GTA 5: Chatting Violence in Media and Breaking Sales Records – Arlene Bynon SiriusXM Radio appearance

ArleneBynonI always enjoy my appearances on the Arlene Bynon show. She’s a savvy business commentator, and she had me on for a segment covering the release of Grand Theft Auto 5.

We discussed the popularity of the game, its passionate following among gamers, the business impact of breaking $800 million in one day, and some of the controversy surrounding violence in media.

Originally Aired September 18, 2013.
Arlene Bynon: SiriusXM radio ch. 167, weekdays 4-6pm ET.

QuickOffice now free on Android & iOS – Includes 10GB additional free storage on Google Drive

quickoffice google drive android tablet phone documents spreadsheets free somegadgetguyJust a quick heads up!

Google recently bought out QuickOffice, and it looks like they’re ready to start bringing it into the proper stable of other Google Apps. QuickOffice can integrate with Google Drive, and it provides much better tools for document and spreadsheet editing (IMO) than the stock Drive app. Not the least of which is the ability to create a new document while offline…

QuickOffice has become my go-to solution for writing while traveling on my little Nexus 7, and now it’s completely free! That should be enough for you to at least give it a whirl, but Google is going to sweeten the pot a little more. If you install by September 26, you’ll also receive an additional 10GB of cloud storage through Google Drive.

Hit the Google Drive Blog for more info, or go directly to Google Play to install QuickOffice!

Moto X coming to Republic Wireless for $299, No Contract, Plans start at $5 per month

moto x republic wireless 299 wifi calling budget plans somegadgetguyRepublic Wireless is a scrappy alternative MVNO cell carrier. Offering insanely cheap plans starting at $5 a month, they’ve been a favorite around the budget conscious shoppers looking for smartphone service. The trick to keeping plans that cheap is Republic is a hybrid service. When out and about your phone uses Sprint’s network, but when you’re in range of WiFi your phone will use data to make calls like Skype or Vonage. I had the pleasure of reviewing their Moto Defy back in February.

Now the problem with Republic for many folks was the lack of devices. The software to enable hybrid calling has to be built into the ROM, so you can’t bring your own phone. Until now, the only phone they offered was the Defy, which was a fine Gingerbread device, but not the sexiest phone compared to other low cost carriers.

Well that’s going to change really soon. Republic Wireless has scored the Moto X, and they’re going to sell it for an incredible $299 off contract. From the Republic Wireless website:

The Moto X will retail at $299 (plus taxes and surcharges) from the Republic Wireless store. That’s right – we took the hot, new Moto X, added Republic’s great Hybrid service and priced it at $299 with no contract required. That’s a price that’s, like, impossible to match anywhere in the industry. How did we do it? The phone is $299 because we are footing the bill. Period. This is NOT a $299 phone. Take a quick look around the web and look at “no contract” pricing for the Moto X.

In the industry this is typically known as a subsidy, but we’ve added a twist. We are bringing down the cost without holding you to a contract. We’re doing this because we have trust in our members…and we have confidence in our product and service. Contracts are inherently built on a lack of trust…and a lack of confidence in your ability to bring your A game every.single.day. We believe in a better way…the way things should be.

That’s a pretty bold move on the part of such a small player, and I’m stoked to see companies like this look for ways to compete against larger carriers.

Get the full scoop on the Republic Wireless site.

My first impressions video of the Moto X.

Pick Your Poison: OS Fragmentation or Feature Fragmentation?

One of the most impressive aspects of owning an Apple phone or tablet is how good Apple is at rolling out OS updates. With very few meltdowns, MILLIONS of devices are updated on launch day, and the entire ecosystem moves forward very quickly. Early estimates point to almost 30% of iOS users are now on iOS7. By controlling the hardware and software environment, Apple has created a process Google will probably never be able to approximate.

TheAppleLounge iOS-7-Comparison-ChartWhile even older devices will get these OS updates, iDevices like the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 wont be getting all of the new features of the OS. This makes sense as it’s older, under-powered hardware, and Apple is ruthless about protecting the user experience. However, as what we get excited about during an OS update are new features, claiming the iPhone 4 “also gets iOS7” is a very small touch disingenuous. It does get iOS7, just not ALL of it.

The Apple Lounge built this great graphic detailing which devices would be getting new features, and which would be left out. On the whole Apple has done a terrific job of moving things like Control Center and Multi-tasking forward, but some lost features might be a touch frustrating.Things like panorama photos and in-camera filters might be kind of a bummer for folks who prized the iPhone’s camera. Also, for as frustrating as it can be to transfer files on and off iDevices, the lack of AirDrop on older hardware might be frustrating for some.

This also brings up weird splits in product lines. The iPad Mini is largely the same internal hardware as the iPad 2, but the iPad 2 will not be receiving Air Drop support while the iPad Mini will. Ditto the “iPad with Retina Display”. If you have the iPad 3, no Air Drop for you, but the iPad 4 is good to go. Definitely a bummer as we would imagine the hardware in the iPad 3 is probably more robust than in the iPad Mini.

Contrast that with the scattered OS update path on Android, and Apple still has the cleaner process, but Google is taking steps to improve the Android ecosystem. They wont be able to corral all of the various manufacturers, they’ve been trying to do that for a while now, but they can go around them to a degree. Over the last several months we’ve been watching Google slice pieces off of Android and putting those pieces up as stand alone apps. While it might seem like a small thing, it shouldn’t require a full new OS update to install a small improvement to something like the keyboard, and now Android users can install the stock Nexus keyboard as a separate app.

google settings app screenshot somegadgetguyTaking that idea a step further, the new Google Settings app shows up in your app drawer now and gives you a lot of control over gaming, Google+, and remote device management (like tracking your phone if it gets stolen). Google Play Services is also updated through the Google Play app store. Rather than waiting out full OS updates, all of the peripheral services and controls, things that developers interact with for instance, can all be updated independently of the OS.

While most services like G+, Play Music, and Maps have always been this way, and people are somewhat used to them being one part hardware and one part cloud, I hope this idea extends soon to other features on our phones like the camera. Taking a cue from the Nexus Keyboard app, it would be a nice way to unify the camera experience on Android handsets, that there would be one simple Android camera experience if people want something simple and familiar. Ditto the photo Gallery, as it can be jarring moving to a new phone and having a completely different experience for organizing and sharing photos and videos.

This solution isn’t perfect either, as some improvements will still require that full OS iteration, and things like hardware controls have to be buttoned down (hello Bluetooth funkiness), but as Google implements more individual component updates, fewer and fewer Android users will be left out in the cold as app developers and services move forward.

I’ve come to the opinion that there really isn’t a “best” phone, tablet, or ecosystem anymore. For a couple years now, the question you have to ask yourself is: What compromises are you willing to live with? As even low end phones now can be surprisingly capable, I think service and support will become even more meaningful to the end user.

So pick your poison. What kinds of updates work better for you?

Live Ask Juan: Upgrades to help an older PC with Video Editing?

inside computer pc hardware upgrade videocard ram cables somegadgetguyGot another great reader question. Thought I’d take to the Youtube’s to answer it!

From Youtube viewer TableReadTheater:

Hey Juan,
I have an older PC, like 3 or 4 years. It still runs ok, but I want to start doing some video editing. I can’t buy a new system yet, but I can spend a little on a few parts. What kinds of upgrades can I do to help it run better for video?

Pledge to reduce distracted driving! #ItCanWait ‘Drive 4 Pledges Day’ – September 19th!

it_can_wait_logoDistracted driving is becoming one of my primary technology “cause” issues. As tech becomes more fashionable, as we integrate data into more and more of our waking day, we’ve still yet to completely crack the user experience of interacting with technology while operating a motor vehicle. Some day we’ll have better solutions like heads up displays and eye pieces, probably used in conjunction with driver-less cars, but that day has not yet arrived.

Over 100,000 crashes a year involve distracted drivers. We can do better. We need to do better.

Backed by all four major carriers, the It Can Wait campaign will be sponsoring events all around the country on September 19th. During the Drive 4 Pledges Day, communities will be hosting pledges drives, encouraging their neighbors to sign the pledge to not text (or use your phone) while driving. I’ll be attending the Los Angeles pledge event to show my support.

For those of you who want to participate, but wont be able to attend community events, check out ItCanWait.com for other ways to support the cause. it only takes a moment’s indiscretion for someone’s life to be irrevocably changed.

If you haven’t yet, I would also recommend watching the documentary From One Second to the Next, directed by Werner Herzog. It’s available for free on Youtube, and I have it embedded after the break.

Continue reading “Pledge to reduce distracted driving! #ItCanWait ‘Drive 4 Pledges Day’ – September 19th!”

Netflix exec: Canada’s broadband caps “almost a human rights violation”

Yikes.
As data becomes more and more integral to our work and social activities, ISP’s are going to have to start working harder to justify their positions as middlemen, instead of treating internet access as a state run utility…

Tesla working towards self-driving cars by 2017

model-s-blue-front2_960x640Sign me up. I’m sold. I used to love hitting the open road, but after living in LA for a couple years I’m done. All the wasted time sitting in zombifying traffic I could be spending on ANYTHING ELSE. There’s no more romance for me. The car is no longer a gadget I cherish, but a necessary evil.

Unless of course I no longer had to drive it myself anymore.

The dream of science fiction robot taxis is getting closer and closer to becoming a reality, and geek sweetheart Tesla is getting into the game. Joining companies like Google, CEO Elon Musk is promising “auto-pilot” features on Tesla automobiles in 3-4 years. Color me stoked!

Four years is a tremendously fast time table to get functionality like this tested and refined for general use, but Musk has demonstrated a unique drive in getting ambitious projects off the ground, and we can always hope that at some point, rather than having multiple companies producing competing systems, they might at some point pool their resources to provide true standards to the public.

In addition to freeing me up to utilize my commute more effectively, this could also help to curb the problems we face with distracted driving. It’s a win-win all around.

(via Reuters)