Tag Archives: android

My First Hour with Google’s Nexus 4

I’m very grateful that T-Mobile stepped up and helped me unbox the Nexus 4 live on YouTube today! Without the fine folks there, viewers would have been forced to watch me drool over the hardware in silence.

Nexus 4

  • Android 4.2: Snappiest / most buttery Android device I’ve used. I’m not just saying that either. You won’t believe this is an Android phone with the visible perf it’s pushing down the pike.
  • Screen Feel: My fingers glide across the glass (I LOVE it); slightly less friction than iPhone 5.
  • Screen Text: Clear — it’s very close to a Retina display, but not quite there in every instance (white text over a colored background shows a bit of fuzziness on the text edges). Still very nice.
  • Screen Images: Vibrant, good representation of color. This is a great screen for media consumption.
  • Chrome: Very smooth scroll, pinch-to-zoom drops frames. Enjoyable browsing. It still hates The Verge’s desktop site, though.
  • Still Camera: Fine (undersaturated, noisy in low light), worse than iPhone 5. Moreover, I’ve seen plenty of purple flare with the lens — so all of those non-iPhone 5 owners people who whined about the flare on newer Apple hardware should be eating crow right now.
  • HDR: Slow, imbalanced color output (currently very unoptimized). I wound up producing a few very blurry photos (which turned out to be inadvertently artsy) because I thought it was finished and it wasn’t.
  • Maps: Extremely responsive, smooth zooms. Plus, it’s great data underneath.
  • Google+ App: Scrolls more smoothly than the iOS version (?!). Yes, I use Google+ every day.
  • Fingerprints: Hello? It’s a smartphone. 🙂
  • Feel in hand: Incredibly light. That was my first reaction. Nice.
  • Single-hand operation: A bit of a stretch, but certainly workable.
  • Default Messages: Messaging, Messenger, Talk (quite a mess, confusing). Google needs to clean up the various default options ASAP.
  • Gmail: Fluid (“Hide pictures in messages” only has a “Yes” option). I can’t stand Google+ email notifications on Android.
  • Rear Speaker: Tinny (voice-optimized?), muted (tolerable) while on a surface. Seriously, I wouldn’t use this for anything other than voice.
  • Photosphere: Meh. Far from seamless; color-imbalanced between frames. Very user-friendly software, though!

My gut tells me: This is a fantastic smartphone for the price and plan(s). Great Android phone, folks.

Android is the New Windows

I mean that in the most polite way, too. 🙂

There’s a reason that Android is the most widely used smartphone platform today — just like there’s a reason that Windows is still the most widely used platform on desktop computers today.

You never heard an argument from me; it was inevitable that Android (or another competitor) would overtake iOS with a licensing strategy.

There are certainly more Windows PCs out there, but people haven’t stopped buying Macs — and Apple hasn’t stopped being profitable with them.

iOS devices will continue to be purchased and used by a segment of the market that spends money (a great market to corner for semi-obvious reasons). Even if Apple only continued to produce those iOS devices for its Mac customer base, it’d still remain profitable — though wouldn’t sell as many as it would have without competition.

Just because you sell more doesn’t mean you have the “best” product, either.

To me, the question isn’t “will Apple be destroyed” as much as it is “can Microsoft catch up?”

Android 4.0 – Ice Cream Sandwich: Hot or Cold?

After watching Google’s Ice Cream Sandwich / Samsung Galaxy Nexus launch live on YouTube last night (and providing running commentary in my Google+ Profile all the while), I’ve come to one conclusion: Android 4.0 (“Ice Cream Sandwich”) will be awesome. But, to that end, did anybody really expect it to be worse than what we’ve seen before? That would have been more of a surprise.

With any luck, carriers will push out the long-awaited OS update to capable devices within a short matter of time (and short, in this case, is extremely relative). It’s difficult enough for the average consumer to keep up with the cavalcade of new Android devices that seem to drop every other month; why must carriers further burden a customer’s decision-making process with a questionable software update calendar / no OTA updates?

So, yes – the bottom line? If you can get a phone with Ice Cream Sandwich on it today, you should absolutely do it. With it will come countless new features and refinements:

  • Easier way to manage your widgets
  • iOS-like folder creation
  • The ability to add “people” directly to your home screen
  • A Calendar app that enables you to zoom in to reveal appointment details
  • “Visual Voicemail” with an audio-speed slider
  • Easy screen shots (finally)!
  • Closer-to-real-time voice dictation feedback
  • Get up to 16 “tabs” in Browser.
  • Deep-level data usage charts
  • Android Beam – allowing you to share data with another Android Beam user

And Dan Morrill further goes on to highlight Upload Settings, Disabling Apps, Camera Controls, Improved Download Manager, Support for Encryption for Phones, and Audio Effects. Is that all? Hardly.

I hesitate to speak too much about the Samsung Galaxy Nexus – since I haven’t touched it or tried it, and I’d be hesitant to trust opinions from those who also have not – but the screen sounds delicious: 1280×720 resolution at 316ppi! Compare that to the iPhone 4/4S’s resolution of 960×640 at 326ppi. To quote Yoda: “Size matters not.” He never said anything about resolution or pixels per inch, though – and that’s what really matters with these pocket computers. That’s right: I called ’em pocket computers. If you’ve got a problem with that, take it up with the definition of “computer” and “pocket.”

For a healthy marriage, hardware and software must work together seamlessly. Theoretically, this is possible. What works well for some seemingly does not for others. Consider this thorn from ThisIsMyNext (don’t shoot the messenger with bigotry):

As to overall performance, we saw a good deal of stutter in the Galaxy Nexus before us. Taps were not always recognized and there were occasional delays in performing an instruction, though in Google’s defense, it was a phone fully loaded with running tasks and the software is being continually improved and optimized (i.e. it’s not yet fully baked). That having been said, it unfortunately remains the case that Android isn’t as swift and responsive as iOS or Windows Phone (or even MeeGo Harmattan on the N9). Or at least it wasn’t on the demo phone we got a look at. The subtle, pervasive lag that has characterized the Android UI since it inception is still there, which is not a heartening thing to hear when you’re talking about a super-powered dual-core device like the Galaxy Nexus.

Let’s hope they keep tweaking it to perfection. This industry needs healthy competition, and I’m happy to see Ice Cream Sandwich looking like a more-than-viable option.

Android vs iPad? Why Android Tablets Can’t Beat the iPad

I just received an email from community member Andrew Wellings:

Hello Chris! When I’m doing stuff around the house, I like to keep my phone on me to listen to music or browse the Web (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and reading up on my news/tech blogs). As you may know from experience, this drains the battery alarmingly quickly, and the small screen is very limiting.

I have been looking at buying a tablet device for a few weeks, but I would rather trust your opinion, as opposed to some reviewer on a tech blog (which technically, I guess you are…). Anyway, the big dilemma is this: should I buy a used iPad 1st gen, or one of those many Android tablets?

I don’t need 3G, cameras or any bells and whistles. All I would need is Wi-Fi, a 7-10inch screen (not too fussy there, although preferably capacitative), to be able to watch videos, listen to music and maybe store some photos to show the relatives.

It would need to be available in the UK though, and preferably have a sub £250 price tag (~$400). Thanks very much for any help you can give.

Andrew, like most consumers (99 out of 100), are looking to get the most bang for their buck – right?

If you know anything about me (at all), you probably also know how I’m going to answer this question – but even if you didn’t know me, you’d be hard-pressed to find a true consumer advocate who would not recommend the iPad 1st-gen in this case. Can the 1G iPad do everything? No. Does that make it an inferior device? No.

You may be inclined to attack my position – so before you spout off your own brand of nonsense, why don’t you read a fandroid’s thoughts first. “Can the Android Tablet Ecosystem Still Beat iPad?” Yeah, I’m in complete agreement with him. Keep that in mind as you read the rest of this post – I happen to agree with cogent Android supporters.

I also think that the most definitive article on this subject has already been crafted by someone with far more insight than you or me.

Now, since Apple has recently dropped the price of the iPad 1G to US$400 (while supplies last, assumedly), it’s become even more attractive to would-be tablet owners. Keep in mind, too, that despite its year-old life, Apple continues to push the latest iOS updates to it. Find me a Honeycomb Android tablet that sells for less than $400 (without contract) with a capacitive (multi-touch) screen today at less than 1.5lbs and I’ll seriously reconsider my suggestion.

You have to wonder: what is Motorola smoking? At least Samsung has the cojones to state the painfully obvious. Buying any device based on its possible future potential is just… ill-advised.

Android tablets can’t beat the iPad – Reason #1: Splintered experiences.

The industry has yet to see an Android tablet that comes close to matching the iPad’s overarching experience. Ah, there’s the key word: “experience.” That’s the magic revealed when hardware works in perfect harmony with software. This is the elusive factor that all Android devices seem to face after the new car smell wears off.

Specs be damned. Would you rather have a souped-up machine that did everything 50% of the time, or a stripped-down machine that did some things 100% of the time? You’re a fool to answer the former.

The OS can never be written to run optimized on all compatible hardware. That’s a difficult hill to climb (trying to be all things to all people). Couple with that shortcoming that certain device models are effectively locked out of software revisions by carriers… and you’ve got the making for an even more cluttered, confusing, and just plain god-awful consumer experience. This very disconnect will keep Android from besting iOS, alone.

Let he who hath been locked out of an Android OS update on capable hardware cast the first stone.

Android tablets can’t beat the iPad – Reason #2: Current pricing models.

Apple is the only company creating iOS-compatible hardware – versus dozens upon dozens of companies creating Android-capable hardware. In other words: Android devices are a de-facto commodity. And there’s one thing you can’t do with a commodity if you expect it to succeed: charge too much. But higher-than-iPad pricing is exactly what we’re seeing from these supposed “iPad killers.”

Why on god’s green earth, if you were trying to compete with a clear market leader, would you set your entry model’s MSRP at a higher cost than the leader’s entry model?

As a matter of fact, the reason would-be Apple denouncers have been so anti-Mac for years is because they see the Mac as “more expensive” than its PC cousins. Well, it seems to me that if you are a dyed-in-the-wool PC user who brandishes this outdated myth about Macs, you should never be caught dead carrying an Android tablet – since they’re absolutely more expensive than Apple’s iPad.

Motorola is dropping the price on the Xoom, but is that low enough to capture any amount of market share before the next Android-based iPad-killer is released in another month or so?

New Android devices should be more affordable, comparatively – and certainly priced less than the lowest-priced iPad. Who could argue with that?!

We might readily suggest an older Android device that weighs in at a much more affordable price, but with it comes a correspondingly lackluster experience. Have you ever tried using Android 1.x (resistive) after playing inside 2.3 (capacitive with multi-touch)? Let’s just assume that sacrificing usability is never an option for any consumer – otherwise, we’ll be forever wrestling with nerds who believe that GUIs are for wimps.

Besides, it’s difficult to compare today’s available options with yesterday’s in fairness. I personally can’t wait to buy a truly competitive Android tablet. It, however, doesn’t currently seem to exist.

Android tablets can’t beat the iPad – Reason #3: Too many choices.

Consumers absolutely need choice – but there’s a far greater chance of you making an incorrect choice on a menu with thousands of items.

I absolutely do see a world where there are more Android than iOS devices – that’s inevitable, much like we see more PCs with no true or clear differentiation between them. However, #1 in saturation does not imply a #1 product. Do I really need to bring up IE6 as an example to belabor my point?

There’s only one iPad, and it’s easy to spot the differences between 1G and 2G models. Even with future editions in the fold, Apple only offers a limited amount of units at any given time.

Ask yourself this: why is it that a new “best Android device” seems to be released every few weeks? Who could keep up with that?

Tangentially, Android is irresponsibly positioned as “good” for the consumer with an intentionally laissez faire app marketplace – but while Android’s software choices seem to be equal to those within Apple’s iTunes App Store, you’re doing nothing but swimming in an array of razor blades within Google’s Market. That may be acceptable for geeks, but not for most of the known galaxy.

Nah, you’ll be safe with Android. I’m not making this stuff up. Certain geeks should be ashamed for wholeheartedly endorsing an experience that has such a strong potential for compromising the innocent consumer. That’s not a choice – it’s the Sword of Damocles.

Android tablets can’t beat the iPad – Reason #4: Flash is becoming increasingly irrelevant.

But why even bring up Flash in this entire “iPad vs Android” argument? Because it’s too frequently called upon as a trump card without true qualification. Maybe if poorly-developed Flash apps had caused my browsers to crash with less frequency over the years, I’d be more sympathetic to Adobe’s cause. Flash? Platform non grata in the mobile space.

It’s also been argued that the consumer should be able to view Flash-rendered content on any particular platform. But Flash, in case you missed the memo, has overstayed its welcome – and is far from stable or secure (on any OS). Even its proprietors are Flash compatibility (which will likely drain your battery at break-neck speed and run medicore-at-best), who am I to argue? It’s your money – and you’re absolutely free to spend it in whatever way(s) you see fit. I’ve been living largely without it on my desktop for some time, thanks to the Click-to-Play functionality found in development builds of Google Chrome (my default Web browser, and one of the best available today).

Oh, snap. Did you see that? I wrote an article about how Google’s Android wasn’t a good choice for consumers if they were also considering an iPad – then I dovetailed my statements with a clear assertion that I prefer Google’s Chrome web browser above all others. This isn’t about what’s right for Google or Apple – it’s about what’s best for consumers on the whole.

iOS devices are still selling like hotcakes, despite their inability to natively support Flash content. If you’re really concerned about not being able to view useless Flash splash screens to restaurant Web sites, just look up the information on Google Places. As far as Flash video content on the iPad is concerned – there’s always Skyfire. “Problem” solved.

By all definitions, the iPad is a new kind of computer. I need to state this outright, if only because the most ardent iPad antagonists awkwardly continue (in gusto) to shoehorn the “tablet” class into a classic notebook / laptop paradigm (USB ports, et al). If any Android tablet expects to be seen as true competition to Apple’s entrant, it must first qualify by accepting new rules and eschewing perception.

Of course, the Android ecosystem could continue to ignore competition at is own peril. If I were Google, I’d be far more concerned about webOS than I would be iOS. But I’m (obviously) not Google. 😉 I have no horse in this race, other than wanting to see huge wins for consumers.

Thoughts on the iPad 2 from ceBIT

Pieter was an attendee at the ceBIT conference last weekend and I was happy to talk with him during a bit of down time. At the time of the recording, I had not yet posted any official thoughts about the iPad 2. I definitely plan on getting one as soon as it is released, just as I will get the new iPhone whenever it hits the stores.

While the new iteration may not be revolutionary in any way, I feel it is the next logical step for Apple at this point in time. It’s evolutionary. The Cupertino giant has definitely upped the ante for everyone else. They’ve raised that proverbial bar just enough that other manufacturers will be tripping over themselves to attempt to catch up – maybe not with specs, but certainly with price point.

It doesn’t matter if your Android (or other) device has a larger screen or faster processor. It’s all about the experience itself and the amount of cash I’m going to have to shell out to get that experience. I simply haven’t seen a single other vendor out there who can even come close to these two all-important factors.

You cannot deny the sleekness of the iPad. The first gen model wasn’t all that lightweight but the new version is much slimmer and weighs a bit less. That part doesn’t honestly interest me. Whoopie – it’s a few grams lighter than the original offering. It still boils down to the price point.

Forget the number of apps available. I don’t care if there are five billion apps out there – I want quality. In my eyes, Apple’s marketing message is a tad off. It’s not about the quantity – it’s about the experience. I’d rather choose from a pool of 50,000 solid apps than from one of 500,000 questionable ones.

I’ll call it now: HP will give Apple a run for their money with the webOS-based tablets than Android has done. I’m not saying Android is bad, so please don’t start your flame wars. I simply feel that Android needs to mature some more before it can successfully compete in the tablet world. Each new version of the operating system is an improvement over the last – and that’s my point. It’s growing and maturing into what it will become one day.

The way I see it is that it’s the iPad on one side of the fence and everyone else on the other side. I already stated that HP will be stepping up to the plate this year. The only other thing I see bringing any competition to the market could possibly be Google… IF they fully bake their operating system into the right hardware – and with the right cost.

True geeks may want the fastest and best specs on the market. But at the end of the day, the target audience is the non-geeks – those who simply want a good experience.

What are Your First Impressions of the T-Mobile myTouch 4G?


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Jake Ludington shares his first impressions of the T-Mobile myTouch 4G. The myTouch features HSPA+ 4G broadband service, both front and rear facing cameras, 720p video, Qik for lifecasting, and a number of other enhancements over 3G phones. In comparing speeds via Speedtest.net T-Mobile was at least twice as fast as Sprint 4G in side-by-side tests during this 48 hour period. myTouch also includes some features to track actions of your friends, as well lock the dialing and SMS features if small children are using your phone.

Jake is switching up to the myTouch from the Nexus 1. He says that this phone is much faster. Please don’t give him any flak about his choice of carrier. That is a no-brainer for Jake and his family. He does not receive any service at his home with AT&T, Sprint or Verizon… but he does with T-Mobile. You use what works best for you, remember?

He loves being able to shoot 720p video with his phone. He says it’s not “better” than the iPhone 4 video quality, but is definitely on par with it. The front-facing camera on the myTouch is not very good, with poor resolution and quality. The rear camera is far better, and gives him everything he could ask for.

This device came with Froyo out of the box. Jake would have preferred Gingerbread, of course. To that end, it seemed to him as though all of his software was instantly out of date. Several apps which ship with the phone needed an update in order to even work.

Another thing that bothers our friend is an experience that leaves much to be desired when it comes to music and apps purchased. With the iPhone, you can buy a new model and sync to your iTunes account. Everything you’ve purchased or downloaded in the past (so long as you backed up and sync’d at some point in time!) will automagically download to your new phone. This is not true with the Android devices. You have to figure out which apps are missing and re-download them again. That’s very frustrating and time-consuming.

One feature that Jake is very happy with is the Kids Mode. He has a young daughter who likes to watch videos on his phone. He doesn’t want her to accidentally send a text message or dial a phone number. Kids Mode will prevent this problem. Set it up to allow the kids to interact with the phone features that YOU choose.

T-Mobile has done a few things to go beyond the Android experience. Some of those things are great – and some not so great. However, those little items will boil down to a matter of preference, depending on the user.

Overall, Jake is pretty happy with his upgrade. Have you used a myTouch 4G yet? What are your thoughts?

Inexpensive Android Phone


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Chinese manufacturers ZTE and Huawei are bringing cheap Android phones to the market. Those cheap Android phones can for example be bought for below £100 in the UK on Orange’s pre-paid plan today. US carriers such as Virgin-Mobile, Cricket, MetroPCS are also bringing these types of cheap Android phones to the US market on pre-paid plans, no contracts needed. This video features the upcoming cheap Android phones ZTE Racer+, the ZTE Blade and ZTE P735E (with sliding keyboard), ZTE V852 Dreamer and the ZTE V881.

This video was filmed by Charbax of

Android Takes Over as Leading Smartphone Platform

According to new research by Canalys, Google’s Android platform has taken over the top smartphone platform spot from Symbian in the last quarter of 2010. Global sales of Android phones during this time period was 33.3 million. This is in comparison to Symbian’s 31 million. Apple came in at third place with 16.2 million iOS smartphones shipped, followed by RIM with 14.6 million and Microsoft with 3.1 million.

Android is being used by manufacturers such as LG, Samsung, Acer and HTC. All of these companies has seen excellent sales results with devices based on this platform. Is it fair, though, to compare something like Android to iOS? Apple’s operating system only appears on one smartphone, whereas Android shows up in more devices than we can count. In light of that, I’d say that the iOS numbers are nothing to sneeze at.

The change at the top doesn’t come as much of a shock. Nokia reported not long ago that they are having weak sales. The company claims this is a result of their struggles to transform the Symbian platform into something that can truly compete with iOS and Android.

Which smartphone platform are you using? What do you love about it?

Android Set-Top Box


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Shenzhen Geniatech Co. Ltd presents some interesting Android Powered Set-top-boxes. These could be sold for around $100 like the Apple TV or Roku box, but they just run the full Android OS including support for lots of video codecs.

While Android is not yet really optimized for use on a TV with a remote control, this type of device will support the Google TV software (in this case, without HDMI pass-through overlay features) pretty soon once Google releases that software source code.

This video was filmed by Charbax of ARMdevices at CES 2011.

Which Android Tablet is the Best?


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Hopeland Digital Corporation of Shenzhen releases this NB-100 10.1″ Android Laptop, powered by the ARM11 Telechips 8902 processor, 256MB RAM, 8GB nand flash, SD card slot, WiFi, it runs Android 2.1 for now, possibly upgradable.

What does Google need to do to optimize Android for the Laptop? Do you think this platform is ready yet to replace your MacBook Air?

This video was filmed by Charbax of ARMdevices at CES 2011.