Internet Trends 2019 (Bond Report)

Internet Trends 2019 report is the most comprehensive, detailed, and research document that I have ever seen on what’s going on with the Internet, web, mobile, social media, marketing, and security.

This year’s report spans 333 pages and is full charts, graphs, statistics, insights, and references. And if you are feeling nostalgic, there is an archive of the annual reports going all the way back to 1995.

It’s difficult to pick a single fact from such a huge document, but if I had to, I’d go with this:

51% of the global population, or 3.8 billion people, were Internet users last year.

Wow. That’s quite a crowd.

Via Slashdot.

Goodbye Waze, hello Google Maps

I am a big fan of social apps, especially those that address a particular problem, usually outside of the generic social networks. Unfortunately, many of these apps suffer from the same set of problems – insufficient user base to make them useful, competition from larger apps with overlapping functionality, and feature stagnation.

If I find the application useful, I try to ignore these problems for as long as I can. But, unfortunately, at some point even the best of us give up.

Last year I gave up Swarm and Foursquare. This time around, I am giving up Waze in favor of Google Maps.

Waze is like a social network for drivers. There are plenty of maps and navigation apps, but Waze went further. The app had the functionality to assist with mapping the roads, reporting police and road hazards, and some basic social and gaming functionality, where you could communicate and compete with other drivers. (The competition wasn’t speed based, but rewarded drivers who contributed the most.)

Waze never was a big hit, at least not here in Cyprus. But it was big enough to be acquired by Google back in 2013 for over one billion dollars.

Waze wasn’t shut down after the acquisition and the deal kind of made since, as Google would get real-time human contributions to compliment its automated ways of Google Maps.

But it didn’t solve the problems of Waze at all, if not made them even worse. More and more people started using Google Maps. The development of Waze slowed down to a crawl. And even the most vital features for such an app were never added.

As far as I was concerned, I could even live without the large user base. But there is one particular feature that kept annoying me until now, which was never added. There is no way to drop a pin on the map. Yes, that’s right, Waze is a map and navigation app without a pin. Instead, you can either search for places to go, or enter a street address to go to.

Cyprus is the country where street addresses are seldom used for navigation. Most of the cities grew out of small villages that overlapped with time. Which means, there is no preset design for the cities, like in the USA with the street-avenue grid. And most of the villages had the streets named after the same people, which, in the city causes lots of confusion with several streets in different parts, named the same. Heck, we even have streets with the same name crossing each other.

Try telling Waze that you are going to your friends house. You know where it is on the map, but you don’t know the exact address. (Yes, you might know the street name, but not the number.) And you’ll know what I mean.

On top of that, with fewer and fewer users contributing to the app, the data gets obsolete. There are places that have closed years ago. There are places that have moved to a different address. And there are plenty of new places that Waze knows nothing about.

And since you’ve got me complaining, here’s another feature that I miss, which is also missing or inadequately implemented in all the other apps I’ve tried – custom repeatable routes with multiple stop points.

Google Maps has a very basic “Commute to” feature, where you can just set your work and home, and then quickly navigate to either one or the other. Waze and many other apps have the same. But that only takes you so far.

Here are two scenarios which are a pain in pretty much every navigation app:

  1. More than two commute entries. Yes, work and home are common destination points for most of the user base. But what about school? Many of us are not 18 anymore and need to drive the kids to or from school. Sometimes, even more often than we navigate to home or work. People might have more than two jobs. Or they might have other destinations that they visit on a daily basis. It might a doctor’s office, or an older relative for a quick check. Why not expand the short list of “Commute to” entries to more than 2. Make it 3 or 5, and that covers most frequent routes for most people.
  2. More than two points in a route. Sure, home to work, and work to home, makes sense. But for over a year I had to commute to work, while picking up two colleagues on the way in, and dropping them home on the way back. Even dropping off the kids to school on the way to work is a common scenario among the parents I know. Why can’t we just connect the dots? Create a new route from one place to another, add a couple of stops in between, and save it in the shortlist for quick access. This will even help with the navigation part as well. The app won’t have to insist on re-routing me on every turn, when I briefly drive in the direction opposite to my office to pick up a colleague.

So for the last couple of month, I haven’t used Waze for my navigation needs. I tried a whole lot of other apps, and after a brief try outs, I decided to use Google Maps for now. It’s far from perfect, but it sucks less than others.

And just after I’ve made my mind, I came across the news that Google Maps will get the speed limits and radar locations feature. A feature inspired by Waze.

Oh, well. That’s good to know. But that just confirms my decision of letting Waze go and using Google Maps. At least for now. We’ll see what the future brings. Hopefully Google won’t kill the Goolge Maps app, like it did so many others.

Goodbye Waze and thanks for all the good times. I’ve enjoyed our time together, but now it’s time to drive forward. Hello Google Maps. Please learn from the mistakes of Waze. You’ve paid the money already.

Best apps and games for Android in 2018

Google Play Store shares the best games and apps of 2018 in the following two lists:

For me personally, most of the apps I used in 2018 remained the same from the previous years. The two new discovers were:

  • Yatse – a remote control for Kodi media center, which I use at home a lot.
  • SimCity – a game I used to play decades ago on PC, which is now available on the mobile, and it’s awesome!

How Fast Is Amp Really?


With Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) being all the rage recently, I found “How fast is AMP really?” article interesting.  It looks like it’s worth spending a tiny bit of time adding AMP to your site, especially if it was developed with one of the common and widely used tools, like WordPress.  And if mobile page performance is important for your project, than there’s even more that you can benefit from.

Goodbye Foursquare and Swarm


It is the end of an era for me, and for once it’s me ending it and not yet another web service or social network disappearing.  Today I’m saying goodbye to Foursquare and Swarm.

I have been one of the early adopters of Foursquare and an active user for a few long years.  I loved it from the moment I heard about it.  The idea was brilliant and the implementation was good too.

For me, Foursquare was a very elegant idea of a social network.  The combination of the city guide with crowd sourcing and a gaming component was cool.   It provided an easy way to find new places, get recommendations, reviews, and tips, and wrapped it all in a points system that made sense.

I thought that it was also useful for the business owners – knowing who checks in at your bar or restaurant, where else they go, how often they come, and what they think is great.  Being able to offer promotions and special offers based on the check-in history of a user, I thought, was genius as well.

But for some reason, Foursquare never really took off.  Sure, I loved it and recommended it to every person with the mobile phone.  But it never quite got as mainstream as, say, Facebook.  Pity.

But then things got worse.  Foursquare has split the mobile app into two – Foursquare as a city guide, and Swarm as a game.   Swarm is still feeding Foursquare with content, but now there is no particular reason to install Swarm and use it.  I don’t think there was a single new user or anyone who just uses Swarm, without Foursquare.  I might be wrong, of course.  But from what I’ve seen, even fewer people were now checking in and contributing.  Those who did were mostly doing so out of habit from the good old days.  As did I.

A few days ago, something else happened, which, for me, was the last drop.  My Swarm app kicked me out and asked to re-authenticate.  This was weird.  But I did it anyway.  And then, for some reason, all my history was gone.  I still had those few friends in, and my settings were all good.  But the history began anew.  What?  No!  Sure, I can dig into it and figure out if I did something wrong.  Or I can contact support and let them fix it.  But what’s the point anyway?

There is no benefit to using Swarm anymore.  It’s points for the sake of points.  So I’m over and out.

Goodbye Foursquare and Swarm.  It was fun while it lasted.