Read this great article in The Verge today on the voice behind Siri. I’m finding myself using #Siri more and more these days, especially for quick tasks that would otherwise take multiple steps and involve unlocking the phone. For example, checking the weather (or checking the weather in another city), setting alarms, changing settings (“set do not disturb”) or location-based alerts (“remind me to check the gas meter when I get home”) which are pretty magical. I’ve even used Siri for dictating texts, but only short messages. IOS 7 Siri is definitely better (though still not perfect) at understanding you even with background noise present. All in all, it’s pretty impressive. She still can’t do “Tea, Earl Gray, Hot” though. Update: Some further thoughts: Although Siri is great, does it represent another form of walled garden? I will note that I can ask Siri to make a restaurant reservation for me (though not in the UK) but it will only do so through OpenTable. I can get Weather info but I can’t configure it to get weather info from BBC. The lack of an open API for Siri is a bit troublesome. Shouldn’t I be able to plug in to Siri as an app (or a Web App for that matter) and as a data source in a more straightforward way?

So I read with some interest a tech note from Google on the impeding use of a transforming proxy server for Chrome for IOS & Android. The idea is to speed up the Web on mobile devices where network bandwidth is constrained. If I understand correctly, the proxy will first of all route all http traffic over a single #SPDY  connection. It will compress images to WebP on the fly, minify code and move DNS resolution to the proxy. All of this holds the possibility to greatly increase browsing performance – essentially giving you Opera-Mini like performance but with a “full web” experience. I’m excited about that.  I’m also glad that they’ve explicitly excluded https traffic from the proxy – although increasingly more and more services are redirecting users to https versions of their pages by default (including, amusingly, the page on developers.google.com that describes the data compression proxy). I do have a few questions that don’t seem to have been addressed in the brief.  First of all, what options do I, as a content developer, have to deactivate the features such as image compression? One example of where I might want to do this is if I am trying to transfer a file (rather than display an image) or I want to make sure that an image is sent at its highest resolution and clarity – for example, if I am trying to enable a doctor to examine an X-Ray image). A few years ago, the Mobile Web Best Practices working group developed a set …

Content Transformers 2: Dark of the SPDY Read more »

Today, I start my new job as Head of Product Management for BlueVia, a unit of the newly forming Telefónica Digital. Why, after 10 years at Vodafone, have I chosen to pull up stakes and move to BlueVia? The answer is simple: BlueVia are actually doing something that I’ve been talking about doing since 2006 and even earlier – they are taking operator network capabilities and exposing them (via APIs) to Web and app developers. And they are bringing these APIs to real grass-roots developers. Read what I wrote in 2006 about exposing enablers. Most of the other predictions in that post have been borne out (mobile Web, connected apps, social media, etc…) but mobile operators have so far not been able to expose the capabilities of their networks to developers in a simple, straight-forward way (a-la market-leading Amazon Web Services). Well – BlueVia are actually doing that: taking the capabilities of the network and making them available to developers through an accessible developer program. If you combine that capability with the emerging idea that applications will exist in the cloud and be accessed by users through a range of connected devices, the important role such a provider can play becomes clear. I don’t want to give the wrong impression here. Vodafone is a great company and working there has been a fantastic experience. I’ve worked with some great people on some amazing projects. I’m immensely proud of the work I’ve done there. The work I’ve been engaged in at Vodafone has often focused on bringing the Web …

So-Long Big Red; Hello Cool Blue Read more »

[This is a re-posting of a two-part blog post originally published on the Mobile 2.0 blog. For a discount code for mobile 2.0, please DM me on Twitter or leave a comment here and I’ll send you one.] If you’ve ever seen one of those NASA simulations of galaxies colliding, you’ll know it’s a messy business. Symmetric spirals, serenely evolving and progressing through the universe on their own, suddenly encounter each other. The result is a violent conflagration. Plumes of previously well-ordered stars go shooting off into space, only to be drawn back in and shot out again in another directions; seeming child galaxies form, only to be absorbed again in more churning cataclysms. The time-scales over which this occurs are, of course, astronomical. At human-scale time, all we can ever perceive is a moment, frozen in time. We are in the middle of such an event right now in both the Web and mobile industries. Our galaxies are colliding; they have been colliding for a number of years; and they will continue to collide for years to come. The result will be a new landscape, a new ecosystem, a new industry. What that industry will look like is not clear, but we can guess at its shape. At this year’s mobile 2.0 conference in San Francisco, we are once again going to take a stab at doing just this. In 2006, before our first Mobile 2.0 event, when I first sensed the colliding of these two galaxies, I wrote a post about what I thought …

When Galaxies Collide Read more »

In 2006, I wrote a blog post in an attempt to define “mobile 2.0.” Looking back at that post, I can see that many of my predictions have come to pass. We have indeed moved into a new area, where apps and the mobile Web are bringing a new class of services to mobile users. And we are continuing to see the mobile and Web/Internet industries converge. But what relevance does the “Mobile 2.0” conference have in 2010? Hard to believe that this will be the fifth Mobile 2.0 event running in Silicon Valley. In 2006, after discussing with Mike Rowehl and Gregory Gorman the fact that the Web 2.0 Summit (and many other industry events focusing on disruptive innovation) had no mobile-related content to speak of, we decided to create Mobile 2.0 – a day-long event that would take the format we had helped develop with MobileMonday and expand it to a day-long event. The result was Mobile 2.0 – ok, not the most original name, I grant you. But behind the name, there was and continues to be an ethos that is different from other industry events. We are informal. We are emphatically not pay-for-play. We are people who work and live in this industry. We value people with knowledge they are willing and excited to share with others. We are passionate (and I don’t use the word lightly) about innovation in mobile and we have borne witness to a great era of change in that industry. We strongly believe in the importance of …

Mobile 2.0 in 2010 Read more »

I was amused to see that Nokia’s new CEO closed his talk at Nokia World in London by reprising Balmer’s famous “developers, developers, developers” speech. I’ve been talking to a lot of developers lately. I just got through co-organizing and co-presenting Over the Air and I’ll shortly be heading to San Francisco to help put on another event – Mobile 2.0, which includes a developer day and a “business” day. I’ll also be heading over to SuperHappyDevHouse to talk with yet mote developers.  I want to talk to developers about what’s going on with HTML5, the social Web (and especially OneSocialWeb), the WAC, the Mobile Web Application Best Practices, and the re-launch of Vodafone Developer. I’m also very excited to hear from our line-up of speakers at the Mobile 2.0 Developer Day about what they think are the key issues facing developers today. And I hope to hear from many developers about what their issues are – what they think we as an industry should be focusing on. By the way, get in touch with me by dropping a note here or through the Social Web to get a discount code for Mobile 2.0 if you want to come along.

photo credit: Charlotte Gilhooly I’m an early adopter, or possibly a serial alpha tester. I’m always willing to give something new a go, especially when it comes to new ways to get around my city, London. I was first off the block to get an Oyster card – a fantastic innovation that has transformed Tube and Bus travel, in my opinion. I was an early customer of the “OnePulse” combined Oyster-Visa-contactless payment card – less than fantastic, but that’s the subject of another post. So it should come as no surprise that I was one of the first to sign up for the new “Cycle Hire” scheme in London – cheerily called “Boris’s Bikes” by the press. (Us Londoners know they’re really Ken’s bikes but “Ken’s Bikes” suffers from a lack of aliteration so “Boris’s Bikes” it is.) They probably had enough work to do just launching the service and getting basic e-commerce systems up and running to worry about mobile app development and I’m aso guessing they didn’t have the expertise in house (though that’s just a guess). Many companies and organizations launching new services, particularly in government, might be in similar situations. They could have decided to bag mobile all together, but that would have been shortsighted. Clearly, this is a service that needed a mobile component.  So, as reported in the Guardian, TFL decided not to roll their own mobile app associated with the service but rather opened the field up budding mobile developers. They did so by releasing their data as an API to the …

Boris’s Bikes and Open Data Read more »

I have three predictions for the coming year: Prediction #1: I have seen the future, and it is Android. Or rather, the Android model is going to be the model that “wins out.” Right now, especially for those who tote iPhones around, that might be difficult to see or understand. The iPhone seems like a device which embodies all the mobile 2.0 ideals I first wrote about in 2006. It provides access to a wealth of applications and services. It’s easy to use. It’s connected. It has created new product categories (apps) and new routes to market. But, as iPhone detractors often point out, it’s a closed ecosystem. I submit that no matter how “insanely great” the iPhone is, the ecosystem that Apple has created around it cannot scale. So, we are back to another prediction I made, at 2008’s Future of Mobile conference: Android will be to the iPhone what the PC was to the Mac. Why? User choice. You can download and install an app on an Android phone without buying it from Android Market. You can download it directly, or from an alternative app store such as GetJar. I predict 2010 will be the year that Android apps will begin to rival iPhone apps – maybe not in terms of sheer numbers, but in terms of consumer and developer mindset. This will be the year in which “download our Android App” buttons will join “download our iPhone App” buttons on sites across the Web. Don’t believe me? Check out this interesting data point …

Three Predictions for 2010 Read more »

My friend Adam is a small animal veterinarian in San Francisco. Unfortunately, I rarely get the chance to see him, but when I do it’s always illuminating in some way. Last night over some lovely steaks and shirley temples at San Francisco’s A5A, we got to talking about apps. Adam is an app fiend. He has completely filled up his iPhone with apps. He yelps. He tweets. Adam is super-connected. More interesting though is how he runs his business. Adam uses Freshbooks to do all his business management online (or “in the cloud” as fashion now dictates). Using the Minibooks iPhone app, he is able to get into all this information while mobile, including patient records, blood work reports, etc… everything he needs to do his job. He uses VoiceCentral/GoogleVoice to manage his calls, get transcripts and make appointments. He uses MotionX GPS to get to appointments.  He accepts credit card payments with MerchantWare’s credit card app.  Otherwise, Freshbooks allows clients to pay him through Paypal. He has all kinds of Veterinary reference material and medical calculator apps on his iPhone.  He uses Osirix to carry around digitised xray images from hospitals. He uses Evernote to sync multimedia of pets (images, sound, and videos) taken on the iPhone to his Mac. His entire business is mobile. He can show up at a client, pull up their pet’s records and start working without a single piece of paper. This enables him to do something almost unheard of in this day and age: make housecalls. In fact, that’s all …

Mobile 2.0 In the Wild Read more »

Yes – it’s almost upon us. Those who have been paying attention to my Twitter-stream recently will know that could only be talking about Over the Air. I’ve been working hard on putting together the session schedule for this event, with some great help, notably from Tory and Franco who put on EcoMo the weekend before last. I’m very pleased with how things have turned out. We’re featuring a program that delves into technical detail on numerous topics related to mobile development and at the same time covers user experience, design and the emerging field of service design on mobile. There will be panels, sessions, in-depth tutorials and master class sessions, all against a backdrop of an over-night hack-a-thon. At last year’s Over the Air, I remember walking from session to session and realizing that people were learning in an environment that is possibly unique in the world of mobile events. This year, sessions will cover such disparate topics as widget design and development, iPhone, Windows Mobile, W3C standards, Java, Symbian, Qt, Open Source, Teen insights, and Augmented Reality – and that’s just for starters! Imperial College London will once again provide a great back-drop for this event. If you’re a developer, designer, user experience practitioner, technically or design-minded entrepreneur, or anyone else who’s interested in learning about the real state of art of building mobile experiences, I hope to see you there!