Tag Archives: Android

Unapologetically plastic.

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The past few days I’ve been using a blue iPhone 5C courtesy of work. It’s just a loaner and it’s been an interesting return to iOS after quite a few months of being entirely on Android. Some thoughts …

  • Solid. Plastic or not the 5C feels great in your hand.
  • Size matters. One one hand the iPhone is quite small in comparison to any recent top end android device. Typing feels a bit cramped by comparison though you get used to it. The iPhone is still largely focused on and delivers a single hand experience.
  • Responsiveness. More than general speed the iPhone has a responsive gestalt and it’s a pleasure to use in most circumstances. I found myself wanting to use it more often than my other devices. Time will tell as it’s far from perfect but really such a well considered and designed device. My last active iPhone was the 4S for reference … It’s sitting in my briefcase – updated to iOS 7 but essentially gathering dust.
  • Flow. I’m really acclimated to the android way and find the lack of app addressability beyond what apple dictates to suck. That I can’t share content to any number of apps beyond apple’s very short list hurts. Intents are an amazingly powerful function of android and it’s hard to operate without them.
  • Camera. Damn this is a nice little shooter. I can easily flick the camera open from behind the screen lock- something android makes impossible with exchange security on! One hand use really comes into play as it’s super simple to grab a shot on the go. I snapped a few pics while biking yesterday in a reasonably safe manner and would have not considered this on android without first removing my exchange account or working through a more complex root based hack. Pictures look great of course and the gallery is super fast and a visible from the usual photo apps. I do miss being able to send via a reviewed pic … Again intents are amazing with android.
  • typing. While the keyboard is a bit cramped at first the screen is so damned responsive and the auto correct generally friendly that you can sweep through longer email, note or post (like this) very easily. I read over the weekend that the scene response time on iPhone is substantially greater than the current crop of android devices and typing – something I do constantly receives a huge boost!
  • battery. The battery is terrible on this phone though sadly I have such low expectations at this point. I’m at 60% now at 9:10am. Going to be impossible for this to last a full day without some intervention.

I got a fresh start on iOS 7 with the 5C and have to say it works great. There are many improvements though largely it’s just iOS. I like it.

I’m not really in the market for a new phone but see the 5C selling a zillion. My pic would be the 5S without even seeing it as I would want the extra power, better camera and I’m very interested in the motion sensor.

I’m in a Nexus state of mind

I’m a multi device user. Currently I’m working with three active mobile devices… a Galaxy S4 (work), Galaxy note II (personal) and a Nexus 7. The Nexus re-awakened my desire for pure Android as it’s so clean and importantly so fast. I’m constantly moving between applications and while the flow of Android is pretty awesome, its accentuated within the more pure view.

Towards the end of last week I started actively considering the Google Play Edition S4 as the hardware is great and it’s clean. My S4 has been fine but I wanted something more like the N7. I’d rooted (motochopper) quite a while back so the opportunity to wipe out the AT&T piece of my experience was there but the main OS experience was still via TouchWiz but after some considerable N7 use it was time to change that as well.  A quick google led me to the solution which of course is a GPe S4 ROM ready to roll onto my phone. I did fail once as the initial effort required second step following the flash which I failed to initiate rendering my unit in AT&T startup jail until I could reflash the original state back and try again. I’m noticing a dramatic performance increase without battery penalty. Mission accomplished.

While the S4 was in transition, my Note II submitted itself to a spontaneous reset. I honestly have no idea what happened but while I was in a meeting it looped twice and when I looked down was at the initial start screen waiting for me to sign in and get going. As frustrating as this was I took it as a chance to reconsider this phone as well. Given the somewhat older status of the Note II and the strong likelihood of a model rev this year getting a fresh Jelly Bean update from either Samsung or AT&T seemed low … Back to Google and this time I found a solution through Paranoid Android. While not pure in the Nexus sense PA offers a straight+ experience meaning like Cyanogenmod, there are some light enhancements rather than sweeping UX changes. Seemed like a good thing … Downloaded and flashed.  Boom.

I’m now running a pretty parallel experience across the various form factors and it’s rather sweet. The pick up and go or even pick and continue opportunity is killer. As the powers within android collect, enabling sync through background operations I’m just where o want to be on whichever screen I choose.

While the similarities in ux seamlessness are parallel in iOS, sync is badly missing and while I’m in no way way seeking out iOS for any of my mobile needs the sameness is important. If you use multiple brands of devices or even multiple SKU’s within the same brand you can get a very different experience and I don’t think that’s a good thing. What manufacturers and even carriers have done is create the fragmentation everyone loves to talk about in regard to Android. While perhaps the historical delivery from Google was mediocre, the last few generations of Nexus products are not just strong but leading edge as well.

The vast majority of add-ons from Samsung, HTC, AT&T, Verizon are typically superfluous and only challenge the ability of developers, brands and importantly the user to maintain focus and currency within the system. This needs to end. Looking at the Paranoid Android example in comparison to what Samsung or HTC have done is a good place to start. Instead of forcing a new user experience on top of the core is, there are instead some slight tweaks mainly within the preferences to offer up adjustment. My use of the Note II is very similar to the other devices … Oh and PA even detects the S-Pen so there’s that. Apps that take full advantage of the pen can still be on board in a close-to-pure view.

At the beginning of the year I was thinking this might be the year we see developers go Android first. It looks like that’s more likely in 2014 at this point though I’d love to be surprised. One substantial way to capture that developer attention would be a stricter focus on areas where innovation and enhancement should occur. Marketing could and should be about the nuances in hardware design, form factor and not the crazy layers distracting from how we might just use our various devices. Adding unique apps doesn’t seem to hurt but when there are suddenly layers forcing a certain tinted view we’ve gone too far.

tapped and swiped on the N7 while on my commute

Aiming for third

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Lt. Aldo Raine: Well, I speak the most Italian, so I’ll be your escort. Donowitz speaks the second most, so he’ll be your Italian cameraman. Omar speaks third most, so he’ll be Donny’s assistant.
Pfc. Omar Ulmer: I don’t speak Italian.
Lt. Aldo Raine: Like I said, third best. Just keep your f*ckin’ mouth shut. In fact, why don’t you start practicing, right now!

via IMDB

Being 3rd can only be seen as a concession.  It’s never an actual goal.  If you’ve competed in sports you know getting third is because you weren’t the best or even the next best.  It’s certainly an achievement particularly in things like the Olympics, but if you are going into a big tournament thinking you’ll only get 3rd place, it’s because you aren’t mentally or physically able to compete for the title.  In mobile it looks a little different … no one is even trying for second.

It all seems to have started with this …

Such technology platforms are often called ecosystems, and Mr. Elop described Nokia’s strategy in those terms. Mobile network operators, likeAT&T and Verizon, would welcome more smartphone competition. “They want a third ecosystem,” Mr. Elop said.

Nokia competes with other handset makers, like Samsung, HTC and LG. But Mr. Elop made it clear that was not his greatest concern.

“The highest priority for us is to beat Android and Apple,” he said. “This is an ecosystem to ecosystem battle.” [NYT NOVEMBER 8, 2011]

An interesting perspective and clearly now, over a year later there’s still a rather MASSIVE road ahead to even come close. However an interesting thing happened along the way …First in January:

BlackBerry, formerly Research in Motion, has made no secret that it’s got its eye on the bronze medal of the smartphone market, behind Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. Taking on either of the big two would be an impossible, demoralizing goal for the once-dominant Canadian smartphone maker, but holding on as a solid third choice is an achievable goal. [Washington Post Feb 7,2013]

And now in March:

Sony Corp said it aims to win third place in smartphone markets around the world behind Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co, pitting it against Chinese companies Huawei Technology and and ZTE that are looking to become the third big player in mobile devices. [Reuters March 4, 2013]

Granted Sony and Blackberry are talking about the exact same thing since Blackberry believes it’s really selling an ecosystem and they are vs Sony which is offering an Android powered smartphone.

So who has the likeliest chance of success? All bets are off once Huawei takes the crown for first of course.

 

Samsung’s HomeSync

Samsung_HomeSync

This is a rather interesting development from Samsung… It’s not GoogleTV, but it is an Android powered STB.

The device features WiFi, Bluetooth and Ethernet support, 2 USB 3.0 ports for peripherals, a micro USB port for connecting to a PC, and HDMI output for hooking up a TV or monitor. Under the hood, the HomeSync is running software based on Google Android Jelly Bean, which means you can use it to watch movies on the hard drive or stream videos from YouTube, among other things. It also includes access to the Google Play Store, which should let you download additional apps such as Netflix or Vudu to turn the HomeSync into a pretty powerful media center for your TV. via liliputing

Love that Android…

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While the general statement “there’s an app for that” tends to be around iphone it applies even more so to Android. One simple way this applies is to customization.

Take today for example … I woke up early and since im staying in a hotel with my family,  I opted to quietly use my phone until it’s time to really get going. Unfortunately,  the Galaxy Note II is ridiculously bright even at the lowest setting.  After a quick moment of clarity, I realized there was probably a way to address that and found Super Dimmer Pro. Boom problem solved.

I know that’s a really simple example but I find the power simple and excellent to have.