Tag Archives: Android

Choice, its a good thing.

I have a thought on why app retention for iOS is so high.   The development tools given to ios App makers are so limited and crippled in what parts of the system they can access and how they can use those resources, leading to lackluster apps.  You don’t even get the option of changing the default program for a defined action.  Case and point Chrome, amazing everywhere else, hamstrung by iOS limitations.

iOS apps hit the ceiling with what they can do very quickly.  No innovation can happen past the 3 or 4th version of an app.  There is no competitiveness between apps over features or speed, its just first one to the finish line of a good UI.  Also in the case of a browser, mail client, launcher, keyboard, etc, iOS users don’t  get a choice.  Click a link in iOS, it will open in safari, never in a browser of your choice.

Android I haven’t even decided on a default launcher. Apex and Nova keep outdoing each other and I switch back and forth.  Both are much better than the default launcher, which is also great, and luckily I have the option of a choice.

If you chose to switch, it doesn’t mean what you are leaving is terrible, it just means that you made a choice

TL;DR Choice is good, iOS apps are crippled

Custom to the smallest degree

I like to keep things as simple and as functional as possible. This is one of the major reasons I moved from iOS to android.   On the simple side of things my main beef was that to get any information or complete a task iOS required more motions and more time than I really want to use.  Most of the time I would simply not use my phone for a task.  For this post I’ll define a “motion” as a swipe, touch, or typing.

To illustrate, while on default iOS to do anything with my phone one has to unlock (2 motions), locate the desired app (1-3 or more motions), open the app (1 motion), wait for it to open and update  So 4-6 motions and 10+ seconds later I would FINALLY have access to the app I wanted.  This doesn’t include any motions or time from within the app.

The greater foul was that by default Applications on iOS have are organized by date of installation and to change it is a time consuming process or requires the use of a computer (insert snarking Post-PC-bullshit quip here).  The end result being rather ugly and even more confusing

To alevate this pain I turned toward jailbreaking my phone through a series of apps, extensions, coding, and themes my lockscreen looked like this

here is a guide to doing this. http://www.iclarified.com/entry/index.php?enid=6857

Still this whole process only allows me to view information, I don’t think it allowed me reply to text, email, or access any other data.

Enter android.  As I have said before, “Where there is a will, there is code.”  Android provides developers  with not only an open platform they encourage and provides them with everything they need to make android their what ever they want for free.  The days were I needed to hack and slash code are gone.  Everything I needed to customize my phone was in Google Play Store.

I am running a beta build of CyanogenMod 9 on a Samsung Epic 4G, so I am as close to vanilla Android 4.0.4 as I can possibly get.  No carrier apps, no manufacture overlays and I disabled the status bar clock.  But everything here can be accomplished on any android phone.

Here is my current homescreen accessible but just pushing the power button (1 motion)

 From this homescreen I can get detailed weather,  toggle WiFi / GPS / tethering / Bluetooth / 4G, launch any app that has an active notifications,  respond to text, capture video/take pictures, check my calendars, , make a phone call, listen to voicemail, play music / podcasts / audiobooks, launch and read Facebook / Twitter / Google+, and open maps / gallery / Google reader.   All in two motions.

For three motions I could enable an alarm,  download / update apps, and search and launch anything on my phone including music, video, apps, and search pretty much anything else.

The awesome-ness comes in with zero motions I get time, battery info, current weather and forecast.  With one motion  I can read new emails, read text, open gchat, open a browser, open dialer, and get detailed weather information.

That quite a long list for 4 motions and all accomplished with a custom minimalistic visual experience.

I’d also say that the wait time for all of this to happen is <1sec and compare it to iOS, but my last experience was on an iPhone 3G which by default was a 620 MHz processor underclocked to 412 MHz.  Its probably not fair to compare that to a 1 GHz processor overclocked to 1.1 GHZ.

Any Android phone can look like this.  it doesn’t have to have ICS to accomplish it.  Its all possible with a few apps from the Play Store.

First is the launcher.  Which controls homescreens, the app drawer, and custom motion controls.  i use Apex Launcher (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.anddoes.launcher).  Swipe up motion to open the  app drawer, vertical continuous app drawer, infinite scroll-able dock, locked wallpaper, and a few other tweaks here and there. The same effects can be accomplished with Nova LauncherADW launcher,  Go Launcher EX, or a variety of other launchers.

The clock / weather widget at the top of the screen is Simi Clock Widget, which really appeals to me due to the minimal nature of it.  I have also used  and loved Fancy Widgets and Beautiful Widgets.

 Last I got the wallpaper from Lifehacker.

And that’s it.  2 apps and image file.

Google Patch

“Today we’re starting to roll out a fix which addresses a potential security flaw that could, under certain circumstances, allow a third party access to data available in calendar and contacts,” a Google spokesperson told PCMag. “This fix requires no action from users and will roll out globally over the next few days.”

Less than 24 hours and patched, no user action required. Boo-yeah

Full article here

Firmware Confusion

With the advent of the smart-phone and other consumer technology firmware updates have become something that the common user has to know about. Android handles its firmware upgrades completely different from it iOS cousins, to the point where I don’t think you can actually classify them together.

iOS downloads a huge file, 666.2MB at last check Through iTunes the device is backed up and the OS and core apps; mail, calendar, safari, maps, etc, are updated. This method is dependant on large downloads, long tethered updates, even in the event that there is only a small change. This and the necessity to activate the device through iTunes after every update put hindrances on over-the-air (OTA) updates which iOS doesn’t support presently. The biggest issue I have with this method is that all the core apps are tied to these updates. To get an update to any core app, mail, appstore, calendar, maps, youtube, stocks, weather, itunes, it has to be through a firmware update. Its like needing to rebuild you house every time you get a new couch.

On the other hand, Android has several ways to update. The first, and worst, are the carrier OTA updates. These a plagued with carrier addons, manufacture UIs, and delays-a-plenty. These are still great for the everyday user, just not for me. Secondly some manufactures/carriers let you download the update to the phone through desktop applications and then just restart the phone with a file on the SD card. And third and best of all, you can use any ROM being maintained by developers, Cyanogen being the most prominent, and update whenever a new build is pushed through a variety of portals. These updates can be download and installed without the use of a computer.

In all these case the updates can range from 80-150MB in my experience. The best part about these updates is that they are for the most part system upgrades. They add features at a core level like, pinch to zoom, multitasking, flash support, speed/battery improvements, and the like. The average person probably wouldn’t notice any difference in these improvements, but the techno-person does.

Androids core apps, gmail, youtube, maps, navigation, Market, etc are handled like applications. They aren’t tied to the firmware and can be upgraded through the market in mere seconds when ever you want. it also allows you to have the latest version of the app without having the latest version of the firmware.

These differences on how the firmware is handled make direct comparisons of Android and iOS updates nonsensical.