’t feel like listening to some that are worthless, it also allows you to receive and send text messages to any number in the world using nothing but data plan and costing you nothing to set up on your phone.  Also check out the Google Voice Widget which I also love.

Second I use Google Talk to send messages to friends and family who are on computers and to video chat with them.  Google Talk is like old school AIM but it is connected to your Gmail address. With the most recent 2.3.4 Android update it also allows you to video chat with people who are on the service as well.  This includes users on both computers and on there phones.  Video chat is the future of communication.  It is the BEST way to stay in touch with people especially people who you don’t get to see very often.

Check out what Gizmodo had to suggest below.

Your phone company is screwing you on text messaging. SMS messages cost them next to nothing, yet they charge you up the yin-yang. So how’s about sticking it to the phone company with some viable alternatives to SMS messaging?

Decent Alternatives

Full size


Platforms Supported: iOS, Android, Windows Phone
Cost: Free
What’s Good: It’s totally free. It shows message status (sent, delivered, read). Group messaging and picture messages. It’s one of your few Windows Phone options. And it’s fast.
What’s Bad: The people you send messages to have to be signed up for Kik. No video, audio, or location messages.
Verdict: Kik only makes sense if the vast majority of your friends are on Kik, which they probably aren’t.


Platforms Supported: iOS, Android, BlackBerry
Cost: Free
What’s Good: Sends photo, video, voice notes, contacts, and location. You can add contacts via social networks or email address. Shows not only delivery status but also typing status.
What’s Bad: Again, you can only message other people who use PingChat. No Windows Phone support. The UI isn’t quite as slick as some of the others.
Verdict: Again, unless you have a ton of friends on PingChat, then there’s not much point.


Platforms Supported: iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Nokia/Symbian
Cost: Free for 1st year, $1.99 each year thereafter
What’s Good: Uses phone numbers as user names, which is extremely smart. It means as soon as you install it, it checks the phone numbers on your phone’s contacts and automatically populates your buddy list. Photo, video, location, and contact sharing. Nice, clean UI, and handles group chat well.
What’s Bad: Yet again (and this will very much be a reoccurring theme) if your friends aren’t on WhatsApp, then it’s useless. It’s also the only service you have to pay for (even though that’s only after a year). No WP7 support.
Verdict: Ibid, baby. While WhatsApp has the largest user-base of those we’ve mentioned so far (especially in Europe), if your friends aren’t on it, it’s a non-starter. That said, of the three we’ve listed so far, this would be our favorite.


Platforms Supported: iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Symbian, Web, Mobile Web
Cost: Free
What’s Good: Chances are good that the majority of people you know are already on Facebook. This gives it a massive advantage. It has apps for every major platform with varying features and degrees of integration. Its messaging and chat features are particularly relevant, particularly on iOS, which now has a dedicated Messenger app.
What’s Bad: No picture/video/location messaging in the mobile apps. Also, typically people have notifications turned off so they aren’t constantly bombarded by their friends’ horrible improv shows (which happen 3,000 times a week, apparently). Without notifications, messaging is useless. Also, the apps are often buggy and don’t always deliver messages. No dedicated Facebook messenger app for iPad or Android tablets yet.
Verdict: Facebook is on this list more for its potential than anything else. Their messaging is less feature-rich than plain old email, and won’t be delivered any faster unless notifications are on. Basically, Facebook has the power to do something awesome in this space, but they haven’t yet.

 Bad Alternatives

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BlackBerry Messenger

Platforms Supported: BlackBerry
Cost: Free
What’s Good: It’s fast, it’s simple. You can create groups, share pictures, even comment on pictures. It’s encrypted, unless you live in one of a handful of repressive countries. Pretty intuitive.
What’s Bad: It only works for other BlackBerry users, and those numbers are dwindling. Adding other BBM users isn’t super intuitive—the whole PIN thing is ridiculous.
Verdict: Spoiler alert: if you’re only available on one platform you’re wasting everybody’s time. This makes even less sense when BlackBerry has been hemorrhaging users.


Platforms Supported: iOS
Cost: Free
What’s Good: The smartest thing iOS does is that it integrates into the messaging program. You don’t really have to do anything different. Whenever you want to send a contact a message, iOS checks to see if they also have iMessage, and if they do, it will use it. If they don’t, it will use SMS. Can do group messages and photos, thought not as gracefully as BBM. Also allows for synced messaging on your iPad and iPod touch.
What’s Bad: Only for iOS. ARRRRRGH. Seriously, it’s a nice feature, but it’s not going to incentivize anyone to switch. Also, when you send a group message to someone who doesn’t have iOS things get very screwed up. Android users frequently have to download these messages as SMS, and replying to it may send the reply to an entire group (that the other user didn’t know existed). It’s very bad.
Verdict: Creating a service that will only work on a certain type of device is ass-backwards. Yes, it may sometimes seem that everyone you know has an iPhone, but you’re wrong. At least 50% of my friends use Android and other devices. iMessage and BBM are creating pockets and subsets, moving people further apart, not closer together, which is, y’know, the opposite of the point.

 The Bestest Alternatives

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Platforms Supported: iOS, Android, BlackBerry, WP7, Web
Cost: Free
What’s Good: It’s on more platforms than any of the others we’ve mentioned. Its group messaging is the best of the pack. It has a super clean UI, and pretty wide adoption. It has other features like conference calling, location sharing, and a really nice web interface. It’s extremely reliable and it’s completely free. It uses plain ol’ SMS if you don’t have the app, so basically anybody, with any phone, can get in on group conversations.
What’s Bad: Once again, you’ve gotta get your buddies to sign up. It’s a bit easier than some of the others as it has a little bit of SMS integration, but not much.
Verdict: It’s not often that the crew at Gizmodo calls an app a “lifechanger” after their experience using GroupMe at CES. It’s very good, but we’d like to see it go further with its SMS integration to further increase adoption.


Platforms Supported: Android, iOS, WP7, BlackBerry, Symbian, Web, Mobile Web
Cost: Free

Forgive me for abandoning the “What’s good/bad” model here, but this one is a bit complex.

 Google offers three different options in this space. Google+ Huddles is the newest, and while it has potential to be great, it isn’t yet. It only works for the Google+ app, and that app has major bugs with push notifications. It’s also text only at this point, and you still need an invite to Google+. Not good, but has potential. Google Voice and Chat, however, are both ready and willing to put the big hurt on SMS.

Voice gives you your own number with free texting. That’s free texting to any phone number. It has apps for all of the major smartphone operating systems (Windows Phone is third-party apps only for now, but they’re pretty good), and an excellent web implementation. Besides backing all your messages up and making them searchable (not to mention providing free phone calls and visual voicemail), the killer angle here is that it doesn’t require anybody else to sign up for anything. You can text anybody whose number you have. It’s just like SMS—it is SMS—but it’s free. With group texting similar to Huddles and the ability to add multimedia, this already killer service would dominate.

Everyone who has a Gmail account has Google Talk, and all of the major mobile and desktop operating systems have apps that work with it. That already gives it a ton of reach. And if you and your friends are on Android, it may have already killed SMS for you guys a long time ago. The APIs are open, which means not only can any platform use it, but anyone can create an app the uses it and makes it even better. The web version already has video chat, and that’s coming this month to mobile as well. Talk in itself is not super special, but basically, if Google combined it with Voice they would be the perfect SMS replacement. As of now, the functionality is all there, but you have to switch between a few apps, which is why the winner is a tossup between them and GroupMe.

Scott White is an illustrator based in Herndon, Virginia. You can see his work here and follow him on Tumblr,Facebook and Twitter.


Ever since Google announced they’d be purchasing Motorola to protect the future of Android, they’d downplayed Motorola’s hardware business and focused on defending themselves against patent trolls. For this reason, many thought Google would eventually sell off Motorola after integrating their patents into their own portfolio in order to keep relationships with other OEMs healthy.

Well, according to Google’s Eric Schmidt, that’s not true. In fact, they said Motorola’s position as an OEM was a big factor in their decision, citing “amazing hardware” as reasons why they snapped Motorola up. This leads us to believe that they have plans – big or small – in the future regarding a device. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Here’s the full quote:
“We did it for more than just patents,” Schmidt said in a conversation with Inc. Chief Executive Officer Marc Benioff. “The Motorola team has some amazing products.”

And now we all start profusely salivating again at the thought of another high-end Motorola Android without MOTOBLUR. Napkins are on the counter.



Motorola Mobility: More Than Patents

I am a huge Google fan and a huge fan of Android OS. While I admit that the iPhone changed the smartphone market (how could I not), I still think that iOS leaves a lot to be desired, and that Android is a far superior mobile OS for many reasons.

However, a lot of people have trouble seeing that because of what the tech world now callsfragmentation – the fact that Android is on so many different devices. This has proven to be a challenge for Google because you may get a subpar device running Android, which reflects poorly on the OS. It’s for this reason (mainly) that I’m excited about the recent deal for Google to purchase Motorola’s mobile arm, Motorola Mobility.

The big focus when the deal was announced was on patents: specifically, on how Google is improving its patent portfolio. This is understandable since Apple is waging a patent war against several companies, including Google. But I don’t think this was the main reason for the purchase.

See, Google until recently has been a software company, and a web-based one at that. Now they are building systems for mobile phones, tablets, TVs, and laptops. It would be very beneficial for them to start making their own consumer electronics. The Nexus One is a perfect example of this.

The Nexus Series

Google’s first solution to combating fragmentation and the stigma that Android devices are subpar was to contract an outside hardware maker – HTC – to make a phone running Android to exactly their specifications. That phone, and its predecessor, the Nexus S, were by most accounts great phones. And I’m really excited about the recently (and unofficially) announced Droid Prime, the next phone is Google’s Android phone series. This also seems like it’s going to be a great phone. But Google needs more than that.

You see, Google designing a phone and contracting it out isn’t the same as Google making a phone. With the purchase of Motorola Mobility, Google now has a company that makes consumer electronics. This gives Google a bit more control (not to mention profit) over the whole process.

And this isn’t just something they can do with phones. They can do the same thing with tablets for Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich, TVs/TV boxes for Google TV, and maybe even laptops for Chromebooks. With Google making so many hardware dependent software systems now, it was imperative that Google make a purchase like this. Look at the iPhone: Software by Apple, hardware by Apple, and just about everything that has to do with the iPhone is controlled by Apple. Google now has that capability.

A Real Google Phone

Here’s my point: with Google purchasing Motorola Mobility, they can now make a true Google phone, a phone that Android was meant to run on, and where Google has final say on the software and the hardware. It will be Google’s equivalent to the iPhone, and I think it will be great.

While there are some great phones out there, aside from the Nexus One and S you’re not getting a true Android experience. You’re getting Android skinned, or Android with bloatware (I’m looking at you, HTC Sense). A Google phone won’t have any of that, and I think people will finally see what I’ve been saying for years: that Android is a great mobile OS, even better than iOS.

As for the Great Patent War of 2011, yes, Google added about 25,000 patents to its portfolio; but I truly believe that was a secondary (or tertiary) reason. Some patent experts even believe it was“an immense mistake. I wouldn’t go that far, but it’s clear that Google had other motivations.

When Google CEO Larry Page announced the purchase he stated,

Together, we will create amazing user experiences that supercharge the entire Android ecosystem for the benefit of consumers, partners and developers.

If this wasn’t clear enough, more recently Google Executive Chairman (and former CEO) Eric Schmidt said, “[We enjoy] having at least one area where we can do integrated hardware and software.” Hint hint.


Like I said earlier, I’m very excited for the marriage of Google and Motorola Mobility. I think it means that we will finally see a real Google Phone that will run Android as it was meant to be run: with great hardware and no bloatware. We’ll also get to see how Google handles selling consumer electronics. It will be a little tricky, but I think Google has learned a lot over the years since Android first hit the market, and I can’t wait to see how they apply what they’ve learned. Google’s mobile unit will be an even greater force to be reckoned with now.