Data Only Please

I don’t want to be forced to pay for a cellular and data plan from my carrier. I just want a data plan. When Apple introduced FaceTime in 2011 and Google unveiled Hangouts and Voice, the notion of VoIP (voice over I.P address) became popularized. In essence, you could talk to someone face-to-face without using minutes from a traditional cellular plan. Instead, you would just require a data plan. Today, we have technologies such as 4G, LTE and 3G which can accommodate high performance communication.

Apple killed the SMS text messaging business with iMessages. This works with just data and wifi. It is very similar Blackberry’s BBM. And is also very encrypted and secure.

At Apple’s WWDC event, they unleashed iOS 7. While, they showed off many new features such as control center, parallax, improved multi-tasking and a new user-interface, they curiously left out one. One that I think is a another game changer. FaceTime Audio.

It’s exactly what you think it is. Starting September 10, 2013 (or when iOS 7 is actually released to the general public), you will be able to place a voice-call to anyone with an iOS or OSX device over wifi. It’s only wifi to start (just like FaceTime was initially) as the carriers are probably worried that it too will eat away at their profits.

Apple has around $200 Billion in cash reserve. I really hope they are planning to use that to maybe buy up some carriers, satellites, cell towers. It would be awesome to see them ultimately form their own network that worked globally. Imagine a world where you can just pay something such $40 USD a month for 10GB of data. You’d get one phone number on your data-only SIM card and you could travel to any continent and still receive high quality internet connectivity. That would be just fantastic.

But this is a very optimistic omen as to what is to come in the near future.


Start Investing Young

Melissa Yeong wrote a really in-depth piece in the Financial Post

“I am investing to build a sustainable and growing stream of passive income with the goal of it covering our household expenses by the time I am 45 years old.  We won’t necessarily quit working at that point; it’s just for the goal of being financially independent of others and being free to pursue our passions.”

With the recession going on, students are in debt from the lack of jobs and high student tuition.

While I won’t go into what I invest in. I do invest. I want to make my money work for me. Yeong interviews a handful of young Canadians about their various strategies. You will see the wide-range of different possibilities these clever folks are active in. These include stocks, mutual funds, GICs, bonds and real estate.

A lot of the time, children are heavily influenced by their parents. Especially for financial matters. It is so very important for parents to teach their kids about this because schools just don’t do a good job at it. This is where we will begin to see the gap in wealth start to open up. Obviously, children whose parents have experience with investing will teach their offspring more than those who don’t.

Basically, just start young. Even, if it’s just a little. Invest in things that you are comfortable with. For example, if you are a tech-savvy nerd like me, do some research in the companies you know about.


Speech Recognition

David Pogue on Siri and Android.

Unfortunately, Android has an Achilles’ heel — actually, more like Achilles’ entire leg. To issue spoken commands, you have to tap the microphone icon on the Google search bar. And it’s only on the home screen or the Google Now screen (swipe up from the bottom). So you can’t speak commands when your phone is locked, or when you’re in another app.

On the iPhone, you hold down the Home button or the clicker on your earbuds cord, so the voice command feature works when the phone is asleep or in any app.

In other words, to use an Android phone’s speech features, you frequently have to pick it up, and you always have to look at it, which defeats much of the purpose. The exception: Motorola’s new phones, like the Moto X, can be set to listen all the time.

I think Mr. Pogue wrote a thorough and well represented comparison between Apple’s Siri and Google’s Android speech recognition functionality. This is a very important feature for any “smart” devices right now and going forward. Both are relatively new and I am sure we all see vast and exponential improvements around the corner.

A very important key point is human-computer interaction. And right now I think Apple is doing it right.

UPDATE: Pogue has just released a 90-second video clip with the comparisons. Very informative.