Tag Archives: google

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.

FriendFeed vs Twitter vs Facebook vs Google+

The inspiration for this post came from Jason Huebel, having written about leaving FriendFeed behind for Google+ engagement.

Google+ is the new black.

So, is anybody else abandoning FriendFeed, Empire Avenue, Facebook, etc. for Google’s latest social effort? Do you see yourself decreasing the amount of time you spend on any other platform over the coming weeks? To me, I suppose, it’s a balancing act – and each silo has its merits. No doubt, I’m very happy with Google+ right now.

Twitter – “Everybody” is there, but every tweet is a flash in the pan. It’s always been next to impossible to establish a conversation there (and I’ve always resented people who called Twitter a conversation). It used to be a great way to drive attention, but that attention potential is watered down with every person who joins. You could have a million followers and less engagement than someone with a thousand.

Facebook – “Everybody” is there, but not all of your updates are seen by those who “Like” you. The privacy policy seems to change every other month. If you can look past the pokes and app invites, there’s nothing particularly agitating about Facebook (enough to drive millions away in droves). It’s also important to note that Facebook is like a data roach motel – you can get it in, but good luck getting it out.

FriendFeed – “Nobody” is there anymore, but those who are sticking to it are really active. Google+ reminds a lot of people (myself included) of the FriendFeed heyday, and it didn’t shock me to learn that Jason’s finally putting this network behind him. I took this screen shot of a Google+ Hangout with Jesse Stay this afternoon – another fan of FF:

Google Buzz – If you think about it, Google Buzz is / was really close to FriendFeed. People pumped-and-dumped their feeds into it and then abandoned the platform when “nobody” was actively using it. That said, Buzz isn’t dead yet – it’s still there as a Google+ sub-tab at the moment.

Empire Avenue – I really think Dups and his team really need to adapt their model very QUICKLY. It’s been great for discovery and engagement, but to increase awareness, they need to surface the social media engagement intelligence they’re collecting in a more cohesive fashion (allowing people to see their scores without necessarily putting themselves on the Market). It’s done a lot for my engagement and discovery acceleration, but the learning curve is still too high for the average user (who really would fall in love with the underlying statistics that EAv can bring).

MySpace – Well, let’s just see what Timberlake does with it. 😉

Which brings us to…

Google+ – “Everybody” will be here, guaranteed. With the right integration, your resonance-prone activity will be seen by more people. They need to address the noise, accommodate conversation threading, eliminate content duplicates, and a lot more – but they’re off to a damn good start.

Your thoughts on where Google+ sits in today’s social media landscape?

How to Switch from Windows to Mac


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Long-time community member and contributor Lamarr has long been a die-hard Windows fan. However, as evidenced in this video, he is beginning a switch over to the other side. Whether Apple is the Dark Side or not remains to be seen. This is something Lamarr has researched and thought about for months. He is convinced that he is making the best decision for himself and his business.

That’s what it boils down to, folks – a personal decision. I cannot tell you what to buy, nor can I condemn you for your choices. Until I am paying for your devices, I’m pretty sure I have no say at all. It’s my job as a tech reviewer to give you honest feedback about the various devices and gadgets that I have bought or which have been sent to me to review. Those videos and blog posts are simply additions to the ways in which you can learn about each product for yourself. They’re not there as a means of my telling you what is the right thing for you to buy.

What’s right for me may well not be right for you. What’s right for Lamarr may not be what’s right for you. What’s right for you… well, you get the picture. This is the beautiful thing about the tech industry: we each have our own sets of desires and needs. There are millions of product out there aimed at fulfilling whatever hole it is you have in your life or business. Yes, it can be difficult at times to narrow down the choices. In the end, though, it’s your choice to make. Bashing someone for what they CHOOSE is pretty dang stupid if you ask me.

It’s a HUGE deal to have Lamarr switching over to Mac. For fifteen years, he’s built computers for himself and others – based around Windows. He didn’t hate Macs, but he admits he used to wish that they had never been created. The closed atmosphere bothered him greatly… and there were limited software choices years ago.

Lamarr’s vision of what “closed” means has drastically changed in recent years. Back in the day, it meant simply that you were limited by choices on software and portability. Today, closed (in relation to Apple) means simply that Apple controls their hardware and other features as closely as possible. Lamarr has begun to see the light – by having this control, Apple is able to deliver solid performance every single time. This also marshals protection for the users.

I commend Lamarr for making a change that he felt was necessary to move him forward. It doesn’t matter to me that he went from Windows to OS X. What matters is that he did his homework, weighed his options and decided what the best choice was for him. Hate on him all you want, Windows fanboys – but he had the guts to try something new and realize that it fit his needs better than what he had in the past.

Good on you, Lamarr!

Tips, Tricks and Shortcuts for Google Chrome


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Google’s Chrome browser may be considered as the #2 browser for both Mac and Windows systems. However, many geeks consider it to be the number ONE browser of choice. We tend to feel that it offers a better browsing quality along with faster performance. You also can’t deny that there are many excellent Extensions available.

No matter which browser you choose, your experience will be even better if you know some of the shortcuts available. Matthew happens to be a Chrome guru and has put together several keyboard shortcuts, tips and tricks to help you out.

  • CTRL + SHIFT + B – This shows or hides your bookmarks bar.
  • CTRL + T – This opens up a new tab inside of Chrome.
  • CTRL + SHIFT + T – Automatically remembers the last tab you closed and re-opens it for you.
  • CTRL + W – Closes the current/active tab.
  • CTRL + N – Opens a whole new Chrome window.
  • CTRL + H – Quickly access your browser history.
  • CTRL + J – Navigate to your downloads history/menu quickly.
  • CTRL + L – Quickly highlight the text in your URL bar.
  • CTRL + SHIFT + DEL – Opens up the Clear Browsing Data box so you can quickly delete your history.

There are a couple of features you may have never heard of before. Dragging a link up into your tab area will automatically open that link in a new tab. Be careful of the links you drag, though. You never know what might open!

Hitting SHIFT + ESC on your keyboard will open the Chrome task manager. Many people don’t even realize this exists. You can manage problematic tabs from this task manager. Instead of occupying one process that takes a huge amount of system memory, Chrome separates tabs into single processes. Separating the processes is actually much more secure than having them lumped into a giant one. Being able to lock down each tab ensures that malware doesn’t have as much capability to infect your entire browser or system. This is also much more stable. You have likely experienced a crash inside of Chrome at some point. However, that crash only affects a specific tab due to it being set up as its own individual process.

If you want to go back to a page you were just on but don’t want to leave the page you currently have open, use CTRL + Back Button. This will open a new tab with the last-viewed page inside of it. You can also use this same basic feature to open links: hold down CTRL while clicking a link on a web page. A new tab will open with that link inside.

If you have a lot of tabs open and want to scroll through them quickly, hold down your CTRL key and use the numbers 1-9. This allows you to fast-switch between each tab to see what content is there and find what you need even faster.

Here’s a neat little trick: you may want to take a regular tab and turn it into a new Chrome window. Simply click and hold the tab, drag it out of the tab area and let go. A new stand-alone browsing window will open right up. If you want to put it back into your tab bar, just hit the ESC key.

A nifty trick involving the URL bar: Let’s say you want to go to LockerGnome.com. Type the word LockerGnome into the URL bar and hit CTRL + Enter. Instead of doing a Google search for the word LockerGnome, Chrome will add the www. in front of the term, and .com to the end, taking you directly to the website in question!

What other Chrome tips and tricks do you have? Does your browser support awesome shortcuts like this?

Are You Printing from the Google Cloud?


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All documents go to Heaven. In some instances, they head to the Cloud, instead. Google Cloud Print allows you to print to your printer of choice from any computer or smartphone – no matter where you happen to be. Simply activate the service connector within Google Chrome and your printer is automagically available to you from all Google Cloud Print enabled web and mobile apps.

This service is completely free. When running this for the first time, I was seriously impressed. It only takes a matter of seconds to send a job to the printer that I chose on my home network. I couldn’t believe how simple it truly was – and how seamlessly it worked.

You will need a Windows PC and one of the latest builds of Google Chrome in order to use the Cloud Print. This is the best implementation of network printing that I have seen in my entire life. One of the coolest features of the service is what happens to your document if your host computer or printer aren’t online at the time you choose to print from another device. The document job will wait patiently in the print queue – right in the Cloud. Your printer will download and print the job normally as soon as it it turned on.

You can connect as many printers as you wish to Google Cloud Print. If you accidentally delete any of them, it’s simple to re-add them the next time you log in. All print jobs are submitted over https, making them only available to you and the printer they are sent to.

Google keeps copies of the actual document only until they have finished printing. This is done to make sure that the job is actually completed. Once the job is complete, the document is deleted from Google’s servers – mostly. The company does keep information about print jobs such as the job title, the printer it was sent to and the printer status as a record. This is done in conjunction with your Google account id to allow you to view and edit your print history through the Cloud Print dashboard. The actual document contents are not saved.

Are you printing from the Google Cloud yet? How has your experience been with the service?

Google and Bing Apps for the iPhone Won’t Translate Spoken Swear Words – in Any Language

Yeah, I use “swear words” on a regular basis. I don’t think that makes me a bad person, either. At least I don’t mispronounce “nuclear!”

I’m also guilty of wanting to learn the “bad words” in other languages – if only to know when someone is calling me something I’d rather not be called. And knowing is half the battle. I know I’m not alone in this respect. What’s the first sentence YOU try to translate when you’re using a translation app for the first time? I can’t be the only one.

So, imagine my surprise when I fired up the brand new Google Translate app for the iPhone, spoke clearly into the mic, and saw it populate the fields with hashes:

Google Translate App for the iPhone Won't Let You Cuss - in Any Language

Worse yet? The voice translation reads the hashes aloud – in whatever language it’s translated. At least Google could include a universal *bleep* sound if they’re not going to let me f**king do what I want to f**king do. 🙂

Now, I happen to think this app (overall) is pretty damn genius – and it’s highly recommended for any one of you traveling abroad with an international data plan in hand. Go ahead – try it with any other language that Google translates (French, Spanish, Albanian, etc.). For some reason, and with no filtering toggle available in the app’s settings, Google doesn’t want me cussing in other languages.

So, what about Bing? I tried saying that same phrase five times:

Bing App Ignores Spoken Swear Words

Bing seems to pretend that you didn’t really say it at all. That’s even worse.

Of course, each one of these apps will let you key in a swear word – so why don’t they like you speaking it into the microphone? Is that, somehow, worse? It could certainly be argued that a more sensitive person might say “I would like to eat your shiitake dish” and see a less-than-desirable translation.

However, shouldn’t each of these apps at least give us the option to learn about our favorite swears?

Google Translate Hits App Store

Google Translate has been available on the iPhone through an outside HTML5 experience for a couple of years now. Beginning today, the official app is available and comes packed full of features. Speak to translate yourself and listen to all of your past translations. For those of us who happen to occasionally (or often!) travel out of the country, this will come in mighty handy.

This new app will accept voice input for fifteen separate languages, and allows you to translate a word or phrase into any of more than fifty languages. To begin the voice input, you only have to press the little microphone icon next to your text box. Speak your words and get ready to translate! Other app features include:

  • Listen to Translations – You can also listen to your translations spoken out loud in one of 23 different languages. This feature uses the same new speech synthesizer voices as the desktop version of Google Translate.
  • Full-Screen Mode – Another feature that might come in handy is the ability to easily enlarge the translated text to full-screen size. This way, it’s much easier to read the text on the screen, or show the translation to the person you are communicating with. Just tap on the zoom icon to quickly zoom in.

The app gives you all of the major features that the web app had, including the ability to easily view dictionary results for single words. You can also access your starred translations and translation history even if you aren’t online.

Domain Squatting in Google Apps

You want a unique domain name? You register it. If the name is not already taken, it can be yours for a price – indefinitely.

And this is what squatters do: buy high-value domain names in the hopes that (a) they’ll make tons of money from direct traffic; or (b) someone else will eventually want the domain name and they’ll be able to sell it at a premium.

So, once you have this domain name, you can pretty much do anything you want with it – and it’s about the closest thing we have to an identity marker on the Internet today. You should be in full control of what happens with or on that domain name until you decide you don’t want it anymore.

Say you want to start tracking more about how your Web site is doing in Google. I would most certainly recommend that you sign up for the free Google Webmaster Tools. From there, you can add as many domain names as you want to monitor – provided you can verify that you actually own the domain names you’re wishing to keep track of and control. That makes sense, huh?

I mean, why would Google allow you to configure options for domains you don’t have the rights to control?

But that’s what they’re enabling via a gigantic loophole in their Google Apps for Domains service – currently allowing any user to squat on a domain name in their system without first requiring verification. Ouch.

We discovered that someone was squatting on LockerGnome.com within the Google Apps for Domains system. This means we couldn’t actually start using their service without first asking Google to relinquish the name to us – a name which we can readily verify, not the individual(s) who already laid claim in their system.

If you need me to put a finer point on why this is a problem, we reserved SeattleTimes.com in much the same manner – of course, we don’t intend on keeping the domain managed in Google’s system for the Seattle Times, and will absolutely pass it to someone within their own ranks as soon as we know who needs to manage it. We can’t do anything with it other than cause the Seattle Times and Google to waste time. We snagged it to further illustrate the problem, not to cause headaches for anybody. Hell, we love both Google AND the Seattle Times. 😉

To me, this is an oversight that can be remedied by reordering the process – managing new accounts in Google Apps for Domains much like Google does for its excellent Webmaster Tools suite. Not doing so is… well, it’s just kinda hard to believe that nobody else has reported on this matter yet.

We’re hoping that Google sees this as an issue that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.

UPDATE: Now, according to an official Google PR representative, a domain which is reserved on the system without validation after 14 days, reverts to an unreserved domain. Still, this doesn’t make sense – an undue inconvenience, to say the least. Someone has been sitting on LockerGnome.com in Google Apps for Domains since 2008.

Speak to Tweet for Egyptians

Just like all of us, the folks at Google spent the weekend watching the events in Egypt unfold. They were flabbergasted, feeling helpless as they watched the people there who are desperate to be heard. The engineers knew that if anyone could help give them a voice, it would be them. They put their collective brains together and came up with a service they are calling “Speak to Tweet,” which gives anyone the ability to Tweet using just a voice connection.

The hope is that this project will help the people of Egypt to stay connected during such a horrific time in their lives.

We worked with a small team of engineers from Twitter, Google and SayNow, a company we acquired last week, to make this idea a reality. It’s already live and anyone can tweet by simply leaving a voicemail on one of these international phone numbers (+16504194196 or +390662207294 or +97316199855) and the service will instantly tweet the message using the hashtag #egypt. No Internet connection is required. People can listen to the messages by dialing the same phone numbers or going to the official Twitter account.

According to reports, the only remaining ISP holdout over in Egypt was taken offline earlier today, leaving the entire country paralyzed with no Internet connection. I cannot begin to imagine the horror of what these people are already living through. People from all over the world have been working together to try and find ways to reconnect the Egyptians with the outside world. It’s fantastic to see that the team from Google, Twitter and SayNow have come up with what appears to be a perfect solution.

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?