‘Third World Problem’ Series – Need for Offline Gmail mobile app

How many times have you been stuck in a situation where in you try to open Gmail mobile app in an area with poor or no internet connectivity in order to fetch some mails which has access to tickets or bills in vain?


Some instances where I got stuck because of this problem is when  trying to retrieve tickets for movies or train,bus tickets for my travel.It is for this very reason that Gmail (or for that matter any email service provider)should have offline capability so that it can help us in conditions when there is a poor network connectivity but need to access mails.

This is my how I expect the offline functionality to work:

1. Users should be able to set rules to make mails received from certain e-mail address offline by default.

2.User should also be able to make an individual mail also be available for offline .Marking it for offline should move it a different folder where all offline mails are stored.

3.When a mail is made available offline , its corresponding attachment also has to be made available offline. But user must be prompted in case when the mail attachment size is really huge so that user can decide.

4.User should have settings do decide how often these offline content needs to be archived , frequency etc and whether offline caching has to be enabled when connected to wi-fi only etc

5.User should be able to choose offline mode for Gmail if the app takes a lot of time to load the latest emails from server.This will help in accessing the required email easily  .

Google, are you listening ?


The Dumb Recommendation engine of eCommerce sites

Have you ever purchased a product from e-commerce site? Many chances are that you would have received recommendations when you loged into the site next time or through mailers about products that are similar to what you have purchased before.

If you buy a DSLR camera , the site will recommend DLSR from other brands.

If you buy an earphone , the site will recommend earphones from other brands .

recommendation engine


But is this recommendation meaningful to a buyer ? Who on earth would you buy something similar to whatever they purchased recently especially if the product costs a lot ? People do buy similar products regularly, but it depends on the type of product you purchase.

For instance, if you buy a new book or blue ray disc of a popular movie , then it makes sense to recommend other book or movies from same author or genre. But when you buy a new blue ray player , what makes sense is to recommend blue ray disc and not blue ray players again.

So my ideal recommendation engine should be like :

If I buy a new DLSR , site should recommend to buy memory card or tripod or  lens

If I buy an earphone and site has no related recommendation , then it should recommend only products that I have recently searched but not bought it yet. Or in worst case if there are no recommendation available , display latest offers instead of wasting the screen real estate

So what e-commerce sites needs to do is to have proper categorization of products and a suitable recommendation mapping so that it makes sense for the buyer to consider  .

Apple iPhone Announcement and how world reacted to it

By this time ,a billion posts would have been made about new iPhone announcement and analyzing every bit of even remotely minute information.

So this is just to relax.


WWDC: iOS6 showcased

  • OS looks so stale , nothing refreshing! It always show a bright 73  C .
  • No widgets,no live tiles ,no improvement to notifications ?
  • Android miles ahead. Has Apple lost mojo ? Why they have not tried anything new in last few years.
  • Apple has grown too large that it is afraid to fail and is following the ‘why fix when nothing is broken’ strategy.
  • Skeuomorphism  is so over rated, Windows flat design is the future.
  • No big innovation


WWDC: iOS7 showcased

  • Oh my god ,colors are too bright and playful for my taste. iOS7 is gay cousin of iOS6?
  • They have stretched flat design too much.
  • Those icons look really bad , they should go back to old icons.
  • All those people who are used to earlier OS will find it very difficult to learn this hideous flat design.
  • iOS playing catch up
  • No big innovation

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Hyperloop – next major step in transportation ?

Most of you may know about Elon Musk , the innovator and founder of popular companies like PayPal, Space X and the awesome Tesla Motors that manufactures electric cars that has great performance and has given mild jitters for companies like BMW.

He is back with his next big project : HyperLoop – a project that will make travel at speeds of 600 miles per hour possible.Still it is very early to talk about feasibility of project , the idea speculated here  sounds so daunting and incredible as well.

Elon Musk is Tony Stark , no doubt! 


Re-Imagining Phone Contacts for Smartphones

Imagine you are stranded on the road due to a problem with your car. You pick up your smartphone , find the customer care number of your car maker and dial it.How will you feel when the response is  ‘number does not exist ‘ or ‘number not in use’.


Yes , the customer care  number is changed but as a customer you do not have an update. Then you have to google search for latest customer care number and then try to establish a contact provided there is a data connectivity available for search. It’s perfectly fine when your friend has changed the number but not updated you about it. But with business , it is not the same . Remember Customer is Boss.

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If you can’t beat ’em, support ’em: Garmin launches a smartphone HUD for cars

Heads Up Display(HUD) for Navigation is a really cool idea that is not yet explored well by many car companies. And now Garmin, the maker of navigation system who is under severe pressure from mobile platforms in navigation space is coming up with this innovative idea.This is certainly a good step towards product differentiation !


Facing the rise of smartphones that can take the place of dedicated navigation systems, Garmin’s(s grmn) got a new device: and this one works with handsets. On Monday, the company announced the $129.99 HUD, a portable heads-up display for cars. With a compatible Garmin or Navigon mobile app, the HUD projects driving directions right on a vehicle’s windshield.

It’s a smart move by Garmin. If you can’t sell as many dedicated in-car nav systems to consumers, why not sell an add-on that makes your mobile app that much better? For the price, HUD appears to offer quite a bit of useful functionality:

“HUD offers more navigation details than other portable head-up displays, yet presents them in a simplified way that doesn’t divert the driver’s attention from the road. The directions are easy to follow and allow drivers to navigate even the most challenging interchanges and traffic situations with ease.

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Two things ‘Google Now’ can do for India?

If you are using Google Now in India , you would have discovered by now that the use cases for Google Now is minimal.Though public transit information – bus and train timings are pretty decent and works well, the live traffic data as claimed by Google is not pretty accurate. It is calculated based on historical data available.

Weather information in India is good but it is not that much of a priority as people don’t check the weather every day to see if it would snow or rain – it’s always hot in this tropical country. Checking to see if it would be 35 C or 38 C does not make much sense.

Also have you received any movie or train or air tickets as a pop up in Google Now at all ? These features work only in US and few other countries I guess. To make Google Now more relevant for local population since India is a huge market for Android, Google should delegate the work of figuring out what is relevant to respective countries’  Google office since natives of the land would be well informed.

What can Google India do for Google Now ?

1.Manual Traffic Updates:

Google Maps calculate live traffic based on the GPS signals available in smartphones  from users and few other signals as well , aggregate and then compute the traffic and it is based on historical data collected over a period of time.It is  not helping live traffic. With the acquisition of Waze, Google should now should follow a similar idea of crowdsourcing traffic information and  allow users to manually update on traffic status in case of traffic jam. It should be like :  Just open Google Now, report traffic and with GPS on , it is easy.It will be bit tricky to filter inaccuracies but again its better than historical data.

2. IRCTC/Book my show or Red Bus e-tickets as alerts .

IRCTC ,Book My Show and Red Bus are some of widely used services by people in India. e-Tickets is well received and is adopted by mainstream consumers and service alike. This is why Gmail should be able to  parse  these mails and Google Now should use them effectively for remainders /tickets instead of we searching through our heap of sms or emails during the time of travel when it is most needed .

Even more awesome would be if Google is able to build a xml format  so that third-party services that sends e-tickets in emails can stick to that format and Google Now can use them effectively ,an idea similar to Passbook for iOS would be a good place to start with.

Google , are you listening?

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Why should you subscribe to Saavn Pro,the music streaming service? Because its affordable.

Music piracy is rampant and music labels too have not priced it in a way that is economical for users to pay and listen to music. I have written about it before.

But now Saavn , the popular music streaming application has the most perfect option to legally listen and enjoy music. Saavn Pro is a new subscription based streaming service that not only lets you stream but also download songs upto a certain limit for offline storage.

Saavn Pro Lite is 110 Rs per month and one can download songs upto 1GB which means around 200 songs. This is such an attractive option. There is Saavn Pro option available as well that cost 220 Rs per month with download of 5 GB for upto 5 devices.

Saavn has both Android and iOS app and right now we get a 30 day free trial. The mobile app  is neat, has a clean and intuitive interface. So why are you waiting , give it a try ! Support good music by paying for them.

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Use Google Person Finder to track victims during Crisis/Disasters

Last few weeks have been nightmare for many people in India who were struck in Uttarakhand floods and not able to connect with their families. Though Social Media sprung quick into action to help by sharing photos and names of person missing , helping to connect with their families ,the information is spread out in disparate sources.

Individual agencies,NGOs’ ,local authorities and Governments are maintaining their own database of information on people missing or found that it becomes increasingly difficult to check all these disparate sources for information.

Added to these , news agencies started requesting for information and it becomes a nightmare for anxious families to keep track of the number of sources in which they have to constantly monitor for updates.

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