Out of Stock: iPad Mini & iPhone 5

iPad Mini
iPad Mini

It seems it is an entirely new era for Apple. Even if the world hadn’t learned about Steve Jobs’ passing away and Tim Cook taking over the direction of the company, one need only take a look at the latest developments chez-Apple to notice things have definitely taken a new direction.

First off, the iPhone 5 has taken heavy criticism. Even though people stood in line for hours outside Apple stores around the world to get their hands on the new iPhone, many have also felt there hasn’t been true innovation in the latest iPhone model. Other than it being slimmer, lighter and of course taller, there are other things that haven’t really changed. To be fair, the new aluminum model maintains the innovative model, and an easy grip.

The real annoyance was with the new Apple Maps application. Routes, streets and general addresses are inaccurate and practically unusable.  I have personally tried to use them several times, and there’s an even number between failure and success to find my way thanks to the app. Tim Cook had to publicly apologize to all users, saying that in truth, the new Maps app has fallen short from high expectations. Samsung of course took huge advantage in this flaw to start campaigns like “With Samsung, you know where you’re going”

iPhone 5
iPhone 5

What does really come as something new, is the iPad Mini. When Jobs was still around, he often refused the idea to come up with a smaller iPad model, mainly because he did not want to “go down” a level and compete directly with the Kindle Fire. Still, interestingly enough, after Tim Cook announced the new tablet, there was mention that Jobs was “reconsidering” his statement days before he passed away.

However, the iPad Mini is much more affordable, and even though it is not equipped with retina display, a great number of users are extremely satisfied with the mini tablet. Online sells have run out of stock [fortunately I could get one of the last online purchases of the iPad Mini myself – does it show that I’m an Apple lover?]. To play devil’s advocate, nothing can be perfect forever. There are bound to be flaws, even from the greatest companies in the world.

Both products have run out of stock mostly as soon as they are released in different parts of the world. Not to mention the never-ending lines outside retailers. If you ask me, the video shown at the Keynote by Cook on the new opening of an Apple Store in Barcelona was a tad much, even tacky if you will.

Just to sum it up, as they say “God – or the devil? – is in the details”, as is Tim Cook or Steve Jobs once upon a time. Can you tell the difference yourself?

watch?v=SvAjFZ0gWNc

The Pros and Cons of iOS 6

iOS6 Update
iOS6 Update

So it’s that time of year when Apple presented the new iPhone to the world with a unique keynote (others would call it a sales pitch). Aside from mentioning the new iPhone 5 now that everyone is talking about it, let’s focus more on the iOS update. Even though there are camping lines outside Mac stores in Asia and Australia to purchase the iPhone 5 , the rest of the world is updating iOS on their previous iPhone versions.

There are quite a few features that have changed in iOS 6. The thing that has stirred up a few loud opinions is Apple’s move to discard Google Maps and replace them with Apple Maps. Although indeed there is a 3D mode to view these maps, there is no street view and the UI seems a bit more austere when it comes to hybrid view.

Apple Maps vs Google Maps
Apple Maps vs Google Maps

Another move from Apple is to have removed the pre-installed YouTube app. Yet on the other hand, iOS6 now has a native Facebook app; among other things, this allows for you to directly share your media from your camera roll onto Facebook, as opposed to previous iOS versions in which you had to pull your media from the Facebook app. These changes have driven some to believe that there is an alliance between Facebook & Apple to try to keep Google out of the competition. Now if we all remember the part in which the late Steve Jobs vowed to crush Android because of its “stolen” technologies, well, there isn’t much room for doubt.

Another very interesting improvement is that now Siri speaks other languages, including Spanish. You can also include other voice commands, like Tweeting via Siri.

Tweeting with Siri
Tweeting with Siri

The App Store has a whole new UI and even has recommended apps for you to download. It no longer asks for your Apple ID password. There are plenty of other sutil changes you’ll notice as you navigate through your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. If there are any you like or I didn’t mention, please drop me a line and I’ll make sure to include it in this post.

What is your opinion of iOS6? Would you stay with the previous version if you knew beforehand?

 

Self Improvement Everywhere

Technology has always been there to make our lives easier. Get things done quicker, with less hassle and of course with better quality. But today, with a smartphone being a lot of people’s personal savior, apps do almost everything, everywhere.

However, something that can be noticeable and trending in the last few months is self-improvement. Being apps, or gamification features in certain brands (like Nike +), their ultimate goal is to make you stick to your goals and always be looking for self-improvement. This results in a win-win situation: you get things done in a better, faster way and brands have you engaged.

As mentioned before, Nike + has a very interesting gamification plan. It gets you to buy the appropriate gear to be in the game, or at least download their Nike+ app for iOS (iPod nano, touch and iPhone included). Personally, I’m hooked with this game plan. Not only do I now save Gym money, but I actually use my gear and run 15k a week. What keeps me going? The fact that I can track my progress and share my results with my friends via social networks. It’s nice to see a histogram of your performance and then compare the actual results in your every day life.

Now, as far as self-improvement apps go, there are several start ups with this idea in mind. For example Lift. As described in Venture Beat, Lift is a one-year-old start up in San Francisco that is looking to make people seek self-improvement –guess post it notes on your mirror aren’t cutting it anymore–. You set up alarms and tasks so you know what you have to do, when you have to do it; and of course, it exposes you in front of your friends via social media. Avoiding the judgmental finger perhaps? Well, apparently with this and many other examples, it does help to be in the spotlight, whether you’re doing things right or wrong.

Brands call it engagement, people call it motivation. Whatever the point of view is, in the end, you achieve your goals and thank a brand for it in the process.

Scribble Away on Google

Article first published as Scribble Away on Google on Technorati.

Scribble your Search on Google
Scribble your Search on Google

Lately, there are more practical ways for you to input information on your smaller screens, especially when it comes to Google products. Not only has  for Android been recently released, but now you can scribble on your touchscreen for whatever it is you’re looking for on the Google Search Engine.

Google has now enabled a small button on the bottom right corner of your touchscreen for you to scribble block letters or cursive writing. As you go on scribbling, the autocomplete feature will be changing according to what you have written; then you can select the best option or the closest one to what you wrote.

TechCrunch says that “The new feature will work on iOS5+ devices, as well as Android 2.3+ phones and Android 4.0 tablets.”  Be that as it may, the new handwriting feature will not replace keyboard input. It will only make it easier for you to look for something while you’re holding a cup of coffee or are busy with other activities.

In order for you to use it, you first need to enable the handwriting option on your device’s Google preferences. Once you do, you’ll notice a small button on the bottom right corner, once you click on it, scribble away!

 

Introducing Bottlenose

Article first published as Intoducing Bottlenose on Technorati.

Dashboard
Dashboard

Without a doubt, the king of search engines doesn’t need to be introduced. It has become a verb and even an adjective. Google has been top innovation for quite a while now. This said, it also bases search results on keyword relevance and geolocation, among other very important factors. However, a new search engine is starting out with a similar notion, yet it has concocted a recipe with social media and crowdsourcing as its main ingredients: Bottlenose.

Unlike Google, you need to set up an account with Bottlenose so it can shape your search results based on your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Linked in and others). It also provides you with a remote posting service for all of your linked accounts.

As for search results, it gives you the option to save them to your dashboard so you can review them later. It also gives you a list of trending topics and trending people which with one clic you can browse everything about that subject. With all the saved results, trends and a summary of all the publications and articles you follow, you can review topics as if they were an electronic newspaper.

To play the devil’s advocate, this is not 100% new. There are plenty of other services that can come up with a summary of your favorite publications, just like Rockmelt, Percolate, or Flipboard. As for search results combined with Social Media, Google had iGoogle which was recently shut down.

However, this little video might walk you through this new product and if you find it convenient enough, you can always sign up, and of course, it’s for free.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUCcxGDzZDs&feature=youtu.be]

After a $500,000 Price Tag, Digg is no More

Digg- Sold
Digg- Sold

Article first published as After a $500,000 Price Tag, Digg is no More on Technorati.

After being born in 2004 as a very promising start up, and taking over $45 million dollars in rounds of investment, Digg has finally come to a halt. It has been sold for merely $500,000 by New York startup incubator Betaworks.

Betaworks reports Digg will go back to being a small start up with News.me building it back up. Mashable also reports that a series of troubles have hindered Digg as a company, going from poor traffic, changes in management and overall staff, including Kevin Rose’s departure back in 2011.
Digg was a great place for link building, news sharing and community creation. However, similar companies stepped in to make room for competition like Reddit. This is also the other side of the technological story: companies might grow exponentially, but they also can plummet with the same speed.

Today we have other social networks that focus more on visual aids and rich media rather than just text in order to succeed. Take Pinterest as an example: it has become the third most important social network almost overnight, all thanks to its image & video curation. Facebook has also taken upon itself to evolve into a more rich media related network by purchasing Instagram.

Some others have chosen niche markets in order to survive, just like MySpace. We can only hope that Digg does come back into something stronger.

Photo Marketing

Every day more and more you can notice small changes across the web. There’s no doubt exponential growth is here to stay and well… grow! It’s been a long time since Kotler’s 4 Ps are no longer the magic formula for marketers. Outbound marketing has been long dead.

Instead, consumers are savvier, hungrier and much more quality demanding. The level of information consumption is beyond doubt at its highest level in history. We’re surrounded by gadgets that filter information for us according to what we want to see — hence the phrase “you see only what the mind wants to see” has more meaning than ever before–.

Especially in the web, we are only pulled in to content that is image or video related. No wonder 9gag has been such a hit! In fact, attention span and the number of unique users increases dramatically when there’s rich (high quality) media involved. An infographic by MDG Advertising proves this detail by detail.

Photo Marketing
Photo Marketing

Personally I observe it’s especially true with social media. Every time media is posted on Facebook or Twitter, fans come flowing in with likes, RTs and sharing. Pinterest is the live example of media curation, ordered in such a way that it has become the third largest social network, just because of rich media!

Facebook noted this trend a while back, ergo coming up with the Timeline which features media in a higher quality. Furthermore, Instagram’s purchase was done in great time to further exploit and feed users’ hunger for images. What kind of marketing will be next? With so many developments, it’s hard to keep up!

Facebook’s App Center, Switzerland of Apps?

Facebook’s user volume presents so much opportunities, that a lot of them, perhaps even the Facebook staff or Zuckerberg himself haven’t discovered yet. One of these opportunities was app development and support. It has been done for quite some time now. However, Facebook had much more potential than that. It has now announced that it will become an App hub. This “App center” will be the app shopping mall to go to.

Fear not, Facebook is not in on it to become the new king and major competition to Apple, Google or any other app store out there. It rather is the place to go to no matter what device you have. Just like in a shopping mall you can find hundreds of different stores and brands, Facebook App Center will offer these options.

Once you enter the site, you can select the device you are handling and will automatically be redirected to its main app center; if you have an iPhone, you’ll be redirected to Apple’s App Store; if you have an Android device, you’ll be redirected to Android Market and so on. Not only is it a handier place to look for the latest trends and your favorite apps, but it is also a better place to compare prices (if any), ratings, quality and just how many people are actually using certain apps or not. It is a more critical, user friendly place in which you can better trust your friends’ judgement instead of the biased opinion of their developers.

Now, if Facebook’s App Center doesn’t charge users a penny extra, what does Facebook gain out of it? Just like regular Facebook apps like Farmville and the like, Facebook credits can come into play. Although this won’t mean an extra cost for users, it will mean a commission cut from manufacturers and developers. Impressive right? What will they think of monetizing next? Stay tuned.

Social Media vs Apps, or both?

We are living an era in which traditional media is not trusted nor is it profitable anymore. People don’t read the paper; they scan through their iPads or smartphones. People don’t watch TV, they watch TV shows or movies on multiple, Internet connected screens (although the movie theatre experience is a subject apart). People like to play and interact with their favorite brand, this cannot be done via traditional media.

For not so long now, people were starting to panic when they saw that their traditional marketing strategy was not delivering customers. “Is this company going down? Am I broke” many entrepreneurs might have thought. Those that were not early adopters or innovative minds, were being left behind on print.

It’s different today. Right now, log into your Facebook account, how many brands or companies have you “liked” on that network? How many of those have a Twitter account that you also follow? Even if companies and brands still publicize their product or service via traditional media, they’re using that to inform you that they have an app ready for you to use on your preferred device, or that they have a channel of communication in X social network.

Now, the question is, out of the new and innovative communication channels, who is winning the race: apps or social networks? Let’s break them down one by one.

Apps. They are everywhere. “There’s an app for that” started out as a joke, but now, it’s nothing but the truth. Anything you want to solve, you can do so via an app installed in your smartphone or any other smart device. Heck, my iPhone has apps I barely use but that have saved me from a lot of trouble. For instance, I installed the Flash Light app; yes, a flash light on mi iPhone! Spare time aside, there are plenty of useful interactive apps from famous brands that achieve direct access with their consumers.

Take Nike for example. They transformed the runner’s culture into a whole smart and connected community. You run, it syncs up with your favorite playlist, it tells you how many miles you ran, how many calories you burnt, etc. It changed the whole runners scheme. Sure, billboards and TV commercials are still up now and then, but this direct and customized experience cannot be achieved with traditional media.

Social Media. Facebook, Twitter and now Pinterest are the most effective social networks. Let’s skip the ones we’ve already been familiarized with for quite some time now and focus on Pinterest. To be perfectly honest, at the beginning I didn’t give this network any faith. I wrongly thought it would be just like any other social network and their 15 minutes of fame. However, Pinterest has achieved in images what Twitter has in text. This image collection is so simple to use, that Tech Crunch has pronounced it the third most important social network (I believe the first two are obvious) in so little time.

Pinterest is really more about the branding connection it can offer to companies rather than any other strategy, but nowadays branding per se takes a large piece of the strategy pie.

Now, as an entrepreneur or strategist, which do you prefer? Apps or Social Networks? Why not have both?

TEDx Zapopan, Independently Organized

My dedication to watch TED talks started at an Innovation course when I was in college. The main idea behind these talks (even mentioned in their logo) is to share ideas worth spreading. All kinds of speakers with different backgrounds, topics and fields of study have spoken here. Anything from religion, to innovation; from ancient history to modern and advanced technology. The beauty of these talks is that it recognized work done by thousands of people around the globe.

Adalberto Flores - Director of Operations Ooyala Mexico

TED started out being specially organized conferences that had tremendous logistics and organization. However, many people around the world felt like they needed such an event to be close to them, to be hosted in their cities and countries. Thus, TED developed TEDx – Independently organized events.

Darius Lau - My Ex classmate and CISCO prize winner

One of my former teachers from college, Daniel Pandza, decided to go forth with this independent license here in Guadalajara (or Zapopan, the neighboring county). At first it seemed to be a longshot project. But like all things innovative, there was disbelief at the start and complete confidence in the end.

Jorge Sánchez - Agencia Espacial Mexicana

Finally, twenty speakers from all of Mexico were gathered under one roof at Tec de Monterrey, Campus Guadalajara (my alma mater) to speak about their struggle in life, and how they followed their passion to become who they are now. Every speaker that went by just made the event more and more interesting. It was as if like the passion fever was spreading from one person to the next.

Rodo Padilla - Mexican Sculptor and Designer

The room was filled with an entrepreneurial audience (yours truly included). I met many of my old classmates (it was like a mini reunion after graduation), I met with other entrepreneurs from the area, and even former co-workers. All of them had but one thing in common, passion for what they do.

Patricia García Torres - Steinway Artist

Although the event started at a little past 5pm, I was there earlier to help out with the logistics and get a bit of an inside scoop behind the scenes. One by one, the speakers came in and were redirected to the make up room (yes, believe it or not, they also have their make up privileges). I spoke with a few of them and was amazed at their current projects (many of which were not exactly spoken about during their talks).

And so, the event was a complete success and ended until 10pm. An event that we usually saw in class through the Internet, one that seemed so far away, was finally here and I was part of it. Here are some of the speakers who were present at the conference, and you can watch the entire talk here. Cheers!