Over the last couple of days great things have happened for users of Google Voice. First, a couple days ago Google slashed their prices on a lot of international destinations. The countries I used to call the most, Denmark and Norway got slashed from 15 cents per minute to 3 and 4 cents per minute, respectively. That’s for cell phones. Landlines was already 2 cents, but I mean, who uses landlines anymore? I haven’t checked, but I’m sure they slashed their prices to a lot of countries.
Second, Google Voice got integrated into Hangouts on Android. Now you can do VoIP calls through the Hangouts app (which means you can receive and make calls when on a WiFi but outside coverage. Or while abroad, as long as you have a data connection. Not only that, but you can also choose to receive and send text messages from your Google Voice number from Hangouts, so no more need for the severely outdated Voice app to send texts. That’s good news for owners of the new Moto 360 (and other Android Wear devices) as they can read and reply to texts right from their wrists. That was not supported with the Google Voice app.
To enable the new Google Voice powered VoIP dialer you need to download the new Hangouts Dialer app. You also need to update your Google Voice app, and open it once. The Hangouts 2.3 app is rolling out slowly, but you can download the APK from here, here or here if it hasn’t hit your device just yet.
The design of the app was also updated to more closely resemble the “material design” that will launch with Android L later this year. It doesn’t quite follow the material design principles yet, but it’s getting there. Oh, and it’s very green.
iPhone 6 (4.7”): Hardware: Too little, too late. Software: Meh. Available September 19 (in the US and a few other countries).
iPhone 6 Plus (5.5”): Hardware: Too little, too late. Software: Meh. Available September 19 (in the US and a few other countries).
iOS 8: Still a massive meh.
Apple Pay: A small meh. Only available on the new iPhone models. No real benefit over Google Wallet and the likes. Will probably help grow the contactless payment ecosystem, so a good thing for all of us.
Apple Watch: An innovation of UI that pretty much only Apple can do, especially the digital crown and taptic feedback. Hardware looks good (but unsure if I like it better than Moto 360). Finally some smart watch models that appeal to women. Software otherwise, pretty meh. Available early 2015.
Live stream (aka #livegate or #applefail): VHS quality video stream with annoying Chinese voice over. No kidding.
Edit: The above statements are just my personal reaction to what was presented at today’s keynote. A “meh” doesn’t mean I don’t think a product will do immensely well, and that it is a fine piece of engineering. What it does mean is that for me, personally, it’s far from enough to consider switching back to an iPhone. Some people does not seem to get that. I’m a product geek that enjoy freedom, and sometimes I find Apple’s otherwise utopic walled garden a little bit too claustrophobic. That’s just how I feel, so deal with it.
I have been waiting for the Moto 360 ever since I saw the first few teaser photos online a few months ago. I have even actively been searching Google News every other week or so to see if I missed anything. And now it’s finally here. It’s the first smartwatch that doesn’t look as ugly as an average looking blobfish. No offence, blobfish.
9 am PST, September 5, 2014. That’s when it will be available on Google Play, Best Buy (including select retail locations) and Motorola.com. Hopefully it will be available on Google Shopping Express as well.
It is initially only available with the premium leather straps, with the metal ones following later this fall.
I’ll do my best to get my hands on one as soon as possible, and update this post with pics and maybe a quick video review.
Building a brand online is hard. Very hard.
Most people you interact with have never met you in person. They have no idea who you are. What they see is your name. Maybe a Twitter handle.
But that’s not how they start recognizing you. It starts with your profile picture. Your avatar.
That leads me to the most important rules of being memorable online:
- Be consistent
- Stand out
Consistency is important. There’s a reason why Coca Cola doesn’t change their logo every few months. It’s branding 101, and it’s no different for your personal brand.
How many people’s comments, posts and so on do you read every day? A lot. How many of those names or profile pictures do you remember? Not that many. Almost none.
So. Be consistent. Stand out.
I’ve been fairly good at the former, not so good at the latter. I will break the first rule one last time, to hopefully do better at the latter. Never again.
No more boring headshots.
Let’s try something colorful. Something personal.
It stands out. And I’m not going to change it. Ever.
It’s also personal. It’s actually a self portrait that I painted in junior high school. With one little twist. All the outlines were drawn with my eyes shut.
What about your online identity? What are you going to do to stand out? To be memorable? Personal?
Over the last few years I have been living in a bunch of different places and countries, usually for 3 to 9 months in each place. Yet I felt that I didn’t get to see enough of the world moving at this pace. For some reason I thought that visiting every country in the world before I turned 30 sounded like a good idea.
Call it a quarter life mini-crisis or whatever. Luckily I have embraced the principles of lean startup and I apply them to many aspects of my life, not only to the business of startups. I figured I’d travel around Asia for 6 months, traveling at a pace close to what I would have to keep up if I wanted to visit the 200 and something countries on this planet by mid 2019. That was my MVP. My hypothesis was that I would like it enough to dedicate the next five years of my life to similar travels. But now I’m pivoting.
Tomorrow morning I will be flying back home to Copenhagen. I will stay in Europe for a few months. And I am psyched. Not because I didn’t enjoy my trip. In fact, I loved it. I have met so many amazing people, and experienced so many different cultures and places.
But I am tired. Tired of constantly being on the move. Of searching for places to sleep — whether it’s a couch of a friend of a friend, a guest house, a beach or a nice hotel. Tired of hunting for the local SIM with the best 3G coverage so I can put out that week’s edition of Startup Letters without being dependent on flaky restaurant and hotel WiFis. Tired of booking endless tickets for flights, busses, ferries and trains.
It wasn’t until I read The Happiness Hypothesis earlier this year that I realized that chasing a country count was just as meaningless as chasing money or fame. It’s a happiness trap. Just like earning a lot of money it will not give any lasting pleasure, but will raise the bar for future success.
I consider myself a digital nomad. But even nomads aren’t constantly on the move. It’s liberating that I can pick up my 12 kg backpack and my passport and hop on a plane to pretty much anywhere and be productive within minutes of touching down. But it doesn’t mean I have to or that I even should. At least not on a daily or weekly basis. I don’t have any immediate plans to stop exploring, but I will go about it in a different way.
Going forward I will aim at moving somewhere interesting for a minimum of a couple months. Rent an apartment there, with a reliable high speed internet connection. Find a few reliable coffee shops nearby, or even get a membership at a coworking space. Bonus points if the city has an established or up-and-coming startup scene and a well connected airport (for weekend getaways).
Next up will be San Francisco for about three months from the end of August. After that, who knows?