Monthly Archives: February 2011

An iPad lovers review of Motorola Xoom

You know I’m an iPad freak. I was first in line to buy one and I’ve used it so much my screen is cracked.

It is the device that’s changed my life more than any other in the past year, which, in a year that Microsoft Kinect shipped, is totally impressive.

For the past few days I’ve had a Motorola Xoom. I accepted a loaner because I wanted to prove that it would suck next to an iPad.

One problem: I’m falling in love with it.

With a couple of caveats.

First, the caveats:

1. There aren’t any apps that are designed for it yet. I have three “secret” apps that will be out soon, but three goes against, what, 30,000+ for iPad?

2. The iPad 2 is coming, I’ll be at the Apple press conference on March 2.

So, those two caveats out of the way, what do I love about it?

1. Some parts of Android are better designed than iOS. Multitasking just seems to work better for me than the way you do it on iOS. In the video I did you see why, it takes fewer clicks to switch apps.

3. Notifications are much nicer on Android. Along the bottom right it shows me when new emails and other things come in. Very well thought out, and way better than notifications on iPad.

4. Battery life seemed equal, although I need more time to really figure out whether it’s as good as the iPad, which has extraordinary battery life.

5. Having cameras on the device is very nice. I used it last night at a discussion at Stanford and I filmed it. Because of the size of the Xoom it came out a lot steadier than anything I film with my iPhones. (This advantage will only last a month or so over iPad 2, but it’s there). I can see using the other camera to do videoconferencing, too. Yeah, it’s not the highest resolution camera you’ve ever seen on a mobile device, but it works pretty well, I’ll try to get a video up tonight from it.

6. HDMI connector. I have an HD screen downstairs. Here I can hook it up without buying a hyper-expensive Apple connector.

7. Better resolution and form factor, especially for video. I love watching video on my iPad. Netflix rocks on it, especially when the kids have taken over my TV set. But I like the higher resolution of the Xoom (1280 pixels across instead of only 1024) and I like the longer and narrower form factor, which fits video better than the iPad does.

8. The widgets on the home screen let me just glance down at my tablet to see info. I now am keeping it on my desk at work as a third monitor and that’s nice.

9. The docking station makes a nice desktop stand. Although it’s a bit weird to figure out how to get the Xoom to dock once you figure that out it makes a nice desktop stand.

10. The browser feels closer to Google Chrome than Safari does. It has one box for URLs and search, which I really love (the two box system Safari has feels lame in comparison) and it has tabs, just like my Chrome does on my desktop.

11. Speaker system in the Xoom is better than the iPad and it has stereo speakers.

13. Gmail, Google Maps, and Google Calendar apps are WAY better than the ones on iPad. As you might expect.

So, take this all together and I really love the new Motorola Xoom. I will be buying it because it’s the best of the Android-based devices I have seen and I need one to track all the apps over the next year and compare them to what’s on iPad.

That said, will I recommend my dad get one? No. Not this year. Why? No apps that have been specifically designed for the 10-inch tablet, which in my experience does demand new apps. Yes, Android phone apps “stretch” to bigger sizes a lot better than iPhone apps did when stretched up, but sorry we haven’t seen great apps like the History of Jazz, Aweditorium, NPR, BBC, Flipboard, Heritage, etc, like what you see on iPad.

The apps are ALL that matters for the market and Android does NOT have them yet.

That said, Android is in a better spot than HP’s TouchPad or RIM’s PlayBook, and I believe it will take the #2 spot, mostly because of the strength of its mobile app community on phones.

Some other minor nits. I don’t like the surface on the back of the device. It isn’t consistent, which makes part of the back collect more dirt than the strip with the cameras and speakers.

Also, the on button is in a weird place. I’ve hit it a couple of times accidentally because it’s where you hold the device with your left hand.

Finally, is it worth $800? Not for the mass market due to the lack of apps. If you don’t care about the lack of apps, then yes. It brings Android solidly into the tablet world and brings Apple some significant competition.

Can’t wait to see that iPad 2, which will probably change some of these opinions.

Credit card of the future

This article is reposted from Rackspace’s Building43 with permission.

Credit/Debit card fraud is a huge problem that costs banks and consumers billions of dollars per year. NagraID is tackling this problem by creating the credit card of the future, complete with computer chips and other security features that promise to make transactions both more secure and more convenient in the future.

“As you know, when there’s money involved, there’s also fraud involved,” explains Sebastian Pochic, Product Manager with MasterCard Europe. “As a consumer, it’s very inconvenient when you have had a fraudulent transaction on your credit card, or even worse, on your [debit card]. What we’re trying to do is put in place some preventative measures to avoid any of these fraudulent transactions and make the use of the credit card more convenient for our customers.”

One of these measures is to house your security information on a computer chip within the card as opposed to displaying it on the card. Another is a unique display window that reveals a security code necessary to complete a transaction. Each code can only be used once, so even if your card information were stolen, a thief would be unable to effect a transaction without having physical possession of the card and its security code. This window can also display account information such as your last transaction, your balance, how much you have spent this month, even messages from your bank.

One thing the card will not do is broadcast your location or reveal other private information. “The card is not a tracking device,” explains Phillippe Guilland, co-founder and CTO of NagraID Security. “It does not send back information regarding your location or the way you shop.”

More info:

NagraID web site: http://www.nagraid.com/
NagraID on Twitter: http://twitter.com/nidsecurity

The Facebook iPad app maker: Friendly

I shot this for my dad, who just got an iPad and just got on Facebook. I helped him yesterday get his account setup. It’s interesting bringing a new family member onto Facebook.

Things we take for granted, like adding a profile photo, are fairly difficult for new social network users. I keep a photo of myself on all my devices so I can get one up quickly, but he didn’t have a photo of himself on his iPad.

Other things I understand deeply that he doesn’t? What happens when you “friend” someone. He had never done it before and didn’t understand the consequences of doing that. He didn’t know his news feed would change, for instance, or that that person would be able to see everything he puts up on his profile.

Heck, we haven’t even started to cover what privacy settings he should change.

Anyway, one problem on the iPad is that there isn’t an official Facebook app. That doesn’t seem to be a problem, right, but because the web page isn’t designed for touch it can sometimes be frustrating.

In this interview I meet the developer behind Friendly, Cyril Moutran, co-founder of Oecoway, and we get a good demo of what Friendly does for iPad and we also talk about why he only develops apps for iPad and is skeptical about other platforms, like Android or WebOS.

You can get Friendly on iTunes here.

Can Yobongo avoid the “masses are asses” chat room problem?

Let’s say I invite you to a chat with me, you, and Bill Gates. Or Steve Jobs. Or Barack Obama. Or your closest personal friend. You pick one. Wouldn’t that be fun?

Now, lets say we invite in 1,000 random people. Wouldn’t your utility go down? Of course it would.

That’s the “masses are asses” problem that hit chat rooms.

So, when Caleb Elston, founder of Yobongo, told me he had a way to solve that problem, I was intrigued.

How does he solve it with his new service Yobongo?

1. He keeps the chat room size small. Only about 10 people. Others will be pushed into another chat room.

2. Yobongo’s chat rooms will be location-based, so you’ll have one thing in common, you’ll be chatting with other people near to you.

3. Yobongo is keeping track of who you actually chat with, who you like, who you private message with, etc, and will continually improve the room.

In the interview with Caleb you can hear my skepticism. But that was before I tried Yobongo.

Now I’m addicted, but still skeptical about how they grow over time.

See, it put me into a room with people who all have something in common: we’re early adopter crazy people.

But will this work when normal everyday people join the service?

Will it still be interesting when we get drunk at SXSW? Techcrunch thinks it could be one of the hot services there.

Will it solve the “masses are asses” problem?

We will see. For now I’m in a cool chat with 10 people arguing about which winery in Napa is best and we’re discussing Zagat‘s new design (if you’re a foodie that’s a site you should watch). Gotta run!

A better way to run your business with Bill.com

Do you run a business? If you do you need to pay bills, keep books, take in cash, track bank accounts, send out invoices. All of which is a pain in the behind. I know, I did that for Dave Winer’s company for a while.

Intuit’s QuickBooks is how most of these companies do just that, but Bill.com has a better idea. Here CEO René Lacerte shows me why.

But, listen between the lines. He’s building a business graph that will be very high quality. Could he be the future Mark Zuckerberg of businesses?