Google Nexus

Last week Google took over a conference center in San Francisco to announce a number of new offerings that it plans to launch by the end of the year. Now that the dust has settled, we can see what their announcements really mean for the mobile and tech industries. In front of a room of a hundred journalists, tech insiders, and friends, Sundar Pichai hosted his first event as Google CEO (surprisingly there was little to no mention of Alphabet during the event).

The event may not have been full of surprises, but it is always nice when rumored specifications and release dates are confirmed or revealed for the first time. There wasn’t a lot of groundbreaking news that came out of the event, but what did come out was a number of practical upgrades to current offerings. Pichai began the event by revealing a number of truly staggering statistics which help grasp how important Google is to the technological ecosystem. Android has 1.4 million users a month on average, which means that one fifth of the world has a phone running a version of the OS. He also proudly stated that 30, 000 Chromebooks are being activated every day. These statistics were attention grabbing, but everyone in attendance- and viewing online- were there for what came next; the hardware announcements.

Here are the top five stories to come out of the event:

1)Nexus 6P & 5X
Google is unique in the mobile world because it is not linked to a single manufacturer. The Nexus 5X is made by LG, while the Nexus 6P is made by Chinese manufacturer Huawei.

Nexus 6P
Google is calling the 6P its most premium phone to date. Upgraded features over the Nexus 6 include, a new front-facing camera and rear camera that can shoot 4K video, a new USB Type-C port which claims to charge a phone twice as fast as an iPhone 6 plus, and a new rear fingerprint sensor called the Nexus Imprint.

Nexus 5X
The Nexus 5X is positioned as the Nexus line’s affordable option, but still boasts most of the same upgrades as the 6P. It has two new cameras, the new charging port, and the fingerprint sensor on the rear of the phone. In addition the 5X also has a larger display and battery life than its predecessor.

Both phones are currently available for pre-order, with shipping dates set for the end of October. Initial reviews have been positive, but without the final version of Marshmallow running on the devices that were tested, it is unfair to produce a final verdict. The comparisons to the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus are inevitable, and it will be interesting to see if the two Nexus phones can reach similar pre-sale numbers.

2)  Android Marshmallow
Android had already announced its sixth iteration operating system back in May, but its release date and a more polished understanding of its features were finally presented. The tastily titled Marshmallow, has begun rolling out on Nexus devices this week, with all others to follow shortly. The upgrade integrates a newer lock screen, fingerprint support, a new app drawer, Google Now On Tap, simplified permissions, among other features. The most anticipated feature would be Now On Tap which enables the integration of google searches and voice interaction into individual apps.

3) Chromecast 2 & Chromecast Audio
At a $35 the Chromecast 2 and Chromecast Audio come in as the most affordable pieces of hardware unveiled at the event.

Chromecast 2
This small fob connects to any TV via HDMI cable, and mirrors content from your Android phone through the Chromecast app. The Chromecast 2 is a welcomed upgrade of its first generation, as it can support the casting of thousands of more apps than its predecessor (eg. Netflix, Sling TV, Discovery, Google Photos, and DirecTV NFL Sunday Ticket). Chromecast 2 enters into a crowded streaming media device marketplace to compete against Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and the Roku Streaming Stick.

In an interesting turn of events Amazon announced Friday that it would no longer be selling Chromecasts on its site. Losing the support of the world’s largest retailer may hurt the Chromecast 2’s sales, but Google is still very optimistic about its launch.

Chromecast Audio
Although almost identical in design to the Chromecast 2, the functionality of Chromecast Audio is much different. Chromecast Audio is to music, what Chromecast 2 is to videos. You plug the device into an audio output source like an A/V receiver or a powered speaker and stream audio over WiFi from your phone. It doesn’t have many bells and whistles, but simplicity is one of its selling points. Some detractors may point to the fact that Chromecast 2 does everything that Audio does, and also has the ability to cast video. The only difference is that Chromecast Audio is able to transmit the audio at a higher quality because it does not have the excess strain of video. So if you are an audiophile who is looking for a way to seamlessly stream music over speakers, this could be the device for you.

4)Pixel C
Google’s final offering of the event was the Pixel C, an Android convertible tablet with a removable keyboard. This 10.2-inch tablet will run Android 6.0 Marshmallow, and is equipped with an Nvidia X1 processor and 3GB of RAM. At $650 the Pixel C is priced closer to a laptop than a tablet, and the jury is still out on whether or not it is worth the investment. To be judged as successful it will have to show that it can act as an all-in-one mobile device that can take care of all your computing needs. To make a splash in the market, the Pixel will need to combine the usability of a tablet and the productivity of a laptop.

5) Everything Else
New hardware took center stage at Google’s special announcement, but there were still some interesting supplementary services that were highlighted. Google Play Music and Google Photos both have updates to make sharing with family and friends easier. As well, the Chromecast app has announced a number of new applications and features to coincide with the Chromecast 2 launch. Another interesting topic discussed was Google’s own mobile network- Project Fi. Google Fi works by combining WiFi calling with a compatible cellular network connection. The announcement stated the Fi would now work with the two new Nexus phones as well as the older Nexus 6.

Google has been busy after changing its name to Alphabet, and this special announcement only affirmed this. Google is hoping that these new products- launched just in time for the holiday season- will be able to drive its end of year numbers.



Not one to shy away from radical moves, Google announced yesterday that they will now be owned by company simply known as Alphabet.

The move was announced by former CEO of Google, and current CEO of Alphabet, Larry Page. “What is Alphabet? Alphabet is a collection of companies, the largest of which, is Google,” Page wrote in his letter to investors. Page believes that this will allow Google to focus more on their core offerings and become more efficient, while permitting more unique ventures to thrive under the autonomy of Alphabet.

Under the restructuring, Google co-founder Sergey Brin becomes the President of Alphabet, and Sundar Pichai will take over for Page as CEO of Google. Page and Brin will still have a hand in overseeing Google, but Pichai will relinquish his role as SVP of products and take over the day-to-day operations.

For a number of years, Google has been trying to take on a wide array of projects from robotics, to autonomous cars, to even attempting to reign in aging. By allowing these organizations to be more autonomous, they ensure that they can get the resources and maintain their vision without major impact on Google’s financials.

Additionally, this move allows Alphabet to make more multi-billion dollar acquisitions that Google, as an established brand might have hesitations making. Not having to worry about how an acquisition meshes with Google’s brand, will allow Alphabet more freedom in future developments. It also opens up more executive-level positions within the organization, which will allow Alphabet to prevent their talent from being poached by other technology companies.

To avoid confusion for investors, all shares of Google will be automatically converted over to the same number of Alphabet shares. However, Alphabet will provide Google’s financial information separately in Q4 of 2015.

The news is still very much in its infancy, and the complete ramifications of this move have yet to be revealed. But this is a very pivotal move in the tech world, and it will be exciting to see what it means for the future of the Googleverse.


The Google I/O Conference had some major announcements in the way of mobile tech advancement. So it was very exciting to see that many of the new technologies Google discussed were developments we’ve been working on already with some major clients.

  1. Mobile Payments and Loyalty Cards

Android Pay will replace Google Wallet, as open platform will allow developers to incorporate payments. The platform will be available preinstalled on devices with Google M, and promises to be compatible in the U.S in over 700,000 stores with NFC-based point of sale terminals.

The debate over mobile payments has gained considerable frequency. One concern is whether mobile payment platforms can replace a user’s physical wallet wholesale: cash, credit card, loyalty cards and memberships. Plastic has experienced some great success in the development of loyalty-based apps. For the AIR MILES app, we increased user engagement by including a game where users competed with other users in the pursuit to earn double AIR MILES reward miles. As technology continues to advance we eventually will never have to carry around clunky wallets, while being able to stay on top of brand online rewards via push notifications.

  1. Wearable Apps Invasion

Recently, Google has made some impressive strides with some powerful new apps for the blossoming wearables market. The intent of apps for wearable devices is to make the user experience expansive, intuitive, and convenient. Google’s latest update on Google Maps for wearables will have loaded directions stay on the screen, providing instant access to crucial information while users are on the go.

In our Pizza Pizza Apple Watch app, we worked towards innovation unseen as well as we developed a mobile countdown feature as part of the Pizza Pizza delivery guarantee. Users can observe the live 40-minute countdown on their watch to make sure their order arrives on time, or it’s free.

Also for our Apple Watch app users can look up information about a property on site. When a user is in front of a house they’re interested in, a flick of their wrist will pull up details on the house and the demographics of the neighbourhood.

Never resting on our laurels, we’re looking ahead to the next set of innovations in mobile, and we’re equally confident come this time next year, we will once again be on the same page as Google in terms of their thinking towards mobile technology and advancement.


In the past year, with a certainly impressive amount of research and experimentation, facial and image recognition technologies have gained considerable momentum. Among the largest innovators are search engine giant Google, and the colossal online community Facebook, who have harnessed the power of revolutionary facial recognition and image recognition technologies.

Just over a year ago, Facebook released DeepFace, intending to “close the gap to human-level performance in face verification”. By merely looking at two photos, the facial recognition technology deciphers whether the photos contain the same face, irrespective of lighting and positioning of the face. With 97.3% accuracy, only second to the 97.5% accuracy of the human brain, DeepFace is an impressive piece of artificial intelligence that certainly meets its intended goal.

Similarly, Google’s image recognition technology has advanced to the point of being able to mimic human levels of understanding. Although it relies heavily on image descriptions in order to tag them, the search engine is able to identify entire scenes in photos and videos. For example, Google’s image recognition can detect a group of children playing on a jungle gym. By working with Stanford University and merging two types of neural networks, Google has made the cataloguing and searching of billions of images and videos more efficient.

While such technologies may sound fun and useful, both have stirred up considerable controversy. Some Facebook users have protested DeepFace’s preemptive and automatic tagging feature, positing that it violates their human rights. Google has had to meet concerns of some of its users, now that it’s able to track all searches and identify all new content uploaded daily. The search engine recently included a solution to delete and/or download any information users may not want tracked, whether from their search history of Gmail account.

Concerns may start to arise around Facebook’s mobile app, which enables users to take and post photos straight from it. However, if the app’s face verification automatically starts tagging the users in these photos as soon as they’re uploaded, users may feel trepidatious about posting them in the first place. Furthermore, Google has an extensive suite of mobile apps and owns the Android ecosystem, all of which could be easily integrated with image recognition. Google could integrate everything from Google Camera to Google Drive with image recognition to instantly tag photos on your mobile phone and in Google Cloud services. Overall, both companies should take stock in how users will view their apps if privacy concerns remain relevant.


Believe it or not, amidst all the commotion last week surrounding Apple’s new wearable, Apple Watch, there was still other mobile news. “Mobilegeddon” is nigh, according to experts, who have coined the term in reaction to Google’s latest update to it’s search engine algorithm. Google will now prioritize sites with mobile-friendly versions by ranking them higher in search results while downgrading sites that are not mobile-friendly.

The importance of a mobile optimization for brands cannot be stressed enough. At Plastic we’ve been harping on this for 7 years. And while I’d hate to say ‘I told you so’, it’s becoming more and more true every day. As if it’s not quite enough to disappoint and lose your customers when they’re reaching out to your brand on mobile devices, now Google is also leaving non-mobile brands out in the cold.

It’s been predicted that by 2018 m-commerce will make up half of all e-commerce sales, and it’s already well on it’s way with many industries averaging 30-40% of digital sales through mobile. The dollar value of m-commerce will grow to $626 billion in the U.S by 2018, leaving a lot of market share on the table for mobile laggards.

Additionally, Google has claimed that half of all searches around the world originate from mobile devices. No surprise there. Mobile phones have also transformed the way consumers shop online and search.

As mentioned in an article from Marketing Magazine, brands can test and verify the strength of their URL, according to the new Google standards to see how they’re ranking now. The results will hopefully encourage ‘mobiphobes’ to get with the times. While many brands are passing with flying colours, most are simply not up to par. This could very well be the moment of truth for brands and businesses.

“Mobilegeddon” is not just a term to scare marketers into the era of mobile, but rather it’s a shift in paradigm and priorities. It’s not just about content and SEO any more, the very meaning of SEO is anchored in the DNA of a brand, rising up from design, usability and function.



As we know, digital wallets are poised to become one of the most interesting discussions this year.

Recently, mobile tech expert and Plastic CEO, Sep Seyedi, spoke with TechCrunch about the the on going War of the Wallets.

The article outlines the battle between enterprise frontrunners Apple and Google, as they compete to disrupt personal finance with mobile.

Sep begins by identifying how the digital wallet space is fragmented, “Since the inception of mobile payments, there has been a lack of a cohesive solution by key players in the space.”

He continues by addressing Google potential acquisition of Softcard and how the internet giants are striding to make headway over Apple in the mobile payment market. “A month after Apple Pay launched, Google Wallet saw transactions increase by 50 percent in a single month, and the number of active users doubled” he said.

To get the full scope of how Apple and Google battle it out to be the most revolutionary mobile payment method read the ‘War of the Wallets’ on TechCrunch.


It was a big week for Google with the announcement of new Android products that are going to enhance user experiences from typing on a touchscreen to driving and watching TV.

At the Google I/O conference, there was a lot to take in, but there were definitely four things that stood out as important changes to the Android we’ve been accustomed to until now-and we’re not just talking about the 36% longer battery life. After attending the conference in San Francisco, here’s Plastic’s recap of the key highlights we can expect from the new Android OS.

1) Android L

Two words, material design. Ok, where did that come from? Android’s new design is flat and colourful providing emotive responses when a user interacts with their Android smartphone. Material design highlights imagery and motion to provide a new (and improved) UI that will change user experiences.

The apps will also be seeing new design features, but aren’t shying too far away from the look in KitKat. With a cool new look to UI, there are also going to be enhanced notifications. The notifications feature called, “Heads Up” allows notifications pop up over an active app without disturbing the activity itself.

In addition to these features, Android L will aggregate both recently opened apps as well as chrome tabs. This way, the user does not have to open the chrome browser to revisit a previously opened page.

Lastly, the yet to be fully named “L” boasts improved battery life.

2) Android Wear

The SmartWatch available through LG and Samsung directly links to your Android device allowing auto-unlock capabilities within close proximity. In terms of battery life, the Samsung smart watch needs to be charged in cycles similar to a smartphone.

The voice commands are impressively accurate, and some of the best compared to others on the market. Android Wear is an understated piece of equipment that’s designed for on-the-go user experiences and streamline several popular use-cases.

The most used function of Android Wear will be voice-command capabilities, and it’s worth noting that Google has designed a specific OS just for wearables.

Another discernable feature will be Google Now cards, which allow you to find out the weather, news and traffic instantly. Additionally you can access sports, movies, events, and even set reminders to yourself for later in the day. Android Wear has blended this UI with its wearables letting users interact with it via voice-commands.

3) Android TV

The basic concept? Simple apps for a simple box. By creating super simple apps for the television, users won’t get lost in the static. There will be apps and games for users to interact with, and it will support voice input and notifications. It will also include channel guides that users can invoke from various Android devices including the smart watch.

4) Android Auto

No, we’re not going to have self-driving cars just yet but this is a step in the right direction. Android’s new OS will help drivers by syncing the mobile interface with dashboard displays inside a vehicle to prevent interaction with smart devices that cause distractions while driving and still allowing access to mobile utility.

It will keep drivers safe by allowing for voice exchange communication. Essentially, you can check your notifications or receive driving directions by way of auditory feedback rather than visual. This prevents a driver from averting their eyes to look down at the display or to look no further than the car’s dashboard for visual information.

Google I/O made some big announcements, but there is one overarching theme that stands out, all roads lead to mobile connecting people with places and things. Android’s new OS is going to bring some changes to everyday devices like cars and TVs by way of smartphones.


Just a few months ago, investors were concerned about Google’s ability to maintain mobile ad rates, in the face of Facebook’s mobile ads generating 30% of ad revenues.

Google’s recent announcement of joining ad forces with Facebook to create a monster ad exchange has certainly calmed the nerves of the concerned. The search company’s advertising clients now have access to FBX, Facebook’s real-time bidding exchange, in addition to the current offering on DoubleClick Bid Manager.

In spite of going head-to-head in the mobile ad competitive landscape, both digital giants realized that advertisers wanted the best of both worlds, social ads along with search ads, and now DoubleClick is well on its way to be the go-to exchange for advertisers everywhere.

This recent move sent investors swarming, bumping up stock prices by a whopping 14%, and pushing Google’s stock price over $1000USD for the first time! While it is a significant milestone, it’s got us wondering what next move is gonna keep those stock prices afloat.

Since Motorola became a Google company back in May 2012, we have all been anxiously waiting for their new flagship phone. After many leaked images surfaced the web in the past couple of weeks and plenty of speculation, the Moto X has officially been announced!

The Moto X has a number of great features that consumers won’t be able to find with competing smartphones, such as the ability to talk to Google Now or open the camera app even when the phone is on standby. In addition, the Moto X is always on permanent listening mode making it the first “self-driving” smartphone.

There’s more!  As promised in one of their ads last month, customization is one of the main features of the smartphone. The device can be customized with the choice of 2 front panel colours, 7 accent colours, 18 back panel colours and the option of an engraved backing. With the combination of these features, the Moto X can be customized in hundreds of different ways.

In terms of overall specs, it is similar to a Nexus 4 which is pretty good, but fares lower in comparison to the Samsung Galaxy 4.

In addition, the smartphone will be assembled in the US and as a result, consumers will have shorter wait and faster delivery time. This is important considering the assembly will be specific to customers’ customization.

Check out the hands-on video below:

Are you as excited as we are about the Moto X? Let us know at @PlasticMobile!



This past year, there has been already a number of large acquisition moves in the technology industry with Yahoo buying Tumblr for $1.1 billion and Salesforce acquiring ExactTarget for $2.5 billion this month. The most talked about story in the tech industry lately is the recent acquisition of Waze by Google for $1.1 billion.

Waze is an Israeli-based startup of a free mapping and turn-by-turn navigation app (available on Android and Apple iOS), that caught the attention of the top three tech companies in world: Apple, Facebook and Google. Earlier this year, Apple reported a $500 million bid, then Facebook offered a $1 billion deal, but Google closed with a $1.1 to $1.3 billion offer.

Maps are powered by big data and Google Maps has established itself as the map maker to be beaten. With nearly 50 million users crowdsourcing real time data from their devices, Waze relies on these users to flag and record updates on accidents, bottlenecks and traffic. It mines information from your phone such as your speed and location to determine the best routes on its own maps.

Although Google Maps may be the most popular app, acquiring Waze further leverages Google’s capabilities as a search and data powerhouse, while shifting towards localized mobile advertising revenue. Waze has a defined advertising program where brands can display their logo and information based on the user’s driving route. It will be interesting to see how mobile advertising will take off in the coming years.

Waze offers various features that can help Google improve the way we interact and use maps such as the social functionality. Drivers can view where their friends are in real time on their way to a mutual destination, share drives, pickups, meetups and make it easier to communicate status from the road. Waze currently features a Facebook single sign-in option which will likely be replaced with Google+ to attract more users to their social network. Google will continue to let Waze operate as a stand alone division.

What are your thoughts on Google’s acquisition of Waze? What features appeal the most to you? Tweet us at @PlasticMobile.

braille phone

Technology is getting better very fast. Day after day devices are getting smaller, faster, stronger, smarter. Our lives have changed a lot in recent years because of this. When technology helps people with disabilities though, it’s even better.

A pioneer in this field is Sumit Dagar. He is the latest person to use technology to help visually impaired people use the devices most of us take for granted. He created a smartphone for the blind. Braille is not only on the buttons, but also on the screen. It’s automatically generated depending on what the phone is doing (web browsing, maps, pictures, games, you name it). He presented his invention during a TED conference in 2011 and the phone should be available at the end of this year for about $200.

Another recent move to help people with difficulties was made by Google. Last month they released the app One Today for Android.

This app lets you donate $1 to a charity of your choice. Unlike Facebook likes, this app gives real dollars, which are far more helpful to people in need. With millions of Android users, the impact could be very significant. The social part of the app (visibility of friends donations) that Google has added in, is a brilliant idea that should drive more people to participate.

Google will of course not charge anything on your donations except the credit card transactions fees, which is 1.9%. Now we just have to wait to see this app on all platforms and in all countries.

Do you know any other mobile projects trying to help those in need? Let us know  on twitter @PlasticMobile

androids!It’s a fact that sales of computers are falling as people spend more time on their smartphones and tablets. Part of this is because it’s very convenient to carry these mobile devices in your pocket or your purse. But it’s also because mobile operating systems are easy to use, making them more accessible to a larger public.

We know that Android is the most used OS on smartphones worldwide. Google maintains it as an open source OS so that any company can use and modify. Even though it was released after iOS, Android quickly became the most used OS and its recent updates make it even better than iOS for a lot of users. Here is an interesting infographic about Android devices in the world.

The really interesting thing now is that Android is available on TV and a lot of other devices as well (e-readers, smartwatches, cars and more). Google Glass will be add to the list at the end of the year, but before that, here are two other kinds of devices that Android is about to conquer:

- Android on computers:

It’s not an accident that Microsoft is taking is latest version of Windows in a mobile OS direction with a new interface and app system. Unfortunately for them, Windows 8 hasn’t had very much success so far. The latest rumours say Google will announce an Android laptop soon. This is probably a better idea than Google’s current laptop, the expensive Chromebook Pixel. It runs the Chrome OS and is not worth the hefty price tag despite the impressive hardware.

Another computer called MiiPC, coming from Kickstarter, is a product that we really like because it addresses the real issues parents have trying to monitor their kids computer usage. Check out the video.

- Android on video game consoles:

There are a lot of people playing games on smartphones and tablets, so making an Android game console that can play the high number of already existing games seems like a good idea.

Ouya, to be release in June, looks like a traditional video game console, except that it fits in your hand and will bring Android games into your living room. Another option will be released a few days later in June, Gamestick, is just a dongle (but apparently also less powerful than Ouya) and will do the same.

Do you think Android will have the same success in PC’s or game consoles? Let us know on twitter @PlasticMobile.

Google is serious about getting their “driverless” technology on the road within the next five years. This project is currently being led by Google engineer Sebastian Thrun (co-inventor of Google Street View). His main goal for this new technology is to create a car that can drive safer than the actual driver can – because it turns out there are a lot of really bad drivers out there, and a lot of freak accidents. In fact, car crashes are the leading cause of death for Americans ages 4-34 and can cost some $300 billion a year. So, the Google car mission is to improve traffic safety and open opportunities for people who can’t drive on their own.

This all sounds amazing, but we’re a far cry from surrendering control of our cars to computers. Over and above the technology, there are several laws, regulations, safety standards and insurance policies that need to be dramatically modified in order for the Google Car to move forward. I mean, who will take the blame when an accident does occur? The driver or the Google Car?

Reviews from Google Car test drives report that the system drives at speed limit, maintains its distance from other vehicles using sensors and even provides an override so that the driver can take control of the car by stepping on the brake or turning the wheel. Many said that in the beginning of their test drive they did not trust the vehicle, but as they saw how well the car drove itself, they began to trust the system more.

The U.S. state of Nevada is all for the “driverless car.” So much so, that they passed a law in 2011 permitting the operation of driverless cars. Driverless cars are coming, but we will just have to be patient to see what shape they will take in the next couple of years.

To check out the test drive video, click here.

What do you think about the Google Car? Do you think you can see yourself purchasing this type of technology in the next couple of years? Let us know! Tweet us @PlasticMobile

BW: A Galaxy of Rumours

By on March 13, 2013


The official launch of the new Galaxy SIV is this Thursday. Despite Samsung doing a remarkable job keeping the juiciest details (including what it looks like) from leaking, nothing can stop the rumor mill from spinning.

The Launch of Samsung’s flagship phone is big news in mobile and has been the talk of the office lately. We rounded up some choice rumours for your consideration. Keep in mind that this is all speculation and we will not know until tomorrow if any of this is true.

- Eye-tracking tech, so when you are looking at your phone it will be looking back at you. The GSIV will track your eye movements and scroll pages for you when you are at the bottom of the screen. Useful, yes. Creepy, perhaps.

- Eight-core processor with a separate eight-core graphics processing unit and 2gb of RAM. The top of the line hardware rumoured to be inside the GSIV will make it the fasted phone on the market. This could lead to battery issues unless. . .

- 4.99inch, 440ppi, Green PHOLED display. Screen technology has not evolved nearly as fast as the rest of the industry. This rumoured new tech will increase screen efficiency by up to 33% wile providing a sharper image than the Super AMOLED screen currently found in the GSIII

- 13 megapixedl rear facing 3D camera. 3D has had a hard time getting off the ground. Could putting a 3D camera on what promised to be a hugely popular phone be the catalyst it need? This seems like an odd match, but Samsung makes 3D televisions and has a hard time selling them so this dark horse rumour may be more credible than it looks. Very interesting.

Are you looking forward to the Galaxy SIV launch? What features do you hope to see in the new GSIV? Let us know on Twitter @PlasticMobile

The Google Maps Comeback

By on December 14, 2012

After millions of angry Tweets, Samsung guerrilla marketing and government issued warnings, Google Maps is back on iOS devices (hurrah!).

It’s still difficult for us to face the fact that even Apple can mess up sometimes. Of course, Apple’s geographical mapping blunder isn’t the WORST thing that could happen, we can’t help but wonder about the million dollar question beckoning from beyond the grave: would Steve Jobs have let this happen?

We will never know so enough of these ponderings! Let’s just be thankful that Google and Apple have worked it out this round. Now quit getting lost and download this thing already!

Happy Halloween!

This year is extra spooky for Apple since Google and Windows have released some cool new smartphones.

Despite Hurricane Sandy, Google went ahead and unveiled their newest smartphone on Monday. The Nexus 4 gives real competition to the iPhone 5. Its got a slightly higher screen pixel count, 2GB of data instead of the iPhone’s 1 GB, Android 4.2 and wireless charging. Like the iPhone, it has an 8MP camera and 1080p video, but is a little heavier and doesn’t have LTE. Those are great specs, but here’s the clincher: The Nexus 4 starts at $299 for 8GB and is available in early November.

The second buzz-worthy release this week is the Windows Phone 8 by HTC. Although Windows has been putting out some pretty cool offerings lately – like the Nokia Lumia 900 earlier this year – this new smartphone goes above and beyond. The device features an interactive home-screen that is cooler than ever and all of the tech specs you’d expect like 1GB RAM, 16GB of internal memory and  an 8.7MP rear “Pureview” camera. The problem with the Windows Phone 8 isn’t anything to do with design or functionality. It’s just that no one uses it yet! Although the 8 offers a great integrated ecosystem that avoids the “walled garden” developing situation that Apple perpetuates, there is no community of developers and limited support from brands. This means that there will be a shortage of apps until developers start coming on board. It also means that the “Wallet” feature on the 8 will not do too much for a while either. “Wallet” is NFC and m-commerce capable, but will not embody its full potential until people start developing for it.

All these competitive phones – the iPhone 5, Nexus 4 and Windows Phone 8 – are great. With amazing standards across the board you really can’t go wrong. It just comes down to what works best for you.

Check these out and let us know which one you’d get! @plasticmobile.

Yes, we know that the title of this article probably sounds completely weird. But, there’s a story behind our madness.
To begin, since iOS 6 was released with its own Apple version of the Maps app, most people are noticing some bugs, quirks and problems that would indicate that it may not have been 100% ready for the market. In fact, some people have become incensed by the latest Apple app, and have been posting all kinds of crazy things that this new Apple Maps app is showing. We suppose that is must be difficult for some users who had become very accustomed to Google Maps, to now have to get used to something new.
Just the other day, we saw someone get lost because he was using the new app. And across the pond in London, England, countless iPhone users trying to navigate the London Tube system have posted comments making fun of its inaccuracies.
Another rather hilarious and ironic misnomer is seeing the app re-direct to Google Maps on the web because the service currently only exists as an app.
Some of us here at Plastic are of the thought that it was pretty poor planning of Apple – known for its high-quality products – to replace a useful service, with their own that seems to be still a BETA version.
While this also did happen to an extent with Siri (especially in the US), Siri was a new technology and ergo, was forgiven for its bugs and quirks. But the new Apple Maps is replacing a perfectly good service that already existed.

Even today, all of Siri’s bugs haven’t been worked out, for example, if you ask her to find a restaurant for you in Paris, she proudly lists 15 options – a mere fraction of the restaurants in Paris, but we’re getting there.
The good news is that even if you get lost because of the new iOS 6 Maps, you might have more fun than if you were given the correct information, thanks to a Japanese company called NeuroWear. They are working on different concept of accessories to translate your emotion from your body to electronic cat ears called Necomimi or electronic cat tail called Shippo, which will even allow you to share how you felt about places you have visited via the mobile app.
We can’t wait to hear how everyone feels about being lost because of the new iOS 6 Maps! Just kidding, Apple. We know you’ll fix it for us.

PM UX: YouTube Revamped

By on September 25, 2012

The recent release of Apple’s iOS 6 marks the end of YouTube as we iPhone users know it. With the five year licensing agreement between Apple and Google not being renewed, users running iOS 6 will no longer be seeing YouTube as a pre-installed app on their devices.

I for one couldn’t be happier about this. You see, Google has released it’s own version of the YouTube app and it addresses my biggest problem with the old app, very limited video selection.

Not only does the new YouTube app offer more in terms of video selection, it also offers some new functionality, and much better experience. The app is currently available as a free download in the App Store and, not surprisingly, it’s also sitting comfortably in the #1 spot of the Top 25 free apps’ list.


When I launched the new YouTube app, the first thing I noticed was a cleaner, sleeker and far more aesthetically pleasing design. Only when I saw the new app in all its glory, did I realize how outdated the old YouTube had become.

The new YouTube sports an overhauled menu, larger images for your viewing pleasure, an alternative to full screen landscape viewing and a search function that not only reduces taps, but also allows users to search for videos without even typing.

Updated Menu

The new YouTube app utilizes a familiar menu style used by many other popular apps, most notably the Facebook app. The new menu also improves browsing by providing users with more categories to browse by and allowing them to do so efficiently. Users can find more content that interests them in a shorter amount of time.  The previous app only allowed users to browse “Featured” or “Most Viewed” videos, which only go so far at keeping users engaged.

Larger Images For Better Browsing


The new YouTube app displays much larger images than its predecessor. I find, and I’m sure most will agree, that larger images make for quicker browsing. In fact, with the new design I find that there’s less of a need to stop and read a video description, because a picture is worth a 1000 words.

I also find larger images much more enjoyable to browse through. Especially, when the app displaying those images is quick and responsive as the new YouTube app is. Take a look at the below screenshots of the old and the new, then decide for yourself.

Improved Search Functionality


If you remember, the older, pre-installed YouTube app had its search function tucked away in a tab menu. This meant that if a user wanted to search for a video while browsing the “Featured” list, they would first have to tap “Search” from the tab menu, and then tap the text field to enter their query.

The new YouTube places the search function in the app’s header bar, as an icon resembling a magnifying glass. The function is available throughout most of the app and the placement is consistent, making the function highly accessible and easy to find.

When a user taps the search icon, the keyboard slides up and a pre-selected text field appears. Because the text field is pre-selected, the user can begin typing right away, saving them a tap.

A cool piece of additional functionality comes in the form of the ability to dictate a search. By tapping the microphone icon next to the search text field user can simply dictate what they wish to search, then select their video from a list of search results.

When I first saw this feature in YouTube, I was sure I had seen it somewhere else, but simply couldn’t remember where. Shortly after, it hit me. It was another Google app we reviewed here, Chrome.

A Huge Improvement

There is no comparison! In my opinion, the new YouTube app is better in every way. Probably because the old app  never really saw any significant updates and was essentially the same app for as long as I can remember.

Today we wanted to give a shout out to an incredibly bright 17-year-old who has unknowingly done women across the globe a great service. Brittany Wenger from Florida, won the Grand Prize at Google’s annual Science Fair.

The best part? Her prize winning piece uses data and cloud computing to detect breast cancer with 99.1% accuracy. Called the, “Global Neural Cloud Service for Breast Cancer,” the product took her more than 600 hours to code.

Asked how she got involved in computer science, she said she just started exploring things she loved, like soccer. As one reporter wrote , “Wenger’s work with artificial neural networks (yeah, I know) started when she applied the computer programming methods to soccer, a sport she loves. Why not let a kid explore what he or she loves? They can always move onto cancer.”

A HUGE congrats to Brittany on her achievement!

Last week at Google I/O 2012, it was announced that Chrome, the popular internet browser, was coming to iOS. Hours later, it was available in the App Store for all iOS devices.

I’ve been using it for the last few days and have found it to be a very easy transition from Safari on my iPhone – though, I should mention that I use Chrome daily as my go-to browser on my Mac. In fact, with the exception of a few minor differences, the iOS version doesn’t look or feel much different.

Google Chrome on the iPhone

Upon launching the app, I was first greeted with a screen displaying the Google Chrome Terms of Service that I had to agree to before I could continue any further.

Once the formalities were out of the way, I was given given the option of signing in using my email address and password or continue without doing so.

I chose to sign in, as doing so gave me access to my open tabs, and bookmarks from my laptop. I found this feature to be very useful, as it allows for users to grab their phones and pick up right where they left off on their computer. Meaning that, in a sense, the Chrome application for iOS bridges the gap between the desktop and our mobile devices. Finally!

To access bookmarks and open tabs that exist on other devices, users select the corresponding tab near the bottom of the screen while in a new tab. Alternatively, they can tap the menu icon to the right of the address field and select the “Other Devices” option.

Undercover Chrome

Another thing I like about Chrome is something called “incognito mode,” which is basically the equivalent to Safari’s private browsing. The main difference between the two is that Chrome makes switching between regular and incognito browsing easy and quick, while Safari users are forced to navigate away from the browser and make the change in Settings.

To enter incognito mode, users tap on the menu icon next to the address bar and select “New Incognito Tab.” This opens a new tab where users can browse without having their browsing history, searches and cookies saved.

Incognito tabs have a dark grey menu bar at the top of the screen, while regular tabs are light grey. This colour coding helps users keep track of which tabs are incognito and which are not. I really appreciated this feature since you’re probably broswing a la incognito for a reason, so confusing the two could result in bad news.

For me, it’s the simplicity of Chrome that makes it a good browser. Unlike Safari, which has two separate fields for URLs and searches, Chrome has one universal text field for both. Because Chrome can detect what it is you are trying to do, with the Google guess, there is no need for two separate fields. Chrome will either navigate to your desired site or provide Google search results for your query.

Users can also speak to Chrome to tell it where to go or what to search. Just by tapping a small microphone icon in the far right of the URL/search field, then dictating either a URL or keywords, Chrome will produce your results just like that.

Make the switch?

Overall, I enjoyed Chrome and believe it to be a fairly good alternative to Safari. Particularly for users who are already using it on their desktops.

But in the end, it ultimately comes down to preference. Users know what they value and what they like. For example, it has been reported that Chrome is the slower of the two browsers, making Safari a better choice for those who value speed. However, I’m sure any difference in page loading times is minimal, as I did not even notice it.

The biggest problem with Chrome for iOS is that there is no way to set is as the default browser, which means that links from messages, emails and other apps will continue to be opened in Safari. Leaving Chrome secondary browser. Boo.

What do you think of the Chrome app? Love it? Hate it? Tweet us @plasticmobile and share your thoughts.

The latest in Android anti-virus, called Sophos Mobile Security, has produced a report identifying the top five most frequently encountered scary problems on the platform. The first, PJApps-C, is Android’s most significant chaos causer. See the chat above and the list below for more on Android’s scariest viruses.

1. Andr/PJApps-C.

2. Andr/BBridge-A.

3. Andr/BatteryD-A.

4. Andr/Generic-S.

5. Andr/DrSheep-A.

Read more in depth about each of them HERE

While many people may not give a second thought to the mobile computing threats emerging as the mobile industry continues to grow and expand, there is some cause for concern. Thankfully, the company Veracode has got our backs. They’ve recently released a free ebook about mobile security that offers 10 simple ways to ramp up the company protection against a very real growing mobile threat. Get the free ebook HERE.

ComScore Mobile Metrix 2.0 released a report on Monday that looked at mobile media usage across both apps and mobile web browsing. According to the new data, Google is the #1 site used across iOS, Android and RIM devices, followed by Facebook, Yahoo and Amazon.

But in terms of usage, apps took home first prize. The New numbers from Comscore indicated that of the smartphone users on the web while mobile, nearly all of them are using apps and not a browser, with four out of every five mobile media minutes spent in apps.

There was little surprise as to which apps were being used most with the built-in system applications winning and Facebook following as a close runner up.

The first spot on app usage? Well, given the information above, it seems obvious that – platform dependent – the App Store or the Android Market are most used.

What does this mean for mobile commerce, we wondered? It’s hard to say from the report statistics, but we’re excited to see more mobile users moving away from just browsing on their phones and using apps to do their research, stay connected and get immersed in the wonders of mobile.

What do you use most on your mobile device? The web browser or apps? Tweet us and let us know @plasticmobile.

Check out comScore’s latest mobile report from Mobile Metrix 2.0

Who will be the first Data Carrier?

The biggest topic of conversation at today’s Bagel Wednesday sharing of mobile news was the possibility of Google and Apple to start carrying their own data.

While not exactly news, or even anything imminent, we couldn’t help getting all excited at the prospect of a solution to our pricey Canadian carrier plans. And so, we started pondering – a wishin’ and a dreamin’ – about Google, Apple or Microsoft finally purchasing their own data plans.

While there has been a lot of speculation about who will be the first to buy a data carrier, we started wondering why they hadn’t. Clearly they have the necessary funds, with an article in The Next Web putting purchasing a data carrier as at the top of the list of things that Apple, and others should consider doing with their $65 billion dollars of cash reserves.

The same article notes that Google has been rumored to be looking at buying Sprint and also Verizon FiOS and that  Microsoft might pick up an ISP from their recent location based advertising and purchase of Skype.

Since the vast majority of our favourite device creators’ headaches come from dealing with the data carriers, and most of the pains we have with our devices are a result of our data carriers, why not just cut out the middle man? In fact, we’re like the sound of faster and cheaper service with a direct channel to both device and service provider. We like it a lot.

What are your thoughts? Tweet us @plasticmobile and let us know what you think about Apple and Google getting into the data carrying game.

In my weekly blog post, I normally prefer to comment on some of the large scale challenges or successes affecting the mobile industry, but this was too special to pass up.

Our team  made some time earlier this week to mobilize our Ping Pong matches. It all began with one of our Android developers creating a tablet app that could actually keep a proper game score (there seemed to be a recurring discrepancy in the scoring of our afternoon table tennis matches). The idea was that an Android tablet would sit atop the Ping Pong table and the app would keep an accurate, un-biased score of the Ping Pong games while in action.

How it works is pretty awesome. The “Plastic Paddle,” as it has now been dubbed, is good for a single’s or double’s match, and scores in terms of three sets per match and follows the proper rules of Ping Pong prior to 2000, meaning every 5th point the server changes. You can pre-set the serve, or use the server randomizer by clicking in the middle. A voice not entirely unlike Siri (but, better) will tell you who’s serve it is based on the scoring system. She will also tell you who’s advantage it is or if it is a deuce. To compensate for the inevitability of human error (if you click a point on your side when you did not actually receive a point) you can minus out the score. Last, when you win, the voice will tell you that you are the winner, and then a prompt will appear to allow you to post your results to the server.

It proved such a huge success around the office that it’s currently being developed for web to include such things as player stats with loss and win ratios and real-time tracking so matches can be carried over and rivalries can be tracked.

While this is an amazing first step, I’m looking forward to an even more advanced Ping Pong tracking system – Got that, team?

A big congrats to our developers for their ingenuity and drive to maintain a civilized game playing environment, and stay tuned for the coming improvements!

Great job team!

The stylus has been a heated topic of conversation around the office ever since last week’s Bagel Wednesday. Today, the battle continued between the pro-pen vs. anti-stylus fanatics during our discourse of baked goods.

A key component to the dispute is, of course, Apple vs. Android – with Apple users in the office suggesting that a stylus is more suitable for an Android device because iOS products are (their words) “superior.” WELL. According to this article in Gizmodo, there is a stylus for iPad that might actually be better than our “inferior” phalanges.

Ten One Design’s Pogo was one of the first styluses designed for use with iOS devices and has recently out done itself with the pressure-sensitive super stylus (code name: Blue Tiger).

Using a low-power Bluetooth 4.0 connection it wirelessly connects to your iOS device without the huge, heavy battery pack that can make a stylus quite the cumbersome utensil. Also, as long as an app supports it, the Blue Tiger can accurately relay information about how hard you’re pressing. This technology is amazing for the artist group – probably the stylus’ no. 1 supporters. The Blue Tiger allows the users to vary the thickness of a stroke based simply on how they apply pressure. Pretty cool for artists, but what does that mean for the rest of us?

Is the Blue Tiger awesome enough to convince the skeptics in our office to choose a pen over our handy (get it, hand – y?) fingers to conduct every day iPad use? Tell us what you think on twitter @plasticmobile.

Blue Tiger Stylus. Photo: Gizmodo

comScore's report on mobile

A hot-off-the-press comScore report presents the 2012 Mobile Future in Focus – and things are looking good for mobile!

ComScore examines last year’s mobile landscape through “an exploration of key trends driving smartphone adoption growth, mobile media use in categories such as social networking and retail, mobile ecosystem dynamics, and shifts in multi-device digital media consumption.”

From a proliferation of public WiFi access, an insurgence of app usage in health and commerce to the ongoing battle for top mobile platform – now led by Apple and Android – the report shows that mobile has been the hot topic in tech since early last year.

The report is lengthy and covers those myriad avenues of mobile influence, but one thing is consistent across mobile usage and industries: as mobile continues to grow as a part of core comprehensive marketing strategies, it becomes increasingly important for brands to understand how current trends are shaping the mobile environment – and how the mobile space is shaping future trends.

The report does highlight a few interesting emerging trends, one of which is mobile’s advancement of social media users to interact with brands in the commerce arena.

The study found that, by the end of last year, nearly one in every five mobile (smartphone) users scanned product barcodes and one in eight compared prices on their phone while shopping in an actual brick-and-mortar location.

As mobile retail usage grows retailers are faced with the challenge of understanding how audiences interact with their mobile devices while shopping to take advantage of any opportunities to increase customer conversation and conversion.

Of course, gender behaviours varied – as they are want to do – when it came to mobile commerce. Males preferred to do product research on-the-go, while females were more likely to use their devices to share their shopping experience socially (ahem, Pinterest?). The latter finding is interesting considering we think 2012 will showcase and interesting menage a trois for the mobile + commerce + social media equation.

What do you think? Will mobile and social media continue to change the way we browse and buy from retailers? Tweet us @plasticmobile with your thoughts, comments and general mobile musings.

With Forrester predicting Facebook and Amazon as 2012′s major mobile players, another ComScore study speculates on the rise and expansion of overall social networking. And we ponder the relationship between the two…

Social platforms are still in the early stages, growing and evolving almost faster than they can be tracked. Social in general continues to gain ground as a dominant source of online content, accounting for 16.6 percent of minutes spent on the web towards the end of 2011. ComScore’s recent report on social networks showed that, while leader Facebook continues to dominate the arena (three out of four US users are Facebookers), relative newcomers like TumblrPinterest and Google+ are also climbing the popularity pole.

Twitter held the no. 2 spot in the category as of December, drawing 37.5 million unique visitors and surpassing its biggest competition from 2011, LinkedIn, whose audience clocked in at 33.5 million at the end of last year.

Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean there isn’t healthy competition brewing out there. According to ComScore’s findings, in the past six months Google+ has reached 20.7 million US visitors, while Tumblr hit 18.8 million. The network we find the most impressive/interesting is Pinterest, which has managed to draw 8 million unique visitors – mostly women! – without the clout of a gargantuan network of products such as Google’s.

And where does mobile fit into all of this?  Plastic Mobile of course sees it as a key resource to all platforms, and a crucial leveraging point for those looking to get a leg up on the competition. Melody Adhami, our President and resident mobile guru weighs in: “all of the social networks should be paying attention to mobile because it is a) where their audience is spending most of their time and b) an obvious way to reach that audience on an intimate and consistent level – meaning, those networks who can remain relevant in the mobile space will win more ‘facetime’ with their customers. Now, that doesn’t mean just offering a mobile friendly version of their site. It means taking advantage of the inherent features of the phone and the way people are using mobile to make sure users are accessing your social brand vs. your competitor’s on mobile.”

And according to an article in the New York Times, it seems other industry leaders are in agreement: “Mobile is the new face of engagement,” says Ted Schadler, principal analyst at Forrester. “Businesses should stop thinking about it as a small Web site on a tiny computer, and start thinking about mobile as being deeply embedded systems of engagement. That turns out to have huge implications.”

What do you think? Who will be the next big social network powerhouse in 2012? Will Facebook maintain it’s dominance, or will Twitter close the gap? Or will both of them lose out to Google+, or the underdog with girl power, Pinterest? And, more importantly (to us, at least), how will mobile tie into the social media battle for total world domination (or something)?

Tweet us with your favourite network, mobile 2 cents or just general musings about social networks and their future bearing on our LIVES!

Source: Twitter Bots

We all new the day would come, though no one was ever able to predict when. But, it seems Mark Zuckerberg finally got tired of everyone speculating about the value of the Book, and decided to put a price tag on it himself: $5 billion! Not too shabby.

The new speculation, of course, is does that dollar figure over-value the social networking phenomenon, or will it follow the path of the Google’s before it and prove everyone that Zuckerberg and team were actually airing on the side of conservative? Only time will tell!

The decision to go public may have been prompted by the expectation that Facebook will probably hit its 1 billionth users this year, and that they turned a tidy profit of $1 billion last year. Another very interesting fact to come of the filing for an IPO, is that about 80% of the Facebook fan fare is based outside of North America. Weird? We at Plastic Mobile were positively baffled by this stat, since no one we know isn’t sharing, posting and chatting on Facebook – except for one guy. But, he still uses Explorer as his web browser.

One final tid bit of interest we read in PCWorld stated Zuckerberg is not only chairman and CEO, but he has also included a clause to allow him to name his successor if he is still the company’s controller upon his death: “In the event that Mr. Zuckerberg controls our company at the time of his death,” Facebook’s S-1 filing says. “Control may be transferred to a person or entity that he designates as his successor.” Reports from The New York Post and Bloomberg Businessweek suggested that analysts found this mighty strange, but one thing is for certain; Mark Zuckerberg is, and will remain, Facebook’s reigning king.

We’re standing by to learn more about the over-under value debate and to see where this major moves takes the world of Zuckerberg, err, Facebook.

According to Mark Evans (and us, of course) Plastic Mobile is hot, hot, hot!

Plastic made the Mark Evans Tech “Companies to Watch” list for 2012. We’re awful proud and delighted to have been noticed by such a reputable member of the industry. Plastic Mobile has definitely been working hard to create the spectacular mobile initiatives that warrant this kind of attention, so it’s nice to be noticed.

A big thanks to Mark for his accolade and a shameless plug to anyone who is in fact “keeping an eye” on us: As a company to be watched for 2012, Plastic Mobile is determined to make this the year of meaningful UX through more of our astounding mobile marvels. Vive the mobile revolution!

A Union of Print and Mobile

By on December 15, 2011

A recent InsightExpress study suggests that mobile and print would make a great team. The company found that mobile users are also print junkies: “Based on our findings, it’s clear that brands and retailers should be incorporating mobile into their print strategies,” said Joy Liuzzo, vice president and director at InsightExpress.

Print and Mobile, sitting in a tree…

Liuzzo goes on to say that there’s more to this relationship than just a little QR coding. There are a number of ways to strengthen this bond, including article archiving or sharing and information gathering. The company specifically focused on QR codes and user engagement, finding that smartphone owners who use their mobiles for six or more daily activities were also reading or subscribing to print publications. These users are a hot target for advertisers as they have diverse tastes extending even beyond their reading mediums to any number of lifestyle routines (eating, shopping, etc.). The study found that these people were also more inclined to connect with companies via their mobile devices. “The biggest surprise to me was with the segment of smartphone owners that do six or more activities on their phone every day and their print media consumption,” said Ms. Liuzzo. “This group is both subscribing to, and reading more, print materials than any of the other groups (smartphone or regular phone owners).”

According to our friends over at Mobile Marketer, InsightExpress then delved into an investigation of this market’s varying reading behaviours and discovered that magazines came out on top in terms of user engagement. For example, tearing out articles or tracking down a product mentioned in an article or ad.

Turns out, traditional print media isn’t out of the game just yet. It just needs to get wiser and learn a thing or two from it’s new young partner. From here, who knows where this dynamic duo can go? What do you think? Are print and mobile a match made in heaven? Tweet us your comments to @plasticmobile.

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