Football Frenzy – Apps for iPhone, Android and Windows Phone

With the UEFA Champions League and Europa Cup Finals just around the corner and with the FIFA World Cup just a month away, here’s a few apps that are must haves to keep track of the news and updates.

 

Forza Football

Forza FootballForza Football recently underwent a transformation, with a new name (it was formerly called Live Score Addicts), new icon and with a news section added in. It’s the app that I use, and it’s a brilliant, must have app.

You can control the update rate, from an addict friendly 5 seconds to a battery friendly 180 seconds. You can select leagues, teams and tournaments to follow, and it’ll even suggest the league and teams based on your location during initial setup. This includes almost every league and tournament in the world along with international competitions. You can customize what updates you want: Cards, Goals, Game start/half-time/full-time notifications and other events. You have league tables, player stats and much more. But the best part has to be the fact that you can mute notifications for a preset time period or during the nights.

Check them out over at footballaddicts.com

Get the app for iOS and Android (sorry Windows Phone folks):

Download from iTunes

‎Forza Football
‎Forza Football
Developer: FootballAddicts
Price: Free+

Download from Google Play

 

ESPN FCESPN FC

ESPN recently launched an updated app for the World Cup and certain leagues and clubs. It also has video highlights, which unfortunately, is US only.

The Leagues that are supported so far include the top English, German, French, Mexican and American leagues (and a few more), along with the top tournaments. You can get play-by-play updates, match analysis, transfer news bits and more.

Download from iTunes

Download from Google Play

Sorry Windows Phone users. You could try out ESPN Sportscenter:

 

FIFA

When in doubt, get the official app from the governing body itself: the official FIFA app. You get coverage of pretty much all the leagues and cups. I was quite surprised when the app turned out to be actually nice.

Apart from the news, game schedules and scores, the app also has a section outlining FIFA’s various initiatives.

Again, sorry windows phones fans, the app is iOS and Android only. For some weird reason, they don’t have an universal iOS app.

FIFA for iPhone

‎FIFA - Fussball Nachrichten
‎FIFA - Fussball Nachrichten
Developer: FIFA
Price: Free

FIFA for iPad

FIFA für iPad
FIFA für iPad
Developer: FIFA
Price: Free

Download from Windows Phone Store

ScoreMobile FC

ScoreMobile FC, so far at least, has been the only app that I have found that exists on almost every platform. It’s available on iOS, Android, Windows Phone & Blackberry (10 and OS7). It even used to exist on Symbian, until Nokia shut down the Ovi Store (you could probably search for a .sis file, I haven’t linked to one since I am not sure which is the right forum to look at for Symbian nowadays). While the standard features (score updates, game events, match schedules, etc) are present on all platforms, there are limitations on some platforms, primarily when it comes to push notifications.

Get the apps:

Download from iTunes

Download from Google Play

Download from Windows Phone Store

For Pre Blackberry 10 Devices, get the app hereBB10 users, the app has been renamed and is now called theScore. Get it here.

LiveSoccer World Cup Edition

A relatively new app on Android, one that I have not extensively used, is LiveSoccer. Honestly, it’s Football, not Soccer. But the app works pretty well and has the main functionalities that one would expect, with notifications, match details, schedules & news.

Download from Google Play

Are there any apps on your platform of choice that should be here? Let us know in the comments below.

 Image Credit: Wikipedia

Samsung to Start Offering BBM services on their Galaxy Devices Soon

In what seems to have been ages back, Blackberry did announce that their BBM (Blackberry Messaging) services would come to Android devices. It wasn’t clear how they would be managing this yet. Now it looks like Blackberry is tying up with OEMs to bundle their BBM services for their devices.

Samsung is the first to announce that they’ll be offering the BBM app to users of their Galaxy Range of devices soon via the Google Play and Samsung App Store. According to Samsung’s Press Release, it looks like they’ll be rolling this out to their African customers first.

Apart from the fact that the BBM app is going to be free for Samsung customer, there’s no concrete dates on availability or if and when the rest of the world could get their hand on the BBM app. So soon BBM is going to go head to head in competition with other multi-platform messaging services like WhatsApp and the rest.

I’m not yet sure if this is a good strategy for Blackberry.  I know for a fact that a lot of people stick to Blackberry devices primarily for the BBM service, so would  unbundling BBM affect Blackberry’s sales? Let’s see where this leads.

via n4bb

Blackberry Launches the Blackberry Q5 in India for Rs. 24990

Sunil Lalvani, Managing Director, BlackBerry India unveiling the new BlackBerry Q5 in New Delhi
Sunil Lalvani, Managing Director, BlackBerry India unveiling the new BlackBerry Q5 in New Delhi

At a press event in New Delhi yesterday, Blackberry launched their next phone running on the BB10 platform, the Blackberry Q5.The Blackberry Q5, like the Q10 also features a QWERTY keyboard to complement the touch screen interactions on the phone. The Q5 should be available in India from the 20th of June at a price of around Rs. 24,990.

Sunil Lalvani, Managing Director for India at BlackBerry said, “The BlackBerry Q5 smartphone has a stunning youthful design that comes in exciting colors, and offers the full cutting-edge BlackBerry 10 functionality as well as access to the growing catalog of BlackBerry 10 apps. With its physical QWERTY keyboard and touchscreen, it gives customers the best of both worlds.”

Quick Specs

Blackberry Q5 India LaunchThe Q5 has a 3.1 inch touch-screen, with a resolution of 720 x 720 resolution, at 329 PPI. It’s powered by a Dual Core 1.2 GHz processor and comes with 8 GB internal storage capacity. The storage is expandable up to 32GB  via a microSD card. It’s powered by a 2180mAH non-removable battery, rated for up to 12.5 hours of talktime on 3G.

As we mentioned this device is running on the BlackBerry 10.1 operating system and comes with a physical QWERTY keyboard. The phone also features a 5 megapixel rear camera which is capable of capturing HD videos at 1080p, and a 2 megapixel front camera.  The Blackberry Q5 comes in Red, White and Black for the Indian market.

You can get the full specifications of the Q5 here. For more information on the Q5, head over to Blackberry’s Q5 page. Read on for the press release from Blackberry:

[divider_double]

Press Release

Bangalore – India, July 16, 2013– BlackBerry® (NASDAQ: BBRY; TSX: BB) today launched the newest BlackBerry® 10 smartphone, the BlackBerry® Q5 smartphone in India. The BlackBerry Q5 smartphone features a QWERTY keyboard in a stunning, youthful design that is confident and makes it easy for customers to have fun, create, share and stay connected.

Available in Black, Pure White and Pure Red color models, the BlackBerry Q5 smartphone offers a powerful and unique mobile computing experience with its cutting-edge BlackBerry 10 functionality. Features and apps work seamlessly together, allowing your every move to flow into the next. With its classic QWERTY keyboard re-engineered for optimized typing and its 3.1” touchscreen, the BlackBerry Q5 smartphone gives you the best of both worlds.

Sunil Lalvani, Managing Director for India at BlackBerry said, “The BlackBerry Q5 smartphone has a stunning youthful design that comes in exciting colors, and offers the full cutting-edge BlackBerry 10 functionality as well as access to the growing catalog of BlackBerry 10 apps. With its physical QWERTY keyboard and touchscreen, it gives customers the best of both worlds.”

The BlackBerry Q5 smartphone comes with the BlackBerry 10.1 software. As part of the BlackBerry 10 experience, a peek into the BlackBerry® Hub lets you stay close to what’s important to you without stopping what you’re doing. Create the perfect shot every time with BlackBerry Time Shift, and tell your story using BlackBerry Story Maker and share with friends on Facebook. Use BBM video and Screen Share, and discover local apps from a catalogue of over 120,000 apps available on the BlackBerry® World™ storefront.

The new BlackBerry Q5 smartphone is expected to be available from authorized retailers in India starting July 20th.

For more information on BlackBerry 10, please visit www.blackberry.com/blackberry10

About BlackBerry

A global leader in wireless innovation, BlackBerry® revolutionized the mobile industry when it was introduced in 1999. Today, BlackBerry aims to inspire the success of our millions of customers around the world by continuously pushing the boundaries of mobile experiences. Founded in 1984 and based in Waterloo, Ontario, BlackBerry operates offices in North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America. BlackBerry is listed on the NASDAQ Stock Market (NASDAQ: BBRY) and the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX: BB). For more information, visit www.blackberry.com.

What bothers me about Google trying to acquire WhatsApp

I don’t think WhatsApp requires any introduction since most of us are already on it and sending messages to friends and family using this app. Over the past few days, the news vine has been flooded with rumors that Google is looking at acquiring WhatsApp. Let’s first see why Google thinks this messaging platform is good for their product line.

What’s in it for Google?

Let’s start with what WhatsApp has to offer. They have a very popular platform with users from across the globe on a variety of platforms. They also have a hugely scalable application and infrastructure in place. In fact, did you know that during the New Year eve, they processed more than 18 billion message in a day! That goes to show how successful their existing platform is.  One reason for their popularity is the variety of smartphones and feature phones the app supports.

They are currently monetizing their platform, which means they are making money, whether it’s enough or not, they’re still able to rope in some cash. They charge a nominal annual subscription of 0.99 per year, and the industry estimates that they have around 200-300 million active users. The actual revenues may be less, given that they do give a year’s worth of free access to first time users. Nevertheless, if Instagram, a company with no revenue stream can be bought for around $1Billion, WhatsApp with their ability to monetize should command more. The question is whether Google actually needs this revenue?

Screenshot_08_04_13_11_48_PM

Google’s competitior, iOS from Apple already features a iMessage, which allows users to send unlimited text messages over WiFi, but this is limited to only iOS users and Google really needs something like WhatsApp preloaded  and integrated with Google’s platform on the Android to catch up with iOS. (Thanks to Cherian for pointing this out in the comment below)

Boosting Google’s sagging Social Network Portfolio

Google is looking at boosting their Social Network portfolio to compete with the likes of Facebook. Their Google Plus network and Hangouts are being used, but not at the scale Facebook operates at. Google still has a long way to go to get adoption on their platform. Even today I still don’t see many of my non-tech friends active on Google Plus, which means that I still have to keep in touch with them on Facebook.

To top it off, Google still doesn’t have a messaging system for the mobile. Of course, there’s Google Talk and Hangouts, but they are not really easy to use on the mobile, especially when one has to setup a predefined group and communicate with that group. There’s also the problem of cross-platform compatibility, chatting or hanging-out with friends who are on Blackberry, iOS, Android, Symbian and Windows Phone just doesn’t work seamlessly.

Even their biggest rival, Facebook was missing this aspect of social interaction on mobile, and they’ve been quickly and fervently working on bridging this gap. They’re now trying to promote downloads of their Facebook Messenger app which tried to integrate text messages along with Facebook Messaging.

So Google needs WhatsApp now!

Trouble Brewing?

Of course a lot can go right with WhatsApp if Google does agree to buy them out, but it’s what *can* go wrong which people should think about. Here’s some probable scenarios:

[divider]

  • Cutting out Platforms – Google could always decide that some platforms are not worth developing on and discontinue support for Symbian variant, Blackberry and who knows Windows Phone? Given the recent history with Google and Windows Phone, Google’s really not bothered about following their  ‘Don’t be evil‘ motto. I just don’t trust Google as much these days.
  • Deciding to Merge WhatsApp into a totally new App – People are used to their WhatApp! Google may just decide that their Messaging platform, Babel,  is better (even if it isn’t) and merge WhatsApp users over their new shiny app.
  • Leave WhatApp to rot in it’s current state with no more updates – This is a possibility if Google realizes that they don’t want to invest time and money in further development of this platform after they buy it. A classic example of this kind of move from Google is Feedburner, the feed distribution service. Google bought Feedburner, made a few minor updates over the years and now it’s rotting with no updates and users are awaiting Google’s decision to axe the service.
  • Close down WhatsApp – There have been a lot of news buzz of the recent decision from Google on discontinuing the Google Reader service. There are chances that WhatsApp can go down this route as well, leaving all users of the app stranded, and hopping to other similar apps.

[divider]

I just don’t want to loose my favorite Messaging Platform if and when they’re bought by Google. What are your thoughts on this? Do let us know by commenting below.

The Giant List of Text Messaging Replacement Apps – OTT Messaging

Depending on where you are and who your mobile service provider is, text messaging is either so cheap that you don’t worry about it or so expensive that you barely use it. Texting is still one of the most popular methods of communication though , which means someone somewhere is always on it. Of course, sending texts across continents and countries is still expensive.

There are ways around that though, if you’re willing to use your data connection of course. The benefits? Lower cost (especially if it’s an international message) and added features like pictures, videos and more. Of course, that requires an Internet service, and a mobile device that has the app available on it. Oh, and you need to have other people that use that app.

So here’s a list of quite a few of the so called OTT (over the top) text messaging replacement services, with the pros and cons of each.It isn’t a review of the app or service though, and it isn’t a complete list by any stretch. Let us know what we missed and we’ll get around to adding them to this list.

Whatsapp

Whatsapp is one of the oldest ones out there, and as such it’s got a wide base that it works on.

Pros – multi platform (available on everything except Bada. Oh, and Symbian UIQ). Yes, it supports S40 too (and they aren’t smartphones). Media transfer (photos, videos, contact info, Location Data). Group Messaging (upto 20 users per group). Simple setup and use (linked to your phone number, no other login needed).

Cons – Photos are down scaled. Videos have to be under 12MB. There is no confirmation of Message Read status (One green tick-mark is for sent, two is for delivered). Group messaging needs more features/controls (Quiet time for the really talkative groups, Better management of users in that group).

[button style=”5″ caption=”Whatsapp” link=”http://www.whatsapp.com/”][/button]

Kik

Kik was the app whose service supposedly pulled blocked by RIM and then got back onto the Blackberry Platform. It’s simple to use, it’s fast, it’s almost like BBM. And now it’s available on most major smartphone platforms.

Pros – Fast. Really Fast. Login with user created account, so the same account can be used simultaneously on multiple devices. Sent, Delivered and Read status (for those who want to track that). Available on iOS, Android, Symbian, Blackberry and Windows Phone. Has plugins (like sketchee) for more functionality.

Cons – User Created account (now that’s another thing you have to remember). Group Messaging controls. The Symbian app is quite limited at the moment, and there is no S40 app.

[button style=”5″ caption=”Kik” link=”http://kik.com/”][/button]

Ebuddy XMS

Ebuddy has been around for a while as a web and mobile based IM client. XMS is their take on the OTT messaging service.

Pros – Multi Platform (Windows Phone, Symbian, iOS, Android, Blackberry & J2ME). Group Messaging. Media Sharing. Facebook Login to setup the account and pull in contacts. Web version available.

Cons – Broadcast option is missing.

[button style=”5″ caption=”Ebuddy XMS” link=”http://www.ebuddy.com/”][/button]

PingMe

 PingMe is another messaging service that seems to focus more on interaction (Media Content) and on meeting new people.

Pros – Neat interface that brings Media content up front and centre. Group Messaging. Registration with just your phone number.

Cons – iOS and Android only (they dropped Blackberry and Windows Phone support a little while ago).

[button style=”5″ caption=”PingMe” link=”http://pingme.net/”][/button]

Hookt

Hookt has been around for a couple of years now, has a few common features present in the other platforms (Group Chat, Stickers, Emojis), but it has two “features” that kind of set it apart. A) It syncs across platforms (send a message on one device, platform, it’ll be there on all the others that have your account). B) Desktop and Mobile Web Support (handy for platforms that aren’t supported)

Pros – Unique ID. Syncs across Platforms (Supports iOS, Android and Blackberry (Not BB10), desktop and mobile web.

Cons – No Windows Phone Support.

[button style=”5″ caption=”Hookt” link=”http://www.hookt.com/”][/button]

ChatON

ChatON is Samsung’s own cross platform messaging service, that has a lot of the features that other services have, including cross platform sync. It also has the ability to create an animated message or picture. It seems to have a little bit more detailed profile management, kind of like a Social Network (no it isn’t one)

Pros – Unique ID. Syncs across Platforms (Supports iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone, Certain Samsung Non-Smartphones, and desktop. Animated Messages.

Cons – No ability to actually manage notification tones (I could not find a way to turn off the tone!). Clunky interface (there are a lot of features, you just have to find them).

[button style=”5″ caption=”ChatON” link=”https://web.samsungchaton.com/”][/button]

Wechat

WeChat is one of the newer entrants. It’s developed by Tencent. The service has grown massively of late, mostly in China and South East Asia.. It has apps on most platforms (No BB10 yet) and a couple of things that it has over the others are Video Chat and what it calls “Drift Bottle” – you literally throw your message out there and wait for someone to pick it up. It’s also one of the fastest growing services, in Asia at least.

Pros – Sign in using phone number of Facebook Connect. Find Friends from FB. Symbian, Android, Blackberry (no BB10 yet), iOS, Windows Phone and Web clients.

Cons – No timestamps, delivery notifications & read reports.

[button style=”5″ caption=”Wechat” link=”http://www.wechat.com/en/”][/button]

Line

Line is a service by Japanese company Naver and it’s got everything but the kitchen sink! It’s available for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry (No BB10 yet), for the Mac, Windows and Windows 8. Apart from the usual messaging, it has other services available (some as in-app purchases), like audio calling, video and audio messages, social gaming, stickers and more. In Japan, it has more active users than facebook!

Pros – Sign in using phone number or email. Android, Blackberry (no BB10 yet), iOS, Windows Phone, Mac, Windows/Windows 8 clients, Sync’chats across clients. Free calling, Audio and Video messages, Stickers, games

Cons – Only one smartphone can be used for a registered user (you can use it on one device and on a Mac/Windows computer).

[button style=”5″ caption=”Line” link=”http://line.naver.jp/en/”][/button]

Kakaotalk

Kakotalk is like a Korean version of Line, and it’s been around for a long time now. Just like Line, in Korea, it has more active users than Facebook. It has clients for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry (No BB10 Yet) and Bada. It also has other add on services like Kakaopoll, Kakaolink, etc, adding even more modes of interaction. It does not have a desktop client however.

Pros – Sign in using email. Android, Blackberry (no BB10 yet), iOS, Windows Phone, Bada clients. Free calling, Audio and Video messages, Stickers. Pin lock for chats.

Cons – No Desktop Client. Only one mobile number per account.

TU Me

TU Me is an example of a service created by an operator (Telefonica) to catch up with the rest of the OTT service (which operators supposedly hate because of the loss of revenue from text messaging). And on first glance, they’ve done a good job of it. It looks good, has quite a few features and most importantly, you do not have to be a Telefonica customer to use it. It’s iOS and Android only for now, but hopefully it’ll soon get on other platforms. They let you store your chats for a year, after which you have to pay to keep your chat history.

Pros – Sign in using phone number. Audio Calls, Voice and Video messages.

Cons – Android and iOS only. Pay for storage and usage after a limtied period.

Viber

Viber isn’t specifically a messaging service; it started off as a VOIP service which you use to call other Viber users over WiFi or your devices’ data network (kinda like skype). It has had messaging for a while now though, and it doesn’t have much (Group chat for instance), but it does work well with what it’s got. It has clients for iOS, Android, Bada, Windows Phone, Blackberry (no BB10), Symbian and even s40 (like whatsapp).

Pros – Sign in with phone number. Free calling to viber users, messaging & stickers.  iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone, Bada, Symbian and s40 clients.

Cons – No Group Messaging

Moped

Moped is a startup from Berlin thats aims to rethink instant messaging from the ground up. Moped lets you send IM’s over phone as well as your computer. Available on both Android and iOS platforms, Moped allows you to share messages and pictures privately or in a group in a very twitter-y fashion. You’ll need a twitter account to sign up and and can incorporate #tags, and @’s in your messages. Users can receive messages on their mobile devices, desktops or by e-mail. Moped also comes built in with a very instagram type  functionality –  a series of photo filters for for enhancing photo sharing. With dropbox integration and a chrome extension, Moped is trying very hard to cover all bases between mobile and the desktop.

Pros – Access IM’s over mobile, desktop & email, hashtag and @(mention) integration, Chrome extension to share content with Moped contacts.

Cons – only twitter login, no WP client

Jongla

Jongla is different from the others for one main reason: the target audience. It’s targeted at kids. Well, 15-20 year olds. It’s got most of the “fun” features from the other apps; stickers, etc.

Pros – Stickers, Web Login.

Cons – iOS, Android and Web only. Beyond stickers, there’s no other “fun” content sharing options.

Hike

Hike is another example of a service created by an Operator (India’s Bharti Telecom and Japan’s Softbank telecom provider) to try and catch up with the rest of the crowd. A standard IM client with one extra feature, 100 Free SMS/user/month for those times when you have flaky internet connectivity.

Pros – All platform IM client(BB coming soon), 100 free SMS/month and other rewards and incentives for stuff like connecting with you Facebook and twitter accounts

Cons – very low user base

Relay

Relay is all about the GIFs. It lets you share animated content from your own gallery, or you can search the web and send animated content to your buddies. Unfortunately, it’s an iOS only app.

Pros – GIFs! Animated!

Cons – iOS only.

GroupMe

GroupMe has been around for a while now. It started off as a messaging app with the focus being on creating groups and staying in touch with them (set up a group when you’re out at an event or conference, with people you have as contacts and others). It recently got updated with some really neat features, including what they call “Split”. You can track the expenses in each group, or add expenses and have others chip in. It also lets you message people who do not have the app, say, someone without a smartphone. It just sends them a standard text message that they can reply to. GroupMe is meant to be a bit more serious, at least when you compare it to some of the other clients out there. It is owned by Skype after all. Which in turn, is owned by Microsoft.

Pros – Sign in online. Manage and edit groups from any device or from the web. iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry (no bb10) and Web clients. Texts sent to phones that do not have the client. Split – expense tracking and management per group.

Cons – Focus on Group messaging (can’t really be counted as a con though).

Yoke

Yoke is similar to most other messaging apps, with stickers, scribbles (drawings), etc. It also allows you to edit your message if it hasn’t been read yet, and you can edit it upto 5 minutes after it has been read.

Pros – Sign in with phone number. Edit your chat. Avatars, Scribbles.

Cons – iOS and Android only.

Cubie

Cubie is a new entrant to the social messaging field. It tries to focus on the “fun” aspects of messaging, with a lot of features seen in Line, such as stickers, animations, etc. It does have a few unique features though, enabling you to create your own content, of sorts. You can sketch, edit photos, etc.

Pros – Sign in with phone number. Stickers, Create your own sketches, animations, customize the look of your chat.

Cons – iOS and Android only. Account can be used only on one device. Tied to one phone number, you’ll need to create a new account for a new phone number.

Image credit: rido / 123RF Stock Photo

The Blackberry Playbook a year later with a Blackberry fan

Playbook, at it’s debut, opened to widespread negative reviews. The overwhelming perception was that Research in Motion (RIM) was a sinking ship, with a battered stock and the wizards from Canada had taken a first shot at scaling up a brand new Operating System (OS). It didn’t conform to the crowd and leading lights of tech web sites who have dubious standards when it concerns “conflict of interests”.

Despite the hoopla, RIM has probably managed to garner about 3% of worldwide tablet market share. It could be better or worse, if someone decides to contest this claim, but there is a huge difference between what is “shipped” and actual sales. Something that Apple and Samsung are adept in “make believe” and cost accounting practises to charm the press about “millions” of sold inventory.

The electronics industry strongly believes in refreshing their brands; most of the users are probably unaware that the present day hardware is good enough to run the “latest” software. Most of them are also unaware that high prices being paid for the product are way beyond the actual costs of production and moving in to market after taxes. Invariably, early adopters are only paying for the advertising costs. That’s why the “price cuts” once the brand recall becomes easier.

With this humbling back ground, I got a brand new 64 GB Playbook, once it’s prices were slashed. I have owned a Blackberry for over two years now; a curve 3G followed by Bold 9790 which is arguably the best phone I have ever used. I was naturally tempted to look at the offering from RIM with it’s promise of Blackberry Bridge (more on that later) and looked forward to see how best it could be integrated in my daily work flow.

The new Blackberry (BB) operating system (OS) is based on QNX, which is highly resilient and secure embeddable system with it’s own custom user interface (UI). It is here that it wins the contest hands down. Traditional marketing of Playbook has not focused on the cores of processor, the build quality or it’s display. To me, it doesn’t matter. Because the present day quad cores would not caress your hands (or ears) while using the instrument; it’s more of a marketing gimmick and it’s bound to be resource hungry when at the most you’d be using your phone to either make calls, text or play occassional Angry Birds. Quad core for Angry Birds? Seriously?

It’s the 7 inch screen and the form factor that’s the icing on the cake. It’s big enough to be held in hands, a bright screen display that can be easily read in direct sunlight and slides in my jeans back pocket. For those coming from Android or Apple world, it would be a little confusing to see a physical volume and power button. Rest of the tablet is entirely gesture based. It’s here where RIM holds it’s trump card. It’s deceptively simple without making it overtly complex.

The OS boots up in about a minute and a half during the time it displays wonderful fractals. If you have password locked the device (which is a good security practise), once you boot in the main screen, you are good to go. I have the basic Wifi model (the 4G LTE isn’t launched in India as yet) which has been discussed here.

The fun starts with Blackberry Bridge which is connection to your existing Blackberry Mobile through encrypted Bluetooth. With a huge OS update recently, it’s easy to access the text messages (in addition to emails, contacts, memo pad, Blackberry Messenger and Calendar). At times, when I need to access the Internet, I don’t have to tether it but rather use the “Bridge Browser” (the browser on the phone) through Playboook with the added advantage of bigger screen. This avoids the extra charges of Internet tethering. Further, bridge allows me to access files on Blackberry and Blackberry Messenger. The predictive text input is so far the best I have seen on the touch screens (though personally I prefer the physical keyboard on my Bold 9790).

The front and rear camera shoots in high definition beauty; stills as well as video. However, the human eye is sufficiently adept in distinguishing the “fine lines” of high definition. If you are serious about photography, buy a camera instead! The sound output comes from its reasonably good speakers; the standard mic output (3.5 mm jack) when routed through my headphones (I recommend Denon), sounds fabalous. The inbuilt player plays most of the video and music formats with a loud sound output that can be enjoyed with a group of people huddled around it. Needless to say, Flash is in-built for web (how fast we move towards HTML 5 and flash agnostic world is anyone’s guess) and there is a dedicated You Tube app that plays HD videos flawlessly (depends on your connection speed). Oh yes, you can copy and paste too!

Despite the intense multi tasking (I open up multiple apps/screens/browser instances), I haven’t seen my tablet lag or go belly up. The only time I had to forcibly reboot is when I had sideloaded Android applications in developmental mode, when it “mis-behaved”.

There is a standard micro-HDMI slot, a charging port (that uses micro-USB plug) interchangeable through the Blackberry handsets and a connector dock for the keyboard. I haven’t been able to get this accessory, so I wouldn’t be able to comment on it.

Why do the platforms crow about “thousands”/million apps? Some of the apps are mere “launchers” for the browser to interact while some are clones of each other. How many Twitter apps would you need to do the same thing on your tablet? That’s why I am amused at the sheer number. While Apple restricts you on it’s ecosystem (and so does Bllackberry, in a way), RIM has decided to run encrypted apps in future update. I would be happy for the developer who ought to get suitably rewarded for the efforts made. More so, with newer developments in the way apps can be coded for RIM, it has become easier to translate your idea into a product (as testified by numerous “jam sessions” held by RIM across the world). Android has a lot of piracy, the market is full of malware and is inherently insecure. Although the updates promise to rectify this, it is a huge fragmented market. Apple (and to that effect RIM) ensures uniformity for updates and product lines but app for app, it’s far more profitable to develop for Blackberry.

I primarily use my tablet as a reading device (I use Instafetch) since there is no native application like Instapaper for Playbook. It gets my work done with fairly simple settings. I have an epub reader (which also reads chm files) which does the good job of reading e-books.

Native pdf support comes from Adobe Acrobat which is insipid. I prefer to use Quopa’s PDF Reader with some degree of pdf manipulation like highlighting across text which is preserved across platforms. I paid after using it for trial and it’s worth it. I read a lot of journal articles in pdf which translates in true value for money.

Apart from these two, I haven’t found anything else to increase the utility of my tablet. Lack of Skype support is a problem but I find my laptop reliable to be used for it. There is Video Chat built in, but you would need another Playbook to interact with it. I am told that the next Blackberry Messenger update would come with Video Chat support as well. It’s not that I am carrying an elephant or iPad magically makes me look good on the cam in any manner whatsoever. I have sideloaded Flipboard (which sets up a pretty interface for RSS feeds) but it’s just an interface. That adds nothing to my daily workflow and I have found it’s support pathetic. (The queries sent to their developers for native Playbook app remains unanswered even after 1 week). I access my feeds through browser on Newsblur which is what a RSS reader ought to be.

Apps or hardware specifications is a pissing contest; more like a rat race where the principal protagonists are just rats. Death of personal computing is highly exaggarated by journalists looking to stir a hornet’s nest, garner more eyeballs on their pithy web sites while acquiring a cult status promoting the new tablet as the next best thing to sliced bread. A tablet cannot be a replacement for a PC, as yet. It is as best, a supplement.

That’s where Playbook cuts through the flotsam and the fluff. It is what it takes a real tablet with adequate form factor and hardware specifications to shine through. Highly recommended.

 


Author Bio:

Dr. Berry, the pseudonym of a real life doc by profession, but a technophile in heart. He spends his free time dwelving in the world of technology. Loves BBM, but hates that some of his friends have to be reached through Whatsapp instead.

BlackBerry Users – Your Must Have Apps

Are you a BlackBerry lover who is pondering to get the best out of your Phone? If yes, then this is the right post for you. Though there are a lot of apps available in the market for which the developers charge, I have compiled a list of apps that might be a valuable one for you. Some are available for free while others are charged.

Check them out and give a try.

Dropbox – This is one of the best services ever which will allow you to have a back up and allows you not to email a file again. And, having Dropbox on your BlackBerry for absolutely free is probably a great thing. Moreover, it allows you to connect to what you consider to be more important and is considered to be a more secure and safe way of browsing files. Share your photos, documents and videos easily with this app from anywhere. Give it a try. [Link]

Evernote – Designed especially for taking notes and archiving, Evernote is easy to use and is available for free. Since it has a multi-platform, you can use it to make a note of whatever you think of. In the latest version, you can add an attachment with an existing note and remove the parts that are not necessary. Also, they are fast and have better power management. Check about the latest releases here. [Link]

Tripcase – Do you get stressed during travel? Though there are a lot of travel management apps available, what makes Tripcase unique is its capability of intelligent messaging. You can use the information in your itinerary in a more organized and efficient way. Also you can have a direct import of your itinerary information and the app will automatically update the itinerary if you do any changes to it anywhere and anytime. Also, find free flight alerts and alternate flights for the same day are made available in this app without the need of upgrading to a premium where you will have to pay to get this information. [Link]

Personal Assistant – This app is used by over 2 million people and recommended by a lot of people. Personal Assistant is an app that will help you in monitoring your transactions done with a credit card, reviewing your bill statements in a detailed manner, checking the balance of your account without requiring the need to enter the data. It allows you to have everything you are looking for and has a lot of extra options too. It can automatically synchronize with your online banking, travel accounts and bills in order to get track of your balance and transactions. And when you have lost your phone, all you will have to do is to deactivate your profile from pageonce.com. It is very simple to prevent unauthorized entry to your phone and the information logged on to it. [Link]

InstaPhoto – A picture says a lot more than words. And it feels even good when you share it with your friends in a social network. With a lot of preset effects available, InstaPhoto allows you to capture moments and customize it while sharing it in social media. [Link]

I am sure, the above apps, when installed by you on your BlackBerry, will make your life that tad bit easier.

eBay India’s Battle of the Gadgets report shows interesting Online Sales Trends

eBay India had recently shared with us the Ebay India Battle of the Gadgets report for Q2 (April to June 2012), which is a quarterly report with highlights on the online gadget purchase habits in India. The report shows us some interesting trends across four gadget categories which are Laptops, Cameras, Mobile Phones and Televisions across India. Of course, the data is based on purchases which take place through eBay India only.

When we metup with Mr. Abhimanyu Lal, Head – Category Management: eBay India, last week. He did share some interesting tidbits about ecommerce trends in India and some specifically about eBay. An interesting point which he made was the 90% of commerce taking place in India is attributed to Travel. That’s a whole lot of people travelling in India and booking tickets online!

About the Battle of the Gadget Report he said, ” Gadgets have always been very popular on eBay India. With our extensive range of gadgets across brands, models & budgets which enable our consumers to get easy access to the best deals & widest selection online, we see a great demand coming from consumers across metros, tier II and tier III cities. Interestingly, non metro consumers are actually shopping for more gadgets than metro consumers”.

On an average day in eBay here’s how the sales look like:

  • A mobile handset is sold every 3 minutes
  • A laptop is sold every 9 minutes
  • One Digital Camera every 19 minutes
  • A TV every 54 minutes
Samsung tops the eBay India Battle of Gadgets Rankings, with top sales across all the four gadget categories. For this post, we’ll limit our post to the Mobile Phone and Laptop category. If you’d like to look at the entire report, there’s a link to download the entire report at the end of this post.

eBay Battle of the Gadgets Methodology

From their Press Release: eBay India Battle of the Gadgets April- June 2012 research findings were based on an analysis of all gadget purchases by Indians on eBay India between April 1, 2012 and June 30, 2012. The research report showcases interesting trends of India’s Top Gadget Cities, Models & Brands across 4 popular gadget categories of Laptops, Cameras, Mobile Phones and Televisions.

 Mobile Phone Category

In the overall numbers, Samsung retains the lead with 26% market share followed by Nokia in second place and Sony in third. Sony saw a 104% increase in mobile phone sales from the last quarter, with the Sony Xperial Ray being the phone model which was the most purchased in the quarter. Delhi topped the sales in this segment.

Smartphones

In the Smartphone category, Sony surprisingly beat Samsung and the gained the top position with 34% marketshare, followed by Samsung, Blackberry and Apple in that order. Sony phones captured all top 3 places in this segment.

Some interesting facts in the smartphone segment is that the sale of the Samsung Note and Samsung Galaxy S2 is more than that of the Samsung Galaxy S3. Even the HTC One X outbeat the Galaxy S3 in sales. That goes to show that pricing still does play a crutial role even in the top end of the smartphone segment. HTC with their new launches managed to increase their transactions by 10 times.

Dual Sim Phones

Samsung toppled Micromax for the top spot in this category. In terms of sales volume, the top 3 brands in this segment are Samsung, Micromax and Nokia, in that order. The top device in this category was the Samsung Galaxy Y Duos. In fact the Top 5 devices are dominated by Samsung and Micromax, with Nokia making an entry only in the 6th place with the X2-02

Value Phones

Nokia  topped the list here as the Top brand in sales volume followed by Samsung and HTC. The most purchased phone in this category was the Samsung Galaxy Y, surprisingly.

Laptop Category

Before we go into the numbers, one thing to note is that eBay India includes Tablets too in the Laptop Category. Apple is a clear winner here in this segment, with Bangalore topping the charts in terms of sales volumes. Tablets account for 62% of sales in this category they outsold netbooks in the quarter. This could mean that more people are looking at tablets as an alternate to Netbooks.

Tablets

Apple is the top of this heard with 17% marketshare, followed by Micromax and Aakash. The most sold tablet was the Micromax Funbook! The sales of tablets have increased by 90% in Q2 compared to Q1. This spurt of growth is fuelled by affordable tablets launched by Micromax, Karbonn and iBerry. 53% sales in this segment come from non-metro cities in India.

Did you know the the iPad 2 actually outsold the iPad 3 during Q2 of this year?

Laptops

Dell, followed by HP and Apple top the laptop Segment, with the Apple MacBook Pro (MD313) topping the sales chart here. Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai are the top 3 cities purchasing laptops.

Netbooks

Acer has retained their lead here followed by Asus and Samsung.The top netbook in terms of sales was the Asus 1015CX. 59% of the Netbooks sold on eBay was to non-metro cities. Mumbai was the top city ordering Netbooks on eBay India.

It was great to see some of the interesting battles being fought and won by gadgets in the phone, laptop and tablet categories. Some of the trends do show that India is still a price sensitive market, this is obvious in the smartphone segment where HTC One X outsold the Galaxy S3, and the Sony devices which have a better price point rule the roost. For more details, pretty pictures, graphs and details of the Camera and TV segment, download this pdf more details from the Battle of the Gadgets.

Download Links:

[PDF] eBay Battle Of the Gadgets Q2 2012 Report

[DOC] Press Release -eBay India- Battle of the Gadgets-April-June 2012

About eBay India
eBay India (www.eBay.in), India’s leading eCommerce marketplace, is India’s No. 1 online shopping destination where thousands of Indian entrepreneurs list a wide range of products across Electronics, Lifestyle, Collectibles and Media categories. eBay India is a 100% subsidiary of eBay Inc.

Schedule your future using Future Scheduler App for iPhone and Android

Did you ever wish you had a secretary to help you with your chores like sending Birthday Greetings, scheduling Tweets and Facebook updates, sending out emails at certain times of the day, or night to show your boss that you’re working late into the night?

Here’s a productivity app called Future Scheduler which allows you to do just that. This app is available for the iPhone, Android and Blackberry. The App retails for $1.99, much cheaper than what a secretary would cost you. You can get the download links at the end of this post.

Apart from having these tasks performed, you can also set alerts to remind yourself of tasks to do. The good thing about this app is that these alerts and tasks are synced with your calendar, so even if you forget you phone at home, you can check your calendar to check on these alerts you had set.

Features

• sync the device with Calendar
• Snooze function for reminders.
• Import contacts from Facebook.
• Log of scheduled activities.
• Use templates for text and email.
• Recurring events – once, daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly.
• Intuitive and user friendly interface.
• Multiple recipients for text and email.
• Integrates with phone book to let you add recipients conveniently.

App Screenshots:

Download Links:

Download from iTunes |Download from Google Play for Android | Download from Blackberry AppWorld

App Piracy and Mobile Payments: Make them Pay!

Piracy and Content theft (as perceived by various industries and their regulating bodies) is on the top of everyone’s mind nowadays. While there is a major drive towards internet content delivery, a vast majority of the population isn’t online just yet or even if they are, don’t have access to a lot of content. Could this be due to licensing issues, available bandwidth, region restriction or something else?

The most accessible way to get online, arguably, is via a mobile device: be it a Tablet or a Smartphone (or even a not-so-smart-phone). Applications on these devices act as both a conduit to content and as the content themselves (games would be one example where the App IS the content). So would piracy and content theft apply to these mobile platforms too? I guess so. Has anyone come up with a way to lock this down? Valve has tried that on their Steam platform (other game publishers have tried this too), with DRM, online availability requirements to play their games, etc. All of this wouldn’t work of course, if you couldn’t pay for the game. If content isn’t available at your location, even if you were willing to pay for it, what would you do? The usual answer would be that you would get it, by what ever means. This is probably why the Game of Thrones series is the most pirated show in the history of television shows.

How does this apply to apps? Think about the number of sites that give access to versions of paid apps. Think about the Cydia repositories that provide these packages.There are two parts to reducing the number of apps that are downloaded illegally:

  1. Making people aware of the actual value of what they are providing (I usually tell people who are hesitant about buying apps that it’s just the cost of a coffee at any coffee shop). People would be more willing to pay for apps if they can put the expenditure into a normal context (Paying INR 100 or $1.99 for a coffee, a one time purchase, vs the same for an app that you would potentially use multiple times).
  2. Providing an easy way to pay for these apps.

The payment method is something that needs attention. Various payment methods exist and are in use by various companies and providers. But most require a Credit Card as your payment method. This is partially motivated by safety. But what about gift cards, the way Apple does it. Buy a card for a pre-defined sum at a store and use it with your iTunes account. Paypal could be another payment method, except you need a credit card there too, as Paypal doesn’t accept most (Indian) debit cards (at least, not that I’m aware of). It can’t be a pre-defined credit card as is issued in some countries either: the system has to work everywhere.

So what do most smartphones and tablets have in common? The mobile networks that they run on. Mobile payments would make sense then right? As a post paid subscriber, you would be used to paying for usage charges beyond your free use limits. As a Pay As You Go (or pre-paid in India) subscriber, you would be used to adding credit to your account as required. Adding your app purchases to your bill would make sense then. But why isn’t it so prevalent?

Update: An interesting take away from the Nokia Strategy Summit, which Vinu is attending today, is that Operator billing is actually one of the best way to get going on app and content payment. This is a frictionless method to allow users to purchase apps from App stores and have the amount billed to their monthly bill or deducted from their pre-paid balance. No credit card, debit cards required. According to Shiv (D. Shivakumar from Nokia India), operator billing has to potential to increase purchases by up to 5 times, and two thirds of people prefer Operator Billing as a payment option on the Nokia Store.

If people pay for apps instead of getting them through alternate channels, the Application developers benefit, allowing them improve their existing Apps and coming up with the next great App.

Here’s a list of platforms that provide carrier billing (and their limitations, by region, or by type of content)
Table: OS vs Carrier Billing, number of countries and operators (if available)

OS

Countries

Symbian/S4052
Blackberry40
Bada12
Windows Phone7(USA, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Norway, UK)
Android3 (Japan, USA, India)
iOS0

Note: The number doesn’t reflect the number of carriers from each country that offers the service.

Disclaimer: The data in the table may need correction/updating. Do let us know if you have additional data.

So what does this mean for Apps and Piracy of apps? Well, people will pay, if you give them a means of paying it that doesn’t involve jumping through hoops. Make it easy, and it doesn’t get easier than carrier billing. You can even get Facebook Credits via Carrier Billing now!

Photo Credits: iStockPhoto.com