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How to use whatsapp on multiple devices

One of my main gripe about the popular messaging platform whatsapp is its inability to be used simultaneously on multiple devices. Worse, it can only be installed on a phone device, leaving tablets in the cold.

Well, there is a partial workaround now. Earlier this year, whatsapp created a web app so you can have your whatsapp chat on your desktop computer using the Chrome browser. Things get more interesting, the fact that the web app now supports Firefox and Opera browsers. This creates a workaround to have whatsapp on however many devices you have.

If you have an Android device, it’s very simple. Simply go to web.whatsapp.com with the Chrome browser. You would be redirected to a page telling you to download the native app. Don’t worry. Simply go to the menu and check “request desktop app,” and now you should be greeted with the QR code you can scan with the whatsapp app you have on your phone. That’s it. This is great if you have whatsapp on your Android phone, and you want whatsapp messaging on your other Android devices, be it a tablet or phone. Do note that the way web whatsapp works is that you still need the phone with the native app connected to the internet at all times.

What if you cannot use Chrome? Download the Opera browser and do the same thing. Make sure to set the user agent as desktop.

What if you have an iPad? Well, unfortunately this workaround doesn’t work, even when you use Chrome for iOS. You will be simply redirected to a page saying your browser is not supported. So too bad for iOS fans.

It’s not perfect, but it’s better than nothing. Ideally, you have a cloud based solution and native app on all platforms like telegram. This web app approach is actually more flexible as you can access the platform from any supported browsers. On the other hand, it depends on the browser on the specific platform. Android works fine, but not iOS.

Hope this can be useful for whatsapp fans.

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Posted by on March 3, 2015 in tips

 

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Smartphone Buying Guide 2013

Since many tech blogs are doing a smartphone buying guide thanks to the holiday shopping season, I’m going to do one too with my own bias. 😀 If you read my blog for sometime, you know how I feel about provider locking, so this guide will focus mostly on GSM unlocked phones and GSM carriers/MVNOs. It’s actually pretty easy since unlocked phones is not the norm in the US.

Carrier Choice

In the US, there are only two major GSM carriers, AT&T and T-Mobile. Among those two, T-Mobile offers the best bang for the buck, and also the carrier that has a lot of MVNOs. The catch is coverage. So I would check their coverage first. Another great way to check coverage is to ask friends and family members as it will give you better real-life testimonies. Note that the coverage on T-Mobile’s website is assuming you have a phone with AWS band support. Unfortunately, since the number of carriers that use this band is extremely small, most phone manufactures don’t bother supporting it. Luckily, T-Mobile has also started to refarm the 1900 band for 3G in some areas, which is more widely supported than AWS as AT&T also uses this band. You can check this site to see if your area is a refarmed area. Note that this site is generated from user input, so the data is definitely more limited.

If you are not lucky enough to be covered by T-Mobile, next step is AT&T. In general, AT&T is more expensive, and has less choice in MVNOs. Their 3G speed is also slower than T-Mobile’s HSPA+. The upside is coverage is better in general, although I have been in areas where T-Mobile actually has better coverage than AT&T. This is their site for their coverage. Again, better gauge is to ask your friends or family members as the general map coverage usually assume that you are outside, not indoors. AT&T uses 850 and 1900 bands for 3G, and they are supported by many phones.

LTE

Both AT&T and T-Mobile have started to offer LTE. The main advantage of LTE imo is the much lower latency. Browsing the internet under LTE feels more like a landline broadband than a cellular connection. Speed wise, however, is not much faster, at least in my experience. You see people on the internet bragging how much faster their LTE speed is, but so far in my experience in trying Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile’s LTE, I usually get around ~10-20Mbps down at best, which is not much different than a good HSPA+ connection.

T-Mobile uses LTE band 4, and AT&T uses band 4 and 17. In short, phones that supports AT&T LTE will support T-Mobile LTE by default. LTE coverage is still very limited. I would rather have a good HSPA+ coverage than a paltry LTE coverage.

If you really must have LTE, then your provider selection is more limited. So far, I think there are no T-Mobile MVNOs offering LTE service, so to get T-Mobile LTE, you have to get a T-Mobile plan. AT&T only offers LTE on their own plans and their MVNO Aio wireless (at lower speed of 8Mbps).

Picking Your Plan

I have posted quite a bit of discussions on different MVNOs in this, and this posts. Just to quickly recap and to update things a bit:

T-Mobile and Its MVNOs:
Cheapest with good amount of data: Ultra mobile. $19 a month gives you 250 minutes, unlimited SMS, and 50MB data. You can add 250MB for $5. This is the provider I’ve been using so far.
Best deal for heavy data user: T-Mobile monthly 4G. No need to go to Walmart. Just order the SIM online from T-Mobile themselves. $30 a month gives you 100 minutes, unlimited SMS, and 5GB data at 4G speed (2G speed afterwards). This deal is so good that T-Mobile themselves are not making it easy to find it.
For unlimited talk: Straight Talk offers either AT&T or T-Mobile SIM. $45 a month gives you unlimited voice, unlimited SMS, and 2.5GB high speed data. It’s good that they specify the limit now. Another option is Simple Mobile or Spot Mobile, both are offering $40 a month for unlimited voice, unlimited SMS, and 1GB high speed data.
$50 and up: If you are willing to spend more, Simple Mobile offers $50 plan that gives you 3GB of high speed data (unlimited voice and SMS). If you are a really big spender, T-Mobile will give you unlimited everything for $70 a month.
Longest expiration date: This is a great option for a backup SIM. Spot Mobile offers a pay-as-you-go plan with $5 good for 90days.

AT&T and Its MVNOs:
Cheapest with good amount of data: Airvoice Wireless offers $40 a month, unlimited minutes, unlimited SMS, and 1GB data.
Best deal for more data: Straight Talk. $45 a month, unlimited voice and SMS, 2.5GB high speed data.
$50 and up: Red Pocket offers $60 a month, unlimited voice and SMS, 3GB data. If money is no object, Aio Wireless has a $70 a month plan with unlimited voice, SMS, and 7GB data.
Longest expiration date: Airvoice Wireless pay-as-you-go has $10 credit that is good for 90 days.

As you can see, it is clear that T-Mobile offers more bang for the buck, so pray that you have good T-Mobile coverage. 🙂

Picking a Phone

You have decided on your carrier and your plan. Now’s the fun part, picking your phone. 🙂

Under $100:
The Lumia 520/521 is really a good Windows Phone 8 phone at this price range. Unfortunately, you will be stuck with either AT&T goPhone plans or T-Mobile’s prepaid plans unless you can get them unlocked. Seems like since it’s a popular phone, it is getting harder and harder to find unlocks for these phones. Another catch is the 521 T-Mobile version doesn’t seem to support band I (2100) for 3G based on the spec on T-Mobile website. Something to think about if you travel as band I is the most common band used for 3G in Asia and Europe. Caveat emptor. I would spend more money to get better flexibility of unlocked phones.

~$200:
Motorola’s Moto G. There is no contest here unless you start looking at used phones. $180 for 8GB, $200 for 16GB. 720p screen, quad-core Snapdragon 400, near stock Android. It’s not shipping yet, but it’s the best deal on paper right now. It even makes the Nexus looks expensive. 😀 No LTE, but at this price point, who cares. Do note that there are two versions being sold, a global version and a “US” version. The US version supports AWS, which is useful for T-Mobile coverage, at the expense of lacking 2100 band support (the frequency band used for 3G in most Asian and European countries). Both versions do support 850 and 1900 bands, so if your carrier is AT&T, or T-Mobile has refarmed the 1900 band in your area, my vote is for the global version.

If you are a Windows Phone fan, Microsoft is selling the HTC 8X unlocked for $250. 16GB, 720p SLCD gorilla glass screen, dual-core Snapdragon S4, quad-band HSPA (no AWS though), LTE support for AT&T and T-Mobile. It’s a much better phone than the Lumia 520, but value wise, imo the Moto G trumps this. Check out my quick impression of the HTC 8X.

~$400:
Google Nexus 5. Penta-band HSPA, LTE support for AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint, Snapdragon 800, 1080p screen, latest Android KitKat. 16GB is $350 and 32GB is $400. Hard to beat at this price point. The only downside is probably the camera app. Check out my impression here.

Sony Xperia ZR is available around $450. It’s no Snapdragon 800 like the Nexus 5 and no LTE, but it is still a decent phone with penta-band HSPA, quad-core processor, 1080p screen, 2GB RAM, 8GB storage with SD slot, and it’s water proof. Something to check out if you need a phone that can withstand the environment a little bit. If you don’t need the water proofing, the Xperia ZL is bigger, supports LTE, and has 16GB storage instead. It’s hard to beat the Nexus 5 though for your money.

~$600:
The HTC One is available unlocked in regular Sense or stock Android versions. Ironically, HTC used to sell this for cheaper at $580 before the Google Play stock Android version came out. Spec wise, it has been upped by the Nexus 5, but it is still quite a beast with 1080p screen, LTE support (both AT&T and T-Mobile), Snapdragon 600, 2GB RAM, and 32GB storage. It only has tri-band HSPA though, no AWS support. I prefer the Sense version due to HTC Zoe as an added value. The GPE version is just stock Android, and at that price, might as well save the money and get the Nexus 5 instead.

iPhone:
iPhone is unique as it is only made by Apple. I wouldn’t get the iPhone 5c (16GB for $550, 32GB for $650). It’s basically a cheapened iPhone 5. If you are going to spend some $600, might as well get the iPhone 5s. Starts at 16GB for $650 and up to a whooping $850 for 64GB. It’s magical. Of course, the iOS experience is unique on iPhones, so the price premium might be worth it.

Well, there you go, my smartphone buying guide for 2013. 😀 Imo the real winner this year is the Moto G. Motorola was going to delay the Moto G in the US until next year, but looks like they were wise enough to ship it by December 2nd instead, and still catch the holiday buying season. At $200 for its spec, it really does offer great value, even arguably better than the Nexus phones. At this point, you have to really love your carrier to still buy a carrier controlled phone with contract. Nexus 5 is changing the game again, bringing top high end spec at mid-range price. iPhone is as magical as ever, and Apple doesn’t seem to be bothered by the low cost offerings of Android.

Hopefully this can bring some perspective into the plethora buying guides thrown in by tech blogs that are mostly focused on carrier controlled phones. ^_^ What phone do you want from Santa?

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2013 in Buying guide

 

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HTC 8X Quick Impression #windowsphone

I was browsing at a local Microsoft store, and I noticed that they were selling the HTC 8X unlocked for $250. I double checked Microsoft’s online store, and surely it sells them for the same price. Why was I interested? Windows Phone phones have never been sold unlocked in the US, other than the overpriced bundle that Microsoft did for the Lumia 800. So this was quite a surprise.

I really like the packaging of the 8X. It feels cheap, but the design is fresh from the typical carton box. $250 is not cheap, but it’s not bad either. The HTC 8X was HTC’s flagship Windows Phone 8 in 2012. When people talk about cheap WP8 phone, the first thing that comes up usually is the Nokia Lumia 520/521. In the US, the Lumia 520 is available as a no-contract GoPhone from AT&T (521 from T-Mobile) at $99. It’s good for the price, but it is cheap for a reason. If you go to any retail store with the 520/521 demo unit, you will immediately notice the washed out WVGA screen. It just doesn’t look good. Storage is only 8GB, and RAM is only 512MB, something that can be an issue with some apps. Also, despite being sold as a no-contract phone, it is carrier locked.

The HTC 8X costs more than double the Lumia 520, but it is a better equipped phone. It has higher res SLCD 720p screen with Gorilla Glass, which is a lot better screen than the Lumia 520. The 8X has 1GB RAM and 16GB storage. The processor is faster too, but Windows Phone 8 is smooth enough on both devices. The 8X does support LTE on AT&T and T-Mobile. Today, these specs are nothing compared to Android phones, but considering your options, it is the only Windows Phone 8 that is sold unlocked straight from Microsoft.

Build quality wise, the HTC 8X is a beautiful phone. It uses that soft rubbery plastic for its body. I am confident enough that the phone will survive daily usage without a case (in contrast to phones like the iPhone and Nexus 4). Microsoft only sells one color of the 8X, blue. It’s more like bluish purple.

At the top right is the power/sleep/wake button, and on the right side, there are the volume rocker on the upper section and the camera shutter button on the lower section. The arrangement can be somewhat annoying as I always end up pressing the volume rocker when I want to wake up the phone. Holding down the camera shutter button will fire up the camera app, even while the phone is locked.

I am always amazed how people fumbling around to silent their phones when they rang during a meeting or quiet situations. Apple solved the problem easily by putting a hardware mute switch on the iPhone, so you can mute your iPhone whenever. Android is a bit unintuitive, where you have to hold down the power button to have a dialog box pop up offering the option to silent the phone. Some phones like the HTC One makes things even harder as you don’t have access to that dialog box when the phone is locked. Windows Phone also takes two steps. First, you have to press the volume rocker button to trigger the volume control on the top bar on the screen. There, there is an icon on the right to toggle silent/vibrate mode. To me, it is not as simple as the iPhone, but I guess it is more intuitive than Android.

The lock screen itself is simple and pretty readable (and Hime is pretty too. ^_^). To obtain a screen shot, you push and hold the power button, and tap the Windows capacitive button. There is no way to show battery percentage on the OS without the help of 3rd party apps. Limited notifications are shown on the bottom, but you can only allow 5 apps to show things there. Interestingly enough, I find that messages from your friend on Facebook won’t trigger a notification here, despite allowing Facebook app to do so in settings. This is one of my gripes with Windows Phone. Unlike iOS and Android, there is no central place to handle notifications. You are left with limited icons on the lock screen (that are dismissed once you unlocked the phone), and hunting down each apps having a notification badge (assuming you put those apps’ tiles on your home screen).

My previous experience with Windows Phone was with the Lumia 710, a Windows Phone 7 phone that was abandoned by Microsoft and T-Mobile from receiving the 7.8 update. One of my major complaints was the tiles, as they are merely oversized icon shortcuts. Considering their size, it limits the amount of stuff you want to see on your home screen at one time. Windows Phone 8 fixed this by allowing smaller icon sizes, so you can have a lot more shortcuts on the home screen.

As you can see, on the main home screen, you only have your tiles on a solid background (can be white or black). Your wallpaper only shows up on the lock screen. This imo limits the “personalization” of the phone, with only limited colors to choose from for the tiles. Even then, notice that not all apps will conform to the system’s tile color, not even Microsoft’s own apps.

Shortcuts to quick settings like switching wifi or airplane mode are not available by default. You have to get 3rd party apps. This is what concerning. When I was perusing the WP app store for live tile apps that provides shortcuts to system functions, a lot of them are very sketchy, where the apps require permission for your identity from the phone and whatnot. Heck, even many battery widgets (that show charge percentage on the tile) require those permissions. Not cool in my book. This is typical of sketchy Android apps, and I was expecting Microsoft to do a better job. Worse, none of those battery indicators actually work. Apple has solved this by baking those features into iOS7 via control center. Hopefully Microsoft would do something similar.

Getting your stuff into Windows Phone is pretty simple, especially if you use Hotmail/Outlook. Just login to your Hotmail account and everything will be there, including Facebook contacts if you link your Facebook account with your Hotmail account. Your Xbox avatar will also appear on the Xbox app if you have the same login for your Xbox. Setting up other services is pretty straight forward too, including Gmail, Yahoo Mail, etc. The problem is on social media. Facebook and Twitter have native apps, but if you are on Google Plus, forget it. In fact, Google only made ONE app for Windows Phone, which is just a Google search screen. It’s pathetic. If you are a heavy user of Google services, you may want to step back and get an Android phone/iPhone instead.

The sad app situation doesn’t stop there. Dropbox, a popular cloud syncing app, does not even have a native app on WP. Now this might be acceptable if Windows Phone is new to the market. It’s not. Microsoft really needs to work harder in attracting developers. The absence of Google apps already put a huge dent on the platform. If you are a Microsoft user, you are fine. Many services, like maps, are taken care of by bing.

The lack of many native apps from their original developers, like Google, creates a huge amount of fake apps. This is a huge problem on Android, and I was surprised that WP is having the same issue. Simply search for Facebook and you will find plenty of “Facebook app” that is made by some unknown developer. Same thing with Google apps. Worse, these fake apps are using the real logos from Facebook/Google, and their descriptions are making them sound like they are the real apps. Lay users can unknowingly download these fake apps and have bad user experience with them, condemning the platform even more.

On the Mac, Microsoft creates a Windows Phone app (previously called Windows Phone Connector) to sync photos and music from iPhoto and iTunes. Pretty straight forward and basic. Alas, there’s no way to create a full backup on the desktop now (I think it used to be able to do that). Instead, backup is created in the cloud on your Skydrive account.

Yes, there is Office, or Office super lite to be more precise. People seems to be bragging about Office on Windows Phone, but I can’t see one who would want to use it. Maybe Excel, but Word is practically useless as it rewraps your whole document to the phone’s margin. This makes it extremely difficult to think how it would look normally when editing a document.

The camera app on the 8X is a stock one, and you don’t have access to those exclusive Nokia only apps. Some lenses are still there though. The 8MP camera is not too bad. It has pretty wide aperture, f2.0. Looking at the quality briefly, I say it’s above the Nexus 4, but does not quite match the Nexus 5 or the iPhone 5.

The shutter button makes taking pictures a bit more like a conventional camera, but you cannot focus on certain areas by touching the screen by default. That’s really annoying, kinda beats the advantage of having a touch screen. The only way to do this that I know of is to set the camera to automatically take a picture upon touch, where you can touch an area, the camera focuses to that area, and takes a picture. I find it annoying as I am used to the flexibility on iOS’ and HTC One’s camera apps.

One big paradigm shift that Microsoft did on Windows Phone is the shift from apps into hubs. The idea is instead of checking Facebook app or Twitter app individually, you simply go to the People hub that will aggregate all the updates from the various sources (mail, messages, Facebook postings, tweets, etc).This is a neat idea. I can group select contacts, pin the group as a live tile, and I can observe a live tile showing some recent messages from those group right on my home screen. This is great in filtering your social media contents to just the stuff from your friends, for example. Of course, that is assuming that you only use those social media that are connected to the people hub. Like I mentioned above, Google Plus is a no go. Some apps are not even updated to fully support this. Example is the flickr app, where the app itself still says that it is for Windows Phone 7. Yeah, many apps are fairly old, abandoned by the developers. It is sad as I actually like the concept of hubs.

The bad news doesn’t stop there. HTC is not doing so hot right now. Although the 8X received GDR 3 update, it’s clear that HTC is focusing on Android with the One lineup. The possibility of the 8X getting Windows Phone 8.1 is pretty slim. Worse, Microsoft itself is not going to release 8.1 till next year, leaving 2013 for iOS and Android to shine with iOS7 and KitKat. Samsung, the other WP OEM, clearly has abandoned Windows Phone too. Nokia, the sole survivor, sold its mobile hardware division to Microsoft. Oh, and Microsoft itself reflects its desire to not have three version of Windows. Considering the regular Windows is the bigger brother, this means Windows Phone will get the boot. One can clearly see this is coming when Microsoft did Windows RT instead of transforming Windows Phone into a tablet OS. Why have two OSes on ARM? The future is definitely bleak for Windows Phone.

Thus I returned my HTC 8X. 🙂 To be honest, I kinda like the phone itself. It’s pretty and whatnot, but there’s no point in investing on a dead-end platform. Oh, and Motorola is now selling the 16GB Moto G for just $199 unlocked. $250 has turned from okay to expensive when $200 can buy me a very decent phone on a platform that is more fully featured. For Windows Phone, I’m going to say wait for Microsoft to release their Surface branded phone, or their own branded phone. It’s clear that the OEMs are jumping off the boat, so buying a WP device from HTC/Samsung means you are buying a device with potentially no support. Considering the history of Microsoft ditching the Lumia 710 from 7.8 update, I can see 8.1 being pushed to only the high end Lumias, and then everything will be abandoned in favor of new devices running the WinRT hybrid.

Windows Phone, second round, and still failed to hook me. I’m keeping my money on iOS and Android in the meantime.

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2013 in impression, Windows Phone

 

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New iPad announcement

I have not posted anything on this blog for a while because I’m too lazy, but I guess it’s time for an update because, well, the iPad 3. 😀

So, here’s my keynote run-through and impression.

1. Tim Cook rehashing the same thing about how Apple is so great in this post-PC era, how they are making a boatload of money, how great their retail stores are, and how you will buy whatever they are announcing today. (I made the last part up). I just went to their 5th Ave store in New York, and it’s quite amazing how many people were in that store, in the middle of the night. I mean really, the store even opens 24 hour. Unbelievable. Every retailers on the planet are salivating.

2. iOS is great. Sales, numbers, Siri, bla bla bla. But hey, now Siri can speak nihon-go. iOS 5.1, available today. How many Android devices got updated to 4.0? Yeah.

3. iCloud, it just works. Err… not really Tim. It’s cool, but still need a lot of work and features. Now iCloud supports movies, and iTunes has 1080p movies.

4. New Apple TV with 1080p support. “The quality is off the charts.” Meh, I can rip my blu-ray to get 1080p movies DRM free myself. Boring demo. Still $99.

5. iPad 3, or “the new iPad.” Yeah, Apple drops the numbering altogether. It will be just the iPad. Just like the Mac, no numbering anymore. Tim Cook went on and on about how people love iPads. Hearing Tim Cook talking made me sleepy. Sorry, but it’s hard for anybody to match Steve Jobs’ performance and presentation. Tim is also showing how the apps on Android tablets are inferior to the iPad version.

Amazing new iPad! It’s magical! No, Tim didn’t say magical, but might as well. Phil is doing the actual announcement, not my favorite person to do keynote either. So, what’s new on the new iPad?

-Retina display. 2048 x 1536 resolution, higher resolution than even my iMac! More than any 1080p HDTV! It’s quite amazing, 264ppi. Wait, that’s not 300dpi. Phil went on explaining why they still classify the iPad’s 264ppi as retina based on distance. Whatever.

-A5X chip, not the A6. So instead quad-core CPU, it’s still dual-core CPU but quad-core GPU. 4X Tegra 3? Holly mackerel, and Android tablets using Tegra 3 are barely coming out (Yeah Asus, where’s your Transformer Prime?). Amazing.

-iSight camera. Errr, ok, now Apple is using the iSight monicker again after changing it to Facetime on Macs? Phil says that the front facing camera is Facetime camera, and the rear facing camera is an iSight camera. Ooookay. 5MP, 1080p video with image stabilization. Sounds great, right? Yeah, considering how many people out there are using iPads to take pictures and videos in the wild, it’s going to get worse. Really, holding an iPad to take pictures in public places doesn’t make you cool.

-Voice dictation. Oh come on Apple, can’t you just put Siri on it? Voice dictation also in nihon-go.

-4G LTE + HSPA+. So real 4G and fake 4G, included. Problem is, AT&T version will be different than Verizon version since both LTE is not compatible with each other. Luckily, either of them have world-compatible 3G. Oh, and personal hotspot feature…. if your carrier supports it. Uh huh, yeah, good luck with that on US carriers.

-Still 10-hour battery life. Well, Apple put more battery on the new iPad, resulting in a bit thicker body compared to the iPad 2.

-Same pricing for all levels of storage capacities starting at $499 for the 16GB wifi. Alas, no 128GB version.

Availability? March 16th in 10 countries, including Singapore, and pretty much everywhere else a week after that. Compare that to the Asus Transformer Prime, which was released at the end of last year, yet still not available in retail today. This is why Apple is successful, and funny thing is, the competitors just don’t get it, still following their old way of slow time-to-market schedule.

6. Game and app demos. Ooohhh, shiny. Console quality games. Err, no, not with touch screen. Autodesk, selling a ton more apps on iOS than the desktop. “Amazing.” “Retina display is luscious.” Epic games, with a diablo clone.

7. Updated iWorks apps and iLife apps. The multiple instruments on multiple iPads on Garageband is pretty cool. iMovie is updated, now with trailers. iPhoto for iOS! Finally! It’s long overdue. Imo Apple should’ve just replaced the current photo app on iOS with iPhoto. Currently, it feels weird having both apps. On the Mac, there’s no “photo” app, just iPhoto. The journal feature is very nifty. A must download.

8. And finally, yet another video talking about everything that was covered.

9. Oh, and price drop of the iPad 2, 16GB wifi for $399. Yup, Android OEMs are still having problem producing enough of their stuff, now they have to compete with $399 iPad. Maybe they will finally learn a thing or two about how Apple does their business.

So, that’s it, new Apple TV and new iPad. Do I want one? Well, gotta catch’em all…

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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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 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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