Tag Archives: google

Where’s the Buzz @?

If you haven’t noticed in your Google Inbox recently, there is a new feature that popped up in there.  It’s called Google Buzz.  What is it?  It essentially takes the best of real time update technologies and integrates in with most of Google’s core group of software.  I’m not going to break down the ins and outs of Buzz.  But what I will do is talk about two features that I find the most attractive.  One’s bringing an old favorite Google App of mine back to the forefront, the other is just stroking my ego.

So let’s start with my ego first!  Awhile ago I talked about the ‘@’ symbol and how it’s become the mainstream mode to reply to or address other people or systems in communication.  Flash forward to today.  If you notice above, the comments show the ‘@’ symbol used to address another Buzz user.  Even better, once you type the ‘@’ symbol and another letter, a dynamic list of your Buzz friends and Gmail Contacts pop up for you to choose from.  If you are a developer building a new app, especially one that hinges on social interactions, you will have to include this feature to be successful.

Okay, the next feature that changes the game is the simple integration across all of Google’s Apps and Buzz.  My Google Profile has been filled out for a couple of years and for last year I’ve been wondering why.  Buzz now pushed the Google Profile to the forefront.  More importantly for me, however, is the massive integration with Google Reader.  If you’ve been around here recently, you know my love for Google Reader.  I have friends in Gmail that use Gooogle Reader, but they never show up in Google Reader correctly when they share stories.  Buzz not only takes care of that, but also brings in Buzz users in to the Google Reader application.  This makes picking up shared items that my peers curate much, much easier.

Now, Google Buzz is not without its drawbacks.  Everyone’s been complaining about privacy, but I’m starting to get bothered by the massive drag it brings to my Gmail.  I’m an Inbox Zero cult follower and seeing new Buzz pumped in at an amazing rate is starting grate my nerves.  I hope they follow through on pushing it out as a separate app.  The folks at Google are already iterating changes, so if they are going to make a change, it will be fast.  That said, Buzz is a great addition to my set of apps from Google I use.  Not because of the app itself, but because it makes my other apps better.

Google Reader Can Send To Social Sharing

I’ve been using Google Reader as my news aggregator for some time now.  Now some people might say that feed readers are dead along with RSS, but I beg to differ.  It’s the best way for me to catch up on news using a uniform interface for easy scanning.  If I want to go in depth, I can read the whole article there or open in a new tab.  I had a hard time sharing any articles I find worthy of telling others about.  The same thought leaders of today who say RSS is dead are the same ones who exclaim that Twitter is the king of up to second news.  Until the middle of last year, there was no way for me to share links in a fast and easy way plus post it to my Twitter followers.  Now I can with Google Reader’s ‘Send To’ feature.

Continue reading Google Reader Can Send To Social Sharing

The Pre is in the Palm of my Hand


Coming in a little late than the rest of the pack is my Palm Pre review.  Hey I was too busy playing with it, er, analyzing it to the best of my abilities so I can give a fair handshake to this polished stone looking device.  We are going to cover the hardware side of things.   We are going to cover the software side of things.  Up and downs, what’s good and what’s not, and what we have to look forward to are all topics that I will cover.  Oh, yeah, the massive cell phone search ended.  I have a Palm Pre.

Continue reading The Pre is in the Palm of my Hand

Cell Phone: The Next Generation


I went ghost for awhile but now I’m back with what seems like the only thing that’s been on my mind this year and that’s the cell phone search.  Since the last time I talked about this, details for the Palm Pre were announced, the iPhone OS 3.0 was annoucned, Blackberry is rolling out more product,  the OS that the G1 runs on, otherwise known as Google Android, had an upgrade, and the launch date for the Palm Pre was announced.  A deluge of information produced lays stagnant in my and we’re now going to stir things up and see what I finally decide upon.  Keeping the original specs in mind, I’ll take a look at where each phone stands and what my final decision will be now that I have the cash to burn.  After that, stay tuned for my series of articles on cellphone accessories……just kidding.

The spur in the saddle for this whole series is the Palm Pre and it’s coming out this Friday.  Some of the details that really caught my eye include multitasking, a physical keyboard, and webOS development environment.  The multitasking portion is a big deal for me because I prefer to listen to music while I’m tasking and sometimes I switch between apps while they are working or processing.   A close second is the physical keyboard.  My fingers are massively thick and they need something physical to click.  That said, the reviews point out the keys are kinda small and somewhat hard to hit the right key.  Lastly the webOS and it’s young and fertile development ground makes me drool.  All one needs to know is HTML, Javascript, and CSS to build apps for the Pre and there are system specific APIs built into the SDK to allow some tasty interactions.

I’m not completely sold on the Pre however.  The rumor mills are flaring up and the iPhone will be getting a major upgrade to an almost 1.5 times the processor speed and a bump in flash memory to 32 GB.  It also sounds like they are releasing the reigns and allowing cut and paste.  Huzzah! The big controversy for the last couple of the weeks on the iPhone point to the almost Draconian application approval process for the App Store.  It seems there are some crazy examples of questionable content approved whereas some rather tame content gets banned.  For me, the deal is how well I can move my data around in there and how easy it is to build an app on it.  But for the latter I would need to buy a Mac.

Again we’re not alone as the T-Mobile’s Google Android Phone, the G1, is still out there picking up steam.  The big news on this little device is the new release of the OS to Cupcake or version 1.5.  Among the feature highlights include a soft-keyboard, more UI polish, and video recording and playback.  I’m a confessed Google apologist.  Most of my online apps are run through Google.  They do a great job of keeping things fast and simple. I’ve yet to really play with either the SDK or the phone as much, but my Google pull tells me that I should at least give this sucker a chance.

I think for me and what I want to do on smartphones for utility and development purposes, any model of Blackberry will probably be out of the running.  I’ve heard the Storm 2 has better improvements of the Storm 1’s interface, but after playing around with my girlfriend’s Blackberry Pearl, I’m not too impressed.  There seems to be some slow load time between apps and the web browsing is pretty weak.  They do have a nice camera and the scroll ball is probably the best mobile peripheral implementation since the laptop mouse eraser head, but I’m just not sold.

What will sell me this time around comes down to the plan.  After researching all that I can on smartphones,  I can see that most of the phones pretty much have the same to offer.  Texting, picture/video, phone, data transfer, web browsing, and some sort of new keyboard implementation are all part of the common thread for these phones.  What matters most is how much the companies will charge a month and how it matches with how I want to maximize my usage on their service.  Cell phone carriers traditionally nickle and dime you to death with surchargers and fees.  Can you believe that it cost about three times as much to buy a cell ringer than it is to download the actual song?  So when I think about the phone, its features, and how much up front I will pay, I think about how I can get the best deal on the Sprint Unlimited Plan.

Sprint’s Unlimited Plan (well the 450 minute one) gives me unlimited everything, with a 5GB cap mind you, and 450 minutes of daytime talk on the phone.  I double checked my records and discovered that I only came close to the 450 limit once in the last 6 months.  The plan cost about $70 a month.  Compared to the other plans, Sprint wins hands down.  They also advertise best coverage of 3G and may have a leg up on 4G over the carriers.  Sprint’s headquarters happens to be in Kansas City, which is also where I live.  When consulting friends, they have nothing but praise for their service.

But I’m not jumping the gun just yet.  I’ve been talking up some series love on the Palm Pre and I’ve yet to get to play with the device.  The Pre comes out this Saturday and I plan on hitting up Best Buy to check it out.  Now more than likely I will hit up a T-Mobile store and an Apple or AT&T store to give a final once around on the devices.   I’m also gonna wait until WWDC to see exactly what Apple will unveil.  It’s getting real close to new phone time.  Once I get one, the next step will be to see what I can develop for on the phone.  Maybe some cell phone shopping helper app.

The Pre-Cognition of a New Cell Phone Search

CES happened last week and one of the big announcements was Palm’s return from the ashes in the Pre. The announcement of their new smartphone pulled together new developments at Palm, including a linux based OS and advances in user interface design. I naturally drooled at the pics. After glossing over in gadget heaven, I remembered that my cell phone contract is up later this month. It’s high time I shop around and see what’s out there in terms of cell phones and plans. Here’s a quick list of what I’m looking for (and really what people should think about when getting a new phone):

  • Does the storage expand?  Can I slide in a card to expand whatever available amount of storage is on the phone?  Most phones come with a decent amount of storage but chances are I want to swap out stuff when the time comes.
  • Is there a touch screen interface?  This is the next step in user interfaces and it seems to be making its headway through cell phone use.  Is there a touch screen on the phone and how crisp or responsive is the interface when I make gestures?
  • How locked down is the phone?  The current Motorola I have needs a special USB connection to charge, use as headphones, and access the computer. BUT, you must go through my carrier’s software to access it.  A phone with a little more open access to its components is high on my list.
  • Will I be able to play music on it?  This goes together with the locked down phone and storage questions.  Some phones/carriers allow you to just plug your device into a computer and drop music files on it to play.  This is a must have.
  • What kind of applications are available for the phone?  Either Windows Mobile, The iTunes App Store, or Palm’s new App Catalog to add software that is non existent on current devices would benefit me greatly.
  • Following up on the previous point, what kind of services can I connect to from the phone?  My current carrier jacks around with SMS text messaging and therefore inhibits usage on some Web 2.0 services I use frequently.  BrightKite is a good example of an online web service that is cut off or not as usefuly because the carrier getting in the way.
  • Is GPS on the phone?  It’s not big, but working with BrightKite and Google Maps would make this feature seem ideal.
  • What will the data plan cost and what can I do with it?  My monthly bill is pretty high for what I can do.  If I can get more data and or text messaging for my buck, I’d go with that company.  I’m looking at you Sprint Unlimited Plan.

Some of the other topics in smartphone usage aren’t that big to me.  Bluetooth and headset capability is nice but wearing a plug in my ear all the time is my cup of tea.  The battery in my Motorola died on my twice and the third battery for this phone works best, mainly because I bought it from a third party and not the carrier.  I know now what to do when the battery runs out again.  Buttons or keypads aren’t that big to me, even when looking at the Pre, because I’ll be entering text on the phone regardless and can pick up any method to do so fairly quickly.

I think I covered all the bases on the smartphone requirements.  If I missed anything, let me know.  I still need to find out if my carrier has some kind of month to month plan after my contract is up.  If not, I may get a phone real quick.  I hope not, because I really want to hold out for a Palm Pre.  I could go iPhone, but I’m doing all in my power to stay away from it.   It’s still an Apple so it will still be super locked in.  If I get one of those two or some other phone, I’ll let you know.  Maybe by typing up the post from the new smartphone.