Category: mobile

KakaoTalk has a Barack Obama audio alert

Posted by – May 13, 2012

Photo credit: White House YouTube account

If you aren’t from Korea or don’t have anyone close to you who is, it’s entirely likely that you don’t know about KakaoTalk.

It’s an app (available for the iPhone and Android) that acts as an SMS-alternative messaging system. As I learned over the weekend, however, it also has an out-of-the-box Barack Obama voice alert.

Apparently, it was a huge deal when Obama named-dropped the app in a speech earlier this year. The clip of him saying the name “KakaoTalk” has since been repurposed as an alert option on KT’s menu.

Out of context, it’s rather hilarious. I may not use Kakao as much more than a soundboard before eventually deleting it from my iPhone in a few weeks—but for time being, I will play it often and squeeze it for all the laughs that it’s worth.

CES 2012 highlights that matter

Posted by – January 10, 2012

Ubuntu TV

Unfortunately, my work did not take me to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this year. I’ve been forced instead to keep up with announcements and displays through CNET, GigaOM and the Chicago Tribune’s Wailin Wong on Twitter, as well as a few other places. As I touched on a few weeks back, the intersections of mobile, TV and identity recognition are places that I am paying close attention to this year. Thus far, the attention-getters at CES have largely corroborated those expectations.

Ubuntu TV was an interesting development, however. It’s true that I am forever going to associate mainstream awareness of Ubuntu with a shameful 2009 story out of Wisconsin that you may remember. (Basically, a girl dropped out of college and blamed the operating system.) This story will always make me cringe, but if the Ubuntu brand is lucky, attention for its TV endeavor will outgrow the attention it received for that bizarre tale.

• The Roku Streaming Stick seems like something completely logical that was a long time coming. True to the trend of digital content boxes getting smaller and smaller, this thing is basically a box that’s the size of a thumb drive.

• I am mostly uninterested in control peripherals for the iPhone and tablets. “Super Crate Box” on iPad has recently made be reconsider that stance, though. Ion’s iCade Mobile is a sort of solution to button needs, even if it does make your device look like an Atari Lynx.

• Elsewhere, Razer unveiled its Project Fiona tablet, which I’m not sure I entirely understand. But hey, it’s got an i7 processor.

• Samsung has their new 55-inch Super OLED TV, meanwhile. It’s a little hard to appreciate much more than the product design through pictures on the Internet, and few things interest me less that 3-D TV capabilities, but I think it is notable that we’re now at the point where we’re talking about real TV sets with quad-core processors.

Where Microsoft is catching up with Apple and vice versa

Posted by – December 19, 2011

My personalized cover to Flipboard this morning, featuring an Instagram photo from Sean Dove.

2011 was an exciting year for consumer tech developments. As Apple continued to devour market share in the PC market, Microsoft got behind their Kinect controller and got together with Nokia to give the Windows Phone platform a bigger push. I don’t think that you’ll find too many critics willing claim that Microsoft has been ahead of the game in the mobile or desktop OS markets over the last few years, but some notable apps and news stories have percolated recently that offer a little perspective on the battlegrounds and cross-pollinations that will be worth watching in 2012.

• First is the insurgence of Windows Phone-looking design concepts that have been making their way onto the iPhone. Like Bing vs. Google, Windows Phone interface designs have differentiated themselves from traditional iPhone dev schools of design. When I think of Windows Phone screens, I think of tight grids with big, sharp-edged boxes and icons that often just sink into the nav bar, rather that bubbling up on additional shapes. Both the Flipboard and Xbox Live apps have introduced such things to my daily mobile experiences recently, and I think that both work marvelously overall.

• The television market is another place that’s going to be fun to observe in 2012. I looked at a Google TV last year at about this time, and I’ve been testing out an Apple TV over the last couple of weeks. The Wall Street Journal reports that voice commands will likely be a part of the next generation of Apple TVs. Apple already has Siri out in the wild on the iPhone 4S, which no doubt means that they have been gathering lots more user data to funnel into a better voice interface for home entertainment systems. Microsoft began experimenting with a limited set of voice commands when it launched Kinect, so both companies are obviously looking at similar issues and looking for ways to distinguish themselves.

The Apple TV, from what I’ve experienced thus far, differentiates itself by emphasizing AirPlay, the ability to stream content directly from iPhones and iPads. Additionally, Apple seems to have been thinking about things from a Nintendo Wii U perspective, allowing developers to implement two-screen gaming experiences.

I think the Google TV largely failed out of the gate due to some poorly executed (and in many cases, un-executed) partnerships, but I’m sure it will remain a player to some extent as well. I’m looking forward to seeing what other trends and developments appear in 2012. Although, I won’t lie to you; in the voice-recognition race, I care a great deal more about who will finally bring me some software that does a halfway decent job of transcribing interviews.