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wpid-wp-1416717300177.pngI recently noticed that my Android phone was draining battery a lot faster than usual. So I checked out the battery page and discovered that Google Search was my top source of battery drain, more than Screen! That’s insane. None of my settings had changed so I didn’t understand why this was suddenly happening. Rebooting didn’t fix the problem.

Google Search was definitely the cause. From its app page, I saw that that Google Search was using up to 500 MB of storage, and was constantly restarting every minute or so and rebuilding that massive index. No wonder it was taking so much battery!

Searching online showed that other Android users has/had the problem, and that it wasn’t limited to my OnePlus One. So here’s my fix, after a painful day of research and experimentation:

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Apple shared a few more details about how the Apple Watch will work — see this excellent Verge article for a good summary. The most interesting part is Apple’s intention next year to enable fully native apps on the watch. This does not necessarily mean the Apple Watch will work without an iPhone, but it certainly makes that a possibility. The question though is…why?

The way Android Wear and Apple Watch (in year 1 at least) generally works is that the phone does most of the heavy lifting while the watch is merely a display that also receives inputs. It’s not unlike thin client computing, where the cloud does the work and the thin client handles output and input. This arrangement makes sense, because then the watch doesn’t need powerful chips or enormous batteries to get a good experience. This controls costs too.

The weakness in cloud computing is that a fast, consistent connection is required. Fortunately, because the phone is usually always with you alongside the watch, and because connectivity is via Bluetooth, smartwatches don’t have that issue.

So why would Apple move to a future where watch apps are standalone? Is technology progressing so rapidly that streamed computing is unnecessary? That can’t be right. Smartphones haven’t yet crossed a threshold where performance gains are unnecessary, and smartwatches are way behind smartphones.

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Windows Phone users often look to iOS and Android owners with envy when this or that app isn’t yet available for Microsoft’s platform. How often does the reverse happen, when iOS and Android users lust for something on Windows Phone that’s not available on their own?

Office Lens is a new app from Microsoft that I wish was on Android and iOS. Or the Windows app store at least for my Surface Pro 3.

Office Lens is a cool app where you snap a photo of something, and the app then automatically converts it into an editable Office document. How amazing is that right?

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A couple days ago, we referenced a comScore study on mobile apps. Since then, more articles about its findings are surfacing. Quartz has an overview of the top 25 most used apps by US consumers. Highlights:

  • Facebook is unsurprisingly the #1 most used app
  • Pandora is surprisingly #5…no Spotify
  • Google is the top mobile app publisher
  • Facebook Messenger is the top messaging app, ahead of Snapchat, Skype and Kik…no Whatsapp, no Google Hangouts
  • No games made the overall top 25

The study also breaks down popularity by age segment, which The Atlantic graciously provided. Highlights:

  • Facebook, Youtube and Pandora are universally popular
  • The younger, the more popular is Instagram
  • Older folk use Facebook Messenger more than Snapchat or Kik
  • Email didn’t make the top 10 for 18-24 year olds

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I’ve written about the difficulty of doing a mobile apps start-up before, and this report from comScore only reinforces that argument.

According to comScore, in any given month, the majority of US smartphone users don’t download apps…at all.

Yet, mobile app usage continues to grow; apps now represent 52% of time spent with digital media.

The conundrum is that while apps are ever more important, users aren’t downloading more of them. It’s a situation where the top 1% of apps rule the roost while everyone else flounders, struggling to get discovered.

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Recently, an angel investor asked me to provide advice to a start-up in which he was the sole investor. I researched the space and came to the meeting with a hypothesis on why they weren’t doing well: the product was bad; they scaled too quickly, at one point with 50 people at the company; tried to do too many things, etc.

The founder, investor and I met up at Starbucks and after a couple hours discussion, the investor shocked the entrepreneur and me by declaring that — based on what he just heard — he’s going to liquidate the company. Wow! He later clarified with me that he was already thinking it, and wanted to get my input before he made a final decision.

I just hope I don’t cross paths with the entrepreneur…or if I do, to make sure there are plenty of witnesses around in case he decides to take violent revenge!

I share this story because something in the news about HTC’s new business unit, HTC Creative Labs, which created apps like the ZOE on HTC One, caught my eye.

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I purchased the Chromecast eons ago, partly out of curiosity and partly because the price was low enough to be an impulse buy.  I haven’t used it much as my PC is directly connected to my big screen TV so the Chromecast’s raison d’etre doesn’t apply in my case.

Recently, I discovered a killer app for the Chromecast – all you hardcore people probably know about this already; I was late to the party because of the iPhone 5S – and it changes everything for the dongle.

It’s called Popcorn Time for Android.

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