Posts tagged Google
Posts tagged Google
I wasn’t expecting to buy a new tablet today. We already have an iPad 2 at home and both my wife and I have smartphones.
Still, when as Hugo Barra officially announced the $199 price earlier today, we couldn’t resist :)
photo courtesy of Engadget
Why buy a 2nd tablet?
We own an iPad. We’re fairly happy with it — it has great battery life and more-than-adequate performance. My main issue with the iPad 2 is the low-res screen and the now “outdated” iOS look. The screen is a big deal because I love to read on the Kindle App and, frankly, text looks pixelated on the iPad 2. In regard to the interface, I’m a huge fan of Android 4.0 so I’d rather stick to Android’s more sophisticated home screen, app drawer and widgets. Not to mention that I can now transfer stuff between the Galaxy Nexus and the Nexus 7 via Android Beam :)
The Nexus 7
This is a powerhouse, no doubt about it. Quad-core CPU, 12-core GPU and 9 hours of battery life streaming/playing video. Compact 7-inch form factor. HD, IPS screen.
It’s not a “Hacker Special” like some in the Android community expected but it addresses everything I wanted from a tablet for an exceedingly affordable price.
Possible cons: no rear camera, no SD card support and missing HDMI output
Some users are having a hard time dealing with the lack of an SD card port. I have a Galaxy Nexus so I’m quite used to it by now. Not a big deal. I also don’t care about a rear camera or HDMI output. They had to shave something off to make that $199 price :)
I should receive the tablet in 3 weeks or so. I’ll update this post with my impressions once that happens. Make sure to leave a comment if you’re disappointed with the Nexus 7 announcement — or if you already pre-ordered, just like me :)
I have quite the track record with Android.
Bought a HTC G1 aka HTC Dream in November 2008, a T-Mobile Vibrant (Galaxy S) at launch in 2010 and now a Galaxy Nexus, also at launch. I’ve been one of the G1’s numerous beta testers, (bravely) relying on a half-baked OS as a daily driver. I also witnessed Samsung’s many failings, mostly leaving the Vibrant stuck with Android 2.2 and shipping a very buggy OS, unstable and prone to bizarre behavior.
The G1. This was the definition of cool if you were a geek in late 2008
Still, I love Android. From the very beginning, Android offered me the same qualities of Windows Mobile (customization, flexibility, freedom) with none of its limitations (resistive interface, terrible browser, lack of apps). The Vibrant, warts and all, made me a believer. While deeply flawed, the performance was well-ahead of my first Android phone (the G1), a thoroughly modern “superphone” capable of running circles around the the barely adequate hardware found in Google’s first Android phone. And that screen… Super AMOLED rocked my world.
Which brings us to the Galaxy Nexus, Google latest halo device and the first Android 4.0 device in the world.
One of the wallpapers shipping with the Galaxy Nexus, a perfect showing of Super AMOLED power
The Galaxy Nexus is a beautiful phone. The design is clean, organic and devoid of any logos/trademarks above and below the (massive) screen. Monolithic-looking when off (think 2001: A Space Odyssey), the Galaxy Nexus is a black slab of high-grade plastic built around a rigid metal frame, giving it the feel of a premium device.
My phone stays inside a hard case, so I don’t really deal with the back cover. I hear it’s “plasticky,” like most Samsung phones, obviously far behind the chic glass in the iPhone 4S. The back cover is a non-issue for me.
Being a native Android 4.0 device, the Galaxy Nexus doesn’t have any physical buttons. Of course, it does have a power button and volume slider but no Back, Menu, Home or Search buttons like previous Android phones. The power button is more solid than the one on the Galaxy S. Same for the volume slider. In general, the phone feels great in the hand and it’s also very light.
Those looking for Galaxy S III-grade specs on the Galaxy Nexus will be disappointed. Nexus devices were never about specs alone; the Nexus One was the fastest Android phone in the planet for a whole month. Likewise, the Galaxy S II has a much faster GPU than the Galaxy Nexus, the Mali-400. In the Galaxy Nexus, the PowerVR SGX540 GPU found in the Galaxy S makes an appearance once again, albeit running at 384 MHz this time. The CPU on the other hand is among the fastest circa Q4 2011, an OMAP 4460 with two cores running at 1.2 GHz.
Then, the screen. Allegedly the first true HD display on a smartphone, the 720p Super AMOLED panel in the Galaxy Nexus is quite a sight. Bright, colorful and over-sized, the 4.65-inch display puts most smartphones to shame. The iPhone 4S looks like a toy next to a Galaxy Nexus at full brightness. However, this is a PenTile display we’re talking about. At low brightness grays get muddy, with a textured look, and vertical lines stretching from the top of the screen to the very bottom are easily observed. Some consider it a huge issue, going as far as returning the phone but it doesn’t bother me. I love it so far, with the added sharpness of 720 lines of resolution making reading ebooks and browsing the web easy on the eyes.
My home screen. I like how folders keep everything organized. Top notch icon design as well
But is it fast? I’m used to the typical Android slowness, where the OS fails to respond to touch, freezes or goes to sleep — never to return. Both the G1 and the Vibrant suffered from those ailments. Well well well… Consider it fixed. This phone is not fast… It’s insanely, back-pressed-against-the-seat fast. Smooth as butter, eerily similar to iOS devices like the iPad 2 and the iPhone 4S and oh-so-different from all Android devices before it. It has never kept me waiting and 1.5 weeks after buying it, I have never had to restart it. No SD card? No problem. If that’s the price for out-of-this-world performance, I’m all for it.
The camera on the Galaxy Nexus is a 5.1 megapixel unit. Sadly, it is not the second coming of Christ — the one on the Galaxy S II, an 8 megapixel unit, is still the king among Android smartphones. The camera is very fast, though: no startup lag, no lag between shots. On top of that, the built-in editing tools are easy to use and effective. Finally, uploading pictures to the cloud with Instant Upload and Google+ is a piece of cake. The camera could be better, yes, but I deem it good enough.
Starbucks in December. The camera is no slouch, but not “awesome” either
Since this is the LTE version, it would be a major omission not to talk about Verizon’s network and battery life. If you never tried an LTE phone, prepare to be amazed. It’s 2 to 3 times faster than my home connection, a 10 MB cable modem. Some have clocked it past 40 Mbps down and almost 20 Mbps up. It redefines “mobile connectivity” — sites load in an instant and streaming high-quality YouTube videos is never an issue. At the same time, however, the LTE modem requires a fair amount of CPU usage, resulting in reduced battery life when compared with the GSM version. I get about 6 hours of “screen time” (everything on, listening to music and browsing the web) and around 20 hours or so of standby. I’m a power user and play with the phone a lot, so others might see better performance from the battery. Still, it’s not like 4G is required 24/7. If I know I’ll be out for a whole day — or the whole night — I can simply turn 4G off and fall back to Verizon’s 3G network. It’s no speed demon, but more than enough for email/browsing and maybe even Google Music streaming.
ANDROID 4.0 aka Ice Cream Sandwich
The latest version of Android is old news at this point, with literally hundreds of blog posts dissecting the OS back in November (and a very detailed write-up on Ars Technica). I’ll approach Android 4.0 from the point of view of someone stuck in Android 2.2 instead, focusing on the main differences — and improvements — in Ice Cream Sandwich.
The Recent Apps button makes it easy to switch between applications with live snapshots
Android 2.2 was a milestone release for Android, unlike 2.1. FroYo featured Wi-Fi tethering for the first time, as well as Dalvik JIT compiling and proper Exchange support. It was much faster than 2.1. I know from experience because the Vibrant shipped with 2.1; the performance boost attributed to 2.2 was certainly there. In short, Android 2.2 was a great release, maybe the greatest before Android 4.0.
If my Vibrant had “stock” Android, maybe it would end there. But Samsung messed with it, added TouchWiz and, in short, broke a lot of stuff. As a result my phone was always a mess. Freezes were common, SD cards (two, one acting as internal storage) had to be “read” every time I deleted/added a file — and at every boot — or the phone would suddenly slow to a crawl for no reason. Occasionally — and often — it would crash when running Google Maps. I once had to do a battery pull while stuck in traffic (!)
Android 4.0, up to now, is a revelation. Streamlined, fast and stable, it’s very Apple-like without the annoying Apple limitations. It just works. No crashes, not a single one (I know I’m repeating myself, but it’s a big deal). Smooth scrolling, perfect multitasking — a big improvement over all previous Android versions — and Google apps redesigned to make things easier while giving the user more control. I really can’t put into words how much better Android 4.0 is.
Android 3.0 introduced true dual-core compatibility at the OS level. Android 4.0 made it perfect with hardware acceleration for the interface. Finally, Android is as responsive as iOS. I haven’t had enough “street time” with the phone (using it in public) but I’m already planning on showing it off to friends and family, particularly those carrying with fast-but-tiny iPhone 4S’s. No wonder Joshua Topolsky, editor-in-chief at The Verge, bought one.
The icing on the cake is the newly-added Data Usage feature plus goodies like NFC (near field communication) and Face Unlock. Android 4.0 is an embarrassment of riches for Android users.
This is the best Android phone ever made — period. As hard as I try, I can’t find anything wrong with it. Old Android annoyances have been fixed, performance is mind-boggling and the phone looks and feels great in the hand. It’s a tour de force, the new standard in smartphones and what they can achieve in software, hardware and design.
If you have an upgrade approaching, this is your next phone. If you have an iPhone 4, this is your chance to switch to Android without making compromises. The iPhone 4S might have the performance edge for now, but Android 4.0 is a game-changer on its own right, before even looking at the top-notch hardware assembled by Samsung.
The Galaxy Nexus is a must-buy and it gets a 9/10.
You can write this down: the new Droid RAZR is Android’s answer to the iPhone 4S. It’s the form-factor revolution most were expecting of the “iPhone 5.” It’s as desirable — or more — than any iPhone or BlackBerry while innovating on several fronts.
Keep in mind this is a phone for the masses, not for Android developers or “geeks.” It’s a status symbol just like the first RAZR.
Yes, it lacks Ice Cream Sandwich but an update can fix that. What it adds to the game is much more meaningful:
You’ll see this phone in best-seller lists this Holiday season, even if you can’t replace the battery or play with the bootloader. It’s the first DROID all over again and a huge step forward in smartphone engineering and design.
Google has just announced the winner of the fourth annual Doodle 4 Google competition, a contest that invited K-12 students to create and submit their own design based on the Google logo. And congratulations go to the national winner, 7 year-old Matteo Lopez of South San Francisco. His doodle “Space Life” will be featured on the Google homepage tomorrow. Matteo’s entry was chosen out of the over 107,000 submitted from all over the U.S. He wins a $15,000 college scholarship, a netbook, and a $25,000 technology grant for his school. Adorable :)
Google has just announced the winner of the fourth annual Doodle 4 Google competition, a contest that invited K-12 students to create and submit their own design based on the Google logo. And congratulations go to the national winner, 7 year-old Matteo Lopez of South San Francisco. His doodle “Space Life” will be featured on the Google homepage tomorrow.
Matteo’s entry was chosen out of the over 107,000 submitted from all over the U.S. He wins a $15,000 college scholarship, a netbook, and a $25,000 technology grant for his school.
First the good news: it’s way more stable than Android 3.0.
Then the bad news: still not enough apps made specifically for Android 3.0/3.1.
p.s. I LOVE This is my next. Can’t wait to see what they come up with
Great analysis on the “also runs” of the smartphone revolution. Deep and well-written, even if I don’t agree 100 percent with the writer.
Do you know there’s a hidden history of Android out there, buried under Android.com?
A casual stroll through the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine revealed a treasure trove of Android memorabilia. Like the little-known fact that Android.com, at first, had nothing to do with Android’s creator and that sheep and ants might have some things in common.
March 2, 2000 - $75,000
As you can see, Android.com had humble origins. Nothing but an expensive, parked domain, it would take a couple of years before someone found a use for it.
June 4, 2002 - Sneaky
This cryptic message seems to suggest that Android is about to take over the world. Unfortunately, it would be a few years before the OS saw daylight.
At the time Palm and Microsoft licensees were battling for supremacy in the Age of PDAs — Palm with it’s supremely accessible Palm OS and everyone else with high-powered Pocket PCs. It was a very similar fight to Apple (ease of use, design) versus Android (flexibility, openness).
The excitement was real — imagine having 64 MB of memory in the palm of your hand? — but the technology wasn’t quite there yet. No fast cellular networks meant owners had no way to access the Internet on the go and screens, while in color now, were extremely low-res making reading a pixelated mess.
Sept. 24, 2003 - At the movies
A production company was now the owner of Android.com. It sounds like they were into the whole DV revolution — or maybe the nascent independent film movement brought forth by Miramax and other boutique studios. Anyway, they were based in NYC and had nothing to do with technology. I wonder where they are now?
April 10, 2004 - Under new direction
Andy Rubin takes over after the production company. It looks like he started using Android.com as a personal web site.
If you hover over the first hyperlink, “work,” it will take you to Danger’s homepage, where Andy was the CEO for period of time. Danger’s HipTop (later renamed Sidekick) was a huge hit with teens and a veritable pioneer. Sidekicks would eventually become mini-smartphones with amazing functionality, hinting at Andy’s true calling.
May 4, 2004 - Not the Droid you’re looking for
Now THIS is a thing of beauty. I don’t remember seeing this image anywhere on the web. It could be Andy’s way of revealing Android to the world — maybe the company was in stealth mode by then. Nonetheless, can you picture Android taking off with this mascot? I can’t either.
[image credit: kalleh]
The site then goes back to the same layout from 04/10/2004. The pattern repeats a few times, until…
June 8, 2004 - Lazy ant
The Android head is back. If you click on it, you’ll see this:
Who, do we dare ask, are the ants?
[comic credit: dbort]
April 11, 2005 - Google Maps of Mystery
The infamous maps. I can only guess the Palo Alto location means Danger (and later on, Android); Seattle means T-Mobile and Boston is related to Android’s co-founder Rich Miner.
Reader Michael Martin solved the Boston mystery: Rich Miner.
Reader Casey Rain explains: “Danger’s HQ was in Palo Alto, not Seattle. However, Danger partnered with T-Mobile in the US for the Hiptop/Sidekick range and T-Mobile are based in Bellevue, WA, just 10 miles or so out from Seattle. So it could possibly refer to that.”
Dec. 10, 2005 — Robot.net
The maps are gone, replaced by the usual minimalistic design. However, if you click on the “Work” hyperlink, you’ll see THIS instead:
Andy seems to be having fun with the press — and maybe people like you and me. This is all about guessing where he will work next, since by now he has “officially” been away from Danger for a long time.
Google bought Android in July 2005. Why did Andy have a question mark in place of his current job?
Another thing I don’t get is the robot.net reference.
April 10, 2008 - OHA
Android.com now leads straight to http://www.openhandsetalliance.com
Oct. 18, 2007 was the last time Andy Rubin used Android.com as a personal page. It’s a straight jump to April 10, 2008 when Google is starting to assemble the Alliance to fight against the Galactic Empire… Oops, wrong movie.
Oct. 14, 2008 — Robot dreams
The robot we all know and love finally makes his appearance. T-Mobile’s G1 would be launched soon (Oct. 22) and developers were already furiously working on submissions for the Android Developer Challenge.
I’m sure most of you know much more than me. Contributions will credited (if you’re interested in that sort of thing) and very much appreciated.
And if you learned anything from this post, please help me share it with the Tweeters and Friendfaces of the world :)
Great piece by Google’s Tim Bray.
Windows Phone 7 blog “Windows Phone Secrets” perfectly describes the frustration of Windows Phone 7 users with the delay/non-existence of updates for Microsoft’s latest OS:
As it turns out, “as soon as possible” was one full week. On March 2, exactly seven days later, Microsoft announced that it was resuming the distribution of the pre-update to Samsung users.
That was one week ago today. I just checked again. No update. “Your phone is up to date.”
To recap, we’re not talking about a major update here. We’re talking about an update to the updating mechanism that will allow my phone to receive updates. (Good luck following that sentence.) And after two and a half weeks of, well, nothing, I don’t mind telling you, I’m a bit fed up.
If you read through the comments, the frustration of WP7 owners with Microsoft is palpable.
How on Earth Microsoft expects to compete against Apple and Google if its brand-new, “killer” OS hasn’t received a single meaningful update since launch?
The end of 2010 is nigh. Both Android and iPhone platforms duel relentlessly for current (and future) smartphone users.
Which one do you think is the superior mobile platform and why?
illustration credit: Gizmodo / Giz Explains: Ups And Downs Of Developing for Android and iPhone
If you’d like to contribute:
a) Please send your answer to leglevy AT gmail DOT com with the words “Holiday Face-off” on the subject line
b) I will publish ALL answers on the blog, as long as they don’t include swear words (!)
c) Make sure to include your name and title. No anonymous answers allowed
The post will be published about a week from now.