Category Archives: Mobile

Mobile Talks!

February 18, 2014


Last week Rakuten announced the $900 million acquisition of global communications service Viber. Of course, we think there are tremendous synergies for us, but this deal also represents a seismic shift in how people are engaging with each other, consuming content, and making purchases. What two threads connect them all? Mobile and Communication!

What makes Viber different is that it represents a new generation of services that were built mobile-first. This gives them a DNA-level edge over other services that were founded on desktop technology. Look no further than the term “desktop” to realize that it is something that does not fit seamlessly with modern life. It is something that you need to go to, whereas mobile is, obviously, something that goes with you.

Second, Viber is a service that highlights new and innovative ways that people are communicating. If you told me a few years ago that people would be communicating with digital stickers, I would hardly have believed you. But they are! People are also using these platforms to share and consume digital content, including photos and videos, and to enhance business collaboration. In times of disaster when traditional communication lines fail, mobile-first communications platforms are where people turn to. Viber saw dramatic increases in use after the earthquake in Japan in 2011 and last year in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines.

Historically, telecoms companies have defined how people communicate. They offered us 3 options: phone, text, and, don’t forget, the beeper. Not exactly cutting edge. Now, dynamic marketplace-style app ecosystems have birthed new services that represent how people actually want to communicate. Oh, and these services are more fun, more reliable, and cheaper. I know where I will be investing.

Disrupting communication. Disrupting consumption. This is the future. This is why we bought Viber. Mobile Talks!

Posted by:Hiroshi Mikitani

How to Start Using Bitcoin on Android

Android has become one of the most popular mobile device operating systems in the world. Android has gained popularity for many reasons. Mostly, it is because of the large variety of applications available on the Google play marketplace, but also because it is open source. This means that anybody can view the code and modify it as pleased. Since there is no price for manufacturers to install it on their devices, it’s much more ideal. Android is such a popular operating system so it would only be natural for Bitcoin solutions to exist in the marketplace for free.

How do you get a Bitcoin wallet?
Bitcoin is also open source, just like Android. Anybody can get them and anybody can use them. To get started, you need to obtain a bitcoin wallet. Wallets come in two forms, local and cloud-based. Both of which are available on the Google Play market place. A great local wallet for the Android operating system is the one that is available at Local wallets have their advantages and disadvantages. An advantage is that you don’t have to pay any fees to use the wallet like you would do for a bank account. However, the disadvantage is if your device were to get stolen or damaged, you will lose your coins forever, because coins can’t be replicated. This is assuming you didn’t take the precautionary measures to ensure your money’s safety. The kinds of measures to be executed depends on the wallet you are using. You also have a selection of cloud based wallets to choose from. A good choice is the Coinbase online exchange wallet. These wallets work similar to the local ones. You can send and receive coins but there are some strings attached. When you use a cloud based wallet, you need to pay them to withdraw sometimes. It’s not ideal, but you might end up using them if you want a way to manage your money on more than one device.
Now that you have set up your Bitcoin wallet, you’re going to need some Bitcoins to put in them.

How do you pay with Bitcoin?
Every Bitcoin wallet has at least one address associated with it. This is a secure method of transferring funds anonymously. Without it, you have no method of receiving payment. You can also generate a QR code as an alternative payment method. This is mostly for convenience when it comes to transactions. Not everyone is willing to write down an entire string of characters for a simple donation. As an alternative, you can place QR codes on website ads, fliers on the street, and more. Bitcoin applications on Android devices revolutionizes how all of this bitcoin stuff works. For instance, an android mobile phone can be used to take a picture of the qr code on a flier or bus stop bench, and donate money to a charity that accepts Bitcoins as a method of payment.
When you go out to spend Bitcoins on a website somewhere, you need to sign up for the site first. This will bind a wallet address to your account. One popular application is poker for Android. For that, you would need to purchase credits for the site, then you can start playing. Be aware that some gambling sites have high payout thresholds which makes you sit at the computer for hours until you have enough credits to withdraw into your wallet. Imagine these sites like taking a trip to Vegas but without any travel fees, expensive hotel bills and the potential for returning home broke. Having an application like this available on the android device would enable more people to get involved in a simple game of poker. Since not every poker addict has the luxury of being near a computer with internet access 24/7., this could satisfy peoples gambling addiction if they are able to play casino games with their phone. Almost everyone that owns a cell phone has a smart phone and this is potential for increasing the pot in online gambling.

There are also numerous other uses for paying with the virtual currency. Online retailers like Overstock have also started to accept it, meaning that users are beginning to have more and more options for using Bitcoin on Android devices.


icstarg 1Techbash – Part 3

VERBATIM – John Jonelis

This is a story of high expectations, high reality, and high energy. I may as well give it to you straight, because Loop Lonogan would want it that way. He’s in the lockup. Too much hard partying on Twelfth Night. His guests spilled into the street and all kinds of trouble erupted—part of it involving a policeman he knocked cold. So I’m here at i.c.stars headquarters. Here to finish Lonagan’s series of articles. I’m talking to the president and co-founder, Sandee Kastrul.

The location—downtown Chicago. The workspace—all business. I start by throwing out this question: “Can I call i.c.stars a social incubator. Is that fair?”

Sandee bursts out in a smile. “I love it—I love it. It’s all about transformation. Technology is a tool of transformation. Sandee 2We teach technology because it’s creative. It doesn’t know what you look like. At the end of the day you can be a rock star.

“But what really gets us jazzed about technology is the systems thinking and the process that’s embedded in it. If you can take that and apply it to community leadership, to organizing, to service leaders, to entrepreneurship, we can literally make a change in the communities that we come from. And so we sit between the leadership and the technology side. Our vision is 1000 community leaders by 2020. So everything is about the leadership angle.” Continue reading

T-Mobile CEO on Being Thrown Out of AT&T’s Party: “I Just Wanted to Hear Macklemore”

T-Mobile CEO John Legere has been trying to crash AT&T’s party metaphorically for a while now.

On Monday, he decided to do it literally, working his way into a party that the telecom giant was throwing for its developers at the Palms Hotel.

Legere says he wasn’t looking to make a scene, insisting he just wanted to see the party’s headline act.

“I just wanted to hear Macklemore,” Legere told Re/code.

AT&T apparently didn’t take too kindly to Legere’s presence, asking the hotel’s security to have him removed. And it’s not as if Legere was hard to spot. He was wearing his familiar magenta T-Mobile logo shirt under a leather jacket.

“All of a sudden these gigantic goons said ‘Can I talk to you over here,’ ” Legere said, in an interview outside the Venetian hotel later on Monday, adding that he was told that if he didn’t leave immediately he would be charged with trespassing. Legere said he was also escorted from the premises.

Legere is used to pissing people off, but said he usually does so from a safe distance. He also pointed out that AT&T spent a small fortune on the party, noting he could have cut prices quite a bit with all the money AT&T spent.

An AT&T representative wouldn’t comment on the decision to remove Legere.

One observer did point out that at roughly the same time Legere was being tossed from the party, AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph De La Vega was on stage at the Audi keynote announcing AT&T had won a deal to replace T-Mobile as the provider of wireless services for the German automaker’s vehicles.

The battle between T-Mobile and AT&T, always intense, has been growing more heated in recent weeks. AT&T announced a promotion last week offering up to $450 in credit to T-Mobile customers willing to switch. Legere called it a “desperate move.”

It’s the latest of many shots from Legere, who frequently uses AT&T as a punching bag on Twitter.

In an interview on Monday, De La Vega dismissed T-Mobile’s efforts as all talk, insisting AT&T has the better network and customer service and that T-Mobile’s only option is to try to cut prices.

T-Mobile, meanwhile, is expected to announce the next phase of its “Un-carrier” effort at a press conference on Wednesday.

Capture A Moment: The Best Photo And Video Apps

We’re taking a look at our favorite applications for taking and editing the perfect shots.

Selena Larson November 26, 2013 Mobile
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No time of year provides photographic inspiration quite like the holidays. Between parties, home cooking and sharing memories with friends and family, there’s little doubt you’ll bust out your mobile device this season and capture the moments.

Certainly one of the most popular apps is Instagram. It makes taking and sharing photos and videos simple, with elegant filters you can splash on even the grainiest square-shaped images. But if you’re ready to step outside of the conventional Amaro-tinted offerings, check out some other apps that make it easy to capture, edit and share photos and videos.


For Art: VSCO Cam (Free)

VSCO Cam is quickly becoming a favorite in my suite of mobile photography apps. The application has a simple interface that lets you play with and manipulate photos using a variety of features, including filters and editing tools like separate focus and exposure rings. Unlike other apps that show you what your friends are sharing, the minimalist VSCO Journal lets you discover and share images from photographers around the world curated by the VSCO Cam team.

The app already has fantastic filters, but the VSCO Cam store lets you purchase and download additional filters, ranging from free to $.99. Similar to Instagram, the app also lets users create profiles called Grids, although you will be added to a wait list once you sign up, you should be able to access your Grid within a couple days.

VSCO Cam is free on the App Store, but it is currently accepting beta testers for its Android app.

For Capturing: ProCapture—Camera + Panorama (Free or $3.99)

For Android users, ProCapture is a great alternative to the built-in camera feature. The app gives users additional features including panorama, wide shot, and reduced noise modes, and an on-screen histogram that monitors exposure, to provide an enhanced photography experience.

Two composition aids—the grid and the Fibonacci spiral – can help you outline the perfect shot.

ProCapture is available on Google Play for $3.99, but there is a free version with limited features the company suggests you try out first.

For A Little Of Everything: Google+ (Free)

Google+ has upped its game in recent weeks, and it is now not only a great place to store photos, but also edit them.

The “Auto Awesome” feature is really, well, awesome. The application automatically enhances photos you capture, highlighting colors, sharpening shots, and detecting perfect smiles even before you login to view your photos.

If you take a variety of pictures on a single plane, Google+ will stitch the photos together to create a panorama, and when you a series of action shots, the application will create a gif-like image. The “Eraser” feature can even get rid of the pesky tourists ruining your photos when you attempt to take a picture in front of a structure or landmark if you snap five shots in a row, while “Smile” chooses the best-looking shots of individuals in your group photos, and combines them into one.

I recommend turning on the auto upload feature if you use a Google+ account. It saves all your images in Google+ (privately, don’t worry), and you can access them from your mobile application or the Web. You can also edit your photos in Google+; the company has incorporated tools from the popular Google-owned Snapseed application into its service.

Google+ is available on Google Play and the App Store.

For Inspiration: Photofy (Free)

If you’ve ever wanted to turn your filtered photos into inspirational messages, this application is for you. Photofy comes with its own suite of filters, but the main feature of the app is the collection of sayings you can overlay onto your image. It’s – dare I say it? – the perfect Tumblr image generator.

Phrases like “Autumn you are so beautiful” and “Think Happy, Be Happy” can be affixed over your image, and you can change the size and color with simple editing tools. It already has a variety of winter designs perfect for the holidays.

Photofy is available for free on the App Store and Google Play.


For Simple Movie Making: Magisto (Free, $5 or $18 subscription)

Magisto is great for the movie making newbie, or anyone who would like to have a way to automate and share videos. Just like the description says, it’s a magical video editor. A smart interface automatically analyzes, trims and edits the best part of your videos, and you can include up to 25 clips per movie.

Featured effects include camera stabilization, filters, transitions, and unique themes and playlists to make each video different.

The application is free to use, but a premium version for $5 a month or $18 annually includes unlimited cloud storage and SD downloads and lets users create longer movies.

Magisto is available for iOS and Android.

For Collaborating: JumpCam (Free)

Have you ever been to an event with all your friends? You’ve all captured video, but it’s spread across everyone’s mobile devices. JumpCam solves that problem, an easy way for all your friends to add and collaborate on one single video.

With JumpCam, you can film or upload a video clip and invite others to collaborate. Each friend can add his or her own clips and the app automatically loops all the videos into a single reel. Like most multimedia apps, you can add filters and music to create the experience.

It’s a great way to collaborate on stories, as Billy the Banana demonstrated. JumpCam is available for free on Android and iOS devices.

For Saving And Sharing: Google+ (Free)

Just like with photos, Google+ is a great place to save, share and edit videos. If you have auto-upload turned on, Google+ automatically stores all videos taken from your mobile device. It’s easy to select video clips and images to then string together into a video. You can edit the length of it, add a soundtrack, and select from a variety of unique filters to create a dynamic video that’s easy to share.

Google+ is available on Google Play and the App Store.

For Full Feature Editing: Cute CUT (Free)

Cute CUT provides more in-depth editing to create clips that can include videos, photos, self-drawing, text, music and voice recordings.

To make a video, simply drag and drop your media segments and begin editing each clip with multi-layer editing tools. There are a ton of tools to choose from, including drawing tools, professional effects like texture and gradients, and transitions.

The standout feature in Cute CUT is the ability to draw on your movie clips, a great way to personalize visuals that can easily be shared on YouTube and Facebook.

Cute CUT is free in the App Store.



DSC_0911 TTechBash Part 2

by Loop Lonagan

as told to John Jonelis –

Seems to me Christmas is all about givin’ to other people and I say we keep it that way. I love Christmas. Ever’ year I start my celebration on Thanksgiving and don’t take the tree down till January the Fifth. That’s Twelfth Night fer youse guys that don’t know. That night I throw a big party, hire cooks, a piano player, ‘n’ ever’body burns a branch from the tree before they leave.

There’s an outfit right here in Chicago that keeps the spirit o’ giving alive all the yearlong. They find people with talent, creativity, intelligence, hard knocks ‘n’ plenty o’ moxey. Then they pay ‘em to train fer big-time jobs. That’s one o’ the nicest gifts you can give a person with them kinda attributes—a chance to use what they got inside themselves. Think about it—all that potential just waitin’ to burst out so bad a guy could explode.

IMG_9826 B

Continue reading

Year End Review: 3 of the Best Mobile Apps of 2013


Well, it’s that time of the year again for many of us. The nights are drawing in, the weather is growing colder, the days shorter, and there’s a distinct chill in the air. Yes, 2013 will soon be a distant memory, replaced instead by a fresh, new 2014. 2013 has been a very productive and positive year for modern technology, which makes it especially impressive as it is advancing at such an alarming rate. We’ve seen new gadgets such as the iPad Air, smart TV’s, Playstation 4’s, X-Box one’s, and brand new smart phones such as the iPhone 5. Smartphone’s have changed the way we view technology, and have made life so much easier for many of us. If you’re especially into your Smartphone’s then this article could be interesting to many of you, as we’ll be looking at the 3 best apps of the year 2013.


Temple Run 2 – If you’re familiar with temple run, you’ll know just how impressive and addictive the game can be. Well, good news for temple run 2 fans, because temple run 2 burst onto the scene in impressive fashion. Because temple run was such a huge smash hit, not surprisingly, many other makers and imitators have tried to rip off the title and essentially recreate the game, with only a few changes. Temple run 2 shows them exactly how it should be done. This new game features mine shafts, zip lines, jungle and underground settings, and some very impressive graphics indeed.


Repair Pal – This is one of the most impressive iPhone repair based apps. Repair pal is an actual maintenance repair service, in the form of a handy app. If your car ever breaks down and you’re stuck for finding a mechanic, then repair pal has you covered. You can find quotes for various repairs, search for mechanics in the area you’re in, diagnose certain problems, and even search for tow truck services. Best of all, it’s all Free!


SnapChat – SnapChat burst onto the scene in a big way this past year. SnapChat is an extremely simple premise, yet it just works. Often, people say that simplicity is the key, and snapchat emphasizes that fact tenfold. With SnapChat friends can create simply and quick accounts in a couple of minutes, search for other friends via their Facebook or phonebook accounts, and then get started. Basically, with SnapChat, you take a photo or video of yourself, add a small line of text, and then send it to whoever you want. The unique thing about it however, is that after between 3 and 10 seconds, the photo or video vanishes forever, unless you choose to share it for 24 hours of course. It’s a great app for anybody looking to have some good old fashioned harmless fun with their friends.



icstarg 10aTechBash – Part 1

By Loop Lonagan,

as told to John Jonelis –

I feel the bite o’ Christmas in the air. It’s da season o’ giving. I’m here at TechBash coverin’ fer Da May Report but I ain’t never seen no event like this before. Right away, I gets hit with pounding music, flashing lights and maybe a couple thousand er more people. Place is fulla bigshots—I never seen so many C-level execs at one party—mosta them CIOs o’ big corporations. And the food and open flowing bar. I mean, this is a HUGE party that puts Dennis Koslowski and Tyco to shame—but this one’s legit. Lemme tell you about it: Continue reading


Compass 3 - John OrtbalWhere Tech Startups Come Up Short

.From the Journal of the Heartland Angels

By John Ortbal

Far too many start-ups in the technology sector launch a great product with distinct advantages over competitors but fail to gain a solid footing in their marketplace. One of the major reasons is lack of adequate investment in what I call a solid marketing infrastructure.

Establishing a solid marketing infrastructure gives the startup technology firm (software or hardware) the foundation from which to grow and expand. Without that foundation, it’s easy to become distracted in a scramble to ramp up sales—dispersing your resources and energy. Continue reading

Analysis: In China’s smartphone boom, market share trumps margins

(Reuters) – Savvy U.S. chipmakers are hitching their wagons to Chinese smartphone makers, willing to sacrifice profit margins to boost sales volumes in the world’s second-largest mobile phone market.

Image representing Apple as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

As demand in developed economies stagnates, a handful of component suppliers, includingQualcomm Inc and Synaptics Inc, have left competitors in their wake by expanding inChina, where sales of cheap phones made by home-grown companies eclipse pricier models made by Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Apple Inc.

Increased exposure to China has diluted chipmakers’ gross profit margins to somewhere in the mid-40 percent range from an average of nearer 50 percent in developed markets, analysts estimate. The rewards lie in the huge volumes demanded by Chinese handset makers.


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