Posts from mobile

Feature Friday: Wifi Calling

So I’ve been using Google Fi on my Nexus 6 (the only phone it is offered on right now) and put my T-Mobile sim card back into my old iPhone which I bought from T-Mobile.

So now I’m carrying two phones for the time being and both have wifi calling on them.

T-Mobile has offered wifi calling on their phones for a long time now.

And wifi calling is one of the features that comes with Google Fi.

I happen to be in our beach house this long holiday weekend where the cell coverage is basically non-existent and in places like this wifi calling is a godsend.

As I understand it, wifi calling offloads your voice and data services from the carrier’s network onto a wifi network if the wifi network has a stronger connection to the Internet. This all happens seamlessly and you don’t have to do anything to cause this to happen.

What’s particularly great is I can be on a call in my house on wifi calling, leave and get into my car, connect the phone to my car’s audio system, drive away and wifi calling will move the call over to the carrier’s network without dropping it.

I’m not sure why all carriers don’t offer wifi calling as a standard feature of their service. It reduces congestion on their networks, extends their networks, and provides a great utility to their customers.

I really like it.

Google Photos Magic

The new Google Photos is a much needed improvement over the prior version. My favorite feature is what I call “magic” but they call it something else. Every once in a while I will get a notification that Google has created a new enhanced version of a photo I took and when I click on it, the photo is much improved.

But yesterday, they took this magic to another level.

We arrived in Vienna late in the day, checked into our room, I opened the door to what looked like a balcony, it was, I stepped out and shot three pictures of our view. That was that.

A few minutes later I got a notification that Google had enhanced the photos and when I clicked on it, Google had stitched all three into this panorama.

panorama

Now there is nothing special about stitching three photos together to make a panorama. That technology has been around for years.

What is special is that a machine decided that my three photos were suitable for making a panorama and did it for me.

In case you are curious, here are the three photos I took.

shot 1shot 3shot 2

That green roofed building is the Opera House. We are going to see an Opera there tonight. It’s not our normal thing to go to Opera but we figured it would be a nice thing to do in Vienna.

Technology In Istanbul

The Gotham Gal and I are winding up a four day weekend in Istanbul. She likes to blog about the places we go and things we do so if you want to read about all that visit her blog. I expect the posts on her blog will be all about Istanbul for the next few days.

There is something about the uptake of technology in Turkey that is somewhat unique. Facebook blew up in Turkey fairly early in its international phase. Foursquare’s Swarm is so popular in Turkey that you would think the product was started here. We’ve seen similar stories in other USV portfolio companies and also companies that have pitched us. So one of the things I’ve been looking at while we’ve been here are clues to the behaviors that make this happen.

The most obvious thing you see is the almost total obsession with mobile phones. Everyone has one and everyone is using them. You might think using mobile phones during meals or conversations is rampant in the US, but in Turkey it is way more rampant. It is clearly the social norm to be on your phone at the same time you are hanging out with other people.

It also seems that the phones are cheap and there also seem to be a number of wireless carriers active in the market. We got good data service everywhere we went in Istanbul. The speeds were great and the data was reliable and abundant. Phones and prepaid cards are sold everywhere. I haven’t looked deeply at any reports on this but on the surface it seems that the wireless industry (carriers and handsets) have done a good job of competing vigorously and bringing price points down and service quality up. Maybe the US could learn a thing or two from Turkey.

We also found wifi to be offered in most venues in Istanbul. I have been using WifiMap (which I blogged about a few weeks ago) and you can get wifi in almost every place you walk into around town. So for people on mobile data plans who want to offload to wifi when possible, Istanbul is a good place to do that.

Turkey also seems economically quite vibrant so most people apparently have the means to afford the basics (phone and mobile data) and yet they are not developed enough that they made massive investments in the last generation internet infrastructure (desktops, laptops, wired internet, etc). So it’s a place where social, mobile, local, messaging can take off as well as anywhere in the word and doesn’t necessarily have other older solutions to these needs.

Here is a slide I found on the Internet that is from early 2014:

turkey slide

Mobile penetration in Turkey was 84% in early 2014, likely higher now, and that is about the world average. But given the size of Turkey, the total mobile population was 68mm in early 2014, as big as many european countries.

So Turkey is a place where technology, particularly mobile, has taken off. It’s a big market and one that seems to adopt things early on. It’s a good market to pay attention to when you think about international strategies and it is also likely a good place to start companies that focus on mobile products and services.

A Blast From The Past

I’ve been assisting with a project that is attempting to document the history of tech in NYC since Samuel Morse helped to bring the telegraph to market in the 1830s. I can’t help much with what went down in the 19th and early 20th century. But I can help with what happened at the very end of the 20th century. And in the course of doing that, I came across this video of Pseudo Entertainment’s offerings in the late 90s.

What is interesting is the similarity in many respects to the services that our portfolio company YouNow and Meerkat and Periscope have in the market today. The broadcast and consumption devices have changed (from PC to mobile) but the user experience is remarkably pretty much the same.

There’s something important in that realization.

Along the same lines, this conversation between Mark Suster and Ryan Hoover, starting at 8mins, is quite relevant. I love how they take it back to the early days of Howard Stern.

Benedict Evans on WWDC

If you, like me, were busy at work this week and were not able to pay attention to WWDC, then this podcast with Benedict Evans is well worth the 25mins it takes to listen.

Now I feel like I know what was announced and what to make of it.

Thanks Benedict.

Pegg

I’ve been watching my friend Kirk and his colleagues Bart and Marc building a mobile app called Pegg for the past year. I’ve had almost every build on my iPhone during that time so I’ve been watching them up close and it’s been a pleasure to see them refine, simplify, and ultimately ship a really fun and engaging product.

Pegg is “your mobile mini mood board.”

Here’s my current Pegg board

my pegg board

 

Here is Kirk’s current Pegg board:

kirk's pegg

 

 

My favorite feature is the ability to quickly drop into a chat with anyone on their pegg board. Here’s the current chat on my pegg board:

my pegg chat

If you have an iPhone and want to try out Pegg, you can download it here.

And there’s also a discussion of Pegg on Product Hunt today.

I recall having my first conversation with Kirk about Pegg at breakfast a year or more ago. He was inspired by the pegg board in his dad’s workshop. He thought that would make a nice metaphor for a board you could update daily with the little things in your life that represent how you feel and what you are doing. His initial concept was a website but he quickly turned his attention to mobile. Along the way Kirk and Bart learned how to design and build a mobile product and added Marc to the team.

The thing that I’ve been the most impressed by is how Kirk has stayed true to his initial vision through all the ups and downs, back and forths, and redesigns they’ve been through. It is so easy to get lost in that process. The product they shipped last week is pretty much the thing he described to me at breakfast when he first mentioned the idea to me. That’s hard to do and so congrats on that Kirk.

Feature Friday: Pinning Wifis

I’ve started using a cool mobile app called WifiMap.

It does something quite simple but also quite useful.

When you have the app on your phone and you are using a public wifi (open or password protected), you simply open WifiMap and it gives you the opportunity to “pin” that wifi on a map and supply the password, if there is one.

Then, when you are out and about, maybe in a foreign city, maybe in a new neighborhood in the town or city where you live, you can open WifiMap and find the nearest wifi that you can get onto and do work or play.

That’s it. It’s simple. But quite useful.

Video Of The Week: Dick Costolo at Re/code

I like how Dick answers the question about whether he’s going to be CEO of Twitter by the end of the year. It is about time that Twitter articulates how large their audience really is and why their usage numbers can’t be compared directly to Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram.

Full disclosure, I own a lot of Twitter and am a big fan of the company and of Dick. I do not plan to be more critical of Twitter in the coming months.

The Apple Watch – How Is It Doing?

Continuing my obsession with the Apple Watch, a device I don’t own and don’t intend to own, I’m curious how its doing.

I read a report yesterday that suggested the early sales are disappointing and that a respected research firm has cut first year sales projections to 15mm watches although Morgan Stanley still has their estimate at 36mm watches.

But more than how it is selling, I am curious how it is doing with those of you out there that bought it.

If you own an Apple Watch, please complete this short survey. I appreciate it. I will post screenshots of the results as they come in.