Category Archives: android

Instagram Revisited (OK So I like it)

Back in March when Instagram announced it was coming to Android I asked if I should care.  Of course when Instagram shipped for Android  I tried it.  Almost 100 pictures later I have to admit I like it.  I am still not sure I get it though.

What do I like about Instagram? The camera interface is simple, and takes decent pictures, I almost never use the filters, or effects, though it does do a good job of adjusting the lighting when needed.  I like the ability to easily share with Twitter and Facebook, and the speed at which it uploads.

As for what I don’t get, I don’t get the need to build yet another network.  I see my friends Instagram photos on Twitter and Facebook (yes I realize you can take a picture and only share it in Instagram) but lets be realistic, your great photo that you want your friends to see is getting shared on Twitter and Facebook, not just on Instagram.

For now I use Instagram, my photo stream there is public, and I follow no one not because I don’t care, but because I believe I am already following you elsewhere, where the pics you want me to see will be posted.

Of course there is that small matter of the pending Facebook acquisition, so this could all change again soon.

Audio Manager for Android

It’s been a while now since I used a Blackberry as my everyday phone, one of the features I miss most is the Profile manager and the ability to easily switch from one profile to another.   I have looked at different solutions for Android and finally found AudioManager which suits my needs.

AudioManager lets you create different profiles, and set rules for when different profiles activate.  So I now have my phone automatically switch from my daytime settings to my nighttime settings (Silent with Alarm only) automatically.

Instagram is Coming to Android Should I Care?

Last night I came across the story above that Instagram is coming to Android, which now leaves me wondering should I care? should I be excited?  Since I do not currently own an iOS device with a camera I haven’t tried Instagram to date, however I see lots of Instagram photos on Facebook and Twitter.

So I ask all of you Instagram lovers out there, what will I be able to do with Instagram that I am not already able to do?  Post to Facebook and Twitter at the same time? I can already do that, take pictures with different filters? I can already do that.

This leaves me wondering what do I get out of Instagram? Other then yet another social network to build a network on?

Apparently the Android version will be better than the iOS version.

My Review of the HTC Jetstream Android Tablet

The kind folks at HTC who I met at Lotusphere were kind enough to provide me with an HTC Jetstream Android tablet to kick the tires on.  Those who follow me know that I am a huge fan of Android, prefer it over iOS, and have been in search of the right Android tablet for some time now with no luck.  I am not going to bore you with the Jetstream’s specs you can read them yourself, but the hardware is nice. My main point of comparison is against my Droid X (running Gingerbread), and my original iPad (running iOS5), the Jetstream shipped with Honeycomb (3.1) with HTC Sense 1.1 on top of it.


The 10.1 inch 1280 x 800 display is nice, I am finding though that I notice fingerprints more on the screen than I do on the ipad, not sure why, maybe different types of glass, or how I have the screen brightness set, but that is only a minor annoyance.  The volume control is on the left side, I think the button is a too large, I find myself hitting the volume control when holding the tablet, regardless of the volume control the speakers are excellent, great sound quality.

The 8 megapixel rear camera appears to be decent quality, though I still can’t get used to holding up a table to take a picture or video, the from facing camera is 1.3 megapixels and not great quality.

The power connector is on the bottom of the tablet when held in landscape mode (bottom as defined by the front facing camera being on top), a very inconvenient place, I prefer the side location on the iPad, much better for charging while using.  In addition the Jetstream does not use a MicroUSB but rather a proprietary cable to charge.  I don’t understand the fascination with manufacturers avoiding standards for charging/syncing devices (yes I mean you to Apple), do they make that much additional revenue on these cables that it is worth it? Can we please just have a standard and stick to it.

With 32 GB of data built in, and an microSD slot that supports up to 32 GB the device has plenty of storage. Battery life has been excellent, comparable or better than the iPad.

HTC also included the HTC Scribe stylus, some interesting functionality, but I haven’t played with it much and doubt I will carry a stylus around.


This is my first experience with Honeycomb, and it definitely takes some getting used to.  Android is moving away from the 4 physical keys on early phone model, to virtual keys on screen, good idea, just takes some getting used to.  The nice thing is that which ever way you orient the device the Home, Back, and Application switcher keys are always in the same place on the screen.

Best I can tell the Jetstream is only sold by AT&T, my first complaint is the same I have against every Android device manufacturer and carrier, the tablet is full of bloatware that can not be removed with out rooting the tablet.  I have no need for NFS Shift, Lets Golf, and a variety of other apps pre-installed on the device.  The Jetstream is a 4G capable device, but since I did not purchase it from AT&T I have no data plan, right now it is WiFi only same as my iPad.  I would like to find a pay as you go sim card with a data plan for occasional use, though right now it does not seem that AT&T offers that option (suggestions welcome).

Most apps I have used scale fine on the tablet screen, there are a few that don’t work properly on the tablet, I also notice that some of the apps are not yet updated to place the menu options in the new UI style so there is a bit of inconsistency between apps, this is obviously and Android issue.

The one big problem I have found is syncing Videos, I installed HTC Sync, and it does a good job syncing music (though I don’t really keep music on my tablet), a couple of months ago I finally figured out how to convert videos properly for the iPad, grouping TV shows and properly tagging them.  While HTC Sync connects to Windows media player, they don’t appear to sync in logically grouped order like they do on the iPad.  A real shame since the Jetstream has more space than my iPad and the expandable memory slot.  Suggestions welcome, will play with this a bit more when I have time.

Overall, the Jetstream is nice hardware, decent Android experience (hoping for Ice Cream Sandwich), and for apps it has replaced my iPad, if I can solve the video issue it would completely replace my iPad.

On the flip side, I don’t see a lot of these tablets being sold at $600.00 plus a 2 year AT&T Contract, HTC might be well served to come out with a WiFi model at a more competitive price.

Nexus Prime Teaser

Looking forward to this announcement on October 11th, and hoping that it is really coming to Verizon.

The Big Question About the Kindle Fire

Amazon finally unveiled their much talked about Kindle Fire this morning.  Finally someone understands the dynamics of the tablet market, and they have priced it correctly at $199.00.  Clearly the Fire will do a good job tying in to Amazons many services, be it books, streaming music, or video, and looks like it will deliver a decent browsing experience.

The real question which has been on my mind for a while is what about Android Apps that are not available in the Amazon App Store? You see the Fire is an Android based device, but it is not the same Android you find on other tablets.  Amazon is not a Google partner so they do not have access to Honeycomb (Android 3.x), so they built their own version of Android based on 2.x for the Fire.  I expect that Amazon got the UI right, it will look good and be easy to use, but what if I want an App that is not in the Amazon App Store, and there are many of those.

Andy half joking asked the question last night about Lotus Notes Traveler, but it is a perfectly good question, will Amazon allow apps to be installed from “untrusted sources” (remember the AT&T problems with sideloading).  When IBM does move Traveler in to the App Store will it be in the Amazon App Store.

Probably too soon to answer some or all of these questions, we will have to wait and see.  I think Amazon is going to sell a lot of these tablets, especially bundled with Amazon Prime and the free video content available with Prime it is an excellent value for the price.  As for me, I am not going to be the first one on my block to own one, I want to see how Android actually runs on it, and how flexible it is. I am also curious if Amazon has any plans to update these devices to an Ice Cream Sandwich based version of Android. Finally I am pleased that I have not seen any one refer to this device as “an iPad killer” (at least not yet) because it is simply not, it is clearly targeted for a different audience/purpose.

I am not a Pessimist

I have always been an optimistic person, my favorite ice cream is Mint Chocolate Chip, I don’t think I am an introvert, I have visited more than five countries, I refuse to use Yahoo Mail (but that is a whole different story).  I just happen to prefer my Android phone over an iPhone.


Really who makes this stuff up?

Techcrunch: Androids Are For Cheap Pessimists, iPhones Are For Worldly Optimists

The Key Innovation Missing from iOS

Last night I used my iPhone for the first time in a while, it is an older 3G model, but still works just fine.  A couple of years ago it was my primary device, over the last couple of years I have moved to Android as my primary device, currently using my Droid X.  I also have an iPad (Original not 2) which I use quite a bit. 

Apple has certainly set the standard in the tablet market, and there is still no credible Android competitor on the market yet (the new Samsungs coming soon at least pricewise might be able to compete a little).  Arguably Apple also kicked off the Smartphone revolution when they introduced the iPhone a few years ago (though RIM might disagree with that).

There are many reasons I like Android over iOS, but on of the biggest is typing.  Surprisingly while Apple is clearly a leader and innovator in the mobile/tablet space, they have not done anything to make typing easier, or faster on their devices.  In fact a whole site exists to highlight typos on iPhones.

Here is a look at a few alternate keyboards that I have been using on Android, which make typing easier, and faster.  No I am not saying I never make typos or errant autocorrects when using Android, if you follow me on Twitter you have probably seen some of them, but it is certainly easier and faster to type.


Swiftkey, similar to the stock Android keyboard predicts what word you want to type next, the difference is it learns from what you have already typed, so if you use a certain phrase repeatedly it learns from that and uses that to generate predictions for you.  For those of you who have ever seen me tweet during a football game this means I type “Touchdown” and Swiftkey knows the next word is “#Giants”.


Swype is different in that it allows you tp swipe your finger over keys with out taking your finger off the keyboard and does a pretry good job of guessing the word you meant.  You can view some videos of Swype in action on their site.  I find Swype very useful for shorter messages like texts and tweets, not as convenient for longer messages like an e-mail.


Google acquired this company last fall, which hints that they are looking to improve the stock Android keyboard, to date I have not seen them ship anything using BlindType, but there is a demo.


I received an Alpha invite to Siine yesterday, definitely a different approach to a virtual keyboard, and I like the idea, it provides a lot of shortcuts, and easy entry for common tasks.  The only downside is it has a steep learning curve getting used to it, and the standard keyboard it bundles in is not a very good one at all.  I would love to see a cross between Siine and Swiftkey.

There are other keyboards for Android, but you get the idea.  So I wonder why there are no add on keyboards for iOS, well probably because Apple would reject them from the App Store.  I find that I make a lot of mistakes on the iPad, and generally it takes more keystrokes on iOS than Android to accomplish the same things.

Am I missing anything? are there any innovations for typing on iOS that I am missing? If not I wonder if this is something that will be addressed in iOS 5.

Amazon’s Android App Store, I don’t think this will work

Amazon launched their App Store for Android this morning (I hope I don’t get sued for calling it an App Store), curious as ever I decided to take a look.  First I searched in the Android Market, but found nothing new from Amazon there, so I went back to Amazon and clicked “Get App” which gave me instructions to install the App Store:


The instructions then go on to provide download and installation instructions for the Amazon AppStore.

So lets examine, first you have find and select the “Unknown Sources” box to allow installation of an app that is not in the Android Market.  Of course if you are on AT&T they don’t support this setting, so you are out of luck (I guess it really sucks to be an Angry Birds fan with an ATT Android device).

Once installed, you log in with your Amazon account, which makes purchasing apps easy.  The application itself is easy to use, and search, I would say better than the Android Market app which though improved still needs some work.


I just wonder what the long term plan is for the Amazon App Store, I think a lot of people will be turned off with the install process, and I suspect that Google will not allow the app in the Android Market, since an App that downloads other Apps violates the terms of use.  Google might want to reconsider, given the recent problems with Apps that contained malware on Android, giving Android owners a trusted source like Amazon to download apps from might actually help grow the platform, not hurt it.  In it’s current state  though I think many people won’t even install it, and some can’t even if they want to, does not sound like a promising launch to me.

For anyone wondering, no I still have not downloaded Angry Birds, and don’t plan on it, even if Amazon is giving it away today.

Top 5 ways Android tablets could beat the iPad

Take 3 minutes to watch this video

I agree 100% with #5 regarding Application development, and #2 especially about the carrier modifications to Android, and the need to get upgrades out faster.

They nail it with #1 “be cheaper then the iPad”, there is yet to be an Android tablet that competes on feature and price with the iPad, even the Motorola XOOM which is getting decent reviews is still priced to high to drive people away from the iPad and to Android.

Of course we have to see what Apple has in store for us tomorrow with the iPad 2 announcement.