Sharing large videos on Whatsapp from an iPhone

WhatsApp has this frustrating limit of 16 MB or about 1-2 min for videos shared from the camera roll on my iPhone. There seems to be a reasonable workaround through the Google photos app wherein you can use the share option on the video of your choice and select the small option which usually compresses most reasonable length videos so that they can be sent in their entirety on Whatsapp.

The quality is of course pretty poor due to the heavy compression but it’s the simplest workaround.

Power efficiency of AlphaGo’s victory

So another decade maybe before it achieves power parity?

Lee Sedol used about 20 Watts of power to operate. By contrast, AlphaGo runs on a whopping 1920 CPUs and another 280 GPUs for an estimated power consumption of approximately 1 MW (200 W per CPU and 200 W per GPU). That’s 50,000 times as much power as the amount of power that Lee Sedol’s brain uses and the two are not quite evenly matched but it is close enough to use for comparison.

Source: Another Way Of Looking At Lee Sedol vs AlphaGo · Jacques Mattheij

A Tale of 3 App Stores

I setup my company’s app store accounts for iOS, Android and Windows last year and have been managing them for over a year now. The journey has been quite interesting, starting from signing up for the accounts to switching to a MacBook Air last April for iOS development. Here are a few observations on the journey so far:

  • The signup process is pretty simple for Android and Windows and the cost is also minimal. Apple on the other hand has a comprehensive process if you opt to setup a company account that allows you to have development team members. Plus they are the costliest of the lot at $99 per year.
  • For all the flak that Android draws for its developmental difficulties, its app store management tools are the best. you can easily setup a decentralized account granting access on a per app basis to different team members. This makes it very convenient and easy to work with multiple development partners in case of an enterprise.
  • Windows Store unfortunately is on the other end of the spectrum with no support for any kind of team members. So, the account manager is left to do all the app listings and package uploads.
  • Apple is somewhere in between, allowing team members, but not providing app level access controls. So, one development partner could potentially look at the others’ work. Plus, the main account P12 certificate needs to be shared if you want to allow anyone other than the account owner to upload apps.
  • Alpha and beta testing is also very simple on Android where you can just upload the package, setup a Google Group to manage the testers and setup the process.
  • Testing for iOS is also fairly easy now that TestFlight is integrated into iTunes Connect. However, if you want to allow external testers then your app needs to go through a review process.
  • Windows Store does not seem to offer any testing support at the moment.
  • On the store management app front, Apple seems to be the only one offering an iTunes Connect app that lets you monitor your account. Nothing equivalent for Android or Windows so far.

Overall, Android or more specifically the Google Play Store seems to be the easiest to manage with a decentralized enterprise account while Windows Store involves a lot of administrative overhead, with iOS closer to the Play Store. Let’s see if the situation improves with Windows 10 over the next one year.

Microsoft one ups Google+ for photos

Just got the latest update for the OneDrive app and saw the new tags section that tries to classify photos automatically based on content. Tags range from #building to #group. It is reasonably accurate too, though I don’t take too kindly to baby photos being tagged #dog & #animal. Either ways, good to see a feature like this make it to an app rather than having a research lab project having its thunder stolen by a competitor’s published app (Hyperlapse from Instagram did pretty much this).

Google and the slippery slope of privacy

I just noticed a new Google program called Google+ Auto Backup for Desktop installed on my Windows 7 home laptop. Since I had not installed the software explicitly, I was a bit surprised. While this is par for course on Android with Google Apps being silently installed, I imagined Windows to be somewhat more transparent. Of course, Google has done this before with Chrome, but this time they seem to have leveraged the Picasa install base to push through their software.

Granted that the tool is quite useful for backing up photos, and I have set it up to back up my photo library just as it is configured on my Galaxy S3, this kind of behind the scene surprises is quite worrying. After all, Windows installers of many a software come with their share of add-on bundles – remember those toolbars? Then again, we did have the option to opt out of those add-ons. While this behaviour is similar to the Google approach for Android and their other services, it does not inspire much confidence in a company that I trust with so much of my personal data:

  • Google knows where I am all day thanks to the location history on my Android phone
  • Google has comprehensive control over my digital identity thanks to my Gmail ID
  • Google has copies of all my photos clicked on my phone, and now even ones that were on my laptop
  • Google knows the sites I visit and the credentials I use on each thanks to Chrome

I probably trust Google with too much of my data. Coming to think of it, the NSA might as well shut shop and open up a division in Google.

Google is well down its way of the slippery slope with me (and you?) in tow, and I’m pretty worried where things are headed.

The best Google joke ever – “Don’t be evil”

First the Google Reader shutdown earlier this year showing that Google is not averse to shutting down services that have a significant user base. Then came the shared personal endorsement that was opt out by default and would have made Facebook proud. And now we have Google experimenting with banner ads. They sure had us fooled.

With the search results already looking like below on the iPad, nothing much left to say other than the world probably ended in 2012, and we are living in an alternate version of reality.

20131028-155243.jpg

If you are a heavy user of their services, good luck trying to get out. Money makes not only people, but also organizations do funny things.

The New Microsoft?

Just replace Google with Microsoft and turn back the clock by 15-20 years in the below article and you will notice striking similarities in their strategies to capture the market:

Google’s iron grip on Android: Controlling open source by any means necessary | Ars Technica.

The decisions make perfect business sense and is possibly the easiest way for Google to maintain control over Android while taking care of the fragmentation issues that have plagued the platform over the last few years. As an end user this has both positive and negative implications. The good part is that we do not have to depend as much on OEMs and carriers for Android updates and features. The bad news is mainly for the open source fanatics who thought that Android was “open”.

Of course, if you are an Android device maker, particularly one that is floundering in the face of the Samsung onslaught, then you are in a tough spot. Case in point is HTC that has been making pretty distinct devices that get good reviews, but doesn’t have any profits to show. Good acquisition target for Amazon it seems.

Then, there is also Google’s strategy to suffocate the Windows Phone platform by ignoring it and depriving it of first party Google Apps. Another strategy that makes very good business sense, but not really in the spirit of “Don’t be Evil”.

In a broader sense, the “Don’t be Evil” Google is long gone, having been replaced by a business savvy one which is a natural transition for maturing companies to survive in the marketplace. I just hope that Google Services don’t do to the internet what Microsoft did with Internet Explorer and Office…

Thinking about the most forward thinking smartphone in the world

As with the “S” iPhone releases so far, the iPhone 5s continues the trend of looking practically the same as the previous version while making radical improvements under the hood. I have never had and iPhone of my own so far, but that should not stop me from sharing some thoughts on the new release:

  • The A7 processor with its 64 bit architecture is undoubtedly the most forward thinking part of the launch. In 2 years, Apple’s entire mobile portfolio should be 64 bit, and 3-4 years from now, most iDevices will be 64 bit as well given the typical upgrade cycles.
  • The A7 also probably sets the foundation stone for a possible move to Apple’s own SoC on their larger devices like the MacBook and iMac. The A7 is in touching distance of Intel’s new architecture for Atom, and 4-5 years of incremental updates should bring it up to the good enough mark. Of course, Intel would have pushed the performance envelope even further by then, but how much of that will be meaningful remains to be seen.
  • It should be interesting to see what happens to the Apple TV going forward. It has the most modest of specs at present, and without an app platform there is no need for much improvements in performance. This is likely to change by the end of the year, or at most within the next year.
  • The GPU is also interesting as it supports pretty high resolutions (well above 4K). Another point to think about for the Apple TV.
  • Then, there is the M7 motion processor that is decoupled from the main SoC. This serves as a perfect test bed for whatever wearable device that Apple may be designing, but also indicates that there are likely to be A7 based devices without the M7 – iPads maybe or even a future Apple TV.
  • Motion processors seem to be getting popular, and Google-Motorola arguably beat Apple to market in this regard with the Moto X. On the Android front, this is bound to bring in some efficiencies resulting in better battery life. And there is of course Google Now which is bound to start making greater use of such processors sooner rather than later (Kit Kat & Nexus 5?).
  • The TouchID fingerprint sensor is likely to be just as radical, and I’d say a bigger feature than Siri. Initial usage feedback is pretty positive. Let’s see how it holds up in the longer term given that the 5s is supposed to be a future thinking device.
  • The lower “s” of the 5s is also pretty forward thinking given that we’ll have a Galaxy S5 in 5-6 months.
  • As for the Android copycats, we can be sure that the flagships of next year will feature 64 bit processors, motion processors, fingerprint sensors (S Finger a la S Voice?) and dual tone flashes. Hopefully they also get out of the megapixels race on the camera front and go for larger pixels (Windows Phone seems to have avoided it so far).
  • iOS 7 also possibly indicates what a notification centre on Windows Phone would look like given the similar design language in many areas.

Update: Some very interesting thoughts by Cringely as well about Apple outmaneuvering Microsoft on the no compromises PC model:

Jump forward in time to a year from today. Here’s what I expect we’ll see. Go to your desk at work and, using Bluetooth and AirPlay, the iPhone 5S or 6 in your pocket will automatically link to your keyboard, mouse, and display. Processing and storage will be in your pocket and, to some extent, in the cloud. Your desktop will require only a generic display, keyboard, mouse, and some sort of AirPlay device, possibly an Apple TV that looks a lot like a Google ChromeCast.

Windows Phone and the Google Contacts problem

Ever since I got my Lumia 720, I have had issues with missing phone numbers for some of my Google contacts. The same contacts showed up with all their details on my Galaxy S3. Since practically all my contact data are stored on Google this was a real downer in an otherwise excellent experience with the phone.

Thankfully, a bit of research on the web along with some experimentation led me to the problem and the eventual solution. The problem seems to be phone numbers that have been categorized as Main in particular on Google contacts. These are not recognized by Windows Phone and don’t show up in the contact details. The only solution to this is to categorize the number as ones recognized by Windows Phone like Home, Work or Mobile.

You can also see from the screenshots that while some categories are common to Google contacts and Windows Phone, quite a few are not. In such cases, you should opt for the Windows Phone option as Google contacts is quite flexible since it allows user defined categories (Android phones also seem to be flexible in this regard) while Windows Phone does not recognize ones outside its list.

A couple of other things to keep in mind:

  1. Windows Phone does not provide you a send SMS option from the profile view unless the number is categorized as Mobile or Mobile 2.
  2. If you create a number with a Windows Phone category not available on Google contacts, it will show up on Google contacts, but may have a different label. For example, Mobile 2 ends up as Car. So, don’t be surprised.