Archive for the 'Apple' Category

29
Nov
10

Seeing the Droid X Through iPhone-Colored Glasses

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Last year about this time, I was using my iPhone and peering over at the screen of my Android-owning colleagues, envying the flexibility and customizability that they experienced. I had grown tired of looking at a screen with a black background and five rows of four icons. And while jailbreaking was an option that might give me a bit more control over my device, I guess what I was after was a clean break. I had been an iPhone user since it launched in the summer of 2007 and… well… it was time for a change. Or so I thought.

I’ve been using the Droid X for just over four months now and my experience has been mixed. There are many reasons why I like my Droid X running Android 2.2 (which I’ll go into here in detail) but the long and short of it is that I will be making my way back to the Apple Store, hat in hand, asking them to hand me one of those boxes with the "iPhone 4" stamped across the side.

Let me get this out of the way right now: anyone who knows me personally knows that I’m a huge Apple aficionado. I own three Macs, an iPhone 3GS, an Apple TV and an iPad. But what’s more important to understand about me is that I’m a technologist. I use and have experimented with just about any consumer electronics device and category that you could imagine. I truly wanted my Android experience to work out. Honestly I did. I wanted to carry an Android if for no other reason than to act as a counter to all of this Apple stuff that surrounds me. It’s like calling a guy a racist and then finding out that his wife is of the race you accuse him of showing bias towards. It doesn’t exactly relieve you of the accusation, but it does call it into heavy questioning.

Continue reading ‘Seeing the Droid X Through iPhone-Colored Glasses’

03
Jul
10

HTC Evo 4G Review (from an iPhone User’s Perspective)

evo-iphone After almost three years of exclusively using an iPhone, I’ve decided to purchase and bond with the HTC EVO 4G.  It’s been three weeks since I picked up the device and I’ve been tremendously pleased in some areas and downright frustrated in others.

So how does the EVO 4G shape up when evaluated by a seasoned iPhone user?  Read on.

(To learn more about my reasons for putting my iPhone aside and testing the waters with Android via the EVO 4G, read Part I where I detail how I arrived at this point.)

Hardware

A child can take look at the EVO 4G and the iPhone and tell you that ‘one’s a bit bigger than the other.’  And while many people think that a bigger EVO 4G screen (4.3 inches versus 3.5 inches on the iPhone) means it’s “better”, truthfully there are more important factors than screen size for me. Form-factor plays a small part in my decision about which device is right for me.  The phone that provides me with the most usable, functional experience will end up in my pocket. But there have been some things about the EVO’s form factor that have stood out since I’ve been carrying it.

Portability

The EVO has a pretty big footprint. When you lay it down next to whatever phone you have now, the EVO will probably dwarf it in size. At the same time, the EVO is not so big that you can’t conveniently carry it around with you.  For me, a 4.3 inch screen is probably as large a size as I’ll consider.  I always felt that my iPhone’s screen was sufficient (and I still feel that way.) But during the times when I was using both phones and went back to open my iPhone to get a contact that didn’t sync, I definitely missed the EVO’s screen real estate. The screen quality of both phones (I’m using the iPhone 3G, not the iPhone 4) is about even. The EVO definitely has the edge when it comes to screen size. Too bad they don’t use that size more to their advantage. (More on that in a bit.)

…But Is It Too Big?

A person with small hands might find the EVO a bit unmanageable.  A few of my female friends who handled the device had a hard time getting a comfortable position with it in their hands. I have relatively average sized hands. And the phone feels comfortable in my grasp. It’s not too heavy, yet it’s certainly not flimsy. But there were times when I was using the phone one-handed where I tried to use my thumb to push a button on the opposite side of the screen. Often, I’d find that my hand will glance past something and launch that instead of what I tapped with my thumb. With two hands, this isn’t a problem. So, as far as the size, it can be a pain depending on what device you’re coming from. The size factor basically comes down to whether you have activities like watching movies or web browsing where those extra pixels would come in handy.

The Wonderful Kickstand

The EVO definitely wins points by having a kickstand.  It sounds very rudimentary, but the kickstand combined with the EVO’s large screen is a dynamite combination. The kickstand works in landscape mode only.  (I kinda wish it worked in portrait mode).  It’s great to be able to use the kickstand to prop the phone up while watching movies. I like to use the kickstand while the phone is on my desk at work, turning it into an expensive desk clock. This is a great alternative to laying the phone down or having to buy an expensive docking station.

Continue reading ‘HTC Evo 4G Review (from an iPhone User’s Perspective)’

21
Jun
10

Using An iPhone… (but getting an Android ‘Jones’)

evo-iphone Since I stood on line that fateful Friday June 29, 2007 inside the Short Hills Mall at the Apple Retail Store, I haven’t known much else on a mobile device except for the iPhone’s OS.  After two years of owning the original iPhone, I bought a 3GS in 2009.  All in all, the iPhone has been a stable, dependable and extensible device.  Calling it a ‘phone’ is almost too limiting and reductive.  For me, the iPhone serves as my everything, do-it-all device. It’s my calendar, occasional video playback screen, audiobook, music player, shopping assistant, GPS device and e-mail tool to name a few of my uses. When I’m out and have moments where I’m waiting on line or just plain waiting, this phone makes those waits so much easier. In short, after nearly three years of steady use, the iPhone has exceeded my expectations in just about every category that matters.

If this were a talk show, Maury or Jerry Springer would be standing off in the studio audience right now, turning towards me, holding up the microphone to their mouth and asking me, “Well, why are you cheating then?”  And truthfully, I’ve pondered about this thought for some time.  And my reasoning is simple: I’m a technologist.  By definition, I’m always looking at newer, more elegant ways of doing things.  While the iPhone has been an ideal match for me in many areas, in several others, it’s missed the mark.  Here are my five key gripes with the current iPhone experience:

    • Information-Rich HUD – When the iPhone originally made it’s debut in 2007, waking the phone to a screen full of icons was acceptable.  Three years later, it’s just getting stale.  As much as I applaud the iPhone OS (now, simply called “iOS”) for it’s ease of use and application availability, at the end of the day, you will always pretty much be looking at rows of icons.   The HUD (Heads-Up Display) is very boring and not at all functional.  Just icons. And after hearing the iOS presentation at the beginning of the year, it doesn’t look like this will be changing anytime soon.  I’m not quite sure whether the interface been revised to add more functionality because doing so would require the OS to be completely re-written or because stylistically Apple doesn’t want to tamper with the iconic iPhone home screen.  Whatever the reason, the UI needs to grow beyond what I’ve been using. ‘Widgets‘ may come across as minor or optional, but they can serve an important role on a mobile communications device.

      I remember one of my first assignments as a manager.  My boss asked me to turn a 12-page monthly report into a one page, glanceable, information-rich tool that could be used to keep our client aware of what was happening in their business.  What we developed from that 12-page report (which ended up being very useful for my client) is the same simplicity that I’m looking for here.  Rather than rows of icons, why not show me the weather?  Maybe the score of my favorite sports teams?  A list of the most recent e-mails I’ve received?  That real estate on the iPhone’s home screen can be used much more effectively than it is now.

Continue reading ‘Using An iPhone… (but getting an Android ‘Jones’)’

29
Jan
10

Musings on the Announcement of the Apple iPad

It’s been about 24 hours since the long anticipated keynote address and unveiling of the Apple iPad.  I’ve had some time to reflect on what this announcement will mean for Apple, for consumers and for my own personal use. 

Mixed Reactions
On Wednesday morning, it seemed like even the least tech savvy folks knew that ‘Apple was announcing a tablet!’.  (Major props to those sites that were gracious enough to cover this event via liveblog – it made the situation easier to follow.)  Getting bits and pieces of information and trying to digest them while on the telephone and working with customers, I found it difficult to process the facts.  A lot of what Steve Jobs says gets lost in translation in the liveblog.  I was in a room filled with tech savvy co-workers and just about everyone was underwhelmed.  While the announcement was, in fact, a “tablet-shaped device,” the details were significantly less impressive than the grandiose expectations that analysts and random tech followers (like myself) had ascribed to it.  Nobody I spoke to seemed genuinely excited and as I collected feedback (most of it unsolicited), it largely consisted of exclamations about the poor marketing behind the name and what the iPad couldn’t do.  Overall, people seemed generally confused about what makes this product offering so special.

It’s important to point out that after years of speculation about what an “Apple Tablet” would look and behave like, the expectations were almost impossible to meet.  (It was actually a bit anti-climactic to actually see and hear this announcement since it was so much fun to pontificate over the years about what such a device might be.) 

The Keynote is the Key
The key to understanding this product lies not in reviewing the specifications and comparing it to other offerings in the market.  For those who are considering the iPad, my best suggestion is to actually invest an hour and half of your time before you spend $499 – $830.  Watch the keynote and observe how Apple is marketing it to consumers.

Unlike many other product unveilings, Apple devoted almost the entire hour and a half to explaining just one product.  (The keynote is long – if you can’t watch the entire thing, check out just the first 15 – 30 minutes of it.  (It’s available now on the homepage at Apple.com or via iTunes via podcast.)  But for the benefit of those that will only read this, I’ll do my best to share Steve Jobs’ sentiment.) 

The most critical piece of information during the keynote was explained in the first 15 minutes.  Steve showed a slide with an iPhone on the left, a MacBook on the right and and empty space in the center.  He talked about the thought that went into deciding whether there was room for a product between those two devices.  The philosophy he outlined was, ‘If we’re going to announce a product in between these two offerings, it has to be better than the phone and better than the MacBook at some things.’  He then hypothesized about whether the netbook fits in this category.  (He actually put the word “Netbook” in the empty space between the MacBook and the phone.  He explained that the company’s conclusion on netbooks is that they aren’t better than laptops or phones at anything.  He dismissed them as “slow, cheap laptops”.  It was only after going through this explanation that he unveiled the iPad that almost everyone has seen by now.

Continue reading ‘Musings on the Announcement of the Apple iPad’

21
Aug
09

The Palm Pre and Me – Where did love go wrong?

gallery-pre-10Earlier this year in March – just five short months ago – I was about as excited as I’ve ever been for a new gadget.  After writing Palm off as a ‘has been’ for years, I found my attitude changing after watching the keynote for the Palm Pre in January at CES.  And like any lusting affair, the more I read about it the more I wanted it.  Gadgets are an obsession for me to begin with. However, my obsession with the Pre was starting to become unhealthy.  I recall thinking to myself before the final pricing was set, “I’m sure Palm will price this competitively, but I’ll go as high as, say…five…no, six hundred.  But that’s my final offer!”

But unlike many other situations of longing desire, I knew why I wanted the Pre.  And even after having left it for another phone, I still know.  The Pre promised something that my iPhone never gave and as far as I knew, never planned on giving.  At the top of the list was a physical keyboard – something that the writer in me had been missing ever since I stood on the iPhone launch line.  But it was more than the keyboard.  It was the promise of an untethered experience where I didn’t sync to a desktop but wirelessly with the cloud.  One where I didn’t have to worry about going home to plug in and sync my music and where I’d have a replica of my home digital life in my mobile device.

I didn’t sleep at all on the night before it launched.  I was too afraid of ‘falling asleep and missing the launch line’.  And so, like a love struck fool, I stood on line for four hours at the Sprint Store in Valley Stream and traded text messages with my sister (who had the Pre bug too).  And when I first held the phone in my hands, I can’t deny how happy I was… the phone felt so incredible.  Some areas were lacking, but I knew it would take some time before I got accustomed to it.

The scene now is not very different from many other breakups.  There seem to be regrets on both sides of the table.  Here I sit in one room while the Pre sits in another (probably making calls to it’s girlfriends remarking at how much of a liar I was and how full of it I am.)

What’s worse, my new girl…uh…phone… well, it’s a lot like my old phone.  The iPhone 3GS sits at my side.  Yes, that iPhone 3GS.  The one I laughed at Apple for releasing with few additional features than the previous version.  The one that was playing it safe.  Well, in the end, it turns out that ‘safe’ is probably what I need at this point.

But the question that I’ve been getting from everyone who knew how in love I appeared with the Pre remains the same… where did love go wrong?!

Well, let me explain…

Continue reading ‘The Palm Pre and Me – Where did love go wrong?’

30
May
09

Don’t Expect Much From the “New iPhone” – Apple has to ‘Play it Safe’

Capture Now that I’m less than a week away from, excluding any unforeseen product shortages, adopting a Palm Pre as my primary mobile device, my peers keep prodding me with questions.  Many of my tech friends haven’t really been following the Pre and WebOS that closely.  Actually, it’s surprising how many haven’t been following it.  Even Leo Laporte (whom I consider to be kinda close to the cutting edge when talking about tech) is only now starting to pay attention to the Pre.  And he seems to be doing it in a very apologetic way.  (‘You know what, I think I’m gonna check out the Palm Pre…’).  The truth is that he’s probably following the Pre because he has to – as a tech correspondent, he has to stay on top of what the current focus is, and right now that’s the Pre.

Having read message boards and talked to other tech fans, what is most surprising to me are the number of people who are anxiously anticipating the announcement of the next iteration of the iPhone.  Okay, so it’s not that surprising – any Apple announcement these days (and particularly one where Steve Jobs might take the stage – and it’s about a 75% lock that it will happen in my book) will get tech journalists pens moving.  But this time around, I’m much more interested in the other stuff that Apple might talk about.  For people who know their tech, there should be almost no excitement for the iPhone this go round.  And there are a few reasons for it.

About two plus months ago, I was buzzing around my office at work.  Apple had announced that they would be previewing some of the features of the forthcoming iPhone OS 3.0.  While I thought the Pre was intriguing, innovative and sorta tempting, I have a tremendous amount of confidence in the folks at the Apple Campus at Cupertino.  I knew (or, at least, I thought I knew) that whatever they announced would make me forget about the multi-tasking, cloud synching, synergetic phone that Palm revealed two months earlier.  Upon reflection, had I been able to take a trip up to the ‘wisdom mountain’ and really clear my head, I would have seen the obvious. 

Continue reading ‘Don’t Expect Much From the “New iPhone” – Apple has to ‘Play it Safe’’

13
Apr
09

20 Reasons Why I’m Leaving My iPhone for the Palm Pre

Having been an iPhone owner since it launched in June of 2007, many who know me assumed that I would be upgrading to future releases of the iPhone.  (After all, isn’t that what an Apple Fanboy would do?).

I skipped the iPhone 3G.  And although there are some pains associated with not having some of the features, I am sure that I made the right decision.  There are few differences between the iPhone 2G and 3G.  The cases are slightly different — the 2G shedding the silver backing for a shiny plastic one with the 3G.  The only other differences are a GPS radio, connectivity to the AT&T 3G network, a 16GB version and a non-recessed headphone jack.  Everything else is practically the same.  Same processor, same architecture — same everything.  None of these additions were tantalizing enough to make me consider extending my AT&T contract another two years.

In December when Palm sent around teasers to the technology press inviting them out to experience “Palm’s Newness”, I was intrigued.  But I never even considered the thought that anything they would have to say would make me consider leaving what has been a great experience with my current iPhone.

That was until I watched the keynote.

I watched the entire hour long keynote when I got home after the presentation – twice.  At first, I was simply impressed.  I didn’t expect much from Palm and any device that pushes the envelope and gives other competitors a reason to stay on their toes and not play it safe benefits us all.  And certainly with the announcement of the Pre, Palm was doing just that.

In the weeks that would follow after watching countless hands-on videos and imagining the possibilities, I began to consider the phone more and more.  (I’m at the point now where I can probably do the demo that they have scripted for the press myself.)

Make no mistake about it — barring any monumental announcement made by Apple between now and June 29, the Palm Pre will be my next phone.  And having made that decision, I realize that potentially there’s a lot that I’m losing.  But for me, there’s so much more that I believe I’ll be gaining.

Before I get into the reasons why I’m probably going to buy the Pre, I want to state that it has nothing to do with some flaw or huge dissatisfaction in my iPhone experience.  There are areas with my iPhone where I feel that I could have been better served.  But overall, I have never had as seamless an experience as I have had with this device.  All of my data (provided I have a connection to the web) is in one central location.  My music, pictures, emails, contacts and calendar are all replicated from my PC on my phone.  The battery life could be better, but considering how much I use it as my primary media player, I really can’t complain.

Also, before reading the list, please consider the fact that I would be coming from the 2G version of the iPhone to any 3G device (Palm Pre or iPhone 3G).  There are some benefits that I’d gain by simply buying a 3G device.  But casting aside the iPhone 3G, everyone knows that the smart money says between now and June, Apple will announce the next version of the iPhone.  So this is a decision I’m making having not seen the next iPhone.  If Apple addresses many of the benefits I outline here having observed the Pre, my decision could change.  However, looking at the iPhone 3.0 press conference, I don’t think it will.  Regardless of how improved the new iPhone’s hardware is and whether it has twice or three times the existing memory or a forward-facing camera or any of the other rumors I’ve heard, my concerns are largely with the software and the overall experience.  The 3.0 press conference didn’t impress me at all.  The benefits discussed were largely targeted towards developers, with a few bones tossed out to consumers like “Cut and Paste” and “Search”.

But I need to preface this discussion by saying that I am rather pleased with my current phone.  The iPhone is still a revolutionary device when compared to other phones, and this is without any of the benefits brought in by the App Store.  The addition of applications last year has really expanded the ability of the device and I would recommend the iPhone to almost anyone looking for a great multimedia phone.

So why the switch?  (So glad you asked.)

Continue reading ’20 Reasons Why I’m Leaving My iPhone for the Palm Pre’