No Waze

So, I gave Waze a try after being a Google Maps user for a long time. I had enjoyed using Waze way back in 2012, when I drove all over California trusting this app.

But this time, it chose to disappoint. Routes keep changing arbitrarily. When I let Waze decide the route, more often than not, it picks some convoluted route with a lot of loops for no good reason. When I ask it to compute routes again, it straightens up and gives me the right route. Worst of all – when I noticed a mistake on the map, I submitted it. But instead of a streamlined process, I got contacted by another Wazer (probably a map editor) who asked me some more details about the business, and had never heard nor bothered to google for the business. I was told that Google Maps is not a valid source of information because Waze policy says no copyrighted information may be used to correct the map. (That seems like an OK policy.) Eventually, though, the map edit was accepted as is. Perhaps the user trusted me or perhaps they did their due diligence. However, a week later and the map edit has still not appeared on Waze. So much for that bureaucracy.

Waze has also been showing me ads for nearby businesses as soon as I stop at a traffic light or slow down. I don’t actually blame them for this. It could just be a tactic by Google to force people to just skip over to Google Maps.

All in all, I think my little Waze experiment is over. Time to go back to Google Maps, which keeps improving on a daily basis, by hook or by crook.

p.s. The last straw came just yesterday, when I sent my wife a message from the Waze app, to inform her of my ETA. The app asked me to pick out the contact and showed me her name and phone number. Normally, such a notification would be an SMS with a link. Uber does it like that, Lyft does it like that and frankly, that makes the most sense – the other person gets a link, opens it and can track you in their browser. But Waze noticed that my wife had the Waze app installed, so they decided to send her a notification inside the app. She doesn’t have notifications turned on for Waze. Why would she? No one needs random notifications from a low-usage app. So, she never even received the ETA link. This failure from Waze is a UX issue which they should resolve. They don’t need to re-invent the wheel. Just use the same SMS notification services that every other app in the world uses and get it over with. Since they chose to do it in this half-baked, non-thought-out manner, I think it’s high time I part with the service.

Photo by oniitamo

7 days with the Apple Watch

I was recently gifted the Apple Watch by my girlfriend and despite my initial apprehensions, I love having this device strapped to my wrist. I was test-driving the Pebble watch before this and I have an analog and a digital watch I alternated between before that. But the Apple Watch definitely has blown all of those out of the water.

As my brother Nipun once said –

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Apple needs to release a Mind-Body-Soul LifeKit

How many miles did you walk today?
How long did you sleep?
What was your calorie intake and expenditure over the weekend?

These are questions that your iPhone can answer right now.

How many pages of a book have you read in the last week?
How much time have you spent meditating using one of the meditation apps on your iPad?
How much time have you spent on twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Reddit today?
Are your iMessages mostly positive or negative?

These are some of the questions that Apple’s iOS cannot answer right now. Continue reading

Well, what about the jailbreak?

iOS8 is here today and as I always do before an iOS update, it’s time to audit my jailbreak. Of late, I’ve grown distant from the jailbreak idea as such. I still have a jailbroken iPhone 4S and iPad Mini 1, but there’s barely much happening there.

RAM? What’s that?

The first problem with my jailbreak is that it’s on a device that’s now, well, old. The iPhone 4S has 512 MB of RAM and as much as Apple fanboys will tell you that you don’t need RAM because Apple has a) tight integration with their hardware or b) amazing tricks up their sleeves that put apps to ‘sleep’ as soon as you minimize them, the truth is that if you jailbreak, you need RAM. Continue reading

Word of the day: rubric

According to TheFreeDictionary, rubric means a title, class or category. It’s also used when referring to a subheading or the full title of a file/post or page. Neiman Journalism Lab used it as follows –

The Brief, a tailored summary of business and international news under the rubric of “Your world right now.”

Source: Maybe the homepage is alive after all: Quartz is trying a new twist on the traditional website front door » Nieman Journalism Lab

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New Trent Airbender Mini 1.0 review

I recently bought an Airbender Mini second hand from eBay. I needed a case+keyboard solution for my first gen iPad Mini and this seemed to be a good solution.  The ideal case would have been the new iPad Mini Clamshell, but this was available for a fifth of the price and so, worth the try. I have been using it all afternoon and frankly, this is not the solution I am looking for.

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To the Team behind Threes

Today, I read one of the most awesome blog posts I’ve ever read about the creation of something. The post was by the team behind the popular mobile game Threes (yes, the one that spawned the even more popular 2048 series of games) detailing the 570 emails and 45,000+ words exchanged between them over a period of one and a half years to make a game that has broken away from the entire mobile gaming market and shown us what wonders can be done on a four by four game board.

I must confess, I did not read the whole thing. I read about a quarter into the page before skipping down to look at the artwork and reading the conclusion. I found the developers talking about how Threes has turned out to be a lot more famous than they had imagined and how amazed they are at the growing community around it. They are also highly critical of the fakes, the ‘inspired’ games and the outright rip-offs that are flooding the markets.

But here’s the thing – 2048 became famous because it’s gimmicky. The clones are famous because of the original, not on their own merit. But Threes? Threes is unique. There’s no match for the excellent game, the wonderful team behind it and the level of innovation that’s gone into the making of the game.

Along the way, in the article, you can download early prototypes that can be played on both Mac and Windows and are excellent games in themselves. They are different from the gameplay of the final game, yet are impressive in their own right. Here’s one such game that I downloaded and played and was instantly addicted. It’s a brilliant take on Threes, twisting the game with a new angle of gameplay.

So this is what I have to say to the team behind Threes –

Do not lose heart. Scammers will come and go, but your hard work is what stands before the public today. They will approve.

But do not stand on your laurels either. I believe it was the CEO of Rovio (behind Angry Birds) who said, “Piracy may not be a bad thing: it can get us more business at the end of the day.” He’s not wrong. You called out 2048 as a game that’s inherently flawed as it can be finished too easily. That’s true. But it’s popular and it’s a derivative of your work. So go ahead, steal what is already yours and add it as a fun mode to your game.

Do not hide your excellence. You are a runaway success. You may need more money, but get more people, finish those games you have showcased in the blog post and show them to the world. The one I played is nothing short of amazing. It made me fall in love with Threes all over again. It’ll bring people back to you. You are at a similar stage which Angry Birds was at with their games. They innovated only a bit every time but every game they released was an instant hit. Your ideas are already a hit. Bring them forth.

Finally, yes, pursue the Mobile App Stores. Tell them to remove the fakes and the rip-offs. But don’t wait for them to do anything. The thieves don’t have the one thing you do – an original idea. They’ll disappear into ignominy soon, but Threes will live on.

 

For all Threes lovers, I leave you with this artwork that I hope will inspire you to keep playing Threes and keep aiming for the Lion. Cheers!

The Threes Monsters.

The Threes Monsters. Source – http://asherv.com/threes/threemails/

And some other Threes Artwork –

Stacking the Cards

The Pirate

Threes is infinite. No, really.