Geeks in a Corner, Talking Tech
May 3, 2013 by thewheat

Corner Geeks 25: The Windows Phone Experience

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Windows Phone Live Tiles

  • Lumia 520 for AUD$176
    • Specs don’t really matter because it’s a pretty good experience
    • 512MB RAM which limits some heavier apps but still a pretty smooth experience. Much better than cheap Android phones
  • Good Polish unlike Android back in the day that had a lot of rough edges
    • In between iOS and Android but closer to iOS
    • Find my phone
    • Sky Drive Integration
      • Save Photos automatically
        • can’t seem to enable only on WiFi so may be hazardous to your 3G data
        • doesn’t upload screenshots
      • Office Documents synced in the cloud
    • Office
      • Can create and edit Word and Excel files offline
      • Can view Powerpoint files
        Windows Phone - Office - vlookup
    • Bluetooth transfer data migration
    • Consolidated settings (like iOS) but also and in app
    • Glove usage! (probably a Lumia feature)
  • Good Features
    • People Hub
      • Combines all social streams (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) into one stream
        Windows Phone - People Hub - social stream
      • Like Twitter lists but for all social networks supported
        Windows Phone - People Hub - groups
      • Photo Stream of all updates with photos
    • Bluetooth image sharing!
    • Has Android like intents/sharing of data to other apps. E.g. from photo app, can share photo to apps like WhatsApp / Email / any app that supports receiving images
  • Gripes
    • App selection still small. No official Dropbox app, no instagram
    • Search page is not a web page. E.g. Search in browser address bar brings you out of the browser to the search page, and clicking a link in the search page goes back into the browser
    • Sharing Intents inconsistent
      • But doesn’t seem to work for all things… Can share photo (.jpg file) from camera to WhatsApp but cannot share screenshot (.png file)  to WhatsApp. Can’t share URL to WhatsApp.
      • Perhaps more of a non-mature app ecosystem rather than Windows Phone fault. App developers need to program their apps right
    • Notifications could be better
      • If app is a Live Tile, then you can see the notification number
      • If app is not a Live Tile, there is no easy way to know what app caused the notification (iOS has it best with badges)
    • No quick toggles
      • Have to go into settings to turn things on and off similar to iOS (e.g. enable/disable data / WiFi)
      • Hard to toggle vibrate
    • Can’t disable screen rotation. Less sensitive than Android which is good.
    • No file explorer or file system like Android
    • No auto-sign in like Android for Google sites
      Windows Phone - no auto sign-in
    • Switching apps shows “Resuming…” quite a bit. More to do with how Windows Phone handles apps. Could be due to limited memory of 512MB and may not occur with higher end devices with more RAM
    • No Bluetooth tethering (available in iOS and Android)

Links

 

Windows Phone - Me app  Windows Phone - opening unrecognized files

 

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April 27, 2013 by thewheat

Corner Geeks 24: Facebook Home in Review

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Facebook Home - lock screen

  • Makes Facebook so much easier to access
  • Even I found it fun to use even though I don’t like to
  • Not good for those with ADD
    • Seems to bring new pic/updates each time you turn it on
  • No way to filter who appears on home screen
    • Possible embarrassing photos shown in public / accidental leakage of personal information or photos
  • Limited launcher
    • Only Facebook notifications on home screen (notification drawer still available from the top)
    • No widgets / Folders
  • Chat heads is not a Facebook Home feature: it’s a Messenger feature.
    • Also available for iOS but with limited functionality (jailbreak gives you OS wide functionality)
    • First app to bring drawing over apps to mainstream
    • Scared of possibilities: pop-up ads!

Links

 

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April 9, 2013 by thewheat

Corner Geeks 23: Facebook’s Home

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Facebook Home

  • An Android lock screen/home screen/app launcher and that focuses around people not apps
  • More that just a widget it’s a full experience
  • Cover Feed
    • First thing you see when you switch on: a lock screen with status updates & notifications
    • 1 status update per page, swipe for more
      • Background status image / profile image that pans slowly
      • Press to show full view
      • Double click to like
      • Like and Comment buttons in the corner
    • Circular unlock
      • Uses your Facebook profile photo as an icon to swipe
      • Swipe up – apps
        • Swipe left for all apps (app drawer)
      • Swipe left – messages
      • Swipe right – last used app
  • Chat Heads
    • Overlay icon of people who you are chatting with
    • Shows over any and all apps
    • Can drag anywhere but docked to screen edge
    • Throw to bottom dismiss
  • Facebook Notifications on lock/home screen
  • HTC First – mid ranged phone for the masses with Facebook Home pre installed.
    • Gets full Android notifications (e.g. Calls, texts, mails) on lock screen vs only Facebook notifications for other phones
    • Back, Home & Menu capacitive buttons

Links

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March 23, 2013 by thewheat

Corner Geeks 22: Samsung Galaxy S4 – Life Companion?

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Samsung Galaxy S4

After much fanfare there S4 was finally revealed and it seems more of an upgrade to the S3 itself but with the latest version of Android and a lot of Samsung software tweaks (some of which should be coming to the S3 as well), The S4 is bigger (screen-wise and feature wise) yet physically smaller and lighter when compared to the S3 (130g vs 133g).

Upgraded specs:

  • Processor (new quad core / an octa-core vs dual core / older quad core – market dependent
  • Screen (5” vs 4.8”)
  • Cameras (13MP vs 8MP)
  • Battery (2600mAh vs 2100mAh)

Specifications

  • 5″ (4.99”) Full HD Super AMOLED 1080p screen (1080×1920, 441ppi)
  • Android 4.2.2
  • 16 / 32 / 64 GB storage with microSD card slot
  • 2GB RAM
  • Similar dimensions to S3 but thinner narrower, lighter
  • 13MP rear camera, 1080p video
  • 2MP front camera, 720p video
  • 2600mAh (removable)
  • 3G & LTE (all LTE frequencies – global roaming)
  • New/Notable features
    • 802.11ac (Typical WiFi, NFC)
    • IR LED for remote control functions
  • Still has microSD & removable battery
  • Extra Sensors: IR Gesture, Temperature, Humidity (in addition to Accelerometer, RGB light, Compass, Proximity, Gyro, Barometer)
  • Available starting end of April and will be available in 155 Countries

Software Tweaks

  • Dual Camera: uses rear and front photos & videos (front video can be toggled as an overlay during the video which recording)
  • Sound & Shot: 5 seconds of audio before/after photo
  • Drama Shot: composite multiple shots (over 100/ second – choose which ones to composite)
  • Eraser: remove unwanted bits in the photo
  • Cinema Photo: make cinegraphs
  • Air view: hover over items to reveal more info (like stylus hover in Note II / mouse hover). Use front camera.
  • S Translator: text to speech and speech to text
    • 9 langauges: English, French, German, Italian, Latin-Amera, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Brazilian Portugese
    • Offline support
    • Integrated into Samsung apps
    • Optical reader app –  so you can take a photo of signs and menus to translate them.
  • Adapt Display: adjust brightness, saturation, contrast depending on what is being used
  • Story Album: automatic photo album creation (e.g. uses location to detect holiday). In-app purchase of physical albums
  • Samsung Home Sync support
    • Home Sync is a physical device with 1TB personal
    • Phone, TV, tablet, PC connectivity
    • NFC tap to connect
  • S Voice Drive: S Voice with interface for driving
  • Samsung Smart Switch: for migrating data from ‘any’ smartphone to the S4
  • Glove support
  • Samsung Hubs: video, book, games store
  • Samsung Knox: separates work and personal space
  • Group play: sync devices to play music together. Games support it.
  • ChatOn
    • Dual Video Call: uses front and rear cameras for video chat
    • Screen share
  • Air Gesture: navigate by swiping hand over camera: scrolling, previous/next photo (S3 had something like this)
  • Smart Pause: pauses video when you look away and resumes when resume looking
  • Smart Scroll: tilt device to scroll
  • S Health: health monitoring
    • Keeps and tracks different data with the help of accessories
      • S band, Body Scale, Heart Rate Monitor
    • Tracks
      • Calorie Consumption / Burned
      • Sleep Pattern
      • Heart Rate
      • Exercise
      • Weight
      • Blood Sugar & Blood pressure

Accessories

  • Pouch
  • Flip Cover
  • Protective Case
  • S View Cover: transparent section to view things like caller ID

Links

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March 7, 2013 by thewheat

Corner Geeks 21: The Android Journey

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Listen to @mfirdaus‘ journey into Android from the world of iOS

 

Android_Robot_200Show Notes

  • Customisation
  • Notifications
    • Lock screen notifications on iOS are better
    • Android doesn’t provide the same API as iOS does and requires that the lock screen to know the app first before being able to show a notification for it.
    • Android 4.1′s advanced notifications don’t seem to be in all apps
  • Fragmentation
    • Default Android apps overridden by manufacturer customisation (e.g. Samsung camera app / S Planner instead of the standard camera / calendar app found on Nexus devices)
  • Responsiveness & Web Browsing
    • iOS generally has a better snappiness and responsiveness but with Project Butter in Android 4.1, Android seems to be on par (at least on newer devices)
    • iOS seems better in terms of performance and responsiveness for web browsing and PDF viewing
    • Older iOS devices will probably be better than current mid-range and budget Android devices
  • File System
    • Android has a full file system that all apps can read all files.
    • iOS has a limited file system. All apps have their own file system readable by their own app but there are some shared file systems ‘folders’ such as the photos
    • iOS has certain files grouped/tied into different apps: photos in Gallery, PDFs in iBooks. Simple but provides easy access vs Android that requires a file manager.
  • Sharing
    • Android sharing intents allow passing files from one app to another via a standard sharing method. Makes workflows simple and straight forward
    • iOS can only share to limited apps (Twitter, Facebook, Email)
    • Advanced iOS sharing doesn’t seem to be fully implemented properly in all apps (open a PDF in Safari has an “Open in…” button which doesn’t show if the PDF is opened in iBooks)
    • Share via HTTP: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.MarcosDiez.shareviahttp
  • Apps
    • Still many iOS first or iOS exclusive apps
    • Not many Android only / exclusive apps
  • App Development & Testing
    • Android easier to develop on actual hardware: you can develop and copy files to any device
    • iOS requires a jailbreak or USD$99/year for a developer account just to use / test it on a physical device
    • iOS requires a Mac, Android is cross platform (Windows, OS X, Linux)
  • Other things not mentioned
    • Default Apps
      • Android can define default apps and keyboards, e.g. you can download a new browser and set it as your default browser when opening any link.
      • iOS it can’t be changed at all
      • Android keyboard customisations are very powerful and you could download a keyboard that suits your needs more. Personally I like Swift Key due to their arrow keys on the keyboard which I find easier for editing typos.
    • Direct File Transfers
      • Possible without specialised apps
      • NFC, WiFi direct, Bluetooth enable it via “Share option” in file managers
    • Updates
      • iOS has a solid and better OS upgrade path
      • Android upgrade path is slow especially for non Nexus devices. Even for Nexus devices, the update is not instant (can take a few weeks to roll out)
Credits:

The Android robot is reproduced or modified from work created and shared by Google and used according to terms described in the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution License.

Podcast music by www.lucadebernardi.com

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July 15, 2012 by thewheat

Corner Geeks 20 – Google I/O 2012 – Part 3 – The non-Android Bits

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Google I/O 2012 links: I/O websiteDay 1 videoDay 2 video

  • Day 1
    • Google+ Events
      • Party mode that shares all photos to the event page
      • Calendar integration: ensure to disable showing events that you have been invited to and not accepted to show in calendar
    • Google Glass Explorer Edition
      • US$1500. Sky diving, bike stunt, repelling approved
  • Day 2
    • Chrome for iOS
      • iPhone & iPad
      • With features like tab syncing, and password synchronization
    • Google Drive
      • Now available for iOS and Chrome OS
      • Optical Character Recognition (OCR) on images – can search for text in photos
      • Intelligent image search (e.g. search for pyramid and it can retrieve photos with pyramids in it)
      • Built into ChromeOS
    • Google Docs Offline
      • save changes when offline and uploads when online
    • Google Compute Engine
      • Amazon EC2 competitor
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July 13, 2012 by thewheat

Corner Geeks 19: Google I/O 2012 – Part 2 – Android 4.1 Jellyean

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Google I/O 2012 links: I/O websiteDay 1 videoDay 2 video

Android 4.1 Jellybean

  • Overview of new features, API Notes & official changelog from Google
  • Project Butter
  • Notifications improvement
    • Actions straight from notifications. No need to open app
      • Call person from missed called
      • Email all attendees for meeting
      • +1 or share straight from the notifications
    • Different views: normal (text snippet), bigger view (with lots of text), picture view (with images)
  • Google Now
    • Siri / S-voice competitor
    • Based on knowledge graph to show results based on context
    • Card based interface with each card showing information
    • More than just text as text answers: photos as well. With Google search at the bottom
    • Natural sounding voice
    • Proactive digital assistant giving automatic reminders / information based on context. Example: reminds you that you should leave in 5 minutes in order to meet your appointment due to traffic on the highway. It has your scheduled information in the calendar, it knows the route and traffic you should take and calculates the time it would take to reach destination.
    •  Google now creepy knowing your behaviour but gives relevant results
  • Offline voice typing: core engine shrunk to work offline, but if there is an Internet connection it works better
  • Homescreen improvements: when placing new widget on a screen it will automatically reflow icons to fit it or shrink the widget in order to fit it on the screen
  • Predictive keyboard. New keyboard layouts and languages. User installable keymaps
  • Accessibility improvements – gesture mode with speech guidance. USB/Bluetooth Braille inputs
  • Camera tweaks. Swipe to review. Tap and share.
  • Android beam: initiate transfers via NFC and now allowing larger transfers via Bluetooth
  • WiFi network and WiFi direct service discovery: find services available via device son the network (e.g. printer) or via an app on another Android device (direct P2P without a need for a network)

Developer Related Features

  • Update over the air for Galaxy Nexus, Motorola Xoom & Nexus S in mid July
  • SDK available today
  • App encryption: all paid apps encrypted with a device-specific key before they are delivered and stored on a device to prevent piracy
  • Smart / Delta updates
    • Automatically handled by the Play Store
    • Support for Android 2.3 Gingerbread & above
    • 1/3 the size of regular updates
  • Android Device Messaging C2DM now called Google cloud messaging
    • Multi-casting
    • Free. No quota limits
  • Android Platform Development Kit
    • For hardware manufacturers
    • Given new version 2-3 months before release (for better / faster updates)

Note: Image licensed via Google under CC-BY

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July 11, 2012 by thewheat

Corner Geeks 18: Google I/O 2012 – Part 1 – Nexus Q & Nexus 7

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Google I/O 2012 links: I/O websiteDay 1 video, Day 2 video

Nexus Q

  • The creation from Project Tungsten ‘home automation’ mentioned in Google  IO 2011
  • Streams music / video from Google Play
  • A social Jukebox – multiple users can control the playlist and add items from their Play content
  • Phone / tablet as a controller
  • NFC enabled: tap to download software, pair over Bluetooth
  • Allows streaming to different devices/rooms
  • 25W amp built-in
  • Optical in (S/PDIF), Banana jacks, ethernet, micro USB, micro HDMI
  • 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth, NFC
  • Dual Core CPU (same as Galaxy Nexus) 16GB, 1GB RAM
  • Made in USA
  • US$299
  • More at the Nexus Q site

Google Play

  • Largest eBook collection
  • Adding:
    • Movie purchasing (previously just rental)
    • TV shows (episodes & seasons)
    • Magazines (with possible 14 day trial)

Nexus 7

  • 7” (1280×800 screen), Quad core CPU, 12 core GPU
  • Android 4.1 Jellybean
  • Up to 9 hours video playback
  • 340 grams (same weight as Galaxy Tab 7.7)
  • Similar to original Galaxy Tab dimensions
  • MicroUSB for data and charging (no proprietary cables)
  • Front facing camera only
  • No 3G / microSD
  • Homescreen only portrait
  • US$199 (8GB) / US$249 (16GB)
  • Ships Mid July to US, Canada, UK, Australia
  • More at the Nexus 7 site
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June 23, 2012 by thewheat

Corner Geeks 17: WWDC 2012 – Part 3 – Macbook Pro with Retina Display

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Specifications (Full specifications at Apple)

  • Thinner 15″ Macbook Pro with 4 times the resolution (2880 x 1800)
  • Quad-core Intel Core i7 (starting at 2.3GHz)
  • SSD based (starting at 256GB configurable to 768GB)
  • 8GB RAM
  • Intel HD Graphics 4000 & NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M (1GB)
  • 7 hours battery life
  • 2 x Thunderbold ports, 2 x USB 3.0 ports, 1 x full HDMI port, 1 x full SD card slot, 1 x headset port
  • 720p HD FaceTime webcam, 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0

More features at Apple.com

Brunei Prices (via AV Electronics Facebook)

  • B$2988 (cash price): 2.3GHz Intel Quad Core i7, 256GB, 8GB RAM
  • B$3788 (cash price): 2.6GHz Intel Quad Core i7, 512GB, 8GB RAM
Links

Other notes

  • All laptops (Macbook Air and Macbook Pro) upgraded to new the newer Ivy Bridge chipsets and get USB 3.0 ports
  • Macbook Pro 17″ discontinued but still available in 13″ & 15″ (non-retina)
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June 20, 2012 by thewheat

Corner Geeks 16: WWDC 2012 – Part 2 – Mountain Lion

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OSX Mountain Lion

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