Monday, November 8, 2010

Short takes: free wi-fi in the sky thanks to Google; e-ink reader displays to go color, but will still be of limited use

Google has teamed up with AirTran, Delta and Virgin America to offer free wi-fi on every domestic flight from November 20 through January 2 of next year. The service is called Gogo Inflight Wi-Fi and you can learn more at its own dedicated website at

The New York Times's Eric A. Taub looked at the latest developments in e-ink displays on Sunday -- color. Taub quotes an analyst as saying that “Color is the next logical step for e-ink." Well, duh.

The problems with e-ink, though, severely limit their usefulness. While e-ink displays are definitely superior to LCD displays in sunlight, they are generally less sharp, and not very useful in scenarios involving animation or video. For the gaming they are all but useless.

As a result, e-ink will remain the display of choice for dedicated readers, but LCD should continue to dominate on multi-use devices such as the iPad and future tablets built to showcase multimedia.

A 99 cent app that will find the nearest Target, another app that will find the nearest Sam's Club -- gotta be a joke, right?

Well, Allstays LLC is flooding the iTunes App Store with these little apps. All the universal app does is bring up a map that shows where the nearest store can be found. One wonders why this doesn't violate Apple policies -- Apple has stated very clearly that they would reject any app that duplicates their devices basic functions. I would think map searches -- especially paid map searches -- would be a violation.

My first response to seeing these apps in the iTunes App Store was "fraud!". But the first apps released by Allstays were for rest stops, RV dumps, camp sites, etc. In other words, they were targeting campers. Also, these apps have built-in directories so when you are in the middle of nowhere and have no Internet connection you can still access the information. Sounds reasonable to me. In fact, I've been advocating local media outlets doing the same sort of thing for their local merchants.