BlackBerry’s BBM comedy shows how not to launch an app

BlackBerry has simply been having its worst year in its history. It has been totally sidelined as a major mobile phone manufacturer and its latest Z10 and Q10 handsets have more or less flopped. Last week, it decided to get a part of that BlackBerry experience onto Android and iOS platforms. This was done by announcing the BBM app for iPhone and Android. The announcement was done in an official blog post on 18th September. The BBM app for Android was to be made available on 21nd September and the iPhone app was to be released on 22nd September.

BBM for All

So far so good but the comedy of errors was about to start. Before the official Android app for BBM was posted online, an unofficial one got uploaded. The unofficial app was downloaded and over 1.1 million users went live inside 8 hours. That led to issues for BlackBerry which they apparently tried to fix but in the end had to roll back the global launch of the app.

The offending unofficially released BlackBerry app for Android was pulled and users who had downloaded it saw that the service was blocked. The few iPhone users who had downloaded the app could use it but app was pulled from the App Store too.

So when is BBM for Android and iPhone available?

BlackBerry is a update post had mentioned that they were planning a staggered roll-out on Android and re-releasing the app on Apple App store. This update was made on the 21st September itself. A couple of day went by and BBM app was still nowhere to be seen. That is when BlackBerry’s BBM chief Andrew Bocking updated in another blog post, that not only were they pulling the app but users should not expect the app to show up for another week. Strangely a new release date is still not announced!

The doomed BlackBerry!

BlackBerry could not compete with the likes of Apple and Google in the mobile phone space. The new BBM app for Android and iPhone would have made them competitors to WhatsApp and WeChat and other similar messaging apps. But wait, even here BlackBerry will hardly compete as most users will simply not give its app a second chance (whenever it gets actually released).

If you are still interested in downloading BlackBerry app on your iPhone or Android visit the link below and enter your email address to get updated on when the app goes live!

Link: BBM for All

What is Apple upto with iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s?

Apple had it’s iPhone event last night and for the first time did something very different. Apple introduced two smartphones, one called the iPhone 5c and the other being the more expensive iPhone 5s. Apple has always introduced just one phone every year unlike its competitors who sold multiple models for different types of users.

iPhone 5c: A colourful iPhone 5

iPhone 4cThe iPhone 5c will feature with more or less the same specifications as the iPhone 5 from last year (except iPhone 5c is plastic), except it will feature iOS 7 and also show up in many different colours.The phone features a A6 processor and a 4-inch screen with Retina Display. I think this phone will probably end up exciting current iPhone owners but might not impress the high end Android owners as much. I mentioned Android phone users because this phone was supposed to be the cheaper iPhone with an eye towards capturing a big share of emerging markets like India and China.

The phone though might have been dubbed as the cheaper iPhone for emerging markets like China and India. The phone is being priced competitively in the US for $99 for the 16GB model and $199 for the 32 GB model. But those prices are with a 2-year phone contract and the phone without a contract is $549. That at today’s exchange rate will be over Rs. 35,000 in India! That is not a cheap phone by any means. If Apple was hoping to capture the emerging market with iPhone 5C, it might have got it wrong.

iPhone 5s – the real iPhone upgrade

iPhone 5sWith iPhone 5s, Apple has sort of escaped the iterated improvements on their phones. The phone will ship in 3 different colours, featuring a 4 inch diagonal screen with retina display. The camera will support taking photos in burst mode and also supports slow motion capture.

It will pack two processors. The A7 chip and M7 motion co-processor. The A7 chip supports 64-bit architecture and that makes iPhone 5s an extremely powerful device. The M7 motion co-processor basically will track data from gyroscope, accelerometer and the magnetometer on the phone. This data capturing should allow developers to introduce some really useful contextual apps in the future.

If 64-Bit architecture was not enough, iPhone 5s has made the home button in a fingerprint sensor. This sensor can be used to unlock your phone. People tend to not use pass codes because it involves typing 4 digit numbers everytime we open the phone. I suppose fingerprint sensors will make life a lot more easy. It will also disincentive theft of iPhones.

So what is Apple really upto?

Some tech blogs have mentioned that Apple is now following the likes of Samsung by releasing two different phones. I do not think that is the case, otherwise the iPhone 5c would have been cheaper. Apple on the other hand is taking a leaf out of its laptop business.

The MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air are two variants of the mac laptop. The MBP is the premium one and is probably one the most costly laptops around just like iPhone 5s will be the most costly smartphone around. The competitive pricing of MacBook Air is being replicated with the slightly cheaper but still packed with good software and hardware iPhone 5c.

The real coup for Apple would be for the iPhone 5s selling in its millions (it probably will) in developed countries but wring away or arrest the total domination of Android in emerging markets with iPhone 5c. The real possible danger Apple faces is if iPhone 5c eats into market-share of iPhone 5s.

Links: iPhone 5c | iPhone 5s

‘Google Now’ is available on iPhone and iPad

Until today, Google Now was only available one Android but today it goes live on iOS. If you are using Google Search app on your iPhone or iPad, you only have to update the app. The Google Now feature will be updated onto your Google Search app.

Google Now basically taps into your data from various services like Gmail, Google Maps, Google+, Google Places, your search history and more. This information is then used to serve you with useful reminders and prompts.You might need change your privacy settings to allow your iPhone or iPad to let the Google app access your location data.

Google Now iOS

This is indicative that Google Now might soon be coming to our desktops thanks to it being integrated with Chrome or even Google’s homepage. We might see more such updates from Google in the run-up to its annual Google I/O conference.

If you have an iPhone or a iPad try out Google Now on it and drop in your comments.

Link: Google Now on App Store

List of Top 10 Free Photo apps for iPhone

If you own a iPhone, then you are probably taking a lot of photos. While iPhone does have its built-in features for managing and editing photos, a lot of us like to use apps. Here is a list of free photo editing and management apps for your iPhone.

#1. Pixlr-o-matic

Pixlr-o-matic
Pixlr-o-matic

This app lets you transform your photos by applying cool retro effects to them. Pixlr-o-matic offers a wealth of filters and lighting options in a strip along the bottom as well as a selection of borders. You can either take photos using your device’s camera, or apply the effects to an existing image.

Link: Pixl-o-matic

#2. Photosynth – Capture your world in 3D

Photosynth
Photosynth

Microsoft’s Photosynth app for iPhone (oddly, it’s not available for Windows Phone 7) lets you create seamless, 360-degree panoramas from multiple photos. Just press ‘start’ and rotate slowly on the spot to capture and stitch together a series of shots. You can add your panoramas to Bing Maps and explore other users’ efforts.

Link: Photosynth

#3. Flock

Flock
Flock

Flock groups together your photos with those of your friends and family to create a shared online album of a particular event. It scans your photos as you take them, and displays them with your Facebook friends’ photos taken at the same time or in the same place, with the same people in them. You can set individual photos to private if you don’t want to share them.

Link: Flock

#4. Pixengo

pixengo
pixengo

With Pixengo, you can add 30-second voice messages and ambient sounds to your photos to add atmosphere to them and bring them to life. The app works on new photos, as well as old images saved in your gallery. You can share your ‘audio photos’ with friends on Twitter, Facebook and email.

Link: Pixengo

#5. Blippar

Blippar
Blippar

Augmented-reality app Blippar uses your phone’s camera to recognise real-world items such as posters, newspaper adverts and food products. The app then overlays the object with games, videos and web links. Cadbury is currently offering Blippar content via the packaging of its chocolate bars.

Link: Blippar

#6. TouchRetouch Free

Touch Retouch Free
Touch Retouch Free

Forget messing around with fiddly editing tools; TouchRetouch Free lets you remove unwanted elements from photos using your finger. Just select the item you want to erase and press Go. Usefully, the app includes unlimited Undo actions in case you’ve eradicated something important.

Link: TouchRetouch Free

#7. PicArts Photo Studio

PicArts Photo Studio
PicArts Photo Studio

Pic Arts Photo Studio lets you edit individual or multiple photos. You can add stickers, lighting effects and frames, and rotate, crop and resize your photos. Our favourite tool is Color Splash, which turns your picture black and white, then restores colour only to certain parts.

Link: Photo Studio

#8. Instagram

Instagram
Instagram

This addictive photo-sharing app, bought by facebook for $1billion, lets you add filter effects and tilt-shift blurs and borders to create unique images from your phone’s camera. You can share the images on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare or by email, and they will also appear on your Instagram account’s news feed, where they can be rated and commented upon.

Link: Instagram

#9. Web Albums – A Picasa viewer

Web Albums
Web Albums

This app let’s sync your iPhone or iPad photos with your picasa account. Using Web albums app you can view, upload and manage your picasa photos.

Link: Web albums

#10. Dabble

Dabble
Dabble

Dabble turns holiday snaps into postcards that can be pinned via the app to the place the photo was taken, and shared on Facebook  by email and by text. You can add messages to your postcards and tag people in them, and see other people’s postcards when you check into a location on the app. When you arrive somewhere, the app will alert you if there is a Dabble photo saved for that location.

Link: Dabble

#11. Snapseed (Bonus)

Snapseed is also a very popular photo app on iPhone. It is popularly known as the best photo editing app on the iOS ecosystem. Though in the past it was a paid app, it is now free for iPhone users after Google bought it.

Link: Review of Snapseed

Hopefully you have all the app you need in this list. Do let us know of any other ones we have missed in your comments.

Official Google Maps App Available for iPhones

Google Maps Apps is now available on iOS App store. The Google Maps App for iOS will include turn by turn navigation which is voice based, vector based maps and will support 2D and 3D layouts. When Apple introduced iOS 6 at the WWDC 2012 event, it decided to do away with Google Maps for its own Map service.

The newly approved Google Maps app on App store, has been created ground up. It includes an expandable info sheet for more details on businesses and landmarks.

Apple’s Google Maps Saga

Apple’s own Map service was disastrous as it simply did not match up to Google Maps. That was expected as Google has spent years collecting and refining the data for its maps feature. The issue became critical when users upgraded to iOS6 and found Google maps missing. Apple’s own mapping service had many errors and outside the U.S and Europe, it was more or less considered useless. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, did apologize for the maps fiasco and even went on to recommend using Bing and Nokia Maps along with Google Maps via the Safari browser.

Google had never released a official maps app on iOS platform. Since iPhone was introduced, Apple used date from Google Maps to create a default app for the iPhone. This meant that when people upgraded to iOS 6 there was no way to access the Google Maps app on the phone.

If you own a iPhone or iPad, download the official Google Maps App and do let us know about your views.

Link: Google Maps App for iOS

65% people can’t live without their iPhone

I have heard of iPhone users falling in love with their phone. But the true extent of iPhone craze can be only understood, when a survey shows up that 65% users cannot live without their iPhones. Smartphones purchases also are affecting other types of gadgets. For example 60% of iPhone users will not buy a MP3 players and 55% users will not buy a camera.

Here are more such interesting statistics about smartphones and their users in a infographic by Coupon Audit.

Smartphone_devoted

What do you think about smartphones? Do drop in your comments.

Related: Infographics on Devils’ Workshop

Remove Sync.Me “cheap call” spam from your iPhone Contacts

Not so long time ago, I was a happy Sync.Me user. It was named SmartSync then and as far as I remember was among top application in Apple’s App Store.

Out of the blue in one of its update they added support for some VOIP-service. As they already had access to my iPhone contact-book, they without my permission added a “cheap call” URL-field to every contact in my iPhone. You can see it below:

Initially, I ignored it but it created issues during next sync. This “cheap call” link on next-sync got added to my Mac’s Contacts book (Address-book on old Mac OS version). From their it got synced to my Google Contacts!

When I tried contacting Sync.Me support, I did not get reply for 5-days. After that, their support team said that cheap-call feature is pulled so that I need to wait for few weeks after which they will add an option to remove cheap-call fields from my contacts!

AppleScript came to rescue

Sometime back I learned little-bit of AppleScript using it I first tried creating my own small AppleScript to clean this mess. When I stuck, I  started googling which lead me to amazing AppleScripts collection by Trevor.

I used Trevor’s Remove Emails for Label script and after some minor changes got it working to remove this “cheap call” spam from my contacts.

How-To Use This!

  1. Open Contacts Application on your Mac.
  2. Take a backup of your contacts. Use File >> Export >> Contacts Archive... option.
  3. Download this AppleScript file.
  4. You will see RemoveURLsByLabel.scpt file on your Mac. Just click it and it will open with AppleScript Editor application.
  5. Now, go to your Contact and select contacts from which you would like to remove “cheap call” field. You can select all contacts. Script will not make any changes to contacts which do not have “cheap call” field.
  6. After selecting one or more or all contacts, go to AppleScript Editor and click Run button.  
  7. The script will first remind you to backup your contacts, then it will prompt for URL label name. Default is “cheap call” which should work fine. For non-english users, if label name is something else, type/paste it there. 
  8. Just hit OK. Script will take some time to finish if you have large contact-book. At the end of it, you will see “cheap-call” spam gone!
  9. Sync your Mac contacts to iPhone. Feel free to run this script again, if this field re-appears because of syncing to some other resource.

What’s Next…

I have removed Sync.Me. They might add an option to remove it in future but I hate it when some app leaves its shit in my contact book. I removed this application for now.

I am now using iOS6’s built-in Facebook/Twitter Sync options. iOS6 sync’s less data as compared to Sync.Me but I am happy with less data rather than more spam in my contact book!

Github Link: AppleScript to remove cheap-call spam by Sync.Me

iCloud.com leaves beta with updated Notes and Reminders apps

When Apple first released iCloud, it was only available on Apple devices and not on the web. After a few months they released a web app with iCloud.com and it was in beta.

Now that iOS 6 is going to available for download soon, they’ve removed the beta tag and the service is now public.

icloud-com-web

The service now features Notes and Reminders which have been added to OS X Mountain Lion, along with update to Find My iPhone – which has remote lock, remote wipe and play sound features.

Also, you will see notifications synced via Notification center on iOS 5 (or later) and OS X 10.8.

The webapp is really neat in design, it will feel more like a native app instead. They should probably add iMessage to the list of apps, allowing you to send messages right from the website.

Getting your iCloud account hacked can be really nasty as the hacker can wipe out everything that’s there on each of your Apple devices, remember the story of Mat Honan?

You can setup an iCloud account with your existing Apple account via your iPhone/iPad or Mac’s settings.

Link: iCloud

Google Drive Enables Editing of Documents for iPhone users

Google Drive has pretty much replaced Google Docs. One of the best features on Google Documents are the options of editing documents, leaving comments on them with the browser. Today with an update to Google Drive app, iPhone users will be allowed to edit their Google Documents. This option was already available to Android users.

Google Drive will also synchronize both iPhone and Android apps with additional features like speaker notes, full-screen mode, moving files into folders and creating new folders.

Personally, I have been using Dropbox, but lately with options to download my Gmail attachments in Google Drive, I find it quite handy. These new features might give Google Drive a bigger edge.

In the next few months, we should start seeing tablets running on Windows 8 and Office 2013, leveraging SkyDrive storage from Microsoft. This will probably mean, Google will make more announcements and upgrades to make sure they remain ahead of whatever Microsoft throws at them. I guess it is a good time to be a consumer.

Video of new updates to Google Drive

So if you are using Google Drive on your iPhone/iPad or Android based phone and tablet, go ahead and update your app for getting the new features.

Link: Google Drive for iPhone | Android

The Iconic Apple iPhone Turns 5 years Old

Steve Jobs walked onto the stage to introduce three new devices. The first one was a wide-screen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone and a breakthrough internet communicator. As he explained to the audience that they were not three separate devices but a single one called the iPhone. He claimed that “Apple was going to reinvent the phone”.

The iPhone was introduced in January 2007, but today’s date (29th June) was the day when users first got their hands on the device. Serpentine queues outside stores from opening day were just signs of things to come. The iPhone today has a brand name that is unparalleled in the mobile phone business. It’s success has also pushed Apple to become the world’s most valuable company.

The Touch Effect

The phone had no physical buttons, it had no stylus. It was a complete touchscreen phone. If you look at smart-phones today, almost every single one of them is a touch screen phone.

The original iPhone was not just a great product, it pretty much set the standard for all mobile phone manufacturers. The touch responsive screen of mobile phones also gave rise to exponential growth in 3rd party apps for smartphones

Touchscreens becoming common place also did play a big part in the launch and success of iPad and tablet devices as a niche.

Even though I prefer using Android,  I cannot ignore the influence of iPhone on Android. If you look at the struggling phone manufacturers today which are Nokia and RIM. They both stuck with their key pad phone models for far too long.

Do drop in your comments.