Google Play Books

Better on mobile

More than just a device by which we make calls, today’s phones are portable computers that we carry around with us wherever we go. And what a portable computer it is. The processing power of devices by which we hurl Angry Birds to space is more than that of the system that brought man to the moon. Yes, we still use phones to make calls but this is the least of the things we do with the device. The IBM Mobile First blog, for example, listed earlier this year 99 devices and services that have been replaced by mobile phones, running the gamut from landlines, to cameras, flashlights, to business productivity tools. US consumers, for example, now spend more time on mobile devices than watching TV, according to Yahoo-owned mobile analytics company Flurry. That's also the case in the Philippines, according to the “Ad Reaction 2014: Marketing in a multiscreen world” study by Millward Brown. For many people, phones have become the primary computing device. Certain tasks lend themselves well to the phone. The smaller screen is more than made up for by the device’s portability, accessibility and increased functionality brought by things like location data. Here are tasks that are better done on mobile: Email. Phones are great for email triage and quickly going through messages. Apps like Mailbox allow you to swipe your way to Inbox Zero, that fleeting state of having no messages to deal with. With Mailbox, you can short swipe right to mark a message as read and archive it, long swipe to delete it, short swipe left to snooze the message and designate a later date or time for delivery and long swipe left to add it to a list. Inbox by Google is also another good re-imagining of email for mobile that takes advantage of its algorithms to sort messages into bundles. [caption id="attachment_1593" align="alignnone" width="1200"]Google Play Books READING ON MOBILE. With apps and platforms like Google Play Books, reading is better on mobile devices.[/caption] Reading. It’s so much easier to read on a phone or tablet than on a laptop or desktop, no question about that. With the Kindle app, Google Play Books or iBooks, you can have your whole library with you wherever you go. Waiting in line or for someone is made more bearable when you can easily open your library and read a book. Tools like Pocket allow you to quickly skim through the daily torrent of links and things to pore over and designate articles to read later. News. I have not only transitioned from analog to digital when it comes to news, I have migrated to mobile. Keeping up with news is so much better on the phone. For one, it’s always with you and when something breaks, you can immediately be alerted. I still marvel at the idea that we are now alerted on breaking news events at the same time as newsrooms through apps and services like Breaking News and any of the wire services like the Associated Press. Apps like Flipboard, Zite or Feedly give you the ability to monitor hundreds or even thousands of websites and tap social networks to filter the stories and tailor these to your interests. It is at its nascent stage but in the future, news will be location-based and the phone will be the first platform for its delivery. To-do. Keeping up with tasks is best done on the phone. Tools like or Trello allow users to list things to do and designate reminders based on time or, in’s case, location. If you follow the Pomodoro technique to focus on tasks and make sure you get regular breaks (hey, sitting is apparently killing us), there are several free apps for use in the phone. Audio. Fewer people carry around a stand-alone music player. Check out the people wearing earphones and headsets and often these are attached to their phones. Why carry around another device when you can listen to songs or podcasts on your phone? In fact, industry insiders see another Golden Age for audio journalism with this massive shift to mobile. With a phone, you can listen to “radio” shows like those of NPR wherever you are. And with cars starting to become connected to the Internet or with accessories that allow you to link your phone to the car’s audio system, you have an expanded choice of shows to listen to in your daily drive. A tip, subscribe to the gripping Serial podcast by the producers of This American Life. Notes. With apps like Evernote and Google Keep, your phone or tablet becomes a portable note taking and archiving device. Although I still write notes on paper notebooks, it is mostly a personal fetish and an incapacity for keeping up with interviewees when typing, whether on a laptop or tablet. I used to swear by Evernote but the recent updates of Google Keep makes it an even better note-taking app. You can use the app to set time- or location-based reminders. A recent update now allows you to share notes with contacts. A pity it’s only available on Android.
Starmobile vida

Starmobile Vida: entry-level phone packs a punch

WITH all eyes on the latest and greatest flagship devices of the different phone manufacturers, it’s easy to lose sight of the bottom end of the lineup — the entry-level phones that will connect the next billion to the Internet. Starmobile’s Vida is such a phone. Its technical specs are good for an entry-level device: 1GHz dual core ARM Cortex-A7 processor with a 512MB RAM and a 4GB built-in memory with provisions for up to 32GB expansion via a micro SD card. It comes with Android Kitkat. Vida has a five-megapixel camera with a VGA front for, what else, selfies. The phone has a 3.5-inch multi-touch capacitive screen with 320x480 pixels of 165 ppi display. [caption id="attachment_1589" align="alignleft" width="1200"]Starmobile vida GOOD FOR ITS PRICE. The Starmobile Vida is a decent entry-level phone for its price and product category. (Photo by Max Limpag)[/caption]

Starmobile Vida specs

The device is dual-SIM capable with dual 3G standby. It has HSPA+ connectivity, a standard that offers download speeds of up to 21.1 Mbps. Vida has a 1300mAh lithium ion battery with a rated talk time of up to three hours. I tested the phone for a couple of weeks and found it more than decent for an entry-level device. In fact, had Vida been released a year or two back, it would have made it to the list of mid-range devices, based on its specs. The phone is surprisingly snappy and responsive. I tried a few apps and it worked okay. Entry-level Android devices pose the biggest worry to app developers when it comes to performance. It makes one cringe to see your app stutter and hang on cheap Android phones and tablets. Not with Vida. I even used it to showcase in a press conference an app that we recently launched, the IEC2016 Guide, which is the official app of the International Eucharistic Congress 2016. [caption id="attachment_1590" align="alignleft" width="1200"]Starmobile Vida Clash of Clans CLASH OF CLANS. Playing the addictive game on the Starmobile Vida.[/caption]

Game performance

Since I don’t play games, I asked my son to do it on the phone to test its capabilities. He played Clash of Clans and Into the Dead on the Vida for hours and told me he enjoyed the experience. The display isn’t anything to email home about but for use as a phone, it serves its function. Its camera, however, is great for its price and category. I took some test photos and thought them mediocre at first when I checked these out on the phone. But when I downloaded these into a computer, the photos were actually sharp and of good quality. The Vida has a suggested retail price of P2,490, a good buy for its specs.
FUTURE IN YOUR HANDS. “There is no point in drawing a distinction between the future of technology and the future of mobile,” said Benedict Evans of Andreessen Horowitz, “they are the same.”

‘Mobile is eating the world’

IT won’t be long, tweeted Andreessen Horowitz partner Benedict Evans, “before people who use Facebook’s desktop site at all will be a minority of users.” The tweet came with a graph of Facebook’s monthly active users (MAU) with mobile-only already millions above a declining desktop-only MAU and closing in on the number of users who use both mobile and desktop. Evans gave a presentation last week to the Wall Street Journal’s WSJD conference and the a16z Tech Summit by Andreesen Horowitz. If you’re interested in tech and the future, his talk makes for informative viewing and reading. Evan’s session, at least as listed in the tech summit, was about “The Triumph of Mobile.” “There is no point in drawing a distinction between the future of technology and the future of mobile. They are the same,” the conference site said of his talk. “The triumph of mobile means new components in your data center, a new dominant software architecture running your devices, new ways to sell, and new ways to work. It also means operating at a massive scale never seen before. Quite literally, the world awaits. Better get ready.” [caption id="attachment_1582" align="alignleft" width="1200"]FUTURE IN YOUR HANDS. “There is no point in drawing a distinction between the future of technology and the future of mobile,” said Benedict Evans of Andreessen Horowitz, “they are the same.” FUTURE IN YOUR HANDS. “There is no point in drawing a distinction between the future of technology and the future of mobile,” said Benedict Evans of Andreessen Horowitz, “they are the same.”[/caption]

Exponential opportunities

In his presentation "Mobile is eating the world," which Evans embedded in his personal website, he talked about the exponential opportunities presented by mobile. The time spent on mobile apps, he quoted a comScore report, is now more than the time spent on the web. The biggest change is that “smartphones are so much more sophisticated,” he said. “You have this supercomputer with you and it’s watching you, for better or for worse,” he said. Evans said the sensors that come with the phone “create new business opportunities, new ways of solving problems.”

Facebook mobile ads

He said the opportunities do not come just from scale -- there will be 2x to 3x more smartphones than PCs by 2020 -- but that these devices are mobile, taken everywhere, frictionless when it comes to access, equipped with sensors and camera, location-enabled, capable to process payment, social platforms and much easier to use. He said that because of these, the opportunities are exponential: 10x. “A good illustration of that is Facebook, which has built something of a multi-stage rocket; it now has a $6.5 billion run-rate mobile ad business that appeared out of nowhere in 24 months,” he said. He later tweeted a graph that illustrates this phenomenon; indeed it is a phenomenon. Evans said mobile is remaking the tech industry. Smartphones dwarf PCS, he said, and you have 4 billion people buying a phone every two years instead of 1.6 billion purchasing a PC every five years. “Mobile scale eats consumer electronics; smartphone and tablets are now close to half of the consumer electronics industry by revenue,” he said.

Mobile remaking other industries

In 1999, Evans said, 80 billion consumer photos were taken on film; in 2014, 800 billion photos were shared on social networks. There are more iPhones and Android phones sold than Japanese cameras ever; “the camera has been eaten by the mobile phone.” Mobile is also remaking other industries. Evans said technology brands already make up 40 percent of the top 100 global brand value. He also cited a study that showed how technology dominates our attention throughout the day. He then shared a separate study by Ofcom on media use by kids aged 11 to 15 in the United Kingdom. When asked what they would miss the most, a substantial majority answered mobile. Mobile was the answer by close to half of boys and more than half by girls. Among boys, PCs and game consoles were substantial second and third choices, unlike the majority mobile choice among girl respondents of the study.
Inbox By Gmail

Re-imagining for mobile

A FEW days back, Google released a new email product called Inbox By Gmail. It is a re-imagining of the email, an “inbox that works for you.” Google said the product, currently available only by invitation, was built on things they learned from their pioneering email service, GMail. It is, according to the service’s website, a “fresh start that goes beyond email to help you get back to what matters.” I got into the service and found it visually refreshing. It incorporates Google’s Material Design style guide for consistent look and interaction across all devices. It is much more visually appealing than current email clients, including the existing GMail application. [caption id="attachment_1571" align="alignnone" width="1119"]Inbox By Gmail INBOX BY GMAIL. The service is a re-imagining of the email into an “inbox that works for you.” (PHOTO FROM INBOX BY GMAIL WEBSITE)[/caption]

Sorting of messages

A key feature of the app is the use of Bundles that groups together related emails using automatic sorting introduced in GMail with its tabbed inbox feature for Social, Promotions and Updates. The default bundles are Travel, for travel-related emails such as flight confirmations and hotel reservations; Purchases, for receipts, shipping updates and other purchase-related communications; Finance, for bills, bank statements and other finance-related updates; Social, for social networking notifications; Updates, for notifications, alerts and confirmations for online accounts; Forums, for messages from discussion groups and mailing lists; and Promos, for marketing emails and deals. The app is a solid replacement for the existing GMail application although you can keep both. But, and it is a big one, Inbox works only with a personal GMail account. It does not work with custom domains that are part of the Google Apps For Work package.

Custom domains

I only use my GMail account for social networking alerts and sign-ups for services that review. For my main email account, I use [email protected] but manage it using GMail via Google Apps For Work. When I tried using it with Inbox, I got the notification “Your organization isn’t set up for inbox yet.” I don’t know whether the feature will be offered to Google Apps For Work domains, which has been the case for most new Google features. What Google is doing with the service is turning on the power of its algorithms to make email work for users. The bundling of notifications, alerts and updates allows you to focus on important emails. Several tech news sites describe the service as Google Now managing your email. Google Now, for the unfamiliar, is a re-imagining of search into being personal, automatics and mobile to give people the “right information at the right time” on phones and tablets. I’ve decided to set aside Inbox by Gmail and my remaining invitations until it becomes available for use with custom domains.

Mailbox app

[caption id="attachment_1572" align="alignleft" width="500"]SNOOZING A MESSAGE. With Mailbox by Dropbox, you can snooze a message by swiping left and then setting a date on which you are notified about the email again. (FROM THE MAILBOX PRESS SITE) SNOOZING A MESSAGE. With Mailbox by Dropbox, you can snooze a message by swiping left and then setting a date on which you are notified about the email again. (FROM THE MAILBOX PRESS SITE)[/caption] In the meantime, I will keep on using my default email client Mailbox, which is among the pioneers of great mobile email software. Mailbox, which was bought by Dropbox, is free and has apps for iOS, Android and Mac OSX. Mailbox is, for me, the best email client both on the phone and desktop (at least in Mac). With the app, you go through your emails by swiping messages that are displayed on cards---to the right to label it as read and dismiss it from the inbox, long swipe to the right to delete it, swipe left to schedule the email to be delivered again at a later time and long swipe left to put the email on a list. What is striking in the announcement of Inbox by Gmail is the prominence it gives to the mobile experience. Inbox looks good and works well on mobile.

Think mobile

The release is consistent with an industry-wide move to mobile. Services and products are going to where people’s attention already is-- on smaller devices that we carry around with us wherever we go. People are now using mobile more and more for day-to-day tasks - writing and reading emails, social networking, reading information and news, checking the weather, communication with people and even machines. If your product isn’t built, or rebuilt, for mobile, people might bear with it for a while. But soon, they’ll find a replacement. Every day, a new product or service comes out that is built natively for mobile. In today’s environment, the only way to go big or to stay big is to think small.
Kindle on an Android phone

News, reading on mobile

FOURTY-four percent of executives are “most focused on news” immediately upon waking up, according to a global survey of 940 executives by Quartz, the business news website of the Atlantic Media Company. The Global Executives Study by Quartz Insights polled 940 business leaders in 61 countries, including the Philippines, and 36 industries in an effort to “better understand how the world’s smartest, busiest people consume news every day, source and share industry intelligence, and respond to advertising.”

Time spent consuming news

Business leaders rely heavily on business intelligence and information and unsurprisingly, the study found that 75 percent of them spend at least 30 minutes every day consuming news, 36 percent for over an hour and 39 percent for 30 minutes to an hour. Sixty percent of them are most focused on news in the morning, 44 percent upon waking up, nine percent during the morning commute and seven percent while getting to the office. Rather than checking news at specific times, the survey found that many executives, at 30 percent, reported consuming news “throughout the day.” [caption id="attachment_1566" align="alignnone" width="1200"]Kindle on an Android phone READING ON THE PHONE. Reading is moving to phones, phablets and tablets with apps like the Kindle.[/caption] Quartz reported that 61 percent of their respondents primarily use mobile devices to consume news, 41 percent on the phone and 20 percent on the tablet. In contrast, only 30 percent reported primarily using computers, four percent for radio, three percent for print publications and two percent for TV.

Email newsletters top news source

When asked about the top news sources they check daily, most list email newsletters at 60 percent. Next was mobile web through the mobile web browser or via links in a social app, at 43 percent. The survey listed 28 percent as using a news app. In contrast, only 16 percent reported visiting a news site on a desktop as top source of news daily. The Quartz study released earlier this year is just one of numerous indicators that the shift to mobile is underway. Mobile is not the future; it is the present.

Reading on phones, tablets

Reading, as with every other facet of our lives, is steadily going digital and mobile. When it comes to ebooks, the industry pioneer is Amazon with its Kindle devices. When it first came out, there was so much excitement at the prospect of having an entire library of thousands of books on such a small device with weeks of battery life. But with smartphones and tablets taking over, reading is steadily moving to these devices. Why carry a dedicated ebook reader when you can install an ebook app into your phone, phablet (which is just about the right size for portable reading) or tablet? A report by the company Publishing Technology said that 43 percent of consumers in the United Kingdom “have read a whole or part of an ebook on their handsets, while an average of 66 per cent of mobile book readers currently read more on their phones than they did last year.” The survey said that half of those who read on mobile in the UK use Kindle while 31 percent use Apple’s iBooks. But the study also found that among 18 – 24 year olds, iBooks is catching up with the Kindle at 41 percent for the Kindle to 39 percent for iBooks. Publishing Technology CEO Michael Cairns said in a report on The Telegraph that “the mobile’s rise in popularity among readers tells a significant story about the future of book reading.”
Rotary phone

What’s a phone?

THE first time I used a phone I wasn’t able to dial the number. I was in grade school and with a friend who was asked by his mother to call his dad at his office. We went to the emergency room at a nearby hospital, the only phone we could use at that time. My friend and I had never used a phone till then. I dialed the number clockwise and couldn’t move the rotary face. He did the same. Try as we did, we couldn’t move the rotary dial. It’s not working because of the brownout, we concluded and then went home. When his mother corrected us that phones still worked even during a brownout, we returned the hospital to ask to use the phone again and were guided by a staff member on how to properly dial the number. In college, I would line up at the payphone booths in the UP Diliman shopping center to call a trunk line in the company office in Makati City to be connected to my father in his office in Polomolok, South Cotabato. We were lucky we had this facility, my classmates had to spend a fortune (we’re talking enough money to pay unli-LTE for days today) to call long distance. Back then, you had to schedule phone calls ahead to make sure the parties were near the device to pick it up.

No more need to line up

Today, we no longer need to line up in front of payphone booths. We carry around our phones with us wherever we go. Before, we used to let the phone ring for some time, to allow for the person to pick up the receiver. Now, we cut off after just a few rings, knowing the person will see the “miscall” and return the call or send a message when he or she is available. [caption id="attachment_1555" align="alignnone" width="1480"]Rotary phone Rotary phone. More than just for calling, today's "phones" are a veritable portable computer. (Creative Commons photo by Flickr user Caselet)[/caption] Back then, you wouldn’t know who was on the other line when you picked up the receiver. Now, you’d know and decide whether to take the call. All of us have our own phone numbers, some with several. Today, making calls is the least of the things we do in our phones. Often, it’s where we do social networking. As of last June, Facebook reported 654 million mobile daily active users.

Main e-mail device

For many people, phones are where we initially process e-mails. With apps like Mailbox, it’s so much easier to reply to, schedule for later, archive, file and delete messages. Phones are also great for note-taking and with apps like Google Keep, it’s so much easier to tap notes and to-do lists, with time-based or location triggers for reminders. Phones are now our main cameras and photo albums. Phones have gotten so good in photography people are no longer buying stand-alone cameras. Phones have also become our main media device: from viewing websites through their mobile versions or using apps like Flipboard to reading e-books using the Amazon Kindle app or any of the many similar options.

Processing power

Apple launched its new iPhones last week. Other manufacturers announced new models weeks earlier. And when you listen to them discuss the full technical specifications of the devices they are launching: it’s just astounding. The hardware specs of phones today are similar to what was then considered cutting edge for desktops and laptops a few years ago. The processing power of today’s phones is more than that of the system that put man on the moon. Imagine that. So what’s a phone today? It’s a device with which we make calls, sure, but it’s also our main camera, messaging system, database, gaming device, media device, reader, among many other uses. Soon, it will be our identity system and payment wallet. Today’s phone is a powerful and portable computer.
comScore US media time

Mobile app majority

THIS year in the United States, majority of all digital media time is spent on mobile apps, Internet analytics company comScore said in its latest release, “The US Mobile App Report.” The app majority milestone comes a year after comScore reported a “multi-platform majority,” when most American consumers started using both desktop and mobile devices. It was also around that same time last year that “mobile first surpassed desktop in terms of total digital media engagement,” comScore said. This year, it’s all about mobile apps. Apps are fueling mobile growth, the company said, because these are “where most of the devices’ utility come from.” “Without apps, smartphones and tablets are merely shells — like a beautifully designed car equipped with every feature you could want, but without any gas in the engine,” comScore said in its report. [caption id="attachment_1547" align="alignnone" width="1301"]comScore US media time Share of digital media time in the US, according to comScore.[/caption]

Time spent on digital media

Time spent on digital media went up 24 percent from June 2013 to June this year. ComScore said the growth is driven by apps, which increased by 52 percent in just one year. Mobile web went up 17 percent while desktop managed to squeak a one percent increase. With the growth, mobile now accounted for 60 percent of digital media time spent in the US. Mobile apps came second at 52 percent. Desktop, on the other hand, dropped to just 40 percent in June from 53 percent in March 2013. The company said apps accounted for seven of every eight minutes in media consumption on mobile devices.

Top apps

The top apps, however, come from just a few categories with “Social Networking, Games and Radio contributing nearly half of the total time spent on mobile apps.” This shows that compared to the desktop, “mobile devices are more heavily used for entertainment and communication,” comScore said. As expected, Facebook is the top app, followed by YouTube and Google Play. Despite the surge in usage, however, apps “have not attracted the advertising dollars its audience warrants.” ComScore said this was because the advertisement infrastructure for mobile will take time to develop, just like any emerging advertising medium.

'Dollars follow eyeballs'

Apart from the infrastructure, ad formats should be keenly studied by the industry. Merely migrating current ad practices on desktop, like pop-ups and interstitial ads, to mobile won’t cut it. Pop-ups are particularly horrible and annoying on mobile. When an app that I install starts popping up ads, I immediately remove it from the phone. I’m okay with ads similar to those displayed as part of your Newsfeed stream by Facebook. They’re less obtrusive. The good news for the industry, according to comScore, is that “dollars eventually follow eyeballs, which means that the future of the mobile app economy is very bright.” While the study shows the picture of usage in the US, the image isn’t that different in the Philippines, which has long been known for its quick adoption of mobile technology. In underscoring the opportunities for startups during his speech in last week’s Geeks On A Beach, Department of Science and Technology’s Information and Communications Technology Office deputy director Mon Ibrahim pointed out a 90 percent mobile phone usage in the Philippines, which is higher than the 80 percent global average. The comScore report is just one of a series of studies that show that mobile is no longer the future but the present. Companies who still haven’t started thinking mobile should play catch up now or be left behind by more nimble startups.
oTranscribe Vince Loremia

Transcribing interviews? You should try oTranscribe

As a journalist, I do a lot of transcribing of interviews. While I do scrawl notes, these are just to take down key points and summaries and not write what the subject is saying verbatim. It's hard to keep up, especially with those who speak too fast. When writing the draft, I’d arrange the key points of the story from memory, then consult my notes. After that, I’d listen to the audio recording of the interview to make sure I got the points, ideas and quotations right. When I was still starting out as a reporter in 1996, I used a cassette tape recorder and a typewriter. I would rewind and forward the tape – usually just one pass because if you do it often, the tape would get tangled with the tape head - while writing key points of the interview by hand before hitting the keys to type the story.

Digital recorders

But when I finally retired that cassette tape recorder and replaced it at first with an mp3 recorder and then later with a phone and voice recording app, transcribing interviews became a bit irksome. You need to listen to the recording on the PC because the mp3 recorder’s or mobile app’s controls often aren’t easy to use to go from one time point on the sound file to another. [caption id="attachment_1540" align="alignnone" width="1280"]oTranscribe Vince Loremia Using oTranscribe to transcribe my interview with Tudlo and Batingaw founder Vince Loremia for my article “Vince Loremia shares startup lessons.”[/caption] What you’re doing is typing your notes or writing your story on the same screen that you use to control the playing of the audio file, but in a different window. When you want to pause the recording, you need to hit alt + tab or cmd + tab on the Mac and then, depending on your audio software, press the space bar to pause the playing and then hit alt + tab again to return to your writing screen and resume transcribing your notes. When you need to continue playing the sound file, you go through the keystroke rigmarole all over again. What I used to do was play the interview on my laptop while taking notes on the desktop.

No need to switch windows

That was until I discovered oTranscribe. The free service simplifies transcription of interviews by allowing you to play the audio file on the same screen that you’re using to transcribe the notes. You don’t need to switch windows to play or pause the audio file, all you need to do is press the Esc key. To rewind, you just press the F1 key and to fast-forward, it’s F2. You can even control the speed by which the recording is played, F3 to slow it down and F4 to speed it up. The service, which was created by journalist Elliot Bentley, allows you to easily insert a timestamp of the recording just by pressing Ctrl + J or Cmd + J for Mac users. The timestamp is hyperlinked to that specific location of the audio file, which simplifies review of the transcription and serves as guide for the clipping of the recording for embedding with your article.

Supported media files

The service works with media files supported by your browser, the files that are listed when you click on “Choose audio (or video) file.” The files are stored locally, meaning you don’t have to wait for it to upload the recording into some server somewhere out there. As soon as you choose the file, you can immediately play it and start transcribing. The service also allows you to load YouTube videos. The files and transcriptions are stored in your browser’s local storage. It saves transcripts every five minutes but the developer says you should always export your work to prevent data loss. oTranscribe allows you to export your transcript into plain text or a Markdown document. oTranscribe is a free service. The system is open source and came out of the Hacks/Hackers London meetup.
PH Mobile Internet Users

PH mobile Internet users growing fast: study

Mobile Internet users in the Philippines are a “small but fast growing group of people,” according to a study by On Device Research conducted in June and released last week. The research company surveyed 900 mobile Internet users in June for the report. All the respondents were Android users, according to a footnote in the report. That demographic likely had an impact on the findings. On Device uses mobile devices to conduct surveys. Citing data from Tigercub Digital and Oxford Business Group, On Device Research said the Philippines has the lowest smartphone penetration in Southeast Asia at 15 percent. In contrast, Malaysia is at 80 percent, Thailand at 49 percent, Indonesia at 23 percent and Singapore at 87 percent.

Rapid growth

But the Philippines is expected to reach 50 percent smartphone penetration in 2015. The growth is rapid, with the Philippines increasing faster than Indonesia and Vietnam combined, the company said, citing the International Data Corp. Mobile Internet users are a “small but fast growing group of people,” according to the report. On Device said lower-priced devices from MyPhone, Cherry Mobile and Starmobile will drive the rapid smartphone growth. The Android phone market is currently dominated by Samsung, which has a 43 percent share. [caption id="attachment_1533" align="alignnone" width="1200"]PH Mobile Internet Users Mobile Internet users in the Philippines are a “small but fast growing group of people,” according to a report by On Device Research.[/caption] The company said Filipinos “are drawn to unlimited Internet packages” with 50 percent reporting an “unli” package for their device. The report, however, said the Philippines has one of the slowest LTE speeds globally and only 41 percent reported being satisfied with their data speed. Among respondents, 34 percent reported being neutral while 25 percent said they were unsatisfied by the speed.

Tablets more popular than laptops

Mobile Internet users are also young, with 88 percent of the mobile Internet population in the Philippines under the age of 34. Tablets are also more popular than laptops, with 30 percent saying they own a tablet as opposed to just 25 percent who have a laptop or netbook. On device also reported strong social media activity in the Philippines, saying 42 percent of total screen time in the country is on social media. The company said Filipinos are the top social media users in Asia Pacific, spending four hours a day in social networks. In messaging, Facebook dominates the Philippines. On Device reported that 82 percent of Filipinos report using Facebook Messenger at least one a week. In contrast, only 27 percent said they used Viber and and another 27 percent said they communicate through Skype at least once a week. The three top Asia-based messaging apps did not do as well as they did in other countries, especially their home markets. South Korean Kakao Talk was just at nine percent, Chinese WeChat at 15 percent and Japanese Line was at 10 percent. [caption id="attachment_1534" align="alignnone" width="1200"]Facebook messaging in PH FACEBOOK MESSAGING dominates the Philippines, according to the On Device study.[/caption]

Apps 'extremely popular'

On Device also reported that their survey showed apps are “extremely popular” among Filipinos with 78 percent saying they downloaded an app or game in the last month and 32 percent saying they installed six or more apps per month. The study also said that 45 percent reported paying for app installation or in-app purchases. Of those who reported paying for something on their phone, 29 percent said it was for a game, 19 percent for music, 11 percent for video and 10 percent for stickers. Those who paid for calls worldwide comprised only eight percent. The company also said typhoon relief efforts boosted use of mobile cash. It said ewallet solutions like Smart Money and GCash are the most popular payment platform among its respondents. On Device stressed the importance of mobile for companies. The “mobile market is young and will continue to grow – it’s vital for brands to target these young mobile-first consumers,” the company said.
OFFICE VIEW. Mobile connectivity, modern technology and a slowly changing office culture will soon allow us to work from anywhere, including from this beach in Panglao Island, Bohol.

On the road, in the cloud

Picture yourself working on a bamboo table under the coconut trees on a beachfront in Bohol. Beside your laptop, imagine a scoop of Bohol Bee Farm avocado ice cream to refresh you as you finish a report due in three hours. On this age of widespread mobile connectivity, this is increasingly becoming an option. Many online freelancers, for example, make a living by working for clients from all over the world in fields ranging from design, writing, social media management and tech tasks from home or wherever they are, even on family vacations.

Increased productivity with remote work

Offices are also starting to allow remote work, with studies showing increased productivity in such a setup. “It sounds counterintuitive. Give people the freedom not to come to work and the quality of their work improves. Conversely, make it mandatory to turn up to an office each day, and the value of their work decreases,” Microsoft said in its pitch for remote work enterprise solutions. [caption id="attachment_1528" align="alignnone" width="1600"]OFFICE VIEW. Mobile connectivity, modern technology and a slowly changing office culture will soon allow us to work from anywhere, including from this beach in Panglao Island, Bohol. OFFICE VIEW. Mobile connectivity, modern technology and a slowly changing office culture will soon allow us to work from anywhere, including from this beach in Panglao Island, Bohol.[/caption] The company said modern office practices are still based on set working hours, whose origins “can be traced back to factories in the Victorian Age.” “We need to move beyond this and instead give people the freedom to work in the way which suits them best. If an individual can achieve their best work in four hours on a Sunday morning and this suits their way of life, let's find a system of work that recognizes and values this,” the company said.

Cloud computing, mobile Internet

With the rise of cloud computing--services and solutions that allow you to run applications on a remote server that you pay by the usage--this is made even easier. Many of these services are free and those that charge fees do so on a tiered system that starts with a free package. Underpinning such a work system, however, would be a strong and dependable mobile Internet. For the Philippines, this can be a challenge. Out on the field, you’d find yourself in areas with spotty, slow and even no connection – typically in locations that are away from cities or population centers. In my sabbatical from newspaper work to focus on our new media startup, InnoPub Media, I had the chance to test how such a remote work setup based on the cloud will work.

Digital Tourism work

Our primary project is digital tourism, which uses mobile technology to deliver tourism, cultural and historical information. The work involves extensive writing and research and production of e-books and mobile phone apps to serve as tourism guides. These work are things you can do by remote and on the road. For writing, we live in Google Drive, which allows you to write and edit using any device, even phones and tablets, and collaborate on articles. To manage and work on the codes of our apps, we depend on Git, a distributed version control system. (A note: Github is great but if you want a private repository without having to pay for it, choose BitBucket.) With Git, you can work on your project offline and then synch the changes when you have connection again. To collaborate within the team and with other partners, we use a free account with Asana, a project management system built by the co-founders of Facebook. The past few weeks have been an exciting and fruitful experiment. Being on the cloud allowed us to work on the road -- in beautiful places all over Cebu and several other locations in the country.