The One Thing iOS Got Right, Android Does Decently, and BlackBerry 10 Got VERY Wrong!
Mar13

The One Thing iOS Got Right, Android Does Decently, and BlackBerry 10 Got VERY Wrong!

Before I even begin, I will just say that in case you didn’t know, this is an opinion piece, my opinion. The topic of this post is up for debate and I am going to be explaining my take, but it is by no means written in stone. A smartphone is a super personal device that is intended to meet the needs of the person using it. It is for this reason that no two smartphones, once personalized by the owner, look alike. Apps aligned differently, widgets, settings, and wallpapers, all set to the preference of the user. The notification system is no different. Given the insanely fast pace by which the tech space including mobile and web, is moving, notification overload is becoming a serious problem for many people. Take me for example. I am getting notifications throughout the day for the following services: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Path, Google+, Email, Calendar, iMessage, and more. Now, as you probably know, I am using an iPhone 5 at the moment, and all in all, I think iOS offers me the best notification system to keep things under control. I want an app to ping me when a notification comes in? Sure. I don’t? No problem. I like being notified when my phone is locked without the need to turn on the phone? Not a problem. I don’t? We can do that too. Android? Well, it is not a bad notification system, but, at least from someone used to iOS, it is far from perfect. Take the ability to have my phone’s screen turn on when a new email comes in. Android won’t allow that. Yes, there are apps to facilitate that functionality, but really, shouldn’t it be a lot easier? I want to know who is sending me an email to my work account (Exchange. Yes, really.) without the need to open the app and look. Sorry, Android folks, not possible right now. I can go on and on but the point is, Android notifications are ok, but not great… Here, however, is the kicker. The mother of email and father of productivity, BlackBerry, just released their new OS that is supposed to be the company’s savior. And to be honest, it is actually a pretty awesome attempt. More on that here. Except, there seems to be one part of the OS that BlackBerry completely forgot to include and it pretty much makes the phone useless to a person with a lot going on. There is the BlackBerry Hub where you can see all the messages you got including Twitter, Facebook, Email, etc. and I will go back to that...

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First Impression of the BlackBerry Z10 from an iPhone 5 User and Note 2 Lover
Mar04

First Impression of the BlackBerry Z10 from an iPhone 5 User and Note 2 Lover

Ok, that title was a bit awkward but just to clarify, I use the iPhone 5 as my daily smartphone but only out of lack of a better option. The Note 2 was that better option but unfortunately, as I’ve mentioned, it was stolen. So I am still on the lookout for a phone I can truly love and the Lumia 920 is also pretty high up. Now that we got that out-of-the-way, I am going to request something of you, the person reading this post. I know it is a crazy request but if you don’t mind, before you attack me in the comments or on the social web, please read the post till the end as I will try to address all the questions and comments I am pretty sure you are going to throw at me. So here goes… I got my shiny new BlackBerry Z10 yesterday and yes, it was sent to me from the fine folks over at BlackBerry, so there is my disclosure. At no point did anyone ask me to write anything about it, let alone, praise it. The phone was given to me with what seemed like a strong confidence that I would love it. Is that confidence justified? Ah, the million dollar question. So here is my impression of the phone/platform that is supposed to make BlackBerry relevant again. In case you have no intention of granting my request and reading till the end, the answer to the question is yes, the Z10 and BB10 DOES indeed make BlackBerry relevant again. But we are getting ahead of ourselves… The Hardware/Build Quality I will get straight to the point. This phone is built with finer attention to detail than any Android phone, period. Yes, even the beautiful Nexus 4. iPhone? Close competition. The size is pretty ideal and the screen is beautiful. The Z10 fits perfectly in your hand and the removable back feels solid, unlike every single Samsung phone on the planet. Speaking of the back, without getting into technical details of materials, the back of the Z10 feels amazing in your hand, and overall the phone feels more natural than any other phone I have ever held, including all the generations of iPhones. BlackBerry 10 Interface While my friends over at BlackBerry believe the learning curve for the BB10 is around five minutes, I will respectfully disagree. As a previous Playbook owner, which was the basis for BB10 in terms of gestures, multitasking, and general UI, this thing took me a good few hours to get used to. In fact, there are some UI elements I have still not...

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5 Features Samsung Has to Introduce in the Galaxy S IV to Wake up the Mobile World
Feb20

5 Features Samsung Has to Introduce in the Galaxy S IV to Wake up the Mobile World

A little background. I like to get to the office in the morning and knock out a blog post as early as possible. Except lately, this has been a lot more difficult than it has been for the past few years. Why? Because from where I am sitting, the tech world in general, and the mobile world specifically is at a standstill. I mean, think about it. The most exciting news of the past few months has been an iPad with more storage and some new LG phones. OK, I am exaggerating but not by much. All in all, Apple, Samsung, Microsoft (despite the Surface Pro launch), and all other major mobile players have been putting me to sleep lately. Which is why I tweeted this only to get some great suggestions, but the tweet that caught my attention was this one and so here I am. The one rumor that might change the boring state of mobile tech is of course the upcoming announcement of the flagship Android device by Samsung, the Galaxy S IV. The phone is expected to be announced on March 14th . I, for one, am excited and here’s why. If you have been reading my posts, you know I am on the search for a new phone. I use the iPhone 5 now out of lack of a better option. It just does not excite me like it used to.   You know what excited me? My Note 2. Until it was stolen. Other phones that populate my night table include the HTC 8X and Lumia 920 running Windows Phone. Both great phones, both with a bad notification system and few apps. I also have the Note 1, which I rooted and is now running Android 4.2.1, but the form factor is just too awkward. The Note 2 was narrower despite its larger screen so it fit better in my hand. And so, iPhone 5 it is. Except, the S IV can change that very easily if it has the following five features: 1: Bring the Touchwhiz Down a Notch: So you know how those Nexus devices sell like hotcakes? People like Android, the way it was intended to be. If Samsung can just offer their own features without totally destroying the pure Android experience, that would be a win win. 2: Battery Life Please: We are in 2013, right? And you are telling me you cannot make a battery that easily makes it through the day, maybe two without the phone being astronomically big? Get on that, Samsung. Give me the Note 2 battery life in a form factor my mom could use. 3:...

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Enough with the App Obsession. Here are the Only 10 Apps You Need on iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry 10!
Feb14

Enough with the App Obsession. Here are the Only 10 Apps You Need on iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry 10!

Am I really the only one that finds it completely ridiculous when people don’t buy a phone because it only has 70,000 or 150,000 apps? I can’t possibly be. If I hear one more person say that Windows Phone has no apps or BlackBerry 10 can’t succeed because it is “missing” 700,000 apps that iOS has, all faith in humanity will be lost. Enough already, people. Unless you review apps for a living or just like to collect them, there really is no need for more than 10, max 20 apps on your smartphone. Here is what you “need” in order to perform basic functions on your phone and to stay in touch with friends and contacts. A good GPS app, Facebook (yea, ok, I know, you hate it. So do a billion other users), a good Twitter app, something to snap pictures with and possibly share them, something to read content with, a possible replacement for Apple’s photo gallery, and one or two more apps based on personal taste (like for note taking or task management). If you like to play games from time to time, there is always that category of apps, but I am talking about basic necessities, and things you would use daily. Obviously, there is a lot of my opinion here and everyone has his or her own choice of apps. My only point is that no one normal needs more than 20 apps on their phone. So here is what I use to meet the requirements I mentioned above. GPS app Waze: (iOS / Android) There are of course many many apps that provide turn by turn navigation, but there is no other app I know of, and definitely no free app out there that does it a well as Waze. Chances are, if you are reading this, you heard of Waze, but you might not know that Waze also provides real time crowdsourced traffic reports to the extent that I often turn Waze on to decide which route to take home based on the amount of traffic on each road. Waze also provides gas prices and many other goodies like some fun gamification elements. Again, free. Kind of a no-brainer. Facebook The official Facebook app: (iOS / Android / Windows Phone / BlackBerry) While there are many iOS/Android/Windows Phone apps that enable you to interact with your Facebook. I find that on almost all platforms, the original app is the best. Maybe it is the integration you get when using it, or the way notifications work, while it is far from perfect, it is the best we have. Twitter Tweetbot (iOS), Carbon...

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Five of the best Twitter Apps for Android
Feb05

Five of the best Twitter Apps for Android

Remember the days when there was no decent Twitter app for Android users? Remember how Tweetbot on iOS was leaps and bounds above any app available on Google Play? Well, I would not go as far as to say that there is any Android app that is quite as awesome as Tweetbot on iOS, but there are quite a few that come very very close. So here are my top five Twitter apps on Android based on features, UI, and overall user experience. –        Echofon Pro: For a long time, Echofon was the best Twitter app on iOS as well, but then came some new players and took that crown. Echofon is still a pretty big name in the Twitter developer ecosystem and has apps on iOS, Android, and until recently, Mac. Echofon on Android is one of the fastest and best performing apps on Google Play. All in all, the UI is nice but a little too simple for a power user. For example, one of the best features of the two apps that follow is the ability to replace the default Home timeline with a list. Echofon has minimal customization options. The Echofon Android widget is fast as well but like the app, lacks personalization. –        Tweetings: This app is by far, the most feature-packed of the bunch and the same is true for Tweetings on iOS, Chrome, and Mac. Yes, this independent developer is quite a hard worker. I am also a beta tester of the Android app so I know what to expect from future versions, and let me tell you, this app is super advanced. You want a list as the default view? No problem. Want people to be represented by their real name or their screen name? Whatever works for you. Like to change your default photo/video sharing service or read later service? No problem. If a feature is supported by the Twitter API, Tweetings has it. And that, unlike most other Twitter apps on Android, includes real push notifications. –        Plume: This was my go-to Twitter app for Android back before the days of Echofon and Tweetings. Plume is fast, customizable, and not bad looking.The notifications on Plume are quite annoying as they are bunched together. There are also some other things that bother me about Plume but all in all, the app is fast and works as advertised. If we are talking old school Twitter apps for Android, Twicca would have been the sixth on this list, if there was one. –        Falcon Pro: Between the app and the widget, Falcon was, until yesterday, the most impressive Twitter app on Android,...

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Forget Everything you Know about RIM, BlackBerry 10 will be Different. Here’s Why!
Jan29

Forget Everything you Know about RIM, BlackBerry 10 will be Different. Here’s Why!

I know, I know, I said that about Windows Phone too and Microsoft has yet to prove itself as far as the market is concerned. True, but at the risk of portraying myself as the guy who always roots for the underdog, I still believe both Windows Phone 8 and BlackBerry 10 have a good chance of making their way back to relevancy. Let me explain. Putting Windows Phone aside, since we have talked about that enough, lets talk about RIM and their chances of making a much needed comeback with BlackBerry 10. The OS is expected to be announced in a matter of days and I happen to have some friends on the inside (wow, that sounds um… more hardcore than it is.) and I can tell you, I am cautiously optimistic. I have yet to try the BB10 operating system so my opinion is based on two things: the previews I have seen online and the strategic moves RIM has made so far to push this platform. So in the spirit of blog writing, here is a list of five reasons why I think BlackBerry 10 has a very good chance of making a dent in iOS and Android’s mobile dominance: 1: Ever Meet a BlackBerry User? Exactly. Here is the thing with the world of tech. It moves way too fast. What that causes is a lack of customer loyalty. What I mean is that every day millions of people switch from iOS to Android, Android to iOS, iOS to Windows Phone, BlackBerry to iOS, etc etc. People have very little loyalty to the operating system they use or any tech for that matter. The most loyal type of mobile consumer I can think of is the BlackBerry user. While Apple is busy releasing fancy iPhones, Android is announcing astoundingly large flashy phones, many BlackBerry users stick to their phones, even though they can’t even play Angry Birds on it! (can you imagine?!) Why do they do it? Because as they will tell you “I need my BlackBerry email and I NEED my keyboard”. How true are those statements? Not very true at all. Email on the iPhone and Android devices, especially if you are a Gmail user, are just as good, if not better than on BlackBerry. Keyboard? I mean, really? Yes, it takes 30 seconds to get used to virtual keyboards, but come ON! Except, logic does not play a part here. BlackBerry users love their phones and find it very difficult to switch. That loyalty, found almost nowhere else in the industry will work to RIM’s advantage when BlackBerry 10 is released. RIM...

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Windows Phone 8? Done. But which phone? Nokia Lumia 920 or HTC 8X?
Jan16

Windows Phone 8? Done. But which phone? Nokia Lumia 920 or HTC 8X?

OK, listen up, folks. I get it. Microsoft still has a way to go in dominating the mobile market the way many analysts believe it will do in the coming years. But if we put aside branding and marketing, such as the very name of the OS, Windows Phone (hurts me to say it), Microsoft actually has quite a compelling product on its hands. I have used Windows Phone extensively over the past year with phones such as the Omnia 7, the Lumia 800, and most recently, the Lumia 920 and the HTC 8X. Let’s try to put aside our love or hate of everything Microsoft (like Apple, no one is indifferent to Microsoft. You either love it or hate it.) and focus on the two phones at hand. Both the Lumia 920 and the HTC 8x were sent to me by Microsoft, so let’s just get that out of the way. At no point did anyone ask me to write my thoughts on the phones, but I do believe Microsoft knows how impressive both these phones are, they are confident that by sending them to folks, the phones will speak for themselves. They are right. HTC 8X As my totally non-geeky next door neighbor so elegantly put it, “This phone might be the best looking phone I have ever seen.” Once you hold the HTC 8X, you are pretty much guaranteed to be impressed. The phone is super slim, colorful, solid, and fast. By all standards, whether you are comparing it to the plastic devices from Samsung, the more high end phones from Apple, or even previous solid devices from HTC, the 8X is built to near perfection. Having said that… I cannot force myself to use the 8X on a daily basis and there are several reasons, but one primary one for this. The battery is not replaceable. Fine, I have and continue to use an iPhone, so I am down with that. In fact, the battery on the 8X is impressive, so not a big deal. The on board storage maxes out at 16GB, and I have the 8GB version. Also, not a deal breaker for me, at least until I try to add my music. Most of what I use is in the cloud anyway, so I have no need for more than 16GB of storage. Again, not ideal, but not a deal breaker. But then there is the power/wake button on the 8X. If you have used one of these phones, you are now nodding your head in agreement. If you have not, let me explain. The phone is super slim, which makes it...

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The First Ten Apps I Installed on my Lumia 920 Running Windows Phone 8
Jan09

The First Ten Apps I Installed on my Lumia 920 Running Windows Phone 8

Quite a few weeks it has been, and I am not referring to the holidays or New Years. So in my search for my next smartphone, I was pretty darn satisfied with my Note 2. Then, on a very sad day, as I returned to my office from a meeting, it was gone. Someone took it from my desk. Yes, I tried all the tracking solutions out there including Plan B, Where’s My Droid, and even Samsung’s own Dive site, which is intended to help track lost Samsung devices. None of them were successful and so, with great sadness, I parted with my beloved Note 2 forever and continued my search. Well, lucky for me, pretty much the next day, my package arrived from Microsoft and it had two shiny and beautiful new phones in it. The HTC 8X and the Nokia Lumia 920, both running Windows Phone 8. I will of course compare the two devices in a future post but for now, both are fantastic, both have their upsides as well as their downsides and I have enjoyed using both for the past few weeks. Well, let’s just get right to it, since we all know about the skeleton in the Windows Phone closet. Apps. Yes, there are many apps missing. Many apps I use regularly on iOS and Android are nowhere to be found in the Windows Phone Marketplace. The Marketplace, besides the lack of many apps, is also a mess. The experience of paying or even downloading free apps needs much improvement. Having said all that, the vast majority of apps I use on a regular basis are there,  in one form or another. I am not fooling myself into thinking that the Windows Phone ecosystem is not lacking. It is, but it is far from the disastrous state many bloggers would lead you to believe it is in. So before we get into what is there, let’s talk about what is missing. The only apps I personally need (well, not need but very much want) for Windows Phone and that are absent are Instagram, Waze, Google+, Flipboard, Path (Yes, Path. Big fan), and that is pretty much it. I have hundreds of apps on my iPhone and Android devices, but only use 10-15 of them regularly. Out of those ten, the above five apps are the only ones missing. So what apps do I use regularly on Windows Phone? Here we go: 4th and Mayor (FREE): This is, hands down, the nicest Foursqure app on Windows Phone, and quite possibly the nicest Foursquare app on any platform. With all the features of the original...

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Oh, Instagram’s New TOS Annoys You? Just Wait, It’s Only the Beginning
Dec19

Oh, Instagram’s New TOS Annoys You? Just Wait, It’s Only the Beginning

There are some fantastic posts about the recent Instagram “scandal”, in which the company changed its terms of service to include a clause that reads as follows: “To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you.” One of the best posts on the matter come from MG Siegler here, but the two most important posts come from Nilay Patel at The Verge and Instagram itself. The thing is, the legal ramifications of the new TOS and the company’s response to the outcry are both less important than what is really going on here. Whether or not Instagram winds back the clock and rewords the above clause is irrelevant because the next company will not. You see, there is something bigger going on here and users, myself included are going to have to start getting used to it. This story is the same deal as Facebook changing its privacy settings every other day and the same story as apps automatically tweeting/posting on your behalf. It can be summed up in four simple words: “Business first, privacy second” In a world dominated by free web and mobile services, the only real option we have to preserve our privacy is to not use those services. If you decide to wave that option, even if the service emphasizes its understanding and appreciation of your privacy, you are a fool if you believe them. Why would Instagram/Facebook pay for servers to host all those billions of pictures, if the companies had no intentions of turning them into a business? As many have said before, if you are using a service/app for free, you are not the customer/user, but rather the product. Of course, that company, whichever one it may be, will eventually leverage you and your content for its own good. Will it sell your photos or share your tweets? Will it analyze your posts and target you or will it study your location over an extended period of time in order to better sell to you? All that stuff is the fine print, but there was and never will be a service that is completely free and has no intention of ever monetizing somehow. Now, let me be clear. I am not comfortable with Instagram taking my pictures and using them in ads, that is just crazy talk, but once again, everyone needs to chill out a bit and get used...

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A Week With iPhone 5 After Using the Galaxy Note 2 for a Month
Dec12

A Week With iPhone 5 After Using the Galaxy Note 2 for a Month

I guess we should start with a little context. I have been an iPhone user since the iPhone 4 came out. The original iPhone without 3G was not an option and the 3G/3Gs never did it for me. In those days, I was still using a BlackBerry. Then came the iPhone 4 with its sleek design and I gave into the global peer pressure. I loved my iPhone 4 and 4S even more. Over the years, as a blogger, I tried many other phones, mostly Android devices, but nothing ever came close to the level of polish of the iPhone. And if you had asked me a year ago whether I think Android will ever offer a level of experience iPhone users have, I would probably have laughed at the very thought. I would have been wrong. I have been using the Galaxy Note 2 with Jellybean for a month now and all in all, I am loving the phone and the latest iteration of Android. Then the shiny new iPhone 5 showed up last week and I figured, I have to see if Apple still maintained its wow factor that many consumers experience when unboxing and using an Apple product. Well, I can now report that for the first time ever, opening and using the iPhone 5 lacked any sort of excitement I was used to from past Apple products. But we are getting ahead of ourselves here. Let’s start with the basics. Objectively speaking, the iPhone 5 is an engineering piece of art. It is, and if you cannot acknowledge that, there is something lacking in your objectivity. The phone is almost unbelievably light. No, I do not mean “Unbelievable” the way everyone uses the word. When you pick up the iPhone 5, you literally find it hard to believe that this is a real phone, let alone a device with an 8 megapixel camera, a dual core processor, and tens of gigabytes of onboard storage. “How did they make it so light” is the reaction you, and everyone you show the phone to, will have. Then you turn the phone on and the bewilderment ceases. If you are a geek, then I am not going to tell you anything new here, but to most of the people that asked to see my iPhone 5 and then proceeded to oooh and ahhh, it was shocking to them, that there was nothing new here besides a longer and lighter phone. iOS is just plain yawn-worthy. Nothing new here except for a new row of icons. Yipee. Oh yes, and Panorama functionality in the camera. Yawn. Yes, the camera...

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