Galaxy Nexus with Ice Cream Sandwich -- sigh

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.

Maybe instead of cramming the device with rarely used gimmicks you should fix the basics first, no?

[NL] Wegwerp (Android) telefoons?

De nieuwe HTC EVO 4G is uit in Amerika. Een heel mooi toestel met super specificaties. Gratis uitgedeeld aan een select groepje mensen op Google I/O. 

Direct gaan mensen vergelijken met de Apple iPhone. Ook met de iPhone die nog niet eens op de markt is. Puur op specificaties die niet bevestigd zijn. Leuk en aardig, maar is het relevant? De zoveelste iPhone killer.

Maar mensen zijn appels en peren aan het vergelijken, en daar zit hem de crux. Ten eerste is Android geen telefoon maar een OS. Niets meer, niets minder. Je zou een vergelijk moeten maken met iPhone OS, niet zozeer tussen Android en iPhone. Maar goed, als we ons focussen op de Android EVO 4G HTC in vergelijk met de iPhone 3GS heb je inderdaad wel een redelijk vergelijk. Uiteraard vergelijk je (bijna) 2 jaar oude techniek met techniek die een week oud is, maar ok. 

Alleen, neem eens een stapje terug van de techniek en kijk naar het proces als geheel. Apple heeft in principe 1 handset: de iPhone. Zelf ontworpen, zelf gemaakt (niet letterlijk natuurlijk, Apple laat ook liever mensen in China bouwen om de kosten te drukken).

Google heeft de Nexus One. Niet zelf gemaakt, puur een HTC zonder badge. Google heeft wel Android. Ook niet echt meer zelf gemaakt, maar Open Source en gebruikt door een consortium van fabrikanten. HTC, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, en meer.

ChromeOS - BeOS in 1999: see a similarity? ChromeOS can be everywhere

ChromeOS seems to be redefining computing for many users. The concept of a "cloud-only" environment is new and really takes some effort to understand. With ChromeOS, the user won't need to worry about files and folders anymore. Users only need to worry about content. Photos, Movies, Documents, etc. Hopefully with a sensible name.

I'm not sure how Google wants to go forward in managing this without the legacy concept of folders and files, but we'll see.
[edit] @luclodder indeed commented that Google is already doing this in gmail using tags and search.

Back in 1998, 1999 there was a small company called Be Inc. Their success on the desktop was not what they expected and Jean Louis Gassée, the CEO of Be came up with the "brilliant" idea to start making so-called internet devices. Lightweight devices running BeOS. The iPad, archived on Scot Hacker's site here: was one example. Be wanted to be inside every device. From your fridge (ordering milk if needed) to TV (web experience).

The idea never took off, and eventually Be Inc was bought by Palm and we never saw anything from BeOS or iPad again.

It does seem though that the time is now right for these devices. ChromeOS seems to be made for lightweight devices.

Most people now think that ChromeOS will be for lite netbooks, a laptop like computer that you carry around. But Google could take this much further. ChromeOS can essentially run in any device.
Imagine having a small touch-enabled screen in the kitchen. Connected to the internet, you are just a few clicks away from ordering groceries. Or check your email while waiting for the oven, or load that latest recipe from that cooking forum.

ChromeOS can run in your TV set. Streaming the latest movies. Playing the latest games. Chatting with friends and relatives. Or even in your car. Guiding you towards that new restaurant you want to try. Streaming your favorite radio channel.

Just regarding ChromeOS as a means for an even lighter netbook is shortsighted. It looks as if Google is reaching beyond this, it wants to be everywhere.

1984 and 1999 all over again?

Should e-book readers really become multi-purpose devices? @leolaporte

in the latest episode of This Week in Tech (link) Leo Laporte and co-hosts talked about e-book readers like the Kindle and the Barnes & Noble device. For most of the hosts the devices were not powerful and full featured enough, and for instance email and web browsing was lacking. The discussion went on towards the desire for multi purpose devices or single task devices. I guess indeed it is depending on your situation where you are, when you are there. I can see myself carrying an iPhone for most of the stuff I do but using an e-book reader for reading since the iPhone screen is just too small and the backlight is very annoying for actual long duration reading.

Let's focus on e-book readers for a moment. People are looking for an ebook reader that can do more than just be used as an electronic book library. They would also like it to play mp3s (audiobooks, music) or maybe even videos (movies, streaming video episodes of TV series, etc). I can see the appeal for that. But apart from mp3 and video storage, should an e-book reader be able to check email and browse the web? I am not so sure, and here's why:

Reading a book is probably the best single example of a single-tasking, focussed action a person can do. You read a book, you get into the story, you lose track of time and nothing else matters. We all hate it when you are right in the middle of an exciting book and the phone or doorbell rings.. What the hell, who disturbs my moment of alternate reality!?

Imagine an e-book reader that checks for email and goes PING if there is an email. Or even worse, shows a notification right across the screen. Yes, you can probably disable this, but the nagging "maybe there is new email" may stay with you throughout the book, ruining the experience, pulling you away from that wonderful virtual world only a book can create. And we know how distracting Twitter can be. Say your e-book reader supports browsing. I bet you want to check on your friends' tweets once in a while. Stop reading, check the web or twitter. Another disturbance.

So, maybe e-book readers should remain just that. For reading electronic books. Undisturbed by other features. Okay, apart from an empty battery once in a while...

Vodafone Netherlands going to offer the iPhone in 2010?

First a disclaimer: this is my own opinion and no official Vodafone statement:

According to this posterous post and this (dutch) newsbit

Jens Schult-Bockum (JSB), CEO of Vodafone Netherlands has said that "Vodafone made a huge mistake by not winning the iPhone deal" two years ago. At that time, JSB was Global Director of Terminals at Vodafone Group. Fast forward to 2009. JSB is now CEO of Vodafone Netherlands. In the UK the exclusive iPhone deal with O2 has ended and at the (very) last moment, Vodafone UK joined Orange in carrying the iPhone for 2010.

I'm assuming that the T-Mobile exclusivity deal in the Netherlands (and Germany) is going to end in 2010 as well. Add to that the JSB statement and it's not that difficult to figure out that it is very possible that Vodafone Netherlands (and Germany) will join the iPhone deal in the very near future.

That's positive. More choices for the user. With the better network, Vodafone might easily collect convert T-mobile users to switch. Vodafone360 will get its own iPhone app as well, albeit limited in functionality. However, if the iPhone comes to Vodafone, that won't be an issue anymore and Vodafone360 may be a full-fledged service. (Not sure how they will handle this technically, with the sandbox application model in the iPhone)

A lot of times you hear people (myself included) say the iPhone is great but the T-Mobile network sucks. Well, the above may make those users happier :-)

Exciting times ahead? You bet. Let's just say the silly season (sic) has begun.

Snow Leopard sales double that of Leopard, I think not just because of the price.

According to theAppleBlog, sales of SL are double that of Leopard.

Most will agree that the price is pushing sales high, but I also think Leopard was just not good enough. At least in my case, and talking to other Apple users, a lot of them aren't (weren't) really happy with Leopard.

Leopard was suffering from "Windows syndrome". Being bloated and slow. Some of it due to carrying legacy PowerPC support, some of it by feature creep and unoptimized code. In SL there are still some loops open, but that is mostly in the application area. (iTunes is still carbon for
instance). That will change in due time (I predict an "iMovie08" makeover for iTunes next year)

The OS is finally mature :-)

Mac clones, the hole they fill in the Mac line-up

The dutch apple news site MacFreak has a small news article about a new european Apple clone maker named PearC. They offer Leopard pre-installed clones in a case that looks quite similar to the MacPro cases, but not really. Their argument for creating and distributing the clones is that the Apple EULA isn't valid in europe because it cannot be read in advance (before opening the package). That's an interesting take on a legal tidbit, and I leave it up to Apple, PearC and the EU to judge if this is indeed true.

But that's not the point of my post. I discussed this with a good friend and co-geek before, and what is noticable is that there is a huge gap in the Apple line-up. Yes, what Apple needs is a mid-range computer between the iMac and MacPro. It should have more possibilities than the iMac, but should not be as extensive and expensive as the MacPro. There is the Quadcore MacPro (default config €2299,-), but that is still too expensive: personally I'd like to have a quadcore computer, with 2.93GHz cpu, 8 gigs of RAM, a 1TB harddisk and an ATI GPU. But when I configure the basic macpro like that it'll cost me €2800,-- ! The high end iMac makes it even more expensive since 8 Gig RAM in 2x4G slices is extremely expensive. So, a computer with 3 or 4 memory slots would be a great option.

For the next iteration of apple hardware updates, I hope they will leave the quadcore macpro intact, except using Intel i7 CPUs, and drop the price of the standard configuration well below €2000 (€1899 is a nice price). Still more expensive than a clone, but I'm happy to pay a little more for the design and component quality (also case). But not a lot more like currently is the case.

Until that is done, the clone makers actually have a business case that may work for them, selling quality products for better money than the Apple offerings. Maybe Apple will create new iMacs that will have 3 or 4 memory slots, that would actually convince me to get an iMac, but currently the offering is not tempting enough (I value RAM higher than raw CPU speed).

iPhone: Push or multitasking, what's the difference?

The 3rd party Push notifications have been announced two years ago, and are finally available for general use in iPhone OS 3. Apple has put up push notifications as an alternative to multitasking, mainly because multi-tasking apps running in the background would drain your battery quicker and multi-tasking would use more memory. 

Well, it is a fact that the more apps you are running simultanious, the more memory is used. And yes, especially if an application is polling the network for new messages, that can consume battery life quite quickly.
So, push notifications is the solution and holy grail for iPhone users.
Now, back into real life. I installed Worldvoice, a "radio" application that uses push for notifications of new "broadcasts" and such. So I switched on the push notifications and played around with the application a bit. I then switched the app off and pretty soon, a push message was shown. Cool. I got bored with it, and switched off the individual notification settings for Worldvoice. The general Push setting remained "on" (because I forgot about it) - see screenshot.

After half a day, I noticed that my iphone battery indicator dropped significantly more than I am used to.
Did some more tests during a few days and yes, even though you're not actually receiving any push notifications, just having the push notification enabled makes that your battery drains quite a bit quicker than usual. Because the connection to the push server and phone is open constantly.
I am now wondering if this push is actually such a good idea. It drains battery, even without using it. This is with only one app, with very few updates. If you have three or four apps, with a lot of updates (say a twitter client with notifications for DMs and Mentions, and an MSN client with notifications for messages, etc), I think your battery will be gone after a few hours. That sucks, and I think is not much different than just run the apps in the background, really.

Do more people have the above experience (or not?) and willing to share their opinion?

iPhone 3G(s), push notifications and podcasts, here's how it could work

The iPhone 3G and 3GS are wonderful devices. The iPhone OS3 is amazing. But the implementation of podcasts is still not very good. And that's an understatement.
The way it works now is that users subscribe to their beloved podcasts in iTunes and sync their iPhone with it. However, iTunes biggest flaw is that if you do not listen to the podcast for a while (actually: do not listen in iTunes, it doesn't see that you listened in the iPhone), it stops updating. Yes, you can manually open the iPod function in your iPhone, go to Podcasts and push "find more episodes".
That's fine and dandy, but it needs the user to check if there's a new one or not. Cumbersome. Not to mention there's a 10MB limit on podcast downloads over 3G. But that point is moot compared to the other issues.
There's been a podcast app for the iPhone for quite some time: RSS Player. You can subscribed to RSS podcast feeds and it will download to your iPhone. I love the app for the ease of subscribing and downloading podcasts but I really dislike it when it comes to user friendliness. But the major no-no is that it cannot run in the background, like the iPod can. That's not the developer's fault, it's that Apple won't allow these background processes. When I'm on the bike or scooter, I like to pause, skip, control the iPhone using the mic button on my earbud cable. Not possible in RSS Player. Once you click the mic button, the iPhone starts the iPod function .. Closing RSS Player along the way. Stupid.
So, here is a proposal I'd like to see imlpemented on the next OS update, for a NATIVE podcast experience that works:

  • The user subscribes to podcasts in iTunes (or on iPhone)
  • The subscription data is stored in your iTunes account, so it's available online (and could eventually be downloaded as an OPML file)
  • The Apple iTunes backend systems send out a PUSH notification to the iPod application on the iPhone if there's a new episode for download.
  • The user can then open up the iPod app and download the episodes. 

The "old school" iTunes syncing is still available, with one small adaptation that the podcasts don't stop updating when not listened in iTunes. Any subscription updates are stored in the cloud, instead locally on your mac/pc. So you're always up to date whereever you listen.