Khaled rambles technology, tea/coffee, consumer rights and other interest from Saudi Arabia

February 27, 2012

Windows Phone Beats Android, Announces Official App Market for Saudi Arabia, UAE

Filed under: General — Tags: , , , , , — Khaled A. @ 8:44 pm

أعلنت مايكروسوفت رسمياً أنه سيتم إفتتاح متجر لتطبيقات ويندوز فون رسمي في المملكة العربية السعودية و عدد من الدول الشهر القادم! وينكم يا قوقل أعطونا وجه!

In a post on the Windows Phone Dev Blog, Joe Belfiore announced that in March Microsoft will launch an official app marketplace for customers in 23 countries, including Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.

The full 23 country list includes:

Bahrain, Bulgaria, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Estonia, Iceland, Iraq, Israel, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, Ukraine, Venezuela and Vietnam.

Saudi Arabia and UAE were ignored by Google’s Android Marketplace for a very long time, forcing users to root to enable purchasing of apps.

While Arabic isn’t officially supported on Windows Phone 7 it can read Arabic just fine unlike Android 2.3 devices. Don’t ask about ICS as it exists on only 2 phones.

Microsoft will launch the market in March 2012 and I should note that Apple launched the Saudi Arabia iTunes App Store in July 2008.

Thanks @mhmd!

[image credit: Nokia Lumia 610 at MWC 2012]

February 25, 2012

Google Celebrates Ibn Battuta قوقل و ابن بطوطة

Filed under: General — Tags: — Khaled A. @ 1:51 am

قوقل غيرت صورتها اليوم لعرض عدد من الصور بمناسبة يوم ميلاد الرحالة ابن بطوطة.

Google’s Middle East home-pages are celebrating the birthday of Muslim explorer Ibn Battuta with a set of images:

January 10, 2012

Useful Google Extensions

Filed under: General — Tags: — Khaled A. @ 1:59 pm

From HyperText:

I’ve long been a huge fan of Chrome/Chromium and have been asked more than a few times for a list of the extensions I use, and so I thought I’d whip up a quick post to list and discuss them (where necessary). (The italicized text after the name of each extension is the copy provided by the respective developer.) Note that this list does not include the bookmarklets I use; I’ll discuss those in a separate post.

Though it probably is obvious, there likely is some overlap between certain of the “privacy” extensions, and I’m OK with that. Relatedly, I also whitelist cookies on Chrome (an awesome browser feature). Basically, this means that I have to give a site explicit permission before it can set cookies. It’s great, though not without its annoyances; for example, sometimes some snooping is required to get certain websites working. (It’d be nice if Chrome let us enable cookies for a particular site, and then automatically deleted those cookies as soon as the tab in which they were created was closed. If you’re aware of an extension that will do this, please let me know.)

  • Send to Kindle Push web articles to your Kindle. I use this extension a lot; if, for whatever reason, it fails, I fall back on Instapaper’s “Send to Kindle” bookmarklet (which, I’m guessing, most people don’t even know about).
  • Instachrome Save your URLs to Instapaper. I use this instead of the bookmarklet(s) because it automatically closes the tab after the link has been saved, something I’ve written about (and “fixed”) before. I hope that future versions allow us to target specific folders.
  • Posthoc Adds pages to the Read it Later online service. This is a must-have for me because I use both Instapaper and Read It Later, and like Instachrome, this too closes the tab after the link is saved.
  • Tabs Counter A visual candy — always know the number of opened tabs. This is the kind of stat I love knowing at all times. I kind of wish it would display the tab count for the current window and the combined tab count for all of the open windows; currently, it shows the tab count of just the current window.
  • AdBlock The most popular Chrome extension, with over 2 million users! Blocks ads all over the web.
  • Chrome Cookies Button Provides quick icon access to manage your Chrome cookies.
  • Chromeblock Stop secret tracking of your web browsing. (UPDATE: This extension is no longer available for download; I’m not sure why.)
  • 1Password Beta Password and identity manager for Mac, Windows, iOS and Android.
  • Disconnect Stop third parties and search engines from tracking the webpages you go to and searches you do.
  • Ghostery Protect your privacy. See who’s tracking your web browsing with Ghostery.
  • YSlow Make your pages faster with Yahoo!’s page performance tool.
  • Google Analytics Opt-out Add-on Tells the Google Analytics JavaScript (ga.js) not to send information to Google Analytics.
  • Page One — Banish Multipage Articles Always display the single-page version of articles at popular news sites.
  • SelectOut Tracking Opt-Out Be in control of who tracks you online.
  • Sheepish Protect your privacy. See who’s tracking you. Are you sheepish? (UPDATE: This extension is no longer available for download.)

You should follow me on Twitter here

November 29, 2010

Google fails in Saudi Arabia

Filed under: General — Tags: , , , , , , , — Khaled A. @ 1:03 pm

Update: Google updated Riyadh’s satellite images to something from late 2010. The maps however are still outdated.

I complained many times about the extremely useless and out of date Google Maps for Saudi Arabia: roads are from 2004 and you can’t even get basic directions! Allright, Google have problems with all the red tape, we get that. But I was shocked to see Microsoft Bing Maps already supporting very recent maps of Saudi Arabia.

Here’s an example, Al Oruba st intersection with Prince Turki st, in 2004/2005 a northern road was constructed turning it from a T-shape intersection to a normal intersection. Here’s the satellite images on Google Maps:

Now here’s the regular map on Google Maps. 6 years later and it’s still the same:

Now let’s have a look at Microsoft Bing Maps:

Bing Maps is up to date with the Saudi map, how come Google isn’t? Is Google being denied?

If Google allowed us to use the Google Map Maker it would not have happened.

The Bing Maps do not have any points of interest but that didn’t stop Microsoft from allowing us to use navigation on the map! Google Maps can’t figure a simple straight line:

While Bing is EXTREMELY USEFUL even without points of interest:

Another example of Google’s failure in the region: the lack of an Android Market in Saudi Arabia. This is Motorola’s response to @Yalmisfer when he asked why is his Motorola Milestone Android phone is lacking an Android Marketplace:

Android Market was removed per requirements of Google in the individual Arabic regions such as UAE, Egypt, Oman and Saudi Arabia.

The same is happening with the Samsung Galaxy Tab and Samsung Galaxy S apparently. Google doesn’t need to release an Arabic Android market, they don’t even support Arabic language natively in Android until now!

@Yalmisfer also got to talk with Samsung Middle East:

I got a call from the firm doing the PR for ME for Galaxy and they are asking me to try it and write a review about, I asked them and the answer was No market for Middle East

My rant is over.

January 7, 2010

Native Arabic support for Google Android

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , — Khaled A. @ 8:02 pm

STC was the first company to introduce an Android based cellphone in the region. The phone was the HTC Magic however native Arabic support is only available for Android OS 1.5 while the latest OS version for the Magic is 1.6 (HTC are working on 2.1 update to be released this year). Arabic support is not available in 1.6, 2.0 and 2.1.

I should contrast this to the iPhone: iPhone OS 3.0 added support for many languages including Arabic. You do not need to download additional software to add Arabic to the iPhone and you don’t need to change anything if all you needed is to read Arabic. Apple did that in less than 2 years and all of their iPhones support Arabic by now. As for Android you should be able to add Arabic by visiting a site such as XDA Developers.

Which brings us to the ArDroid website that specializes in helping the Arabic speaking community use Google Android phones. They started a feature request to have better Arabic language support:

I bought an Android phone and I said since you already made the locale adding the Arabic language will be easy and fast , but now I have the phone for 5 months and no Arabic support still , we have two available Android phones in my country and two are coming in a few months , I had an iPhone but I sold it to buy an Android phone , so I think I’m wrong in selling the iPhone , anyway please Google add the Arabic support and Prove Me Wrong .

Support this by voting for this issue to be resolved which you can do by simply clicking the star on the left (you might need a Google Account for that).

I should remind Google that Nokia is a major market-share holder in Saudi Arabia, BlackBerry comes in second place. So they are the major competition for Android phones here, not the iPhone.

Image from here.

November 28, 2009

Add points of interest to the Saudi map using Gowalla

Filed under: General — Tags: , , , , — Khaled A. @ 7:31 pm

I gave up on Google. After so many posts asking for Google to simply allow us to contribute to our own map, Saudi Arabia and UAE are still editable. The rest of the GCC: Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman have been available for a while. Of course the only alternative is not even good for that.

So I highly recommend using Gowalla to add points of interests in the Saudi map. It’s available as an iPhone app and you can read more about it at TechCrunch. A group of iPhone users in Saudi Arabia are already using Gowalla and we are slowly populating it with actual data!

I hope to see Gowalla’s data being used in other databases, but right now it is the only acceptable method of adding points of interests.

March 21, 2009

Ask Google Map Maker to allow editing of Saudi Arabia maps

Filed under: General — Tags: , , , — Khaled A. @ 11:40 am

Last year we tried to ask Google to add Saudi Arabia’s map. They finally did but the maps are out of date an inaccurate. We need to ask Google to enable us to edit the Saudi Arabia map using the Google Map Maker.

Right now Google Map Maker supports 164 countries, but it is missing Saudi Arabia and UAE.

I have created a new post in the Google Map Maker group about adding Saudi Arabia. I will add the link to the post once it appears in the group. Here is the new Google Map Maker Group thread about Saudi Arabia and UAE.

If it did not go well we should just switch to OpenStreetMap.

March 13, 2009

Google Map Maker still lacks Saudi Arabia, UAE

Filed under: General — Tags: , , , — Khaled A. @ 11:47 pm

Google map maker has increased their list of supported countries to 164. Which includes Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar but for some unknown reason is still missing Saudi Arabia and UAE.

Unfortunately we have to wait even more and we know how slow google is to update their google mobile maps. The data on google maps mobile is is different than the regular desktop google maps. The iPhone 3G GPS function is useless in Saudi Arabia since you can’t install your own maps or use Google maps’ data. You can’t even use any form of navigation or driving directions for Saudi Arabia maps in google maps.

Saudis mainly use WikiMapia to add data on google maps at the moment. Google needs to listen to it’s users. We are still waiting, google.

January 31, 2009

Google introduces Offline Gmail

Filed under: News — Tags: , , — Khaled A. @ 11:51 am

Google introduced “Offline Gmail” which allows you to access all of your Gmail content without connecting to the Internet. To enable it go to “Settings” then “Labs” then choose “Enable” in the “Offline” section. You need to install Google Gears which can be installed on most operating systems and web browsers.

Read more about it: 10 Good Things About Offline Gmail.

October 6, 2008

Google hiring in the Middle East

Filed under: News — Tags: , — Khaled A. @ 12:46 pm

Google is looking for engineers and managers in the Middle East region. The positions are listen on the Google Jobs site.

The available positions are: Engineering Site Director (Arabic Fluent), Product Manager, Tech Lead Manager and Software Engineer.

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