Tag Archive | Google

SIRI FOR ANDROID: Top Virtual Assistant Applications on The Android Market


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Since it’s premier as a core feature of the iPhone 4S, Siri as I outlined earlier, has got everyone talking. Not to be left behind, a plethora of applications has since taken the Android market, Google’s premier app store for devices running it’s flagship mobile (ok and tablets these days) operating system, Android, by storm.

Since last week I’ve downloaded and tested a couple of them that are available free for download on the Android Market (I haven’t yet spotted premium virtual voice assistants). Of all the apps I downloaded, 9 or so,  4 of them impressed me and I hereby give a quick insight on them.

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Windows 8 Out, Facebook And It’s Endless Redesigns, Google+ Rolls Out To The General Public


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The week started with the viral spread of the Developer’s edition and teasers of the new kid from Microsoft, the Microsoft Windows 8 operating system. I am yet to use the new OS but it is worth noting that I can’t wait for the personal edition to roll out. From my interaction with Windows 7 and Apple’s Mac OS X Lion, I am looking forward to using Windows 8. Oh! Windows 8 should be able to boot up in 8 seconds on a proper PC!

I ain’t done with Microsoft yet. The eagerly awaited products of its partnership with Nokia, phones running Windows Phone 7 (7.5) code named Mango, are set to debut early in the coming month. Let’s see what the highly hyped Mango brings to the high alter of competitive mobile phone operating systems. Can it beat Blackberry OS, iOS and Android?

Google+, the social networking service from search giant Google, finally rolled out to the general public on 20th. I have a very harsh review of Google+ and I’ll analyse it properly soon. With the public launch came added features on the Google Plus app for Android. It’s now possible to start hangouts on the android application. I’ve tried the updated G+ app(version 1.0.7) and it is well above the mark. Add the newly included features and those included in v1.0.6 like the ability to reshare posts and you have a nice app. The mobile site has also been tweaked and its great though alot can still be done.

The queen of sideshows and things to attract attention realized that she was getting old and got a redesign. Yes I am referring to Facebook, the dominant social network. In a major redesign, users can now subscribe( FB style of Twitter-like following) to receive updates from other people who they are not friends with. In other words, Mark Zuckerberg and company have made it easier for stalkers to be getting updates from you. There’s also the Tickle which updates posts and activities in real time. The profiles too got a makeover. People can also comment on Facebook pages they’ve never Liked. The introduction of a Twitter-like timeline just sucks. Of cause there was an overwhelming negative outcry but does Zuckerberg care about your hues and cries or the revenue from sponsoring and other corporates?

On the Kenyan twitterverse we call it iTorch, yet it is widely used in tweeting. I mean text-tweeting. Twitter seems to have learnt of user retention because it is now possible to send photos direct to your Twitter timeline using text messaging.

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Roundup


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Since my last commentary on the goings-on in technology and social media, a lot has happened. The happenings just can’t be water under the bridge. They are significant to all who keenly follow advancements in technology. Though these may be stale news by now, Here’s an overview.

Apple successfully got the Samsung Galaxy Tab sales banned in the European Union market due to what it terms as patent infringement. Apple has of late been on an offensive suing competitors by citing patent infringement and copyright violations. Apple has sued Samsung and Taiwanese phone maker,  HTC on the same grounds. The two companies have retaliated by also filing lawsuits citing patent infringement and copyright violations by Apple. Can’t these tech giants just get it right? There’s a lot to be done. It’s actually Apple who started this whole circus.  How things will end up is upto the courts to decid or agreements on out of court settlements. Whichever way things go, healthy competition must be encouraged. When there’s competition, superior devices emerge and consumers can look forward to more quality stuff. I am a great Apple fanboy but I must say Apple got it wrong here. Competition must be there. The iPad,  Apple’s flagship tablet computer and market leader in the tablet market had (and still has) a strong competitor in Samsung’s Galaxy Tab (7.7,10.1 and above). Baring competition in the name of patent infringement and copyright violations isn’t right. I know Apple is a darling of innovation and originality but the lawsuits aren’t the way to go.

This was big news. Google’s acquisition of Motorola came as a surprise. Google was prompted by the need to have a large patent portfolio under its control due to looming lawsuits from other industry players. Remember the Apple,  Samsung wars above? This acquisition of Motorola will also help Google in it’s push to dominate the smartphone and tablet market with its Android operating system.

Of course the biggest news in the tech world recently was the stepping down of the legendary and revolutionary co-father of the Macintosh computers, the CEO of the largest, richest tech company, Steve Jobs of Cupertino based, Apple Inc. His resignation from Apple, prompted by cancer is a big blow to all of us in the young generation who loved the way he officiated the product launches of Apple’s greatest and revolutionary devices of all time, the iPod, iPhone and iPad. His successor, the immediate former Chief Operating Officer of Apple, Tim Cook has very large shoes to wear. To succeed such a figure like Jobs is a once in a lifetime privilege but also a daunting task. I wish Cook the best and thank Jobs for his contributions in the world of computing.

HP finally threw in the towel and decided to halt production of its flagship tablet computer, the HP TouchPad running WebOS. This means just one thing, the domination of Apple’s iPad will continue.

Also posted at ECHENZE KENYA

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Social Media Today: The Wars


As I was cruising the web this morning I came across this pic on my G+ stream. Interesting isn’t it? Why are the tech giants fighting? Social media huh?

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Google+ Android App: Superb


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It’s just a week since I downloaded and installed the Google+ android application. It has not disappointed.

It may take sometime before the app finally appears on the android Market(the Market itself got a serious makeover early this week) but the apk file offered for free download on various android fan blogs is above blog. It comes readily with the handy and equally fascinating Hangouts feature. Thanks to this app, social networking will never be the same again. I’ve used the app on my android smartphone and it runs smoothly, it does not force close nor does it consume a lot of data(something which many android applications are known for). Therefore, for those of us in countries where data plans are still an elitist feature, the Google+ application is a God send. Compare it with the official Facebook app for android and you will know what I am talking about. Despite frequent force close issues, data drainage and total unreliability, the Facebook official app for android still has unnecessary delays with it’s chat client. All this is unheard of in the Google+ app.

For the Apple fanboys, fear not! The G+ app for the iPhone is out. The iPad one is yet to appear but it probably isn’t far.

I am not an employee of Google or their puppet but a good thing deserves a good rating. Whether Google+ will succeed as a social network is disputable but that the G+ app is a killer app for android phones is an open fact.

Also posted at ECHENZE KENYA

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Google+, Facebook Live Video Chat & Cloud Computing


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Last week search giant Google unveiled it’s new social network dubbed in various technology blogs as a potential Facebook killer, Google+. Earlier on, Google’s rival in the mobile phone operating system platform, Apple, had unveiled its new cloud service, iCloud. And just yesterday, another Google competitor, Facebook, launched live video chat powered by Skype. Ladies and gentlemen, the digital revolution is rolling while we witness.

I was not lucky to get a hands on experience with the products released by Google and Apple since I don’t have an iOS device to test the new cloud service(it rolls out to the general public later this year) nor was I lucky to get the few invites to test Google+ beta. However, I had the chance to try out live video chat on my Facebook profile. This is such an “awesome” product, just as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had described it prior to its official release. Of course I experienced some sound issues but I can blame those on my ISP and network related problems. I was having a conversation with a geek friend of mine, who was lucky to get an early invite to Google+, and he brushes away my great experience with Facebook video chat saying unlike it, which allows only one friend per chat, Google+ allows chat connections of upto 10 friends. Anyway who said I want to chat with ten people at a go? Of course Google+ is a great social network going by the positive reviews it has gotten from top bloggers, technology analysts and critics. Apart from the multiple friend video chat feature, Google+ also has a feature called Circles which allows one the privacy that Facebook has been missing, having your boss and weekend buddies on the same social network with each only seeing the appropriate content without going through the tedious process of manually creating friend lists. I have already spotted the sleek, “killer” Google+ android application and I just can’t wait for the public roll out of the great social network from the makers of my favourite mobile operating system, Android!

Turning to the cloud, everyone is talking about “the cloud” these days. I have been using a couple of cloud services on my android device and there’s no lying that this is the future of computing more so in terms of data storage. How secure the data stored in the cloud is is another discussion altogether(remember the Sony PlayStation network and Qriocity service hack?) but the advantages are enormous. Let my brothers and sisters using iOS devices gladly look forward to the rolling out of iCloud and the new iOS 5. For us in Android the seamless syncing of our contact lists, Gmail, Google Music and cloud tied service applications like m-Spot, Netqin antivirus, Dropbox etc we are also enjoying the benefits that come with emerging trends in the technology world.

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Social Media Day Kenya


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That social media is big in Kenya is no doubt. That it has changed the lives of many Kenyans is clearly visible. Today is Social Media Day in Kenya and although most mainstream media houses have shunned publicizing the day, it did not go unnoticed.

Twitter was buzzing with #SMdayKE and #SocialMediaDayKenya tweets from the thousands of Kenyan Twitter users who have left a mark in the social media service. Of course we don’t need any survey to determine the social media kings in East and Central Africa. Kenya leads the pack. Kenyan application developers have kept the Kenyan “Twitterverse” alive with customized local clients. Heads up to all of them.

My previous blogpost focused on Chief Justice Mutunga’s entry into social media. That should tell any skeptics how big, important and influential social media is in Kenya. It has transformed our lives in ways never seen before. To start with, the Finance Minister posted the budget estimates on his Facebook page a day before the formal reading of the budget statement in Parliament. Before then, he had requested for Kenyans input in the budget making process and Kenyans, for the first time, tweeted their thoughts and suggestions. A noticeable example is that of the Kenyan who tweeted requesting the scraping of filing tax returns at KRA for single salaried employees. The Minister did just that! That’s a very positive stride.

Today, all media houses in Kenya engage widely on social media. Newspaper publishers are using Facebook and Twitter to drive massive traffic to their news websites. TV stations are widely engaging their viewers on social media. Corporates are interacting with their clients on social media. Even top government parastatals like utility service providers have embraced social media.

There was the #KenyaFeb28 initiative whose success can be widely attributed to social media. Thanks to Facebook groups, pages and Kenyans on Twitter, the day turned out to be a major event that brought out the patriotism of Kenyans on social media platforms.

Coincidentally, Kenya’s social media day comes only a day after search giant Google unveiled its new social networking service, Google+. Whether it will succeed in Kenya and make inroads the way Facebook and Twitter have managed to or it will sink into oblivion like Google Buzz and Google Wave, only time will tell.

Of course there are many social media platforms, some startups, some on their death beds(MySpace, Friendster etc) and others that serve several purposes like exclusive photo sharing, video sharing etc.

YouTube is one service that has been phenomenal in Kenya. Today, missing a popular TV show like Churchill Live(which sadly ended today. Season three should come soon), Capital Talk, Bulls Eye, Kukurukakara etc isn’t much stressful, YouTube has it all.

Today, not embracing social media at an individual or organizational level is suicidal. Social media is here to stay, it is part and parcel of us.

Happy Social Media Day!

Also posted at ECHENZE KENYA

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