Tag Archives: android

Holiday Tech

I’m probably the worst choice for writing this article, but my raving at the office about my kid’s new Xbox 360 landed me the task.

First let me say that Happy Action Theater for the Kinect is just plain fun for all ages. That is what I have raved about, is the fantastic sense of humor and imagination the makers at Double Fine demonstrate in this whimsical entertainment masterpiece. My kids love it, and I’ll admit floating around on a rock taking pot shots at them with my own fireball shooting hands is pretty entertaining too. As a bonus it appears that they are offering a free game until December 31st. I’ll be back in a minute.

Ok, so now that I got my anecdote off my chest, let’s move on to the future tech, as there are some neat developments. Firstly, let’s talk about phones, I will skip the iPhone for once, and jump right to Androids. Why? We’ve told you before, iPhones rarely offer anything to talk about. They are usually a quarter to a full 6 mos behind the other devices out there. Sure, they make some polished devices, but they don’t believe in “bleeding” edge, and probably could not even be called “cutting” edge. They rest safe and sound on the established tech, and for many this is a great thing.

For those of you who are “bleeders” here’s the scoop. 1920×1080 on a PHONE!! No joke, it’s for real. I remember when the first laptops came out that could do that resolution. They were monsters. Mac users remember when the Macs supported that, in fact I think it’s still maximum on the iMacs… but a phone!?!! Yes, the HTC DNA boasts 1920×1080, that’s FULL HD. Of course with a special cable you can plug this right into your HD TV via HDMI. That takes first place in my book, but be warned. There are rumors that many graphically demanding games perform poorly on this device because of the high resolution. I’ve seen figures as low as 25% of the frame rate. They call this bleeding edge for a reason.

Next up, 4G. There are three main flavors of this: lte, HSPA+, and Wi-Max. Of course, Apple again missed the boat, their iPhone 4 was NOT 4G at all. By the time the iPhone 5 was finally getting 5Mbits/s on LTE Androids were pushing 40Mbits/s. Even here in Podunk, 16Mbits/s is not rare, unless you own the newest iPhone. Sure it’s faster than 3G but as usual, slower than the new Droids, and more expensive too. Solution? Almost any new droid, HTC DNA above, if you don’t want to “bleed” quite so much, then try the Motorola Razr HD. Respectable at 720p.

Finally, if you are a conservative techie try anything old now. iPhone 5s are dirt cheap now. $127 at Walmart, now that is a reasonable price for old tech. Remember old tech, is tried and true. You are bound to have less trouble when the technology has been tested. Gen 3 iPads at $400 we could never recommend though. You can get a fully functional laptop for that price. Or for < $250 you could get a Chromebook. These represent a new way to think about computing, and “the Cloud” (despite its 70s hippy connotations) has some real promise for average users that just want don’t want to worry about the safety of their data. If you’re a power user you probably already caught Wozniak’s predictions that the cloud trend will reverse itself for power users. That NAND (solid state) technology is taking data centers by storm. If you haven’t have a look: Wozniak on Forbes.

So there you have it. Rumor has it that the XBox 720 is on the horizon, but Microsoft has claimed that the 360 is only half way through its life-cycle. Whatever the truth of that is the Xbox + Kinect bundle has been popping up dirt cheap. A colleague told me to chip in his 2 cents, and remind readers that the PS3 (Sony’s console) can play blu-ray discs (which XBox cannot) as well as offers a free online services whereas Microsoft charges for XBox live. As an XBox user there is no way I’ll be paying them for XBox live, which saves me on two levels. Of course the monthly fee, but also the temptation to purchase any multi-player title that requires said subscription.

4G, HD smart phones, and amazing deals on respectable last-generation technology like the iPhone 5 are all things to keep in mind. While I wouldn’t be too interested in a Chromebook myself, it does seem like it should be intriguing to non-power users looking for simplicity.

Have funny, and Happy 2013!

iPhone 5 predictions.

The iPhone is selling below expectation, but that doesn’t mean much. Since when does expectation not follow an indefinite upward trend? Investors know that indefinite upward trends don’t exists. As usuall they limited their initial production batch. So they “sell-out” even when sales are below expectations. That’s just good marketing. 5,000,000 is a lot of phones.

The long-term determination of a post-Jobs Apple may not be their marketing. It definitely won’t be their screen tech. It most-likely won’t even be their processor. What it will probably be is their battery.

Apple has a long history of sealing batteries into their products almost as though they never expect this consumable part to ever wear out. A throwback to 15 years ago that has since been innovated out of everything right down to musical greeting cards. However, Apple is always thinking about the release cycle.

For the iPhone 4 the official cost of replacing your battery is $79 and up to 5 days (Apple Service Page). However, with most cell plans, the phone itself doesn’t even cost that much. So what will people do? They will buy the next one. Ingenious… but…

A big BUT, is that LTE (4G) is a battery burner. If Apple’s iPhone 5 battery is anywhere near as obsolete as some of the other components (like the screen tech, it’s still LCD instead of OLED which also happens to burn much more battery), then they will be disappointing users within a month or two of release when the charge capacity falls. Even under warranty a 5 day turnaround is no fun.

So come Thanksgiving time, keep an ear out for the news.

Google’s Monopoly

google desperateWe’ve discussed this before and will likely discuss it again. Google. Google is again being scrutinized concerning their business practices. Anyone who has worked hard to generate significant search engine optimization for a client will know that Google keeps it a moving target. Their motto is “Don’t be evil.” However that hardly qualifies as verifiable transparency and accountability. The idea is nice, but what happens when their income streams thin out? About 8 or so years ago well financed marketing managers were falling all over themselves to give Google money. A click for Mesothelioma was worth $75 or more. That’s just one click!

It sounds absurd and that’s what it was. It took a while for the executives to realize that their ROI was going to make them look quite silly. In fact, many remained in denial for years. They dreamed that they could just pay Google and get all the sales they wanted. They assumed that the lack of conversions (or actual sales) was a mistake of their staff and just tried again with a different “guy”. Like someone who paid too much for their car (or a Mac owner) they bragged to their friends about how great their hot rod is. Their friends jumped in too. However, when pay-per-click did not deliver much beyond bills, as the now proverbial “ad blindness” set in and clicks only kept getting more expensive the “fancy car” failed to deliver for many of the markets that patronized it. The inexperienced still rush to buy up their “keywords” in hopes of a marketing miracle. However, the only marketing miracle is that Google made a killing in a market that had the lifespan of a Great Dane.

Great danes have a short life span at about 8 years.
Great Dane’s life span is about 8 years

So the game is over, the hay day is exhausted, and Google is handing out vouchers for $75, $80, and $100 worth of free ad space. Sparky, our beloved but old Great Dane is spending most of his days sleeping on his mat and the vouchers amount to putting vitamins in his food. All they will do is allow the uninformed to discover for free how little value there is left in PPC advertising. After they’ve spent their $75 voucher and generated a few hundred clicks and maybe 2 or 3 conversions into something whose return amounts to ten or twenty bucks, then only fuzzy math will convince them to spend more. It’s an act of desperation that will mostly net folks that cannot use a calculator. There are some niches that this works in, but it is but a shadow of what it once was.

So where does that leave corporate Google and their motto “Don’t be evil?” It’s easy to do the right thing when the wind is blowing your way, but true character is only demonstrated when things get tough. It’s obvious there aren’t any Mac fans here, but one thing Steve did manage to do is create a sustainable fantasy. Google’s PPC fantasy was not sustainable. So what is Google doing to remain profitable? After all, “organic” search results don’t pay them, or at least they shouldn’t. The funny money valuations of “audience potential” are the stuff bubbles and bankruptcies are made of. Enter the FTC.

The Federal government, along with a lot of the more paranoid of us techie types, have our suspicions that Google’s “organic” results aren’t really as “organic” as they appear. You can believe what you’d like, but a company that built its business on scraping other people’s sites for content only to turn around and ban other sites that do the same thing citing “copyright” violations as their grounds sure doesn’t seem capable of not “being evil.” Press releases can say all kinds of things, but the cash cow was adWords and that dog just ain’t hunting. Android is great, and nobody really knows for sure, but on the face it seems to be open-source and royalty free. In fact there are rumors that Google has been paying manufacturers to use it. Yes, maybe 5 years ago Google could afford to have high standards, maybe they can for another 5 years. But, try to knock Wikipedia out of the top spot on a key term for your niche market, try to get about.com out of your way. About.com just so happens to run Google ads, Wikipedia, well while their is no obvious connection they are Google’s example of a “content is king” site. So it may well eat up so many SERPS simply as evidence in Google’s “don’t be evil” favor. If corps are paying for “organic” SERPS positions the connection will not be obvious. If Google is purposely burying their competition on top searches you can bet they will have some more obscure examples to show the Feds, and if they don’t now they will when the time comes.

What will the FTC find? It just depends on how deeply they dig, but Google is a corporation and they will do what they need to to keep the revenue coming. What will the FTC do if they do find impropriety? Well, here’s our guess, they will find a young man named Saddam Hussein and make him an honorary citizen of Detroit, then wink at him and tell him to “do the right thing.” In other words, it’s not likely any good will come of it. Sure Google is gaming the system. At least they have demonstrated a realization that there are limits to how much we will tolerate before giving Bing another chance. The government on the other hand seems to see no limit at all to how far they can manipulate. I say if Google wants to sell search engine positions let them. Just let the public know what they’re doing and let us decide how we deal with them. What we don’t need is “ObamaSearch 2011”.

Windows 8 Impressions

I began this article with plans to have at Microsoft for the same reasons I had at Apple on OSX Lion. Dragging desktop interfaces down to the level of mobile devices is an absurd strategy. However, Microsoft has been accused for years of lacking ingenuity. However upon reviewing the tidbits available on Windows 8 I’m quite certain that whatever may come while Steve Jobs is still implementing ideas he had 27 years ago (or so he claims with iCloud), Microsoft really seems to have some new ones. It might be time to get some stock in M$FT.

As I saw these colored tiles pop up on the screen I thought: “here we go again”… However, it really is not like anything we’ve had before. HTML5, javascript, running the desktop! This is very exciting. A: “Mosaic of Tiles… Tiles are better than icons for several reasons…” … I actually buy that. Snap an app, alt-tab. “Thumbs” keyboard… I’m sure the fan boys and “geniuses” we like to ridicule so much here will find a way to claim that these are all stolen from what would have been Steve Jobs’ intellectual property given enough time for him to come up with it (and perhaps will file a lawsuit to boot). I frankly don’t care. While OSX is releasing what amounts to service packs as “new products” Microsoft has been busy. By the time Apple has OSX service pack 4: Sea Horse, or Tiger Lily, or whatever they call it next, I just hope Windows can get some good Q/A done despite their bureaucratic tar pit. If a mobile OS has a chance at beating Android this is how it would be done. I’m just happy to have a win/win. In fact I may need to get to work on figuring out how to dual boot my phone!

Momentarily remove your robe of resistance to change and take a watch yourself, do you see what I see?

Brave Predictions

android and flashAdobe CEO Shantanu Narayen announced at the D9 conference yesterday that “Android will overtake iPad just like it did the iPhone.” You may remember roughly a year ago when we mentioned that Apple’s decision to block Adobe Flash on the Mac would prove fatal to it’s longevity, well perhaps that one thing will not, but the overall philosophy is what is unsustainable. Sure, it is possible for Toyota to sell vehicles with their hoods welded shut, in fact, given the right hype they could get off to a record start. I can see the advertisements now: Cool Car: “What’s that, your hood opens? That’s so yesterday.” … Geeky Old Car: “How do you expect a mechanic to fix you if they can’t get to your engine?” … Cool Car: “I don’t expect to need fixing.” … Nice gimmick, but who exactly are we fooling here?

So back to Android and to our tech-savvy audience. The platform is wide open and we have a lot of fun developing Droid apps. Currently we still prefer the old and reliable Eclipse environment. We combine that with DroidDraw (I personally prefer to just type type the XML and avoid the inconsistencies) for layouts and have slowly gotten brave enough to do significant testing in the emulator before putting it on our devices. There are daily arrivals of some great libraries on GitHub and most of these are OpenSource. We’d love to hear of anyone developing their mobile apps solely in Flash (or Flex) on AIR. We have a client looking for this and could not honestly claim any experience with it yet, but you can bet we’re on it. It has been possible for over a year now, but my concern is what happens with phones that don’t have Flash? Is it still too early to recommend this to clients?

Well, this article will have to remain a “to-be-continued”. Until we get a better feel for the potential. Narayen may be producing precisely the buzz he’d hoped to.

More FUD from internet “reporters”.

Example #1: Is Honeycomb Android’s Vista?

Wow, ZDnet, how much did you get paid to run that article? Especially since the supported devices can be counted on 1 hand and the major player is the Xoom that really has had it’s own problems taking on the iPad. Any commentary on the matter is premature at best, so extrapolating from those comments is just bad reporting.

Do we need more examples? They come daily. One thing I can suggest is a good read between the lines in that article. If you do better than skim you’ll catch that ZDnet is actually making the same point. You won’t get it from the headline, nor just reading a few sentences, but the overall message is everyone hated Vista and loves Windows 7. Though they are nearly the same! Unfortunately it’s the headlines that a big portion of society base their opinions on. Shame on you ZD, you know that. Based on a sample of the comments it’s pretty obvious most of them didn’t really read it either.

FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) … PROPAGANDA. Don’t be lemmings, if you see a provocative headline dig deep or ignore it altogether but don’t rush to Tweet or update Facebook. That only adds to the problem.

“Some men relate what they think, as what they know; some men of confused memories, and habitual inaccuracy, ascribe to one man what belongs to another; and some talk on without thought or care. A few men are sufficient to broach falsehoods, which are afterwards innocently diffused by successive relaters.

It is more from carelessness about the truth, than from intention of lying that there is so much falsehood in the world.” – Samuel Johnson

Apple again throwing stones, from a glass house.

samsung-f700So, Apple wants us to believe that Samsung threw together, within the period of almost exactly 1 month, an iPhone copy that just happened to be also packed full of superior parts? That is one big complement to Samsung. While it appears that rumors of the Samsung F700 being demonstrated in 2006 are not accurate, LG had launched their Prada phone by then and frankly they all look like each other.

lg-pradaWoo-Young Kwak, who is the head of mobile handset R&D at LG, said that Apple stole the design after the Prada phone won the 2006 iF Design Award. Yes folks, that is true, 2006, LG’s touchscreen won a Design Award and many months later iPhone appears.

There is no doubt that someone “invented” the all touch screen form factor, but the chances of us ever knowing who that was are slim-to-none.  What is also highly unlikely is that the LG was inspired by a phone not to appear until the following year. What is almost as unlikely is that Samsung could design and fabricate a superior phone “copycat” of the iPhone in 1 month based entirely on the iPhone’s initial launch.  What is most likely is that the charlatan Steve Jobs is again trying to convince the world that he is the innovator and everyone else are imitators.

We look forward to the court ruling on the lawsuit. While the courts are notoriously inept at understanding techno-babble we have seen some semblance of justice come from these cases. We don’t really know what will come of Mark Zuckerberg’s claims, but on this one a picture is worth a 1000 words. LG Prada beat Samsung and Apple, and won an award to boot. Being an admirer of LG products myself, I’d sure like this issue to hit the fan again. You know since Apple went throwing stones and all.