Tag Archive for: Android

Hangout on Air: Following up on the Nexus 4 Switch

10 Jan
10/01/2013

German journalist Gunnar Sohn asked me for an interview via Google Hangout On Air for his popular German blog Ich sag mal. Here it is as a follow up on my now widespread post about switching from the iPhone 5 to Nexus 4 (in German only).

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An iPhone lover’s confession: I switched to the Nexus 4. Completely.

03 Jan
03/01/2013
Update: Shortly after publishing this article here, it became #1 on Y Combinator’s Hacker News, republished by GIZMODO, picked up by ReadWriteWeb’s Editor-in-Chief (Dan Lyons), commented on by CNET NewsGigaOM’s Mathew Ingram and the International Business Times. I also gave a lengthy interview in German regarding the topic, which go subsequently covered in The European (German only).

The discussion mainly takes place over on Google+.

First things first, I’d love to get in touch on Google+ and Twitter (@ralf).

Over the past few years I’ve invested a lot into Apple products and services.

My Nexus 4If you’d come by my house, you’d find four of the latest Apple TVs, two iMacs, the latest MacBook Air, a MacBook Pro, more than five AirPort Express stations and Apple’s Time Capsule. You could touch every single iPhone, from the first up to the iPhone 5, iPads ranging from first generation to fourth and we’ve lately added two iPad minis.

My iTunes Library comprises well over 8.000 songs – all purchased via the iTunes Store. No matter whom you would ask, everybody will confirm that I’m what some folks call an Apple fanboy.

The reach of Apple’s products goes beyond my personal life.

As the co-founder of Germany’s largest mobile development shop, I’m dealing with apps – predominantly iOS powered – in my daily professional life.

Driven primarily by the business I run, I tried to give Android a chance more than once.

In various self-experiments, I tried to leave my iPhone at home for the Motorola Droid, the Nexus One, the Samsung Galaxy S II and S III – and always switched straight back to the iPhone. None of those Android devices have worked for me – yet.

And then I got the Nexus 4.

When the latest Google flagship Android device shipped, I almost expected it to turn out as yet another “take-a-look-and-sell-it-on-ebay” experience. Little did I know.

It’s now almost two weeks since I switched the Nexus 4 on for the first time – and meanwhile I completely moved to it, leaving my iPhone 5 at home. Do I miss anything? Nope. Except iMessage. More to that later.

In this somewhat lengthy post, I’ll try to explain why.

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Enable Google Now with Google Apps for Business account

19 Dec
19/12/2012

I recently got my brand new Nexus 4 and it totally changed my opinion about Android (for the better).

I couldn’t emphasize more how Samsung ruins the Jelly Bean experience with what it does to it on the S3 – but that’s a totally different story. In short: I start to fall in love with Android since I own the Nexus 4.

One quirk that bothered me: I was unable to use Google Now. When swiping from bottom to top, no Google Now cards showed up. Also the Settings for the Google Search app had no option to turn on Google Now.

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My two favorite Google I/O 2011 announcements and some other observations

13 May
13/05/2011

Like many of my friends, I’ve been following Google I/O 2011 curiously earlier this week.

Much has been said about the event, but I cannot resist to add my thoughts about a few of the announcements and Google I/O in general.

Blocking non-US developers is evil (and certainly not open)

When the keynote address started, I was surprised to find Google blocking the live video stream for anybody outside the US. The fasted VPN tunnel provider in the world solved it for me, but I really wonder why Google thought that Google I/O would only be valuable for the Northern American Android developers.

Me being in Germany, for Google I must live in a very fragmented part of the world.

Google Music – not interested

I might very well have been one of the first to request an invite for Google’s new cloud music service, as I accidentally stumbled over the invite link even prior to the announcement, but haven’t heard back from Google since. Not a single word.

And today, I’m not even interested anymore.

Pretty much anybody seems to agree, that Google Music will be just another big fail. Unfortunately, we’ve seen many of those coming out of Mountain View lately.

It’s not only me who doesn’t get how forcing users to first download music from a third party and then asking them to upload everything back to Google should have any advantage over what cloud storage providers like Dropbox have been giving us for years.

So, I’ll sit and wait for Apple. Very likely, they will get it right, again.

The Android Anti-Fragmentation Alliance

It’s not its real name. I made this one up.

Anyway, probably the single most important announcement for me – apart from remote controllable light-bulbs – was the foundation of the Android Anti-Fragmentation Alliance.

Verizon, HTC, Samsung, Sprint, Sony Ericsson, LG, T-Mobile, Vodafone, Motorola, and AT&T joined a special task force promising customers to bring updates to devices quickly and efficiently at least for the first 18 months after the initial release.

I have no details as to how this alliance is formally structured. It’s also difficult to imagine what sort of pressure (and how) Google could potentially put on any of its members, in case of not fulfilling the promise. Given the open nature of the Android ecosystem it’s hard to really see this working.

However, at least this broadly acknowledges the biggest problem in Android: fragmentation. And it offers a neat solution. Whether it’ll work out, remains to be seen.

My Motorola Xoom is still eagerly awaiting Honeycomb 3.1…

The Google Places API, now open for everybody

I’m a developer at heart.

Opening up the Google Places API for the mainstream developer was the single most valuable development related announcement for me. This means, web and mobile developers are now able to not only leverage Facebook Places but also seamlessly integrate Google Places into their experiences.

Facebook Places has been available a bit longer via the Open Graph API and I’ve been using it to offer users faster input in many iOS applications.

Also I very much appreciate that Google not only opened the basic Places API, but also took care for the auto completion part. The latter one facilitates the integration of nice text fields with speedy suggestions with almost no code.

I got so excited, I wrote an iOS prototype the same day.

Planning to publish the tutorial and sample code here later today.

Apart from that, too much “in a few weeks” and pseudo exciting stuff for me

Besides that, I’m pretty much disappointed.

When I wanted to learn about “Android Market for Developers” this morning, I found the Google Mobile Blog being down. Or at least the link on google.com/io no longer working:

I like the spirit of “beta” but not if all beta means simply is: down.

While one might not like Apple’s secretiveness, usually when Apple announces stuff during these sorts of events, it becomes immediately available. After all, that’s what a developer event is for: Get us excited, get the stuff into our hands! Or?

For me, this year’s Google I/O had way too much announcements that got me excited the first place, only to find out that it’ll not be available for the next few weeks. Or US only.

Honeycomb 3.1 being a pretty good example. I get tired of asking my Xoom to check for updates, just to get disappointed day after day. The lack of a clearly communicated roll-out plan does not help either. And no word about Android 3.x becoming Open Source.

Also there were too many things I found pseudo exciting.

While my respected friend Robert Scoble seems to like them, Android remote controlled light bulbs that might be available at the end of the year, didn’t really click with me.

Home Automation has been a pretty hot topic here in Germany for quite a while. We already struggle from fragmentation in that area, too. Adding another standard to Z-wave, Zigbee and the likes might not make things better.

Taking into account how Google TV (last year’s big Google I/O announcement) totally flopped, I don’t have great hopes for Android Home.

Overall, I disliked more parts of the keynote than I liked.

Hugo Barra carried it out a bit too wanna-be-cool for my taste.

At the point where he’d mentioned “and all without a single cable” the fifth time, the obvious attempt to shoot at Apple really got on my nerves. After all, Google doesn’t even have an online music store. Dismissing the amazing success of the iTunes ecosystem doesn’t do any good.

It gets worse, when you come up with something as terrible and not thought through as Google Music.

I’d love to see Google focus more on existing products

Closing this article off, I’d like to make clear that I’m not a Google hater. Not at all.

I do love Apple. Not for their business ethics. Not for many things. But ultimately for their ability to focus on their products and making things right. In an era where everything is beta, and beta almost seems to become a quality certificate, I in fact love Apple and if it’s only for not bothering me with beta quality products, but putting the user at the center of everything. Not the geek. Not the tech blogger.

In fact, I personally am an avid Gmail user and have two Google Enterprise Apps accounts. My  company heavily relies on Google Docs.

It disappoints me even more, that there hardly seems any innovation in that area. Or at least nothing worth talking about at Google I/O.

I still can’t check out with my Google Enterprise Apps account, but have to keep Gmail for that.

There are many other services, that have not been transitioned for paying Google customers either. They killed Wave. Google Profiles only work with Gmail accounts. The list goes on and on.

Remote controlling my fridge from an Android device might be good for getting a laugh in front of a large audience, but it doesn’t add a lot to the value of the Google products most people use every day.

My hopes are out for Google I/O 2012. I hope the company will find back to its strength.

Now continuing to wait for Android updates to be rolled out to the fragmented part of the planet, I’m living in.


Manually update your Nexus One to Android 2.2 Froyo

24 May
24/05/2010

According to last week’s Google I/O we have expected the much acclaimed Android 2.2 update, neatly codenamed “Froyo”, to roll-out to our devices in late June.

While Google has now confirmed that the launch phase already started, chances are, you are not one of the lucky ones serviced first.

Originally discovered by phandroid there is, however, a way to manually upgrade your Nexus One to the latest and greatest Android release.

Make sure you read to the end of this article, before following these steps:

  1. Download the Android 2.2 firmware for the Nexus One. The original link provided by phandroid was down for us. Here is a Dropbox mirror.
  2. Copy the downloaded update.zip it to your microSD card via USB.
  3. Switch your Nexus One off.
  4. Hold down the Volume down button as you power the device back on.
  5. A screen should appear showing your phone’s system searching for various files. Scroll down to recovery and press the Power button.
  6. When you see the triangle with an exclamation point symbol, press the Power and Volume up buttons at the same time.
  7. From the menu that appears, select Apply sdcard:update.zip and press the trackball.
  8. When the screen displays Install from sdcard complete select reboot system now and wait for the phone to power back up.

A few remarks:

  • I can personally confirm the above is working. My Nexus One is running perfectly fine on Android 2.2 after the update. However, you do this at your own risk.
  • We provide the mirror to the firmware as long, as we can. Should it go down, feel free to post more mirrors in the comments.

In case you’ve been living behind a rock, here’s everything you need to know about Android 2.2 in one neat list.

(This article originally appeared at The Next Web Mobile.)


Waiting for the Nexus One

06 Jan
06/01/2010

Thanks to my friend Zee in the United Kingdom, my Nexus One is almost on its way.

There seems to be no ‘Germany’ on Google’s Maps (did you notice the wordplay?). Anyway, the Nexus One will arrive unlocked and without a SIM Card very soon.

The long wait has begun.



The blogosphere is a buzz about the Google Nexus One – but why?

03 Jan
03/01/2010

Okay, a few days from now Google will officially start selling the Google Phone Nexus One.

If you have not been living under a rock there’s absolutely no way you don’t know about it, yet.

Otherwise, Engadget should bring you up to speed. That’s obviously also, where the image credit goes to.

Here is my question for you:

Do you see anything revolutionary with the Google Nexus One, that would justify the noise? To me it appears as yet another HTC manufactured device running a slightly tuned version of Android that ships unlocked for US$ 500.

Apparently no multi-touch, though Android has built-in support for it, and nothing else which sets it apart from the Motorola Droid/Milestone and other Android powered devices, except better hardware specs.

So why the buzz? Simply because it has got a Google sticker on it? Or, because it’s unlocked? You can get a factory unlocked iPhone 3GS in Europe for US$ 500 and run it with whatever carrier you like.

Irony warning ahead: I would understand some of the excitement if the updated version of Android would finally add support for IMAP folders. The IMAP protocol is only some 25 years old, so I totally understand why it took Google more than two years to support those on a platform intended primarily for Internet enabled smart phones. Email is such an edge-case these days anyway…

Seriously, what’s so exciting about the Nexus One?


Ten reasons why Android is not at all working for me.

30 Dec
30/12/2009

On 26th November, 2009 I’ve started The Android Experiment as part of my work for The Next Web:

Given my known addiction for All-Things-Apple and my fairly open bias when it comes to Android with all of its attributed iPhone killer potential, I decided to give Android a fair chance to win my heart.

I handed my iPhone to my wife for her to store it in a secret place and force myself to solely use the Motorola Milestone.

The setup

The Milestone is the European version of the US market’s Motorola Droid and is known as a flagship Android based smart phone. It ships with the latest version 2.1 of Google’s mobile phone operating system and I got it bundled with a Vodafone flat data tariff.

I believe from the hardware & services perspective it would be fair to say that I’ve chosen a leading Android setup for my experiment, thus making sure that in case of a failure nobody blames the device or mobile operator. Read more →


A quote about Google's Android

25 Nov
25/11/2009


android_error_131I recently stumbled across this quote somewhere on the AppleInsider website. I’ve got nothing to add, so here we go:

Google only wants to give phone makers and providers enough code to allow them to deliver their own customized, distinguished products so that it can continue its core business of selling ads and paid search to mobile users. Those partners actually want to have control over differentiated, compelling features that they can use to sell their Android phones in competition with other Android makers.

So rather than Android being a platform being pushed forward by Google, it will largely be advanced by Motorola, HTC, Sony Ericsson, and other makers who all have a history of making dozens of phones with terrible user interfaces and bizarre bundled apps and hardware features that are poorly implemented. Read more →


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