Windows Phone 8: Oreo Skies

Oreo is on a roll.  After their recent “win” with their Super Bowl blackout post Oreo is continuing to impress me. Their most recent success is their new app for users of Windows 8 OS on the Nokia Lumia device.

Introducing Oreo Skies.

As one of the few users of the Windows Phone 8 platform I am always searching for new apps. Sometimes I’m looking for apps that I’m used to on from Android or iOS platforms. At other times, I’m looking for new apps that I’ve never used. And that’s how I found Oreo Skies. Most of the time, I could care less for corporate sponsored apps. This time was different. It may be because I am a huge fan of science. Or maybe because I’m a father of a 7 year old who loves discovering things even more than I do.

Here’s what the Oreo Skies app does:

Celebrate the “kid within” by pointing your Lumia at the sky, no matter what time of day or night, and explore a map of stars and constellations where you can message with your friends via Facebook. If you post the most messages during a lunar cycle, you get to “own the moon” and post something for the entire Oreo Skies network to see. Tap shooting stars to unlock hidden messages and special offers.

While the Facebook integration is weak from a user experience standpoint it is still a very interesting app. What makes it compelling to me is that I can point my smartphone up into the sky and actually know the know the names of the constellations I’m looking at. Even when I’m inside or its a cloudy night I can still know the names of the heavenly bodies above.

Oreo Skies Nokia Lumia Windows Phone 8

Does Vine have it’s first Vine-Superstar?

I say yes. And his name is Adam Goldberg.

Many of you might know Adam from movies such as Saving Private Ryan and A Beautiful Mind.  Adam also happens to be an accomplished musician, designer and director.

And now, he’s using Vine as a creative outlet and to showcase his creative talents. (If you’re curious about Vine check out the blog post I wrote on my company website.)

Which is a good thing. He’s not making videos of cookies being eaten or cats playing with dogs. Not that I have anything against dogs. It’s those darn cats I can’t stand…

And Adam will not be alone for much longer. The Vine platform and format is simple to use. For anyone.

All you need is 6 seconds. A 6 second movie. About anything you want. Think about it. How many people wish they could create a viral video on YouTube? Many. But it’s not really the viral video people are interested in making unless they use the platform for business – “Hey Karim, can you make me a viral video?”

People are interested in the creativity of these videos. However, the masses have been stopped as a result of a continuous raising of the bar. With Vine, the barrier to entry is fixed. And it’s low. Only 6 seconds. Imagine what you can come up with in 6 seconds. Now all you have to do is grab your smartphone* and away you go.

What will you create in 6 seconds?

* = currently Vine is only on the iOS platform. 

Windows Phone 8: TTC transit guru

One of the most used apps on my Windows Phone 8 is TTC transit guru. Made by Ikko systems Inc., this app has saved me time and also lowered my stress levels ever since I downloaded it.

TTC transit guru uses the real-time GPS systems onboard all the buses and streetcars to inform the user of the arrival times of any TTC vehicle at any stop (minus the subways).

Another feature I enjoy is the ability to save my most frequent stops. This allows me, with the tap of just a couple of icons to know when my next bus is coming.

Here are some additional features:

– An amazingly clean and simple interface (Metro really is a more enjoyable mobile OS than any other I’ve used before).
– Find your location on street map and your nearest stops
– Slide map to select any stop
– Real time GPS arrival times of next 5 buses
– Search route list and all stops along route
– Pin your favourite stops to your home screen (Another amazing feature of Metro)

What’s your favourite Windows Phone 8 app?

Red Bull TV

I use Windows Phone 7. Yeah, I’m probably one of the few. Soon, I will be using the new Windows Phone 8. The Lumia edition. With the launch of the new Windows Phone 8, I thought I should highlight some of my favourite apps.

Note: I am not getting paid to highlight these apps. I just think there’s a lot of talk about iOS and Android apps. Consider this a little virtual space for some Windows love.

I have never been a Red Bull fan. Let me re-phrase that. I have never been a fan of the drink. But I am a fan of the brand. It all started with Felix Baumgartner jumping out of a capsule from “space”.  Then I hd the chance to meet David Nam from the Canadian offices.  So now I’m a fan.

And I happen to also personally like their Windows Phone app, Red Bull TV. The app is very cool.

Red Bull TV features a cornucopia of action, adventure, glamour and excitement.  The app bring you access to exclusive events such as amazing sporting and cultural events. Meet your favorite sports and entertainment stars, go behind the scenes at major sporting events and the best parties. It’s actually like a can of Red Bull in your pocket.

5 Questions with Sonia Ryan

In honour of Canada’s Vancouver Canucks making it into the Stanley Cup Finals, I thought we’d take the opportunity to highlight one of Vancouver’s stars: Sonia Ryan. Sonia Ryan is the Troublemaker at A Thinking Ape. Her vision for ATA is to be THE company recognized by developers as the place to work.  Often described as the “Social Glue” she is dedicated to creating an inspiring experience through creative and experimental initiatives. Prior to ATA, Sonia worked at Bootup and was responsible for organizing monthly mentor visits and workshop, Demo Days, Democamps and Launch Party for the Vancouver startup scene. Sonia can always be found with her iPhone and a smile that doesn’t quit.

What motivates you to do what you do on a daily basis?

My team. I am working at A Thinking Ape and my teams dedication and drive to complete tasks is impeccable. We are all working together to create a solid technology company here in Vancouver and it’s really exciting.

If you had 30 seconds to impart your wisdom on a classroom of soon-to-be graduates, what would you say?

Work at a startup. If you are intrinsically motivated this experience is invaluable because you have an opportunity to understand all aspects of the business.

In your opinion, what has been one of the most important technological developments over the past 12 months?

The tablet was one of the most anticipated gadgets of the year, whether it be the android tablet or highly covetable iPad. We saw these tablets turn into e-readers for our digital books, newspapers, and magazines, and Web TV. Geolocation was also huge and I’m talking beyond Foursquare and Gowalla. The creation of Geo APIs from companies such as Facebook and Simple Geo changed the game by adding rich layers of geo-related data to all sorts of apps.

If you had a crystal ball, what would you say will be the most important technological development over the next 12 months?

Mobile Social Photo apps continue to increase in popularity and I don’t see this slowing down. We have Path, Instagram, Color, Twitpic and I’m excited to see what other innovations occur in this space over the next year. Also, with Amazon and Google’s recent foray into streaming music it should be interesting to see how Apple and the major record labels will respond.

Who is one of Canada’s tech stars and why?

It’s hard for me to pinpoint one person in particular. Being in Vancouver, I will name a few key people I admire: Maura Rodgers, Danny Robinson, my Founders at A Thinking Ape – Kenshi Arasaki, Wilkins Chung, Eric Diep, Ryan Holmes and Boris Mann. I named these individuals because they have been an integral part of my life after joining a startup. I look to them for mentorship, feedback and know that they will always be there for me.