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Monthly Archives: June 2011

Returned my Samsung Infuse 4G

Well, I returned my Samsung Infuse (good thing AT&T has a 30-day return policy). Not, it’s not that I didn’t like it. It’s okay, but there are things that started to annoy me.
First of all, what I liked about it:
-Large screen. In the past, I wouldn’t imagine having a 4.5″ screen phone. Now, everything seems too small and too tight to use.
-Android and Google Voice integration. This is more a plus for Android. I love the integration of Google Voice in Android, that it’s seamless. Not the case on iOS.
-Generous internal memory for apps.

Now, I find the Infuse to be fine on day-to-day use. But then the small things are getting annoying:
-It’s still Froyo. With Gingerbread already 6+ months old, it’s abhorrent that Samsung/AT&T released this phone with Froyo. And who knows if AT&T is going to update it. I inquired AT&T about it, and they said that they will only release an update if it meets their high standard. :puke: Really? High standard? Outside the US, Samsung handsets (SGS and SGS2) are sporting Gingerbread already, and I’m sure Samsung would know a lot more of their phones than AT&T. Bullshit. Using Froyo means that there are bugs, bugs that are only fixed with Gingerbread. Accessing things like the list of apps and general usability put Gingerbread above Froyo. Granted, Samsung’s Touch Wiz is actually not bad, and Samsung seems to manage to smooth out a lot of the quirks on Froyo. But going back to my Nexus One with Gingerbread after a month of using the Infuse breathed so much fresh air. Gingerbread is simply a lot smoother, and the keyboard is better too.
-AT&T controlled. Sure, I did manage to unlock it, but certain features like tethering and wifi hotspot remain under AT&T control unless you root the phone. But why do I have to do that? My Nexus One has those features available without having to root.
-Questionable touch-tone keypad. I think this is a Samsung issue. I found out about this issue when I was trying to navigate the touch-tone-base menu of a bank. The Infuse is literally unusable. Every touch tone key press on the virtual keypad of the Infuse registers as multiple numbers, even if I only tap the number really lightly. I don’t understand why. My N1 and iPhone 3GS don’t have this issue.
-Useless front facing camera. The only app included with the Infuse that can interact with the front facing camera is the camera app, and it can only take pictures, not video. I tried using other apps like Qik and Tango, the video captured by the front facing camera is rotated by 90-degrees. WTF? It’s close to useless.

I guess my next venture to Android will be on the Nexus 3. I’m sick and tired with carrier-controlled phones. With Apple now selling the iPhone 4 unlocked, I might go back to iOS, and replace my 3GS, the only provider-locked phone I own now.

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Posted by on June 16, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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WWDC 2011 Impression

The streaming video is available on Apple’s site now.

1. OS X Lion.
The show started with Phil Schiller talking about Lion and some of the features like gestures and what not. We’ve seen this before. Craig was showing the demo, showing the new scrolling paradigm and the new photo booth app. The focus is full-screen apps. What’s nice about it is how smooth things are. Whenever Craig swiped stuff around, the OS looks just silky smooth, something I like about Apple. Craig also showed the more intuitive mission control for spaces. Not bad, but nothing superbly amazing.
Launchpad is basically iOS-like launcher for OS X. Resume and auto-save seem like basic ideas, but I bet these will require app support for full functionality. Versions has the similar vibe of something that Microsoft is already doing on Windows (shadow copy, previous versions, etc). But obviously Apple is doing it with a lot more flair, with a Time-Machine-like UI and interactivity.
Airdrop is a nice feature, peer to peer encrypted wifi file-sharing. No more trying to find that USB stick. Oh, and also a confirmation that the server “version” will be an add-on, probably via the app store. Available July, but only available via the app store? What about a clean install? As for price, as I predicted, it’s just $30. The beauty is, since it’s part of the app store, it means you just spend $30 to upgrade ALL your Macs. Amazing! No more family pricing and whatnot. Microsoft, take a hint here, how much are you going to charge for Windows 8?

2. Mac App store
Yeah. Apple wants that cut, and at the same time, developers want the sales. Phil was saying how the Mac App store is the number one software retailer (not sure what measurement they are using, but whatever). The biggest change is app updates. Right now, as with iOS app store, whenever there’s an update for any of the apps, you’re downloading the whole apps again. Looks like Lion will allow delta updates. Hopefully this means everytime Apple updates iTunes, I don’t have to re-download the whole iTunes software anymore. 😛

3. New Mail.
Basically Mail on OS X is getting a UI refresh based on Mail on iOS with additional niceties like conversation view. By the way, Craig is just good at demo-in all of these. The way he talked and what not definitely shows you that the whole keynote is well produced, especially when you start comparing keynotes from Google/Microsoft/HP.

4. iOS5.
Scott is up, talking about the typical sales and whatnot. Yadda yadda. iOS5 is the news here. Finally, a revamped notification. The dumbphone-level notification is too silly for a smartphone. Notification Center. What is it? A copy of Android’s notification system. Yeah, it is even invoked by dragging the top bar down, JUST like Android. LOL @ Apple. Lock screen is improved by showing the notification with direct access to the app that got the notification.
Newsstand is just an extension of the iBook store, but for newspaper and magazine subscription. Meh, can’t remember when the last time I read newspaper or magazine. There’s already something better, it’s called RSS feed. 😛
Tighter twitter integration with support for single sign-on right on iOS, and twitter services from other apps.
Mobile Safari is improved with the same reader function like the desktop version. Many websites actually don’t like this as it gets rid of ads and page click. Oh, and full tab browsing for the iPad, with the tabs on the screen instead of having to go to the thumbnails of websites.
Reminders. Uh oh, this doesn’t bode well to some apps as before, you need a 3rd party app. The beauty is the geo location where you can trigger a reminder when entering or leaving a particular location.
Improved Camera app. Now there’s a camera icon on the lock screen of iOS5 that immediately brings you to the camera app. Gee, how did Apple get this idea? *cough*Windows Phone 7*cough*. Even funnier, using the volume button to take picture. The irony here is that Apple took down an app in the past that brought that functionality. There’s also AE/AF lock when you touch the area on the screen, a great feature. Editing is now built-in so no more trying to find a 3rd party apps for simple cropping. Of course, 3rd party devs may not be as happy.
Improved Mail… meh.
And, a split keyboard for thumb typing on the iPad. Hmm, where didn’t we see this very recently? Yeah, on Windows 8. LOL @ Apple.
One of the biggest feature would be PC free. This means no need for iTunes activation (phone can be used out of the box), OTA OS updates (delta, not redownloading the whole OS like before), just like, oh, any other phones out there. LOL.
I couldn’t care less about Game Center.
iMessage (gee, what a creative name), a messaging service for any iOS devices, including iPod Touch and iPad (not just iPhones). If you and your family/friends have iOS devices, pretty much you don’t need any of those IM apps anymore. Oh, and this could mean you can bypass your greedy wireless carrier’s SMS charges extortion. Neat. 😀
Other stuff: AirPlay Mirroring, Wi-Fi sync to iTunes (Finally!). Not mentioned: LED flash for incoming calls/alerts (obviously iPhone 4 only), Smart Playlist sync from iTunes, different tones for voicemail/mail/calendar alerts, emoji, ability to delete songs, and oh, custom vibration patters. LOL. Available this Fall, and still supports the 3GS! Hopefully it won’t bog down the 3GS like iOS4 did for the 3G.

5. iCloud.
Steve is back on stage and talked about multiple devices syncing driving them crazy. Agreed. Thus iCloud as the “hub,” automatically upload and push content from/to all your devices (presumably just Apple devices, meaning iDevices and Macs). Oh, and Steve poked fun at MobileME. Good one. iCloud is going to replace MobileME and available for free (What happens to my subscription?). I think I’m gonna love this, and makes drinking Apple’s kool-aid a bit sweeter with this kind of integration, but since I also have Android, I think I may have to stick with Google services for things like contacts and calendar.
App and iBook syncing, which is crucial to the PC-free idea for iOS5. Also backup to iCloud, and just like Google’s Android, you will be able to buy a new iPhone and once you signed on, iCloud will push down all your stuff to the new device.
Documents in the cloud pretty much syncs your projects from Pages, Keynote, and Numbers via iCloud. Not a new idea, but neat for those that use those apps.
Photo stream, same iCloud syncing for photos. This would be awesome, but how about capacity? Apple is only going to store the last 1000 photos, and only for 30 days. Errr, yeah, what happens after 30 days? What if I want to view it a month or 2 later? You have to save it to an album. Fair enough I guess, but it means it’s still a local copy then. So the iCloud is just a temporary basket, not a true picasa/flickr replacement.
iTunes in the cloud, which basically allows you to re-download previous iTunes purchases on any iDevices. Make sense I guess, and should’ve been a feature from way back when. It also pushes new purchases to other devices. Again, critical for the no-PC idea, but you’re stuck with the iTunes ecosystem. What if you have your own music? That’s the one more thing. Well, Apple is offering iTunes match for $25 a year. Basically iTunes will match your songs to see if it has it in the store. If it does, it uses its 256kbps AAC for the song (wonder how this will work with the recording labels? Will it require the CD? Or can people get matches based on MP3s?). If not, it will upload the track. But then how about storage? Need more explanations here.

5GB free storage for mail and backups, and oh, photo stream is not counted! Well duh, because Apple deletes them after 30 days.
Beta today, and will launch together with IOS5 in the Fall.

so what happen if I already paid for MobileME? And where’s the new iPhone? 😦
Update: I logged in to my MobileME account, and there’s an option to request a refund. Phew. 🙂
So MobileME will officially end on June 30th, 2012.

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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WWDC 2011 prediction

WWDC 2011, Apple’s developer conference is coming up, and Steve Jobs is going to do the keynote on Monday. Let’s start the predictions:
1. Mac OS X Lion. We saw a preview of it late last year. We would probably see a bit more of a rehash, but maybe also a price and shipping date. Considering Apple charged just $30 for Snow Leopard, I doubt they would price Lion back into the $130 price range. My bet is it will be still $30, with the option to download it from the Mac App store as a bootable image that you can put on a USB stick.
2. iCloud. Apple’s online services. It was .Mac, then MobileME, then iCloud. Free for simple email and Apple ID (for Facetime, iTunes, etc), but I think Apple will still keep most of the good stuff for a cost. Who knows how much would it be (previously it’s $99 per year for .Mac/MobileME), but I wonder if Apple would consolidate this with their iTunes streaming service.
3. iTunes streaming. We see Amazon and Google jumped in first. Amazon has a nice integration with its MP3 store, while Google is just offering a basically online storage where you can upload your own music. Apple would need to do better than Amazon in terms of integration with the iTunes store and all Macs and iDevices. We’ll see.
4. iOS 5. Hopefully Apple revamp the notification system. Let’s face it, at its current state, notification on iOS is like a dumbphone. It’s even sillier on the large screen iPad. We see good examples already, from Android, WebOS, and various implementations by the jailbreaking community.
5. iPhone 5, or maybe iPhone 4S. The rumor is Apple don’t have a new iPhone ready. Well, I don’t know. It’s a bit risky to extend the iPhone 4 to compete with the slew of new dual-core Android phones. I bet we will see a refreshed iPhone, probably the iPhone 4 with A5 in it. All I want is for Apple to sell the damn thing unlocked in the US, something that apparently is a difficult concept for them. The iPad sales have proven that people are willing to pay Apple $500+ for an unlocked device. No reason to deal with AT&T anymore that is obviously unwilling to unlock iPhones forever.

Well, there you go. I hope Apple do a live stream of the keynote.
Live blogging from:
Engadget
Ars Technica
This is my next

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Samsung Infuse, unlocked

I never like the idea of provider-locked phone. It makes no sense, and an obvious anti-consumer business practice. I mean think about it, would you buy a laptop that is locked into a specific ISP? No. So why would you buy a phone that is locked into a single carrier?

My first provider-locked phone is the iPhone 3GS. I bought it on impulse, after Apple announced the 3rd gen iPod Touch wouldn’t have a camera on it. Trying to buy an unlocked phone in the US via official channels (ie. not imported) with full warranty and support is extremely difficult. No unlocked iPhones in the US. As for Android, only the Nexus One and GSM Nexus S are sold unlocked. All the rest are provider locked.

Now, if you’re with T-Mobile, they do have a fairly decent unlocking policy. If you pay for the phone full-price, or if you’ve been in good standing with them for x amount of months, you can simply call and get the unlock code for your phone. T-Mobile doesn’t advertise this for obvious reason, but the policy is there. AT&T, which I’m with, on the other hand, is a different story. They have a bogus unlocking policy. Buying the handset at full price doesn’t mean you can get it unlocked. Per AT&T’s policy, they won’t unlock handsets which they are the exclusive seller. Well, guess what, all of the phones that AT&T carry are custom-made for them. So this is akin to AT&T saying they can refuse any request for unlocking any of the phones they sell. What a bunch of bull.

I recently bought the Samsung Infuse since I’m getting frustrated with my Nexus One with its severely limited internal storage memory. You can read my impression on the Samsung Infuse on my previous post, and to be honest, I kinda like it. The large 4.5″ screen is actually very nice to have, and I can’t help feeling cramped everytime I try to go back using my iPhone/Nexus One. Problem is, obviously it’s AT&T locked. Thus my quest to unlock my Infuse.

AT&T wouldn’t unlock the Infuse, per their policy I mentioned above. Of course, I can wait to see if AT&T will change their mind, but they usually do that after the phone is already on the market for a long time, and that’s not a guarantee either. So getting an official unlock from AT&T is a no go.
There are people selling unlock codes on forums and ebay. Obviously, there’s no way to guarantee anything, plus you have to spend money to use a device that you already own? No way.
Well, XDA to the rescue. Found this post on their forum:
http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1081072
Yup, somebody crafted up a simple program to root and unlock the Samsung Infuse. The program will even give you the unlock code! How convenient. 😀
Even better, the guy put up the simple instruction on the thread. Everything needed is on the zip file. All you need to do in addition is to download Samsung’s PC software called KIES if you’re on Windows (I use a Windows 7 machine). Trying to find the software on US Samsung site is not that easy as Samsung only listed the software as available on certain devices. Easier to just google it and download it from Samsung’s international site.
With Samsung Kies installed, all you have to do is download the zip file from XDA, un-zip it, and run the batch file (one for root+unlock, the other is just for unlocking). I opted to just do the unlock. Simply follow the easy steps (turning on USB debugging mode on the phone, connect it via USB, and run the batch file). At first, the batch commands seemed stuck at waiting for a service to be restarted or something, but I just left the program alone, and not too long after that, it showed me the unlock code! All I needed to do next was simply turning off the phone, insert a SIM from another provider, and turn the Infuse back on. It will ask for the unlock code. I punched in the code that was given by the program, and voila, my Samsung Infuse is unlocked! LOL. That’s it. So easy, and free! Screw you AT&T!

I wish unlocking iPhones is this easy, without the need to jailbreak.

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2011 in android, samsung

 

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