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Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Daily Byte: BBM fans in Cairo, hang in there

If you're one of those planning on making the jump to a modern smartphone from your BlackBerry Curve or Bold, hang in there. 2013 is coming with a handful of new devices up its sleeves and a few of those are -guess what- BlackBerrys. If you're one of those hardcore BBM fans that just can't let go of your bold or curve, BlackBerry is about to release a series of new phones that come packed with their latest OS, BB10; their latest attempt to catch on to their rivals. While I think the new BB series will be far from a game changer, it would quite be worth it to make the jump to if you envy your Android friends but still prefer to hang on to BBM. More BlackBerry NSeries pictures surface, appeases QWERTY lovers with sharper focus

Saturday, December 29, 2012

App Review: The Newly Revamped Bey2ollak app

It's been months in the making, but Bey2ollak finally came out with their newly redesigned app, and truth be told it now looks like an a legitimate app than it ever did. Here's why it still failed to impress me

Winning Google's إبدأ competition, the Bey2ollak team had a lot to live up to, now that they have the cash and the human resources to rebuild their app from the ground up. The update however came short of expectations as it improved on already annoying interface. True, it now looks easier on the eyes and it's much easier to navigate, but a lot of features are still missing.

Old fans of the app will be familiar with the new design. On the homepage you will find a list of all the streets in Cairo with a traffic status on the right and you can view or add a report to any street of your choice. You might still wonder however why they decided to stick to that design in the first place. As new roads are added, the lists keep getting longer and the only way to find a street is by scrolling or typing keywords in the search box (which doesn't work most of the time because of spelling issues). You can still however add your favored street to the "Favorites" tab, but that's only a way around the cluttered design.

The update is a very welcome one, but it's probably the timing that was bad, because the longer they delayed that update, the higher were our expectations. It is still a pretty safe bet, that the team is working on something even bigger, but their update intervals remain to be an issue that they need to solve, especially when faced with tough competition that could see Google coming into the game with an update to their maps.

Rating: 3/5

Monday, September 24, 2012

Google Navigation in Egypt: Quick Review

Finally Google has listened to the cries of a lot of Android users in Egypt, who were desperate to get their hands on Google's road assistant, Google Navigation. With the existence of expensive, mediocre alternatives on the play store, Navigation easily claims the top spot amongst other GPS apps available in Egypt. but wait, there's a catch here; Navigation is only -at least for now- available on The Nexus 7, Samsung Galaxy Nexus, HTC One-X and HTC one S. Google introduced the app in collaboration with Vodafone Egypt and HTC in a collaboration that we rarely see in the region. It is thus no wonder that Navigation is only available on Google and HTC devices.

When you open the app you will get a screen asking you to speak the destination of type it. At the bottom you'll see your recent destinations. You can also choose whether you want to navigate using you car or just by walking. Google Navigation, then shows you the fastest route to take to your destination, you can still select alternative routes as well.

Navigation is smooth and very accurate. I was surprised to see that it recognizes all the roads I was on. An automated voice will give you the driving directions as you drive to your destination. Every time you make a turn it will update on the next turn you need to take and the distance to that turn. On the screen the same info will appear, with a text and a right, left or curved arrow, depending on the type of the turn.

My experience with Navigation has been excellent . With Google maps operating at the core of the app,  there is no destination that Navigation would not recognize. I did however face some problems trying to understand the directions and ended up taking a wrong turn a few times. I do blame that however on the fact that I don't have a mobile holder in the car, so I didn't have the map in front of me the whole time.

One of the features that I loved in Navigation was its quick ability to show an alternative route once I took a wrong turn. It did not prompt me to go back to the original route, but rather drove me through a different route. Navigation also supports The Arabic language, a very handy feature, which I unfortunately did not have the time to test.

The biggest and only disappointment with Navigation is its lack of traffic data. Up to this moment, Google is yet to introduce traffic data to Egypt, but its a move that we should expect anytime now especially with Navigation now becoming available. For now, Navigation calculates distance to destination based on assumptions and not realtime traffic data. Since I have not seen the level of integration of traffic data with Navigation I can't judge how much it will add to the app, but I'm guessing a lot.

All in all, Navigation is the perfect app for driving around Cairo. 4.5/5

Check out the Google Navigation ad for Egypt below

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Google's candy is getting sweeter: Google Play

Google has revealed a pleasant surprise to all its android fans in it's I/O keynote late last month. Jelly Bean is Google's latest android version that comes packed with a wealth of features and enhancements that are likely to attract even more fans to the android ecosystem. I use the word ecosystem because Android can no longer be treated as just a mobile OS, it has rather grown over the years to be the 2.0 version of iOS ecosystem. 

Google's online store -that is Google Play- now offers all your entertainment needs from apps to music, books, magazines and even movies and TV Shows. Some regard it as an itunes store clone, but Google Play's features beg to differ. For starters Google understands cloud computing better than Apple, offering storage space of up to 20,000 songs in the cloud at no cost whatsoever and the ability to stream them online or download for offline usage. The service is compared to Apple's iCloud and iTunes Match, which at best will allow you to to store copies of the music locally on your PC to be fetched anytime from their cloud even if they weren't purchased from the store, but the service costs $24.99 a year and you can't even stream the music you buy from iTunes as iCloud only allows you to download to different devices. Same thing with TV shows and movies, you are unable to stream any videos that you purchase from the iTunes store, unlike Google Play, which allows you to stream on your PC, tablet or phone. Perhaps the only limitation that stands in the way of Google Play is content, which they don't seem to have much of, but as with any young online store, the collection grows by the day. Another limiting factor is of course the availability of the store in the U.S. only and even though that can be solved by hiding your IP Address, it is still considered to be a disadvantage. 

In part 2 I will be giving my views on Jelly Bean and comparing it iOS 6.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Why Google may lose its throne soon

Disappointing profit figures that plummeted the company's share price and the lack of innovation predict the tech giant's possible future downfall. The company that was once seen by many as a serious innovator and contributor to shaping the world of tomorrow has not been up to standards lately. Here's why.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Virgin Megastore at Mall of Arabia

Feeling the need to continuously focus on all things Egyptian, I thought I should take you on a tour for some of the biggest retail names in technology here in Egypt. This time round, I'm starting off with Virgin Megastore. Oh Virgin.. Virgin, what's wrong with you?!

Unlike its sister branch in City Stars, The newly-opened branch in Mall of Arabia occupies smaller space, but manages to squeeze in pretty much everything that the store sells elsewhere. From laptops, TVs and everything in between to of course books and music; that store has it all as you would expect. The problem is, what exactly does it sell?

Sunday, January 8, 2012


Yesterday I've mentioned The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus as one of the gadgets to anticipate this year. Today I can confirm that the tablet is available in all Mobile Shop stores and is selling for L.E 3,900. Make sure to get yours if you're looking for a small tablet to take with you on the go! It's yet to be seen if Apple will release a 7.0 inch iPad, but until that happens, the "Plus" is a major attraction for students and people who are constantly on the move. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Gadgets to wait for in 2012!

2012 is bringing lots of new gadgets to the Egyptian market, here's what I know so far..

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus
This 7 inch tablet is confirmed for a release in Egypt and even though we don't know the time yet, I suspect a first quarter release. The tablet comes after the successful launch of its predecessor last year, though it was no match for the alluring ipad with both of its models. The Tab however lit that spark with Egyptian consumers that was attractive enough for Samsung to push for its successor.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Top 5 Reasons Why Task Management Apps Suck!

I really tried depending on those time and task management apps to prioritize what I have to do for the week, but it just got me nowhere. Here are the top 5 reasons why I hate those apps so much.

  1. I have to insert every single task myself: What's the point of typing up every task myself if I could forget to do that anyways. It's just very time consuming and inefficient 
  2. Mobile platforms are just not ready yet: Maybe that's just my general frustration at iOS, but I just can't keep up with my tasks using my ipod touch, it just doesn't work. iOS 5 has been a major upgrade when it comes to notifications, but why can't I cross out any task that I've done right from the notification center. Why can't I actually prioritize my tasks and let them appear in order when I swipe down the notification center. Lots of missing features -specifically in iOS- are sufficient to bring any task management app down. I'm not an android user, but I don't think it's a very different story
  3. Missing lots of features: Yea pretty much what's been mentioned in the previous point, but I think that they just lack this artificial intelligence features that would really help me remember every single task. Yes they let me take audio notes and capture pictures, but I'd like to see those apps take those features to the next level, I want them to understand my life and be customized accordingly. Every picture that I take could be automatically categorized without me doing it for example and maybe later popping up on my phone to remind me?!
4&5: Well I think the previous points pretty much cover everything. Don't you think?

Wait for another post with what I'd like to see in task management apps, where I'll be elaborating more on what's been mentioned here. Make sure to leave your comments and let me know if you find task management apps of any benefit to you. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

So When's Twitter Getting an Update?!

It has been quite some time since Twitter last got a facelift, I think it's about time it gets another one or it will quickly get washed up by other social networks (Hint: G+)

The mini-blogging service continues to be popular amongst internet users and remains to be the number one place where people can truly share opinions regarding a certain topic, no other social network has managed to do that... yet!

So then steps G+, with some serious -almost weekly- updates to its platform. The service is integrating a lot of Twitter's features and even making them better. With G+ you can not only check trending topics, but you can also check the hot posts on the website, which is a great way to get you to keep coming back even if you don't have enough people in your circles. Not only has G+ been smart on browsers it has also been smarter on mobile phones, since it allows you to view public posts near you, which is a tremendous innovation.

What G+ is trying to do here is basically getting people to log in more frequently to check out public posts  and kick-start a virtual conversation between people who have never seen each other. It gives social networking a new dimension and helps it move past your own network of people. But wait, isn't that what Twitter was built for?! Actually yes, but with the G+ smart platform, Twitter is facing a serious threat that could end the service soon.

I will talk about what Twitter should do in the next few posts, but for now make sure to leave your comments and tell me what you think of G+ is it really a threat to other social networking services?!