Tag Archive | "social networking"

Google Plus is for Mobile

I’ve been spending a lot of time, probably too much time, testing the first iteration of Google Plus and I’m fairly certain where I think it will take root. Google Plus will be the social network of the mobile world.

Given a few changes that I’m sure will surface soon (bi-directional connectors to Facebook and Twitter for example) I predict that this tool is likely to end up baked into the Android phone and tablet operating system soon and will therefore make Android the first mobile product to have a complete, single-vendor toolset for the most popular internet based mobile activities.

Gtalk +video (Instant messaging)
Gmail (Mail)
Plus (Social networking)
Reader (RSS)
Maps (Location search and Navigation)
Documents (Basic office doc creation and storage)
Google Print (print from mobile)
Latitude (Location tracking)
Picasa (Instant Image storage)
YouTube (Instant video storage)
Blogger (Blog creation)
News and Weather
Voice and SMS

A few I missed (Thanks Beantin, comments)



Of course you’ll have to endure the advertising but that doesn’t seem to worry too many people and with the location component of Plus giving Google important data, could get better, especially if they introduce ‘interest’ circles.

There isn’t another operating system out there, either on desktop or mobile, that can offer this.

Android is currently being activated by 500,000 accounts per day. That’s a huge number of potential Plus users even if Android doesn’t get any more popular.

Google Plus is already the best mobile social network in my opinion but with the addition of the rest of the toolkit, will there be any need to install 3rd party solutions at all?

Thoughts on improving Plus: http://hiblue.carrypad.com/2011/07/03/ideas-for-google-plus/

Posted, possibly while reclining, with the Galaxy Tab 7

Buzz on Maps Brings it Together. (Demo Video)

image Not quite mobile computing but interesting anyway is Google’s Buzz. Its an extension of their social circle features and integrates messaging, timeline, media into mail and other Google apps. I won’t go over it in detail because there’s a ton of information and discussion already out there but I do want to talk a little bit about the Buzz layer on Google Maps for Mobile because at the same time as releasing the new feature on Gmail, Google also updated their maps clients to include Buzz features. You could argue that Nokia’s Ovi Maps and Ovi Contacts already have these features and that there are other apps and services out there that let you do this but I’m seeing at least the potential for some major integration across Google products here that, given their user base, will blow away the competition.

I’ve made a video demo with the N82 and the Omnia Pro which you’ll see below and personally, I think it’s exciting to finally see location, search, public multi-media messaging and threaded public discussion being pulled together on a map with my pre-existing ‘social circle’ in this way. I always thought Google Latitude had good underpinnings in terms of privacy and  ‘friending’ but it never took off and although Buzz doesn’t seem 100% connected to Latitude’s idea of multi-tiered and friend-dependant privacy, it’s clear that Google could make the final connections very easily. Linking search, local friends, local events, photography in a live, localised way like this seems to have way more potential than the simple 140 character smart-bomb option.

There are still some things missing though. A client app would be nice but I assume that Tweetdeck and many of the other multi-protocol social messaging apps out there will link in soon and either Google Mail for Mobile or Gtalk will probably evolve along with Google Maps for Mobile. There’s also a lack of ability to embed the live maps and message stream in other places. The ability to ‘friend’ someone from the Maps Mobile app is also missing and of course, using GPS, 3G, maps, screen, GPU and GPU is going to KILL your smartphone battery life! Clearly a secondary device, something like the Dell Mini 5 with Buzz application is going to be better if you need to use this more than an hour a day.

It’s early days but I can see a lot of potential here. The ability to see local ‘buzz’ is just great and combined with local friend notification (already in Latitude) and event / threshold  alerting, this is going to be a great step forward for mobile communications capabilities. Whether people latch on to the idea i another matter but in a quick test with my wife this morning, she seemed happy to add ‘the Buzz’ to her familiar and often-used Google Maps application.  I can’t say the same introducing her to twitter and this could be the major advantage for Google; familiarity.

Although my Gmail hasnt been enhanced with Buzz yet (expected in the next few days here in Germany) I’ve been testing out the features from Maps Mobile. My ‘stream’ is here.

Mobile Microblogging Devices. A List that Doesn’t Include Intel.

Back in Feb, I listed a set of devices that should be high on your list if you’re thinking about mobile microblogging. It included MIDs and UMPCs. As the market for mobile social networking, mobile web search, mobile content creation, location based services and lifestreaming (my rough definition of Mobile Microblogging) gathers steam we’re seeing more and more devices coming into the segment and it’s mainly from the smartphone sector. UMPCs and MIDs aren’t getting a look-in. In fact, in my latest list, below, you won’t find a MID or UMPC.

Smartphones with bigger, higher resolution screens and high-end processors are appearing on the radar almost every week. Smartphone-based mobile software development is increasing too as more and more mobile device application stores tempt developers with easy-to-use, rich SDKs and APIs, a channel that reaches right down to millions of users devices and a good cut of any earnings.

ringoffieWhat’s really interesting about the Mobile Microblogging phenomenon is that very little software development is happening for today’s Intel MIDs, the very devices that were targeted into this segment. Intel have stopped work on the Moblin OS for them and they’re effectively UMPCs. You could even argue that there are no Intel MIDs any more! They are being totally left behind in both software and hardware until Intel push the reset button when Moorestown MIDs with Moblin hit the market. Until then, it’s desktop operating systems for MIDs and UMPCs.

You won’t find an easy-to-use, small-screen, GPS-enabled search service on Windows. You can’t even link Google Maps to a GPS on the browser. Forget the thought of a compass helping with augmented reality, an accelerometer, an FM receiver with RDS or, if you’re into internet photography, a half-decent snapshot camera. There’s no application store either. Only on smartphones will you find the creative software and hardware that is driving the mobile microblogging market and making it exciting, fresh, competitive and, quite frankly, desirable.

Moblin-based MIDs do have a chance as do Maemo 5 based devices but you won’t find any on the market yet so it’s going to take time for the developers to warm to those platforms. Come back in 2010 to discuss that!

Apple and Android have done a lot for the new generation of mobile internet devices and usage scenarios and so it should be no surprise to see smartphones dominating this Mobile Microblogging segment to the point where UMPCs and MIDs don’t get a look-in. UMPCs and Netbooks still have big  advantages for general purpose, day-to-day productive computing but if mobile creativity is your thing, there’s nothing better than the new generation of smartphones.

One could argue that smartphones have grown into the MID segment but for me it was always about usage scenarios rather than device categories. As Intel said, communication, location, entertainment and productivity. It’s a shame that Intel’s MIDs aren’t living up to their own hype yet. (see my recent Moorestown article for thoughts about 2010)

(continued on next page…)

How Location-Based Services could help ARM-based MIDs

Location-based services are an exciting and interesting area of mobile computing. Carriers, advertisers, developers and consumers all seem to understand the potential and as social networking grows in popularity, these services could be big sales drivers.  If these services become deciding factors for consumers in the mobile device space, mobile platforms that don’t support them will clearly suffer.  Leading mobile platforms like the iPhone, Blackberry, Android, Maemo and Symbian that are all based on ARM cores have a big head start over x86-based operating systems and it’s looking likely that it will stay that way.

Consider these points.

1 –  It’s likely that nearly every high-end mobile phone will have GPS built-in within the next 24 months. ABI predicts 90% of smartphones will have GPS by 2014. Most early adopters in the Internet space are likely to have a phone with a GPS in the next 12 months, if not already. Nokia are planning to have nearly all N and E-Series phones with GPS within the next 2 years.

2 – Apart from the small numbers of deployed GPS modules on PCs, UMPCs and MIDs, developing applications on a PC that integrate smoothly with GPS remains difficult. Consumers can not be expected to enter COM port and baud-rate details into their software configurations.

3 – Broker services. Why use a local GPS modules on a PC, even a mobile one, when a broker service (like FireEagle ) can not only provide your location to all your cloud-based services but also back to your PC-based app? Because of the PC-based development problem identified above,  social networking clients on PC’s will probably take this ‘least-effort’ route in order to tag microblogs and media with location.


There are of course reasons why you might want GPS on your PC.

1 – Your PC is used for real-time GPS data. (Turn-by-turn navigation, tracking and data collection.) This applies to ultra mobile PC users and CarPC users. Broker services would have too much latency for real-time services. Specific applications and target markets will continue to exist.

2 – Your PC is not connected to the Internet and therefore can’t use a broker service.

3 – Why not? GPS modules are cheap.

The clear likelyhood is that the software developers will continue to focus their LBS efforts on smartphone platforms due to the ease of access to GPS information and the number of GPS-enabled devices out there. There are one or two options for X86-based platforms though. Geoclue and Moblin teams are working on getting this LBS issue resolved for the Intel-based MIDs but they need to work quickly. An Android port could also seed interest in the x86 platform for these applications.

Does this mean that the smartphone wins? Not yet. There are problems that need to be addressed because GPS-enabled applications are dynamic, require a lot of cpu power and a lot of screen space. Mobile phones are low-powered (in terms of CPU and online/gps battery life) and have small screens which make them less than ideal despite their GPS-friendly operating systems. This is why MIDs will come along to satisfy the need for larger screens, larger batteries, keyboards and higher processing power. Significantly, for LBS developers, they will come in both x86 and ARM-based flavours so there will be no need for location-based software developers to change to a new architecture just to get round physical limitations of smartphones. The ARM-based MIDs will be there to fill that gap and provide the perfect platform, in terms of both hardware and software, for rich and dynamic LBS services.

If location-based services become successful it will give smartphone-based MIDs a huge head-start over X86-based MIDs. My personal feeling is that GPS-enabled social networking is going to be very important and is likely to drive sales of devices that support. X86-based MIDs are at a serious disadvantage.

Lists of location-aware software and services:

Are you involved with location aware software development? If so, are you interested in writing software for Moblin or ‘desktop’ operating systems or are you going to focus your efforts on mobile platforms? Which is your favourite mobile platform for location-aware software development?

Note: I haven’t covered triangulation services here as I believe that they only have a secondary role based on their closed architecture, inaccurate results and the proliferation of handset-based GPS modules and open broker services.

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