What does a $349 Galaxy Nexus really mean?

Now that all the Google IO buzz has settled down I’ve decided to write about what I’ve taken away from it. I’m not going to focus on the same news everyone else has been reporting since everyone knows the highlight reel from this

years IO. The hugely publicized and ridiculously cheap Nexus 7 is now available for $200. I ordered mine 20 minutes after it was announced. However a more interesting price point to me was the $50 price drop on the Galaxy Nexus.

Ever since the advent of the feature phone we have been locked into carrier contracts in order to get a decent phone. This is extremely evident if you look at AT&T’s website. If you want a modern Android phone off-contract you are looking at a $500-$600 purchase. This is approximately the price of a cheaper end laptop and for the average consumer a very high price point for a device with a lifespan less than 2-3 years. The immensely popular and relatively old iPhone 4S off-contract costs a ridiculous $649. So as it stands buying phones off-contract is not a feasible option unless you are a well paid tech enthusiast.

All of this is starting to change since Google IO. The Galaxy Nexus, even though it is a 8 month old device, is running the latest version of Android (4.1 Jelly Bean) and arguably the best running Android phone. So for the sake of argument the Galaxy Nexus is a modern phone. By dropping the price point of the Galaxy Nexus to $350 dollars Google is now saying that it is a viable solution to buy your phone from Google without a contract or being carrier locked. This price point is very important because $350 feels more like a pleasure purchase and less like a major decision purchase. For example it is closer to the price of a gaming console, portable gaming system or an iPod touch. This shows a completely reasonable system for someone to buy the Galaxy Nexus and not feel as bad for upgrading to the new phone in a year.

This change will probably have some lasting effects in the industry over the next couple of years. First and most notable, more and more people will begin buying their phones off contract and not through their carrier. This will mean manufacturers will be in control over their customers devices instead of the carriers. This will result in less carrier bloatware, less carrier restrictions most importantly faster updates. Second, carrier hopping will probably increase exponentially. Now that consumers will be without contracts, when the carriers start charging erroneously and increasing rates consumers will now be able to leave without having to suffer harsh termination fees. This will most likely result in more competition between the carriers and better service. Possibly the most important repercussion of this is that Google will be able to communicate with their customers much better than they could before. In a way that in the past only apple did regularly.

As far as other phone manufacturers, hopefully we will see some of them selling their phones off-contract for a reasonable price. In my opinion this would do nothing but help the industry as a whole and the consumers will definitely benefit.

[Rant] Frustrated with Bloatware

I recently got a Samsung Galaxy S II smartphone with AT&T. First off from a hardware standpoint the phone is glorious. In fact I prefer parts over the recently released Galaxy Nexus. It’s main pitfall is its software. No I’m not talking about Android 2.3.4, I’m talking about the debauchery added to it by AT&T and Samsung.

First off, having been an owner of the original Samsung galaxy S, I’ve never been a fan of Samsung’s touchwiz interface. I know they are trying to make their phones unique but I feel like in a large part they are going in the completely wrong direction. They should do things like offer unique services not offered by Google which can enhance their users experience. They should also offer apps which integrate will with the android ecosystem instead of trying to replace the android ecosystem. Applications added by Samsung such as their own voice control system are an unnecessary addition to the operating system in my opinion but what is even more of a problem than the wasted development time creating these applications is the inability to uninstall the applications. In fact the primary reason I rooted my phone was strictly to uninstall the apps provided by Samsung.

In my opinion the touchwiz interface itself is not as good as the stock android interface. I do appreciate some elements such as messages for call rejection and swipe contacts to call but the dock and app drawer are not nearly as efficient as regular android 2.3. I just wish that Samsung would include a method for flashing a plain ROM without any modifications.

For the main grievance I have had with my new phone is AT&T’s changes. I pay approximately 30 dollars a month for an unlimited data plan which AT&T then blocks parts of my phones functionality. Mainly I’m talking about wifi tethering. I feel like if I’m paying for unlimited wireless tethering I should be able to use it regardless of the device that I am using it on. AT&T however feels that they have the right to charge me not based on the service they provide but on what I do on the internet. This results in me rooting my phone and uninstalling all of there wifi tethering tools in order to get access to the default wifi tethering setup in android. There are also the other AT&T provided apps such as ATT Navigator and MyATT. Navigator is not nearly as nice as Google Maps. I actually enjoy the use of My ATT to view account details so no problem there. But once again these apps are not removable which is a huge complaint. I do believe this device also has CarrierIQ installed so unauthorized tethering makes me nervous even though I encrypt all traffic through a SOCKS proxy since ATT might be monitoring everything happening on my phone.

Anyways those are my thoughts on the subject. ThekKid Signing out.

Asus eee pad transformer first impressions

I was in the market for a tablet and had decided I wanted the eee pad transformer since it seemed the most versatile and I’m in favor of PC vendors over cell phone manufacturers. So this last weekend I picked Eee Pad transformer boxone up and have to say I’m loving it. In fact so much that I’m typing this post on it right now. I have not yet purchased the laptop-keyboard dock but I will in the near future. I never expected to enjoy using a tablet so much and did not realize how much my 17″ MacBook Pro really weighed until I started playing with this device.

My first impressions of the hardware are pretty good. The device is quite light and I like the feel and positioning of the sleep/power and volume buttons. The added black border around the device is quite convenient because my experience with a Xoom resulted in accidentally touching sides of the screen and this does not seem to be the case with the transformer. The sides of the device feel slightly cheap but I’m not really concerned about it. The device’s cameras(front-facing and rear-facing) are well positioned and if held in landscape fingers never appear in shot. The device also has a micro-sd card slot, mini-hdmi port and mic jack on the right side which fulfill their purpose. The device also uses a proprietary charging/data cable instead of the standard micro-usb. This may be an annoyance but I believe it is for added functionality of the dock which has 2 full USB 2.0 ports.

My first uses of the software went great. Honeycomb 3.1 seems to be a very nice tablet operating system and Asus has only made minor improvements such as icons in the lower left, added wallpapers(gorgeous) and added widgets. I could not find some apps in the Android Market such as Facebook but I figure it just takes a bit more effort to get. Android 2.x apps also scale white well onto the larger screen.

To anyone wondering whether the device us worth it I say it definitely is. You may however want to wait until the transformer v2 is released but that might be a while and then they may announce v3. ThekKid signing out.

CES 2011 Recap: Android

As usual I did not get to attend CES this year. This, however, did not stop me from constantly refreshing my Google Reader and staying up on the news. From what I have heard the most popular topic at CES was Android Tablets. Android tablets seemed to come in every color, size and price range imaginable. Lots of these tablets were running on Android 2.2 and below which I am uninterested in since Google provides no official support for tablets below Android 3.0 Honeycomb. The few Honeycomb tablets featured however, seemed very nice a few of which could be true iPad competitors. Some people consider the earlier released Samsung Galaxy Tab a superior product to the iPad. I have personally used both devices and dislike both because in my opinion the iPad feels like a big iPhone and the Galaxy Tab feels like a slightly bigger version of my Samsung Captivate. This may just be because I have a wrong impression of what a tablet can be.

Motorola Xoom

First-off the most impressive tablet introduced at CES is the Motorola Xoom. The Xoom sports a 1 GHz dual-core Tegra 2, a 10.1 inch multitouch screen, and an upgradeable 4G modem. The 4G modem will not be enabled until Q2 since Verizon’s Network can not yet handle it. The Xoom also features a 1280×720 resolution, 5 megapixel camera, 720p video recording(back-camera), 1080p video playback through HDMI(yay),  802.11n wifi, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR and 32 GB of onboard storage. The tablet runs Android 3.0 Honeycomb and supposedly runs it stock with no silly skins BUT a Motorola rep said they would ship motoblur over an OTA update. This would be terrible if it was shipped as a complete skin as Google hired a new UI person, Matias Duarte, who has done great UI work on 3.0 Honeycomb. So hopefully motoblur will either be optional or just be extended features which can not be used. The Xoom will definitely be the number one tablet to look for this year and has an estimated price at $700(with or without contract??) and should be released February 17th.

Asus showed a variety of Android tablets with different purposes at CES. All of which will feature Asus’ MyWave software skin/

First the Eee Pad Transformer is a 10.1 inch tablet which can be docked into an optional keyboard/trackpad and make a laptop experience.

The Asus Eee Pad Slider features a slide-out miniature keyboard for typing. It also acts as a stand when pulled out. I personally find this design appealing but am not sure how well the sliding experience will work and how well Asus’ skin will integrate with the keyboard.

Lastly from Asus the Eee Pad MeMO is a smaller 7 inch tablet with a focus on pen input. The tablet is also pretty then and has a very bright screen with an excellent viewing angle.

T-Mobile and LG announced the T-Mobile G-Slate with Android 3.0 and built-in 4G. Other than this not much is known about the device.

That’s it for the main Android 3.0 tablets. My suggestion is if you want one of the upcoming tablets to probably go with the Motorola Xoom since it appears to be the working model being used on Google Campuses as their 3.0 Tablet test-bed. This means it is likely to receive first updates and the like. You may however want to wait to find out more about the introduction of the motoblur interface before making your decision. No matter what happens 2011 should be a very interesting year for tablets.

Starting the New Year Right

Since It’s almost New Years I thought it would be a good idea talk about how to start the New Year off on the right foot.

1. Get Organized

First and Foremost I believe that it is important to start the new year organized. Whether it’s cleaning up your room, alphabetizing the bookshelf or just finishing up the laundry you should get organized so that 2011 will hopefully run smoother.

2. Set up that Calendar

If you’re like me you aren’t adamant enough about updating your calendar. I personally use Google Calendar to manage my schedule. Since the new year is beginning there has never been a better time to put in all those appointments, holidays and birthdays so you don’t forget and end up disowned for thinking that your mom’s birthday was next week (oops…).

3. Manage Those Finances

There’s nothing worse than looking at that graphics card everyday always saying next month I’ll have the money and a year later the graphics card being half the price and you have even less money than you started with. Now is a good time to start managing your money and start budgeting expenses so you can plan on saving for all those things you don’t need.

4. Clean up that Hard Drive

Since I got a Blu-ray Drive for Christmas I have spent a considerable amount of time ripping movies to my computer. So I know, It’s only when you run out of space do most people begin deleting anything. All those temp files and the thousand or so documents I know you’ve collected on your desktop need to go. Also if you have tons of applications installed that you don’t need anymore you might as well remove them as they’re just taking up space. In my case I went through deleting the 50 gigs of tetris replays I had laying around. I just hope my 3 TB lasts me through 2011.

5. Make some goals

I’m not trying to be cliché and saying you need a strong list of new year’s resolutions BUT I will say that having some simple goals and direction can make a gargantuan difference in the long run.

6. Just Relax

Lastly take it easy. Hopefully this won’t be your last year and you’ll have plenty of time left to do everything you need to so just try to have fun and live life to it’s fullest with no regrets.

Software Engineer and Mathematician