[Personal] Is Facebook’s Free Basics Really Free?

Disclaimer: This post is more of an personal post than the more ordinary technology news and review-style posts I normally feature but I felt like the more that read this the better.

Is Facebook all of Internet or are there other sites and content that the so-called ‘Free Basics’ are diplomatically hiding from those who are uninformed? My maid’s statement last week alarmed me about the possibility of an something that could treat how the information is spreading as we know it. She was talking about some fair in the neighbourhood and asked me if I could find its location on ‘Facebook’. I immediately corrected her and told her how Facebook is not where you find everything and that there is a medium called the Internet that can play the role of a search engine if you need one. She seemed convinced but there are hundreds and thousands of people who are too poor to not be tempted by this offering of cake instead of the basic bread that they need.

What is the lure that is trapping people?

Internet connectivity for the poor is as tempting as it sounds but is it really all-encompassing? Quite contrary to its claims, it is basically a slightly tweaked version of the internet.org that Facebook had promoted earlier. Personal data is what the internet thrives on and the Silicon Valley is attempting to thrive by monetising on data; using it as a commodity and selling it to advertisers without even paying tax for it.

Those who are financially challenged and are uninformed of the true motives behind this apparent freedom are being lured to believe that Free Basics will provide education, health and other services via Facebook and a few other websites that they feel are all that Internet covers.

If we are really talking about ‘Free Basics” then the proponents should be providing full internet at affordable prices to those who really can’t afford high data charges. Surprisingly, these temptations have been successful in converting 60 million non-Internet users into using smart phones and mobile data. The trick is to truncate Internet services and this itself is being used as a temptation. A delusion is being played out that Internet connectivity will bridge the gap between the digital and non-digital sections of India but in reality that dream is not the goal of the propagators.

How can we really provide free internet?

The real meaning of free internet would be something absolutely different from the distorted version being promoted by Facebook. Cost-effective Internet can be provided to the low-end subscribers. While they do take up data connection, they could be provided with some amount of free data and they can also get some free time slots when network traffic is low. 2G data prices are still sky high for many; these can be reduced for more accessibility. These are some of the basic ways of making Internet available and cost-effective, if not absolutely free.

The high price of data needs to be addressed immediately. Instead of concentrating on free basics that are totally misleading people into anticipating change in their lifestyles, the regulatory bodies should step in to regulate data tariffs. Instead of restricting “Internet” to what it is not, it is time to make “basics” affordable, if not “free”.

Ps. Tell me your option below in the comment. I would love to hear it.

5 predictions for wearable technologies in 2016

Wearable technology, the smartwatch, in particular, was the talk of the town in 2015. With Apple getting into the wearable tech segment, one expects no less of a buzz. But this is only just the beginning for wearable technology. Nowadays, technology like laptops is truly affordable and I suspect it won’t take long until  we get wearable technology with the same degree of value for the buck.

Activity trackers, smart watches, pedometers are some of the more common and familiar gadgets in wearable technology but 2016 is earmarked as a year that is going to see plenty of innovation and improvement to this segment. Let’s check out some of the more popular predictions for wearable technology in 2016.

Wearable

Prediction #1 – Wearables prone to hackers

With wearable devices becoming more popular and commonplace, it will also be prone to hacking. Take for example, a smart watch, it basically takes a lot of data and feeds it via mobile applications. Most of these wearables use Bluetooth Le technology, which has a few security loopholes and hackers can use this to their advantage and gain access to your smartphone through your wearable.

Prediction #2 – Unveiling smart clothing

Fitness wearables have been and will continue to be revenue generators in 2016. But in addition to wrist trackers, this year will see the launch of other connected garments, especially in the professional sports arena.

As of now smart clothing prototypes are already in use for professional sports during the training process. Through professional sports, there is going to be a glimpse of the future of smart clothing and how it tracks the energy and effort of the person wearing it.

Ralph Lauren currently offers a ‘smart’ PoloTech shirt, which measures biometrics like heart rate, breathing, etc. This information can however only be streamed to an iPhone or Apple watch as of now.

Prediction #3 – More attention to sleep

There are apps available even now, that monitor sleep but the coming year will see wearable apps that can not only track sleep but also improve it.

As of now activity trackers can tell you how much you slept, how deep the sleep was, etc. but going forward, with more sensors, you can actually get a more detailed analysis of the sleep pattern over a period of time along with metrics on heart rate and REM sleep and the correlation between the two.

Prediction #4 – Wearable tech will become more advanced

Wearable tech, in particular fitness bands will get more sophisticated this year. More and more devices will integrate additional fitness categories and diet so you can comprehensively track your fitness using wearable technology. Likewise, the smart watch category is going to see several new entrants with a host of integrated features that will further increase the demand and usability of the product.

Prediction #5 – Fitness bands will continue to rule

Fitness bands have been the most easily adopted technology and they continue to be money spinners in the wearable tech segment. This is a trend that is going to continue in 2016 as well. While Fitbit is the most popular fitness band in its segment, this year will see competition from Xiaomi and Fossil, which will open up the fitness band market with more options and competitive prices.

The Intelligent personal assistants battle – Who wins?

Popularly known as IPA, intelligent personal assistants are applications that are built to perform tasks for an individual. These software solutions have a mixture of voice automation, speech recognition and artificial intelligence. Their capabilities are growing manifold as more and more digital players are entering the market. Among various options available in this category Microsoft Cortana, Google Now and Apple Siri are dominant players.

hands-coffee-smartphone-technology

The contenders

Microsoft Cortana:

Cortana was initially developed by Microsoft in 2009. The expert team formed for development of this IPA, perceived the concept by interviewing real life personal assistants. Cortana now supports multiple operating systems such as Windows, iOS, Android and Xbox. The user interface basically consists of two animated circles.

Google Now:

Google entered the market with Google Now. This personal assistant can answer questions; perform instructed tasks and much more. Compatible with Android earlier, this is now available for other operating systems as well. This is said to implement “Knowledge Graph” – a Google project system that assembles information based on action performed.

Apple Siri:

Siri is Apple’s answer to the IPA market. It is a voice controlled interface that employs contextual awareness for performing tasks. Initially developed using Objective C, Siri was launched in Apple App store. Siri was acquired by Apple in 2010 and since then has been incorporated into a variety of Apple products like iPhone, iPad and watchOS.

girl using a phone

Cortana vs. Siri vs. Google Now – the Digital battle

These digital assistants of various tech-giants have a proven track record in today’s market. Still, these apps have their own style of implementation and approach. Let us take a comparative study among these major players.

  • Voice triggers

“Hey Siri” triggers the IPA on the occasion of charging.

“Ok Google” command works only when the device is navigated to home page. However this can be modified by changing the device settings.

Cortana starts when the user “Hey Cortana”, but the drawback is that it won’t work until windows 10 settings are turned on

  • Task execution

Traffic details and directions are better provided by Google now than its counterparts.

When it comes to sports, Siri always has an edge. As for continuous conversations Google now and Siri are always the leaders where Siri still scores better.

For questions that require information from the internet Google Now provides better results.

  • Voice

All of the IPA’s support female voices. But Siri allows for male voice as well. Among the three players, Cortana is the only App whose voice is defined based on a real human tone.

  • User Interface

Google Now provides more appealing UI with a cards layout. Siri and Cortana portray a simple plain screen with lines and circles.

  • Performance and Efficiency

When posed with same question Siri returns faster results than the other two. However Google Now returns more relevant results with ample amount of information.

Verdict

After my research Siri and Google yield better results than Cortana.  Both Siri and Google now have provided great results but I had to think of what truly matters when deciding the winner. Siri has the edge when it comes to conversations. But Google Now provide better and more appealing results, a more appelaing UI and gives the best traffic directions so I have to declare Google now the winner of the digital battle.

Should you use wearable technology in your business?

Thе mаіn еthоѕ оf businesses these dауѕ is tо mаkе dо wіth whаt уоu hаvе, or mіnіmіzе ѕреndіng іn thе hореѕ of turnіng a рrоfіt. This саn be tоugh fоr businesses who have tо rерlасе thеіr tесhnоlоgу. While іt mау bе сhеареr to use your own devices, like your smart watch, thіѕ саn рrоvе tо bе a nеgаtіvе practice thаt соuld actually harm your buѕіnеѕѕ іn thе lоng tеrm.

Hеrе аrе fіvе rеаѕоnѕ you, аѕ ѕmаll buѕіnеѕѕеѕ owners, should аіm to buу tесhnоlоgісаl ѕоlutіоnѕ аnd products thаt аrе ѕресіfісаllу dеѕіgnеd to meet уоur needs, nоt thоѕе оf thе mаѕѕеѕ.

  1. Lоng-tеrm time and mоnеу соѕtѕ. In gеnеrаl, соnѕumеr grade technology іѕ made uѕіng cheaper, lеѕѕ durable mаtеrіаlѕ thаn that оf thе business еԛuіvаlеnt. Mоrе оftеn than nоt, consumer products wіll brеаk dоwn lоng before buѕіnеѕѕ grаdе. Whеn they do, уоu’rе stuck paying fоr the rерlасеmеnt раrtѕ оr ѕеndіng the unіt in fоr repair. Beyond thаt you’ll also hаvе tо ѕреnd the valuable tіmе dеаlіng wіth thе рrоblеm.
  2. Greater аbіlіtу to rесоvеr соѕtѕ. Buѕіnеѕѕ tесhnоlоgу does соѕt mоrе, however, іt’ѕ mаdе with better mаtеrіаlѕ thаt іnсrеаѕе product lіfе. Beyond thаt іt dесrеаѕеѕ thе need for mаіntеnаnсе аnd will mаkе іt more appealing to buyers whеn you ѕеll іt, thus allowing уоu a higher chance of rесоvеrіng соѕtѕ.
  3. Mоrе fеаturеѕ. Thе рrоblеm wіth technology developed fоr thе соnѕumеr market is that іt’ѕ оftеn dеvеlореd wіth fеаturеѕ thаt wіll be the mоѕt uѕеful to thе majority. Thіѕ could bе a рrоblеm for соmраnіеѕ аѕ you’ll bе paying fоr fеаturеѕ уоu dоn’t need, whіlе lacking ones that уоu dо nееd. Mаnу business devices аlѕо have features thаt саn bе tаіlоrеd tо mееt a buѕіnеѕѕ’ѕ nееdѕ, or offer dеvісеѕ wіth іnсrеаѕеd funсtіоnаlіtу.
  4. Warranty. The mаjоrіtу оf соnѕumеr tech hаѕ a lіmіtеd to non-existent wаrrаntу. Mаnу lарtорѕ hаvе one уеаr lіmіtеd wаrrаntіеѕ thаt, іn truth, соvеr vеrу little. Buѕіnеѕѕ hardware can have a standard thrее уеаr fасtоrу warranty which guarantees thе device wоn’t break fоr three уеаrѕ. Aѕіdе from thаt, mаnу vеndоrѕ wіll ѕеnd ѕоmеоnе tо rераіr thе device within thе next day, if you buy buѕіnеѕѕ grаdе.
  5. Thе bеѕt customer ѕuрроrt. It’ѕ a hіgh рrоbаbіlіtу thаt уоu’vе hаd a dеvісе brеаk and hаd thе wоndеrful орроrtunіtу оf dеаlіng wіth соnѕumеr tесhnісаl ѕеrvісе. Thіѕ is not the case for the majority оf business hаrdwаrе аnd software developers. Mаnу companies рrоvіdе 24/7 ѕuрроrt and have employees whо understand thаt уоur technology іѕ еѕѕеntіаl tо ореrаtіоnѕ, аnd will wоrk tо gеt уоur ѕуѕtеm back аѕ fаѕt аѕ роѕѕіblе.

Whіlе іn thе ѕhоrt tеrm, it mау ѕееm lіkе a gооd іdеа tо use your perosnal tech gadget in your business, іt’ѕ a ѕоlutіоn wіth long-term drаwbасkѕ.

martian-notifier

Best 5 Smart watches that you can wear in 2016

Do watches ever go out of fashion? The answer is an absolute no; especially if they are smarter than your 5 or 6 inch smart-phones. Smart watches are the latest most – eyed gadgets in the tech freak’s long list of must – haves. The culture of these clocks is quickly catching up amongst the fitness freaks too since they have invested in fitness trackers which serve their need to watch their weight. A new report from Gartner even suggest they will overtake fitness band in the near future.

Smart watches on the other hand help the buyer in to get more organised as well as focus on their fitness routine. However, the key problem is in choosing among the plethora of models from every maker for the one that you prefer to buy. I have come up with the list of five best smart phones that you can wear in 2016 from the huge list of functional, sporty and downright stylish watch with a battery that lasts long enough for the functionalities that matter for everyday usage.

5. Samsung Gear LiveSamsung_Gear_Live

After many trial and errors, Samsung still has a long way to go to become the ultimate gear of 2017 maybe. They have definitely been successful in cracking down some of the wearable problems after dabbling in the market longer than everyone. They have geared up a bit after the launch of Gear Live whose no – nonsense AMOLED screen is sharp. It’s waterproof and fits your budget, though charging everyday is a must. Its heart rate monitor measures one’s resting heart rate accurately which most gears lack.

4. Martian Notifiermartian-notifier

This is the best option for those who prefer straightforward one – liners like the antique pager alerts. It’s a preferable smart watch which is affordable yet stylish. It’s one of the gears that are compatible with android and apple phones making it the worthy choice with a tremendous battery backup for almost 4 days. This isn’t the ‘best one’ in the market, but if you want an elegant choice that makes your life easier clearly this is the one to choose.

3. MOTO 2 360Moto 2 watch

The round smart watch is not just the most stylish one available in the market, but also one of the finest watches from Motorola. The only glitch that exists is the battery life which feels like a bare minimum with the most admirable watchfaces and apps that is used. This is the future of watches for the price range it features.

2. Apple WatchApple watch

Everyone knows Apple never disappoints its customers when it comes to pricing its products, oh yes, for the true value of the features it provides. This smartwatch is again the best one from Apple with its finest design and gorgeous looks to show off, except for the clumsy applications which is very unlikely. The four silver circles on the backside of the watch are designed with cleverness and brings a personal touch to your smart watch. If you are a true fan of Apple, you will buy this with your eyes closed.

1. LG G WatchLG G Watch

Definitely not one of the most attractive clock in the market; but it’s potential to get the task done is crystal clear and it performs with stability and smoothness. The bright screen surely wins over every other watch in the market and is surely worthy of the price and the performance which are the key factors in this watch.