technology
Posts

  • App Review: Sticher Radio for Podcasts Android App

    Sticher has been designed well, but it might be a bit too much for a beginner user of Android devices. The app does need a little bit of exploration to be done in order to find out what the features of the app are.

    Sticher is essentially an on demand podcast service, where you can download the podcast that you want to when ever you want to. You can also add podcasts to listen later list after which the selected podcast will be downloaded to your device. This functionality is quite useful for those listeners who are in a hurry to reach their destination, but want to listen to podcasts on the way. Users can also add stations (a station is the source of podcasts where the podcast author publishes his podcasts) to the read later list, which will download podcasts from those stations as well.

    You can call Sticher is to podcasts as RSS readers are to websites and blogs. Sticher also provides with searching functionality where you can search for your favorite topics, stations, or podcast authors, etc…

    Sticher provides a number of different settings which allows you to personalize your experience. You can even set what to show on the start screen.

    You can also create multiple play lists into which you can add your favorite stations. Maybe you want to create playlist which will just contains technology related stations, while another playlist contains business related stations.

    I highly recommend Sticher for podcast enthusiasts, as this app truly brings a great collection of stations and podcasts. I surely continue to use it in the future to listen to podcasts.

    • Sticher Podcast Reader Android App
      Sticher Podcast Reader Android App

    November 11, 2014 • App Reviews, Technology • Views: 4880

  • App Review: CamCard Business Card Android App

    Introduction

    When you meet people it is quite often that you share business cards, and keeping them in one place has been a problem which many have. The non-digital way of storing business cards is to get a card book in which you keep all your cards, but then who can carry one hefty book for all of those business cards?
    Now we live in the digital world, and it does not make sense to solve problems non-digitally in a digital world, and even better be able to store a large number of cards without much of a problem. One app that i have started to use is CamCard Business Card Reader for Android and it has allowed me to store my business cards safely.

    UX, Design and Ease of Use

    The app’s design is simple and professional. The home screen shows the list of cards added and the user can sort them by either one of the following ways:
    • Sort by Name
    • Sort by Create Date
    • Sort by Company Name
    The main features are laid out at the bottom of the screen in the form of tabs. The user interface and user experience has been designed well, and is quite easy to use for the beginner. Everything has been laid out perfectly well.

    Usefulness

    As stated above storing business cards is a problem than many face. There are low-tech non digital ways to do so, but then as the number of cards increase the storage book(in most cases) increases in size and causes managing it to become quite difficult.
    CamCard also comes with a cloud where your cards are stored, and synced with the Android app so that your cards are safe.
    You can also download the cards to an excel file from the website. I have explored the website and the app, but i can have not yet found any information about the number of cards that can be stored in the free account.
    The app scans the business cards by using the device’s camera and extracts the information on the card. The quality of the extraction is quite good and perfectly extracts the information correctly, despite the format of the card being scanned.
    After scanning the app displays input fields which the user can fill in himself and change the data if needed.
    The user can also scan his own card, and save the details. There is also a feature which allows you to exchange cards with other users of CamCard.  By using this app, we don’t need to keep any business card in our wallets or card books.
    You can exchange cards via the following three options:
    • Card Reader which auto finds people nearby
    • Scan QR Code allows you to scan your friend’s QR code or your friend scan your QR code to get the business card
    • Private Group in which you can create a group or join a group
    There are also a number of different ways to create a business card. You can create them by either of the following ways:
    • Import Phone Contacts
    • Load Card Image
    • Email Signature
    • Create Card Manually

    Conclusion

    I have found this app quite useful, but the card exchange feature is as good as the other guy is using it. Until people in your community use the app, the app will just be good for storing of business cards, which is good in itself. I recommend this app to everyone, so that we all can stop carrying business cards and use CamCard to exchange and build cards.
    • CamCard Business Card Reader Review
      CamCard Business Card Reader Review

    November 1, 2014 • App Reviews, Technology • Views: 4787

  • Networking for Entrepreneurs

    Entrepreneurship according to me is an act of taking risk in order to solve a problem.
    Entrepreneurship is inherently a community based activity. If you take out the community then for whom will you be solving the problem?
     
    However, in order to know what the community wants you will need to get out of the building. According to Steve Blank, an experienced entrepreneur, he says that we should get out of the building. We should talk to the people, we should meet our customers. We will need to do networking.
     
    Networking is an act in which you meet new people, and make connections. Then you can use these connections to further help build an environment for entrepreneurship.
     
    In countries like Pakistan, there are communities, but there are no extensive entrepreneurial communities where groups of entrepreneurs come and work together as they do in the silicon valley, however do not be despair small groups of entrepreneurs have sprouted up in the city of Lahore.
     
    I will give example of Lahore, Pakistan as i live here. The government run Plan 9, is doing its part to encourage and support entrepreneurship, through a number of different programs such as the Plan 9 Incubator, Plan 9 Accelerator, and the recently launched Plan 9 Tech Hub where freelancers can come, work and network.
     
    LUMS (Lahore University of Management Sciences) Center of Entrepreneurship is also doing its part through its accelerator program.
     
    There are other initiatives as well such as the invest to innovate, a privately run accelerator program.
     
    Entrepreneurs can also find events going on in their neighborhood, or locality by searching on facebook, twitter, or any other events management software/website.
     
    I also suggest that entrepreneurs seek out events which they can attend and showcase their work so that they can introduce them selves to experienced entrepreneurs, investors and then get their guidance or help. This is extremely important in order to grow the entrepreneurship scene in your locality/area.
     
    As more and more entrepreneurs will help each other out, entrepreneurship won’t be that scary any more since there will be some help for first time entrepreneurs. I also encourage experienced entrepreneurs to guide and mentor new mentors and to help develop the ecosystem in which we all live and survive.
     
    I am happy to say that in Lahore, that this trend has started to happen as experienced entrepreneurs are coming out and helping young entrepreneurs like me and offering guidance. This is truly the start of something wonderful.
     

     

    October 26, 2014 • Entrepreneurship • Views: 4464

  • My Experience In Google for Entrepreneurs Speed Mentoring Session

    I had applied to take part in an event called Startup BBQ Speed Mentoring organized by Google for Entrepreneurs (Google Pakistan) and PASHA (Pakistan Software Houses Association), and had entered my product Inbox My Articles as the submission idea.

    On Monday 20th October 2014 i received a congratulatory email from Badar Khushnood (Google’s Country Consultant for Pakistan), Google for Entrepreneurs that my idea had been selected for speed mentoring. I was over the moon. Finally, my directionless startup, which was barely gaining any traction was going to get some well needed direction, and that it was one of the 7 startups selected from over 100 plus which had applied from Lahore, Pakistan. I was honored, and proud for being part of this, and also glad that me and my team did not give up on my idea and we had stuck to it, and have brought it to where it is currently. I myself had worked during the nights to add the new features which i though were required, and which i also needed as a user, while during the day i work on client based projects.

    Inbox My Articles is an RSS Reader which consists of an Android app, a website, and a cloud. The Android app has the capabilities of downloading articles for offline articles. There are many use cases of this feature, such as not wanting to miss the latest news when ever you use the app, so you want to download the articles onto your device. Another useful use case is when you are in your commute and want to follow your favorite websites on the way to office, you can download the articles before hand, and then read them later.

    I myself use Inbox My Articles every day, and where i live, we don’t have internet connection everywhere. 3G has just recently come in Pakistan, but from what i heard least it was still expensive, and my network is straight going to 4G LTE, which it announced, but i am yet to receive my new sim card which i was promised to receive but still have not received it, so as a result i am usually in places where i do not have an internet connection available, so i read the articles which i have downloaded earlier onto my device.

    I went with my team which consisted of the following:

    • Mustafa Neguib (Entrepreneur, Founder, CEO of MN Tech Solutions (Private) Limited)
    • Muhammad Adil Saeed (Development Partner & CTO of MN Tech Solutions (Private) Limited)
    • Muhammad Basim Majeed (Development Partner & Software Engineer  of MN Tech Solutions (Private) Limited)
    • Saad Siddique (Development Partner & Software Engineer  of MN Tech Solutions (Private) Limited)

    We arrived the venue, LUMS (Lahore University of Management & Sciences ) Smart Lab, Lahore, Pakistan at about 8 am on the fine morning of Tuesday 21st October 2014. I had insisted my team mates to wear formal attire, as i had assumed that since the top industry experts were coming to mentor us, we should be dressed accordingly, but the reality was to be other wise. Everyone was more or less in their casual attire.

    We were one of the first ones to reach the venue, so we had some time to take pictures with the banners, and set up our equipment (laptop with the pitch deck and presentation which i had prepared and my smartphone, and my business cards).

    As everyone else started to pour into the venue, i saw some familiar faces, and some new faces. I was awestruck. I was in the company of the people who were at the place where i believe i am destined to be. To see local heroes and entrepreneurs who made it on their own, i too strive to attain success and build a successful company one day, while in the mean time i am trying to survive with my team, hoping for that one big break.

    I believe that this event was our big break, and will be using it to the fullest to further grow the company.

    We were mentored by the following industry experts:

    Each of the mentors brought their view point, experience and expertise, which all was extremely valuable for us inexperienced entrepreneurs miserably trying to survive. As a crux we were guided on how we are to build our business and marketing plan, how to calculate our costs, how to find new users and how to get feedback from existing users. We also learned what issues our product contains, and how we can further improve it. One of the common themes was that we should target the local audience, and to localize the product. This surely is a point to ponder, and one direction which we should definitely think about. We also learned about marketing plans, and how much users are required for making money from ads.

    I would like to say, that we were grilled and prepared for barbecue as the organizers had claimed to do so. I myself learned alot, pitching became better and we modified our pitch when the next mentor came.

    Apart from the mentors mentioned above, founder of TechJuice, one of Pakistan’s top technology media companies also guided and advised us. TechJuice was also one of the seven startups selected, and i thank her for her advice and guidance.

    This was not the first time when i was part of an event like this. I was also part of the Game Jam 2014 Lahore, but this event was at another level as this time, my and my team’s hard work for the past 6 months was recognized and accepted as an idea which i am even more determined to work on, and to further improve it and use the knowledge gained in building this into a business.

    This event was the perfect time for making connections and increase our networking circle. I am glad that we were given the chance and met some extraordinary people. We really thank Google Pakistan, Google for Entrepreneurs and PASHA for selecting us, and giving us a chance to learn and experience, and to be mentored by the industry experts.

    I would also like to thanks the mentors who took out time from their busy schedules in order to mentor us, and to help us learn from our mistakes, and most importantly to guide us. I will never forget what i have learned here, and i will do my best to implement what i have learned on Inbox My Articles, and also on any future product that i work on.

    Update @ 24th October 2014 3:03 AM : Added link to blog post to the article about my experience in Game Jam 2014  Hackathon Lahore

    • Google for Entrepreneurs Week Startup BBQ
      Google for Entrepreneurs Week Startup BBQ

    October 24, 2014 • Entrepreneurship, Pakistan, Technology • Views: 4693

  • App Review: Whistle Phone Finder for Android

    Introduction

    There are times, when you forget where you have left your phone(device), and you wish that you had some sort of an app installed on it so that you could find it easily.

    Don’t worry as there is an which does just that. Developed by Nine Hertz India, Whistle Phone Finder for Android is an app which plays music when you blow a whistle helping you to find your phone.

    UX, Design and Ease of Use

    Arrows have been incorporated into the design of the app which inform the user what each button does. I think this is a good idea.

    The youtube video, help screen, and the pointers on the homepage help make the experience of using the application much easier.

    The user can select which music to play when a whistle is detected. The user can also set the sensitivity level of the whistle to be detected. By default the lowest sensitivity level is set. At this level whistling was not detected, so i had to turn the sensitivity to a higher setting.

    There is also an option to turn on the flash light from within the app, but from my initial testing, i did not find the flash light being used when the app plays the music when whistling is detected.  From the help screen i found that the flash light has been implemented as as an extra feature to help find the user find other things in a dark room. I don’t know why was this feature needed in an app which is supposed to be used to look for the user’s phone.

    Usefulness

    This app is really useful for all of those people who forget where they have left their devices. Keeping the media volume to a high level will help the user find the device from a far distance, however i have not tested the maximum range of which the device can detect the whistle.

    Problems that I found

    There is no option to stop the music once you find your device. The music continues to play even if you find the phone. I could not find any option to turn of the music.
    Another problem that I found is that when the screen is turned on whistling is not detected, so those users who have set their screen time out times to be long (on Huawei Ascend P7 android Kit Kat the max screen time out is 30 minutes). So if the user forgets where his phone is in these 30 minutes then the whistling won’t work, and he will have to wait for 30 minutes to pass, but then those 30 minutes will have been lost. We all know wasting time is a high level offence.

    Furthermore, I also found out that the app for reason whole the device’s screen was turned on , the app detected that a whistle was detected and started playing the music.

    Lastly, I noticed that my battery ran out quicker than it normally does since i had installed the app.

    Conclusion

    As stated above, this app is useful for those users who forget where they have left their phones, but this app has quite a number of bugs which need to be fixed in order to make this app much more usable.

    • Whistle Phone Finder Android App Review by Mustafa Neguib
      Whistle Phone Finder Android App Review by Mustafa Neguib

    October 16, 2014 • App Reviews, Technology • Views: 5545

  • App Review: Clean Master for Android

    There are many resource management apps available on the Google Play store, which allow the user to either clean the RAM, close apps, manage files, but one app stands out from the crowd. Clean Master is one app which does all.

    Clean Master provides management of the following:

    The app’s design is clean and beautiful. The user interface has also been well planned out, and any one can start using this app immediately.

    When you open the app, you are shown the storage information and RAM information on the top half of your screen. The bottom half of the screen contains buttons to the features mentioned above. Pressing on either one of the features, opens up the screen of the respective feature.

    The animation which is shown as the data is compiled, is just beautiful. The design and user interaction team has done well to design this app.

    Clean Master is a highly useful as it allows the user to keep his device in check and to make sure that any unwanted resources are not being used. The main use of this app is to keep the resources being used in check. As a result, the battery life will last longer as only a handful of user apps will be running hence less use of RAM.

    This feature allows the user to clean the junk files, those files which have been discarded by the apps but are taking up space in the memory. The less the RAM will be used the better the device will be performed.

    There is also an advanced functionality which further allows the user to remove all files linked with the apps. This even includes videos or pictures which are on the device memory.  Using this feature may remove all of your app’s data (which you select to clean) and your app’s functioning will be affected. Be careful if you use the advanced functionality.

    This feature allows the user to stop and remove any of the running app from  RAM.

    This app even provides an antivirus software which scans the apps for any problematic apps. The antivirus software has been provided by AVTest.

    This feature allows shows the user list of installed apps, and allows him to either backup or uninstall the app. The user can also sort the list on a number of different parameters such as frequency of use, date used, app size, etc…

    Clean Master is one feature packed app, and I highly recommend this application. You will not regret using this application, as it will help you keep your device remain healthy. Is that not what we want?

     

    • Clean Master Android App Review by Mustafa Neguib
      Clean Master Android App Review by Mustafa Neguib

    October 15, 2014 • App Reviews, Technology • Views: 5495

  • App Review: Recordable Android Screen Recorder App

    Introduction

    There are many ways to make screen recordings of your android app. In Android kit Kat 4.4 there is a built in feature where you can use and to record your device’s screen as you use your app via the adb software bundled with the Android SDK. There are other free apps as well, but many of them require your device to be rooted, which not everyone is comfortable with especially me as it can brick your device if gone wrong.

    Wanting to make a demo for my app Inbox My Articles Offline RSS Reader I was pleased to find Recordable an Android screen recorder app which does not require your device to be rooted. However you need to download a free software onto your computer which then sets up the application for you. I was happy to see that Linux is also supported and in my case Ubuntu. Other supported operating systems are Windows and Mac.

    UX, Design and Ease of Use

    The user interface is very minimal, where there are only three screens in the app, the first two show the list of videos recorded, second other for the settings, and lastly to play the video.
    The app is very easy to use, and for first time users, instructions are given on the home page which are then replaced by the list of videos when you have at-least one video saved.
    The minimal user interface is quite understandable due to the main aim of the app is to record the screen of the device.
    The installation process is very easy and the app and the software on the computer give clear instructions at every step of the way.

    Usefulness

    I liked the free Android screen recorder app so much that I actually purchased the paid version for a very reasonable price.
    In the free version there will be a watermark of readable.mobi on the bottom right of your video. This is acceptable as the app does a really great job so one does not mind.
     
    The paid version does not add this watermark which is good since the user has paid for the app and there are more settings available to the user.
    The app itself was really easy to use. All you have to do is after installing and activating your app is to open the app and then press the record button in the action bar.
     
    There are a number of different settings which range from setting the frame rate to the quality of the video to enabling and disabling drawing your touches on the screen and much more settings at your disposal.
     
    As soon as the recording starts you can go to your app and start using it. However the device does become less responsive as you continue to record, but it is bearable. I myself don’t mind this issue, as the resulting video that i get is good for me. You may have a different opinion regarding this.

    One of the the best feature of this app as mentioned earlier is the fact that your device will not need to be rooted in order to use this app.

    Conclusion

    I highly recommend this app as it makes recording videos for your app demos very easy to do, and this app delivers what it  promises to do so. This app is the value for your money.
     

    September 30, 2014 • App Reviews, Technology • Views: 4342

  • App Review: Evernote Android App

    Introduction

    Evernote is a cloud based note taking app available for  number of different platforms. I will be reviewing the Android app of Evernote.

    UX, Design and Ease of Use

    The Android app has been beautifully designed. The user interface is intuitive and the beginner user does not need any tutorial to start using the app. The first screen after logging into the app is the screenshot which allows you to create your new notes. I use a smart phone with 5 inch screen in portrait mode so I have quite a large typing area which makes It easy for me to type as I like to see what i have written a few lines above the current line. The text styling controls and bullets have been laid at the bottom of the typing area just above the keyboard which makes it further easy to type.

    The submit button and other controls such as the attachment button have been laid at the top of the screen.  This helps the user from incorrectly  performing any function which can have some side effects.
     
    The menu can be opened by swiping the screen from left to right or by pressing the back button at the top left of the screen when the app is launched, which has other useful features.

    Usefulness

    The usefulness of the app lies in its use of the cloud and how seamlessly the app and other platforms sync seamlessly with the cloud. For example I have written this review on Evernote itself and this review will be saved in my phone’s memory until the app is synced with the cloud.
     
    I have the app at my disposal where ever I am and I can jot down all of my ideas right there and then even if I do not have n internet connection. The app syncs with the cloud as soon as I connect my smart phone to the internet. The cloud further helps keep my data safe. I don’t have to worry about my phone crashing and me losing all of my notes.

    Other Features

     There are more controls in the menu such as the “Add New Note”, “Take Picture”, “Record Audio”, and “Add Attachments”, which allows the user to add these items to their notes fairly easily. You can even create and manage notebooks so that you can organize your notes.

    Conclusion

    I congratulate the Evernote team for make truly a remarkable app and even more a truly remarkable system with which the app integrates into. I highly recommend this app to all.

    September 28, 2014 • App Reviews, Technology • Views: 3312