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Now That It’s in the Broadband Game, Google Flip-Flops on Network Neutrality

Point of order: this isn’t the first time they’ve thrown net neutrality under the bus.

The Reason Android is Laggy

Killer writeup. Didn’t know that elements in Android weren’t composited individually by the GPU, but flattened and submitted in bulk, causing full redraws on animation.

Ultimately, I think it comes down to this: the Apple placed responsiveness at the top of the requirements pile, which makes complete sense for building a strong metaphor of direct manipulation of on-screen elements. Google placed emphasis on technical issues like cross-platform support, garbage collection and supporting background tasks. It shows in both cases.

Big hit comes here though:

However, I believe the rewrite must happen, despite the downsides. As an aspiring product manager, I find Android’s lagginess absolutely unacceptable. It should be priority #1 for the Android team.

Sounds like something that should have been included in, say, a new 3.0 or 4.0 version of the operating system.

Sidebar: why the hell doesn’t Tegra 2 support NEON? That’s basically a crime.

(Source: chartier)

*5

Schmidt: Android 4.0 Drops in Oct-Nov

About lines up with the dates we’ve been hearing for the Nexus Prime as well. Makes sense. 

I have a lot of questions about 4.0. In particular: does it fundamentally change the Android experience in a more-like-Honeycomb-less-like-Gingerbread way? While I think it would be of great benefit if it did, I fear this may box the current round of handsets out of an upgrade path, as now manufacturers are afraid of changing too much production code.

*11

John Gruber Takes the Words out of My Mouth

Gruber on a recent businessweek article about Google’s increasing lock-down on Android:

So here’s the Android bait-and-switch laid bare. Android was “open” only until it became popular and handset makers dependent upon it. Now that Google has the handset makers by the balls, Android is no longer open and Google starts asserting control.

This is exactly my thinking penned more eloquently. Do I consider this to be an inherently bad thing? No. As I’ve said many times Android needs more focus and the only way to get that is by enforcing some rules. Fine. My objection lies exclusively with Google (and its legion of Android evangelists) claiming that Android is superior because it “represents freedom and choice.”

If freedom and choice were so dam’n great why’s Google suddenly changing its tune?

*1

Xoom to Require Purchase of One Month of Cellular Data to Activate WiFi

So Motorola’s new $800 baby comes with a little caveat: you can’t so much as turn on the WiFi radio without throwing down $20 for the first month’s data plan, ensuring that Verizon takes at least a little bit of the cut from the sale. While this is of course unofficial, it is worth noting that this policy is shared by the 7” Galaxy Tab on the same network.

Of course the first question in our heads is: how did this happen?

My deduction is as follows: Google is probably continuing the trend of requiring cellular modems in products that ship with the Google Apps package. This was the case for Android 1.x and 2.x, and while I had hoped this requirement would be dropped for the 3.x release, given the reliance on a wireless carrier here I’m assuming it hasn’t been. (On this point I would love to be proven wrong!)

Now, on the matter of retail distribution: Apple clearly stands above Motorola et al. Apple stores are everywhere, they’re well staffed and well stocked. It would be literally impossible for any third-party manufacturer to ship product in the way that Apple does. The only way they can hope to reach consumers in a situation where they’re unable to sell a WiFi only model is through wireless carriers. Wireless carriers will demand their margins in the only way they know how: selling service.

You can see what the carriers are thinking: an unsuspecting individual walks in, is very impressed by what they see, pick up the ($800) tab, throw down for the $20 service and never bother to cancel it because it’s just that convenient. Not to say this is a bad model, but I like to believe that people’s bullshit detectors are more finely tuned than this.

Honeycomb represents a big leap forward for Android, and the Xoom is the boat it sails in on. While I hope it performs better than its anemic 7” cousin, it’s policies like these that damage that possibility.

*1

Google Docs Editing on Mobile: iOS 3+, Android 2.2+

It’s usable on your iPhone 2G, either in iOS or Android. Your Galaxy S? Not so much.

(Source: daringfireball.net)

*1

Engadget on Google TV

Receiving a 6/10 on Engadget, the Google TV looks like it falls short of our expectations. From the review:

Google TV feels like an incomplete jumble of good ideas only half-realized, an unoptimized box of possibility that suffers under the weight of its own ambition and seemingly rushed holiday deadline. Had Google simply focused on a few key features — lightning-fast browsing and perfect search results, for example — we’d have readily excused the missing pieces with the assumption that they’d soon arrive in an equally polished way.

Classic Google, bringing their bumbling Android strategy to your television. Only four more iterations before you get access to copy-paste in the first-party GMail application, no doubt.

No Room for Android? HTC+Google Team Up on a Chrome OS Tablet.

I thought that Q4 was too ambitious for Google to push out a completely revamped Android UI for tablets, and now I know how they’re going to deal with it: use Chrome OS.

On the one hand it sort of makes sense. They want to push Native Client, they want to push their Web Store, and they think an aggressively priced tablet will help them accomplish both of those tasks. Fair enough!

That said, this is a big gamble for Google. Apple brought it’s iOS fold from iPhone to iPad with (sort of) portable applications and a familiar interface. ChromeOS has neither of these advantages, as apps are not portable from Android to ChromeOS, and the interface is vastly different. Yes there’s a chance you’ll hold on if you’re already hook-line-and-sinker involved in Google applications, but there is no intrinsic draw.

ChromeOS must also build up the same library of applications that Android has been struggling to build since launch. We saw some fancy demos with Unity3D in NaCl, but I’ve been using a beta version of Unity3D for months, and there is no reference of publishing to NaCl. More generally, yes, every web page is a “web app” in Google’s eyes here, but this does not provide the user with much of a value add.

71% of Android Owners Would Consider Another Android Device

When surveying current Android device owners, Nielson found that 71 percent would buy an Android phone again.

Glad we’re getting some solid numbers in light of the Yankee group finding satisfaction rates of around 20%. The article points out, though, that of the Android owners polled a solid 21% are considering an iPhone for their next purchase, as opposed to 6% of iPhone users considering an Android device.

Over half of Blackberry owners are considering competing devices.

Surprise: FaceTime Does Not Work Over Google Voice

Why anyone is surprised about this is far and away beyond me. Google Voice operates under the concept of NAT for Telephony: many unique devices hidden behind a single number. That being said, you can see why the establishment of a peer-to-peer connection initiated through telephony might be an issue. It’s 2010 and we’re still tackling this problem in intelligent packet-switched networks. Why would anyone assume that it would somehow function more effectively in stupid circuit-switched networks?

NYT Blasts a Battery-Shaped Hole into HTC Evo

A not-favorable review about what could be described as the most cutting-edge mobile device on the market today. Boiled down it becomes: “a solid concept marred by reality.” His experience with Qik sounds like it leaves something to be desired. Walkie-talkie style push-to-talk? Is that a joke? Also, surprise: a 4.3” screen and wi-fi tether will kill your battery in a little over 60 minutes. 

Not owning an Evo I can’t speak to that personally, but I will say that without a great deal of micromanagement Android is probably not going to do well in the battery life arena. Also 4G coverage sucks, but you knew that. (Though there are rumors that it’s popping up in NYC!)

Great time to be a buyer in this market, though. Loving the options we’re being handed, even if they all have terrible, crippling flaws. HP, get on doing something with Palm already, will you?

Source: Daring Fireball

A Real Android Tablet Contender Appears

Cortex A9 processor, Tegra 2 graphics chip, 2GB system storage, Android 2.1 shipping … the specs are there, but here’s my big worry with Android tablets: remember what iOS did when it released the iPad? A scad of new tablet-targeted metaphors. You had sidebars, contextual pop-outs, strict any-oritentation policies … these things are really what made the system. Android, rightfully, is worried about surpassing and matching iOS in the phone space right now, and I don’t believe they’ve taken the time to properly introduce metaphors that take advantage of the larger screen size of a tablet. Don’t get me wrong, I bet Twidroid will look stunning on the A1011, but will it take advantage of the extra screen real-estate in the way that Twitteriffic for the iPad does? 

Android 2.2 API Does not Expose Front-Facing Camera

There is no way to manipulate the front-facing camera that the HTC Evo ships with, meaning third-party developers can either vendor-lock with HTC to deliver their solutions or … well, that’s it. I’m pretty bummed out about this for several reasons:

  • Forget Skype until at least Android 2.5
  • The arms race has already started, meaning more vendors will soon be shipping products with a camera unusable by developers
  • Apple’s video-calling implementation is built on open standards, opening up the potential for reimplementation on other devices and platforms

Could you imagine if an open reimplementation of Facetime was operating over 3G before Apple’s own solution? The devious part of me loves the idea.

*15

From The Hip: Apple complacent? Or measured?

Cédric Beust formerly of Google Android Engineering:

I think Apple got arrogant just a tad too early …

Has Apple really been complacent? Have they stopped innovating on the iPhone OS? The rapid pace of iPhone OS releases over the last 3 years doesn’t suggest that. If anything improvements and innovations are coming thicker and faster…

I don’t think that Apple is as “unhampered by limitation” as he might claim, but he’s spot-on with Apple’s dedication to “getting it right the first time” (fun example: copy and paste).

*2

Conrad, Why Do You Hate Android So Much?

Let me be clear about this: I don’t. Android is incredibly important. For the last 20 years we’ve had OEM’s shipping us whatever-the-fuck hardware with whatever-the-fuck software and holding features for ransom. Android, an open-source initiative backed primarily by Google, stands to change (and is changing!) everything we know about mobile phone development. It is huge. It is important. As a seasoned veteran of the Apple App Store submission process I understand that more than anyone.

Given that, you can see why it infuriates me when Andy Rubin says things like: “feature-sets for new versions are kind of random.” This is fine for your rinky-dink open source project, but for a worldwide, transformative piece of software it is incredibly silly. Steve Jobs might not do everything right, but he has a clear vision for the future of his company and its products, and he has done incredible things to make that happen. Andy Rubin has thrown darts at a dartboard and publicly admitted that the soft keyboard in Android sucks, saying only that it will be “adressed.”

We need to be vocal about the problems surrounding Android. We need to bitch, and whine, and moan, and vote with our wallets until they get it. It’s tough love, and ultimately I’m starting to think it’s too-little-too-late, but by god I’m going to keep shouting until they fix it.

Or until I jump ship.