Use popular mobile to-do planner AnyDO on web

One thing that AnyDo (Any.do) gets right is that it simplifies planning your day. Any.DO did something rare, which was start from Android and then move to iOS. The simply idea of creating these to-do lists was ability to allot tasks and organize them according to time sensitive folders like Today, Tomorrow, Someday etc or even type sensitive folders like Work, Home etc.

It has a nice Chrome extension that works well with Gmail tasks on the browser. But one thing missing was the option of using it on the web. A couple of days ago AnyDo has finally made a web app available.

AnyDO web app
Using Any.do through its website

The style and format of the web app for Any.Do remains more or less consistent with the mobile apps.

Personally I have always liked Any.Do for its simplicity. But that is just a first impression. It has a lot of small tweaks that can help you plan your week and day. It also has a Cal app on the phone, though that does not seem to have a web app as yet. I have used Any.Do but tended not to use it as much as I could not use it just on a website. So this new feature will probably have using it more than before.

Try out the new app at web.any.do and see for yourself.

Link: AnyDo apps

Google Maps gets a prominent “Save to Offline” button and many new features

Google had added the feature to save a map offline, for phones long ago. This is useful when sometimes you do not have connectivity. The feature even though available for a while, was not used as by many people. The main reason being that the option was not visible enough or rather hidden too well for normal users to discover it and use it. Most people who use Google Maps do so while travelling for a quick reference, so most do not have time to spend looking at each of its features.

Today in a new update, Google Maps has introduced a more prominent “Save to Offline” button.

Offline Maps
Credits: Google

There are some other major upgrades and changes introduced too like integration with Uber. Another good addition is Google Maps showing which lane to stay in before taking a turn. This will be a lot more useful to anticipate where exactly you need to watch out for the right or left turn.

Finally there are some smaller additions which will be useful for business like showing closing times (last call) and can filter places based on prices and even user ratings.

Google Maps is still vastly more popular and honestly as a user myself, I think it is vastly better than all alternatives out there. Google should be commended on investing even more time and energy than it did before despite its leadership role. But this might be mainly because Google Maps is a product that is hugely important to collect data of the real world around us that users generate.

The updates are rolling out today itself on both Android and iOS versions.

Twitter’s new profile looks like Facebook

Twitter is hardly used by regular users from its website. Most regular users probably use something like tweetdeck or other similar desktop apps. But regular users are not really Twitter’s concern. Their big concern are the people who sign up and then simply stop using it because it is too confusing.

So how does Twitter keep these new users interested on its service? One simple way is to be more like a social network rather than a endless stream of tweets and links. With Twitter new profile design, they have shamelessly copied Facebook’s design.

Twitter_New_Profil_Design
Twitter’s new Facebook like design

I would not blame Twitter for copying Facebook. It would give a great deal of familiarity for a first-time user.

That said, I would not enjoy this sort of design on my phone app, which Twitter will probably end up doing because mobile is the future (rather present).

Interesting new feature added is that you can now pin a tweet at the top. This has to be a tweet you posted and not a retweet.

Get the new profile:

Your Twitter account will show up with the new profile design.

Google Releases Standalone Camera App for Android 4.4+

Today, Google has introduced a new standalone Camera App. This was significantly needed as many Android phones which are not Nexus did not have useful features like “Photosphere”. Overall the camera features even on Nexus were not exactly brilliant.

So a standalone camera app will be very useful for Android users. Even if you are using a Nexus, this there are some added features so it is a good idea to go ahead and update the app or re-install it.

The Google Camera app is only available for Android 4.4+ (KitKat) version for phones and tablets.

Google Standalone Camera Interface

Google Camera App features

  • The prominent feature are Lens Blur and Panorama. Overall the options are a lot easier flip through.
  • I tested the Lens Blur function and was quite impressed with how well it works. Below is an image I took using Lens Blur.
Lens Blur - Google Camera App
Photo taken using Lens Blur – Google Camera App

Now hopefully we will see better cameras on Android phones than what are available now. If you have an Android phone running 4.4 KitKat, then this app would be really useful one.

Link: Standalone Google Camera App

Twitter introduces Photo-tagging: Here is how to turn them off on your account

Today, Twitter announced a new feature that allows users to upload multiple photos on a single tweet. More important feature is the new option that will allow users to tag other users to photos. The new feature will be available to iPhone users first and then later to Android users. Twitter.com will see this feature last.

I own an Android phone, hence I could not check the new feature out for myself. But Twitter has posted this helpful image that illustrates how the new photo-tagging feature will work.

Twitter_photo_tag

This could be an issue as Twitter is a very public platform and just about anyone can tag anyone on Twitter by default to a photo. Thankfully the privacy options does offer control over who gets to tag you in photos.

How to turn of photo-tagging on your Twitter account:

  • Log in to your Twitter account on a desktop computer.
  • Then look up Settings and Security at the following link https://twitter.com/settings/security
Twitter_photo_tag_settings
Twitter >> Settings >> Security

The default option selected is to “Allow anyone to tag me in photos”. Change it to not allow anyone to tag you in photos or limite tagging to only people you follow.

Since this is a opt-out feature and not a opt-in feature, I am sure there will be some people who will find strangers tagging them in photos an unwanted headache.

Do drop in your comments.

WordCamp Mumbai 2014 on 15th – 16th March

Last month I wrote about the WordCamp culture in India. In it I mentioned briefly about WordCamp Mumbai. WordCamps are basically WordPress informal conferences. The idea is for WordPress enthusiasts from a particular city meet-up and interact with the other WordPress enthusiasts and experts from all over the country. It is ideally an annual event.

WcMumbai_logo

Mumbai will host it’s second WordCamp (first one was in 2012) this weekend (15-16 March, 2014). I have attended a few WordCamps and they usually end up being informative and a lot of fun. It is always a lot of fun to see interesting new ways WordPress is used.

I am personally involved in WordCamp Mumbai 2014 as an organizer. For DW’s parent company rtCamp too, this WordCamp will be a very special one as EasyEngine – a CLI tool that helps users to easily manage their WordPress sites on Nginx will be introduced to the community. Rahul Bansal will be speaking on it in a session.

You can check out the event schedule here.

So if you live in Mumbai or nearby and want to check out WordCamp Mumbai – do register and buy a ticket online here.

Important Links for WordCamp Mumbai 2014

Facebook buys WhatsApp for $16 billion

Facebook has been rumoured in the past to buy the popular phone messaging app Whatsapp but nothing materialized. Today Facebook announced that it would be acquiring Whatsapp for $16 billion. Let that number sink in a bit. Facebook bought Instagram for a billion dollars and that was considered overpriced. Whatsapp is possibly worth 16 Instagrams!

Whatsapp_Facebook

Facebook is buying the competition out!

Facebook today is a internet giant but its growth happened on the PC screen. Their ads are far more effective on larger screen and not so much on mobile phones. This is why it bought Instagram whose growth was mobile only. Whatsapp is similar but only a bigger threat to Facebook.

There is a rising trend of younger people preferring WhatsApp and not on Facebook. They are creating group conversations and sharing photos on WhatsApp not Facebook.

Facebook is now shelling out huge amounts not just so they have a great product but also to buy out the competition. It could also be to avoid Google or Apple getting in and buying these products.

Trivia

In 2009 Facebook turned down Brian Acton for a job. He lamented on Twitter that it would have been a great opportunity to work with great people but he was looking for life’s next adventure. He was also rejected by Twitter for a job according to this tweet.

He went on to create Whatsapp and is now selling it for $16 billion to the same companies that did not give him a job.

Source: Facebook Press

WordCamp culture in India – It is still early days!

Last month on 24th January, along with some friends I attended WordCamp Baroda 2014. This was the second time I was attending a WordCamp in Baroda and overall I have now attended four WordCamps. Will be attending a fifth one but more on that later.

The WordCamp in Baroda, itself was a good one. The venue was at the outskirts of Baroda city. It might have been difficult for some attendees but there were bus pickups arranged from two different points in the city. It meant a big benefit which was, that most attendees came to the venue and left the venue at the same time.

WordCamp Baroda 2014
WordCamp Baroda 2014

The speaker sessions were interesting and a lot of impromptu discussions were held too. These unstructured discussions are one major reason I actually like visiting WordCamps. One such impromptu discussions was actually a self-appraisal of speaker sessions themselves by Saurabh Shukla. The simple question was to ask if some sessions were adding any value to the attendees. This stirred some passions but in the end the tone of the WordCamp Baroda turned from officious to camp like.

The formalities were dropped and the informal discussions ended up being a blessing for healthy debates and a lot more audience participation took place over the two-day event.

As an organizer Rahul Banker did an exemplary job planning and executing WordCamp Baroda. I also must add the team of volunteers who worked tirelessly and diligently behind the scenes were true champions. Any amount of praise to the volunteers is not enough.

I have a lot of respect for WordCamp organizers and volunteers today than I ever did before. That is because I have ended up in the organizing team of WordCamp Mumbai 2014, which takes place on March 15th-16th. In this post more than reviewing WordCamp Baroda, I am taking stock of the WordCamp  and by extension the WordPress culture in India.

Some delusions about meetups in India

There were some arguments made about how tech related meetups do not work in India. I do not mean tech related events but meetups organized by like minded people where entry is free and control over what is discussed is minimal to none. The constant argument made against organizing such meetups are “Meetups do not work in India as India is different from other countries”.

In my personal experience is absolutely untrue. I am part of WordPress meetups in Mumbai for over a year and we might not boast of a large community but all the organizers of WordCamp Mumbai 2014 met each other at meetups and did not know about each others existence before these meetups began.

This clearly shows that India is not any different and meetups can and do work in India. It just requires people to keep having meetups regularly. I have attended meetups with only four people (me included). I have a simple rule to decide if a meetup is successful or not. If I meet someone new, the meetup is successful. :-) In Mumbai we organize meetups over coffee or even dosas which always get decent number of people attending. ;-)

Too many celebrities at WordCamps

I found a disturbing trend at all WordCamps I have attended till now. There is a bit of a celebrity culture around some people. These celebrities are usually popular bloggers. Too many people mob and excessively praise popular bloggers. I won’t blame the bloggers themselves and I think most are a bit embarrassed by the attention.

I think this can be toned down a bit in the future – again back to the importance of meetups – if these bloggers were accessible with local meetups, I do not think there would be too much fawning over individuals.

Organizers need to contribute their experiences

I think people who have organized WordCamps in India, have missed a trick by not writing down detailed posts on what went behind organizing such an event. Explaining how they approached WordCamp Central and what should other budding organizers do would be a lot more helpful.

Hopefully after WordCamp Mumbai 2014 is over, I will write a series of long posts on what exactly happens behind the scenes while organizing the event.

Over to Mumbai!

WCMumbai

As I wrote earlier, I am part of the organizing team for WordCamp Mumbai 2014. There are some very good speakers lined up and one of them is our very own Rahul Bansal.

The big challenge was to make this WordCamp in Mumbai accessible to everyone. We have started that by keeping the ticket prices to a minimum of Rs. 300/-.

Here are some of the useful links for WordCamp Mumbai 2014 (March 15-16)

The WordCamp culture in India is still nascent but I can see it has moved forward since I wrote about my experiences at WordCamps a year ago. It is definitely becoming more informal and approachable. Hopefully it continues down this path. There are several thousand WordPress experts in India and hopefully they do not remain just a talent pool for companies but also end up becoming a thriving community.

Update: Rahul Banker brought to my notice that he had chronicled his experience as a organizer in a post last year.

Google’s Motorola Business to be sold to Lenovo!

Google has confirmed that their mobile handset business, mainly Motorola, which it bought about two and half years ago will be acquired by Lenovo. This basically means Google will be exiting the mobile phone manufacturing industry. Lenovo which bought its laptop and PC business from IBM, also will find it beneficial to now own the Motorola brand.

This comes in the same week Google might be settling it’s issues with Samsung and also only a couple of weeks after it acquired Nest, a home automation company. The Motorola business might be sold for over US $3 billion.

Moto-X_thumb.png

Win-Win for Google and Lenovo

Google had to get rid of Motorola. It was not making money over the last couple of years and worse not having a hit phone to its credit was a problem. Google is into software and the web. It simply might have been too much to focus on, having to run a hardware based Motorola company.

Google also might be retaining the patents from Motorola which will serve it protection from lawsuits to its Android OS, from the likes of Apple and Microsoft.

Lenovo has a successful PC business but in the so called post-PC era, tablets and phones are the future. Here Lenovo has very little dominance. So having Motorola’s business is not a bad idea. Lenovo will have some very well engineered phones in the Moto X and Moto G variants. It will find itself a foothold in the US markets.

Does Motorola get anything?

It is hard to say if Motorola might winning anything in this trade -off between Google and Lenovo. Motorola has undergone restructuring. Motorola’s new owners will probably be more committed to becoming a large phone maker than Google has been. Lenovo also has a good track record of doing a good job with its new acquisitions. An example of that is IBM’s PC and notebook businesses.

So chances are all three parties in this regard might end up winning.

This write-off/sale by Google also signals, that it will be concentrating on betting on getting success with products like Nest and Google Glass.

What do you think about Lenovo adopting Google owned Motorola? Do drop in your comments.

Link: Google Blog

WordCamp Baroda 2014 will take place this weekend

WordPress fans in India might like to take notice of this event. Baroda will host WordCamp this weekend (25th and 26th Jan). WordCamps are usually a place to gather for WordPress enthusiasts. I will be attending the WordCamp in Baroda this year and will definitely blog from the venue and review the event like I did on the state of WordCamps in India last year.

WordCamp Baroda

WordCamp Baroda 2014 Details

The registration for the event is open for a few more hours (since the time of publishing this post) but there are plenty of ways to keep track of what is happening at WordCamp Baroda online.

A good idea would be to look at the WordCamp Baroda Agenda and plan on which speaker sessions you would like to tune into.

Social media profiles of WordCamp Baroda 2014

If you want me to ask any questions to the organizers or speakers during the event, do drop them in your comments. I will surely give you credit for asking some tough questions. ;-)

Link: Baroda WordCamp 2014

Related: A perspective on WordPress community in India