It's getting dangerous just to walk and text
Become a Dictator: With touchscreen displays quickly becoming the norm for mobile devices, you have little choice but to look at what you're typing since you can't feel your way across the keyboard. But rather than try to split your attention between driving and typing, have your phone write it for you.
Send yourself a reminder note by tapping the mic icon and prefacing the message with, "Note to self." Gmail will deliver both the audio message and a transcription of it to your inbox. You can dictate outgoing emails as well, though it requires a few steps.
First tap the mic icon and say "send email." Next identify the recipient by saying "To [the contact name]", then state the subject of the email using "Subject: [whatever the email is about]", and finally input the message itself with the "Message" command and speaking the punctuation marks. Altogether it would sound something like this, "Send email to email@example.com, subject a hot tip, message have I got a tip for you exclamation point." And for SMS texts, you only have to say "send text to" followed by the recipient and the message.
Get Directions: Whether you have someone riding shotgun or not, there's no reason for you to pull double duty as both driver and navigator. Instead, offload direction duties to Google Maps' navigation feature. Tap the microphone icon on the Google Search bar and say "Navigate to [your destination]" for turn-by-turn dictation, "Directions to [your destination]" for written instructions, or "Map of [your location]" for a basic map of the area. Unfortunately, "Take me to [Funkytown]" is not a valid command.
Get a Forecast: Sudden downpours are murder on a convertible's interior. Don't risk getting drenched waiting for the next radio weather report, simply ask your phone "What is the chance of rain today in [your location]." Google Search will read the current weather conditions aloud. You can also query it for a five-day forecast of any locale worldwide.
Refuel: The fuel warning light has been on for way too long now and unless you want to push your ride the rest of the way, you'd better find a gas station—fast. Luckily, all you have to do is ask, "Where is the nearest gas station?" and Google Search will pop a list of options with directions to each. They may not be the cheapest available (oh but to have that search feature) but any gas is better than running on fumes.
Now that you've found fuel for your ride, it's time to do the same for yourself. Tap the mic icon and say, "nearby restaurants" for a list of local eateries. You can also specify by cuisine ("nearby diners") or chain ("where's the nearest Taco Bell?").
Discover: Can't quite remember what that catchy tune is that's playing over the gas station's PA system? If you don't have the Sound Search app handy, you can still access the function through the search bar. Tap the mic icon, ask "what's this song," and hold your phone up to a speaker.
Once it names that tune, Search will pop a purchase link as well. And it's not just Sound Search, you can also quickly access Goggles functions without opening the app itself by using verbal commands. Tell your phone to, "scan a barcode" to do just that. It works for both linear and QR codes.
While these commands are handy when you're behind the wheel, they're by no means a complete list. Check out more helpful verbal cues here.
Google to stop accepting payments for Argentine developers from June 27, apps to be pulled from July 27.
Android developers based in Argentine have received notice from Google that it'll no longer be able to accept payments for them from June 27. A letter from Google to devs, obtained by South American phone site Celularis, indicates that the changes apply to both paid apps and in-app purchases. The Verge points out that the change is likely due to tough new restrictions on currency exchanges recently imposed by the Argentine government. But Celularis notes that despite the changes to Google Play, Google AdSense for mobile continues to operate in the country.
The letter from Google states that it'll stop accepting payments on behalf of Argentine developers from June 27. Paid apps and in-app items from these devs will be pulled a month later, starting July 27, following final payments on July 22. One solution for Argentina-based app developers is to move their account to another country where they're able to legally do business, an option Google itself suggests in its email to developers.
Google states that it hopes to restore payouts to developers based in Argentina in the future, but that "no specific plans are in place at the moment."
At PandoMonthly last night, John Doerr talked a lot about the massive successes he’s been associated with like Amazon and Google. But he also talked about some of the great whiffs of his venture career. One of the most high profile was Segway. Created by rock star inventor Dean Kamen and backed by Doerr at the peak of his power as a VC, the press endlessly speculated about what it could be. Doerr famously predicted that it would get to $1 billion in revenue faster than any other company.
Last night he explained why he made that claim and what happened. It’s a little-told story that underlies why hardware is such a risky category, why Silicon Valley is largely opposed to unions, the fine line between success and failure, and how even the greatest dream teams with a bold idea can be humbled.
We’ll be posting the full video our sit down with Doerr later today. It was one of our very best PandoMonthly talks to date. Huge thanks to Doerr for his time and candor and for staying to talk to seemingly every last attendee. And another thanks to our sponsors TriNet and last minute hosts Atlassian.
[Image Credit: pacbat on Flickr]
Early 2012 flagship gets bump up to Android 4.1.2
The Jelly Bean (Android 4.1.2) update for the Sony Xperia S has begun rolling out. For a few months, now we've heard rumors that Sony was preparing the update to send out and now we finally have confirmation.
The official news comes from Sony's official French Twitter account, which said that the latest version of Android has begun pushing for the first builds. No timeline yet for everyone else, but we expect it shouldn't be too long, so keep checking through the Sony PC Companion app.
Have any of you Xperia S owners received the update yet? We'd love to hear how you like it, so shout out in our Sony Xperia S Forum!
The rumors are true — HTC and Google will collaborate on a 'Nexus user experience' version of the HTC One
Ever since the Samsung Galaxy S4 “Google Edition” announcement at Google I/O last week, rumors have been circulating that HTC might follow suit with a vanilla version of its own flagship device. Recently, Russell Holly of Geek.com and Paul O’Brien of MoDaCo have chimed in with reports that such a device is on the way. Today we can confirm through our own sources that despite official denials, the “Google Edition” HTC One is indeed real, and will be announced in the next week or so.
Let's take a look at what we know, and what it could mean.
In his nearly 40 years in Silicon Valley, John Doerr has worked alongside many of the greatest entrepreneurs and leaders in history. The first: Former Intel CEO Andy Grove, with whom Doerr worked closely in roles ranging from intern to a leading sales person at the microchip company. Over the next four decades Doerr invested in, mentored, sat on boards of directors with, and otherwise observed Jeff Bezos, Larry Page (and Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt), Reed Hastings, Steve Jobs and many other luminaries.
Speaking to a packed house at tonight’s PandoMonthly fireside chat in San Francisco, Doerr shared his impressions of each of these men, as well as a few personal bits of wisdom.
Doerr’s first exposure to Andy Grove was when the CEO taught a course titled Organizational Philosophy of Economics at Intel University. Doerr’s job as a summer intern was to create benchmarks demonstrating the superiority of Intel’s latest generation chips over the models that came before them. After Doerr excelled at this, Grove invited him to travel to Europe with him for the summer as his personal assistant.
“Grove is tough – ruthlessly intellectually honest,” Doerr said, sharing that those who arrived after 8:05 am for morning meetings had to sit in the parking lot for an hour so that everyone would see them being reprimanded. “But he was the epitome of a great entrepreneur and a great leader – and those are two very different things. When they come together, extraordinary things happen.”
Doerr continually referred to Grove’s intensity and discipline, but he also described him as “humble and purposeful for the organization, putting the team before himself and willing every fiber of his being into the company.”
While Grove is famous for saying, “Only the paranoid survive,” Doerr believes that this was a motivational philosophy – even though he described paranoia as a “disease” state and a mercenary quality.
“You can build very valuable companies with both cultures [mercenary and missionary]. And I don’t believe that any company is all of one of these,” Doerr said. “But my advice to young people is that you need to understand the values of the place you’re going to join and make sure that you’re aligned with them.”
Grove was also “Level 5 Leader,” according to Doerr, in the Jim Collins sense of the phrase, meaning he embodied the mix of humility and strong will.
John Doerr is an Amazon investor and board member and recalls a meeting of senior executives in the company’s early days that was attended by famed business consultant and author Jim Collins. Jeff Bezos, then a young and inexperienced CEO, confessed to Collins in front of his entire team to feeling “less than a Level 5 Leader,” Doerr recalls.
Asked for his advice, Collins told Bezos, “Go to work every day and make getting better your North Star. Aim at that every day,” Doerr recalls.
Apparently Bezos was a good student because he has since disrupted multiple industries and built one of the most enduring and valuable Web 1.0 companies. Doerr describes him as “Very aggressive – he’s that guy. He’s very technical, and takes a very long term view of everything.”
Very early in Amazon’s life, the CEO set the goal of getting big fast. He was never concerned with appeasing Wall Street investors, saying, “All the investors who want to find us, will,” according to Doerr.
They always had a very simple clear strategy, Doerr says, which was to be the world’s most customer-centric company, to offer the broadest selection, and to have the best prices. Amazon has a multitude of spiders crawling the web searching for competitors’ prices, and matches them whether it’s Walmart or a mom-and-pop dotcom site. This clarity of thinking – what he’s doing and also what he’s not doing – is a common trait Doerr sees among great entrepreneurs.
Another aspect of Bezos’ strategy was his insistence on always planting a lot of seeds, Doerr says, noting that this makes him a lot like Google’s Larry Page. The Amazon CEO is addicted to new ideas and always open to ideas from the outside. The key for both Amazon and Google has been the ability to shut things down when they’re not working, and to be disciplined about the ones that they choose to pursue.
“One of the great things about [Google co-founder] Larry Page as a CEO is that he’s so passionate about product,” says Doerr, an early investor and longtime Google board member. Leaders don’t need to be great creators, according to the Kleiner Perkins partner, but entrepreneurs need passion, drive, for product-first thinking.
Asked whether founders should always remain CEO of their company, Doerr said, “If they can grow with their business, yes.”
“When Google started it was my view that [Larry Page and Sergey Brin] weren’t ready – weren’t ready to run the company at Google scale,” Doerr says. “There wasn’t enough time for on the job training.”
But bringing in Eric Schmidt to assume the CEO role was one of the best things that ever happened to the founders and the company, according to Doerr, though it was alway seen as a short-term situation. “The plan always was that Larry would grow faster than the company,” he says. The three leaders always maintained a mutual respect for one another, Doerr says, with Schmidt often deferring publicly to the founders. And in the rare cases when they disagreed, they did so behind closed doors.
Doerr calls Page’s greatest strength his “incredible ambition and imagination.”
“He just reeks of ambition. I bring him an idea and he will 10X it.” He offered an example of this trait, recalling an exchange the two had when discussing the Google Fiber project. In response to Doerr’s suggestion that Google work to deliver its high speed fiber network to every community in the US, Page told him, “You’re not thinking big enough, John. We need to look beyond fiber.”
Despite his stellar track record as an investor, Doerr has missed out on his share of great companies. He named Microsoft and Cisco as his biggest omissions. But more recently, Netflix is one that he wishes he could have been a part of, largely due to his admiration for founder and CEO Reed Hastings. Instead, Doerr had to abstain due to a potential conflict with his existing investment in Amazon.
“Reed is one of the best entrepreneurs of our time,” Doerr says.
Without delving too deeply into his business, Doerr shared a story about Reed Hastings the man. Despite his enormous obligations as the CEO of rapidly-growing public company, Hastings found time to serve as the president of the California State Board of Education from 2000 to 2004.
“He was so passionate about improving the state of these poor public schools,” Doerr said.
Since his death in 2011, late Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs has been mythologized by entrepreneurs. Given this, Sarah asked Doerr, “When people talk about Steve Jobs, does it sound like the man you knew?”
“It was really surprising to me when Steve passed away,” Doerr says, “just how many entrepreneurs for some reason came up to me and said, ‘You know John, I want to tell somebody what a difference Steve made to me and what an inspiration he was in building my company.”
Doerr doesn’t think that these entrepreneurs necessarily want to be like Jobs, referencing his infamous demanding and difficult style.
“For entrpreneurs to try to be like Steve Jobs,” Doerr says, “that’s a failing mission. He was unique. He was original. He was iconic.”
This week on the podcast we're talking about Google, Google, and more Google. Also, your questions about keeping to a budget, cold-emailing your dream job's company, and freeing up space on your iPhone.