black phone website screenshot

Product review – Blackphone

In today’s endless stream of hacks and data breaches, setting up a strong security device is a must. For your safety, Blackphone might be the best for you.

Private by design, Blackphone is a smartphone made by Silent Circle, a secure communications company offering software applications, mobile devices, and communication management services to enterprise. Its target market focuses more on buyers at enterprise businesses over ordinary users, stressing that employees often conduct business using private devices and services that are not secure so there’s a need for a level of privacy control that far exceeds that of regular Android phones.

In previous blog post, we discussed about the light phone and its usages. Let us discuss about one that has the opposite name: Black phone.

Tl; dr;

Blackphone is an Android phone made by Silent Circle. It promises a fully private and encrypted experience with built-in encrypted voice, text and video features. Its market focuses more on buyers at enterprise businesses over ordinary users, free of bloatware and contains no hooks to mobile carriers and leaked data.

Blackphone

blackphone

Designed for optimal privacy, Blackphone is a solid handset that runs as a heavily modified version of Android.

The following are its high-end features (in general):

  • It helps enterprises prevent privacy related issues with regards to intellectual property, reputation and social trust.
  • It uses a powerful operating system called, “Silent OS” (the renamed successor to the “PrivatOS“). It is puts privacy at your reach free from bloatware, hooks to carriers, and leaky data putting you and your enterprise in safe hands without compromising productivity.
  • Enabling both work and personal life, Blackphone allows you to create up to four (4) separate spaces that act like virtual phones, ensuring that your apps and data always remain secure.
  • It has a Smarter Wi-Fi Manager that’s fully automated to ensure your phone is only connecting to networks when you know you want to use Wi-Fi, and that you aren’t leaking your activities from advertisers and retailers, or even hostile honey-pot networks.
  • It has a Privacy Meter embedded in Silent OS that continuously checks device’s configuration and status, notifying the Blackphone user if there are any element that could compromise the security and privacy of your data.
  • Blackphone uses a premium software application called “Silent Phone.” Built by Silent Circle, it allows subscription members to communicate securely with end-to-end encryption including voice calls, video calls, conference calling, messaging, and file transfer on iOS, Android, and SilentOS devices around the globe.

Silent Phone doesn’t use Variable Bit Rate (VBR) codecs, because there’s a possibility that it could leak information.

Blackphone 2

black-phone-2

Source: ZDNet

The company’s second generation security phone. Blackphone 2 is a more enhanced model from its predecessor having bolstering privacy and security features.

Blackphone 2 offers the following:

  • The Blackphone 2 Security Centre is a control panel that allows users to control notifications and permissions accordingly from individual apps, unknown sources, privacy levels, accounts and encryption settings.
  • It has a 1.7GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor and 3GB of internal RAM, with a crisp and sharp high-definition display.
  • It supports Google Apps and Android for Work, as well as the usual email services, including Microsoft Exchange.

Summary

Blackphone is a military grade smart phone made by Silent Circle. It promises a fully private and encrypted experience with built-in encrypted voice, text and video features. Its market focuses more on buyers at enterprise businesses over ordinary users, stressing that employees often conduct business using private devices and services that are not secure so there’s a need for a level of privacy control that far exceeds that of regular Android phones.

By Tuan Nguyen

 

kid wearing google glass

Product review – What happened to Google Glass?

Just by using audio, visual, and location-based inputs, Google Glass was expected to drive human technological advancement.

Released in 2013 by its developer Google X (now X), it was a wearable, voice-controlled Android device resembling a pair of eyeglasses and displaying information directly in the user’s field of vision. Its operating system is based on a version of Android, and can run apps called Glassware that is already optimized for the device. Plus, it has a Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity with a built-in camera for taking photographs and videos.

However in January 2015, Google ended up abandoning the pricey glasses as a consumer-focused gadget, seeing it having “only a few swings at the mainstream market.

So what happened?

Tl; dr;

Google Glass, released in 2013 by its developer Google X (now X), was a wearable, voice-controlled Android device resembling a pair of eyeglasses and uses audio, visual, and location-based inputs to provide relevant information.

However in January 2015, Google ended up abandoning the pricey glasses as a consumer-focused gadget, seeing it only a few swings at the mainstream market.

What happened to Google Glass?

Google glass

Source: Antonio Nieto

Though Google Glass did cause quite a stir, there were already concerns raised even before the product was launched.

One of these is the health and safety issues as everyone is not comfortable with the idea of having a gadget that constantly emits carcinogenic radiation so close to the head. Also, the gadget’s built-in camera raised privacy and piracy concerns, meaning the person sitting in front you in a café, subway or at the next table could be taking a picture or video footage of you, knowing that it records and takes photos at any time.

As quoted in CNBC’s report:

Google unveiled the smart glasses at its I/O conference in April 2012 in a high-profile demonstration featuring skydivers, and rolled them out to developers a year later. But the product was pricey at $1,500, and not particularly stylish. Onlookers were also concerned about the glasses recording them without their knowledge, which led to several Glass-wearers being attacked in public. Google discontinued Glass as a consumer product in 2015.

Why?

Let us try to analyze what could be the reasons why Google Glass’s product development failed:

  • Unclear launch date. There isn’t a clear date set for the official launch of the product. That’s why consumers were never tuned as to when and where could be the actual release of the product. With this, Google Glass’s team of developers weren’t able to build a momentum around it.
  • Shaky business case. One of the biggest issues concerning Google Glass is it targeted a wrong market. Instead of being a transformational tool for professionals such as pilots, engineers, executives, doctors, truck drivers, police, etc., Google wanted to be seen it as hip from the get-go. That’s why prototypes were given to early adopters and celebrities, in the hopes of driving more customers to pay for the $1,500 hot trendy gadget happily. If that wasn’t enough, remember that wearers of the Google Glass were nicknamed as “Explorers”.
  • Unlimited budget yet NOT enough to make a project succeed. As what any project managers dream for their projects, unlimited budget “both cash and resources,” the Google Glass project has a significant advantage. Sadly, it didn’t became successful.
  • Aesthetically unappealing. Google Glass NEVER became a final product because the project didn’t have a well-defined quality plan.
  • Focuses more on feature NOT with benefits. Although Google did a lot of communication, but they tend to focus more on features instead of its benefits. Their 2012 demo featured skydivers and bikers using the device, there were displays during fashion shows, and even royalty wearing the glasses – seems like it was a GoPro replacement.

Google’s product campaign focused more on Google Glass’s deliverables: a 5 mega-pixel camera activated by a 30-degree tilt of the head, a touchpad on the side allowing its users to control the device, etc. It was never explained how the cool-tech could benefit the education sector or rather scientific research.

Quality issues

Since its release, Google had encountered serious quality issues:

  • Poorly developed design;
  • Uncomfortable earpiece;
  • Needing a phone to do almost entirely everything;
  • Applications are difficult to develop;
  • Winking to take a picture didn’t work properly; and
  • Short battery life (2-3 hours).

Plus, a string of health, security, and privacy issues were raised as well:

  • Heath issues concerning Wi-Fi signals in inches away from the user’s head;
  • Ability of stealing smartphone passwords using Glass;
  • Identifying people by way of facial recognition raised breach of privacy; and
  • Prohibitions with regards to the use of spy gadgets that can record audio, video, or take photos without permission.

Summary

Google Glass was released in 2013 by its developer Google X, was a wearable, voice-controlled Android device resembling a pair of eyeglasses and uses audio, visual, and location-based inputs to provide relevant information.

However in January 2015, Google ended up abandoning the whole project. Some of the main reasons are unclear business case, not focusing on the user’s benefits, and quality issues.

By Tuan Nguyen

hangouts logo

Product setup – Google Hangouts Extension

 lot of Hangouts is a free communication platform developed by Google. Here, you can make calls, do messaging and carry out video conferences. Also, the app is an all-out tool to connect superiors and employees; business partners; and loved ones.

Almost 5 years ago, Google has introduced a new Chrome App for Hangouts. The app, initially named “Ultra Violet” during testing, has brought a bubbly and fun Facebook Messenger style transparent ‘floating chat heads’ design to Google’s instant messaging platform.

We hope you didn’t depend on it too much. Because as indicated in a recent update to a support document, the Hangouts Chrome App will stop working soon. So for those who are still using Hangouts on the desktop, you are urged to switch to head-less Chrome Extension.

The said support document doesn’t go into too much detail as to when to expect the warning which currently appears “will stop working soon.” Hangouts users are warned not to use both the app and the extension simultaneously.

Google hangouts deprecation warning messageWith Hangouts Chrome Extension, you can integrate instant messaging, HD video calls, voice calls, google applications, HD group conferencing, built-in screen sharing, and many more. Its group chat option allows up to 150 participants in a single chat room. And with as many as 30 individuals included for every video call made. It supports iOS, Android, and the web, and even sync chats across multiple devices.

Tl; dr;

Google Hangouts is a free communication platform wherein you can connect you’re your employees, business partners, and loved ones.

In its Chrome Extension, you can integrate instant messaging, HD video calls, voice calls, google applications, HD group conferencing, built-in screen sharing, and many more. Its group chat option allows for up to 150 participants in a single chat room with as many as 30 individuals included for every video call made.

How to install Hangouts Chrome Extension?

desktop screen

A powerful communication platform developed by Google, Hangouts Chrome Extension lets people connect via message, free video or voice calls, either one-on-one or in a group. It lets you express with photos, videos, maps, emoji, stickers, and GIF animations.

You can view and continue your conversations across iOS, Android, and the web, and even sync chats across multiple devices.

Step 1: On your computer, open the Google Chrome browser and visit the Chrome Web Store at https://chrome.google.com/webstore

installation step 1

Step 2: On the Search box located on the upper left corner of the Web store page, type in “Hangouts” and key in Enter on your keyboard.

installation step 2

Step 3: After searching, a list of results will be displayed on the page. Click “Add to Chrome” into the most relevant one.

installation step 3

Step 4: Upon clicking, you will be asked to “Add Extension” or “Cancel,” click Add Extension. Then, a small pop-out that reads “Welcome to Hangouts” will appear indicating that you are all set. (Supposing you’re already signed in with your Gmail account).

installation step 5

Also, a small Hangouts icon will appear on the upper right section of your screen. This is now the Hangouts Chrome extension.

installation step 5

Summary

Hangouts is a free communication platform developed by Google. With it, you can make calls, do messaging and carry out video conferences with your employees, business partners, and loved ones.

With the current transition as indicated in a recent update to a support document, Google urges its users to shift from using the Hangouts Chrome App to Hangouts Chrome Extension.

Hangouts Chrome Extension allows its users to integrate lots of features. Some of them are instant messaging, HD video calls, voice calls, google applications, HD group conferencing, built-in screen sharing, and many more. Its group chat option allows for up to 150 participants in a single chat room with as many as 30 individuals included for every video call made.

By Tuan Nguyen

light phone featured image

Product review – Light phone

Light phone is a casual, secondary phone that is intentionally designed to be used as little as possible. It encourages you to leave your smartphone behind having limited phone calls and nine speed dials, and just spend the whole time doing the things that you love, free from distraction.

It is simply disconnecting with the world and just centering your focus within yourself and having great quality time with the people or things that you love.

You can read more or buy it here.

Tl; dr;

Light phone is a phone away from your phone that enables you to have valuable time without having too much distractions with social media, emails, news, or any advertising promotions. It is designed to be used as little as possible, having only small list of features – intentionally limited phone calls and nine speed dials is just one of those.

The Original Light Phone

light phone 1

Going light with your life is getting off much loads which are too much to carry.

Having limited sets of features, you are keeping your stress and worries away, may it be from social media injected insecurities, news negativities, self-worth doubts, or work pressure.

Cutting off from vulnerabilities and over too connected is one way we, as humans, can get our lives back. We are now putting true meaning with ourselves and not being enslaved with the present day’s advancements.

With Light Phone’s limited feature and smart design:

  • You are putting great value on time than money – in short, cost-efficient.
  • It can work independent of your smart phone.
  • It encourages you to leave behind your smartphone.
  • It’s handy.
  • It’s pocket-friendly (credit card sized).
  • It has seamless call management and call forwarding.
  • It has no access to emails, social media, news, or advertisements, convenience at its LIGHTNESS.
  • It doesn’t receive SMS text messages.
  • It only takes and makes calls (nine speed dials).
  • Keep yourself away from too much scrolling.
  • You can have more ME-TIME than ever before.
  • You get to have more quality time with your loved ones.
  • You can allot more time for the things that you love and wanted to achieve.
  • You get to contemplate with your life’s decisions and reflect on your growth as a person.
  • You get to have more sleep – NO MORE SLEEP DEPRIVATION!
  • You can protect yourself away from radiation and eye damage.
  • More heartfelt conversations and remarkable life events happen when there’s no distractions.
  • You get to nurture deep relationships and value true human connection.

Light phone II

light phone 2

Having the great objective to design beautiful objects that respect and empower comes the Light Phone II.

May it be you’re enjoying a morning stroll, listening to your favourite song, sipping a cup of coffee, or having a your day at the beach, going light has never been this convenient before – enough to forget about your smartphone.

With Light Phone II is even more reliable, durable, and practical than its predecessor. Moreover, you can now have features like:

  • messaging
  • alarm clock
  • bluetooth
  • spraying water proof
  • playlist
  • ride home
  • 4G LTE connection
  • black& white matte E-ink display
  • simple directions to get you on the way

Summary

Going light is never been so easy, It’s a dramatic shift away from the things you usually do, like checking emails, scrolling on social media stuff, or just watching Youtube videos.

With the original Light Phone and Light Phone II, there’s more with life to enjoy. You are disconnecting with the world and just focusing with yourself – living simple at its LIGHTNESS.

Designed for limitedness the original Light Phone you get to have things like nine speed dials (it only takes and makes calls), no access to emails, social media, news, or advertisements, no messages, more time with self, do things that you love the most and more time to sleep.

With the Light Phone II, there are extra features added, enough to keep your smartphone away like messaging, alarm clock, ride home, simple directions to get you on the way, 4G LTE connection, and a playlist.

P/S: light is nothing without darkness. Do you know that Blackphone exists?

By Tuan Nguyen