looks like Pokemon Go works on Android N preview now... better start logging some miles
this totally bit me this morning. pinned app for my toddler to look at, got message from wife, and could not figure out how to unpin to reply
The ability to pin the screen in #Android is clutch for parents, until you realize their thumb rests right on the button to unpin
Apple releases Shutters, my favorite Android launcher feature @chrismlacy
3 min read
It is the DMZ week between the two major developer conferences of the year, #Google I/O and Appple's WWDC. Shots were fired by Google in the form of free and unlimited photo storage and an omnipresent search assistant for its upcoming OS update. #Apple fans have already begun reflexively asserting that "Google ain't no thing":
Everything has a price. With Apple, you typically pay them money, and they sell you premium products and services in return. That type of cost and relationship is easy to understand.
With Google, you typically pay them attention and data, and they give you free or cheap products and services in return. That cost and relationship is harder to understand.
First of all, no, it is not hard to understand. For decades if not longer, services have used advertising to mitigate cost to the user. Ever listened to a radio, or read a newspaper, or received junk mail?
Second (and more nitpicky), you would be hard pressed to find anyone else making the argument for Apple offering users more choice. I am running a custom launcher, a third-party SMS client, and readily switch between three different browsers depending on my use cases. Ever tried that on iOS? */android-troll*
Apple CEO Tim Cook even joined in:
“We believe the customer should be in control of their own information. You might like these so-called free services, but we don’t think they’re worth having your email, your search history and now even your family photos data mined and sold off for god knows what advertising purpose. And we think some day, customers will see this for what it is.”
The first takeaway from this is that the Apple camp is placing a priority on #privacy while at the same time knocking "so-called free services" down a peg. This implies that privacy is only available to those who can afford it. This sentiment is much larger moral hazard than allowing tailored advertising to subsidize service.
The most important takeaway, however, is that this sentiment could turn into Apple's Waterloo if they don't make some major improvements to their services. Google Photos has long been superior to iPhoto, only to be hamstrung by its dependence on Google's misunderstood social network. Google solved that problem this year by separating them. Apple needs to give people a reason to pay out the nose for their competing product besides "hey, we won't check out your pictures."
Google offers value in exchange for information, which is why they are seen as a pinnacle of innovation. Apple offers value in exchange for cold hard cash, which is why they are seen as a walled garden surrounding a mountain of cash. Hopefully Apple's private #cloud will open up and rain some new ideas on WWDC this year, instead of nude photos of celebrities. */terrible-apple-troll-pun*
2 min read
Moving the blog to Known has been in the back of my mind for a while now, so I finally pulled the trigger. This has been a fun weekend project, now spilling into Tuesday. Wordpress maintenance has become too cumbersome for my needs, and Known has been a breath of fresh air. Some notes from my experience:
I have not written many posts lately, as evidenced by my Wordpress page (currently at pilchernet.com). Hopefully this refresh will kickstart some creativity.
1 min read
Here is a clickbait-y headline for you: "The 15 most important announcements from the Apple Watch, iPhone 6 event." Here are all the items from the article, and how not new they are.
|Awesome Apple Thing||Already Been Done By...|
|Bigger Phones! 4.7 and 5.5 inches!||Moto X (2013) and Galaxy Note (2011)|
|Optical Image Stabilization!||LG G2 (2013), and likely before that|
|Landscape Mode! Power button on the side!||Practically every Samsung phone|
|NFC Payments! Secure element!||Galaxy Nexus (2011) (although NFC on top makes more sense - call this a draw)|
|Watch "crown" wheel!||iPod click wheel (2001)|
|Watch "communication button"!||Nextel push-to-talk (mid-00's)|
|You can long press the watch screen!||Android 2.0, if not before that|
|Screen widgets! Custom keyboards!||Android 1.0, Swiftkey/Swype (2011)|
|Here's U2 to play at the end!||...|
These things are all kind of cool, but it is dumb to assume that Apple will "bowl over" its competition by, essentially, osmosis. All the things will soon be 5.15-inch metal-rimmed slabs. I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords.
2 min read
The phone du jour is the #HTC One M8, and I am a phone connoisseur. My JUMP-grade came up, and I had to pull the trigger. The Nexus 5 was a fantastic phone, but it was lacking in a few areas: battery life, camera, and tap to unlock. So I pulled the trigger and have been using this beast for a few weeks. Here are my thoughts so far.
All in all, the HTC One M8 is a solid phone, and I would recommend it to anyone. It comes at a premium price, but it is the one #Android phone available right now that has the looks, feel, and function of a premium device.
Update: LG announced the G3 while I was writing this, and it looks like a phone that an adult would use.
6 min read
I have been experimenting with the various streaming music offerings, since it is the future of music consumption.1 Due diligence seems to be the only way to differentiate these rapidly-changing and -improving services, so here we go. Time for another table post.
|Price/month||$10||$10 (decreases for multiple accounts)||$10||$3|
|Import ability||Upload (available for free)||Matches2||Matches||N/A|
|Radio recommendations||Seemingly random||Ok & adjustable||Sparing||Repetitive|
|Last.fm integration||Third party3||Yes||Yes||Third party|
|Ads on free version||No||Yes||Yes||Yes, lots|
|Desktop||No||Basically a browser window||Yes||No|
Google's music app is pretty great, and when the All-Access part was released it seemed like the perfect complement to complete the service. In my opinion it is no longer doing what the All-Access part is meant to do - helping me discover new music. I guess in the most basic sense, I have heard some songs on there that I had not heard before (not memorable enough for me to bookmark them or add them to a playlist though).
The major feature of Google Music is that you can upload your own library of songs, but people forget that this is not part of the paid service; you can do this for free. Paying just adds the ability to play songs that you did not upload, and roll them into its sub par4 radio stations. Regardless of whether I keep the All-Access service, the music locker facet is invaluable and the best implementation I have seen.
Spotify is probably the biggest player in this space right now (I admit I did not give it a lot of credit on the first draft of this post), but it seems like a mess. I still cannot figure out how to add songs to my library without putting them in a playlist. This must come from years of managing a large library, but I do not want to organize my collection this way. Their radio offering seemed just OK - I tried it again for this first time in months (my starred playlist station) and hit the same 2 albums 5 out of the first 6 plays (The Suburbs and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, but still).5
Pandora is kind of in a different boat, but I have used it several times over the past year. The algorithmic muscle of Pandora is great but the idea has yet to be fully realized. The fact that it can only pull from a library of 900k tracks6 limits its usefulness as a recommendation engine. The ads are a bit frequent, but not quite enough to warrant paying.
Rdio seems like the front runner to me. It has many of the same top-flight features as the other two services, but with a little more attention to detail. The design is fantastic, and the organization is much more straight forward than Spotify. It feels much more social within the service than GMusic, but hitching to a Facebook account is optional rather than mandatory7. The radio recommendations can be adjusted between "familiar" and "adventurous," depending on what you feel like listening to.
There is one feature Rdio has that GMusic and Spotify definitely do not: the queue syncs between devices. This means when you start listening on another device, you are on the same song in your playlist or station. This detail by itself is nearly enough reason to switch.8 You can also mark items for download to your mobile device from the web player, which I know Google can't do.
The only gripe I have seen about Rdio is that it does not advertise its bitrate. Spotify and Google stream at 320 kbps on wi-fi, and Pandora is something like 160 kbps unless you buy a subscription. My argument is that if I hear something that I like but is low quality (on terrestrial radio or over a cellular connection), I am going to purchase it in a high quality format (CD, FLAC, vinyl - audio quality is a rabbit hole in itself). Things that are in a low bit-rate that I don't need to hear again are not a problem. Moot point.
So there are my thousand-plus-word thoughts on the state of streaming music (Beats Music not included, because it is too new). TL;DR: Google Play's best feature does not require the paid version, and Rdio is the intuitive, good-looking underdog with a can't-lose attitude that wins my pick for best streaming music service available.