Google I/O

Det har varit Google I/O ju! Googles stora utvecklarkonferens, i år för första gången i Mountain view istället för San Francisco. I vanlig ordning innehöll den också en hel del nyheter. Själv satt jag på ett torg i Provence men har såklart läst en del både under veckan och nu i efterhand.

Några korta om det som presenterades.

Ännu ett VR headset. Google har ju tidigare pushat för sitt superenkla Cardboard-headset men nu har man också presenterat en platform kallad Daydream samt ett headset med samma namn. Väldigt samma som Samsungs VR-hjälm får man väl säga men flera tillverkare kommer stödja det (inklusive Samsung faktiskt). Det händer mycket spännande inom VR men vi får väl se när och i så fall hur det slår. (här kan du läsa vad jag tyckte när jag testade Samsung VR).

Google Home! Här gör Google en Amazon Echo, eller för den delen den logiska fortsättningen på egna produkten “OnHub” (i kort en smart router). Om ni inte hört om Echo så är det för att den inte säljs i Sverige och mest verkar ha slagit i relativt teknikfokuserade kretsar, men där verkar alla älska den :) En digital assistent för hemmet som ska kunna knyta ihop dina smarta prylar och styra dem med rösten. Beroende på pris kan det här bli en riktig succé tror jag, är den tillräckligt billig utgör den nämligen en högtalare du kan styra med rösten för att spela upp musik med mera men också ställa frågor till. Idén med en konverserande assistent är ju inte ny men Google har två stora fördelar som skulle kunna tyda på chansen att göra en Apple (alltså kliva in med en egen version av en produkt som redan finns, bara göra den bättre), dels har man sedan länge gjort stora investeringar i AI och har alltså grundplåten för en assistent som lär känna dig, dels har man spenderat många år med att samla in data om oss som användare och vända och vrida på den tills det blir relevant. Just relevans är något som verkligen kan hjälpa eller stjälpa en assistent, vi tar ett exempel: Om jag alltid äter lunch vid 11.00 är ett lunchtips 12.00 meningslöst oavsett om det är då de flesta andra vill ha tipset. 10:45 däremot när jag vanligtvis börjar söka efter menyerna på nätet… Ge mig bara, det här kan bli riktigt skoj. Men jag tippar på US Only och att den inte pratar svenska från start :/

Inte mindre än två nya kommunikationsappar. För jag vet inte vilken gång i ordningen så vill Google förändra hur vi kommunicerar, eller åtminstone vilken app vi använder för att göra det. Google har tidigare haft Google Talk, Messenger (kom som partnerapp till Google+ och var, vill jag påstå, inspirationen för Facebook Messenger), Google Wave får vi väl räkna in och så de tre aktuella: Messenger (bara för SMS/MMS men släppt som egen app), just släppta Spaces (har inte hunnit testa under veckan men typ Slack) och så till sist Hangouts. Hangouts är extra intressant eftersom den gör i princip allt som de två nya apparna kan, Hangouts ska dessutom finnas kvar lovar Google. Så, över till nyheterna:

  • Allo. Här ska det skickas meddelanden, skrivna sådana företrädesvis. Nytt här är
    Allo med din nya assistent
    Allo med din nya assistent

    att du inte behöver knyta tjänsten till ditt Google-konto utan går att använda med bara telefonnummer. Påminner det här er om något? Japp, här har vi en app som i mångt och mycket påminner om WhatsApp. Men man har också (efter att ha sneglat på Facebook och Slack kanske?) byggt in Google Assistant, ni känner igen den från Home högtalaren ni vet, som både ska lära sig om hur du chattar men också kunna svara på frågor direkt i chatten om du vill hämta in information som Google sitter på. Om du klarar dig utan den funktionen kan du istället slå på end-to-end kryptering med meddelanden som inte heller sparas.

  •  Duo. Om Allo ska skicka textmeddelanden är det i Duo du ska ringa dina videosamtal. Ser riktigt slick ut men utöver det är det inget nytt under solen förutom funktionen “knock knock” som visar video från den som ringer istället för en stillbild. Kul! Även här klarar du dig utan Google-konto.

Här finns det ett par intressanta saker att notera tycker jag. Google vill verkligen vara med på chattkakan och insåg för rätt länge sen att den kakan kommer vara relevant för framtiden. Dessutom har man insett att en av nycklarna bakom whatsapp är att du direkt ser vilka av dina vänner som redan använder tjänsten. En annan sak många av senaste årens succéer har gemensamt med Googles nya appar är att det blir mobile only. Inget desktop eller webb, åtminstone inte från start. Tänk snapchat, whatsapp, Instagram… Mobile first var ju årets slogan för några år sedan. Det här känns som två testballonger och som sådana är de rätt intressanta! Google har som sagt en historik av att ha egna konkurrerande appar, ungefär som ett gigantiskt A/B test. Så till den viktiga frågan, kommer det slå? Vill inte användarna hellre göra allt i samma app, som Hangouts eller Facebook messenger? Jag är inte så säker på det faktiskt, messengers genomslag blev enormt när Facebook bröt ut det i egen app och trots att den också kan videosamtal fortsätter folk med Skype. Tittar vi på sociala nätverk tycker jag det blir ännu tydligare, vi är många med konton på Facebook, instagram, LinkedIn och twitter, trots att funktionerna ju faktiskt är ganska snarlika. Vi får se vad som händer! I slutet sitter jag ensam där med varenda konto som finns i Path, Google+, Ello. Allo? Duo? Det är inte alltid det bästa idéerna hinner slå innan bjässarna hinner ikapp.

 

EU gillar inte Android

I slutet på förra veckan så offentliggjorde EU att deras utredning av Google och Android lett till formell anklagelse om konkurrenshämmande verklighet. En liten snabbförklaring av vad och varför då tänkte jag försöka få till här idag.

Android är i grunden Open Source och telefon tillverkare kan gratis bygga ihop en lösning till sina modeller. Men, det finns delar som inte är det, Google Play Services. Här ryms stora delar av allt i din telefon som kommunicerar med Google, till exempel appbutiken. Kruxet som EU har invändningar mot är att Google här utöver ett visst mått av utpressning, vill du komma åt appbutiken behöver du också förinstallera Google Sök samt en del andra appar som Chrome, Maps osv. Det här menar EU i praktiken innebär att om en tillverkare vill släppa en telefon med Android så tvingar Google med sin mjukvara och förvalt sök. Google kommer nu påpeka hur det finns versioner av Android utan men frågan är hur långt det argumentet verkligen räcker, det finns ytterst få exempel på tillverkare som testat den här vägen och ännu färre med någon framgång. Dessutom är det så att det i avtalet med Google också finns en del om att inte OCKSÅ sälja egna Androidversioner. Det här låter faktiskt ganska shady tycker jag, om Samsung vill sälja sin S7 i en Google-edition respektive Clean-edition eller vad de nu kan hitta på tycker jag det känns fair. Sannolikt rätt dumt och dyrt för Samsung samt virrigt för konsumenter som ska försöka navigera vilken telefon de ska köpa men fair. Successivt blir också just sök viktigare för Androidupplevelsen, nu när jag med rösten kan sätta timers och på andra sätt styra telefonen så är det med hjälp av röstsöket om jag inte gravt missuppfattat (konstigare saker har ju i och för sig hänt) så förväntan på att få med Googletjänsterna är sannolikt relativt stora från kunderna.

Svårt, jag är ju på väldigt många sätt för en marknad där kundernas intresse kommer långt fram och där konkurrens stimuleras men samtidigt ser jag det som att anledningen till att det är Googles variant av Android som är dominant är på grund av deras överlägsna tjänster. Google investerar massor av pengar i Android som de sen ger bort gratis, syftet är att få folk att använda deras tjänster. Det är liksom affärsidén. Sen känns det värt att nämna att jag på en Android telefon faktiskt kan byta i princip vilken tjänst som helst, jag behöver inte skicka min epost med GMail appen, jag kan byta chatklient bort från Hangouts, byta webbläsare till Firefox, använda HERE Maps – allting via Googles egen appbutik. En ny appbutik måste jag dock ladda ner någon annanstans, till exempel amazon.com.

Summan av kardemumman tycker jag nog ändå landar i att Android ger mig som kund, men också tillverkarna, större möjligheter till konkurrens än något annat operativ system på marknaden (med Ios som uppenbar jämförelse). Men vissa av villkoren kommer nog Google/Alphabet få skruva på, med rätta.

Chansningar och galna idéer

Om vi tar en titt på några av världens största företag just nu, Apple, Google, Facebook tydligast (bör väl nämna Elon Musk också både i form av Tesla och SpaceX), så håller de på med en väldans massa olika chansningar och galna idéer. Moonshots, GoogleX, Occulus Rift, självkörande bilar, smarta klockor…det är produkter som inte är skapade för att fylla ett känt behov. Tänkte spekulera lite om varför!

Ingen vill missa nästa tåg

Vi känner alla till exempel som Kodak, Sun och kanske bör vi lägga till Nokia på listan eller varför inte Myspace? Företag som var marknadsledande men som missade att hänga med när deras marknad förändrades. Alla tre (Apple, Google, Facebook) är tämligen beroende av en produkt för en stor del av sina intäkter. Då gäller det att inte sitta och sova om en ny tjänst/produkt slår undan benen på din befintliga, det är dessutom så att är du den aktör som finns överallt gör det det svårare för konkurrenter att börja ha affärer där. som ett exempel kan du ju försöka testa en webbaserad e-post du tar betalt för idag, din marknad kommer vara relativt liten eftersom bjässar som Google och Microsoft ger bort samma tjänst “gratis”.

Var finns morgondagens användare

Det här är också tillämpbart på alla tre företagen, I Europa är inte Googles huvudinriktning att öka sin marknadsandel, det finns knappt några användare att locka över. De vill bara att vi fortsätter söka via deras annonsmotor. Detsamma gäller Facebook, en så pas stor del av dagens internetanvändare har redan ett facebook-konto (dessutom äger ju fb både instagram och Whatsapp med ytterligare 100-tals miljoner användare vardera) att det är morgondagens som är det intressanta. Alltså jobbar Facebook och Google på att ge internet* til en större del av befolkning=fler presumtiva kunder. Apple har faktiskt något av samma problem även om vi får nischa in deras marknad mot både region och pris. För kassakon Iphone, andelen personer som handlar telefoner i det premiumsegment Iphone dominerar är begränsad. Både deras intåg i Kina samt släppet av den billigare Iphone 5C är exempel på försök att komma runt just det. När du dominerar en marknad måste du hitta en ny, antingen med nya produkter eller genom att utöka marknadens storlek

Rädda världen!

Folk må kalla mig naiv om de vill, men jag tror många som arbetar på de här företagen är också uppriktigt intresserade av att göra något bra för samhället i stort och jobba med spännande roliga frågor. Det gäller nämligen folk i stort, så även om företagen vill tjäna pengar så vill jag påstå att de jag träffat som arbetat med tokiga idéer som Google Glass eller på moonshot avdelningen varit mer måna om produkten än förtjänsten. Kan faktiskt avslöja att Google har som regel när de diskuterar nya idéer att en inte får fråga om business case eller hur affärsmodeller ska se ut, ekonomi är ett bannlyst ämne. Tanken är att om en produkt är tillräckligt bra så löser det sig på ett eller annat sätt. Det är såklart få företag förunnat att kunna köra på utan att ens ha en idé om hur pengarna ska in men ändå, kul koncept!

Det är mina tankar om varför det sker så många vilda gissningar och tossiga upptåg, mycket kommer falla i glömska medan andra helt plötsligt kommer flygande med våra paket.

*Facebooks internet.org initiativ kan vi däremot diskutera om det ens är internet, tar det en annan dag!

Mobilegeddon, is Google a bully?

You might have heard about something called mobilegeddon recently. That’s because Google announced (and now rolled out) an update to their mobile search algorithm, that controls the search results being shown – and possibly it’s a little bit because people in general like to be pretty dramatic.

The big change is that the result ranking will weigh in whether or not a page is “mobile friendly”. This can have huge effects especially on smaller business that rely on Google for local traffic for example (you local pizzeria and similar). I’m no SEO-expert (Search Engine Optimizing) so I’m not gonna advice you more than that you should try Google’s evaluation tool: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/ (there’s also a link to a good blogpost about what it means). The picture on your left shows my result – wohoo!

But I’m gonna chip in on the question if this is bad manners from Google and if they are too dominant like some journalists and businesses have been saying. The search giant is indeed pretty dominant in many markets and changes like this “forces” companies and sites to adjust according to Google’s wishes. When it comes to adapting to our new browsing patterns (i.e. mobile) I’d say that’s using their power for something good but it could also be used to “bully” people into other practices. Should “moral” sites be ranked higher? Religious sites? It’s not hard to come up with very problematic examples., should we just trust Google to do what’s right? MY main argument why this is different is that it’s not about content but merely delivery. That could be a problem too (e.g promoting certain platforms) but it’s smaller, and there’s already a content evaluation happening in the ranking so what’s new?

In the end it comes down to this, who’s the customer? In Google’s case there’s no clear cut answer. From a user perspective, when I search from a mobile device the service is more useful if it ranks mobile friendly sites higher. Google knows that the better service they offer users, the more interesting they are to advertisers who of course are also customers. This change benefits one of their customer groups, the other will have to adapt and I have a hard time thinking about this as something else than a company simply reiterating their product.

Look for the "Mobile friendly" flag, or in this Swedish case - Mobilvänlig :)
In your search results. Look for the “Mobile friendly” flag, or in this Swedish case – Mobilvänlig :)

Create your own Google Play Books library

Last week Google decided it was time to grace more countries with Google Play Books. One of the countries that now can enjoy books in the Play Store is Sweden, yey!

Google Play Books

More or less no Swedish books (not IN Swedish anyway) but that’s ok for a start I think. I tried it out the first day and bought “Lean in” by Sheryl Sandberg that I looked for without luck in the Swedish stores previously. Very easy and if you already use the Play Store buying apps you won’t have to think, it works just the same.

But…I don’t want to re-buy the ebooks that I bought previously and I would like to be able to keep on buying books in Swedish as well. Does that mean I have to use two different apps for reading them? Nope, it doesn’t! Just like with Play Music Google will allow you to upload books you already own to use with the Book app and sync between devices. I haven’t decided if I should give up Fabrik that I’m using today and that already have these features but at least I know the transition would be simple enough. Since the function isn’t promoted enough (in my opinion of course), here’s how it’s done:

To upload

Browse to http://play.google.com/books Select “My Books” in the left menu (below)

Select "My books" in the left menu
Select “My books” in the left menu

Now you get a new button on your right saying “Upload Files”…guess what to do next.

upload files
Click “Upload Files”

Which takes you to the familiar “Drag files here”

drag
Drag and drop or Select files

Drag and drop and your books will be added to the “My Books” section and sync with your devices (if sync is turned on of course). Supports epub and pdf.

Have a nice read :-)

My library with books from both Google Play and uploaded from another store
My library with books from both Google Play and uploaded from another store

Google I/O follow-up

Wasn’t that fun?! :)

googleplusio2013

I love the opening of Google I/O, seeing people talking about products they’re proud of is always entertaining. On to the follow-up, how did I do?

Yey! I was right!

A game center, called Play Game Services. Leaderboards, Cloud save along with Multiplayer and Achievements (Multiplayer demo didn’t work out during the keynote though, lack of Internet if I understood correctly). Looking good and very important considering there are at least two gaming consoles coming soon (Ouya and Nvidia Shield).

A new phone, this could be placed in the wrong section as well. I guessed we would get a bigger tablet or a phone, but I also said that it would probably not be a Samsung S4 Google edition. As you know…S4 it is. Interesting move and hard to predict what this could mean for the Android community at large. I’m surprised since I would have guessed that Samsung would want to “cash in” on all the extra features they added to the S4.

New messenger service, called Hangout. Rolling out immediately, replacing talk and Google+ messenger. It looks nice and synchronizes well between devices (been experimenting with N4/N7/Laptop) but why oh why no sms support from the beginning?! It’s probably on it’s way as Google Employee Dori Storbeck accidently outed “..and yes, SMS integration is coming soon…” on G+ (updated later with “Ooops! …we actually have nothing to announce at this time. My apologies.”).

Google Music gets an option for streaming subscription called All Access. Can’t say much more about it, the new Google Music interface is very nice though. Both on my Androids and my laptop (nope, no official Music support in Sweden but come on, I have to have some fun :) the update is a good step forward. Pricing seems reasonable but it’s (I told you so) US only and the range of Swedish music is not good as I hear it.

And correct on the no talk about Nexus Q or new Chromebook hardware (some Chrome OS talk though, and more in the sessions).

Ouch, not even remotely correct

New Android version. Instead of presenting a new version we got updated services, which in my opinion is probably wise. Doesn’t change the fact that I was sure, and as we now know – wrong.

Samsung S4 Google Edition, I was actually very sceptical about this rumour that felt very far fetched. We know better now :)

Somewhat of target

A lot less Glass than expected, especially in the keynote. Sessions are still there though.

No clock this year, which as no one remember was what I said. But I had a maybe in there so…

US only. Everything wasn’t US only (we get Hangouts, Maps update and so on) but still…S4 Google Edition – US only. Music All Access – US Only. Attach money in GMail – US Only. I’ll give myself half a point for my rant being more or less correct.

Cool things not mentioned by me

Things I didn’t mention before or in this post…

Maps update. I use maps quite a bit but wouldn’t consider myself anything other than ordinary user. New update looks nice but I haven’t looked much further than that.

E-mail money with GMail! Sound a bit like that old April fools joke about sending snailmail through GMail but this one is true. Seem to be a very neat solution, albeit US only.

Android studio. New developer environment. I’m no developer so I have just about nothing to add here except that the developers I follow on Twitter that are active on Android seem to think it’s cool. That’s good for them, and what’s good for developers will in the end be good for us users :)

Google+ update. Quite a major update actually. Both with the new Hangouts (beautiful, I can’t stop mentioning that), the streams and photo editing. I especially like the new photo handler. Sorting and so on got a big update, go have a look in your G+->Photos instead of reading about it.

Overall I think I did ok :-)

As a help to my memory and the parts I didn’t watch live I read some of the news over at www.swedroid.se

Last minute speculation, Google I/O

Google I/O logo

Today is the day when speculation turns to answers as Google I/O take place in San Francisco.

But, before the keynote I’d like to do some final brainstorming/speculation/guessing.

What we’ll get:

New Android version. Probably not Key Lime Pie though but a new Jelly Bean version with some fixes and a Game center that will hold international leader boards and possibly cloud saves (how awesome would it be to move seamless between my N7 and my N4? Very that’s how awesome). Also see What we might get.

Some new hardware. Yes I’m quite certain that something will be presented. Exactly what however…an updated Nexus 7? A new big tablet? A phone, possibly made with Motorola that Google bought a year ago? I would place my money on a bigger tablet or possibly a new phone. Not that a high-end 7″ tablet wouldn’t be a cool product but I think they’ll stick with the present config a while longer, an upgrade on an already upgraded device doesn’t give me the Key-note tingles. Or it could be…(see What we might get)

A big load of talk about Glass. And then some more talk about glass, and then some sessions on programming for glass. Google thinks this is the future and they pursue it fiercely. I haven’t looked closer on a pair in real life so I don’t know what to believe, loving the visions though.

What we might get:

They new Android version might hold a new messenger service, possible named Babble. It makes perfect sense and is just the next step combining Google+ Messenger, Talk and the regular text messages. Microsoft is already doing it, Apple did it last year, Blackberry does it and smaller companies like Viber, WhatsApp have been doing it for long. On top of that Facebook does it too, a clean copy+paste+improve on Google+ Messenger but why not? Google only went half-way with G+ messenger then of course Facebook will do it better. Not a matter of If, just a matter of When and I think now is a good time as any.

The update for Android might also hold an update on Google Music, containing a streaming option and not only single song purchases. Not a bad idea but the market is already crowded. What’s the unique selling point, besides being big’ol Google? With Rdio, Spotify, Wimp and so on they won’t lack competition. Still, I like Google Music and the thought of combining single song/album purchases with the opportunity to enable all-you can eat streaming for an evening (think party-mode) is intriguing.

Google Clock. 2013 is rumoured to be year of the smart watches with Pebble already out in the open (getting mixed reviews) and about every other smartphone manufacturer either openly or rumoured to be developing their own it’s hard to say otherwise. But will Google present one already? I don’t think so, but it’s not impossible at all. Supposedly there have already been showcases of a watch with functionality resembling Glass but requiring an Android. My feeling is that this is not a device segment that Google will take the lead into but rather wait a year and see if the users is at all interested.  (You can also read my review on semi-smart watch “Mutewatch” here)

What we probably won’t get

Of course there are a lot of things we won’t get but out of the rumour mill and into the rumour bin I think we can throw…

Updated Nexus Q. True, Google believed in the idea only last year. They do want to be a bigger part of our homelife (think Youtube’s new subscribe service) and the Q would be a logic part of this. But. The Q was way to expensive and lacking to much functionality and after last years fail…nope I can’t see them reviving that name. The core functionality could however be turned into something regarding Google TV or the not very used concept Android@Home.

Bold new Chromebooks. The Pixel is still new and the market is maturing quickly enough for Google to let it expand on itself through different manufacturers.

Samsung S4 Google Edition. Once again, not impossible but I think Samsung would prefer to have only their flavour at this time rather than giving the customer the option of a “clean” vanilla Android Experience.

<rant>Oh and the final sad prediction. Absolutely nothing presented will be available in Sweden. Not initially at least. I still can’t buy songs with Google Play (connected to Google Music), or Books or Magazines. What do I care if another subscription service is launched for music that is US only? Well, I do. Because it can lead to less revenue for the companies that think outside one continent and less revenue will in the long run lead to less content. Less content will instead in the long run lead to more piracy and tadaa, back to square one. Legislation should be a support for companies and customers alike. Not a hindrance. </rant>

Time will tell!

Weird citing sources on rumours but still, I get most of my Android news from Twitter which tend to get broader than just som 3-4 news sites that I can keep up with. Some of them: Swedroid, The Verge, Gizmodo, TechCrunch. You know the type :)

Ogooglebar or “ungoogleable”

When activities in Sweden gains a global interest I must of course comment on it so here goes.

In Sweden we have something called “Språkrådet” (Language council of Sweden). Each year they put together a list of new words in the Swedish language and 2012 contained the word “ogooglebar”. O is used as a prefix similar to non/not/un, google is of course Google and bar is a suffix roughly translating to able or doable. Which gives us, ogooglebar=ungoogleable or as the word is used, describing something as non-searchable. Or at least without any results.

Problem is that the language council defined that a search engine wouldn’t find any results for such a term. Key here is “search engine”, not specifically Google. It doesn’t seem like Google had any problems with the actual word (why would they?) but the definition. Reason is fairly simple if I understand basic trademark legislation right.

If Google becomes synonymous with search engine, other companies may use Google as a term, even in marketing. We’ve seen this before with Xerox, Aspirin and many other things/brands. That’s why…out comes the lawyers.

Funny thing though… The language council figured that they have better things to do and removed the word instead of changing the definition in accordance with a company’s wishes. The result is world wide spread of the word and story. Oopsie.

Ogooglebar/ungooglable
Success?

Lesson for Google: People may frown at the use of lawyers and find your actions a bit silly, even if your request isn’t that strange to begin with.

Google releases new app – Keep

Yesterday evening Google released a new app they call Keep. We could almost call it two since it comes with a web interface for desktop as well.

According to the presentation Keep aim to replace the post its on your desk, screen, fridge and so on. Quick note taking, ability to dictate and save pictures complete with a lock screen widget. Not bad! But hardly the first version of it either. I’m guessing that the question is whether or not they manage to attract user from other services like Evernote or Catch.
Keep is simple and beautiful (imho) with a lot of nice colour :-)

It does however lack a lot of the more advanced features of e.g. Evernote. You can’t share natively (and obviously not collaborate) a note, instead you use the built in Android sharing. This works, but when something is shared the information is taken out of the app/service. You can also use it as a task manager with check boxes but it will not sync with Google Tasks.

Screenshot_keep

Overall I feel like it should be considered part of Drive but with it’s own app, a way for Google to broaden the possible ways to attract new users.

It’s a nice app but at this time I’m surprised that it’s not more tightly integrated with the rest of Google services. A reminder will often need an alarm, but no connection to neither Google Calendar or Android alarm (and no alarm of its own unless I’m blind). The lack of integration with Tasks also bugs me a bit. I can’t see any reason for both to exist so likely we will see an end of Tasks but that means (I hope!) adding Keep to Gmail, and changes to the almighty webmail service is not taken lightly in Mountain View. On the other hand that’s what I thought about G+ messenger and Talk as well, instead they’ve added a third chat in Drive :-) We’ll see if the rumours of “Babbel” holds any truth…not one day too early if you ask me!

Note that there is no official Tasks app today despite broad usage, instead people have  turned to 3rd party apps like Astrid, GTasks or my personal favourite Any.Do. Interesting that Google now adds tasks to another app instead which allows them to somewhat change their previous deciscion to just go for a webbapp.

Another thing that doesn’t matter to me but will surely annoy some people is that it choose language based on phone language, this is a neat default setting but I should be able to change it. Simple setting and everyone is better of with it. Many users have a need of different languages in different apps.

Official app, of course there will be a lot of users. It’s good at what it does and looks sleek and Googly but at the moment I don’t see much more than potential.

My new companion: Nexus7

If you’ve read my posts a month or so back, you’ll notice that I’ve been on the lookout for a tablet for a while. I decided to wait until Google I/O before deciding and suddenly I have 3 Nexus devices at home. Unfortunately it’s not released in Sweden yet but thanks to an awesome friend in the US that was solved with just some additional shipping charges.

Nexus 7 ships with the brand new Android 4.1 also known as Jelly Bean. All in all I’m very satisfied and will try to give you a quick write-up on why. This is my first tablet so this will be both, why do you (well, I) need a tablet and why I think the N7 is a good option.

When the iPad was introduced a lot of market analysts was, should we say sceptical? “Who will ever use that thing”, “Tried already by other companies, didn’t work” and so on was the verdict. Personally I was a bit more optimistic. I started using “handheld computers” at my first job. A glorious Palm m500 was replaced by a Tungsten that later became a TX. I used the calendar (not with a lot of meetings though, I was a technician after all), started reading books in PDF and played som games. Some e-mails was written but not many. After moving on with smartphones I had no trouble answering the question “Who will ever use a tablet/pad (or one of the many names)”. I will! I was however not that sure about the price Apple asked for it, and I wasn’t sure if enough “normal” users would like to use it, normal as in less geeky than I.

Fast forward a couple of years. I never got an iPad, I didn’t buy into the Apple ecosystem and considered it slightly expensive while at the same time the screen on my phone kept groving. Now that I got a tablet I regret waiting so long so here is why you should get a tablet if you have the possibility:

  1. Reading e-books is cheaper, easier and by far cooler than regular books :)
  2. Playing games are fun, and much more so on a bigger screen. Just played through classic RTS “Z Origins” and loved every minute (except when my grunts were mocking me for loosing).
  3. Reading news and articles on a tablet is awesome. Some papers and magazines has their own apps, others are adjusted and available via one of the many apps for magazine reading like “Zinio Magazine Reader“. If your favourite news site haven’t made any mobile version several apps does a great adjustment job for you. Right now I’m trying to decide which one to use and run three different ones on and of: “Flipboard“, “Pulse” and “Google Currents“. Favourite right now is Pulse but they all have their pros and cons.
  4. Blogging, mail and just about any writing at all is much much easier on the pad than on a smartphone. It’s not as smooth as on a laptop, but I seldom pick up my computer on the metro. With a nice sync-app everything is of course available on all your devices (Google Drive, Evernote and so on and so on, trying them out as well).
  5. Control other devices, in my case I use it as a remote for my Mac Mini connected to my TV. Get one with infrared port and you can control basically every piece of your TV/home theater setup.

There you go. Now we move on to why Nexus7 is a good choice. This is of course much harder for me to answer since I’ve only owned this tablet but..I’ll give it a try anyway and you just remember my limited experience with other tablets :-)

  1. It’s fast, really fast. I’ve been testing out both a Xoom and a Samsung tab before and this is way smoother (granted, it’s released much later).
  2. You get a whole lot of bang for your buck because the Nexus 7 is cheap, no really, it’s cheap. Starting at $199, compared to the new iPad $499 (yes, the iPad have features the N7 lacks, more on that later) Samsung Tab 2 7″ starts somewhere around $250-299. Finding USD prices from a Swedish IP is always a hassle :)
  3. I absolutely love the form factor. 7″ is perfect for me. As long as I carry a bag (90-95% of the times I leave home) I got it with me. A larger more expensive tablet might be left at home more often. Holding it with one hand is comfortable, not just for a couple of minutes. That’s great if you’re using it for reading. I need to be able to stand up on the metro, hold on to the rail with one hand and still read, like I can with a paperback without trouble. Big enough to be a huge leap in usability compared to my Galaxy Nexus but small enough to be carried and used all the time, to sum it up. The material on the back deserves a mention as well, smooth and rubbery without being sticky, very well chosen by the designers!

    One handed news! Here using Flipboard in portrait mode.
  4. Customization, this goes for all Android tabs. I will probably use my tab a bit different than you so why would we like them to look the same? Of course, you could just let it be and it will work just fine but the ability to change keyboard and features is a core feature for me. That includes widgets which are great on Android phones but is really awesome on a tablet.
  5. As a Nexus device it comes loaded with the latest Android version, the already mentioned Jelly Bean 4.1. It will also be updated directly from Google hopefully quick and easy :)

But… The Nexus7 isn’t perfect of course. If these are deal breakers for you, keep on looking.

  1. If you have an iPhone already, you have to consider the ecosystem factor. Syncing between devices, already bought apps etcetera.
  2. Films likes big screens. If you plan to watch a lot of video you might want to consider a bigger device.
  3. In order to keep the low price on the Nexus Asus and Google removed some common features. There is no 3G/4G/LTE version, you get Wifi and that’s it. There are no camera on the back, just the front facing one. Like all devices I’ve tried the front camera is aimed towards video chat and similar, not snapping good pictures. They also left out the ability to add memory through external card. An unfortunate trend that we see among phones as well.
  4. I would’ve loved an infra red sensor to get rid of my three remotes (sound, TV and IPTV Set Top box), just like the Sony Tab S and the just announced Samsung tab 10.1 has.

A bit longer than I intended, even though most of the post was written on the Nexus itself. That’s how nice typing on it is :-)