Archive

Archive for November, 2008

Google Chrome test drive

November 30, 2008 Leave a comment

A couple of days ago I decided to try out Google’s Chrome browser. I had heard the browser was faster which is one of the reasons I wanted to test drive it. The other reason is that I had a lot of my other information already being serverd by Google (google reader, gmail, picasa, G1, etc…) that I might as well try out their browser. It is also kind of scary to think all my information is being managed by one vendor who’s business model is based on data they can mine from their customer base. But that is a concern I can live with when you consider privacy is relative when considering the federal gov’t has even more access to my life than I could imagine. Here are my impressions about the Chrome browser.

Clean Interface

First let me say that I am Firefox user and have not really used IE over the past year except to test displays of Web sites. After opening the Chrome browser I was pleasantly surprised by the clean interface. Google has been known for their very sparse search page but it is hard to imagine bringing that same layout to the browser wars. Gone are the traditional menu items File, Edit, View and History that you see in IE and Firefox. No longer is the there a Title bar with the vendor branding in the top left corner staring you in the face. It does take a little getting used to but after a few minutes of surfing, you start to appreciate the new found real estate.

Chrome and Firefox

Integrated Search

The Google Chrome browser also has an integrated search which displays results as you type text into the URL field. As you see in the image to the right, as I typed the word ‘banana’ the results continued to update after each letter of the word. If I was looking for the Banana Repulic Web site, I can now just click the URL. The search also looks through your browser history to find matches and displays the results. You can also see how simple it is to launch a general search for any word by entering the word in the URL field and clicking enter. 

Chrome's integrated search

Intelligent History

The last thing I’ll mention about the Chrome browser is the ‘new’ tab window. When you click on the plus icon to open a new tab, the new tab displays the most visited sites, recent bookmarksand recently closed tabs. As you can see from the image below, the layout is again pretty clean and easy to understand. This helps me a lot when I accidentally close a tab and it saves me from having to go to the browser history to re-open that site. It is also a very easy way to show me which sites I visit the most.  

Chrome - New Tab

Summary

I would recommend installing the application and taking it for a test run. Installation is pretty seamless and all of the your bookmarks get migrated over. I will note that some sites too a little longer to load initially (cnn.com), but now come as fast as ever. If you experience similar results with sites you go to, just be aware that the delay occurred once or twice. While I wouldn’t classify this browser as an innovation in browser applications, I give a lot of credit to Google development for not sitting back and copying what is the status quo in browser look’n feel and for incorporating usable features to make a very good browsing experience.

Advertisements

Will it be the Phone that connects us?

November 27, 2008 Leave a comment

Years ago companies like Palm, Microsoft, Nokia and others were trying to develop a smartphone that would take the phone from being purely a device on which to talk to becoming the traveling desktop. Billions of dollars were thrown at building, marketing and selling these gadgets to the mobile workforce and to a lesser extent the average consumer. There was no crossover into the consumer market became a much larger barrier to success for each of these vendors than I think they originally imagined. The problem was that the mobile phone at the time was a very simple device that let you connect with someone via a call, it did not require a degree in computer science to operate and it just worked. While these companies tried to merge the desktop experience onto a phone it never really got to the point where it just worked.

google-android

What if you reversed the question and asked what is it that a mobile phone consumer was using their phone for that the phone may not have originally been designed to do? Or are there things that the mobile phone consumer was doing in their daily life to connect with one another that they were not using their phone for? One of the biggest shifts in the use of the mobile phone is the for the use of texting. While it is a very simple use of the phone, it meets the two principles of the phone. #1 it just works and #2 it is a way to stay connected. Let’s look at other uses of the phone through the filter of these two principles of developing a mobile device or uses for the device.

Blackberry quickly became the king of mobile e-mail for businesses. Their push technology left all other vendors in the dust. Their phones were very basic, for the longest time going without the bells and whistles of cameras, music and video players. They were able to prove out a very important point, though which was if you can deliver e-mail on the phone, makes it seamless and easy-to-use, then people will buy it. And in some cases people will switch to their blackberry as their primary method to connect back to office e-mail. This goes right back to the two principles above. It just works and it keeps them connected.

Apple made another large jump in the evolution of the phone through their iPhone. They made it easy to use and their app store provided another way for people to connect or share with each other.

Now if you follow along with the progress of social media as the next evolution of staying connected, is a logical progression of social media on the mobile phone. The question is who can deliver a product that just works. Furthermore, which vendor or application can make the mobile phone the preferred interface for social media?

While I am writing this blog on my laptop today, I can also write it from my G1 using the wordpress app I recently installed. But I will wait until they work out the kinks and get it to just work. What does this portend for the computer that had been the place where everyone went to get connected to the Internet and each other?

Mobile Friends – Meebo Style

November 8, 2008 Leave a comment

Meebo comes to G1

Meebo on G1

I wrote a post earlier about the Google App Market on the G1 being one of it’s greatest features. It got even better this past week with the addition of the meebo application for G1. For those of you unfamilar with meebo, it is a web site that keeps you connected to all of your IM networks from a single browser page. I have been a big fan of meebo for a awhile because it allows me to see all of of my Google, MSN and Yahoo IM contacts in a single list, from any computer and I don’t need to install any software. This works great because sometimes I don’t have my computer with me. What more can you ask for?

When it showed up in the Google App Market, I was ecstatic!! Prior to the meebo app, the G1 had separate apps for each IM account which was not very practical. With meebo for the G1, I am now have the ability to easily IM my friends from anywhere, with or without a pc.

IM from Anywhere with any Buddy

The biggest drawback with IM for me was the fact that even though it had been a very good tool for instant communication with a colleague or group of people, the lack of interoperability between different IM systems was a drag on the technology. I mean can MSN, Google, Yahoo or AIM realistically believe that their customer’s friends will all be on the same IM network? Or that they could force their customers to change to their network? Of course not.

Taking a page from the e-mail playbook, IM is becoming more of a standard and the IM vendors are starting to understand that it is in their best interest to open the path for interoperability with different systems. This network agnostic approach has worked beautifully in e-mail to spur innovation to the benefit of the consumer. There are applications that have taken advantage of multi-IM integration…see Trillian. Meebo has taken this to another level with ‘access anywhere’ from a Web browser and exceptional ease of use. Simply get onto a computer, now mobile device, and connect to all your buddies.

Like I said I have been using meebo for months, have been extremely happy and would recommend to anyone with multiple IM accounts or if you just need to contact you friends while you without your pc.

Disclaimer: I don’t work for meebo, but it sounds like a nice place to work and they are really pushing the envelope.

Google has gone mobile

November 1, 2008 Leave a comment

Let me introduce you to my new best friend, the G1 from T-Mobile and Google. T-Mobile G1After playing with the G1 for the past few days, I can say that I am blown away by how well thought out the product is. Within 5 minutes I was up and running with my contacts, inbox and calendar synched from my gmail account. Having been a blackberry user for the past 4 years, I never thought I would find a better OS mixing phone, messaging and e-mail, but the G1 changed my mind.

Top 3 features of the G1:

1) The Andriod Market has been a welcome surprise. New apps are continuously being added, but even better are the new enhancements to apps based on user feedback. The K-9 Mail app is a great example of this back and forth with developer Jesse Vincent.

2) The built-in keyboard made the transition from my blackberry seamless and the combination of the trackball with the touchscreen is a game changer in navigation through web pages and apps.

3) The three home screens that switch with the flick of a finger is great. This is a feature that I wouldn’t mind seeing on my laptop.

Things I would like to see:

1) A good video player

2) Video recording

3) Apps for facebook and LinkedIn to make my life even easier

4) Hulu.com somehow available on the G1

5) Tethering with my laptop