Category Archives: Google

Ubuntu for Phones Preview

phone-photo-heroThe developers of the popular Linux distribution Ubuntu have showed off an Android based phone OS with no JavaVM running on a Galaxy Nexus phone today. From first look it’s got some slick things that make the UI different from normal Android like swiping from edges to open menus and information, kind of stealing this from how Windows 8 works. From hands on videos it is very slow and things lag when opening. Of course this a early release but it’s nothing impressive.

On the website they show a block with app icons and just say “Go make us apps” using HTML5/Native, but lots of those like Gmail and YouTube would never make it to this OS natively just look at the large number of full on Android devices that don’t get support for Google Apps. So its very misleading to people thinking this would be cool to have because somehow it’s going to be more open then Android.

The one think I ask is what is the point, right now the big 3 are Android, iOS, and BlackBerry, with BlackBerry slowly dying away and Windows Phone not even something that anyone is looking at. This sounds like a lot of extra resources that could be put into making Android better, or making Ubuntu work better on the desktop. There is also Ubuntu TV but don’t expect much from that ether, their may be money in these markets but trying to do your own thing won’t work out or you will get people who get one of these devices and wonder why they can’t get the apps there friends on Android have.

Check out some photos to see what it looks like but don’t hold your breath for this becoming more than a waste of our time. If any new phone OS had any chance other than Android and iOS it would be Windows Phone just because they have the money to lose. And as we have seen from other Phone OS’s such as WebOS and even Windows Phone, just because you are different or have some special features it all comes down to getting things working together and getting lots of phones running it.

If this sounds harsh, it’s just true that you shouldn’t expect much to come from this.

Facebook for Android now Native

Facebook Friend AndroidFacebook announced the new Android app that runs in native code and not as a HTML5 web based app that it used to. By doing this it should run much faster and give them the ability to add more features that are part of the Android API. The app should load faster and run much smoother, I noticed that once images were loaded on my Galaxy Nexus scrolling thorough the time line was much easier. Also the images are loaded as you view them in the time line so they open right away and can be zoomed, liked or commented on right away without that annoying loading spinner. Also if you load a friend’s time line you should see a speed improvement.

I got it as an auto update when I got on WiFi but if you don’t have that on go get the update from the Play Store and you should be happy with the speed improvements of using native code.

Google Maps for iOS Available

Google Maps iOS ScreensFor all you iPhone users out there who got screwed over by Apple not getting along with Google and building a junkie maps app you can now be happy again Google has released Google Maps for iPhone today! This build includes the fast loading vector-based maps that are smooth and can be rotated just like on Android or the web. There is also turn-by-turn navigation, live traffic, public transit information, and Street View. They also added information about businesses including phone numbers, photos, and reviews.

If you are a developer you can use the Google Maps SDK for iOS and URL scheme so you can use the maps in your apps. It is available in the App Store for iPhone, iPod Touch 4th gen running iOS 5.1 or higher and in more than 40 countries and in 29 languages. Check out the video below for a promotion video that shows none of the maps 😀

Verizon still Not Blocking Block on Google Wallet

Looks like Verizon is still at its “were not blocking Google Wallet but you can’t use it because we are blocking it” tricks again. Looks like a letter sent to the FCC about it shows they are still blocking it because they say it uses a “secure element” in the device. This sounds funny because when Google Wallet came out they said it was insecure and they didn’t want it for that reason, now they are saying sorry it’s too secure and you can’t use it.

But what this boils down to, Verizon is building their own mobile payments system and will most likely be using the same “secure element” in the phone and made so you can’t uninstall it unless you root and rip it out. I have Google Wallet on my rooted Galaxy Nexus and it works just fine, of course it says it’s not a supported device being a Verizon phone and rooted. Too bad Google doesn’t just make it available on the Play Store and disregard the block Verizon is putting on it.

Kindle Fire HD – Mini Review

My Field Trip took me on to see the Kindle Fire HD that was setup, and it made me happy I have a Nexus 7 tablet. It did have some store app showing how things worked and I closed that because I don’t need it, and I went in to seeing how things looked.

The first thing I could see was that when swiping through the apps and content it would stutter and wasn’t all the smooth. This should be something that would always be nice since people are going to do that first thing. So I took note of how it was not performing well and went on.

I saw Cut the Rope was installed and having played it on my Nexus 7 though it would be a good comparison. But again the system was very slow to load the game; it took almost 30 seconds to load and also took some time to load the level. The game performed as it should and seems fine but the low-speed had made me not so interested in the device. I also was seeing that the price was just too close to a Nexus 7 where I could get a full Android experience.

With the modified Android OS that Amazon hides you miss out on a lot of things that the content doesn’t always make up for. Mostly missing those Google Apps that just add the full experience you would want such as good email, maps, and even the Google Now search that is way better than anything Siri can give you.

I would not recommend one of these for someone looking for a mid-sized tablet especially when you can get the Nexus for the same price but with more power and a better app selection. You do miss out on the Amazon Prime video and books but you can make up for that by getting the Amazon Kindle App and Netflix.

Field Trip – iPad Mini, Mac Book Pro Retina, Kindle Fire HD, Nokia Lumia 822

Just took a Field Trip to the Verizon and Best Buy stores after lunch today, I’m going to call these posts Field Trips because I have to go out and play with new tech. Some of the main things I played with at the store were the iPad Mini, MacBook Pro with Retina display, Kindle Fire HD, and Nokia Lumia 822. I also played with some of the ASUS gaming laptops and a dead Samsung Chromebook.

While these aren’t the best settings for playing with them because I could not spend a lot of time playing and they were tethered to the display I did my best just playing with them. I also would like to get some of these in as review units or if some donations come in for a specific product I would review it also.

iPad Mini looks nice and would be a great smaller screen iPad if you don’t already have the newer full size iPad, I wouldn’t think you would need both. Check out the full mini review.

Mac Book Pro with Retina Display is a very powerful laptop computer, and with the higher resolution screen it looked nice but is it going to be worth the extra $500 or so for that nicer screen. I liked how it worked and had the older model side by side and couldn’t see much difference other than the Retina had more contrast, I’m sure more using it from the older model you may see a difference. Read the full mini review for more.

Kindle Fire HD is a good device for consuming Amazon content but it doesn’t seem as powerful as a Nexus 7 that I am use to. More in the mini review.

Nokia Lumia 822 is one of the flagship Windows Phone 8 devices while it has smooth operation and looked good, Windows Phone 8 seemed empty and just lacking in non-core apps even from a display model. See what I saw in the mini review.

Those are the big ones I played with but I did look over some other devices such as the ASUS gaming laptop that had good specs and all the keyboard was kind of clunky and seemed overpriced for what I could get a Mac Book for almost the same specs. I also don’t like Windows 8 all that much on a non-tablet or touch screen.

The Samsung Chromebook was set up kind of off to the side in an under equipped display that only had one left in a box that looked like it was taped closed after being opened at Best Buy I wanted to see it work but the system said click to start but I only got a spinning indicator and even after trying to power cycle it nothing came up so I left not knowing how things will work on that system. Too bad because I wanted to know how the system performed but bad displays will not sell these even with a low price tag.
New Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display

Acer C7 Chromebook

More Chromebooks are out this time a new one from Acer and is only $199. That’s an amazing price for a laptop, while it is a glorified web browser it is still a great deal. A few weeks ago Google put out the Samsung Chromebook for $249 that had an ARM processor but this one from Acer has a Dual-Core Intel Celeron Processor and a 320GB hard drive. Not sure how open the platform is you could probably put Linux or Windows 7 on this could be fun.

But for it running ChromeOS it seems like a good enough device and also has that cool deal of getting 100GB Google Drive for 20 years. There is also a set of 12 GoGo Inflight Internet connections included along with both HDMI and VGA connectors so you can have more than one screen. If you’re looking for a second or even third laptop for say your kids or just to have around these Chromebooks may be a good way to get it on the cheap.

Screen 11.6″ 1366×768
Thickness + Weight 1″ + 3 lbs.
Battery 3.5 hours
processor Dual-Core Intel Celeron
Storage 320GB HDD + 100GB Google Drive
Network Dual Band WIFI + Ethernet
Camera HD Camera
Ports 3x USB 2.0, 1x HDMI, 1x VGA

Google Helps People Vote TODAY! 2012

Google has made a big effort to help people find information about the 2012 Elections in the United States, this includes there YouTube page that has had lots of live video events along with video from major news networks on the Elections. But one of the things that I found interesting is how not only are they providing information on who you can vote for, but helping people find out where they can vote. On Google+ they reported that voter information data has been accessed over 16 million times.

While they do have some problems with the YouTube page today, I was able to load it up but live video and normal YouTube clips did not load in the page they would load on the standard page for that video. It also seems as the comment feed on the election page was stuck at over an hour old.

I was able to use the Google voting location tool to fine where I needed to go vote and also find more info on things I would have to vote on. At the voting location there was a line at 8:45 AM MST, and only took 10 minutes to get in. Then waited to have my address updated and went to the electronic voting systems. They used some kind of combination of paper print outs, a block that had some kind of near field wireless data transfer and a touch screen that was not as good as a phone or tablet touch screen. After you voted on each person it would print a log that showed up next to the screen, and then when you did finish voting it would show it and real that paper into the back of the voting device. I was of course almost more interested in the technology then the voting going on. Then when you were done a person would take that block with what seemed to store the data back to another system to unload the data and clear it for the next use.

Either way you vote its cool to see that you can get more information online than ever, it was surprising when looking at things I would vote on who many of the people didn’t have good websites or any at all. Get out and vote and if you can comment on your experience with electronic voting or if you are one that doesn’t like the idea of it.

Google Nexus: Ask Me Anything

A new video from Google shows off the Nexus 10, Nexus 7, and Nexus 4 and how you can use Google Now to search for information. Check it out below or on the YouTube Page.

Google Nexus 7 with Mobile Data

Google announcement was canceled today because of the weather, but they did put out the products for us to check out. This includes the Nexus 4 phone, Nexus 10 tablet, and an update and change to the Nexus 7. The big thing was adding mobile data to a 32GB version of the Nexus 7, while I have gone over how much I like using my Nexus 7 in a past article not much changed on the device other then added storage for both the non-mobile data and mobile data version.

The WIFI only versions price changed, the 16GB is now $199, and 32GB is $249. On the unlocked HSPA+ mobile data version it has 32GB storage and will cost only $299. It looks like the best deal is to get the mobile data one even if you don’t always or currently have a SIM to drop in this, but it would be nice to have the option. This new price and inclusions of mobile data for less than an iPad mini makes this look like a better option for most people.

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