Friday, March 29, 2013

Mobile technology in Edinburgh saves human limbs!

Edinburgh, UK is where mobile technology saves human limbs
Edinburgh, UK
Scotland's Edinburgh proves mobile technology makes things you do faster, easier and more productive. Mobile can make things tremendously more pleasant. A lot of mobile promises for tourists and/or business travelers used to end up disappointing with slowness or lack of availability when desperately needed most. One of the biggest cities of UK cracks a whip on inconvenience and sequential way of doing things.

My wife and I spent a weekend in Edinburgh, UK. I packed lightly and caught a flight to Glasgow. Yes, Glasgow - I felt like checking out Edinburgh's main transit stations on a train ride from Glasgow via ScotRail. That is where a list of positive mobile experiences begins:
  1. Relax, stretch and quiet down while getting your mobile gear in order
  2. Let your phone tell  you what's hot in the area
  3. Scan to get in-the-know
  4. Love mobile versions of websites
  5. Mobile payment at your coffee shop
  6. Buy a ticket on your phone and avoid losing a limb

Relax, stretch and quiet down while getting your mobile gear in order

I realized that getting a 1st class ticket might be an overkill. In comparison to WizzAir, ScotRail has a royal treatment for you in 1st class. Super comfy, adjustable and large seats' space give access to working outlets. You don't hunch at an outlet in a restroom to get some juice in your smartphone's battery. While it's charging you are pampered with newly implemented WiFi on the train. 

Let your phone tell you what's hot in the area

Princess Street in Edinburgh is stuffed with mobile technology stores including mobile/cellular carriers. As of March 22nd 2013, 10 GBP will get you 500MB of internet connectivity from Vodafone, while stores like EE will hook you up with UNLIMITED bandwidth for 16 pounds (among many other options). Let your phone devour that pure Scottish bandwidth. Foursquare can tell you what's sponsored or what your friends recommend, but if not too many of your connections on 4sq frequent the British Islands, a mobile app called Welcome to Scotland with provide recommendations. Download it via WiFi while on the train, have a game plan for your trip by the time you get to your destination.

Scan to get in-the-know

As you stroll around Edinburgh, your eyes tend to catch those white-and-black collections of tiny squares called QR codes. Hold your phone to it for a second or two and find out more about bus tours, attractions of the area or stores as you pass them along enchanting Princes Street.

Love mobile versions of websites

It's hard not to get yourself enclosed in horizons defines by beautiful outlines of old castles. Google random two keywords "castle edinburgh" and you'll find local castle's website. Not that full size, flash-bloated and overwhelming portal for PCs with 21" monitors. Mobile version of the site will provide more than you need to know IN AN INSTANT. It's super fast and it has all the info you might need to know while a female companion hold your arm in awe of admiration. Seriously, the days of mobile versions of sites being border-line useless are over according to webmasters on the east coast of Scotland.

Mobile payment at your coffee shop

Starbucks' mobile payment success is so yesterday's news, but you can't yet use it in every storefront on the globe. Certain regions that host Starbucks may still have security, technology or staff training restrictions preventing coffee connoisseurs from the fastest and most convenient method of payment known to mankind. Scotland is not one of those regions - quite the contrary, those squiggly rotating scanning devices are ready to go in multiple locations of Edinburgh. After you freeze your ass off and make a caffeine pit stop at Seattle's famous coffee giant, the last thing you desire is to sift through foreign currency to pay for anything. Waving Starbucks mobile app on your phone screen is much faster, easier and more pleasant.

Buy a ticket on your phone and avoid losing a limb

Last weekend was horrendously cold in Edinburgh. Strong gusts of wind would sometimes sway us front side to side as we walked yet another crossing of Rose Street. Several degrees below zero combined with strong wind that makes snow fall vertically freezes your butt off. A walk up to the top of a tall castle hill overlooking entire city and providing a glimpse of the shoreline makes your limbs feel stiff by the time you get to the main gate where the ticket office is. Half a mile long serpentine-shaped queue is the last thing your frozen butt wants to see on a blistering cold day. Pull out your phone, recall castle's mobile site, tap Buy Tickets, enter your credit card number from the comfort of a nearby general info booth. Quick print from a ticket terminal gets you back on track, while the ticket center's multiple windows handled perhaps 3 spots from the queue. Had we waited on that queue we would most likely end up in barderline-amputation-severity frost bites.

For that reason, I dare to claim that

" Mobile technology in Edinburgh saves human limbs! "

If you don't believe it, share your insights below. Intrigued to find out your thoughts on mobile in Scotland.
Happy journeys!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Coffee. Smartphone. Music. Easy.

Starbucks Mobile App - Messages - Unread Item
Starbucks Mobile App - tap Messages

Remember times when all guns were pointed at Napster? Music industry was forced to undergo a seismic shift since those days and so did technology. But there were times in the past when technology disappointed with half-baked solutions that only geeks (like me) had patience to deal with. These days mobile technology really makes listening to quality new music cheaper, faster, easier and more productive than even before. Coffee lovers already now know how Starbucks mobile app is a great example of that.  

Apple's iTunes system provides a way to not only buy but also redeem gifts or retrieve content downloadable for free with coupons. To get a piece of free music like that, the most optimistic case scenario would call for the following routine:

  1. Drive to one of Starbucks store locations in your area
  2. Get the coupon (paper slip with a scratch-off) from a Starbucks Store
  3. Connect to WiFi on your iPhone or any other iDevice
  4. Open iTunes
  5. Dig up a spot where you could redeem your coupon
  6. Type in your cryptic coupon code
  7. Type it in again because it's borderline impossible to get it right the first time
  8. Wait for iTunes reaction. If you survived until this step, please continue to be patient
  9. Wait for the download to start
  10. Check when the download completes
  11. Navigate your Purchased and/or Downloaded section of the music player on your iDevice
Oooph! 11 steps?! There's got to be a better way to see what our trusted brands have to suggest and offer to us. 

The answer to that cry is mobile technology, beautifully integrated and smoothly connected. As +Dirk Talamasca points out, you can do magic with the Starbucks mobile app, but I think...  

... this time technology really makes your life easier

  1. Install a free Starbucks app
  2. Open it and tap once on Messages
  3. Tap once on Pick of the Week
  4. Tap Download Now
That's it. As graphics below show, after about a minute, that song gets added to your playlist while you sip your grande Caramel Macchiato. No crashes. No syncing through a USB cable. No typing. No BS. Piece of everyday technology in your hand just:

I bet +Courtney Engle Robertson or +Peg Fitzpatrick would agree when I say "How awesome is that!" That's what technology should be to people - a way to make our lives easier.

Starbucks Mobile App - Tap once on Pick of The Week
Starbucks Mobile App - Tap once on Pick of The Week

Starbucks Mobile App - Tap Download Now
Starbucks Mobile App - Tap Download Now

Starbucks Mobile App - Just wait a quick minute
Starbucks Mobile App - Just wait a quick minute

Starbucks Mobile App - Your music is downloading automatically
Starbucks Mobile App - Your music is downloading automatically

Starbucks Mobile App - Your music is already added to your playlist
Starbucks Mobile App - Your music is already added to your playlist

Starbucks Mobile App - 1 minute from opening the app, new cool music is playing on your iDevice
Starbucks Mobile App - 1 minute from opening the app, new cool music is playing on your iDevice or an Android

Samsung Galaxy S4 | Life Companion is knocking it out of the park

Samsung Galaxy S4 Unpacked - New York City - March 14th 2013
Samsung Galaxy S4 Unpacked - New York - March 14th 2013

There is so much new going on in Samsung Galaxy S4. They call it the Life Companion

Techy, dry yet impressive improvements are:  

  1. Network: 3G (HSPA+ 42Mbps) : 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100 Mhz
  2. Display: 4.99 inch Full HD Super AMOLED [1920x1080] display [441 ppi]
  3. OS version: Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
  4. Main Camrea (Rear): 13 megapixel AF camera with Flash & Zero Shutter Lag BIS
  5. Sub Camera (Front): 2 megapixel camera, Full HD recording830fps with Zero Shutter Lag BIS
  6. Video: Codec: MPEG4, H 262, DivX, DivX3.11, VC-1, VP8, WMV7/8, Sorenson Spark, HEVC 
  7. Video Recording and Playback: Full HD1080p
  8. Audio: Codec: MP3, AMR-NB/WB, AAC/AAC+, WMA, OGG, FLAC, AC-3, apt-X
  9. Connectivity: WiFi a/b/g/n/ac [HT80], GPS/GLONASS, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0 [BLE], IR LED (Remote control) MHL 2.0
  10. Sensor: Accelerometer, RGB light, Digital Compass, Proximity, Gyro, Barometer, IR Geature, Temperature & Humidity
  11. Memory: 2GB LPDDR3 RAM, 16 / 32 / 64 GB User Memory + microSD (up to 64GB)
  12. Dimension: 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9mm, 130g
  13. Battery: 2600mAh

Those fancy features could lead to the following applications:
  1. Screen reacts to a touch through a glove
  2. You can embed yourself in a video that you are taking
  3. You can embed yourself in a picture that you are taking
  4. You can have a 3-way video call that uses both front and back cameras at the same time while also displaying the 3rd video feed on the screen
  5. S Transation: Voice to text and text to speech translation. 9 Languages
  6. Library of communication phrases in multiple languages available even without network connectivity
  7. Faster internet connection
  8. Wider range of supported connection technologies
  9. Backup and restore from any other smartphone with any other mobile OS 
  10. Air Gesture
  11. Smart Scroll / Pause: phone automatically pauses if you look away
  12. S Health: connected to exercise gadgets though many of the new sensors
  13. S Voice Drive: Voice activated handsfree operation of the maps and built in GPS
  14. Voice activated message reading and writing
  15. Drama Shot feature - 100 shots in a second lets you pick the best one
  16. Eraser: let's you pick an area from a picture and erase with one tap
  17. Air View: just like on your Samsung Note but using just your finger, not the stylus anymore
  18. Adapt Display: makes images more comfortable for your eyes to watch
  19. Story Album: automatic album creating feature - you just pick a template for a cover and for the pages and / or add text to pictures 
  20. Blurb integration: $10-$ 30 for a hardcopy album of shots from your Story Album
  21. Home Sync Device: ability to display newly takes picture at home while their being taken. 1 TB of cloud storage for your pictures and videos taken with Galaxy S4. Up to 8 users and each of them can have their own chunk of the storage. View content on a home TV in Full HD
  22. Samsung Hub: videos, games, books, learning with an intuitive magazine feature
  23. Samsung Knox: lock your device down to keep it safe - separate your phone info personal and corporate side of things. Privacy for you, security for your manager
  24. Group Play: turn up to 8 Samsung Galaxy S4 Devices into a multichannel boombox. It also allows you to share pictures and videos
  25. Accessories: S view cover (see what's happening without opening the cover), flip cover, pouch
That was an impressive Unpacking show. It's hard to pick a favorite new feature. I think I like that 1TB Home Sync the most... 

What's your favorite?

You can watch a repeat of Samsung Galaxy S4 Unpacked show online. Alternative URL will also point you to YouTube.