Blog entries tagged with "android"

Tablet vs laptop

Saturday, December 8th, 2012 at 5:50 pm

Before heading up to Sydney for OSDC I made the deliberate decision to not take along a laptop. Instead I would operate from two android devices, my Galaxy Nexus phone and my Nexus 7 tablet.

It worked … sort of.

Before I left I tested out pairing the tablet (and the phone for giggles) with a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard (both of the Microsoft variety). This was quite easy, but I didn’t know how well they worked for actual use. Once in Sydney I can say that there was only one time that I used the keyboard and that was only when I needed to type a long email. The mouse turned out to be mostly annoying as I kept expecting it to behave like a desktop mouse, not like another touch input.

The remainder of the time they were not used as I tended to sit on the couch (while watching television) in my hotel room checking email and doing some web browsing.

This leads into the two biggest frustrations:

  • While the Gmail app (on both phone and tablet) is great for checking and quick reading of messages, it wasn’t enough (for me at least) in regard to email management – I need my quick links to searches.
  • A secondary frustration (offset by bookmarks syncing in Chrome) was the Mobile browser. It just doesn’t compare to a desktop browser and I was often given a mobile site which didn’t have what I needed, or a desktop site that wasn’t usable.

When I get home (currently writing this on the phone while waiting at Sydney airport) I have a number of email messages to read properly and an equally longer list of bookmarks to sort through.

Next time I will plan to take along a laptop. My work laptop (while not an ultrabook) is still quite small at 12″ so the only complexity is to borrow a bag to simplify having that in carry on along with all my camera gear. But once at my destination I will have a full computer to use.

Another thing that was annoying was how to get the tablet connected to the internet. While I knew that making my phone a WiFi hotspot would work, I first gave Bluetooth tethering a try, but it was not good for repeated use.

While I could turn on Bluetooth and enable tethering on the phone, and then tell the tablet to use the paired phone for internet access, it wouldn’t remember these settings. It also occasionally forgot them mid session requiring me to turn the settings off and back on again. I ended up returning to WiFi which would just work as soon as I turned it on from the phone as the tablet would automatically reconnect.

Hopefully Android not remembering the tethering settings for Bluetooth is just a bug, and other (eg bigger tablets) may fare better so the mileage of others may vary.

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Three months with Android

Sunday, October 17th, 2010 at 10:07 pm

Three months ago I switched away from an iPhone to an Android based device. About a week after it arriving by courier the iPhone 4 was released in Australia and I began writing a post about my first week and a bit with the Samsung Galaxy S (SGS).

I didn’t get very far as the week turned into a month, then into two and now into three. Part of my excuse is that the official release of Froyo (Android 2.2) for the phone was imminent. That is still to happen, but of course it will be released for Australia tomorrow now that I have written this post.

So what is the phone like?

To be honest it is nothing special, because it does exactly what I expect from a device of its kind. It does phone calls, text messages and most importantly it has a web browser. Of course it has other features, which have been occasionally useful. These include a camera, playing videos, viewing photos, listening to music and downloadable apps. But these are all expected.

One thing that did surprise me was the Gmail client. At first I still had my email hosted at home so I tried out a few IMAP clients. None of them worked as well as I wanted them to.

However, once I moved my mail up into Gmail I was able to use the Gmail app, which, unlike the IMAP apps I tried, just worked. Actually, no. It didn’t just work, it worked extremely well. It works so well that I am happy to state that anyone reading email on an Android device that isn’t Gmail is doing it wrong.

I would also take that statement the other way, that anyone using IMAP to access Gmail is also doing it wrong. The Gmail model of messages is different enough that IMAP has to make compromises to work at all. I assume there are some people that can make Gmail over IMAP work reliably, but the majority of people don’t and that just seems to cause problems.

But back to the phone…

During the three months I have played around with other aspects of the phone (including SL4A, the Scripting Layer for Android, which allowed me to control the phone using perl) but none have progressed from playing to regular use.

What I have realised from this is that I am too lazy to care about shiny things, I need them to be practical. The SGS has proved to be that, practical.

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Changing to Android

Friday, July 16th, 2010 at 5:37 pm

A week ago I began writing a blog post with the self-explanatory title of “Should I get an iPhone 4?” That post is no longer needed, as in the course of writing it I made the decision to replace my aging iPhone 3G with an Android based device. Specifically the Samsung Galaxy S.

So what has prompted me to change? In order to answer that I took a step back and analysed how I have actually been using my iPhone in the (almost) two years that I have had it.

The easiest way to categorise my usage is to break it down into what icons I have in what areas of the iPhone.

The four icons I have in the dock are:

  • Mail – Checking email is my most common action, this is against my home IMAP server, but I am again considering trying Gmail.
  • Messages – I don’t send many text messages a month, but still an order of magnitude more than voice calls.
  • Safari – Looking up an arbitrary page is also something I do often.
  • Calendar – Follows behind email in regard to usage, this is synced with my Google Calendar.

Many of the icons I have on the various home screens are never used, this is across all of the screens. However, which screen an icon is on does relate somewhat to how much I use it.

Home screen 1:

  • Phone – Mostly to view missed calls, and very occasionally to make a direct call.
  • Photos and Camera – I will take a photo as a reminder (eg of a price tag or similar) and then forget to look at the photos. I also keep a copy of my camera club competition entries as a reminder of what my entries were.
  • Contacts – Occasional lookup in order to make a phone call. It is more useful for caller id of incoming calls.
  • Maps – For looking up maps when I am going somewhere unfamiliar.
  • Clock – To set alarms that fail to wake me up
  • Settings – Should be obvious…
  • LibraryThing – Web link to my book catalog. Has prevented me from getting duplicate books at book sales.
  • iPod – Very rarely I listen to the music I have on the phone.

Home screen 2:

  • eBay – Used more often recently as I decimate the collection.
  • WordPress – Very occasional input of blog post ideas.
  • Metlink – Very occasional use when needing to catch public transport to get somewhere.
  • OZ Weather – Although there now appears to be a full app, I still use the web app version to check the forecast.
  • LaTwit (paid app) – About half of my posts to identica/twitter/facebook are made from here.
  • HOYTS – Link to mobile version of Hoyts site for movie session time. (I also use the mobile version on the desktop as it is much more usable that the full site)

Home screen 3:

  • Facebook – If I am really bored and reading status updates through email isn’t enough, very rare.
  • IMDb – Before or after a movie to check details or look up trivia.

Home screen 4:

  • TouchTerm – Used once or twice to remotely change mail filtering when at a conference.
  • Flickr – Occasional use to search for photos.

From my research so far I haven’t found anything that I use my phone for on a regular basis that Android will not do out of the box. I expect that I will try out a variety of alternate apps, and in a few months I intend to write a followup post.

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