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The Information reported that Google will be launching an MVNO, reselling wireless service from the Sprint and T-Mobile networks. This has little chance of making a significant impact on the U.S. wireless market.
What is an MVNO?
To understand what Google is doing, it’s important to understand what an MVNO is. The acronym stands for Mobile Virtual Network Operator. These are companies that buy network service from companies like AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon at wholesale prices and then resell them to consumers at retail prices. Often, these prices are much lower for low-usage customers than the big brand names. The MVNO handles pricing, packaging, marketing, billing and customer service. (This is a simplification.)
Why do MVNOs exist?
There are three big reasons:
What Google lacks
Some have compared a Google MVNO with Google Fiber. Yes, both are in communications. But Google Fiber is bringing something unique to customers — extremely high speeds. A Google MVNO would have no such differentiation. Being on lesser networks would also make it harder to draw customers from the big two, substantially limiting the market.
It’s extremely bold for Google to try an MVNO. It’s something that not even Apple or Amazon has attempted. And both companies are much better at customer service and retail.
The big issue here is that Siri says “I’ll send your message.” Was it sent? Or is it stuck somewhere? Will it be sent immediately or 10 minutes from now?
The interface doesn’t reflect that the message was ever sent.
Apple does things like this because they want Siri to appear conversational. In some cases, it responds “Done.” to the same command. If you were to ask a friend 10 times to do something, the response each time might vary: “Yup” “Got it” “Done” “I’ll do it.” etc. That makes sense when you’re talking to a human. Not so much when you want predictability from your phone.
From redesign’s Victor Marks:
Bonus points for this comment:
Apple clears the message information off the screen and wastes a lot of real estate.
Google is telling us “No route found”. This a fairly simple request, from my location to Target. But Google didn’t check to see if there was connectivity before presenting the error message. This shows a common problem in UX design.
Such error messages should come from the server, not presented locally. If there isn’t connectivity, the user should be told to check connectivity or turn off airplane mode.
Android can detect airplane mode directly. I couldn’t find a similar check for iOS, but the app could test for connectivity in other ways.
From redesign’s Victor Marks:
There are three keys to solving this puzzle:
My answer here is to fall back to SMS when the data network doesn’t work. Apple has created its own messaging system that runs over your phone’s data connection. In most cases, this is good. It allows Apple to deliver a richer set of features, free international messaging and can be faster.
But SMS is more robust because it uses a separate signaling channel. (This is why you should use SMS in emergency situations.)
One of my frustrations with a lot of mobile design is that it ignores low-bandwidth use cases. That’s important for areas where there is sparse coverage. It’s also important if you want your app to work reasonably well in international markets.
Some other answers from Twitter:
This really works best in normal- or high-bandwidth situations. Pre-fetching also uses data that a user on a metered data plan might not want to use.
I use Glympse for this, largely out of habit. But the latest version of iOS does include sending location.
This quiz if focused on the items shown in the picture, specifically Budget and Avis. (Judging from the Twitter answers, that was unclear.)
Frequent travelers often rent cars. This involves picking up the car and eventually returning the car. Google could automatically track where you began your rental (in my case, Avis). When you want to return to the airport, instead of directing you to the airport terminal, it could automatically guide you back to the rental car return. One way to do this is to use GPS trace data. i.e. look at the paths of people who have rented from Avis and look at where they return the car.
Bonus points for showing me the last gas station on the route so that I don’t get stuck paying $9 a gallon to have the car rental company refill the tank. (Travel tip: You should almost never accept the prepaid fuel option.)
Some Twitter answers that reflect other issues with Google Maps.
I’ve been traveling all of my professional life. As the years have passed, so have the tools I use when I travel.
Here are my 2007 travel gadgets:
Others have been obviated by technology. I no longer carry Ethernet cables or the router to provide WiFi for me.
My current line up includes:
I’d probably ditch the Chromebook, but Google gives you 12 free gogo passes with each Chromebook. That alone is worth more than the cost of the Chromebook. Having it lets me stay productive in the air.
I’ve been testing both Pebble Steel and Motorola’s Moto 360 for the past few days. That’s got me thinking about what’s important to me in a smart watch. My top 10 evaluation criteria for a smart watch are:
I haven’t worn a watch regularly since 1998, but I’m willing to start for the right smart watch.
What am I missing? What is important to you in a smart watch?