Press, News, PR

Blogosopher in the news or making news.

Google’s Messaging Apps are Bridging the Mobile OS Communication Gap

The communication divide between users of Apple’s iPhones and iPads, and Google’s range of Android devices, is shrinking. Google’s recent release of two new apps — Duo, a video chatting app, and Allo, a cross-platform messaging app — both support Apple’s iOS. This stands in contrast to Apple’s Facetime and Messages apps, which are only supported on iOS devices, effectively segregating them from the Android world.

Duo: Google’s answer to Facetime

The new video chat app, officially released August 16, highlights itself with one unique feature, called Knock Knock, which displays a live preview before a call is accepted. Although Duo is available to users of Apple’s iOS devices, the Knock Knock feature is currently only supported on Android. Google wrote in their official blog that the feature makes video calling seem more welcoming, as opposed to an interruption.

Other features sported by Duo include the ability to use phone numbers as contacts for video calls, end-to-end encryption of calls, automatic switching between the use of WiFi and mobile data for video streams, and the use of low-bandwidth optimization, which allows for the quality of the video stream to be adjusted based on network activity, and prevents calls from dropping. Duo does, however, currently lack the ability to make conference-style calls to multiple recipients at once — features supported by Apple’s Facetime and Microsoft’s Skype apps.

Allo: The cross-platform hybrid messaging app

Google’s brand new instant messaging app, released on September 21, boasts perhaps the most extensive list of features of any messaging app to date. One feature which helps bridge the communication gap is the ability for messages sent in Allo to be automatically converted to SMS, free of charge, and delivered to users who don’t have Allo installed on their device. This allows Allo users to use it as their preferred messaging app even if their recipient doesn’t wish to install the app on their device.

Taking advantage of Google’s innovative artificial intelligence technology, Allo includes a feature called Smart Reply, which uses predictive analytics to study how you send messages and makes suggestions that attempt to emulate your style of reply, which can be sent with a single button press. This feature is further enabled by personal assistant features, which work in a similar way to Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana.

Replies generated by Smart Reply can include animated stickers, similar to Facebook Messenger’s. Other style-related features include “Whisper Shout,” which allows users to increase or decrease the size of messages in an effort to signify volume, and the ability for users to draw on pictures before they are sent.

Allo’s Incognito mode and optional encryption

Taking a cue from the popular Snapchat app, Allo allows users to enter “Incognito mode,” a carryover from Google’s Chrome browser, which sends messages that are off the record, auto-destructing from both Google’s server after delivery, and the recipient’s device shortly after viewing. Messages sent in Incognito mode make use of end-to-end encryption.

The Allo app has been criticized by privacy advocates and security experts for not applying end-to-end encryption by default to messages not sent in Incognito mode. While this encryption can be enabled to cover all messages, some say the decision to have it disabled by default can still lead to scenarios where privacy and security are violated. Critics include famous NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who criticized the app on Twitter, referring to the app without encryption enabled as “Google Surveillance,” in part because of US foreign intelligence courts’ refusal to deny any surveillance requests.

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How to win at E-bay without really trying

Some people give up on buying on ebay because they never win. I’ll tell you the secret to never losing. Never bid on an item until the very last split second, or you are bidding against yourself.Esnipe Logo - How to win at E-bay without really trying

But, you don’t want to sit at the computer when every auction closes? Here is the secret- use a sniping service like eSnipe.

Esnipe allows you to place as many bids on as many auctions as you want (in a “bid group”) where it will automatically bid your max dollar until you win.

Example- my girlfriend wanted a Sonicare toothbrush. These cost about $116 new, but plenty are available on Ebay auctions NIB (new in box). We bid on a bunch of auctions to end up at $65 with shipping. E-snipe kept bidding and losing, until, jackpot- we won one with free shipping for $54! Cost to us- esnipe sells credits for pennies on the dollar bid- so under $1.00 extra to get a toothbrush for half price.

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Dayton Business Journal: features the Websitetologist

It’s nice to see the Dayton Business Journal using our client, Coco’s Bistro as an example of how to do a website that’s also perfectly mobile aware, instead of having to build a second site or a mobile application.

Coco's number 1 Google listing

Coco's number 1 Google listing

Keeping one website up to date is enough work for a small business- to have to maintain two versions- or even a mobile application, adds a lot of costs with limited payback. We built entirely in WordPress and it’s totally mobile aware and has an incredible Google listing.

The business journal gives examples of companies paying thousands of dollars for mobile apps- where they really need to be investing in content and maintaining social media connections. Here’s the highlights of the article:

When Karen Gagnet gave her advertising agency the thumbs up to develop a mobile phone site 18 months ago, many of her potential customers weren’t using smartphones to find a place to eat. At least not yet.

These days, the co-owner of Coco’s Bistro in Dayton insists the gadgets are driving new traffic to her restaurant while strengthening the bond with regulars, who make a growing number of reservations and other requests via smartphone.

“It wasn’t something my diners expected from me two years ago,” Gagnet said. “Now, it becomes more important for my business every day.”

For Coco’s and other Dayton-area companies, using mobile phone sites and other similar technology to grab consumers is on the upswing and industry observers expect the trend to continue as more people buy smartphones, which combine mobile calling and personal computing capabilities. That translates into a growing number of diners, for example, who are using smartphones to hunt for restaurant reviews and menus.

“It’s a necessity now to compete,” said David Esrati, chief creative officer of Dayton-based advertising agency The Next Wave, which developed Coco’s mobile phone site.

The worldwide mobile phone market grew 22 percent in the first quarter of 2010, fueled mostly by increased demand for smartphones, according to the Framingham, Mass.-based IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker. The tech and communication research firm reports that vendors shipped nearly 295 million mobile phones in the first quarter of 2010, compared with 242 million units in the same period last year.

IDC officials said smartphones, which allow consumers and business people to trade wireless e-mails and surf the Web, have become increasingly popular as a wider and more powerful array of devices have become available.

Businesses that have a traditional Web site built to today’s industry standards should be able to adapt it to mobile phone viewing for only several hundred dollars, Esrati said. The cost includes the addition of a browser detector and an extra style sheet, which is a formatting tool.

On the flip side, businesses with Web sites that aren’t built to industry standards, or are made with slick features such as Flash, can expect to pay about double the original site development costs to create a separate mobile phone site.

“Anything that’s dependent on a screen size to work doesn’t translate well to mobile,” Esrati said.

While only a small segment of the smartphone market, iPhones continue to grow in popularity as well, especially among affluent demographics. And iPhone users are flocking to software applications, also known as apps, racking up 4 billion downloads, including 3 million within the past year.

Brad Churby, owner of Kettering-based Web development and network administration company OmniSpear Inc., has been pushing clients to adapt their sites for mobile phones. But, in recent months the five-person company also moved into the mobile app scene as it got a growing number of calls from customers wanting the service.

The big difference between launching a mobile phone site and an app is the cost.

While mobile sites can be done for as little as a few hundred dollars, Churby said developing an iPhone app, or an app for Blackberry or Android platforms, can run $10,000 or more, depending on the complexity. Most of the demand at OmniSpear so far has been for iPhone apps. The pricing for apps is relatively high now because tools to do the job aren’t very advanced, meaning the job is labor intensive, he said.

Hothead Burritos was able to get an iPhone app running for under $1,000 said co-owner Ray Wiley. The company is currently working on a mobile-friendly Web page and looking into developing apps for other platforms.

Wiley said having an iPhone app has added credibility to his brand, which he is franchising.

“I think customers like the app for multiple reasons; (it’s) easy to find a location, occasionally we offer a discount or deal, and I think people see us as being more evolved as a chain in having an app,” he said….

The downside to apps: reaching most of the market requires developing apps for Blackberry and Android as well.

“That gets expensive,” Esrati said. “(iPhone) is a narrow group of users still.”

via Got an App for That? – Dayton Business Journal:.

If you’re still not sure about if you need a web app or a mobile site, you can read this post: Is that your website or an app on your mobile phone?

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