Foursquare’s Time Machine is awesome!


Foursquare has partnered with Samsung to deliver a really slick animation of your history on the service.  It’s really beautiful to watch and fun to consider the travel I’ve had over the past 4 years on the platform as well.  I particularly enjoyed the transitions when I traveled via plane or road to the various cities in which I’ve checked in.  Get yours here.



Traffic animated


Just playing around with the Galaxy S IV camera…

(update doesn’t look like the phone to wordpress share includes the animated image.  bummer)

Samsung Develops Wallet Platform


So Samsung is finally showing some cards around mobile payments and it looks like they’ve developed a full-up wallet system rather than simply utilize an existing method.  This certainly aligns with their desire to control more of the ecosystem and looks like a strong contender assuming they are able to deliver carrier partnerships as well to enable access across their installable base.

Samsung’s Wallet looks a lot like Apple’s Passbook and that’s a good thing.  While it’s capable of incorporating NFC, the initial proximity solution will be based on scannable codes … just like Passbook.  Again this is a good thing as merchants and brands will (hopefully) only need some slight modification (if any) to enable a second set of passes.

Currently, Wallet is only available as a preview for developers, who can download the SDK and API guides for it now, and the app itself will be available in the near future. Samsung says that it has lined up partnerships with Walgreens, Belly, Major League Baseball Advanced Media, Expedia,,, and Lufthansa for the app’s launch, but it won’t be integrated any NFC payment features into Wallet, despite its new partnership with Visa’s PayWave service. When we asked why this was the case, Samsung said retailers prefer barcodes over NFC because they don’t have to install any new infrastructure to support it.  via The Verge.

Given the imminent launch announcement of the Galaxy S IV, the likely sales of millions of devices (much like the S III and Note lines) this could and should get some immediate attention.  Developers can start here.  Earlier this week, MLB (also a Samsung partner) announced support for Passbook at 13 ballparks … with the intentional similarities here from Samsung, perhaps we’ve got a real chance at a standard for how payments get presented.

Samsung’s HomeSync


This is a rather interesting development from Samsung… It’s not GoogleTV, but it is an Android powered STB.

The device features WiFi, Bluetooth and Ethernet support, 2 USB 3.0 ports for peripherals, a micro USB port for connecting to a PC, and HDMI output for hooking up a TV or monitor. Under the hood, the HomeSync is running software based on Google Android Jelly Bean, which means you can use it to watch movies on the hard drive or stream videos from YouTube, among other things. It also includes access to the Google Play Store, which should let you download additional apps such as Netflix or Vudu to turn the HomeSync into a pretty powerful media center for your TV. via liliputing

Standardizing the Second Screen Experience


I love hearing that there’s a new industry standard being sorted by YouTube and Netflix to promote a more open second screen experience. Right now it’s a bit of a mess and you either go all in with Apple (AppleTV + Airplay + iOS) which only works in certain instances – though absolutely works, or you’ve got a set of considerably more limited options. The DIAL Protocol could really offer a very new opportunity for enhanced viewing and app utilization in the living room which is very exciting.

But there are other areas where DIAL actually goes beyond AirPlay’s capabilities. First, the obvious: AirPlay can’t launch any apps on your Apple TV. DIAL will also be able to detect whether an app is installed, and redirect a user to a smart TV’s app store in case it’s missing. Also cool: DIAL will be able to launch web apps on your TV, if the device supports it, which should add a whole lot of new functionality to connected devices.via GigaOm.

Even more interesting is that it’s apparently already out in market, though quietly and waiting to be awakened … I’m surprised there wasn’t more (or any) noise at CES this year … Sony, Samsung, GoogleTV, YouTube and Netflix are a strong start.

Samsung’s New Smart TV

Stunning screen resolution … the real trick is how it works with your craptastic cable box. I’m still holding steady for the hopeful Apple TV, but this sounds really, really good.

Here’s a quick breakdown of what Samsung’s Smart TVs can do:

The menu is divided into five panels for live TV, movies or TV shows, your personal photos/videos/music, social content recommendations from services like Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube, and apps.

The interface recommends what to watch based on what’s stored on your mobile devices and what your friends like.

You can control the TV with your voice or motion gestures.

If you have a Samsung smartphone or tablet, you can beam video content to and from your Smart TV. It’s similar to Apple’s AirPlay.

via Business Insider.

Samsung’s Likely Big Year

MG Siegler has solid POV on the potential for Samsung this year. I don’t normally quote this much, but for context …

Not only is it bigger than Apple from a revenue standpoint, it’s almost twice as large as the three other “horsemen” combined ($190 billion versus what should be about $100 billion for Amazon, Facebook, and Google in 2012). And unlike Amazon and Facebook which make little or no profit, Samsung is hugely profitable. $12 billion in profit for 2011 should move closer to $20 billion in 2012. That’s not a ton compared to Apple ($55 billion in profit in 2012), but it should be roughly twice as much profit as Google pulls in for the year.

But let’s forget the money and go back to Android. Samsung is so important and deserves a place with the other horsemen because it is the most important piece of the Android ecosystem beyond Google. And it seems that the company is at least exploring the possibility of taking a step back from that ecosystem, or hedging its bet. That could be the story of 2013.

Imagine Samsung, with 40 to 50 percent of the Android market, breaking away to focus on Tizen. Or perhaps more realistically, imagine Samsung forking Android for its own purposes while exploring the Tizen possibilities. Not only can the company afford to do it, there may be several incentives to do so.

Amazon is closing in on its own phone running a forked version of Android in a similar manner to its Kindle Fire tablets. The first iterations of that tablet weren’t great, but they’re getting better. And because it now has its own forked Android app store, Amazon is going to be in control of the entire ecosystem. Samsung has no such control if it remains a loyal Android partner.

Maybe it’s okay with that, but Samsung must be looking at how profitable Apple is as a result of its total control. Shitty mobile skins only give the illusion of control, Samsung needs to control the full stack. And given its position of power, the company has the leverage to do that if it chooses to.

And it’s not just an offensive imperative, it’s a defensive one too. Google continues to say the right things publicly about maintaining distance from its Motorola unit with regard to Android. Of course, it says this with the Google X phone project well underway. A true Google phone.

Perhaps it’s a project meant less to scare Samsung and more to fight back against Google’s true bane: its carrier partners. Or maybe it’s Google hedging against Samsung’s position of power. It doesn’t matter. The Google/Samsung relationship is starting to show signs of strain, and they’re only going to get more pronounced — exhibit A.

Beyond mobile devices, the hot topic for 2013 is the future of television. Most of this is focused around Apple with a little bit reserved for Google’s TV projects. But it’s once again Samsung that is already the leader in the space. Sure, it’s the old school (shitty margin) television space, but why doesn’t anyone think that Samsung can translate its success in smartphones here as well? It simply hasn’t really tried yet.

Perhaps that’s another part of the Tizen equation. Or maybe a forked Android will find its way here as well. But Samsung has a huge head start on Apple, Google and everyone else.  via TechCrunch.

Bloomberg’s report on Samsung’s desire to launch Tizen-based handsets to push away from Android is definitely interesting.  The initial product is apparently going to NTT Docomo in Japan which means we’ll have to wait here in the US.  Should Samsung decide to release a Tizen varient of the Galaxy IV later this year, most (Samsung) consumers would probably consider it the next generation Galaxy rather than focus on the operating system.  If Samsung can successfully migrate their existing apps and deliver against some of the core Google bits they are going to have a winning hand.  This is far from simple or a sure thing …

The future of TV is a big deal. While everyone is waiting for Apple to reveal their solution, Samsung already has massive scale, huge profits to accomodate risk (like Apple) and an existing ecosystem of devices along with a brewing selection of branded apps.  Now, it’s been pointed out more than a few times, that the current Smart TV market is a complicated mess and it’s also likely to be massively expensive to get the ala carte services we all want.

This week CES will reveal some likely candidates … let’s hope they aren’t just based on speeds and feeds … we need some connected systems here to make it all work and work well.

I’ve gone Netbook

So I finally went netbook and got the Samsung NC10 which I am seriously loving after just a few days.  The amount of power that’s packed into such a small package is really quite amazing.  While the netbook category tends to be viewed as a cheap alternative, it’s really quite a bit more than that. The reduction in size affords an enhanced degree of mobility and I don’t feel I’m making much a sacrifice in order to get there … in fact I feel like it’s actually rather something of the opposite.

Over the past year I scaled my work laptop from a 15″ to a 13″ Lenovo X61 and the weight was a huge break on my shoulder and back.  The smaller machine runs about 3.5 pounds with the larger battery which also offered a longer range (~4hours) than what I found in the previous (T61) machine.   This small system has been serving me well.  The X61 does offer a weaker video card and which can’t play some of the videos we tend to embed in powerpoint for presentations.  Until the NC10, the X61 offered the longest unplugged time of any laptop I’ve used.  I know there are newer Lenovo systems that offer better specs but I don’t have any current ability to request an upgrade.

The NC10 on the other hand is my personal system.  I chose it compared to other netbooks based on the build quality, larger keyboard (93%) and 6-cell battery which allegedy can deliver close to 8 hours of battery life.  I gave the system it’s first real unplugged test this week and am very happy to report that the battery easily went through a day of meetings which started before 9:30 and lasted until 4pm.  There was roughly 30% left on the battery at that point which could have lasted about another hour according to the meter.  I was connected to wifi the whole day except during lunch when I left it on standby in our conference room.  That’s 6 and a half hours!!  With another hour to go it looks like 8 hours is actually a doable number.  I was running XP and the Samsung has a an custom power management application which is part of their standard install.  My screen was between 2 and 3 degress of 8 on the brightness scale.  The screen actually gets quite bright but is definitely not required for a day of work.

One thing I’ve immediately noticed about the NC10 is that the smaller size does not in any way feel cramped.  Swapping the Samsung NC10 into my bag for the first time I was very pleased to note the weight (~ half a pound) reduction on my shoulder.  While the 10″ screen is the current upper end of the netbook size range, it’s hardly massive and I felt worthwhile for the close to full-size keyboard as well as the potential for eye strain on the smaller system.

I’m going to upgrade the RAM to 2GB from the 1 that comes standard and may eventually consider an SSD hard drive over the 160GB one that comes standard as I think I could make do with less storage once I sort what OS I plan to run.  I’m currently triple booting the system between Windows 7, XP and OSX.  I’ll have some more to discuss on that shortly as well.  The trackpad does take a bit to get used to though I think that may actually be more of a personal thing as I’ve been trackpoint only on the X61.  The trackpad is shorter but wide so a bit of finesse and you can easily handle it.  Typing this on an airplane tray table is quite comfortable and fortunately the guy in front of me has not reclinced (coach on Finair).  Overall this machine is really quite remarkable.  I’m loving the
access, responsiveness and really can’t think of anything negative
about it.  I know it’s a bit more than quite a few netbooks out there, but even after paging through the CES announcements I’m not feeling like anything really beats the range I’ve got.

I’ll have to see how far I can push my use into regular business life.  I’ve yet to install any office suite so some attachments — powerpoint in particular are impossible to review or edit.  At least google docs can easily handle word files.  I suppose I can always install office or open office if I feel compelled.

Ok … so more one Netbook for consideration – The Samsung NC10

Samsung NC10-14GW netbook

So I’ve had some great comments and discussion since yesterday’s post on finding my likely netbook (the MSI Wind) and it seems the Samsung NC10 is clearly worth a serious look as well.

For starters it offers a considerably larger keyboard (93% vs. 80%) and battery life is well over 6 hours … possibly closer to 8 through conservation. Both of these features are well worth a pause over the Wind and believe me, I’ve spent some time researching again today. What I think is really driving me though is the option for a SIM slot. Apparently, the Samsung NC10 has a SIM slot hiding behind the battery (a 6-cell comes standard) though it’s unclear so far if the current model actually has a modem inside. The modem / SIM combo is what initially drew my attention towards the HP Mininote, but it seems the MSI wins on a few counts there – for now anyway. Netbooks are hot and the competitive nature of the various companies is bringing new features and enhancements pretty rapidly.

Back to the Samsung… I need to confirm the SIM slot is functional of I’ll be waiting for the next rev to arrive — or will just wait it our for that updated MSI model. You can get an Acer at Radioshack now for as low as $99 if you are willing to sign up for a 2-year data plan with AT&T though I’m quite certain I can get data for less than $60/mo. The Acer did feel quite solid though – especially compared to the ASUS systems I saw recently at Best Buy.