Tag Archives: Google

A 7in tablet is not just a smaller 10.1in tablet

I’ve recently been using a Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9, one of the newest generation of Android tablets running Honeycomb (an Ice Cream Sandwich update is in the pipeline. Even though it’s not significantly cheaper than the 10.1in Tab, I got it because of the different form factor: it’s significantly lighter and easier to carry around than the iPad I already use, and makes a nice contrast to the bigger tablets.

However, it also illustrates the issues with using an interface which is designed for larger screens on a smaller touch screen. Some of the applications which are designed specifically for Honeycomb have controls and buttons which are perfect for touching on a 10.1in screen, but which are just a shade too small to accurately hit on something a couple of inches smaller.

This is a point that Harry McCracken makes very well in his post on how it must be possible to build a good 7in tablet. As Harry puts it:

No, the reason that a 7″ iPad seems unlikely in the short term is because it would only have a shot at greatness if it had an interface and apps designed with a 7″ display in mind. A 7″ tablet isn’t just a big smartphone, and it’s not a tinier 9.7″ tablet. Building a 7″ iPad by essentially making the iPhone’s pixels larger or the iPad’s pixels smaller would be the wrong way to go about it.

Part of the problem that Android tablets face is that the free-form nature of Android development means that any vendor can decide on sizes and simply hack its own version of the operating system on to the tablet. If Android applications then don’t fit properly, it’s not the vendor’s problem. It’s just the user’s

The real problem with Google TV

It looks like Logitech is out of the Google TV market:

The mistake, plus “operational miscues in EMEA” cost the company “well over $100M in operating profits.” De Luca did throw Google a bone by saying that he believes Google TV will have a chance sometime in the future, but it would be a “grandchild of Google TV” that would do it. Logitech clearly has no plans to help make that happen, opting instead to sit “on the bench” (as De Luca had put it in an earlier call)  until Google can find success.

The real problem, though is that “Internet on the TV” is not where TV watchers are going. Instead, most TV watching is trending towards being a two-screen experience: you watch the show on the big screen, and chat about it  on Twitter or Facebook using a mobile, laptop or tablet. The idea that you do everything on the same screen is just too ’90s.

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Heaven help me, I’m taking the Chromebook challenge

A while ago, I wrote a column for Tap on the differences between Apple and Google’s vision of “the cloud”, and (perhaps unsurprisingly) came down hard on the side of Apple’s. iCloud, as I saw it, was very much the more user-centred version.

The iPad and Chromebook represent two different views of the future of cloud computing. In one – the Chromebook – the applications as well as the data live in the cloud. In the other – the iPad – applications remain firmly on the desktop (or mobile), while the data floats wherever it needs to go.

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Roboto and the open source red herring

I largely agree with John Gruber and many others than Roboto is a bit of an ungainly beast of a font, although it’s much better than the hideous thing it replaces. But I think that John is missing the mark in this statement:

This idea that designers who favor iOS criticize Android for being poorly designed just because it’s from an Apple competitor is nonsense — a bogeyman construct dreamed up by open source zealots who refuse to believe over a decade of evidence that open source UIs tend to be ugly, and that ugly UIs tend to be unpopular.

Being open source has nothing to do with it. Like almost everything in Android, Roboto is designed, used and built at the instigation of Google: it’s not like Roboto was created by an amateur font creator sat in a basement who wanted to contribute to a project.

Android’s design deficiencies have nothing to do with the source being open. Android’s design deficiencies are down to Google not being great at designing consumer products. Android could be completely closed, and it would still look the same.

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The unbearable impoliteness of being, online

Why do people feel the need to be abusive online? Why do they believe that behaviour which they would never consider to be acceptable face-to-face is perfectly fine when using the Internet?

A case in point: these two tweets directed at Doctor Who writer Steven Moffat:

Calling someone a “cunt”? Declaring that you’d like to perpetrate physical violence against someone who you’ve never met? Is this acceptable behaviour anywhere?

There is, unfortunately, a nasty strain of macho bullshit that exists online that says, yes, this is perfectly acceptable. Well I don’t think it is – and I’m pretty tempted to do something about it.

What can I do? Well, one thing would be to use the Google juice of this blog to name and shame offenders. Because it’s been around for so long and linked to from so many sources, this blog tends to get rated pretty highly. If I mention someone’s name prominently, and they don’t already have a big online presence on a major site, it’s quite likely that a search for their name would turn up a page on here.

So I could name and shame people, thus displaying to friends, family and potential employers exactly what they think is an acceptable way to treat other people. Shaming them by tying them to their own words and forcing them to acknowledge their behaviour would, I think, be an excellent way to show them their behaviour isn’t on. Free speech is great – but you had better be prepared to stand behind those words when you put them out there.

I’m tempted, but I’m not going to do it… for now.

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“Why have a Chromebook if Android runs Chrome?”

Jason Perlow asks a pertinent question:

It’s important to note that if we had the Chrome browser on an Android tablet, why would we want a Chromebook? For the price of a Chromebook you could pick up an Android tablet with a keyboard that connects via dock or bluetooth. You would have the same functionality, plus the added capabilities of Android.

You would also have something running on a massively-less secure operating system, which is currently a prime target for malware authors.

I’m currently using a Chromebook as my main mobile machine, having had my beloved MacBook Air stolen. Using one is a culture shock, and it’s a profoundly different view of the world. But I’d much rather have it than a crappy Android tablet and some kind of hokey docking station (the keyboard on the Samsung is lovely).

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Why can’t anyone match the iPad?

To put it simply no one can match the iPad because no one can match Apple’s prices with a tablet that matches its features:

When better equipped (though bulkier) netbooks can be had for $250, tablet-makers need to set their sights below $200. There is just one problem: the cost of the components currently used comes to more than that. According to the market research firm iSuppli, the basic TouchPad cost Hewlett-Packard $306 to build.

At the moment, as The Economist correctly points out, Google’s strategy isn’t working either:

But the ultimate killer feature that Android and other tablets have failed to replicate is the care Apple took from the start to ensure enough iPhone applications were available that took full advantage of the iPad’s 9.7-inch screen. Today, over 90,000 of the 475,000 applications available online from Apple’s App Store fully exploit the much larger screen size. By contrast, only a paltry 300 or so of the nearly 300,000 apps for Android phones have been fully optimised for the Honeycomb version of the Android operating system developed for tablets—though many of the rest scale up with varying degrees of success.

There simply isn’t enough incentive at the moment to develop applications which fully take advantage of Honeycomb. And Google doesn’t appear to be pushing developers to do it.

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Unhappy with social network real name policies? Do it yourself

Hugh MacLeod:

And as I’ve said many times over the years, Web 2.0 IS ALL ABOUT personal sovereignty. About using media to do something meaningful, WITHOUT someone else giving you permission first, without having to rely on anyone else’s resources, authority and money. Self-sufficiency. Exactly.i.e. not waiting for the green light. In the blogosphere, the only light IS the green light.

This is something the people complaining about “real names” policies need to remember. If you’re posting content on someone else’s site, you’re playing by someone else’s rules. If you’re not happy about that, don’t keep asking permission – pleading with the king for a “fair” approach won’t get you far. Do it yourself.