Tag Archives: Android

The iPad and Other Media Tablets as Productivity Tools

It’s the gift-giving season and it’s likely some of you are thinking of giving someone or even yourself a mobile media tablet such as Apple’s iPad, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab or Barnes & Noble’s NookColor. You may or may not be inspired by the fact that a growing number of bankers, executives, doctors and other professionals are getting such devices issued to them at work. However, can today’s media tablets help such employees be productive, or is there something missing — such as suitable stylus for those who find finger-based input onerous?

Thumbs Down for the Finger as Input Device

To facilitate enterprise use, I strongly believe that a mobile device needs stylus support, so I suggest waiting to see what 2011 brings. Don’t get me wrong. I’m very fond of both my Apple iPad and my NookColor (Android), and find touchscreens addictive. But for some mobile tasks, using a stylus is much more productive than a finger. As a long-time fan of Palm’s Vx PDA and the Treo 650, I found the stylus very useful. On the other hand, I’m not so enamored of the Palm Pre Plus due to the small screen and lack of a stylus. I find the device hard to use for my fingers, unfortunately making it a non-productive device at least for me. Now imagine having to either enter a lot of data on a mobile app, or select from a large number of options. Certain professions require this. Now imagine doing it every day. For example, when a colleague asked me to create two medical diagnostics apps for the iPhone and iPad for hospitals, I thought about how onerous these would be for daily use without a stylus. Another colleague discussed a simple image manipulation app for the iPhone, but if you’ve ever tried cropping a photo with your finger, you know how awkward that can get. Can you imagine the awkwardness of tasks such as signing digital documents, or worse, take notes with your finger? Note-taking, in my opinion, will become a very common activity on media tablets, if stylus support is included.

What’s Coming

It’s a fact that 2011 will bring a whole slew of media tablets for most or all of the top mobile operating systems, and stylus support would be nice for those who feel the finger is just not an accurate data input tool for the enterprise, or even for personal creative use. Never mind the fact that a stylus can have a finite number of predefined pressure or capacitive settings as necessary, unlike a finger. A stylus also doesn’t get tired like a finger, after hours of use, day in and day out. At the moment, there are a number of stylus makers out there. I’ve personally only researched them for the iPad. What I’ve found so far might suffice for simple uses, but I haven’t seen a for-iPad stylus yet that seems precise (pointy) enough for notetaking or drawing/ diagramming. An informal poll of tech-savvy people I know who have iPads or Android tablets suggests that they’d all like to use the devices for notetaking, and I don’t imagine that’d be much different for all the professionals being issued tablets by employers.

Thumbs Up for the Stylus as Productivity Accessory

As a productivity techniques evangelist, I’m a long-time fan of mind maps-based diagramming — something I just don’t relish doing with my finger on media tablet. But as soon as a viable stylus is available, I may never diagram or write on paper again. What’s missing, at least in the iPad arena, is a stylus sanctioned by Apple, unless I’ve taken a Rumpelstiltskin-like snooze and missed some important news. On the other hand, as mentioned in a recent All Things Digital article, a number of stylus makers are trying to persuade Android handset makers into supporting stylus-based touchscreen input. If Apple does not offer their own stylus solution with the next generation of iPads (rumored to be shipping in Feb 2011), or at least sanction a third-party stylus for the iPad before the end of H1 2011, Android tablets could potentially offer a huge advantage for enterprise use. As well, a stylus would open up the possibility of creative tasks on media tablets. For example, photo cropping or drawing, or the aforementioned mind mapping and diagramming. Combined with the popular Swype method of text input (over the virtual mobile keyboard), a stylus could be just the accessory to turn a media tablet from the expensive toy it’s sometimes perceived as, collectively, to a high-productivity tool. Expectations of Apple’s iPad outselling every other media tablet out there in 2011 may not come to pass if private and business users show that they want precision stylus support. So if you’re undecided about which media tablet to purchase, you might want to skip Xmas, skip Boxing Day sales and wait until Q1 or Q2 2011, to see if any of the upcoming mobile devices have serious stylus support. On the other hand, if you just want to play popular games such as Angry Birds or Infinity Blade, there’s something to be said for the addictive factor of using your fingers.

The Apple/ Google Android Mobile Horse Race

Recent reports about Apple and Google mobile market shares might seem a bit contradictory, but the gist of them is fairly simple: both companies are winning in the mobile space.

According to a recent report from Canalys, Apple has taken the U.S. smartphone share lead for Q3 2010 with just over 26% marketshare — edging out 2nd-place RIM by only 2%. But in terms of mobile OS, Android maintained its previous U.S. lead, with close to 44% for Q3 2010. However, consumer researcher NPG Group’s findings show that Google’s Android mobile OS’s U.S. share jumped considerably (3% to 44%) between Q3 2009 and Q3 2010, whereas Apple and RIM have fallen in that time period — RIM considerably, by a drop of 24% in that one year period.

On the flipside, both Apple and RIM won with handsets. Apple’s iPhone 4 and RIM’s BlackBerry Curve 8500 took first and second spots, respectively, in Q3 2010 as top handsets. High-end Android phones such as Motorola Droid X and HTC EVO 4G, which took 4th and 5th places, respectively, are examples of handsets that have helped Android move into and maintain top mobile OS spot.

Of course, since Android has multiple active versions in the wild and is not limited to one manufacturer’s handsets, it’s not surprising that this mobile OS is in the lead. Also, it doesn’t hurt that there are some pretty sexy high-end Android smartphones competing with Apple’s iPhones. I recently purchased a Droid X for Android development and I have to say I’m liking the phone about as much as my iPhone 3GS.  I also like the Android experience, though that may change once I get an iPhone 4.

Now the question is, can Android maintain its lead as top mobile OS (at least for the U.S.)? Android apps are available in multiple “marketplaces” (including Google’s official one), and that number is going to grow. For example, Barnes & Noble is coming out later this month with their Nook Color, an Android-based media tablet that has maybe not the ability to compete with the Apple iPad but to do well if marketed properly. However, taking a page from Apple’s strategy, B&N plans to have its own curated marketplace for Nook Color apps. Similarly, wireless carrier Verizon already has its own VCast apps market for Android.

Whether marketplace, OS version and UI fragmentation is good for Android or not remains to be seen; Google is apparently making an effort to unify the Android UI experience for consumers. The fact is that there’s a lot of confidence in the OS. According to Millenial Media’s State of the App Industry 2010 Report, a survey of app developers and app publishers suggests that the top mobile platforms for 2011 will be, from highest to lowest, iPhone (30%), Android (23%), iPad (21%), RIM (12%), Windows Mobile (6%), Palm (5%), and Symbian (3%) [via ReadWriteWeb and Venture Beat]. Of course, those numbers might change as Android tablets — which will on average be lower-priced than iPads — come to market.

Need advice on a mobile apps strategy for your business? Just want to know how you can leverage the mobile platform in general? Feel free to contact us to discuss your app idea or mobile campaign needs.

Mobomo's RaceMate iPhone App for the 35th Annual Marine Corps Marathon

RaceMate-snaps

For those of you who enjoy marathon races, the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) is one of the largest in the world. It is the eighth-largest in the world, fourth-largest in the U.S., and the largest such race with no prize money — hence it’s nickname, The People’s Marathon. Past races have had participants from as many as 50 countries. At a course length of just over 26 miles, there’s a lot for runners to prepare for and onlookers to track. Mobomo’s new, first of its kind RaceMate(tm) mobile app is exactly what you need to enhance the MCM race-day experience. The app is available for the iPhone, iPod Touch,  iPad, and Android Phone.

RaceMate is packed with features, including a countdown timer, a course map, pre-viz animation, a pace calculator and more. The embedded marathon map not only shows landmarks such as aid stations, water & food spots and mile markers but actual GPS-based locations of race participants. Track your favorite runner in real-time.

Can’t make it to the race? With an expected 30K runners and many more spectators, not everyone can or wants to be present. The Location-Based Services (LBS) mobile technology used in the RaceMate app means that you can cheer on and track your favorite runner on race day without being present. Both runners and spectators will need their smartphones; however, market research suggests nearly 85% of runners own a smart phone and that almost half of race participants will carry a smartphone will carry a smartphone during the marathon (MCM press release).

More info: The 35th Annual MCM takes place on Oct 31st, 2010, in Arlington, VA. The Marathon Tour starts Oct 20th and passes through several American cities on the way to Arlington. An associated free two-day Health and Fitness Expo starts Oct 29th and includes a Speaker Series as well as over 200 exhibitors. The marathon race itself is open to runners aged 14 and up. For more details, visit the following links:

The Android edition of RaceMate is now available at your favorite Android app marketplace.

Upcoming, Spring 2011: editions for other races in Los Angeles, London and Boston.

Need advice on how your business can leverage the mobile platform? Feel free to contact us to discuss your app idea or mobile campaign needs.

Reviewing Apple's Increased Mobile Device Market Share

Since the launch of both the WiFi-only and 3G models of the iPad, Apple has sold about 2M units in less than 2 months, and they’re sold out at many of their Apple retail stores – proving that there is a market for tablet devices and thus a need for more apps. But will these sales levels be sustained past the current hype? Retrevo did a Pulse Report study [via Mashable] of over 1,000 respondents about consumer attitudes towards tablet computers and e-readers and over 50% said they’re not interested in making such a purchase. Of non-iPad owners surveyed, over half said that they don’t need one.

Let’s look at some other stats. At an average of 1M units/month, they can easily top 8M units this year, beating out estimates of 5-7M units for 2010. The overall market for web-enabled tablet computing devices is estimated to hit over $8B by 2015, despite Retrevo’s study. Such contradictions often exist, and sometimes it’s a matter of creating the need or at least the desire. Apple managed it with iPods — I remember being part of a group of people that held out. I in fact never bought an iPod but both won a Shuffle and was given an iPod as a gift. The latter ceased to function after a year of heavy use; I’d fallen in love with it. Can Apple repeat their iPod success and make people fall in love with iPads, even when they don’t need them? (I believe so.)

Apple is already leading Android with  mobile devices in general. According to AdMob (which Google just purchased), iPhone OS-based devices are leading Android OS-based devices in the U.S. by more than a 2 to 1 ratio. Worldwide, the ratio is 3.5 to 1 in favor of iPhone OS. (With market advantages like this, is it any wonder that Apple stock price predictions for 2010 — made in Dec 2009 – Jan 2010 — suggest a $250-300 range?)

Whether Apple is maintaining any lead in the tablet market is hard to say without actually figures, given that tablet computer have existed for a while. Where Apple is lagging is with iPad-specific apps compared to iPhone-specific apps. Developers had to work with only a software simulator for the first round of apps accepted by Apple for the Apr 3, 2010, launch of the iPad. That probably hindered development significantly, and my own observation is that many such iPad-specific apps crash on occasion.

So if Apple can reboot the tablet computer market and create a demand, there’ll be room for loads more iPad-specific apps and maybe even 3rd-party peripheral devices. Whether or not that means the possibility of Windows-based tools such as Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 or Silverlight Web application plug-in for developing iPad/ iPhone apps remains to be seen. For now it seems it’s not the case, even with suggestions for Apple to be more open.

Is Mobile Computing Getting Too Fragmented Device-Wise?

If the increasing number of tablet computer options hasn’t caught your interest, maybe the one HTC is planning will. If you’re a woman. The idea is that women do a great deal of social networking, such as on Facebook, and HTC thinks this is something they might like to do while watching TV. They’re considering an Android-based HD tablet aimed at women.

Now does HTC really want to fragment their potential market share like that? I mean, I use my iPad to check email and Facebook while I watch all the programs recorded on my DVR — multitasking. Does that mean I need a special man-version? What about all the women who want a tablet computer but not for social networking while watching TV? What version do they use? Doesn’t it make more sense to have a single tablet but with specialized configurable features? Or special cases in different colors and patterns? What compelling features will such a female-specific HTC tablet have that would persuade the numerous women I know who use netbooks to check Facebook while watching TV?

While competition is always a good thing, it seems to me that HTC’s approach is just fragmenting the mobile computing market a little too much. What do you think?

Trying to make sense of your mobile device and apps options? Want to discuss a mobile Web or native mobile app for your business or projects? Feel free to contact us to discuss your app or mobile campaign needs.

Next OLPC Not a Laptop, Not a Netbook

pic-OLPC-XO-3-tablet-computer-300wRemember the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) campaign aimed at providing children in developing nations with affordable computing devices? It ended up costing way too much, but there’s a new, relatively inexpensive option. The next version of the campaign’s device won’t even be a laptop, it’ll be a tablet computer.

According to specs in Fortune, the XO-3 will be a 9-inch, Android-based tablet made by Marvell. It’ll have one or two cameras, Wi-Fi, and a multi-touch screen. It’ll also work with a plugin mouse and keyboard. Apparently it’ll be capable of playing HD video, too.

One of the benefits of this device is that it’ll be easier to support a variety of languages than was the case with the previous OLPC because of the physical keyboard. A virtual keyboard, on the other hand, can be switched, for example, to non-Latin characters on the fly.

The hardware is expected to cost $99 initially, but drop to $75 by 2011. Sounds pretty cheap, but at least one Asian manufacturer is planning Android-based tablet computers for $100-150, to be released by the second half of 2010.

Who knows? They might even have a similar deal as with the old OLPC, where you could buy two devices for a fairly reasonable price — by N. American standards — and one device would be given as a gift to a student in a developing country. If they manage the $75 price tag, I’m looking forward to getting a couple of these for my twin nieces — who were addicted to my iPad within minutes of trying it — as well as maybe contributing some.

Mobomo Mobisphere Roundup — May 26, 2010

pic-iClothing+iTee+iDressAT&T customers in New York City will be able to access free WiFi in and around Times Square. This is the company’s temporarily solution to data congestion. This will of course be great for New Yorkers with iPad WiFi-only models. Just don’t go near Yankee Stadium, as iPads are banned there since they’re being classified as laptops. On the other hand, if you do go to Yankee Stadium with an iPad, you might want to put on iClothing‘s iTee ($44.95) or iDress ($89.95), right, both of which have a pocket which will hold an iPad. Given how heavy the iPad is, I’m assuming the stitching on these clothing items is strong. Let’s just hope stadium security doesn’t search your body.

Planning to travel and need worldwide Internet data plan? XCom Global is offering unlimited data in any of 21 countries, including USA, Canada, Mexico and the UK, for $14.95-17.95/day. Access is provided through either a USB broadband stick or a Novatel MiFi. Sounds expensive, but apparently Vodafone’s rates, which are by the megabyte, could be considerably higher if you plan to be online a lot.

Unlocked smartphones are in enough demand that AT&T will provide unlocks for most of their handsets, with the exception of the iPhone, thanks to the pre-trial settlement of a class-action lawsuit.

The Android-powered Dell Streak 5″ slate computer/ GSM phone launches in the UK in June. It has two cameras (to support video chat), amongst other features. The device, which was formerly known as the Mini 5, will make its U.S. appearance in late summer. I don’t know; this former factor seems a bit large to use as a phone, unless you utilize the speaker or earbuds.

Android-based smartphones are selling at about 100K units per day, though given there are over 60 different handsets, that’s not too surprising. What is surprising is that Android phones outsold iPhones in the U.S. in Q1 2010.

If you think the iPad is too costly, take note $100-150 Android-based tablets could hit the market by the second half of 2010. While I think Apple will drop the price of the iPad next year when newer models come out, I doubt they’ll go as low as they devices, which will be powered chips from Via Technologies. I’ll have seven, please — one for each day of the week.

Mobomo Mobisphere Roundup — May 24, 2010

pic-white-iphone-4thgen

There’s been yet another “leak” of a possible prototype of the 4th-gen Apple iPhone. A photo (above) shows both a black and a white phone with larger screens. Given all the rumors and SDK evidence, it seems obvious that the OS 4 iPhone will have video calling and the larger screen resolution necessary to pull that off.

Fortunately, in just 2 weeks, all the speculation will be put to rest when Apple’s 5-day WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference) kicks off on Jun 7th. Steve Jobs will start the event off with a keynote address to over 5,000 developers at the sold-out event. There’s an email circulating around the Web that’s supposedly from Jobs telling someone that “you won’t be disappointed,” in reference to what he’s probably planning to announce at the conference. I.e., probably the new iPhone, other features of the new SDK, and a mention of the countries where the iPad will by then be available.

What Jobs might not know is the new but celebrated iPad hasn’t only been banned in some countries but also in New York’s Yankee Stadium of all places. Apparently the stadium’s security policy considers the iPad to be in the laptop category, and laptops are not allowed in the stadium.

Has anyone told Yankee Stadium security that even the TSA (Transportation Safety Authority) differentiates between iPads and laptops? That’s actually a very disappointing fact. If more venues ban iPads, then carrying a tablet computer around might not become a common practice. I carry my iPad with me wherever I go, almost without fail. Now if I’m driving, I could always leave my iPad hidden somewhere, but if I’m walking or taking public transit — which is very likely in New York — then what am I supposed to do with it? Considering London will have full Wi-Fi access for the 20102 Olympics, I’m guessing they won’t be banning the iPad at venues there. Well, given that many Apple stores are sold out of the iPad, especially the 3G model, I’m guessing not a lot of people are going to be worried about this sort of ban, at least for now.

Is Apple stealing the market? Google announced last week that they were shutting down their online store and now Nokia is closing their flagship New York store. The Chicago store, on the other hand, is not closing. Wait a minute; doesn’t New York have a larger population than Chicago? Wouldn’t it make more sense to do the closing the other way around?

AT&T just got the Palm Pre Plus, but they’re charging $150 for it despite Verizon’s lower price. However, if you’re a new AT&T customer, you can get the phone for $50, but without the free Palm Touchstone charging dock. AT&T’s Pixi Plus will be available Jun 6th, to join the new AT&T Palm Pre Plus. The free Touchstone charge deal doesn’t apply to the Pixi Plus [Engadget]. If you get any smartphone from AT&T, be forewarned that they’ve increased the early termination fee from $175 to $325, effective Jun 1st — whether you’re a new subscriber or renewing your service.

The U.S. FTC finally approved Google’s purchase of mobile ad network AdMob Inc. While it took them six months to approve, the decision was partly to do with Apple’s own purchase of ad network Quattro Wireless. If I’m not mistaken, Apple’s purchase will result in their iAd network, announced at the same event earlier this year where Steve Jobs revealed some of the features that iPhone OS 4 would have.

The iPad might have a very long lasting battery but most smartphones seem to fizzle out in just a couple of hours of use. For example, the Palm Pre Plus I bought for it’s Mobile Hotspot feature (to power my WiFi-only iPad), has a battery that dies long, long before the iPad. But Google’s Larry Page recently said that if your Android-powered device isn’t lasting a day, there’s something wrong with your apps.

Mobomo Mobisphere Roundup — May 21, 2010

This is a stream-of-consciousness roundup of news in the mobile platform space from the past week. It covers Apple, Palm, Android and the mobile platform in general.

iPad sales in 2010 in the U.S. might hit 8M units, up from a previous estimate of 5M units [MacRumors]. Obviously, the international release is going to play a big factor in this, but at least iPad apps are now available internationally [Engadget]. Tablet devices in general could go from 7.6M units in 2010 to 46M units in 2014, according to IDC research [IDC]. To qualify as a “tablet” in IDC’s research, a mobile device must have a 7-12 inches in diagonal screen size and have no physical keyboard. IDC compares that figure to the nearly 400M portable PCs that they expect will ship in 2014. Also noteworthy is that while U.S. Mac sales were up nearly 40% [Fortune] in April 2010, iPads are outselling Macs [All Things Digital], are nearing iPhone sales levels, and are taking away iPod sales [Silicon Alley Insider].

iPad and general tablet device sales might be up, but DisplaySearch says that 376M touchscreen phones shipped in 2009 [Mobile Entertainment News]. Gartner Research says that mobile phone sales worldwide grew 17% in just Q1 2010 [Gartner]. With this rapid sales growth, it’s a bit refreshing to know that an extensive study does not conclusively tie cell phones to cancer [Bloomberg BusinessWeek]. Though unfortunately that doesn’t mean they don’t [Mobile Burn]

The number of Android-powered devices that Google is activating daily has increased from 30,000 last year to 100,000 now [TechCrunch]. Other news: there are now over 50K apps in the Android Marketplace, and with Google officially announcing Android 2.2 (Froyo) [MobileCrunch], that will increase. A couple of welcome changes with 2.2 include Internet tethering for carriers that choose to support it, and the ability to install apps on the SD card [PC World]. Google’s Android 3, aka Gingerbread, will be released in Q4 2010 [MobileBurn], thought it might actually be numbered as 2.3 or 2.5.

Adobe has revealed Flash 10.1 for Android-based mobile devices [Mashable], with the intent of showing Steve Jobs he’s wrong, that Flash can work smoothly on mobile phones [BusinessWeek]. Jobs’ issues with Flash is that it’s slow, power hungry, not touchscreen-enabled, and would cause mobile apps to crash. Now if they succeed in proving their point, and Jobs’ does rescind his ban, it still might be a year before iPhone OS devices get Flash, if ever. (Rumor is that Apple Mac computers will also stop supporting Adobe Flash, which is a serious disappointment to me as an Apple products owner and tech evangelist. While the fact is that Flash does crash regularly on both my PC and Mac, I’d still like the choice to view Flash-enabled Web sites, considering Hulu has yet to adopt the HTML5/ H.264 video format.)

Hybrid Smartphones: Android on iPhone Devices?

Sounds crazy, but a couple of mobile developers have managed to successful port the Google Android mobile OS to iPhone devices. One of them even has a dual-booting system, and should be releasing a version for iPod Touch. The only drawback is that you’d have to do something to your mobile device that Apple says is a no no: jailbreak it. But the experiments developers have been doing on iPhone OS devices, including iPad, just goes to show that Apple is dumbing down the capabilities, but for what purpose, I’m not sure. Why have a device with certain features that most owners will never access? Or is it a way for Apple to test what people might want in the future, since jailbreakers tend to be extremely tech savvy power users, whose activities hint at desirable features?

[Via: The Next Web]