‘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  .

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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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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Enhancing maps,gps based navigation in India using pincode

Has Pin code lost it’s purpose in 2013 in this digital world at least in urban India?  Pin code were primarily used in India for delivering letters/courier and is still very popular in the rural areas though advancement in telecommunications with onset of mobile has reduced its popularity to great extent thus in 2013 , it has little or no relevance.

Most of us would have faced this situation of explaining our residence address to family or friends or cab drivers. It is last mile route  that is difficult to find and it takes around 2-3 calls to find the exact location.

In India , we always rely on the passer-by help for  finding the address especially in smaller streets for which maps are not that good. During  rain or late nights , we hardly find people on the road and finding address becomes difficult.In many instances one need to come out  of the house, stand on the road  and guide the people who are on the phone in other end.

Even with the advent of GPS and Google maps along with explosion of smartphones at various price ranges , locating and navigating to specific address is not quite easy.Google Maps solves the problem to some extent.One option is to search and  save the address by browsing through maps  and then navigate easily.

With Google Maps , it’s easier to search common point of interest likes restaurant and other common land marks  but not individual house or small establishment etc.

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Culture of Online User Reviews in India and Improving Credibility

If you are in India and hooked up to social media like Twitter or Facebook , you would not have missed out the controversial blog post by a group of youngsters who have cribbed about the horrible experience of having a brunch in a restaurant and being mistreated pretty badly and ended up being in a police station.

What is interesting to note is that the blog post was anonymous and it described in detail the trauma that the youngsters had to go through . And being the typical social media enthusiasts we are , without trying to understand both sides of the story ,the blog post was tweeted and re-tweeted back and forth that it received nationwide attention and it is trending for last 2 days.

User Reviews are all about bad experiences

It’s quite a harrowing experience when business treat customers badly using force especially and it is quite normal that we  crib about the experience by  writing bad reviews on popular sites , lower the ratings,talk about it repeatedly in social media sites so that the business gets your attention and tries to fix the issue.Most of the bad customer experience that every one of us had in the past coupled with power of social media try to bring brand and business on their kneels. Brands too keep an eye on social media and try to reach to you to solve the issue.

But of late online reviews and social media interactions are more towards cribbing about a problem and trying to claim noise. I hardly see any interactions about how good an experience was .Every bad experience could have always 2-3 good experiences , of-course not with the same brand or business but with some thing else. But are we talking enough about good customer service and appreciations ? Lack of good reviews is one of the main reasons why users tend to choose  some products or service since they don’t have much choices in many cases.

If we look at reviews in MouthShut or Burrp or Zomato , other than a select few reviews , most of them are generally negative and it is more about trying to bring the brand down.

It brings me to the question . Are we using social media or internet effectively that all of us get immense benefit from each other’s experience ? Every time a pleasant transaction happens , are we registering it some where so that it balances the negative reviews which can help in making an informed decision?

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Re-thinking fine dining experience

There are few innovations that are currently being rolled out in fine dining space such as booking seats in advance and managing good set of content on the restaurant website. But what about the experience once the customer reaches the restaurant ? What kind of experience that can really wow the customer ?

Automated Food ordering through tablet

1.Interactive UI for exploring the menu using tablets

Visualizing the dish

Whenever i visit a new restaurant and browse through the menu , i find dishes whose names are very difficult to comprehend and come to a conclusion as to what this dish is all about.  It is always a good idea to provide actual pictures on how the dish would look like giving an idea whether it is served dry or curry etc.

Is that quantity enough for 2 or 4 ?

While ordering food , am not also not sure about the quantity that will be served as it differs from place to place and also depending on cost. This will make me conscious not to order too much. So what could be done is that a picture when taken with the actual quantity in a proper bowl will add value so that we can order food based on the quantity . It will also give a chance to people to order more than one dish since they are sure about the quantity. In some instances , i have ordered food and found the quantity to be less but would not order anything else due to time constraints. This could help in this aspect.

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Key take aways for Android OS and apps from Facebook Home ?

So the Facebook Home is revealed and so are the reviews . Every review is positive about how Facebook cleverly managed to sneak itself into an unique layer of smart-phone and OS battle front. It is neither a phone nor a OS but just a wrapper that makes it all the more unique.

Bringing people to center of smartphone was an idea flouted by M$ when launching Windows Phone 8. It even had a lock screen implementation for Facebook which looked a bit similar . But blame it on  less traction and without a clear strategy that idea did not take off quite well.

Facebook home


What was running through my mind when Facebook was making this announcement was that why no app in Android did take advantage of occupying the lock screen for so long. My personal understanding on  how Android was built made me  thing that lock screen is not accessible  for stand alone third party apps and that is why no is able to come up with cool features that takes advantage of the big screen real estate. But Facebook has proved now that it can be done and that it can make the experience good as well.

Apple Passbook to an extent used the lock screen in a good way to display the Passbook related notifications  based on geo-location though there is no clear idea on how the lock screen is going to be taken forward in iOS. But with Apple being closed , it can take more time for Apple to collaborate with Facebook to bring such a deeply integrated feature in iOS.

Though Facebook Home undermines Android OS to an extent from visual design point/app launcher and notification , there are few take away for Android which when implemented can make the experience more awesome.

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TV shows coming exclusively to Netflix for binge viewing.Future of TV ?

You may have read the news about the world premiere of a new TV show ‘House of Cards‘ available exclusively on Netflix. It is a first-rate show produced by Netflix with a list of A starers like Kevin Spacey playing the lead role and directed by the critically acclaimed David Flincher .The icing on the cake is  that the mini tv series is available for binge viewing i.e.  all the 12 episodes of Season 1 are available  at one shot for viewing in Netflix.

Binge viewing is the concept of watching back to back episodes of a TV show over an extended period of time for people who cannot figure out time to watch one episode a week. This is an established way of watching TV series, mostly re-runs that are normally watched over a lazy weekend with the help of DVD set or through internet streaming services.

This path breaking step of Netflix could be either end up as a game changer thereby  posing a great threat to traditional tv broadcasting or could end up as an experiment that may not be continued due to financial viability or distribution complexities etc.

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