Posts Tagged ‘Open Standards’

FaceTime long overdue to be an open standard

When FaceTime was announced, it was said to be built on open standards and it would be open allowing others to build on top of it. This was in September 2010. 

It has been over two years, and there is no such thing as an open standards compliant FaceTime. Today you still need to use an iPod Touch, iPad, or iPhone to make use of FaceTime.

When I unboxed my Nexus 7 tablet, the first question Sara asked me was if we could now FaceTime using that tablet. You see, we’ve gotten quite used to using FaceTime to keep in touch with each other as we are frequently thousands of miles apart, as I travel a lot.

Lately, Apple has even enabled FaceTime over 3G if you have an iPhone 4S or greater. I’m sure they fear that if it were an open standard, it would probably work on my iPhone 4 as well, thru third party software.

Most importantly as to why I’d like to see FaceTime to be an open standard? Ubiquity. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could use an Android tablet to talk to an iPad?

There was a 3G video standard quite some time back. I think Nokia might have pioneered it. Video calling over 3G was made popular on the Three network in Australia for example. This was in the early days of 3G usage (most phones still did GPRS, then EDGE, back then). I recall being able to make 10 minute calls over Three for free. It meant many people carried one regular phone, and one Three phone. Most importantly, this was based on open standards: an LG phone, spoke perfectly to an Ericsson one, which in turn spoke perfectly to a Nokia one.

I recall Apple denouncing video calling over the 3G network when FaceTime was launched. You needed bandwidth they said, so the experience was best delivered over WiFi. With the advent of LTE, they now believe you can do it over the wireless networks (in iOS6). But you’re locked in with whom you can speak to – other Apple users.

So, the late Steve Jobs vaguely promised that FaceTime would be open. Will the current Tim Cook make this happen?

Nokia N97 – Quick Impressions II

This is part of an ongoing series on the Nokia N97 phone. Get started with Nokia N97 Quick Impressions and Quick Impressions II.

The Nokia N97

There were just some items that I neglected to cover in the first article on the Nokia N97 – Quick Impressions.

Last Friday, I was invited to the Nokia N97 launch party at Mandarin Oriental, thanks to Text100/Nokia. Amidst all the fanfare and meeting friends, I decided to take a closer look at the N97 again, this time armed with my Kodak Zi6. As a consequence, I have two somewhat blurry videos (sorry, the phones were bolted on to devices that prevented theft, making my job a lot harder), one demoing gravity and the touch screen features, and another taking a look around the phone showing off things like the keyguard, and so on. There are a bevy of questions and comments there on YouTube, which I wish were just integrated into my blog, but I’m surprised at the amount of people searching for N97 videos :-)

If you’re interested in the party, which was excellent, BTW, don’t hesitate to read Yoon Kit’s entry, or even Bernard’s entry.

First up, the phone costs RM2,480. That is the suggested retail price, and its not much different from Singapore, a marked improvement from what the N96 or the E90 costs.

The phone comes with a stylus. There were none around that day, so using your fingers makes the most sense. Who wants to use a stylus you ask? Nokia is making it easy for input of Chinese characters. I however do think that its silly to have to place the stylus in the case (you’re bound to lose it). But I’ve never seen the case, so I don’t know if its something I would use (I normally never use any cases for any of my phones).

Comments in the videos above, as well as from using it, will show that the touchscreen isn’t as responsive as what you’d find on the iPhone. I wrote this when I reviewed the Nokia 5800:

Its a touch screen, and you’re expected to be able to use it with one hand, and you can use your fingers. However, its not so fancy — once you’ve used the iPod Touch or the iPhone, you’ll slowly realise that the touch screen isn’t all that.

Why? The touch screen is resistive, not capacitive, which means that a “click” is only registered when two thin layers of the screen get pushed together under the pressure from my finger (or stylus). AFAIK, the iPhone uses something called “projected capacitive” screens, and you don’t need actual contact (and it works well for multi-touch).

It still applies, with the Nokia N97. Sigh.

From the event itself, some other interesting bits:

  • It seems that 40% of Internet use is mobile. I’ve not seen this anywhere else, but if this is the case, everyone better be designing for mobile use.
  • Its interesting to see that the Ovi Store is a Social AppStore. What does that mean? It means you get regional differentiation. This can mean two things: some apps may not be available in certain regions (say games in China), or it could also mean that you’ll see relevant apps for the area you’re in… so if you’re in KL and fly to London, you’ll see more London specific apps. The social bit? Well, you can see what your friends are using, and this can affect ranking. I presume all this means you need to have an Ovi.com account, and add friends there, so what Nokia is effectively trying to do is create a social network of Ovi users. I don’t like this idea, because I feel there are already too many social networks out there, and studies have shown that you can be active on at most, 3 social networks at any given time.
  • There was a very interesting machinama styled ad, created by Text100 Malaysia, which I hope Erna @Mahyuni and @DavidLian get placed online, ASAP. I think its better than the normal Nokia N97 ad ;)
  • Yoon Kit asked on Twitter if the browser is HTML 5 compliant and if it’ll play OGG. I immediately replied that it isn’t, and later on during the briefing, he asked, and was told “they’ll get back to him”. Maybe it’ll come as an OTA update… But I don’t think open standards are big on everyone’s mind. Look at CD players in cars – they play MP3 and WMA. I’ve yet to find one that plays OGGs.
  • Ditesh asked by proxy if there will be SIP, with the SPEEX codec, and I also immediately replied that there was no SIP. However, upon asking, later at the briefing, we were told SIP will come as an OTA update. I’m weary as to when we’ll see this… but it also seems that you’ll get Skype built-in.
  • We were told that many in East Malaysia and other rural parts of the world, get their first experience of the Internet on their mobile phones. I somehow don’t believe that many in East Malaysia will get their first Internet experience via a RM2,500 phone. What do you think?

Yoon Kit and I chatted about Blackberry Connect, and I told him a lot of this is provided via Nokia Messaging (which is currently in beta, and free at the moment), which in a device itself, premiered in the Nokia E75 (its not apparent its in the N97 yet – probably a firmware update will help soon). He lamented that calendar and contact support is required, and I mentioned that webcal support isn’t available, per se, but if you have an Ovi.com account, you have calendar and contact syncing available… But the calendar, IMHO is primitive to Google Calendar’s sync/publish features, and I’ve never used a BlackBerry device, so I can’t realistically comment.

The camera on the device is pretty good, for a phone camera. A couple weeks back, I used the camera and the Facebook integration, to create an album (Testing the n97). Facebook is notorious for not keeping the hi-res images, so grab them from posterous or even flickr.

If I get my hands on the device, you can be ensured more tips, tricks, and usage information. More importantly, I’m going to focus on WRT widget development, the Ovi Store, and lots more. Mobile app development seems hot :-)

BTW, on Saturday 13 June 2009, selected Nokia stores will sell the device in Malaysia, at what is probably the SRP of RM2,480.

Silona speaks about grids, databases, and open government

Silona Bonewald, the lady always in a hat (she says that it’s just become an extension of her). Describe her, by her tags: open government, open data, open standards, and databases.


(watch the video if your feed reader strips it out)

Silona’s the founder of The League of Technical Voters, which allows technical people to be more involved in voting process. As part of this, she created the Transparent Federal Budget, with Bill Bradley and Jimmy Wales.

On top of all that, she’s also the open source evangelist for grid.org. The focus there is a social network for grid, cluster, and cloud computing folk – a community of communities. Best of all, this was just launched on Tuesday!

It’s also the home to UniCluster, and they’ve recently struck a deal which Intel to pop UniCluster in BIOSes. UniCluster works with Sun’s Grid Engine, as well.

She’s interested in Drizzle, for the same reason that she likes Drupal. She likes the decorator model, and she thinks its a great way to get the parallel computing solutions fixed.

Needless to say, all of the stuff she works on currently, is powered by MySQL.


i