Archive for Android

Will Your Next PC Be a Google Nexus?

Will your next PC be a Google Nexus? A recent “ask maggie” column addressed the question, “Is Google headed toward an Android Nexus PC?” Her conclusion was “when Google challenges Microsoft or Apple on the traditional computing OS battlefield, it won’t likely be armed with Android.”

I disagree.

Where Android and ChromeOS are Today. It’s Competition Too.

Today, Android has taken the dominant position in smart phones, and the number two position in tablets. It’s advancing at a break neck speed, and has easily surpassed it’s only real competition. It’s spread to a significant number of other platforms, such as music players, car stereos, TVs, gaming systems, and even wrist watches and reality augmentation devices. No other operating system in history has done something like this.

ChromeOS has only just begun, and has seen amazing advances since it’s introduction. It started out as a glorified browser, and now has added application functionality and remote storage capability. It also has the ability to run applications through Citrix, making it a feasible stand-in for a Microsoft or Apple based operating system anywhere in the Enterprise market.

Windows has stagnated over the last decade, accomplishing very little of value considering the ten years it’s had to do it. A recent Vanity Fair piece referred to it as “Microsoft’s Lost Decade“. Windows got some flashier graphics in Vista and 7, and then traded them for a travesty of a user interface in Windows 8.

Apple hasn’t done much better on the desktop than Microsoft. OSX has added an App Store type interface, but other than some graphical changes, there’s no significant changes to OSX since it’s arrival in 2001.

Our desktop operating systems have stagnated. Improvements are measured in baby steps rather than leaps and bounds, if they’re improvements at all.

ChromeOS or Android? Where does Nexus Figure into this?

The question that has to be asked now is, why Android? It’s not even a desktop operating system. ChromeOS is. Shouldn’t it be ChromeOS that replaces Windows and OSX, not Android?

True, ChromeOS is the desktop operating system. Android has always taken it’s position on other kinds of systems, never the desktop.

It really comes back to why Google decided to do two different OSs to begin with, and what their plans were.

The Nexus Consolidation.

The thing that no one seems to be taking into consideration is Google’s plans. Maybe it’s because it’s not convenient, or maybe it’s just because their memories are short. We need to think back to 2009. In an interview with CNET, Sergey Brin was asked about ChromeOS and Android, and why the two seperate Operating Systems. His reply was that Android and the Chrome OS “will likely converge over time.” In fact, the two operating systems share a common Webkit and Linux foundation.

Today, we’ve already seen Google add the Chrome Browser to the Android operating system. Much of the ChromeOS functionality is already incorporated with Android Jellybean. All that remains is the right hardware to bring the two operating systems together.

This is where Nexus comes in.

Nexus systems are designed by Google to Google’s specifications. It could be that the first Nexus “PC” could be a hybrid device, similar to the Motorola Atrix or the ASUS PadFone. We’ve already seen such a hybrid type system with Ubuntu for Android. When in “phone mode”, it’s Android. When it’s docked, it becomes a more desktop type system. Google’s moves to combine the functionality of the two OSs would make a move like this easy. Both systems are already Linux. Both systems already have use WebKit. Both systems are already Google.

The Nexus Solution.

A Nexus based PC would solve any number of problems with the PC. Files would be stored in the cloud, making it infinitely more secure and easily backed up. Lost hardware could be shutdown and wiped from a distance. A dock at home and a dock at work would be all that’s required. Your pocket is your new laptop case. Any location with a dock is a your home workstation.

Google has already gotten themselves into a position to implement a consolidation of Android and ChromeOS. All that Google needs now is the hardware. This is why your next computer just might be a Nexus computer.

iFanatical Idiocy

A bit of a rant here.

I ran across this graphic on CounterNotions (I only bother to link because this guy has Apple so far up his rectum he’d probably sue me for copyright violation if I didn’t link to him).

This graphic is a perfect example of the thought process of many iFanatics I’ve run across. Ever wonder why so many of them think that Android is a copy of iOS?

For some reason, Windows/Microsoft is now the source of inspiration for anything that has grass. Apple is the source of inspiration for anything that has icons. Google can only be Search.

Does this  make any logical or technological sense? No, not even a little. Don’t even bother trying to tell them that.

Android: Intent on Winning

I doubt many people were not aware of Apple’s latest announcements concerning iOS. Of course Apple again held their little party and pomped and circumstanced all over. This is to be expected. Pretty much any company making an announcement will do virtually the same thing. What concerns me is the reaction to these announcements in the media.

I ran across a comparison over on PCWorld.

First of all, the comparison itself is bogus. The author took only the features that Apple announced that were new about iOS, and compared other platforms to that list. This automatically gives iOS the upper hand. If I were to list the new features of Android or even Win7Phone and compare those to another platform, it’s going to appear as if the OSs being compared are falling short. Unfortunately, this is pretty normal behavior for PCWorld. There are quite a number of Apple fans on staff and they conceal it rather poorly, if they make an effort at all.

Second of all is the small portion of the chart that I pulled out and posted down below (headers left intact for ease of understanding).

See how the Facebook and Twitter integration for Android is listed as “3rd party apps only”? To me, this is implied inferiority from the creator of this chart. It screams “iOS does this better because it’s integrated and in Android it’s not!” This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Let’s get the easy stuff out of the way first. The chart is technically correct. Android doesn’t build Twitter or Facebook support directly into the Operating System. Instead it does something much better. Intents.

An intent in Android is a mechanism allowing for apps to communicate with each other. This includes the OS itself.

Using Intents, Android can create very similar functionality to what iOS users see when Apple integrates a service into the OS. Not being integrated is it’s greatest strength. This allows for Android to give integrated type functionality to any application installed on the device. Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIn, you name it.

Because the service isn’t integrated, the OS is a lot more versatile.

Allow me to propose a hypothetical. In the not very distant future, Apple trots out iOS6 on it’s new iPhone, complete with it’s neat and spiffy Facebook integration. Shortly after that, there’s a social revolution. A new player appears on the scene. Let’s call it MyFace. Because of several new and really cool features MyFace offers that Facebook doesn’t, users leave Facebook in droves. Facebook becomes a ghost town. iOS users are now finding this new Facebook integration almost entirely useless. Android users simply delete the Facebook app from their device and install the new and really shiny MyFace app. Intents allow for MyFace to be instantly integrated with the device. A year passes, and Apple finally gets around to updating their OS to implement MyFace, removing the now defunct Facebook, only to find that MyFace is old hat. It’s been replaced with a new service, SpaceBook. Android users simply remove MyFace from their device, install SpaceBook, and go on with their social lives. iOS users are stuck waiting, again.

Now, is this analogy plausible? Well, two new and dominating social networks over the course of a two years is pretty far fetched, but that’s not the point. With Android, it doesn’t matter how fast the industry changes. Android changes just as fast. Intents allow for that to happen. iOS is not nearly as agile. It’s slow and dependent on Apple to move it forward.

To often today I’m seeing journalists holding up one of Apple’s greatest weaknesses as if it were one of it’s greatest strengths. Make no mistake, iOS is a dinosaur. It just doesn’t know that it’s extinct yet.

iPhone and Galaxy S III – Not the Same

Just a quick note to the iFans out there that are claiming that Apple’s iPhone 4s and Samsung’s Galaxy S III look so much alike. Look again!

Keep in mind that the following statements actually came from a real message from an iFan.

Virtually all Android devices have 3 or 4 buttons on the bottom, yet Samsung made a single Home button in the middle and faded the 4 buttons so that the surface of the device closely resembles that of the iPhone.

No it doesn’t.

Almost all Android devices use USB, but Samsung made their connector to look virtually identical to that of Apple’s 30 pin cable.

No they didn’t.

To an extent devices are going to look similar. It’s the nature of the type of devices we have now. Perhaps separately these minor things wouldn’t be noticed. But combined they show a desire to tell potential customers that their devices are just the same.

These devices are not “just the same”. No amount of repeating Apple’s lies will make that true. Next time, try facts.

Open Source Linux has Nothing to Fear from Android

Android has been exploding in popularity since it’s release to the public in 2008. Recently, it’s success has bred a new collection of rumors and FUD. HP’s new CEO Meg Whitman claimed that Google’s acquisition of Motorola would lead to Android being becoming closed source. It seems ridiculous, and is probably just an effort to bring herself more public attention, but there have been some people out in the real world that have also expressed concern. I received a tweet, saying “I am concerned that at the end Android kills the open source Linux community.” I don’t think that will happen. Here’s why.

Linux is open source. Now, this might seem like a great big “Duh” thing to say, but I think it’s important.

Even if Google were to close source Android, the source code is out there. Even Google doesn’t have the power to erase something from the Internet once it’s been put out there. I have yet to see anybody that does short of just throwing the power switch on the whole darn thing. Maybe some strategically placed EMPs covering the globe could pull it off. The Open Source community is far older than Linux, and the Linux Open Source community will exist as long as the community wants it to.

Let’s assume that Android takes off like nothing before it. iOS becomes a fading memory, the only thing left of OSX is the boxes used to prop opens doors and discs that get burned in the microwave for fun. Windows is relegated to a not-so-fond memory of a BSOD. Why would Linux disappear? The Open Source Community is a major contributor to the kernel that drives Android. Yes, there are many multi-billion dollar corporations that also contribute to the kernel, but if those corporations deviate from what the community believes is right, those changes just won’t get incorporated into the kernel.

Even assuming those corporations manage to mount a coup and take over the kernel completely, the Community doesn’t take that kind of behavior lying down. A good example is OpenOffice. When Oracle started being a too heavy handed in their management of the OpenOffice suite, the community rebelled, forked off of OpenOffice and created LibreOffice. Oracle tried to fight the community, but eventually had to concede (ie. they lost badly), donating the entirety of the OpenOffice suite to the Apache Foundation.

No, when it comes to Linux, we don’t have to worry that Android’s success is going to cost Linux in the long run. Meg Whitman can blather any kind of FUD she wants. The Open Source Linux Community is self sufficient. They manage themselves, and they will be around as long as they want to be around. In 50 years, will they still be working on Linux? No one can know for sure, but if they’re not, it’s because they’ve moved on to something they think is better, not because Android succeeded.

Fan of the Bean..

I’ve been reading quite a lot lately about how people are afraid that Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) is already being replaced by Android 5.0 (Jelly Bean). It seems every time I read about this subject, the date of this supposed replacement moves up. First it was the end of this year, then summer, and now I’m reading that it will be as soon as March.

The first thing that I want to point out is that Jelly Bean will not be replacing Ice Cream Sandwich. I don’t want to call Jelly Bean “Android 5.0″ simply because that hasn’t been determined yet. It could very well be Android 4.1 or something similar. Jelly Bean is to be the tablet optimized version of Android, where Ice Cream Sandwich is a phone optimized version of Android. This is no different than the current model of Gingerbread and Honeycomb. While I had hoped that Google would have been farther along in their tablet/phone consolidation, this is not a major change to Google’s playbook.

The second thing that I want to point out is, no one knows when this will be released. I’m doubting that even Google knows at this point, and to make the claim that it could be as early as March is irresponsible. I won’t even tell you that it won’t be March because I just flat out don’t know. Let’s cease the guessing game here folks.

Oh, and if you’re a music fan, I got my title from a song by a band I’ve really loved over the years called The Clintons. Instead of all this guessing and worrying about Jelly Bean, you should go check out their music. It’s definitely a better use of your time.

Response #2

For those that weren’t involved in a recent discussion I had over on a hack piece by Jonny Evans, I wanted to respond to several of the comments put up by one particular individual. It’s unfortunate as he seems relatively intelligent, though amazingly misinformed.

By the way, Linux Rants – what is so great about Android?  What does it do exceedingly better?  I know that it once did OTA updates while iOS did not – and Apple finally “copied” that, but what about graphics handling, gestures, web-browsing?  Is Android superior in those respects?  It won’t be on all devices, but what about on a device with comparable hardware versus an iOS device?

So, there’s comment number two from this individual, or I guess it would be more accurately described as a question.

So, what is so great about Android? What does it do exceedingly better?

I love that you gave me a starting point, but I’ll come right out and say that graphics handling, gestures, and web browsing are probably equal.

No, what’s really great about Android is it’s ability to evolve and adapt to the preferences of the individual.

My current phone is an HTC Thunderbolt. It’s default interface is the HTC Sense, which is OK. I preferred a different launcher, so I changed it. It’s default browser is the unnamed Google browser, but I preferred the Dolphin browser, so I changed it. I have my personal email (several different accounts) and my work email configured in different clients (gotta keep work and home life seperate…. kinda), but I have widgets placed on the same screen so I can check my personal email, my work email, and my text messages with a glance, never opening an app. I have the same thing configured on another screen for my calendars. My default “Home” screen only has a few apps on it, and a picture of my wife and kids (not the same as my wallpaper). There’s nothing that compares to any of that on an iPhone.

The form factor of the HTC Thunderbolt is similar to an iPhone, but if I wanted a hardware keyboard, I have several choices in that regard. I could get a Droid 4, or I could get a Droid Pro, or maybe even a Samsung W899. I might even get lucky and find myself a LG GD910. Variety is nice.

When it comes to software, again Android wins out. What happens when you want an app and it’s just not available in the App Store for your iPhone. Well, you could jailbreak it if you want to void the holy hell out of your warranty. I look for apps in the Android Market. If it’s not there, I check the Amazon App Store. If it’s not there, I search Google and manually download the APK and install it myself. I can do all of this without rooting my phone or really even going that far out of my way. I’m not subjected to the whims of a single company.

I think that’s probably enough for tonight. I really could go on, but my couch is calling me and there’s a cold beer in the fridge. Hopefully, that answered your question.

Response #1

For those that weren’t involved in a recent discussion I had over on a hack piece by Jonny Evans, I wanted to respond to several of the comments put up by one particular individual. It’s unfortunate as he seems relatively intelligent, though amazingly misinformed.

I’ve given technical reasons as to why Android *appears* as a cheap knockoff, when seen running “out in the wild” as they say.  Maybe that approach is not quite correct, but it’s not like I was ever on the debate team….However, what I mean by the “cheap knockoff” term is that when one uses Android, one will run across some functions (not all) that  imitate what was done in iOS from the get-go.  For one, many of gestures, such as pinch to zoom, side-swipes to go from a home screen to another apps screen, and swipe to unlock just don’t work quite as well – on many Android devices.
My EVO is one example, but the Samsung Galaxy Tab and Kindle Fire are good examples, although each implements the Android OS differently.

When I say these functions do not work as well, I mean that they are sluggish, are not as effective for certain situations, such as locking up a Music app on many Android devices.  I typically have to hit the power button on my EVO just to get back to the music app, which is annoying.  It works much better on an iPod Touch.  Typical web-browsing and scrolling is better on the iDevices, thanks to the better graphics handling and more efficient use of resources.  Not to mention that objective C has better memory management capabilities than higher level programming languages like Java, which is used in many Android app (though, not all).  That’s not to say that these features may not work well on another Android device, or on ICS-specific tablets and newer smartphones, but that has been my experience thus far.  The reasons why this experience is lacking, to me, boils down to the slew of technical differences in integration I have hinted at.So, given these deficiencies I and others have seen, plus the fact that Eric Schmidt sat on the Apple board as iOS was in development phase in 2006/2007 and was, indeed, feeding this info all back to the then-Blackberry-like Android OS, Android (for Google’s part)  developed was after the fact of iOS and PARTIALLY copied (or imitated) iOS, is FREE……So it’s close enough to being a copy and it’s cheap and it is not as finely tuned.Granted, Android has not taken on Apple’s iOS path for grouping apps and has maintained an open file system, but even a cheap knockoff can be better at some things.True, Apple took ideas from several players, but it’s not like they had people sitting on those companies’s boards.  Any company can look at another company’s tear-downs on the FCC website and get a handle on the design approach and decisions.  Since both iOS and Android are descendants of Unix, or more BSD in the case of iOS, there will be some commonality, but the public-facing features like the UI and gestures are what matter and Android could have been done much differently.  It could have been implemented as a cloud-based OS to start, for example, and would have then been nowhere even close to iOS!  It could have been more like desktop Linux (certain minimal builds of Ubuntu can run on a rooted Android smartphone).  However, what Eric said was “Hey, let’s do what Apple’s doing.  Let’s beat them at their own game, let’s use capacitive touch-screen based smartphones and let’s incorporate all of the cool gestures….)  Wow, how original!  What Eric Schmidt did was pretty much about as under-handed as you can get.  Oh, and going the write-once, run anywhere route is just a cop-out – granted one that makes sense for Google, given their ad-based revenue stream, but it was a quick road to *market share*.  If you want to debate Steve Job’s little theft from Xerox, that’s fine, but Xerox had gone into an agreement to give Apple access to certain IP and cared nothing about actually turning the GUI into a computing product for mass consumption……

So, there’s comment number one from this individual.

A little context. This comment was a response to a request by me to explain how Android was a knock-off of iOS. His “technical reason” why Android appears as a cheap knockoff was a lack of vertical integration with the hardware. Let’s define “knockoff” here as well:

knock·off  (nkôf, -fn. Informal

An unauthorized copy or imitation, as of designer clothing: “the place to go for quality knockoffs” (Women’s Wear Daily).

OK, so a knockoff is a copy. Claiming that Android is a knockoff of iOS because iOS is vertically integrated with the hardware and Android isn’t just doesn’t make any sense. That’s pointing out a difference, where to show that Android is a knockoff, you’re going to need to point out areas where Android copies iOS.

One will run across some functions (not all) that  imitate what was done in iOS from the get-go.

Like what? Be explicit.

For one, many of gestures, such as pinch to zoom, side-swipes to go from a home screen to another apps screen, and swipe to unlock just don’t work quite as well – on many Android devices.

First, your experience on a particular Android device doesn’t not constitute proof. It’s an anecdote, and is relevant only to you. I could point out that my iPhone3Gs was the worst phone I ever owned. How does that affect the experience of someone other than myself? As to the gestures themselves, they’re definitely not originally iOS either. Most of those gestures date back to the early 80s.

When I say these functions do not work as well, I mean that they are sluggish, are not as effective for certain situations, such as locking up a Music app on many Android devices.

Again, this is more “proof” that doesn’t in any way show Android to be a knockoff of iOS. Claiming that one system does or does not work as well as the other is anecdotal and subjective. Your example of a music app is irrelevant and lacks context. Personally, I use WinAmp as my music player on my Android device. Is that the music app that you’re talking about, or was it a different one. How can you claim that Android isn’t as good as iOS based on an app that can be replaced at any time based on user preferences? Personally speaking, I think that points out a strength of Android.

Typical web-browsing and scrolling is better on the iDevices, thanks to the better graphics handling and more efficient use of resources.

Again, based on what? My personal preference is the Dolphin browser on my phone, but I prefer Firefox on my tablet. How is “typical” web-browsing better on an iDevice than either Dolphin on my phone or Firefox on my tablet. I’d point out that “better” is again subjective. Both Dolphin and Firefox have a plugin interface, allowing me to increase the functionality of the browser. Safari on iDevices does not allow for that.

Not to mention that objective C has better memory management capabilities than higher level programming languages like Java, which is used in many Android app (though, not all).

Again, you’re pointing out differences in the two platforms. You seem to be failing to understand what a knockoff actually is. Whether Objective C has better memory management is also up for debate. One comparison I read reached this conclusion: “Each solution has its own benefits and disadvantages. Although Objective-C’s retain/release runs smoother and faster than Java’s garbage collection, it places a much larger burden on the developer and introduces a much larger risk of memory leaks.” The claim that Objective C has better memory management is still very much in contention.

The reasons why this experience is lacking, to me, boils down to the slew of technical differences in integration I have hinted at.So, given these deficiencies I and others have seen, plus the fact that Eric Schmidt sat on the Apple board as iOS was in development phase in 2006/2007 and was, indeed, feeding this info all back to the then-Blackberry-like Android OS, Android (for Google’s part)  developed was after the fact of iOS and PARTIALLY copied (or imitated) iOS, is FREE.

This  particular portion of your response is just rife with error. Where Eric Schmidt was sitting at any given time does not prove that Android is a knockoff. As you pointed out, Google didn’t write Android, but purchased it in 2005 along with the company of the same name, which was founded in 2003. Long before Apple decided to play in the phone market. In many ways, iOS is much more like a Blackberry than Android ever has been, even in 2006 and 2007. Quite honestly, no version of Android that the public has ever seen has been overly “Blackberry-like”. The cost of Android only points out that Android is less expensive than iOS, not that it’s a knockoff.

So it’s close enough to being a copy and it’s cheap and it is not as finely tuned.

So, you’ve failed in pretty much every way to show that Android is a copy of iOS, but still make that claim. In re-reading your comment several times, it barely looks like you even attempted to show how Android copied iOS. The only feature mentioned was multi-touch gestures, which it’s easy to point out were not invented or pioneered by Apple in anything.

The public-facing features like the UI and gestures are what matter and Android could have been done much differently.  It could have been implemented as a cloud-based OS to start, for example, and would have then been nowhere even close to iOS!

Please explain how the UI of Android is even remotely close to the UI of iOS. It’s also worth noting that Android started out with many “cloud” type features, even though at the time it wasn’t called “The Cloud”. For example, the Google account was configured with the phone, and that account was used to tie Google’s mail and Calendar services to the phone. Also, that account was used to track purchases in the Market, so purchased software could easily be installed on a new device simply by configuring the Google account there. Believe me when I say, Apple is late to the cloud game when compared to Android and Linux in general.

However, what Eric said was “Hey, let’s do what Apple’s doing.  Let’s beat them at their own game, let’s use capacitive touch-screen based smartphones and let’s incorporate all of the cool gestures….)  Wow, how original!  What Eric Schmidt did was pretty much about as under-handed as you can get.

That’s a very interesting theory, but Android isn’t tied to hardware. It runs on a wide array of devices. Yes, some of them use capacitive touch-screens. Some of them don’t. You’re focusing on a single segment of the devices that Android runs on and making general statements about the OS based on that single segment. I’d love to hear you tell me how the Parrot Asteroid is a knockoff of the iPhone.

If you want to debate Steve Job’s little theft from Xerox, that’s fine

Well, it doesn’t really matter if Apple stole the idea from Xerox or not. Apple tried to sue to keep other companies (namely Microsoft) from using ideas present in their GUI, despite the fact that they were not the originators or really the owners of those ideas. Xerox didn’t grant Apple sole ownership of those ideas. Regardless, I had no intention of bringing Xerox up at any point, though it is worth noting that one of the primary features that both Android and iOS share (the icon grid) did originate there, not at Apple. Really, that feature is one of the few that Android and iOS share.

Android Copied the iPhone?


I’m getting a little tired of this myth. It never seems to die. The basic premise is, Android used to look like a Blackberry, then the iPhone came out, and then it all of a sudden looked like an iPhone. First of all, people need to learn the difference between hardware and software. An Operating System can not look like a piece of hardware. It’s just not possible. If you want to see what Android looked like during it’s prototype phase, you need to strip the hardware away. Otherwise, the thick of wit can’t get past the hardware keyboard.

Here are two different screen shots of the original Android interface. The picture on the left is the desktop, the picture on the right is the Application Menu. The original design of the OS had a few icons in a bar at the bottom, which the Blackberry didn’t have, but the iPhone did. Selecting the Applications button brought up the Applications menu, which shows all installed applications for the users selection.

Fast forward to the release of the first Android phone.

 There are some significant differences in the interface from the initial design to the release. First thing you can see is that there is a giant clock in the middle of the screen. Android added the capability to do widgets, which the iPhone doesn’t have. The bottom bar of icons (which the iPhone had) is gone, replaced with a single button to bring up the Application Menu. The Application Menu is virtually identical, but then it’s hard to change a grid of icons. One grid pretty  much looks the same as another. Android apparently also added the ability to put icons on it’s desktop. It’s unknown if it had this functionality before. None of the prototypes had any icons on the desktop, but that could very well have just been a display choice. Regardless, the iPhone wasn’t the only device to have icons like this. The Blackberry interface more closely resembles the iPhone interface than Android does, and did it much earlier than the iPhone did.

Based on actual evidence, it could be argued that the look and feel of the Android OS actually became less like the iPhone. Since then, Android has evolved significantly. iOS, not so much.

 

 

Less than Impressed

So, the new iPhone was announced today, if you were living under a rock and didn’t know. I found this comparison over at Engadget. I’m less than impressed with Apple’s latest offering.