RSS

Category Archives: google

More Nexus 5 Impression and Camera Comparison #nexus5

The boot animation.

I have been taking the Nexus 5 with me for the last couple of days, and here are my impression so far.

1. Build

Unlike the Nexus 4, the black Nexus 5 has a soft touch plastic on its back. This makes it feel less slippery than the Nexus 4 (the Nexus 4 can slide down from a desk on its own, that’s how slippery it is). People are saying the white one is more “plasticky” though. I like the soft touch back. It makes the phone feel more durable than the glass Nexus 4. Alas, the material that Google uses actually attracts dust fairly easily. The Nexus 4 does still feel a bit more premium thanks to the glass back. It has the iPhone 4 feel, while the Nexus 5 feels more like a Lumia, well built but not as premium.

Swiping my finger on the Nexus 4 is a joy thanks to its curved glass at the edge. Alas, the Nexus 5 has a sharper edge, making it feel less “luxurious” when swiping my finger over the edge. The buttons have been changed too. It feels more solid than the Nexus 4, but the sharp edges on the buttons, especially the power button, can be jarring on the fingers compared to the Nexus 4.

The Nexus 5 is as big as the HTC One, but it has a bigger screen (4.95″ vs 4.7″ on the HTC One). It is much lighter, even lighter than the Nexus 4. The soft touch back actually makes it feel smaller than the HTC One. It feels nice on the hand, while sometimes I feel the HTC One is too big.

One huge annoyance for me? The SIM slot. The Nexus 4 uses a non-standard pin hole for its SIM slot, requiring a tinier pin to open (vs the bigger hole on the iPhone and HTC One). Well, the Nexus 5 uses yet another different pin hole. The pin included with the Nexus 4 does not work anymore, as the Nexus 5 requires a longer pin. WTF LG? WTF Google? Seriously?

2. Screen

The Nexus 4 has a pretty conservative auto-brightness. The after effect is that people has poor impression of the screen. Coupled with the prevalence of AMOLED screens, the Nexus 4’s screen looks washed out.ย Google for some reason is aggressively pushing the brightness on the Nexus 5 to combat this first impression. However, we know that more brightness equals less battery life. The Nexus 5 screen is great. It’s sharp thanks to the 1080p resolution. I do still think the HTC One to be better, mainly due to more saturation in color that make images pop.

3. KitKat

The Nexus 5 is running the latest Android, version 4.4, dubbed KitKat. Main thing I notice is that the wallpaper takes over the whole screen, meaning that there is no more black bars on the status and navigation bars. The icons on the status bar are now white in color. In the past, the wifi and signal bar icon are grey in color when connected wirelessly, and blue when the phone is connected to Google services. A small indicator would also pop up whenever there are data transmissions occurring. Those are all gone in KitKat. The icons will be just white, and there are no indicators of data transmissions. You have to go to the control center (2 finger swipe down) to see those indicators (the wireless icons will be orange if the phone is connected wirelessly but not to Google, and there are small triangles indicating data transmissions). This makes it less intuitive to troubleshoot connectivity problems.

The home screens have been rearranged. The main home screen is not the “middle” screen anymore. It is the first screen instead. Swiping to the right will actually reveal Google Now screen on the left. It is similar to iOS 6 when swiping to the right will reveal spotlight search. By default, there are only two home screens. I don’t see a direct way to add more home screens, other than dragging a widget passing the last screen on the right, then KitKat will create a new home screen.

Google Now will now respond once you unlock your phone, meaning that you don’t have to have Google Now running. Unlock the phone, and you can say “Ok Google” right away. It is similar to Motorola’s touchless control, but with the Moto X, it can respond even when it’s locked. So the implementation on the Nexus 5 feels half-baked. Even Siri can be initiated right from the lock screen without unlocking the iPhone.

The lock screen has been redesigned too. In 4.2, there is no indication that you can swipe the lock screen to the left to run the camera app, other than a brief flash of outlines on the sides of the screen when you wake up the phone. In KitKat, Google followed iOS, by providing a camera icon on the lower right corner. Following the bottom of the screen, there is an arrow pointing up in the middle, This replaces the dotted circle on 4.2 to access Google Now. Thing is, at first that up arrow makes me think that I can swipe the lock screen up to start the camera, just like the iPhone. Well, to start the camera, you have to actually swipe to the left instead. I can see new users being confused at first.

Another change in KitKat UI is the icons. They are overly large. The App drawer now only contains 4 x 5 grid instead of 5 x 5 on the Nexus 4. The icon size is so large that it feels downright silly. This also makes folders in the home screen to cover up more space that it did before. Aesthetically annoying as it makes the screen feels cramped.

The regular messaging app is gone. Everything is handled under Hangouts. Like it or not, Google wants you to use Hangouts and join Google Plus. This consolidation of messaging apps is welcomed, but Google created another confusion. This is not exclusive to KitKat, but with the new push of Google Plus, now there are two apps to access your photos. The classic Gallery app, and the new Photos app that integrates the camera roll with Google Plus. Confusing? Yeah. I can see the classic Gallery app going away, although I really like it.

In terms of responsiveness, the Nexus 5 is fast. It is so fast that it actually make the Nexus 4 feels slow. Side by side, when opening apps and menus, there is a noticeable delay on the Nexus 4 compared to the Nexus 5. Now the Nexus 4 is by no means slow/laggy, but there is this noticeable hesitations on every screen transitions compared to the Nexus 5. Not sure if this is due to KitKat or just because of the beefier hardware of the Nexus 5, but hopefully KitKat can bring some smoothness to all Android devices.

4. Battery Life

Non-scientifically, it’s a meh. I took the Nexus 5 along with my iPhone 5 for a stroll. Both have everything on (wifi, cellular radio, GPS, etc), and same email accounts configured. I used both to take similar number of pictures. After a few hours, both are showing around 75% of battery life left. Thing is, I had the iPhone also running a location tracking app, while the Nexus 5 did not have this app running. Considering how the iPhone 5 battery is a lot smaller, this tells me that the Nexus 5 and/or Android is less efficient than the iPhone/iOS. Seems like Android does not behave well, especially when cellular signal is weak. I notice this also on the HTC One as the battery drains pretty quick when it is in low signal area. Heavy users might want to have an external battery pack handy just in case.

5. Camera

I did a comparison of the Nexus 5 camera with some other devices on the previous post. Here are some more pictures to enjoy. ๐Ÿ™‚

The HTC One is showing a weakness here. The Nexus 5 fares okay, while the iPhone 5 continues to provide the best balance. Throughout this post, you will see inconsistent white balance from all devices. It is also interesting to see the different FOV of each devices (the HTC One having the widest FOV).

Getting this image was an interesting experience. I actually had a hard time making the leaf in focus with the iPhone 5. I had to go very close before it focused properly. I’m guessing the iPhone has a minimum range where it initiates its macro mode focusing. The HTC One took the picture without much fuss. The Nexus 5 had trouble in its metering, resulting in a dark image although the leaf was in focus properly.

Wow, white balance all over the place. ๐Ÿ˜€ The HTC One doesn’t look good here. It seems that it had trouble in determining the white balance and overblowing the highlights. The Nexus 5 did an okay job though. I kinda like the warmer tones in this context. The Nexus 4 trailed behind, but you can probably do some post processing to make it look decent. The iPhone, again, gave the most balanced picture.

This was a tough picture to take. I wanted to focus on the lower right fruit. After numerous tries, I just couldn’t do it with the Nexus 5 and the stock camera app. Same thing with the Nexus 4, it was impossible. The iPhone also had a difficult time, but I finally got a focus, albeit resulting a dark picture due to the phone trying to compensate for the sky. The HTC One? Well, at first, I had trouble with it too. But a simple flip to macro mode, bam! It took the picture like a champ. ๐Ÿ™‚

On the Nexus 5 and Nexus 4, I tried using a camera app called Camera360. This app has multiple options, including macro mode. Although it was still a difficult process with multiple tries, I finally got something. Not great, but it’s something. The HTC One definitely took the cake this round.

These were another difficult shot, with dark and bright areas. The Nexus 5 did okay. It dropped down its shutter speed to 1/9 to help with light while keeping the ISO low. Problem is, it is susceptible to blurring due to shake (despite having optical image stabilization). Not bad, but not as sharp as the iPhone 5. The Nexus 4 had to resort to high ISO, giving noisy picture. The HTC One suffered overblown highlights, its achilles heel.

Throughout this experiment, I was really annoyed with Android stock camera app. The camera start-up on the Nexus 5 is slow. When switching from portrait to landscape or vice versa, there is a significant lag. Yes, lag, on a ย quad-core snapdragon 800 phone. There is really no excuse there. The focusing system is slow, and it wanted to keep focusing at the center. I observed it changing the focus to the center even while it was taking a picture, which can sometimes create out-of-focus picture. It’s ridiculous. The camera itself is capable on producing decent images. Google needs to really work on the software side.

The HTC One continues to be a joy to use. Startup is fast, focusing is fast, and it is the only one having a specific macro mode. Sometimes relying on auto everything is not necessarily the best way (e.g. the iPhone having issues with the leaf). Even better, its gorgeous screen makes you enjoy the pictures right away. Its weaknesses at this point are well known though, especially the overblown highlights.

In the end, the iPhone takes the best balanced pictures in most situations. Apple just know their stuff. Start up is fast, focusing is fast, and other than some issues in specific instances, it just works. However, during this experiment, I wish it had a larger screen. ๐Ÿ˜‰

If you are going to take a lot of pictures, get the iPhone. You have to have a lot of patience with the Nexus 5.

6. Conclusion

Well, there you go. My quick impression of the Nexus 5. It is Google’s latest, and the only way to enjoy KitKat out of the box right now. It feels great on the hand, but I would still invest in a case. It has top notch spec, yet Google is still skimping on certain things, like the stock camera app. Despite all the drawbacks, one has to remember that this is a $350-$400 phone. It’s cheaper than even the iPhone 4S! ๐Ÿ˜€ It’s an excellent phone for the money. Hopefully my impression can help your decision, or at least make you feel better about your purchase. ๐Ÿ˜€

Advertisements
 
1 Comment

Posted by on November 11, 2013 in android, apple, comparison, google, impression

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Nexus 4 vs iPhone 5 Quick Impression

When Google released the Nexus 4 16GB for $349, it’s a no-brainer for a gadget geek like me. I have blogged my rant about Apple’s iPhone 5 pricing. Getting the Nexus 4 seems a perfect follow up.

I have had the Nexus 4 for a couple of weeks now. The device is made by LG a glass back (reminds me of the iPhone 4/4S). It makes the device feel substantial, even luxurious. It makes the Galaxy Nexus feel cheap. Of course, having a glass back has its own downfalls, mainly fragility. Some online reviewers have theirs cracked. I would think it’s similar to the iPhone 4/4S, and since my iPhone 4 is still pristine, I think I can handle the Nexus 4.

Unlike the Galaxy Nexus, the Nexus 4 has a built-in battery and an external tray for the micro SIM. Yes, it uses a micro SIM. Not a big deal nowadays as plenty of phones use micro SIM now (eg. Nokia Lumia phones). The tray design is vaguely familiar, like the ones on iPhones. Except, the hole is a lot smaller, so you cannot use the iPhone’s SIM eject tool, nor a paper clip. YES, LG DECIDED TO MAKE A SUPER TINY HOLE TO EJECT THE SIM, SO YOU HAVE TO CARRY ANOTHER TINY SIM EJECT TOOL. Yes. this is incredibly frustrating. Seriously, why? The hole is so tiny that when you use the included SIM eject tool, you feel that you might bent/break it. I mean come on Google, you didn’t do this on the Nexus 7 (made by Asus). Stupid LG. This is by far my biggest problem with the Nexus 4. It doesn’t have a microSD slot either, but this is nothing new as Google has eliminated SD card slot since the Nexus S. Your option will be 8GB or 16GB on-board.

Okay, setting that tiny hole aside, the phone feels really nice, again thanks to the materials used. The form factor is wider than the Galaxy Nexus. While the Galaxy Nexus has 720p screen resolution, the Nexus 4 extended the width to 1280 x 768. Google took advantage of this, cramming more apps in the app drawer, 5 apps per row. It feels very tight though. Another thing to consider with the wider resolution is the wallpaper. If you have Google restore your phone, you might find your old wallpaper cropped to fit the wider resolution.

Physical buttons follow the Galaxy Nexus design. Power button on the right side, volume on the left. Micro USB on the bottom and headphone jack on the top. The power button seems a bit recessed though, and coupled with the wider body, sometimes it’s not easy to press the button with one hand. Having a case that covers the power button may worsen the condition.

The Nexus 4 runs Android 4.2. The lock screen allows widgets, and I am seeing more and more apps supporting this. Careful though, having your emails right on the lock screen means anybody can read them too. Swiping the screen to the left turns on the camera. This is a very useful feature, giving Android a similar capability to iOS and Windows Phone. Speaking about the camera, 4.2 gives you 360-degree panorama feature, called Photo Sphere. So far, I find it to be so so, with resulting picture having plenty of stitching errors and distortions. Can’t comment enough about the camera quality, but so far, it seems so so too (not something you would brag against an iPhone 5 or Lumia 920 users).

Usability wise, the Nexus 4 is smooth. If you think the Galaxy Nexus is smooth, well, this is better. The wider screen may take time to get used to, but it makes typing a bit more comfortable. The Nexus 4 really is the benchmark of Android experience as intended by Google. If you have a Galaxy Nexus or a Nexus 7, you are probably already familiar with the 4.2 features. The Nexus 4 doesn’t really bring any extras on 4.2 that you won’t get on the Galaxy Nexus, other than maybe HDR photo. What you get from the Nexus 4 is a better processor and GPU (running the latest Krait CPU and Adreno 320 GPU). Oh, and it has better support of 5GHz Wifi n. The Galaxy Nexus supports this, but only on a very narrow group of channels. The Nexus 4 fares better. In addition to penta-band HSDPA, the Nexus 4 also supports dual-carrier HSDPA. No official LTE support, although the tinkerers online found out that it supports one LTE band with a hack (not going to be useful for practical purposes).

I am a fan of the Nexus lineup, owning the Nexus One, Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 7, and now the Nexus 4. I am a fan of phones that are unlocked and not carrier controlled. At its price, the Nexus 4 is right. I do have to say though, skip the 8GB version. 8GB is not enough with modern usage, unless you don’t have any content on your phone. 16GB is the bare minimum.

Now, let’s move to the iPhone 5, Apple’s latest and greatest money maker. I had the chance to observe the new iPhone 5 unboxing, and using it long enough to have an impression. I will make comparison with the Nexus 4 along the way.

First of all, build quality. Yes, the scuffgate you read online is real. The white iPhone 5 I observed had a big scratch/dent on its side out of the box. This is ridiculous, especially if you are paying $$$ for it. I have owned many Apple and other consumer electronic products, and I have yet to have one that have a physical damage out of the box. Good thing Apple knows this and having it replaced with a new one is easy, but still, it’s ridiculous, considering a company like Apple. One thing though, the iPhone 5 feels very light, which is kinda amazing considering what Apple packs in it. My iPhone 4 feels like a brick compared to the 5.

Other than that, the iPhone 5 is, well, an iPhone. I have the iPhone 4, and although it remains smooth enough under iOS6, the iPhone 5 feels a lot snappier thanks to its A6 processor. Apps launch almost immediately compared to the iPhone 4. The smoothness feels so great that even my Nexus 4 feels “laggy.” This is what I like about iOS. Android is trying to catch up with Project Butter, but it has quite a bit way to go (not helped by 4.2 that seems to make my Nexus 7, the poster child for smoothness, laggy). While the Nexus 4 is wider than the Galaxy Nexus, the iPhone 5 is taller than the iPhone 4. So adjust your wallpapers. The extra height gives you an extra row on the home screen for apps. Compared to my Nexus 4, however, the keyboard on the iPhone 5 feels cramped. Yes, it has the same width as the iPhone 4, but the taller screen adds the cramped feeling as the body looks narrower now.

As for iOS6, my iPhone 4 does not get many of its new features. Apple introduced its own Maps app in iOS6, but since the iPhone 4 doesn’t have Siri, it doesn’t have turn-by-turn navigation either (thank goodness for Google Maps app). Another feature that my iPhone 4 doesn’t get is panorama. Just like previous iPhones, tethering on the iPhone 5 is carrier controlled, even if you buy an unlocked version. Hardware wise, the iPhone 5 supports LTE, dual-carrier HSDPA, and 5GHz wifi n, a clear advantage over my iPhone 4. However, I’ll take my Nexus 4’s penta-band HSDPA anytime. I was ranting about the new lightning connector, but I kinda like it now. It’s very compact, and the design makes it much easier to plug the connector in and out, without worrying about whether you do it right or upside down. The only problem is for people that have invested a lot of money in the 30-pin dock connector accessories (including me).

In the end, the iPhone 5 is an iPhone. If you managed to get one that didn’t self-scuff in its box, it’s a very nice phone. It is very light and snappy to use. After looking at the Nexus 4, however, the unlocked iPhone 5’s price is a jaw-dropper.

Both phones represent the latest and greatest form the perspective of the platform, pure Android vs iOS. The Nexus 4 is definitely the best bang for the buck. At $349, the 16GB model is still cheaper than even the iPhone 4. The only challenge is trying to get one. However, the iPhone 5 does carry the strength of iOS. Apple’s ecosystem and walled-garden is a very nice place, if you can afford it.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 25, 2012 in android, apple, google, impression, iPhone

 

Tags: , , ,

Nexus One

I guess I haven’t updated my blog for quite some time. Too lazy as it’s easier to rant on twitter. LOL. Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

I’m a Mac and iPhone user, mainly. Apple’s ecosystem has been great and working for me. However, I’m thinking, what if sometime in the future, the iPhone is no more? I mean Steve Jobs is not going to man the company forever. Although I’m sure the rest of Apple will do fine, keeping the same Apple philosophy, but what if? So here I am, thinking the what if scenario. I love my iPhone, and I think it’s the best phone. Looking outside Apple ecosystem, what are the alternatives? Let’s see:
-Symbian: Yeah, right.
-WebOS: It’s great, but obviously it’s on life support.
-Windows Phone 7: This would be a great alternative, but it’s not out yet.
So, that leaves Android. Android seems to be the next best thing in terms of smartphone OS/platform. It has the same idea and UI concept as iOS. The downside is, at least in the US, all Android phones are carrier-controlled. This is in contrast of iOS where Apple is the one in control, not AT&T nor any of the carrier partners all over the world. There was one pure unadulterated Android phone, the Nexus One (N1). Yeah, was, because Google doesn’t sell the Nexus One openly anymore. Now, it’s only available as part of the dev program, and only the T-Mobile model (no 850 3G support). Luckily, I managed to get the AT&T 3G supporting Nexus One before it was too late. I was hoping Google would drop the price, but then decided to just get it. Lucky me, as now this phone is extinct.

Let’s go straight to the experience. While the iPhone is obviously designed around Apple’s ecosystem, the Nexus One is obviously designed around Google’s ecosystem. The first thing it asked was a Google account. If you don’t have one, you have to create one. Now, if you already use Google services for your contacts, calendar, and email, once you put in your Google account credential, the Nexus One is ready to go with all your contacts, email, and calendar all setup. It’s awesome! No need to “activate” the phone first, unlike the iPhone which needs to be activated with iTunes. Now, there’s something that’s even more awesome. Google Voice. I’m a Google Voice user since before it was bought by Google (it was called GrandCentral). Using Google Voice on the iPhone is very clunky as there is not a native app. You pretty much rely on the Google Voice website to make phone calls. Not intuitive. On the Nexus One, Google Voice is fully integrated. All you need to do is tell it to use Google Voice, and everything is transparent. You still use the phone’s dialer and contacts, and it will automatically route your call via Voice. Pure awesomeness!

The beauty of iOS is the app ecosystem. Android is not too far off. Most apps that I use on the iPhone are available for my Nexus One. Facebook, Twitter, epocrates (albeit beta and not updateable), Foursquare, Gowalla, etc. Unless you’re into games, you won’t find much problems finding the apps you want on Android. The only problem I see is the market app itself. Apple has designed its App store fairly well in terms of layout. The market app on the Nexus One is very basic, and it feels very difficult browsing the store. A lot of the apps don’t have much useful descriptions. Even worse, many don’t even include any screenshots, leaving you guessing what the app can do. The reviews are not helping either. Apple’s app store seems to have more helpful reviews, while the Android market reviews seem to be mostly people complaining about the app FC. FC this, FC that, one star. Not really helpful. Oh, and what’s FC? Yeah, at first I was like WTF? FC is a short for force close. Meaning the OS have to quit the app forcefully (aka, the app crashes). And these 1 star FC “reviews” are all over the place. Trying to get the gist of how good the app is becomes futile. Why? Because who knows whether these people having issues are using which Android phone/custom ROM/rooted phone/task killers, etc. But at least if you stick with the well known apps, you should be fine. I myself never experience a force close on my Nexus One.

Okay, most of the apps I would use are available. Great. I also use my iPhone as a calendar. The Nexus One sync its calendar with Google calendar. Pretty neat, but the calendar app itself doesn’t look great. It feels like a Winmo app for whatever reason. I do like the agenda view. One thing I was looking for on my Nexus One main screen and failed to find was anything that shows the day’s date. I was baffled at first. Why? Well, iOS made it simple, by making the calendar’s app icon to show the day’s date, just like in OS X 10.5 onward. Sounds simple, but it’s intuitive. Not the case on my Nexus One. The calendar icon is only a generic non-interactive icon. Well, that’s useless. On the bright side, there are widgets.

Ah, widgets. The Nexus One already come with various widgets, like weather, music playback shortcut, etc. Going through the Android market, and you’ll find even more widgets. So many that it’s ridiculously confusing. Just search for a weather widgets and you’ll find gajillions of them, although most of them are the same widget with different skins. I finally found a simple date widget that simply shows the day’s date.

One extremely under-rated feature on the iPhone is the silent hardware slider. Sliding this switch automatically silences the iPhone. There’s no such switch on the Nexus One. On the bright side, there are widgets that provide shortcut on the home screen to quickly toggle between silent/vibrate/normal mode. The downside is, since this is a software solution, you have to do it with the screen is accessible. Meaning if the phone is on stand-by, you have to push the power button, unlocked the screen, find the widget, and toggle it. On the iPhone, I simply switch the hardware slider. Much simpler huh, especially if you have your phone inside your pocket.

Another annoyance on the N1 is that the only way to activate the phone out of stand-by is with the thin power button at the top. This is annoying. The trackball button does nothing. The 4 “buttons” on the face of the phone are touch buttons, not physical buttons, thus won’t bring the phone out from stand-by. On the iPhone, I can simply press the home screen to activate the phone from stand-by, which usually is where my thumb is. Tiny details like this is what makes me appreciate Apple products.

One the the apps I use often on my iPhone is maps. The Nexus One obviously has Google maps built-in. One thing I immediately noticed is that even though the maps app on the N1 supports multi-touch, instead of being able to zoom-in/out smoothly, it seems that there are only several pre-set zoom levels. Although the zooming effect is smooth during pinching, after I lift my finger, the map snaps to the nearest pre-set zoom level. I find this very annoying as I’m used to the maps app in iOS where it simply stays to whatever zoom level I did after pinching. On the bright side, the navigation mode is better than iOS. The N1’s maps app allows showing directions as a list of text, something that sometimes is easier to read than tiny letters on a map screen. To top it off, the N1 has a its own navigation app, which providers GPS navigation, for free! There are nav apps for iOS too, but it’s hard to beat free. The nav app on the N1 pretty much turn the phone’s UI into a “car mode.” It replaces the home screen with several big icons, typical of a GPS navigation device. Also, using this mode is one way to quickly keep the phone’s screen from turning off without specifically changing the settings.

Android has a slightly different paradigm on showing apps on the home screen. In iOS, all the apps you have is on the home screen. That’s it. Pre iOS4, you can kinda pre-set specific home screens to contain specific apps for a bit of organization. iOS4 introduces folders to make organization more manageable, but the idea is straight forward, all you apps are all directly accessible from the home screen. Android took a more traditional desktop OS paradigm. The home screen is your desktop. You can put shortcuts, widgets, etc on it. Your apps are accessible through the program drawer, which will infinitely scroll through however many apps you have. Not that easy if you have a ton of apps, so most people would end up putting the apps’ shortcuts on the desktop to mimic iOS. You can also create folders on the Android’s desktop. However, it’s amazingly flawed, which made folders in iOS4, albeit late, is a ton more intuitive in terms of implementation. Why? Well, in Android, once you put a shortcut into a folder, you cannot rearrange the icons. Yeah, sounds stupid isn’t it, but that’s the case. The icons will simply be sorted based on the order you put the shortcuts into the folder. In contrast with iOS4, you can simply tap and hold, and you can freely re-arrange the icons in any order you want. Another drawback is due to Android using the paradigm of a desktop OS. Inside a folder, you have a bar at the top representing the folder’s name, and an X button at the right corner to close the folder. In iOS4, once inside a folder, you can simply close it by touching anywhere outside the folder. Easy. Not the case with Android. You have to touch that X button to close the folder, and the button is fairly small for my finger that sometimes I need to press it several time to close a folder. Not intuitive especially when you’re on the go and you want to do things quickly using one hand. Just another situation that makes you appreciate the tiny details in Apple products.

Okay, so what else do I usually use my iPhone for. Pictures. Putting pictures on the iPhone is actually a hassle, more than it supposed to. Unless you use 3rd party apps, you have to use iTunes to sync pictures to the iPhone. That may sound okay, but today, I have pictures all over the place. My computer, Flickr, Picasa, Facebook, etc. There’s no integration in iOS. You have to pretty much use one or more 3rd party apps outside the built-in photo app. This is true even for Apple’s own MobileME service. This going in-and-out apps just to view your pictures is not intuitive. On my N1, when I put in my Google account, its gallery app automatically pulls and sync pictures from the Picasa account associated with the Google account. Very nice! You can add more than one Google account too if you have more than one Picasa account. Also, this means the pictures are not stored internally, only downloaded on demand, saving storage space. The gallery app on the N1 is very nice, uses the accelerometer to simulate tilting the “photo album.” Of course, it’s not all perfect. The app only syncs picture with Picasa. You have to rely on 3rd party apps if you use other online services outside Picasa. One app that I like is called justpictures, an aggregator app for your pictures from various online services, including Facebook. Oh, and it’s free. This is something that Apple needs to re-think on their approach in iOS. Windows Phone 7 supposedly will offer even more integration as its default picture hub can aggregate pictures from various online services outside the box.

I use my iPhone heavily as an iPod. iTunes is just an amazing jukebox software, especially for podcast, and the integration of syncing music and podcast with the iPhone is just beautiful. So, how do I do this on the N1? Well, it’s a journey of frustration. The N1 doesn’t have any desktop client app. So, my first though is to download podcasts directly on the phone. Google has an app called Google listen. It’s a simple and straight forward app, allowing you to subscribe, download, and listen to podcasts. However, there’s quite a bit of downsides. Downloading podcasts straight to my phone is slow, even on wifi. To me, the iTunes approach is faster as the heavy duty lifting is done on the desktop, and iTunes simply copies the files to my iPhone. Also, Google listen is not integrated with the default music app, and doesn’t have its own widget for playback control. This means I have to go to the app for controls. Not intuitive. I rather have a solution that integrates with the default music app, which has a playback control widget. So my next idea is to simply have a desktop software solution. The first one that comes up to mind is doubletwist, an iTunes clone. But then apparently the Mac version doesn’t have podcast syncing. BOO! Next alternative is Songbird, but I find that its podcast support is fairly bare, not even supporting some feeds. I finally found a more straight forward syncing solution, Salling Media Sync, which is just a simple syncing program that syncs contents directly from iTunes to the portable device of your choice. Looks great, but you have to pay $22 for a fully syncing feature. Oh well, at least I can try it for free. It works okay. Since the N1’s music app doesn’t have a built-in podcast support, Media Sync simply creates a podcast playlist, and dumps all the podcasts you wanted to sync in that playlist. Not ideal, but I guess it works. At least this way I’m using the default music app.

As for using my N1 as an iPod, well, it’s like having a basic MP3 player. Luckily, my Apple earbud works with the N1. The microphone and play/pause button work fine. Only the volume buttons don’t work, and I have to use the volume button on the N1 itself.

But the journey of frustration didn’t stop there. My next step is to find a solution for listening to those podcasts in my car. My car is old, it doesn’t have an AUX input, let alone USB or iPod support. So the only way to listen to contents from an external device is via an FM transmitter. Sad isn’t it. So my first step is to find a universal FM transmitter, ideally the one that also providers USB charging so I can charge my N1 at the same time. Well, looking around, I realize that everything now is “Made for iPod/iPhone.” The proliferation of iDevices have been so significant that every company is focusing on accessorizing the iDevices, nothing else. What a bummer. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Finally I found a solution from Griffin, a universal FM transmitter (out of dozens of models they make for iDevices). It’s a simple FM transmitter with a 3.5mm audio plug and a USB jack for charging. As for mounting, I got a generic mounting harness that attaches to the air vent in my car. Attaching my N1 to this setup, it’s cables galore since I have 2 cables hanging from my N1, the 3.5mm audio cable and the USB cable. This is also when I found out about the “car mode” of my N1, forcing the screen to remain on. The solution is not pretty, and it’s quite a hassle, especially compared to my previous solution for my iPhone, using this FM transmitter from Belkin. It’s a cleaner solution as it also acts as a holder for my iPhone with a built-in dock connector.

Okay, after all these, I took a step back and realized, why am I doing this. I mean why went through all these hassle just so I can listen to podcasts in my car? I already missed the ease of iTunes syncing with my iPhone. I miss the smoothness and polished feel of iOS. Also, I have to remember that epocrates on Android is not updateable. Finally, I gave up, pulled out the SIM card from my N1, and put it back in on my iPhone 3GS. After waiting for the Apple logo to finish booting iOS, I felt a huge relief. LOL. Yeah, it’s true. Using my iPhone again feels like a blessing. I felt like a lost lamb, going back to the comfort of Apple’s bubble after being lost in the woods of Android. Don’t get me wrong, I love a lot of things on my N1. Google Voice integration is a huge one. Another thing I like is the notification system. Let’s face it, notification on the iPhone is at the level of a dumbphone. However, there is this level of comfort when using iOS. I cannot describe it, but I know I feel this surge of relief when I returned to using my iPhone after a mere ~3 days using my N1 full time. It made me laugh.

My N1 will be a backup phone from now on. Android is marching on, getting more polish with each version. My only worry is that we will never see a pure Android experience anymore, with all Android devices are pretty much OEM customized (HTC, Motorola, Samsung, etc) and/or carrier controlled. The next excitement will be Windows Phone 7, and maybe it will be the better alternative. In the meantime, I’m back at the comfort of the church of Apple. LOL. ๐Ÿ˜€

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 12, 2010 in android, apple, comparison, google, iPhone, review

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Google Voice: My Impression

I’ve been using Google Voice for quite some time now, and it’s time to do my own impression on how I use it.

First of all, Google Voice is NOT a VOIP service like Skype. This seems to be the most common misunderstanding about Google Voice. Unlike Skype, which provides a complete calling service, Google Voice is simply a forwarding service that forwards calls from your Google Voice number to any phone you wish (could be a landline, a cellphone, or even a Skype number). You still have to have a line to get the calls. When you first sign up for Google Voice, Google offers 2 kinds of services. The first one, you will use your existing phone number and simply use GV as an in-between service for voice mails. The second one is the full featured service where you pick a GV number. All the stuff I’m discussing will be about the later.

Now, you’re probably wondering what’s the big deal then. Well, first and foremost, let’s start with one of its feature, SMS, for free! Yes, after logging in to Google Voice website, you can send text messages for free to any cellphones, even international numbers! This is a big plus as US wireless carriers are ripping us off with their outrageous SMS charges (especially international), and the fact that they charge you for receiving SMS (in other countries, receiving SMS is free). Google Voice provides sending and receiving SMS for free. Now, obviously it’s not convenient having to check the website every single time to see if you receive a new SMS. That kinda defeats the point of the expectation of SMS being instant. There are a couple of ways to approach this problem:
1. GV can forward the SMS to your cellphone, so it’s like you’re receiving a regular SMS. The downside is that you will still be charged by your wireless carrier for it. Best to utilize this by signing up for a messaging plan or somekind if you plan to do a lot of texting. The upside is that you can use your own phone’s SMS client instead of having to go to GV site. Now, how do you reply? When you get an SMS from somebody that sent a text to your GV number, your phone will show that it received a text from some random number that is assigned by Google. Simply save that number as that person’s contact, and when you reply to that person using the Google assigned number from your cellphone, the text that that person received will indicate that it’s coming from your GV number, so you can do 2-way texting without having to log-in to GV site. Even better, the number that Google assigned is a US number. This is useful if you have an international contact as now when you send a text to that person, you’ll be sending a local text instead of being charged for an international text rate. Nifty huh? ๐Ÿ™‚
2. Forward the SMS to your email. If you have a phone with a data plan and support for push email, you can go around avoiding an SMS charge from your carrier as you receive it as an email. Downside is obviously you have to have a data plan (unless your phone can have wifi access 24/7) and push email, and the fact that you have to go to the GV site to reply back.
Now, I’m basing my experience off my iPhone. Google Android phones supposedly have a native GV client, so the experience is even seamless and you can skip paying money for texting as long as you have a data plan.

Next, let’s talk about the phone forwarding feature. Google Voice is based on Grand Central. Let’s go over some scenarios to illustrate this feature better.
1. Let’s say you have a landline at home, a work phone, and a cellphone. In the past, you would have to give everybody all 3 numbers, and if you change a number, you have to tell everybody the new number. Plus, people have to guess which number they have to dial to reach you. No longer. Just give people your GV number, and you can set GV to ring all your 3 phones when somebody calls. Pretty convenient huh. ๐Ÿ™‚ Even better, you can schedule GV to forward the calls to certain numbers at certain times. Whenever you change a phone number, just update it on GV and you don’t have to worry telling people your new number as all they need to know is your GV number.
2. Let’s say you have relatives that is out-of-state, and only have a landline. If that person wants to call you, he/she has to dial long distance and pay $$$ to the greedy long distance provider. No longer. When you sign up for GV, you can pick a number from any state. Pick a GV number that is local to that person. Now everytime that person calls, his/her call will be local, but still being forwarded to you, skipping the greedy long distance providers. Neat! Of course, cellphones eliminate this issue altogether. Furthermore, GV is available for US numbers only, so no way to use the same tactic for international calls. Now, what if you already pick a GV number and want to change it? Google does allow you to pick a new number, but for a fee, so caveat emptor.

So, how about Skype? Skype is a VOIP service that provides free calls from Skype to Skype, and cheap rates for international calls. Despite a different service, a lot of people would associate GV with Skype, so I’m going to point out the advantages of Google Voice. Note that I used to use Skype constantly, mainly to make international calls. The problem with Skype is that you have to use a Skype client, and you have to have internet connectivity. Sure, there are Skype phones that put Skype functionality into a landline phone, but these phones are piss poor (the one I have was a Phillip). Skype is also available on cellphones, but again, usually you’re stuck having to use the client to make/receive calls, and need internet access/data plan. Since Google Voice simply forward calls, it simply uses your existing voice plan/minutes since you’re still making the calls over your phone provider line. Also, you don’t need to have a client software/app running. The only downside, at least on the iPhone, is that I have to use GV site to make calls. This experience should be more seamless on Google Android phones.

As far as international calls, this blurs the line between GV and Skype. Since GV is not a VOIP service, how does international call works? You still use your local minutes, but on top of that, you will be paying Google for the forwarding service to an international number. The rate is as cheap as Skype, so no worries. Oh, and SMS is free with GV, while you have to pay for SMS with Skype.

Another Google Voice feature is free voice mail, and it’s not just a basic voice mail, it’s a souped up voice mail, complete with transcription, for free! This is useful if you have a landline without an answering machine, or a cellphone without a visual voice mail. Google will record and machine-transcribe your voice mails (not perfect and sometime funny, but hey, it’s free), and it will email them to you. Accessing voice mails on the GV website is like accessing emails, no need to wait and play them one by one.

One more feature of GV is call screening. If this feature is enabled, the person calling your GV number has to identify his/herself first, and when your phone rings, you have to option to accept/decline the call. This is a nice feature, but I decided not to use it as it can confuse a lot of people for them being asked by a machine to identify themselves first. But then how about telemarketers? No worries. Google Voice keeps a log of all calls you made/received. You can simply block those numbers on the site. ๐Ÿ™‚

There is something to be aware of with GV, something that I found out recently. Once you have a GV account, you will receive 3 invites that you can send for your friends/other people. Well, a Google account is free, so you can just send yourself an invite to a 2nd Google account, and voila, you get another chance to pick a phone number (time to think some fancy phone numbers). So technically, you can endlessly re-inviting yourself and have unlimited GV accounts. Well, seems like Google is cracking down on this, and makes it mandatory for a GV account to be tied to a physical phone line, and you cannot share that line with another GV account. Let me share what happened to me. So I did basically what I described, I invited myself on a second Google account to get another GV account, just to get a phone number with some fun combination of numbers. GV asked me for a physical phone line, so I used my one-and-only physical phone number that was associated with my original GV account. GV simply wanted me to verify the number by calling it and putting a 2 digit combination, and my physical phone number is yanked from my 1st GV account to activate my 2nd account. Well, I thought everything was fine since I can just re-claim that number for my 1st GV account, yanking that number back again. Well, that didn’t work. When I tried to add my number to my 1st GV account, Google said I cannot use that number since it’s been associated with another GV account, and there’s no option to re-claim it. Oh crap. I tried deactivating/deleting that number from my 2nd account, but GV didn’t allow it as it requires a physical phone line to be tied with a GV number. I couldn’t use another GV number, nor a Gizmo number. I started to panic. I don’t want my physical phone number to be stuck with the 2nd account. Oh crap. Finally, I ended up spending $18 for a temporary Skype-in number as a physical phone number, and used that to allow me to re-claim my real number back to the 1st GV account. Phew. So, yeah, be very careful.

So, in short, I love Google Voice. It’s an awesome service, considering that it’s free. The only thing it lacks is a native iPhone app, but considering the current relationship between Apple & Google, I’m afraid it might be a really long wait. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

 
1 Comment

Posted by on May 15, 2010 in google, impression

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

My Youtube account has been suspended

Yup, for an unknown reason, my Youtube account has been suspended. Why? I don’t know. I could access it just fine yesterday, but today, it’s suspended. Any email/explanations from Google? Nope. WTF?

Youtube is becoming a big FAIL ever since Google acquire it.
Google, do no evil? Bah, you’re THE devil. Ironically my blog here is with blogger, which is also owned by Google. *sigh I guess I should start thinking of alternatives.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on March 3, 2010 in devil, evil, google, suck, suspended, sux, youtube

 

More thoughts on the iPad

With many tech blogs and news sites posting endless stream of anything iPad, I want to put my own 2 cents too. ๐Ÿ˜›

I’ve been thinking about how would I use the iPad. Usually one would buy something for a purpose. Apple is obviously hoping people would try to find a purpose to justify the iPad purchase.

1. An portable internet device for the home. Ever been wanting to view some websites while you’re taking a dump, while watching TV, or while lying on your bed? I’ve been doing it with my iPod Touch/iPhone, but obviously having a device with a larger screen like the iPad would make the experience better. The larger screen is also better to view videos. A netbook is a hassle due to their form factor. The issue with the iPad is how I would get my content on it. Currently, it seems that you have to sync the iPad with iTunes, just like iPods. Well, considering the small storage space on the iPad, this is an issue. Plus I don’t want to have all my videos in iTunes. I already have a Windows Home Server for all my videos. Apple should put the ability to stream content from a networked drive to the iPad. Alas, I don’t think it would be able to do that. Plus for the price, I’ll stick with my iPhone.

2. A camera companion on the go. Let’s say you’re traveling, and want to take tons of pictures while being able to view/back them up. Currently, a cheap solution is to bring a netbook with you. Most netbooks come with an SD slot where you can dump all your pictures to. The iPad with the SD card dongle might be a more portable solution. Problem is, again, the limited storage of the iPad (if you already fill it up with your music/videos, etc). Plus, the photos app is just a basic viewing app. I’m sure there will be many photo editing tools coming to the app store (already plenty for the iPhone), but it would be more seamless if Apple put iPhoto on the iPad.

3. As a backup internet device. As much as I like Comcast, it doesn’t have 100% uptime, and when it’s down, it’s really frustrating being offline. The iPad with 3G plus its prepaid wireless data plans seem to be a nice and cheaper way to have for a backup internet, vs paying $60 a month continuously for 3G data with a USB dongle. The dilemma is, I already have the iPhone (and I’m sure it’s the case for most people that are interested in the iPad). Now if only AT&T allow tethering on the iPhone, even with an additional fee, it will still be cheaper than spending money for the iPad. Alas, AT&T sux, and there’s no hint whether they would allow iPhone tethering in the US, ever. The iPad seems to be an expensive way to solve a simple problem.

So, yeah, it’s hard trying to find a use for the iPad. Now I’m sure once it’s released, there will be apps that change the way we think about it, but at this time, the iPad seems to have a lot of potential, yet at the same time feels too limited.

I’m curious that Apple might release the iPad simply as a training wheel for their future products, for people to get used to having multi-touch on a larger screen. I would imagine future iMacs and/or Macbooks would employ a multi-touch screen. Even better, imagine an iMac/Macbook that has an A4 equipped with iPhone OS built-in for instant-on usage, in addition to the traditional OS X and intel processor. Want to listen to music/check email quickly on your Macbook, instant-on to the iPhone OS. Want to do more stuff like picture/video editing, simply boot up to OS X. Yeah, that would be awesome! Hey, I just did a rumor for upcoming Apple products! I’m guessing Apple will see how successful (and probably how small/cool they can make the A4) the iPad is, and implement it to the iMac/Macbook in a couple of years.

 

The iPad is here.

Well, after countless of rumors, fake news, fake claims, photoshopped pictures, etc etc, Apple finally unveiled the long-awaited tablet, called the iPad. No, it’s not a pot of gold spitting out unicorns, it’s just an extra large iPod Touch, to put it simply. However, because many people were imagining the Apple tablet to be a pot of gold spitting out unicorns, there are currently a lot of negative feedback, especially from the haters (who are ironically frequent visitors of sites that tend to do a lot of Apple coverage, like engadget).

When Jobs announced the iPad, he stated that the function of the device are simply to be used for browsing, email, photos, video, music, games, and eBooks. Well, the iPhone/iPod Touch already do some of those, so, being a larger iPod Touch, the iPad will be more of a better experience in those things thanks to the bigger screen. Let’s stop here for a moment. A lot of people are wanting an actual tablet PC, with a full featured desktop OS, thus the negative feedbacks. Obviously that’s not what Jobs said the iPad would be, and in a way, Apple did the right thing. Tablet PCs are not new, and they never become mainstream. Why? Because they’re mostly just laptops with a touch screen running Windows. Apple approached this in a different way, from a consumer electronic perspective, not a computer. However, that doesn’t mean the iPad is the “Jesus tablet.” We’ll go over on some of the odd choices Apple made later.

Let’s start chronologically with the keynote presentation.
First, we see Steve Jobs demoing Safari on the iPad. It shares the same gestures as Safari on the iPhone/iPod Touch. Jobs made it like it’s a new experience, but it’s not. We’re already tapping and “touching” the web, albeit on a smaller screen. Obviously it will be more pleasant doing it on a larger higher res screen, but not as groundbreaking as when multi-touch was first demoed on the first iPhone. I can see steam coming out from Jobs’ ears, seeing the empty boxes where a Flash animation/ads would’ve been when he demoed the various website. (He quickly zoomed in on a picture on National Geographic website when an empty plug-in box showed up the sides). Yeah, no Adobe Flash support, which imo is a good thing. A lot of the haters want Flash on the iPhone. Considering how lousy Adobe is, and with a lot of security issues with Flash, I’m glad Apple stays on their ground for not supporting Flash. HTML 5 FTW! Still funny though imagining what Steve was thinking when he’s demoing NYT websites with those empty plug-in boxes. LOL.

Next is email. It’s the similar email client as the one on the iPhone, with several UI tweaks when viewing the iPad on portrait or landscape mode. On landscape mode, you have the inbox and the preview pane side by side. Not bad, but then again, nothing too exciting either. No hint whether there will be a unified inbox or not. Considering it’s the same iPhone OS, my guess is not.

Oh, yeah, no multi-tasking, and no new way to switch apps. Just like the iPhone, you have to go back to the home screen to switch to another app. This can get annoying real fast on something like this. My guess is iPhone OS 4.0 is not fully ready yet. Why can’t Apple just buy Palm, and copy the way WebOS switch between apps using the ribbon.

Next, Photos. The photos app looks a lot like iPhoto (and you can guess the next version of iPhoto would share some of the looks). However, no skimming, which would be nice. Instead, you can pinch an album/event to show the pictures inside it. Nice eye candy, but skimming would be more efficient imo. In addition to viewing pictures, you can make slideshows too. Jobs showed the origami transition effect, which is very neat. Here’s the issue though, how do you get your pictures into the iPad? Wait, no camera? WTF? Yeah, no camera. This would be a no-brainer, but no, nada. You can sync your photos via iTunes from PC/Mac, but that is a really clunky way to get your pictures into the iPad. You can also import photos from an SD card/USB storage using the optional USB/SD card to dock connector adapter. I expect a fully functional iPhoto app for the iPad in the near future, as without editing capability, the current photo viewing functionality feels half-baked. Still, a built-in camera seems the more logical way. I’m guessing that will be for the next gen iPad.

Next, music. A big meh. Basically it’s like the iTunes store, except that it’s your own music. Jobs stated how nice it is to browse and play all your music collection. Wait, what? ALL your music collection? What’s the capacity of the iPad again, 16GB up to 64GB. WTF? If there’s 128GB model, then it would be fine, but 16GB? Puhlease. Apple better have some streaming functionality from iTunes on your desktop PC to the iPad. If not, this is just a big meh. The iPod app feels like a mini iTunes instead of an iPod. Small fonts galore for track and album titles. Annoying! Hopefully there’s a way to pick a larger font. Also, there better be a shuffle-by-album. If not, then the iPad fails at playing music vs a regular iPod nano/classic. Interesting enough, no coverflow? No HE-AAC support?

iTunes store, meh. Calendar, pretty nice. Heck, it seems better than iCal on OS X itself. Contacts also looks nice, better than the one on OS X. However, there’s no phone functionality on the iPad, something that I would want on this. Hopefully the contacts app can be seamless with VOIP apps. Maps is just an XL version of the Maps app on the iPhone. Still on Google maps, contrary to the rumors. A-GPS only on the 3G model, not the wifi only model. Youtube is nice, but since youtube’s content sucks major ass due to frequent copyright takedowns, I’m not too excited about this. Gimme streaming J-Dorama built-in on the iPad, then I’ll bite. ๐Ÿ˜› Videos, well, nothing groundbreaking. The iPad’s screen resolution is only 1024×768, so no true 720p (although it does support 720p video playback), and not widescreen, so it’s not really an ideal movie viewing experience, contrary to what Jobs was trying to portray. Besides, I bet you have to sync movies with iTunes. Overall, Jobs didn’t explore too much details on these, other than trying to make it sound like the experience is new and exciting, while obviously it’s not.

Next, on to the hardware itself. As usual, the first thing Jobs said was how thin the iPad is. The big surprise here is, the fact that the iPad uses Apple’s own A4 chip. Wait, what? Apple made their own chip? Yeah, thanks to PA semi acquisition a while back. Imo this is a BIG HUGE news, that is overlooked by many people. I can see Apple using their own chip throughout their products. The next obvious one would be the iPhone and iPods, depending on how large the chip is. And then Apple TV! I can imagine the next Apple TV will be using Apple’s own chip. To put a further speculation, imagine Apple TV using the iPhone OS, complete with games. Voila, Apple’s gaming console. The possibilities are endless as Apple would be a huge CE company, capable of making a lot more products powered by this Apple chip. My next guess would be Apple making a real TV with this chip and Apple TV built-in.

Okay, enough of the chip. The iPad comes in 3 storage size: 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB. MAJOR LAME! Really? Only maxed out at 64GB? 128GB would be more reasonable, considering how Apple is trying to market this as a media device. 16GB is just sad. Heck, I have a 16GB iPod nano, and it’s just for music. I’m guessing Apple decided to scale back of the storage simply to not exceed the $999 price barrier. In short, it’s a marketing strategy, to advertise that their top-of-the-line iPad is still below $1000. Then there are the usual tech specs: Wifi n, Bluetooth, dock connector, speaker, microphone… oh wait. Microphone? This is odd. Why? Well, first, there’s no phone app, even on the models with 3G wireless connectivity. Second, no camera, no front facing camera, so no video conferencing. So, a microphone just for VOIP? My guess is that Apple will put in voice commands on the iPad, although that could contradict the supposedly more “intimate” interaction of multi-touch on the iPad. As for Bluetooth, I hope it’s not the crippled Bluetooth connection just like on the iPhone, meaning only for headsets. I want Bluetooth file transfer, or even better, Bluetooth tethering with an iPhone.

Next, Scott showing some apps, iPhone apps. Since the iPad uses the same iPhone OS, it is obviously compatible with all the current iPhone apps. In addition, the iPad can do pixel doubling so the iPhone app can be run full-screen. Big whoop. He demoed the facebook app. Heck, with the iPad, I can just go to the real facebook site. Games designed for the iPhone would run faster and smoother due to the faster processor, but obviously games designed specifically for the iPad would be better. The SDK with iPad simulator is also released. Imo another reason there’s a 60/90 days delay during this announcement and the scheduled iPad shipping date, is to allow some time for developers to make iPad-specific apps.

Next, some apps. First, Gameloft, with their FPS game. Really? FPS game is bad enough using a gamepad, now using a touch interface? Even worse, requiring some gestures (eg. 3 finger gesture just to open a door?)? Sorry, but keyboard + mouse FTW.

Second, New York Times. Yeah, even though Jobs showed that you can view the full NYT website with Safari, NYT is doing an app (probably because Jobs was not too happy with those empty Flash plug-in boxes, LOL). Some people are saying that the iPad will be the savior of the newspaper industry. NYT app shows some interactivity and even video playback. Pretty neat, and could entice some people to subscribe. However, considering I can get my news via simple RSS feeds… yeah.

Third, Brushes. Basically Paint on the iPad, with fingers. I’m sure this is a big deal for some people, but I’m no artist. The playback feature is really neat though.

4th, EA, with Need for Speed. If you think FPS is bad enough, yeah, trying to fiddle/touch the controls while playing a driving game doesn’t look fun at all. I’m sorry, but there are better game genres to show off the iPad. RTS, Adventure games, RPG, etc, not FPS or driving game. I’m guessing Apple just want to show off the graphics/processing power of the iPad.

5th, MLB. Imo sports apps like this may be one of the killer app as you can add a lot of interactivity while watching a game. Could be an awesome thing for sports fans. I couldn’t care less though. ๐Ÿ˜›

Steve returned to the stage to show iBooks (not to be confused with iBook, the pre-cursor to the Macbook), another HUGE news that slip by a lot of people. Apple is opening an eBook store, competing head to head with Amazon and the Kindle. iBooks app looks a LOT like Delicious Library. Typical Apple, the app has plenty of eye candy, especially with Steve showing how he’s flipping the book’s “page” partially back-n-forth. The fact that Apple is going to use epub format is also great news. Publishing companies are more archaic than the recording industry, clinging to DRM heavily. Hopefully Apple can change the market like they did with music. On Apple’s site, the iPad apparently has a voice over screen reader, something that the Amazon Kindle has, but got into a big fight with the publishers. Will Apple fare better? Steve surprisingly didn’t say anything about battery life, something that E-Ink-based devices will have a huge advantage. Plus, I don’t know if I can read a book for a prolonged period of time on an LCD screen. Not good for your eyes. The bigger news here is obviously Apple’s entry into the eBook market. I don’t think Amazon should be worried, as they already know something like this would happen, thus the Kindle app for the iPhone.

Next, Phil with iWork for the iPad. I don’t know. There’s a lot of questions here, not about the apps themselves as they look great but about the basic functionality you would expect. For example, printing a document/spreadsheet. There’s no USB port on the iPad. Will it be able to print to a networked printer directly? Via USB host with the USB to dock-connector dongle? If you have to export your work to a desktop first, then it’s super stupid. Then there’s Keynote. The obvious question is, is there video out? Turns out Apple has a dock-connector to VGA dongle for the iPad (which is ironic by itself considering Apple is focusing on mini display port on its computers). There’s an issue with the dongle itself, how do you connect to the AC adapter for long presentations? I’m guessing a dock connector splitter? As for iWork itself, this is the first time Apple unbundles iWork, meaning you purchase Pages, Numbers, and Keynote separately. $10 each. The touch interface seems tedious on Keynote, but maybe a pre-cursor for something larger like Microsoft’s surface (or iMac with multi-touch). The automatic word-wrap around a graphic on Pages look great. Numbers, meh. I haven’t used a word processor extensively out of school, let alone a spreadsheet or a presentation app. Another question would be, how do one export the created files out of the iPad? Syncing via iTunes? Emailing? Again, more reason for Bluetooth file transfer support.

Yes, the iPad syncs via iTunes, just like the iPhone. Sounds like iTunes will become more bloatier than ever.

Back to hardware, looks like Apple will have 2 versions of the iPad lineup. One with Wifi only, one with Wifi and 3G wireless. Looks like Apple realize that people would be furious if they have to pay more monthly bills and under contract, so the 3G data plan for the iPad will be prepaid (yay!), AND 3G iPads are unlocked out of the box (YAY!). There are 2 data plan, $15 for 250MB per month, or $30 for “unlimited.” My guess is unlimited means 5GB, since Apple is doing this with AT&T. The best part of this is of course, prepaid, meaning that you can just buy the 3G data plan when you actually need it, not having to pay for it continuously. Oh yeah, no Verizon, as Apple wants this to be an international model, thus GSM/HSDPA, not CDMA. Yeah, take that Verizon fanboys.

Now, the pricing. Jobs made a reference how people were speculating that the price will be $999, and dropped the bomb that the price of the iPad will be just $499. The crowd cheered. Wait, really? $499? Well, typical Apple, that is the lowest end model, the one that you don’t want. 16GB and wifi only. Add $100 for each bump in capacity (32GB for $599, 64GB for $699). That $499 doesn’t look that cheap anymore now does it. ๐Ÿ˜› Having 3G connectivity and GPS adds $130 on top of those prices. So, the real price of the tablet that you will want is actually $829, for the 64GB model with wifi and 3G. Still lower than $999 (which is why we don’t see a 128GB model as Apple probably wants to stay below $999), but definitely not $499. It’s the typical Apple upselling/marketing strategy.

The wifi only models will ship in 60 days, and the wifi + 3G models will ship in 90 days. Why? In addition for regulatory issues, obviously this lag is to allow developers to have their apps ready when the iPad is shipping. As for accessories, I’m sure there are a lot of people drooling for the keyboard dock.

Lastly, a complementary making videos, a trend started with the unibody aluminum Macbooks. Oh, and a new tagling, “You just… DO!” LOL. Kinda lame. Apple is trying to portray how amazing and magical the iPad is. Yeah, that would work if we didn’t have the iPhone. Problem is, all this multi-touch stuff is not new anymore, so the newness of touching stuff is, well, getting stale. People already see Microsoft’s surface, and the various multi-touch capable PCs.

In the end, the bigger news here is not really the iPad, although that is the focus of most bloggers and tech journalists since it’s the unicorn. The big news are:
1. Apple having their own fast and low-powered chip ready for mass production.
2. Apple going into the eBook market.

So, is the iPad “magical” and “revolutionary”? Nope. Like I said, a lot of the fanciness is kinda stale due to the fact we already have multi-touch for a couple of years. The iPad seems to lack a lot of things, like a camera, front facing camera for video conferencing, a phone app (or at least an SMS app), multi-tasking, etc. It’s obvious the OS is not fully optimized for the iPad (small icons, sparse screen). A live widget like weather would be nice, like on Android phones. Should you get one? Well, I don’t think there’s a need for a tablet or iPad in the first place, outside specific industries. However, knowing Apple, I’m guessing we can see the price being pushed lower by the end of the year or so, so people would buy the iPad just because, and then contents and apps will follow suit.

Regardless whether you find a use for the iPad or not, it’s another new and shiny toy from Apple. Heck, the lure of prepaid 3G data is very tempting for a backup internet (since AT&T doesn’t seem to offer tethering for iPhone in the US, ever). Personally, I was hoping for unlocked iPhones instead of this, but obviously that is not happening. Hopefully we will see more information and specifics on features (eg. Bluetooth file transfer, Bluetooth tethering, VOIP, etc) as time goes, and maybe we will see the OS itself being optimized (or the iPad itself shipping with OS 4.0 instead). Nonetheless, I at least expect iLife, or at least iPhoto for the iPad in the near future.

As for future rumors, let’s get started before the analysts. ๐Ÿ˜›
1. Price drop of the iPad before 2010 holidays. Maybe together with the regular September/October event.
2. Next gen iPad would have a camera, or at least a front facing camera for video chat. Also iChat app will be released. It will have a larger screen while retaining the same size (less bezel).
3. iLife 2010 would share some UI looks as the iPad photo app.
4. iCal and Contacts on the next OS X would share the same look as the iPad version.
5. iPhone OS 4.0 will cost iPod Touch users yet another $10

Well, there you go, a long and winded overview of the most hyped product announcement event ever. Heck, imo the iPad release overshadow President Obama’s State of Union Address! LOL.