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Spandan Chakrabarti
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Remember to laugh.
Remember to laugh.

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The GOP Media's scandal-pushing has gone too far in attacking the president's patriotism in retrieving an American prisoner of war, and such behavior is without parallel.
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Why Tizen will never be a threat to Android.

There’s quite a bit of camotion on the web today about Samsung’s announcement that it plans to bring at least to Tizen powered phones to market later this year. Samsung is without a doubt the largest manufacturer of Android devices, and Tizen is a mobile OS that, while open-source in name, has Samsung’s influence and finger in the pie.

So why wouldn’t Samsung bringing Tizen to phones threaten Android? After all, Samsung has the potential to better control Tizen’s ecosystem, thereby reducing their dependence on Android and Google. Why shouldn’t Google fear that their top phone maker is hedging their bets?

Because the time when the competition happened merely on OS level has long past us. The choice between Android and iOS and Windows Phone is no longer simply about the capacities and functions of each OS. It is about the integrated experience with services.

Most tech writers seem to think this is about the app ecosystem, and the Play Store and blah blah blah. It isn’t. The app ecosystem matters, but it can be built, and it isn’t dependent on the maker of Android, Google. Google can only control its own apps, not those of the host of other developers who may, if they wish, choose to develop for other platforms.

It’s not the apps that are the hook to Android. It isn’t even Android that is the hook to Android. It is Google’s polished, integrated, vital services that have become an integrated part of our daily lives that is the hook to Android. We’re talking about GMail, Hangouts, Maps, Google Plus photos, Google Now - which isn’t, and isn’t just, a “personal assistant - and the Google Now launcher, Chrome, Calendar.

Yes, there are alternatives to each of the services. But there is no competition to Google when it comes to the integration of services and data. Google Now knows you go to the gym every morning. It knows where you work and where you live and displays weather information - not because you painstakingly entered the information but because it learned from your usage. And that data is device independent - as long as you are on a device that supports Google Now, you will see the information.

Google Now knows when your flight takes off and alerts you in delays. Not because you put it in your device’s calendar - because it pulled that information from your email, even if email itself is not synced on a specific device (as long as the account is signed in). Google Now knows your next appointment and prompts you to leave on time. That’s a combination of three different Google services: Calendar, Maps and Now (and sometimes Gmail if that’s where your appointment is).

Google stores your music and it knows your taste. It stores your photos and makes them auto-awesome. You can watch YouTube (as well as a host of other apps) on the big screen with a Chromecast.

All of these apps - and even the entire Google integration - can certainly be brought to platforms other than Android. After all, many of Google’s most popular services are available on iOS. But that depends on Google’s whims, as we know from Google’s splat with Microsoft as it tried to create an YouTube app for Windows Phone. iOS already existed before wide adoption of Android, and Apple has controlled a big share of the market to make it palatable for Google to use it as a platform as well. Will Google suddenly feel charitable towards Tizen? I doubt that.

One can argue that potentially, Tizen can gain dominance like iOS and force Google to make the services available on their platform. But that would be putting the cart before the horse. When iOS launched, it launched with all the popular services - Apple and Google. Its success in large part depended on people’s ability to use YouTube and Google Maps from day one. Observe, in contrast, how much trouble Microsoft has had with YouTube.

Microsoft is Google’s closest rival when it comes to integrated data and services. It has its own maps, search engine, calendar and mail apps which are all formidable, and yet it is having trouble breaking through. None of the Tizen’s backers - Samsung included - can bring to bear the host of integrated data and services that can transcend device anywhere even close to Google’s offerings.

We live in an age where the services are all important. Every OS out there is a great platform by now. Hardware is phenomenal. What sets Android apart, though, is Google. And unless Samsung is planning on securing Google’s cooperation in their propagation of Tizen, I don’t see it succeeding.
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GOOGLE VOICE BECOMES TWO-WAY MMS COMPATIBLE

I have been a #GoogleVoice  user since its release in 2009. I have always loved the tool. I don't need to worry about the portability of my number, wait with baited breath as my number gets ported from one mobile phone provider to the next, or anything of that sort. I would just get a new number and forward the calls from my Google Voice number to that list. The other list of benefits - such as free voice mail transcription, texting from any device connected to the Internet (or a mobile phone with or without an Internet connection), and even calling home from abroad without spending a penny.

But the biggest problem with Google Voice has always been MMS or multi-media messaging. At its outset, Google Voice could neither receive nor send picture messages. Then eventually Sprint's tight integration enabled sending and receiving MMS seamlessly, but alas, this wouldn't work with any other carrier. Early this year, T-Mobile also enabled MMS support from Google Voice. The catch? You couldn't send MMS without exposing your actual mobile number, defeating the purpose of one number to rule them all.

But that may be changing. At least if you use the Google Hangouts app as your default SMS and MMS app. At least for Sprint and T-Mobile, the carriers that enable MMS via Google Voice, today I was able to both send and receive MMS - using my Google Voice number!

Here's how that happened for me:  After I received an MMS from a T-Mobile number on my Google Voice number through Hangouts, I simply replied to that message with a picture, and sure enough, it arrived at that T-Mobile number (I used my own T-Mobile and Google Voice numbers, and I know it arrived from T-Mobile to Google Voice because a new thread showed a received photo). See the attached screenshot. The 'blank' identity is my Google Voice number, and the one with my photo is my T-Mobile number.

It turns out that you don't even have to wait for someone to send you an MMS first, if you already have their Google Voice forwarding number. GV nerds know what I'm talking about - it's the number Google Voice assigns to a given contact of yours - so that when you text that number, it appears on your contact's phone as having come from your Google Voice number. If you already have your contact's GV forwarding number, simply send your MMS to that number, and voila!

So far I can only confirm this works for T-Mobile. My assumption is that it also works for Sprint, given Sprint's industry-leading integration with Google Voice. Will AT&T and Verizon come on board? Who knows? Given that this might just be a feature on Hangouts, and Voice is rumored to merge with #Hangouts soon, I have a suspicion that #Google may have figured out a way to bypass carriers altogether on MMS and will spring that on us at IO.
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Dinner. #redlobster
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In One Chart: the difference between Obama and Republicans on growing the American economy. Obamacare raises personal income, GOP slashes it by taking away unemployment benefits. Read more: http://www.thepeoplesview.net/main/2014/3/5/obamacare-boosts-economy-gop-holds-growth-back
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