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Date: Sunday, 14 Sep 2014 11:19

THE first time I used a phone I wasn’t able to dial the number. I was in grade school and with a friend who was asked by his mother to call his dad at his office. We went to the emergency room at a nearby hospital, the only phone we could use at that time.

My friend and I had never used a phone till then. I dialed the number clockwise and couldn’t move the rotary face. He did the same. Try as we did, we couldn’t move the rotary dial. It’s not working because of the brownout, we concluded and then went home. When his mother corrected us that phones still worked even during a brownout, we returned the hospital to ask to use the phone again and were guided by a staff member on how to properly dial the number.

In college, I would line up at the payphone booths in the UP Diliman shopping center to call a trunk line in the company office in Makati City to be connected to my father in his office in Polomolok, South Cotabato. We were lucky we had this facility, my classmates had to spend a fortune (we’re talking enough money to pay unli-LTE for days today) to call long distance. Back then, you had to schedule phone calls ahead to make sure the parties were near the device to pick it up.

No more need to line up

Today, we no longer need to line up in front of payphone booths. We carry around our phones with us wherever we go. Before, we used to let the phone ring for some time, to allow for the person to pick up the receiver. Now, we cut off after just a few rings, knowing the person will see the “miscall” and return the call or send a message when he or she is available.

Rotary phone

Rotary phone. More than just for calling, today’s “phones” are a veritable portable computer. (Creative Commons photo by Flickr user Caselet)

Back then, you wouldn’t know who was on the other line when you picked up the receiver. Now, you’d know and decide whether to take the call. All of us have our own phone numbers, some with several.

Today, making calls is the least of the things we do in our phones. Often, it’s where we do social networking. As of last June, Facebook reported 654 million mobile daily active users.

Main e-mail device

For many people, phones are where we initially process e-mails. With apps like Mailbox, it’s so much easier to reply to, schedule for later, archive, file and delete messages. Phones are also great for note-taking and with apps like Google Keep, it’s so much easier to tap notes and to-do lists, with time-based or location triggers for reminders.

Phones are now our main cameras and photo albums. Phones have gotten so good in photography people are no longer buying stand-alone cameras.

Phones have also become our main media device: from viewing websites through their mobile versions or using apps like Flipboard to reading e-books using the Amazon Kindle app or any of the many similar options.

Processing power

Apple launched its new iPhones last week. Other manufacturers announced new models weeks earlier. And when you listen to them discuss the full technical specifications of the devices they are launching: it’s just astounding. The hardware specs of phones today are similar to what was then considered cutting edge for desktops and laptops a few years ago.

The processing power of today’s phones is more than that of the system that put man on the moon. Imagine that.

So what’s a phone today? It’s a device with which we make calls, sure, but it’s also our main camera, messaging system, database, gaming device, media device, reader, among many other uses. Soon, it will be our identity system and payment wallet.

Today’s phone is a powerful and portable computer.

The post What’s a phone? appeared first on Leon Kilat : The Tech Experiments.

Author: "Max Limpag" Tags: "Highlights"
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Date: Sunday, 24 Aug 2014 10:52

THIS year in the United States, majority of all digital media time is spent on mobile apps, Internet analytics company comScore said in its latest release, “The US Mobile App Report.”

The app majority milestone comes a year after comScore reported a “multi-platform majority,” when most American consumers started using both desktop and mobile devices. It was also around that same time last year that “mobile first surpassed desktop in terms of total digital media engagement,” comScore said.

This year, it’s all about mobile apps.

Apps are fueling mobile growth, the company said, because these are “where most of the devices’ utility come from.” “Without apps, smartphones and tablets are merely shells — like a beautifully designed car equipped with every feature you could want, but without any gas in the engine,” comScore said in its report.

comScore US media time

Share of digital media time in the US, according to comScore.

Time spent on digital media

Time spent on digital media went up 24 percent from June 2013 to June this year. ComScore said the growth is driven by apps, which increased by 52 percent in just one year. Mobile web went up 17 percent while desktop managed to squeak a one percent increase.

With the growth, mobile now accounted for 60 percent of digital media time spent in the US. Mobile apps came second at 52 percent. Desktop, on the other hand, dropped to just 40 percent in June from 53 percent in March 2013.

The company said apps accounted for seven of every eight minutes in media consumption on mobile devices.

Top apps

The top apps, however, come from just a few categories with “Social Networking, Games and Radio contributing nearly half of the total time spent on mobile apps.” This shows that compared to the desktop, “mobile devices are more heavily used for entertainment and communication,” comScore said.

As expected, Facebook is the top app, followed by YouTube and Google Play.

Despite the surge in usage, however, apps “have not attracted the advertising dollars its audience warrants.” ComScore said this was because the advertisement infrastructure for mobile will take time to develop, just like any emerging advertising medium.

‘Dollars follow eyeballs’

Apart from the infrastructure, ad formats should be keenly studied by the industry. Merely migrating current ad practices on desktop, like pop-ups and interstitial ads, to mobile won’t cut it. Pop-ups are particularly horrible and annoying on mobile. When an app that I install starts popping up ads, I immediately remove it from the phone. I’m okay with ads similar to those displayed as part of your Newsfeed stream by Facebook. They’re less obtrusive.

The good news for the industry, according to comScore, is that “dollars eventually follow eyeballs, which means that the future of the mobile app economy is very bright.”

While the study shows the picture of usage in the US, the image isn’t that different in the Philippines, which has long been known for its quick adoption of mobile technology.

In underscoring the opportunities for startups during his speech in last week’s Geeks On A Beach, Department of Science and Technology’s Information and Communications Technology Office deputy director Mon Ibrahim pointed out a 90 percent mobile phone usage in the Philippines, which is higher than the 80 percent global average.

The comScore report is just one of a series of studies that show that mobile is no longer the future but the present. Companies who still haven’t started thinking mobile should play catch up now or be left behind by more nimble startups.

The post Mobile app majority appeared first on Leon Kilat : The Tech Experiments.

Author: "Max Limpag" Tags: "Apps, Highlights"
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Date: Tuesday, 19 Aug 2014 17:45

As a journalist, I do a lot of transcribing of interviews. While I do scrawl notes, these are just to take down key points and summaries and not write what the subject is saying verbatim. It’s hard to keep up, especially with those who speak too fast.

When writing the draft, I’d arrange the key points of the story from memory, then consult my notes. After that, I’d listen to the audio recording of the interview to make sure I got the points, ideas and quotations right.

When I was still starting out as a reporter in 1996, I used a cassette tape recorder and a typewriter. I would rewind and forward the tape – usually just one pass because if you do it often, the tape would get tangled with the tape head – while writing key points of the interview by hand before hitting the keys to type the story.

Digital recorders

But when I finally retired that cassette tape recorder and replaced it at first with an mp3 recorder and then later with a phone and voice recording app, transcribing interviews became a bit irksome.

You need to listen to the recording on the PC because the mp3 recorder’s or mobile app’s controls often aren’t easy to use to go from one time point on the sound file to another.

oTranscribe Vince Loremia

Using oTranscribe to transcribe my interview with Tudlo and Batingaw founder Vince Loremia for my article “Vince Loremia shares startup lessons.”

What you’re doing is typing your notes or writing your story on the same screen that you use to control the playing of the audio file, but in a different window.

When you want to pause the recording, you need to hit alt + tab or cmd + tab on the Mac and then, depending on your audio software, press the space bar to pause the playing and then hit alt + tab again to return to your writing screen and resume transcribing your notes. When you need to continue playing the sound file, you go through the keystroke rigmarole all over again.

What I used to do was play the interview on my laptop while taking notes on the desktop.

No need to switch windows

That was until I discovered oTranscribe. The free service simplifies transcription of interviews by allowing you to play the audio file on the same screen that you’re using to transcribe the notes.

You don’t need to switch windows to play or pause the audio file, all you need to do is press the Esc key. To rewind, you just press the F1 key and to fast-forward, it’s F2. You can even control the speed by which the recording is played, F3 to slow it down and F4 to speed it up.

The service, which was created by journalist Elliot Bentley, allows you to easily insert a timestamp of the recording just by pressing Ctrl + J or Cmd + J for Mac users. The timestamp is hyperlinked to that specific location of the audio file, which simplifies review of the transcription and serves as guide for the clipping of the recording for embedding with your article.

Supported media files

The service works with media files supported by your browser, the files that are listed when you click on “Choose audio (or video) file.” The files are stored locally, meaning you don’t have to wait for it to upload the recording into some server somewhere out there. As soon as you choose the file, you can immediately play it and start transcribing.

The service also allows you to load YouTube videos.

The files and transcriptions are stored in your browser’s local storage. It saves transcripts every five minutes but the developer says you should always export your work to prevent data loss. oTranscribe allows you to export your transcript into plain text or a Markdown document.

oTranscribe is a free service. The system is open source and came out of the Hacks/Hackers London meetup.

The post Transcribing interviews? You should try oTranscribe appeared first on Leon Kilat : The Tech Experiments.

Author: "Max Limpag" Tags: "Highlights, Journalism, oTranscribe"
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Date: Sunday, 13 Jul 2014 10:40

Mobile Internet users in the Philippines are a “small but fast growing group of people,” according to a study by On Device Research conducted in June and released last week.

The research company surveyed 900 mobile Internet users in June for the report. All the respondents were Android users, according to a footnote in the report. That demographic likely had an impact on the findings. On Device uses mobile devices to conduct surveys.

Citing data from Tigercub Digital and Oxford Business Group, On Device Research said the Philippines has the lowest smartphone penetration in Southeast Asia at 15 percent. In contrast, Malaysia is at 80 percent, Thailand at 49 percent, Indonesia at 23 percent and Singapore at 87 percent.

Rapid growth

But the Philippines is expected to reach 50 percent smartphone penetration in 2015. The growth is rapid, with the Philippines increasing faster than Indonesia and Vietnam combined, the company said, citing the International Data Corp.

Mobile Internet users are a “small but fast growing group of people,” according to the report.

On Device said lower-priced devices from MyPhone, Cherry Mobile and Starmobile will drive the rapid smartphone growth. The Android phone market is currently dominated by Samsung, which has a 43 percent share.

PH Mobile Internet Users

Mobile Internet users in the Philippines are a “small but fast growing group of people,” according to a report by On Device Research.

The company said Filipinos “are drawn to unlimited Internet packages” with 50 percent reporting an “unli” package for their device.

The report, however, said the Philippines has one of the slowest LTE speeds globally and only 41 percent reported being satisfied with their data speed. Among respondents, 34 percent reported being neutral while 25 percent said they were unsatisfied by the speed.

Tablets more popular than laptops

Mobile Internet users are also young, with 88 percent of the mobile Internet population in the Philippines under the age of 34.

Tablets are also more popular than laptops, with 30 percent saying they own a tablet as opposed to just 25 percent who have a laptop or netbook.

On device also reported strong social media activity in the Philippines, saying 42 percent of total screen time in the country is on social media. The company said Filipinos are the top social media users in Asia Pacific, spending four hours a day in social networks.

In messaging, Facebook dominates the Philippines. On Device reported that 82 percent of Filipinos report using Facebook Messenger at least one a week. In contrast, only 27 percent said they used Viber and and another 27 percent said they communicate through Skype at least once a week. The three top Asia-based messaging apps did not do as well as they did in other countries, especially their home markets. South Korean Kakao Talk was just at nine percent, Chinese WeChat at 15 percent and Japanese Line was at 10 percent.

Facebook messaging in PH

FACEBOOK MESSAGING dominates the Philippines, according to the On Device study.

Apps ‘extremely popular’

On Device also reported that their survey showed apps are “extremely popular” among Filipinos with 78 percent saying they downloaded an app or game in the last month and 32 percent saying they installed six or more apps per month. The study also said that 45 percent reported paying for app installation or in-app purchases.

Of those who reported paying for something on their phone, 29 percent said it was for a game, 19 percent for music, 11 percent for video and 10 percent for stickers. Those who paid for calls worldwide comprised only eight percent.

The company also said typhoon relief efforts boosted use of mobile cash. It said ewallet solutions like Smart Money and GCash are the most popular payment platform among its respondents.

On Device stressed the importance of mobile for companies. The “mobile market is young and will continue to grow – it’s vital for brands to target these young mobile-first consumers,” the company said.

The post PH mobile Internet users growing fast: study appeared first on Leon Kilat : The Tech Experiments.

Author: "Max Limpag" Tags: "Highlights, Mobile, On Device Research, ..."
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Date: Sunday, 08 Jun 2014 09:01

Picture yourself working on a bamboo table under the coconut trees on a beachfront in Bohol. Beside your laptop, imagine a scoop of Bohol Bee Farm avocado ice cream to refresh you as you finish a report due in three hours.

On this age of widespread mobile connectivity, this is increasingly becoming an option.

Many online freelancers, for example, make a living by working for clients from all over the world in fields ranging from design, writing, social media management and tech tasks from home or wherever they are, even on family vacations.

Increased productivity with remote work

Offices are also starting to allow remote work, with studies showing increased productivity in such a setup.

“It sounds counterintuitive. Give people the freedom not to come to work and the quality of their work improves. Conversely, make it mandatory to turn up to an office each day, and the value of their work decreases,” Microsoft said in its pitch for remote work enterprise solutions.

OFFICE VIEW. Mobile connectivity, modern technology and a slowly changing office culture will soon allow us to work from anywhere, including from this beach in Panglao Island, Bohol.

OFFICE VIEW. Mobile connectivity, modern technology and a slowly changing office culture will soon allow us to work from anywhere, including from this beach in Panglao Island, Bohol.

The company said modern office practices are still based on set working hours, whose origins “can be traced back to factories in the Victorian Age.”

“We need to move beyond this and instead give people the freedom to work in the way which suits them best. If an individual can achieve their best work in four hours on a Sunday morning and this suits their way of life, let’s find a system of work that recognizes and values this,” the company said.

Cloud computing, mobile Internet

With the rise of cloud computing–services and solutions that allow you to run applications on a remote server that you pay by the usage–this is made even easier. Many of these services are free and those that charge fees do so on a tiered system that starts with a free package.

Underpinning such a work system, however, would be a strong and dependable mobile Internet. For the Philippines, this can be a challenge. Out on the field, you’d find yourself in areas with spotty, slow and even no connection – typically in locations that are away from cities or population centers.

In my sabbatical from newspaper work to focus on our new media startup, InnoPub Media, I had the chance to test how such a remote work setup based on the cloud will work.

Digital Tourism work

Our primary project is digital tourism, which uses mobile technology to deliver tourism, cultural and historical information. The work involves extensive writing and research and production of e-books and mobile phone apps to serve as tourism guides. These work are things you can do by remote and on the road.

For writing, we live in Google Drive, which allows you to write and edit using any device, even phones and tablets, and collaborate on articles. To manage and work on the codes of our apps, we depend on Git, a distributed version control system. (A note: Github is great but if you want a private repository without having to pay for it, choose BitBucket.) With Git, you can work on your project offline and then synch the changes when you have connection again. To collaborate within the team and with other partners, we use a free account with Asana, a project management system built by the co-founders of Facebook.

The past few weeks have been an exciting and fruitful experiment. Being on the cloud allowed us to work on the road — in beautiful places all over Cebu and several other locations in the country.

The post On the road, in the cloud appeared first on Leon Kilat : The Tech Experiments.

Author: "Max Limpag" Tags: "Highlights, productivity, Butbucket, Git..."
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Date: Monday, 05 May 2014 04:51

Before you embark on an adventure, get a notebook, preferably one small enough to tuck into your back pocket. There is a sense of commitment in writing things down, almost like having a pact with one’s self.

I have several digital note-taking devices and services like Google Docs, Evernote and OneNote synced to the digital ether called the “cloud” and replicated on my phones, computers and laptop.

But digital, no matter how omnipresent and accessible, seems so fleeting, so deletable.

A recent study shows that people remember notes better if these are taken by hand rather than with digital tools.

I bought three yesterday – P49 cahiers from National Bookstore – for idea journals and notes.

Notes to an adventure.

Notes to an adventure. Looking forward to filling up these pages during my 48-day sabbatical from my day job.

Starting today and until June 20, I will be leave from business editor duties with Sun.Star Cebu to work on projects of my startup, InnoPub Media. These are primarily Digital Tourism projects. I also want to jumpstart ideas we’ve had to set aside for years now because of the lack of time and resources.

One thing I learned in starting up our Digital Tourism project is to muster the courage to pursue an idea. For years I have had several ideas about how to use tech to deliver certain types of information but I did not pursue these.

My wife, Marlen, and I finally decided to give it a go on our own with Digital Tourism and this has paid off for us. Digital Tourism has exploded this year and we’ve been expanding like crazy. People and groups now regularly send us messages asking when we could implement the program in their areas. Many approach us for help in digital and mobile projects. This 48-day sabbatical will allow me the breathing space to work on all these projects and pursue new ones.

I’ve also set some personal goals to learn new things, read a lot, blog and write more and run regularly.

The #48Days challenges I’m taking on during my break from my day job are:

  • Build my first iPhone app
  • Create 1 Android app a week for the entire break
  • Learn to build a Windows Phone app by myself
  • Build a news app
  • Finish reading at least 3 books
  • Run at least 200 kilometers
  • Write at least 5 articles and blog posts a week
  • Jumpstart 2 projects that have been percolating for years

My first entry on the journal is a challenge by Peter Brock, “Bite off more than you can chew and then chew like hell.”

That will set the tone for the next month and a half.

The post Day 1 of #48Days appeared first on Leon Kilat : The Tech Experiments.

Author: "Max Limpag" Tags: "Highlights, LifeHacks, Personal"
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Date: Sunday, 30 Mar 2014 11:09

In announcing his company’s purchase of Oculus VR, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the social networking giant now has more than a billion active mobile users a month.

“Mobile is the platform of today, and now we’re also getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow,” Zuckerberg said to explain the purchase of the virtual reality company.

That’s stunning numbers from a company excoriated in the past for not getting mobile. After their initial debacle with taking a hybrid HTML5 approach to mobile, Zuckerberg turned things around and had the company release native apps for the major mobile platforms.

“I think it’s inarguable that Facebook is a mobile-first company,” Facebook chief financial officer David Ebersman said in an interview with the New York Times.

FACEBOOK PAPER. The social networking giant has more than a billion active mobile users monthly, according to its founder and CEO. (Photo from Facebook newsroom)

FACEBOOK PAPER. The social networking giant has more than a billion active mobile users monthly, according to its founder and CEO. (Photo from Facebook newsroom)

That focus has resulted in a shift in the company’s business – by the fourth quarter of 2013, 53 percent of the company’s advertising revenues came from mobile devices.

It isn’t just Facebook, most websites and digital services have been reporting increased mobile access.

The increased mobile use of Facebook drives people to view websites and consume content on phones and tablets. This is because people share links to websites and articles on Facebook – and whether you’re prepared or not, users will be viewing your website on their phones.

A poorly-designed mobile user interface will impact your brand. According to The Mobile Playbook of Google, 57 percent of users say they won’t recommend a brand with a poorly designed mobile site. What’s more, 40 percent turned to a competitor’s website after a bad mobile experience.

The mobile shift has happened in earnest in countries like the Philippines. We used to revel in our designation as the “texting capital of the world.” Now we’re the selfie capital. These reveal a deep attachment among Pinoys to their mobiles.

Recently, Millward Brown released its “Ad Reaction 2014: Marketing in a multiscreen world” study which found that in many parts of the world, including the Philippines, mobile has become the “primary screen.”

The study said daily screen use per person in the Philippines is now 174 minutes for phones, 143 minutes for laptops, 115 minutes for tablets and 99 minutes for TV.

Millward Brown said in its study that to “engage a large number of multiscreen users, most global brands will need to deploy media plans with a far heavier mobile emphasis than they do at present.”

Mobile isn’t the future, it’s the present. If your business still hasn’t taken mobile into primary account, you’re in trouble.

The post Think mobile appeared first on Leon Kilat : The Tech Experiments.

Author: "Max Limpag" Tags: "Highlights, Mobile"
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Date: Sunday, 09 Mar 2014 05:06

MOBILE isn’t the future; it’s the present. That’s the gist of recently released Internet usage reports.

Last month, more Americans used smartphones and tablets than desktops or laptops to access the Internet, according to a study by analytics company comScore.

Also last month, Nielsen released its Digital Consumer Report that found, among many other things, that Americans in 2013 spent an average of 34 hours every month using apps or mobile web browsers on their phones as opposed to 27 hours using the Internet on personal computers.

Using mobile browsers and apps on the phone placed 2nd in the ranking of how US consumers spend media time, next to watching live TV at 133 hours. But smartphone use logged a +9.52 increase from 2012 while live TV had a -2.44 drop in the same period. Using Internet on a PC, on the other hand, logged a -1.54 drop last year.

Drop in PC sales, rise in smartphones

All these on a backdrop of plummeting PC sales and surging smartphone adoption.

Global shipment of PCs fell 9.8 percent last year, the worst drop on record, according to the International Data Corp. (IDC). According to the market research company, “the outlook for emerging markets has deteriorated as competition from other devices and economic pressures mount.” PC shipment is expected to drop 6.1 percent this year.

Smartphones , on the other hand, are recording stratospheric growth. IDC said “annual smartphone volume in 2013 surpassed 1 billion units for the first time, accounting for 39.2 percent growth over 2012.” IDC expects volume growth this year to be at 19.3 percent.

Mobile shift

The mobile shift has happened in many parts of the world. It is in its early stages and the opportunities are vast.

It almost feels like the late 90s all over again, at the cusp of the Internet going mainstream.

TOURISM GUIDE ON THE PHONE. There are a lot of things that you can do better and differently on mobile. Among them is guiding tourists. Photo above shows Sinulog Guide on a Windows Phone. The guide is part of the Digital Tourism program of InnoPub Media, a startup I co-founded.

TOURISM GUIDE ON THE PHONE. There are a lot of things that you can do better and differently on mobile. Among them is guiding tourists. Photo above shows Sinulog Guide on a Windows Phone. The guide is part of the Digital Tourism program of InnoPub Media, a startup I co-founded.

Looking back today, you’d see through the clear lens of hindsight how the top players now were able to build a business and grab market share by being first and more nimble than the slower-moving incumbents. In blogs, for example, people were able to build a publishing business to rival mainstream companies mainly by taking advantage of the new publishing format early and grabbing market share.

That opportunity opens up again in mobile.

Apps, mobile web

But it’s not just about making your website mobile-friendly. Nielsen said in its report on the monthly usage of app and mobile web that 89 percent of US smartphone users spent media time on apps while only 11 percent do so on the mobile web.

The report by comScore, on the other hand, said apps made up 47 percent of Internet traffic in the US while mobile browsers only accounted for eight percent.

While the data is of 2013 usage in the US, it renders a picture of the Philippines several months from now. More so in a country like ours that is known for its mobile adoption.

For businesses to protect future growth and market share, mobile should be a primary consideration. The things you can do on mobile are vast and disruptive.

The post Mobile now appeared first on Leon Kilat : The Tech Experiments.

Author: "Max Limpag" Tags: "Highlights, Mobile, mobile-web"
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Date: Sunday, 05 Jan 2014 12:04

Over the holidays, I’d often find our youngest kid, 10-year-old Lennon, hunched on the sofa watching YouTube episodes of a cartoon series on the phone. Once in a while I’d offer to download the episodes for him so he could watch it on TV. “Naah,” he’d say. Watching on the phone was enough for him.

Look around and you’ll see people, mostly the young, starting to use phones and tablets more and more for most anything – playing games, watching videos, listening to music, reading stuff and connecting through social networks.

Will 2014 be the year of the mobile shift – when more people use portable devices rather than desktops to access the Internet – in the Philippines? It has happened in many countries abroad. But are we there yet? I think momentum is building for the shift but 2014 may be a bit too soon. Give it a year or two.

The mobile revolution will be an exciting and disruptive time that will have profound implications across industries. It is this mobile shift and how we seize the opportunities that come with it that I look forward to the most this year.

But for IdeaSpace Foundation, Inc. president and co-founder Earl Martin Valencia, mobility will not just mean mobile devices but “new form factors like wearables, cars, clothing and the like.”

Convergence

“I am hot on true convergence, where the digital and physical spaces collide, so I am out for sensor-based analytics for agriculture, health, transport, hardware technologies,” he said when asked in an interview about the big opportunity for the year.

Valencia sees this year as the “breakout year for our community, when we then translate the potential into actual.” IdeaSpace picked and incubated its first batch of startups last year.

“2014 should be the year when we all push to accelerate the growth of our ecosystem to attract more people to pursue startups and foreign investors to take a more serious look in funding locally-grown companies,” Valencia said.

For TechTalks.ph founder Tina Amper, 2014 will offer “a great opportunity for those who are interested to take advantage of numerous events, competitions, tech developments and opportunities to develop their tech and business skills or careers or start a business.”

Cebu hackathon

CEBU HACKATHON. Cebu developers work on their projects during a hackathon at the Exist Tech Bar in IT Park to build projects to help the country deal with destruction wrought by super typhoon Yolanda. (Photo by Max Limpag)

Cebu is booming

“Philippines is booming. Cebu is booming. Opportunities abound. Do something. Ride the wave,” said Amper, who was among the earliest community organizers credited for kickstarting the local startups community in this part of the country.

Amper said she saw startups that “have evolved, pivoted and gained traction” and there were some highs and lows but “lots of lessons learned.” “Applying those lessons, keeping their heads up, being proactive and persevering are key to those who already started,” she said.

Amper said she hopes to see this year government and business stepping up and using technology to improve services like transportation, online business licenses and online tracking services to cut corruption.

Amper sees an opportunity for the youth “to use their energy and great ideas to explore new careers” like being social media managers, community managers, brand managers, web designers, software developers and game developers. “IT does not only mean call center. It could also mean these new, high-paying and fun careers!” she said.

Amper said we should start aspiring for “world-class and efficient processes.”

International hub

“Cebu is becoming an international hub. Let the locals continue to improve and meet global standards so we can earn global-standard compensation. I have many guests from abroad who land in Cebu to do business. They are impressed with our hard-working, friendly, English-speaking workforce and want to live and do business here,” she said, “But they are frustrated with Filipino time, sub-standard service, flaky employees, unreliable infrastructure (Internet/phone). Some of these things are easier to fix than others. Let’s push for continuous improvement.”

For Exist president and CEO Jerry Rapes, the tech community needs to “start producing concrete results. We need to see more apps go online, gain users and feedback, get products funded and create more success stories.‎”

Rapes said the local tech and startup community “has been activated aggressively the past 24 months” but we need to sustain interest and momentum.”

“I believe the startup community becomes effective when it uses tech to solve pain points. Pain points can be very complex or very day-to-day. If we focus on solving these pain points we will stumble on the ‘big thing,’” he said.

Focus on enterprise

“Exist is very focused on helping the enterprise involved in healthcare, finance, telco and retail solve their pain points. We’re not anymore an outsourced development team, we’re working on becoming a solution provider for the digital transformation of the enterprise,” he said.

Industry veteran Mark John Buenconsejo, meanwhile, expects 2014 to see the local startup community “continuing to push the initiatives that we have set out a few years back.”

Startup Weekend events will continue, the pitching competitions organized by the local seed funds will be there and perhaps a few funding rounds by local startups. There were already a few that got funded last year and that gave our country some exposure about the potential of startups here,” he said.

Buenconsejo, who is co-founder and CEO of CareSharing, is among Cebu’s first startup successes. He sees “discovery” as a big opportunity.

Growing markets

“In the Philippines it’s particularly exciting since there are still a lot of legacy industries. One particular product play is discovery. It might look like Google is leading in the online search business but there are still a lot of niches where people still need a better way to discover stuff. Discovery is a strategic step, since once something can easily be discovered online, it opens up more opportunities to grow,” he said.

“The big opportunity can come from markets that are growing (e.g. real estate, food and entertainment, healthcare) and where there are increasing demands for lower cost and efficiencies.”

“And given that a lot of people use smartphones, tablets and are generally online, an entrepreneur can take that growing market and build products that enable people to do business with their mobile phones, in a similar low cost and convenient manner as how they browse and post updates on Facebook,” he said.

“It might sound like Facebook has nothing to do with real estate but Facebook paved the way for people to buy a smartphone, get a data plan and discover stuff.”

“So here is the big opportunity for startups: just make it easy for people to discover stuff, perhaps through their Facebook account and you may be on your way to something great. Personally, I look forward to these kinds of disruptive startups that can potentially change the way things are done and often at lower cost and better results,” Buenconsejo said.

The post Looking ahead: 2014 in tech, startups appeared first on Leon Kilat : The Tech Experiments.

Author: "Max Limpag" Tags: "Highlights, Startups"
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Date: Sunday, 29 Dec 2013 11:54

There is a big chance you’re reading this on your phone. A bigger chance this year than in 2012, anyway.

A common pathway to this article would be from social networks like Facebook and Twitter, services that people are increasingly logging into through apps on their phones.

This year, an article in the BBC announced, is the year “we all went mobile.”

And it isn’t just about using small screen and portable devices, it’s about a state of mind, said the article written by business reporter Matthew Wall.

“We’re talking mobile workforces staying connected in an out of the office and using their devices for work and play. We’re talking mobile data, stored in the cloud; and mobile corporate structures trying to adapt to the new age of data sharing, collaboration and crowdsourcing,” the BBC article said.

Tablet, smartphone penetration in Philippines

While the Philippines may be behind richer countries in gadget adoption, we’re headed there.

LG GPad

TABLET ADOPTION. Photo above shows an LG GPad, a great Android device for its price range. Tablet adoption in the Philippines more than doubled from just 6% in 2012 to 14% in the first quarter of 2013.

A first quarter 2013 survey by Ericsson ConsumerLab said tablet penetration in the Philippines more than doubled, from just six percent in 2012 to 14 percent at the time of the survey. Nielsen placed smartphone adoption in the Philippines at just 15 percent in a survey reported in September. While still low, this will definitely speed up as the months go by, fueled by low-cost Android devices that are flooding the market.

Have you seen the phones and tablets being sold by local brands like Starmobile, Cherry Mobile and Cloudfone? The gadgets in their mid-range are nothing to scoff at. They are actually pretty good.

In the Cebu launch of a local tablet in 2012, the press relations officer of the company actually seemed apologetic that the raffle item was one of their tablets. He had invited a few well-heeled friends of his and he had to explain to them that the tablet was actually good. It was.

Low-cost Android devices

These devices, some designed in the Philippines but manufactured in China, others rebranded white-label products assembled also in China, are fueling mobile adoption.

More people will go online using mobile devices than through desktops and laptops.

I don’t have the comprehensive figures for usage in Cebu or even for the Philippines. What I have are anecdotal snippets of how increasingly, phones and tablets have become people’s main computers.

Just look around you and count the number of people using a smartphone (what’s a smartphone, you ask? Any phone that can connect to the Internet and download apps is a smartphone.) I don’t know if it’s because of the circles I find myself in but when I do this exercise, I always find that more than half of people within my vicinity use a smartphone.

Shift to mobile

That shift from desktop to mobile will have far-reaching impact on a lot of things.

This may not have been the year when Filipinos all went mobile. That may happen next year or the year after. But the shift is underway. And along with it will come threats and opportunities that will disrupt industry after industry.

RESOLUTIONS? THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT. Tomorrow midnight, many of us will do our annual ritual of promising to do better – to finally exercise, quit smoking, read more and be a better person.

And as with anything at this age, there is an app for that.

Lift, which you can download from the App Store and in Google Play Store, allows you to keep track of habits you want to either start or lose. It allows you to keep track of milestones and provides motivation as well as community support.

With the app, you “check in” to a specific habit – like Run Daily or Drink More Water or Spend More Time With The Kids – and track how close you are to your goal.

After you come up with this year’s batch of resolutions, download Lift and start tracking the things you want to do using the app.

Happy New Year!

The post Mobile shift appeared first on Leon Kilat : The Tech Experiments.

Author: "Max Limpag" Tags: "Highlights, Mobile, LG Gpad"
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Date: Wednesday, 13 Nov 2013 14:23

THE day after super typhoon Yolanda battered Cebu, developer Albert Padin of Sym.ph went to their office on Escario St. to play games and work on some personal projects. Saturdays, Padin said, are days when their team does hackathons on projects that do not involve their day-to-day jobs.

While combing through news and social network updates, Padin read a call on geekli.st for developers to pitch in coding skills to build a system to help in relief efforts. Since he already had a team that was ready to build things, Padin said they decided to hold a hackathon to build a website to help in relief efforts.

They started the hackathon at 2 p.m. on Saturday with the goal of wrapping up by 5 p.m. They finished at 10 p.m. instead because they worked on 2 things: 1) a system that can help track the search for missing persons and 2) a site that can centralize relief and rescue information in the different areas ravaged by super typhoon Yolanda.

They later closed the person finder service and redirected people to the Google People Finder website. Padin said the Google system was better and the people running it had experience using it in previous disasters.

Cebu-based developers work on a website to centralize Super typhoon Yolanda damage and relief information.

Cebu-based developers work on a website to centralize Super typhoon Yolanda damage and relief information.

But the team was able to deploy the Bangon Philippines website at bangonphilippines.appspot.com by Saturday night: providing a dashboard to the grim statistics of missing persons, casualties and destruction while offering data and links to relief efforts. (Note: I was told rebuilt site will be available soon. Link will be shared here once the website is live)

The team continued working on the system but another developer, Caresharing Mark John Buenconsejo, sparked a discussion on Facebook about setting up a system that will allow people to organize their own relief efforts and plug into a system that will centralize data and help guide people into pitching in contributions. Padin volunteered to turn the Bangon Philippines website into such a system.

The group then organized a hackathon and issued a call for volunteers to go to the Sym.ph office inside the building beside Capitol parish church.

Albert Padin talks about their plan for the new Bangon Philippines website.

Albert Padin talks about their plan for the new Bangon Philippines website.

Instead of improving the Bangon Philippines website, the group decided to rebuild it. Padin said they chose rebuilding because of the expanded needs for the system’s backend – which will now offer APIs that will allow people to grab data the project will generate and build apps and services on top of it.

After a discussion over pizza and coffee, the team of hackers decided to focus on the following problem: “Not everybody knows what everybody else is doing so relief efforts are not evenly spread out.”

Padin said efforts were concentrated on Tacloban and people did not know the situation in many other areas on Yolanda’s path.

The group’s solution? “Find out what everybody is doing and put it online.”

Padin said in an interview late Tuesday that they aim to gather as much information as they can on damage reports and relief efforts and would need “a lot of volunteers.” When asked for an update tonight, Padin said it will likely be up in a few hours.

During the interview, Nicole, Padin’s new wife and his co-founder of SpellDial, along with Paola Galan and Vicky Saguin were scouring online news reports and social media postings for information – any tidbit of information – on relief efforts. People’s generosity was overwhelming, the online spreadsheet containing the listings refused to add more cells to contain data during the interview.

Padin said they would need a lot of volunteers to collect information. Those who want to help can send an email to nicole@sym.ph or text 0932 605 8175.

The post Cebu developers harness tech to help in Yolanda rescue, relief efforts appeared first on Leon Kilat : The Tech Experiments.

Author: "Max Limpag" Tags: "Highlights, WebTech, Albert Padin, hacka..."
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Date: Sunday, 03 Nov 2013 08:10

THE first thing that strikes you when you turn on the LG G2 is how beautiful the display is. It is sharp and vibrant and comes on such a big screen. It’s almost realistic you’d find yourself gingerly pressing the glass.

And as you start using what is currently LG’s flagship device, the next thing that will strike you is how responsive it is. Opening apps, switching between applications and moving between screens feel fluid and seamless.

And as the day wears on, you’d find the phone’s large battery capacity kicking in, allowing you to use the device for an entire day without having to recharge.

I tried the LG G2 for several weeks and found the phone, which comes with Android Jelly Bean, a joy to use.

LG G2

GREAT ANDROID PHONE. The LG G2 packs a formidable processor with high capacity battery to make for a great mobile device.

As a heavy phone user, I use my phone as my main computer. It’s the first device I check in the morning and the last one I open at night. Throughout the day, I use it for various work and personal tasks. The phone is my main email and reading device. And as a journalist, the phone is a personal newsroom where work and play coexist.

Excellent phone display

Coming from an iPhone 5, the G2’s screen really stands out. It’s just about right for reading on the phone – big enough to make the reading enjoyable and small enough to still be handy.

The LG G2 comes with a 5.2″ Full HD IPS display with a 423 pixels-per-inch resolution. The company said the Full HD screen will give you an “authentic view of whatever you’re looking at.”

The G2 is a great reading device that comes with an auto-brightness capability that works. Whether catching up with news on Flipboard or Zite, going through long reads saved in Pocket or reading ebooks on the Kindle app, reading is a great experience on the G2.

The G2’s HD display also makes viewing movies on the phone a great experience. I store movies at home with a network attached storage and stream these using an Android app – a setup I took full advantage of with the G2. I watched episodes of Agatha Christie’s Poirot (at 1 hour and 30 minutes each), Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (55 minutes each) and The Blacklist (45 minutes) in bed and find the phone still on when I wake up. On the iPhone, I’d find the battery drained.

LG G2 Sinulog Guide

GREAT DISPLAY. The LG G2 comes with a sharpand vibrant display with a screen big enough to make reading enjoyable and small enough to still be handy. Above, the phone shows the Android app version of our Sinulog Guide.

Battery capacity

Battery capacity is one standout feature of the LG G2. It comes with a 3,000 mAh battery unmatched by phones in its class. With the G2, I could leave home without a charger, confident the phone will last me the day. This is particularly useful for my job – as a journalist I need to be constantly connected to keep up with news and updates and to do work.

The battery is the bane of modern phones but with the G2, it is its best feature. Even with my son playing graphics-intensive games on the phone, the G2 still had enough power for me to do work.

And power is one thing the G2 has plenty of – it comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 Processor with 2.26Ghz quadcore CPUs. For people of a certain generation reading about processor specifications of desktops that used to be launched annually, it boggles the mind to find these numbers on today’s mobile devices.

The processor serves the G2 well, allowing you to indulge in the vice of modern living – digital multi-tasking – without the device freezing or slowing to a stuttering display.

13-megapixel camera

The G2 also comes with a good camera: a 13-megapixel device that comes with an optical image stabilizer technology to steady the image, even with our shaky hands while doing selfies. It also comes with multi points auto focus to help you get clearer shots.

G2 sample photo

SAMPLE PHOTO. This photo was taken with the LG G2. This image has been edited and scaled down. For the unedited version, check the image in Flickr.

The G2’s controls are different from other phones – the buttons are placed at the back of the device, right where your index finger is when holding the device during a phone call. It needs a little getting used to, and for me it took a couple of days.

The phone also has a different way to wake up. You just need to double tap on the screen to make it active again.

It also comes with audio zoom that will allow you to focus on an audio source by zooming in on it while recording the video. LG said the feature “uses three stereo mikes, which amplify sound from the specified angle and deemphasize the surrounding noise, so you can zoom in on the sounds you want to hear, and tune out those you don’t.”

Quick Window case

The LG G2 also has a unique phone case with a “quick window” capability. It offers you a peek, via a small cutout display on the front cover, on such things as the time, missed calls and messages. The Quick Window case comes free with the G2 package as part of the company’s promotion.

The device comes with a plethora of features: high-speed connectivity with LTE, NFC-capability, plug and pop that presents icons related to listening as soon as you plug in a headphone, guest mode to allow other people to use the device, among other technical specs.

LG G2 quick window phone case

QUICK WINDOW. The LG G2 comes with a free phone case with Quick Window capability.

What I don’t like about the device is its lack of a memory card slot to expand storage. But this is easily dealt with by cloud storage services and apps. I wasn’t sold on its default launcher and Android customization but, in fairness and to be honest, I never gave it a chance. The first thing I’d do on any Android device is to replace its home launcher. My current choice is Nova Launcher, which worked well with the device.

But all in all, the G2 is a top-class Android phone. It’s suggested retail price is P29,990, which is not bad compared with other devices in its range.

The G2 is a top-class Android phone. Its suggested retail price is P29,990, which is not bad compared with other devices in its range.

If you’re considering a high-end Android device for your Christmas phone upgrade this year, the LG G2 should be among the first devices you should consider.

The post The LG G2 is a great high-end Android phone appeared first on Leon Kilat : The Tech Experiments.

Author: "Max Limpag" Tags: "Android, Highlights, Mobile, Review, G2,..."
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Date: Tuesday, 08 Oct 2013 05:36

I’ve always wanted to learn and start using Markdown in writing. For some time, it hovered near the top of my to-do list but I never got around to actually starting to use it.

I use a Markdown-capable online writing tool – Editorially – but I never used it for that. I used it purely to manage articles and to allow me to work on a post in multiple workstations.

When I write, I compose only in plain text. As soon as I’d finish the article, I’d go over the post again and manually code the HTML tags for blog or website publishing.

Markdown, a “lightweight markup language” created by a writer – John Gruber, simplifies that. It allows you to to easily mark up documents and export these into structurally valid HTML.

I’ve always filed using Markdown as one of the tasks I’d do in a future #30DayChallenge.

I finally got around to using it more extensively this month when I became more active in using Github to manage my projects and work files. I fully realized its utility when I started processing the Sun.Star Cebu News Style Guide and uploading it to its repo so that newsroom editors and reporters could start working to update and improve it in preparation for turning it into a mobile app.

MARKDOWN. It took me days to code this dated Sun.Star Cebu Style Guide in HTML. With Markdown, it took me hours. If you do a lot of writing, especially for digital media, Markdown is something you should consider using.

MARKDOWN. It took me days to code this dated Sun.Star Cebu Style Guide in HTML. With Markdown, it took me hours. If you do a lot of writing, especially for digital media, Markdown is something you should consider using.

If you do a lot of writing, especially for digital media, Markdown is something you should consider using.

It took me days to manually code the old version of the Sun.Star Cebu style guide in HTML. With Markdown, it took me hours.

What’s more, Markdown is easy to do – it’s something I can ask other editors and reporters in the newsroom to use in updating our style guide. After introducing them to Git, anyway. But hey, our editor-in-chief now uses Github.

There are many Markdown editors available for free download. On the Mac, my favorite is Mou. On Windows, it’s MarkdownPad. On my Elementary OS Linux desktop, I just use an online Markdown editor like Dillinger or Markable. Here’s an exhaustive list if you want to try out other editors. Here’s the Markdown syntax reference if you’re interested.

As part of my 30-Day Challenge this month, I plan to use Markdown in all my writings and create a workflow that fits my needs.

The post New #30DayChallenge: Write in Markdown appeared first on Leon Kilat : The Tech Experiments.

Author: "Max Limpag" Tags: "Highlights, Journalism, Newsroom tech, p..."
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Date: Sunday, 06 Oct 2013 07:43

IT used to be that you’d never find the words “Linux” and “easy to use” in the same sentence.

Linux, to the unfamiliar, is an operating system – the basic software that allows you to use your computer. It’s like Windows (although that comparison probably made a lot of its developers and users cringe).

The main difference between Linux and Windows is the way these are developed. Windows is a proprietary system built by a single company- Microsoft. Linux is built by a global community of users under an open source license – a framework that encourages sharing and collaboration.

Unlike Windows, Linux is free. By free, it not only means that you can use it at no cost, most open source programs are free. More importantly, you have certain “freedoms” with the software: you’re free to run it for any purpose, free to study how it works and change it, free to share it and free to improve it. Think of it as “free speech and not free beer,” advocates are wont to say.

The elementary OS desktop is one of the most beautiful and easy to use out-of-the-box Linux distributions.

The elementary OS desktop is one of the most beautiful and easy to use out-of-the-box Linux distributions.

To install Windows, you need to buy a CD and pay for a license. I checked with a local store and was told that a Windows 8 single-language license costs P3,850. A Windows 8 Pro costs P6,800. You pay this much and you can only install it on a single computer. The system bars you from installing it on another PC. The technical-savvy who are able to do so is committing an illegal act of software piracy.

Linux distributions

To use Linux, on the other hand, you just download it for free. A typical Linux installer is about 700mb and comes in an .iso format that you can burn on a CD or use with a USB drive. I personally prefer setting up a bootable USB using UNetbootin.

Unlike Windows, Linux has a lot of variants called distros or distributions. Among the popular distributions are Ubuntu, which is supported by the company Canonical; Fedora, the community edition backed by Red Hat; CentOS, Debian.

Ubuntu is the most popular distribution. And no wonder – the goal of its developers was to create an easy to use Linux distribution with a predictable release cycle of 6 months.

I’ve been using Ubuntu in my various work stations for years. I was, for a time, caught up in the 6-month release cycle and would immediately upgrade all my workstations to the latest Ubuntu version.

But when Ubuntu started using the Unity interface, I started looking for another distro that had the more traditional desktop interface. For a time, I used Linux Mint with the Cinnamon shell.

elementary OS update

UPDATING PACKAGES. One of the first things you should do after installing a Linux distribution is to upgrade packages.

elementary OS release

But then I found elementary OS.

Elementary OS is based on Ubuntu and started out as a collection of themes for the distro before becoming its own distribution. The OS offers the best-looking out-of-the-box experience among the Linux distributions that I’ve tried.

It copies a lot of elements of the Mac OSX so any user of the Apple desktop or laptop will find the desktop interface familiar.

Elementary OS has a dock that allows you easy access to frequently-used programs. But it stands out in its implementation of Workspace switching, the that best I’ve tried across all OSes. This feature allows you to easily segregate your tasks among different Workspaces and toggle between them.

What’s different about elementary OS is that it uses only a single mouse click to do tasks that you needed to double click in Mac or Windows. It can be a bit unsettling to first time users.

Elementary OS also does not have desktop access in the traditional sense of having the ability to put things on your desktop with icons that serve as shortcuts to applications or files. The desktop’s function is to only display a beautiful wallpaper (albeit, you can access it using the file manager).

elementary OS photo editing

WHO NEEDS PHOTOSHOP? Or even for that matter, Gimp? Online editing applications like iPiccy, which you can install as a Chrome app, meet the needs of most users. Here I’m editing a photo for a blog post.

Default applications

Elementary OS also stands out with its choice of default applications: Midori for the Web browser, Geary Mail for email and Plank for its dock. It does not come with an Office suite but you can just download and install LibreOffice.

Elementary OS is based on the Ubuntu long term support released last year and may have issues with newer hardware. If you do encounter problems, however, you can just install a new kernel, a process that is documented in various websites. It worked really well and the OS is responsive in my 4-year old desktop PC.

I’ve been using Elementary OS for more than 2 weeks now and I love the experience. If you want to try Linux for the first time, this is the distribution that you should choose.

Right now, my dream portable work setup would be an ultrabook running Elementary OS. If only manufacturers would produce more Linux-compatible Intel ultrabooks instead of focusing only on Windows.

The post Elementary OS, my dear PC appeared first on Leon Kilat : The Tech Experiments.

Author: "Max Limpag" Tags: "Highlights, linux, Open source, elementa..."
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Date: Saturday, 21 Sep 2013 04:57

I love the workspace switching in Elementary OS. #Linux #ElementaryOS

The post Workspaces switching in Elementary OS appeared first on Leon Kilat : The Tech Experiments.

Author: "Max Limpag" Tags: "PhotoPost, ElementaryOS"
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Date: Friday, 20 Sep 2013 13:22

After trying out Elementary OS for a day, I decided to make it my main home desktop operating system. Elementary OS is an Ubuntu Linux-based distro that has a beautiful and simple interface and a nice selection of default apps. It also seems to respond well to modest hardware. If you’re a first-time Linux user, this is the distro to try. #Linux #elementaryOS #Ubuntu

The post Elementary, my dear PC appeared first on Leon Kilat : The Tech Experiments.

Author: "Max Limpag" Tags: "PhotoPost, ElementaryOS, Linux"
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Date: Sunday, 08 Sep 2013 11:35

Southeast Asia is the battleground for a bruising competition among a set of cute mobile phone applications: chat apps. Up north, the battle has largely been won in their home markets, with Line taking Japan, WeChat in China and KakaoTalk in South Korea.

In SouthEast Asia, however, there is no clear winner yet, said Junde Yu, the vice president for AsiaPacific of App Annie. Line, WeChat and KakaoTalk are battling each other across the region through TV ads, billboards and celebrity endorsements.

“We send our heartfelt condolences out to good old-fashioned SMS,” App Annie said in a blog post on the subject.

Yu said the fight is more than just about getting the top market share in social messaging. The apps are “entry points to dominate mobile.”

Not just about stickers

“They are not just looking to get sticker revenues although it is big for them,” he said. Although the apps are free, they sell virtual stickers that you send to your friends in your chats.

“They are looking to use it to drive app downloads, to drive game downloads,” Yu said. He said Line was able to push one of their games to top the charts in just a few hours by promoting it in their messenger.

“This is something carriers can do when rolling out apps. You can send out text to encourage people to install and instantly you are top of the cart, you don’t need to buy ads,” he said.

WEChat, Line and KAkaoTalk

WECHAT, LINE, KAKAOTALK. These social messaging apps are “entry points to dominating on mobile.” More than messaging, these apps are also social networks. According to an app analytics company, there are no clear winners yet in most of Southeast Asia.

Chat apps and other so-called over-the-top or OTT services, which are services you use on the network of your telco provider, dominated discussions in last week’s Asian Carriers Conference in Shangri-La’s Mactan Island Resort and Spa. OTT services are disrupting the telecommunications industry and cannibalizing its revenues.

Apps like WeChat, Skype or Line allow you to send messages or make calls for free through an Internet connection, whether via Wi-Fi or your telco’s network.

Revenues lost

Telcos will lose $32.6 billion to OTT messaging applications this year, according to Ovum, an analyst and consultancy company headquartered in London. By 2016, Ovum said the losses will add up to $54 billion. Add to that the $52 billion telcos are projected to lose to voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) applications by 2016 and the future does look challenging, an analyst said last week.

There is an opportunity for telcos to do well in the new digital landscape dominated by OTT players, another analyst said. They just have to get out of that operator mindset, said Bubbly CEO Thomas Clayton.

“Operator guys, you got to react faster,” Clayton said. He said that when a chat network dominates a country, it also helps drive smartphone adoption. He said people would want to be in the dominant network and would buy smartphones to be there.

Telcos’ responses to OTT services, according to Ovum, range from adopting a wait-and-see attitude to blocking their services to working or even competing with them.

Massive change ahead

Oscar Veronese, InternetQ SVP for Southeast Asia, told operators to partner with OTT players. “You have the consumers…they have the speed, the creativity.” Veronese said the market will “explode” in the next six months.

“You’re gonna see a massive change with people using feature phones going to smartphones,” especially cheaper Androids, Veronese said.

In the Philippines, both Smart Communications, Inc. and Globe Telecom have started offering prepaid buckets that offer unlimited use of WeChat, Line and KakaoTalk services.

Yu said Filipinos are already top downloaders of mobile phone applications. He said the country is ranked 18th globally in downloads from Google Play, which is “really high” for a country with its population and GDP figure.

In the Philippines, revenue erosion is not as apparent as that in Europe “simply because the cost of call and text here is already very low,” said Sun Cellular senior vice president Ricky Peña.

Experiment, learn lessons

“We have the benefit of learning from the experience of other operators. The way forward is to experiment and learn the lessons the OTTs are teaching us. It’s all about giving the richer experience to customers,” said Peña, who is also the head of communication of Voyager Innovations, Inc., the innovation arm of the companies under Manny V. Pangilinan’s group.

Peña, however, said the issue is more than just messaging.

“It’s all about building a digital life experience. Right now, the buzz is all about messaging. But the bigger picture is how will this technology change people’s lives? That is what really will make your customers stickers. You will change for the better how they live, how they work, how they play,” he said.

“It’s not just all about messaging. Sure, communications is the glue that holds everything together. We also have to address the need to digitize other facets of their life like education, health, commerce – all of these things will be part of that ecosystem,” he said.

The post WeChat, Line, KakaoTalk battle for users; no clear winners yet in Southeast Asia appeared first on Leon Kilat : The Tech Experiments.

Author: "Max Limpag" Tags: "Highlights, Mobile"
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Date: Sunday, 25 Aug 2013 06:52

“IN 200 meters,” the Waze app on the phone said, “turn right.”

We were headed to Marco Polo Plaza Cebu and were near the Banilad flyover on our way to the IT Park when Waze, the driving application I was running on my phone, gave the direction to turn right.

Waze had determined, by going through its database of roads in Cebu and reports of traffic conditions sent in by users, that the quickest route for us was to go to that neighborhood behind Gaisano Country Mall, pass through Camp Lapu-Lapu and a small side road and emerge on our way up to the hotel.

But I’ve never passed that neighborhood behind Gaisano Country Mall for years and didn’t know whether we could find our way out of it or even whether we could get in Camp Lapu-Lapu, which is a military facility.

Waze app GPS navigation

Although the Waze app had brought us quickly to where we were, 200 meters before Gaisano Country Mall, I had a mind to ignore the device and follow the route I’d normally take, which is to go straight Gov. M. Cuenco Ave. and then turn right to Jose Maria del Mar St. to enter IT Park.

Waze app uses GPS, traffic reports from users

EASY TO USE. The Waze mobile app is easy to use to navigate streets and submit traffic and road incident reports.

But I decided to follow Waze’s advice, I’m testing it for a column piece anyway, I told myself. Corner by corner, the app navigated us, via voice cues, through the neighborhood near Camp Lapu-Lapu, right through the camp itself and out near JY Square.

And, as Waze had done so for weeks that I’ve been using it, we cut travel time by several minutes.

Waze, for the unfamiliar, is an application that you install into your Android or iOS device to help you navigate traffic. It uses GPS or global positioning system to track where you are, where you want to go and how you can go there fast.

It does this by getting route and driving data from the devices of its users and receiving reports from them. Users can report traffic jams and their severity, accidents, hazards and even police.

The system was founded in Israel and became very popular all over the world that Google bought it for $1.03 billion. The traffic reports are now starting to be integrated in Google Maps.

Easy to use

If you drive, Waze is an app that you should install. It’s for free. But for it to work, you need to turn on our phone’s GPS or location service and have a working mobile data connection.

Waze app GPS route

FASTEST ROUTE. Waze gives you suggested routes to where you are headed and offers the fastest way to get there, taking into account traffic conditions.

Using it is very straightforward. To go somewhere, you just choose navigate and search for the location of the place you are headed to. To simplify regular commute, it allows you to save locations you frequent like work, home etc. Reporting traffic situations is also easy, provided you have good mobile Internet connection.

The Waze app, being free and easy to deploy, is a great solution to dealing with traffic in an area like Cebu. Closed circuit cameras, which the City is deploying albeit not only for traffic but also to monitor crime, can only do so much and aren’t as useful on the phone.

It would help our situation if more people would use apps like Waze and if government can help improve the system by populating it with field reports from enforcers.

The City already has a traffic reporting system via a system built on Android phones deployed on select taxicabs. By running the Waze app in them and encouraging drivers to send reports, other commuters will be able to take advantage of that rich traffic data.

The post Waze app: how to use your phone to outsmart Cebu traffic appeared first on Leon Kilat : The Tech Experiments.

Author: "Max Limpag" Tags: "free software, Highlights, cebu, GPS, ph..."
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Date: Sunday, 18 Aug 2013 11:28

DAVAO CITY-After hitting LTE Advanced download speeds in excess of 200 megabits per second (Mbps) during tests in Manila, Smart Communications Inc. held another test in Davao City last Saturday.

PLDT and Smart Technology head Rolando Peña said he scheduled the test in Davao to show that the company’s network is able to deliver LTE Advanced throughout the country.

“I want to be able to tell my board of directors that I have personally tested the network up to Davao and that we are able to deliver the next generation LTE on a nationwide basis. To me Davao is the biggest challenge because it traverses several land-sea-land-sea type of combination,” Peña said during the test at the PLDT office in this city.

Peña stressed the importance of the company’s fiber network which spans about 71,000 kilometers. He said the “Philippines’ most extensive fiber network” is what enables them to deploy advanced networks.

LTE Advanced speeds

Saturday’s test was attended by journalists and government officials, including a group from the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-The Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).

“We are introducing the next generation LTE. And the next generation LTE is capable of doing theoretical speeds of more than one gigabit per second wirelessly and practical speeds of about 700 megabits per second,” Peña announced before the test of what he said was the “first level of the next generation of LTE.”

Smart LTE Advanced demo

LTE ADVANCED DEMO. PLDT and Smart Technology head Rolando Peña (2nd from right) and Huawei Philippines wireless division head Li Zhi Chao pose with a projection of a speed test on an LTE Advanced network demonstration in Davao City. With them are Davao City Councilor Leo Avila III (3rd from left), the chairman of the committee on transportation and communications, his son Lester, a gamer, and Bert Barriga, executive vice president of ICT Davao. (Photo by Max Limpag)

Peña said the current LTE is capable of “practical download speeds of about 65 Mbps.” The first level of the next LTE is capable of more than thrice that, he said.

During the test conducted by Smart and a team from Huawei Philippines led by wireless division head Li Zhi Chao, they were able to hit download speeds of up to 214Mbps. Allan Siao of Smart Access Planning then demonstrated the download of a 100-megabyte file via file transfer protocol to compare speeds of the current LTE and LTE Advanced. The current LTE connection took 43 seconds to download the file while the LTE Advanced connection took just six seconds. They also demonstrated HD video communications via Skype and HD streaming video.

Impact of high-speed network

“It’s very inspiring. It feels like the kind of technology that Davao needs, as well as the rest of the country. Imagine the impact of such a fast speed,” said ICT Davao executive vice president Bert Barriga.

Barriga said LTE Advanced is something that can be used “for empowering small data centers, service delivery centers, across the island. It is very practical and it does not require heavy infra. It’s very efficient and small businesses can run it and manage it also.”

“Having this in Davao would bring so much opportunity,” said Davao City Councilor Leo Avila III, the chairman of the council’s committee on transportation and communications, “business and governance is already about being connected.”

Schedule of commercial rollout

Peña said they are closely looking into two areas to decide on when to do commercial rollout of LTE Advanced: the availability of compatible devices and development of applications that take advantage of the high-speed network.

He said that while Philippine consumers take from two to three years to change phones, portable Wi-Fi devices or “MyFi” units will enable people to take advantage of advanced networks without having to upgrade their phones.

On the application said, Peña said “today, most of the applications can be very well served by (current) LTE connectivity.”

Peña said the Smart network is ready to quickly deploy LTE Advanced.

“We just have to add a certain radio unit to our existing cell site and we will already be able to deliver this kind of infrastructure,” he said.

LTE Advanced pricing

When pressed for a timeframe, Peña said he thinks commercial tests can start early next year.

He also said they are rethinking mobile Internet pricing, especially the practice of setting different fees for 3G and LTE.

“When we launched LTE, it was priced differently from 3G and we are now actually asking ourselves, why are people not adopting LTE that fast? And one answer is and we are finding this out, if we price LTE the same way as 3G – in other words, we don’t make any differentiation, whatever technology is available so long as your device can use it then use it.”

“Anyway today, pricing for mobile broadband is changing from unlimited to volume-based. So if it’s volume anyway, it doesn’t matter whether you use the fast lane or the slow lane. At the end of the day, it’s the volume transaction that matters,” he said.

The post Smart network ready for LTE Advanced: Rolando Peña appeared first on Leon Kilat : The Tech Experiments.

Author: "Max Limpag" Tags: "Asides, Highlights, Mobile, Bert Barriga..."
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Date: Sunday, 21 Jul 2013 11:11

WERE you among the hundreds of people stranded in parts of Metro Cebu Saturday night? A strong and sudden downpour caused waist-deep flooding in several areas of the metro.

Flooding has now become all too common not just because of the sorry state of our drainage system and our explosive growth but also because of the weather. Climate change is upon us and its bringing disasters along with it.

One thing that empowers communities in dealing with disasters like widespread urban flooding is technology.

Before technologies like mobile phones came in, disaster preparation was a “failure,” said Dr. Cedric Daep, the head of the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office (Apsemo)

Even if you have a good early warning system, you can’t evacuate people without communications, Daep said in an interview last July 5 when he was in Cebu to work on the customization of Tudlo, a disaster-preparedness and response mobile phone app.

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS. Dr. Cedric Daep (left), head of the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office (APSEMO), writes down tips on disaster preparedness and response for inclusion in the Tudlo app by its dev team. Also in photo is Nova Clotario Concepcion, head of Smart's Community Partnership-Public Affairs Group. (Photo by Max Limpag)

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS. Dr. Cedric Daep (left), head of the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office (APSEMO), writes down tips on disaster preparedness and response for inclusion in the Tudlo app by its dev team. Also in photo is Nova Clotario-Concepcion, head of Smart’s Community Partnership-Public Affairs Group. (Photo by Max Limpag)

Albay is known for its effective and successful disaster preparedness and response program. Zero casualties, Dr. Daep proudly pointed out. And technology plays a central role in this, he said.

Infoboard alert system

The province uses the SMS-based Infoboard service by Smart Communications, Inc. Dr. Daep credits the service for their “zero-casualty” disaster response “because of the spread of information.”

When they suspend classes, the information is quickly spread throughout the province via text messages. And any information sent by the Infoboard system is deemed official, based on a Provincial Board ordinance.

Daep said the system allows them to quickly warn people against potential hazards and disasters and advice them on what to do to be safe.

Best Disaster Response App winner

Apsemo’s disaster response is about to get yet another technological boost through Tudlo, an app developed by a Cebu-based team led by Vince Loremia that won as Best Disaster Response App during the #SmartActs Cebu: A Hackathon for Social Good last September 2012.

Albay is the Cebu team’s first LGU partner for the application.

The name Tudlo comes from the Visayan word for “teach,” “point” and “guide” and it does all that in responding to disasters. It serves as a “disaster dictionary,” a mobile guide that teaches people how to respond to different hazards, said Dr. Daep. During a disaster, Loremia said in his pitch for the app, Tudlo can point people to where they could evacuate safely and then guide them during rescue and reconstruction.

Dr. Daep was in Cebu earlier this month to lead the Tudlo team in customizing the content for the app. He translated the guide into Bicolano and added tips that are both based on scientific studies as well as indigenous knowledge.

Among the tips there is how to check wind direction to ascertain whether a typhoon will hit your place. Dr. Daep also shared how one needs to close windows and doors that are facing the wind of a coming typhoon but make sure doors and windows in the opposite side are open to allow air to come in to counteract the vacuum effect and make sure your roof isn’t blown away. This information will be in Tudlo along with a lot of other tips.

Key role in reporting, needs assessment

Dr. Daep is deeply enthusiastic for Tudlo and he sees it deployed in a month or two, taking advantage of Albay’s existing disaster-response network. With the app, people will be able to report hazard situations and get immediate feedback on government action and response.

He sees the app playing a key role in the future in damage and needs assessment. Dr. Daep said the app will enable control centers to get a consolidated assessment report coming from the different communities within 24 hours. The current procedure involves sending consolidated teams of agri, social welfare, engineering and health personnel to the field, which takes time and a lot of resources. With Tudo, reports from the communities will come in “like results during an election.”

He said communities using tools like Tudlo won’t need rescue. Even before a disaster strikes, the system has already triggered a mass alert to bring people to safer areas.

The post Tech as enabling disaster preparedness: APSEMO experience appeared first on Leon Kilat : The Tech Experiments.

Author: "Max Limpag" Tags: "Highlights, WebTech, #SmartActs, Albay P..."
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