Enabling Google Now on iOS and use Google Apps ? Head to your admin settings

Google just updated it’s main (and under appreciated) “Google Search” iOS app to include Google Now support, which was Android-only up until now.

I updated the app on my iPhone, but it didn’t work, and asked that I check some settings.

Turns out if you are running Google Apps, you need to enable Google Now under the main google apps dashboard in the Mobile settings for “Android”:
Not super intuitive 🙂

What is Google Now ? Here is an overview video below:

USC Talk & a surprise about Snapchat usage

I gave a talk at USC earlier this week about Automattic and WordPress — something I’ve done for 3 years in a row now.

It’s always a ton of fun, and I make sure to do a survey (by show of hands) each time to see what these undergrad & grad students are using in terms of popular services.

Here are the results:
WordPress: about 75%+ use WordPress in some capacity
Facebook: 100%
Twitter: about 75%
Tumblr: 33%
Note taking: Evernote vs Simplenote vs Pen & Paper: About 33% Evernote, the rest a combination of email, other apps, or nothing. And one person still using a pen & paper.
iOS vs Android: 75% iOS, 25% Android
SMS vs GroupMe vs MessageMe vs Snapchat: SMS still used by everyone, but the surprise here was Snapchat being used by over 50% of the class.

I asked the obvious question of what they were using Snapchat for – and the answer was that it was just a free SMS-like service, easy to send media, works all over the world and w/ friends overseas — and basically that everyone is on it. Was pretty clear it’s moved beyond the salacious roots (or at least how it was covered early on).

So a big thanks to Zach Posner for having me, and for his entire class for engaging in a really fun and interesting discussion – appreciate the tweets and Instagrams too 🙂


Uber and Waze need to start dating

uber-waze-datingEveryone knows I love Uber – better than a taxi in almost all respects, and about the same price for rides longer than 10 minutes (and often cheaper than a taxi for even longer rides). I’m equally obsessed with Waze – a crowd sourced community based GPS/traffic/navigation app that navigates you around traffic, alerts you to accidents, and ultimately gets better the more people use it.

If you are like me, you will occasionally find yourself sitting in the back of an Uber loading up Waze to see how long it will take to get to your next meeting or if you’ll catch your flight. And what you often find is that the driver, although well intentioned and very knowledgeable of the city, doesn’t have a full 360 view of ongoing traffic patters and accidents, and can’t pick the best route the way the Waze app can. A true #firstworldproblem :).

So you watch your ETA slowly get later, and you hesitate to give the driver some advise on routes without coming across as this arrogant back-seat-driver.

When I see this happen I usually ask the driver if he or she has heard of Waze — and about 5% of the time they have but they rarely have it available or installed.

So my suggestion: Uber should add a “Waze option” where it’s bundled on the iPhone of the driver, or integrated into the app itself – and give the passenger the option of having the Uber driver just follow the best route as chosen by Waze.

It’s a an easy win for both companies, and gives peace of mind to the passenger.

First Real Bike Ride in Years

Used the RunKeeper app (it supports biking) on my iPhone to keep track of the trip — I like how it automatically tells you your speed and distance at key intervals, it’s pretty cool.

Google’s Augmented-Reality Glasses — Microvision technology ?

Really fun video today from Google on what they are working on in terms of augmented reality glasses – pure concept at this point, but we can all see where this is heading 🙂

Plus if this came out a couple of days ago it could have been mistaken for an April Fool’s joke 🙂

As I watched this video, i couldn’t help but think that this is very close to what Microvision has been working on for a very long time. (disclosure, I own some nearly worthless MVIS stock). They’ve been building wearable see-through displays for the military, doctors, and one day for consumers:

Google Plus Thoughts

I’m really impressed with the launch of Google+. Given the number of people internally @ Google who’ve been dogfooding this, it’s equally impressive that it was kept under wraps for this long.

After using Google+ for a few days – wanted to jot down some early impressions:

  • Having the new toolbar across all Google services is a huge deal. Whatever I’m doing during the day, good chance I’m on some Google property at one point, and seeing that little red notification box for Google+ is likely to draw me in for a few minutes.
  • Email notifications were defaulted to on – and while I’ve since turned most of them off — the initial flood of emails that I’m sure everyone saw with people getting added to ‘Circles’ – gave the service that feel that everyone is joining up. Totally opposite from the Buzz launch, where everything was just ‘on’ day one.
  • One problem I’m having though, is that I don’t recognize a big chunk of people that are adding me — similar to the Twitter followers for most people I would guess. Would be nice to have the Google People widget (or for bonus points Rapportive) integrated somehow (or simply on hover) to get a 360 snapshot of who these people are.
  • I’m a google apps (for your domain) power user. As best I can tell, Google Apps users have been excluded from the initial Google+ rollout, so I’ve been using my google account/gmail account. I’m hoping that’s the right decision, and that I won’t need to redo everything I’ve done so far with my Google Apps account at some point.
  • Related to the apps account — on Android, the Google+ app doesn’t find my gmail account — keeps trying my main google apps/domain account.
  • I tested uploading a photo, and it forced me to also create an album — found that a bit odd
  • How do I push my WordPress posts to Google+ ?  I’m guessing that’s coming soon when the APIs are unveiled – but would have been nice to see an easy way to do that day 1 – or maybe I missed it ?

Overall: I think Google+ is a product that is going to gain some meaningful market share — and quickly. They’ve seemingly taken all the criticisms of the other services and addressed them – especially with Circles. And now we’ll see how all the services will compete head-to-head.  One thing’s for sure, it’s great to see some competitions and innovation in this space and Google deserves huge credit (at least so far) for keeping at it, and not letting Buzz, Wave, and a few other launches deter them from tackling this space – i.e. a good lesson at not listening to your detractors, and just keeping your head down and working on good products.

WordPress for Nokia Live in the Ovi Store

Coming out of beta, the new official Open Source WordPress for Nokia mobile app is available to everyone via the Ovi Store. I’ve been using it on my N8 and it’s really slick.

Big thanks to everyone at Nokia, especially Sanjeev Gil and Anssi Mäkelä and the entire dev team at Futurice.

Check out the video below to see the app in action:

And more info is available on nokia.wordpress.org, including how developers can get involved.

Two Factor Authentication

My introduction to two-factor authentication (aka “two-step” authentication), where you needed to enter in a unique code on top of your normal username/password, was nearly 10 years ago when I worked at a large publishing firm. Whenever I accessed the VPN when I was outside of the physical office, or when I accessed some critical internal system, I would get prompted for a code. We had these key “FOBs” we carried around which generated a unique code, and they were issued from RSA and looked something like this:

( Side note, I never knew why we called them a “FOB’ – but wikipedia provides a solid explanation: “The word fob may be linked to the low German dialect for the word Fuppe, meaning “pocket”, however, the real origin of the word is unknown.” )

The FOBs worked quite well, had a long battery life, and were reliable. I kept waiting for this technology to trickle down into consumer web application, online banking sites, and the like — but they never did. With the terrible password habbits that most people kept, it just seemed like a natural thing that these FOBs would one day make their way into our hands for non-work use. I just assumed that the price would dip to a point that banks would just send consumers these devices for free.

So clearly that prediction didn’t happen, but fast forward 10 years, and I use my mobile phone/SMS for two-factor authentication without the need for the extra FOB hardware. Services like Paypal (SMS option), and now Google Apps (SMS and mobile apps) offer two-factor authentication by sending an SMS text with a code or running a native mobile app that generates the unique code. Brilliant !

Overall, I think this is great, and a good trend, and that we’ll see this level of security baked into more and more web apps and services.

Google Maps Adds a Raanan.com Feature Request

Well, I’m sure there were other compelling reasons too 🙂

Google today rolled out an update to Google Maps that adds crowd sourced traffic congestion data:

When you choose to enable Google Maps with My Location, your phone sends anonymous bits of data back to Google describing how fast you’re moving. When we combine your speed with the speed of other phones on the road, across thousands of phones moving around a city at any given time, we can get a pretty good picture of live traffic conditions.

Sound familiar ? 🙂 In April 2007, I wrote about “Why I love in-car GPS, and how it can be made better“:

What we need, in my opinion, is an opt-in, open standard for sharing in-car/traffic information that any device and any opted-in person can tap into…
And as GPS is incorporated more and more into our mobile phone devices, that should give us a huge installed user base of in-car and mobile devices sharing information about traffic and other conditions. That would be infinitely better than participating in the manufacturers small group of users, and would dramatically increase the chances of having tons of good data on the highway you were looking to avoid b/c of traffic

What’s also really interesting to watch for me is how companies like TomTom, who now have a compelling iPhone app, will deal with Google Maps. My hunch is that they’ll incorporate Google Maps and their own navtech/maps database into some kind of hybrid best of both worlds model. They’ve done a bit of integration already with their TomTom on Google Maps.

FreshBooks Open Sources iPhone App

“We learned first hand that it’s not easy to make an iPhone app. Taking some inspiration from the folks at Automattic (who open sourced their free WordPress iPhone application), we’ve decided to give back to our customers by sharing what we’ve learned.”

SVN: http://github.com/freshbooks-addons/freshbooks-iphone-project/tree/master

Very cool.

[ FreshBooks iPhone App ]