Postulates and ponderings on tech, gaming, pop culture, and other items of little consequence.
A few initial thoughts about Google’s announcements made today at their developer conference keynote:
After polishing a lot of the rough edges of Android’s UI in Ice Cream Sandwich, it looks like Rubin and Co. are now tackling the issues with touch response and choppiness with Jelly Bean. The laggyness of the interface in comparison to iOS or WP7 has plagued the OS for years now, so it’s heartening to see that Google is still busy ironing out the kinks in Android’s plumbing.
Offline voice dictation sounds killer. Hopefully the time it takes the CPU to process speech and turn it into something legible is at least comparable, to the average rate it takes for cloud-based backends to work (which is often much too slow for my tastes).
Android’s notification system is still vastly superior’s to iOS, and a lot of the new additions simply make the gap that much wider.
Wow, the Nexus 7 was even bigger shot across Amazon’s bow than I originally imagined. I initially figured it would like be a souped up, Mountain-view sanctioned Galaxy Tab. Instead it’s basically Google’s version to the Kindle Fire, which is to say it’s basically a digital vending machine for the company’s Play storefront. I have my doubts about whether or not that’s a solid play (pun not intended) on their front, especially since consumers are more used to forking over dough to Amazon or Apple rather than Google.
The Nexus Q looks pretty cool, I guess. I doubt it will light the world on fire, though, especially with it’s $299 price tag.
Speaking of ridiculous price tags, developers will soon be able to pay $1,500 to look like complete dork in public with Google Glass. Sign me up.
Since Readability launched just over a year ago, we’ve continued to evolve. The team has built an incredible platform for reading, along with our own apps for iOS and Android. Readability has been integrated into Pulse, Reeder, Longform, and several other chart-topping apps. We’ve attracted millions of readers that are loyal to Readability and use the service every day.
And we’ve taken some chances. Run some experiments. Today, we’re announcing the end of one of those: As of June 30, 2012, Readability will no longer accept reader fees.
Of course, users who donated their money to the service in hopes that publishers would magically line up and collect unsolicited funds will never see a dime of their money back, but whatevs. At least Readability is giving any unclamined money to charity.
Matthew Panzarino, with The Next Web:
Any company that is as detail-oriented as Apple is bound to attract the kinds of folks that would complain about something as insignificant as a blurry icon. That’s why it’s not all that surprising that, for years, the fact that the ‘shutdown spinner’, an animated icon that appears for seconds when a device is shutting down, was not updated for Retina displays, has been a running in-joke.
Well the long nightmare is finally over. We can report that the shutdown spinner is now Retina-ready in iOS 6.
The low-res shut down spinny-thing has actually annoyed me every time I had to see it. Glad to see Apple is still busy polishing the little things.
Jason Schreier with Kotaku, interviewing Ron Rosenberg, executive producer of the upcoming Tomb Raider reboot:
In the new Tomb Raider, Lara Croft will suffer. Her best friend will be kidnapped. She’ll get taken prisoner by island scavengers. And then, Rosenberg says, those scavengers will try to rape her.
“She is literally turned into a cornered animal,” Rosenberg said. “It’s a huge step in her evolution: she’s forced to either fight back or die.”…
…“When you see her have to face these challenges, you start to root for her in a way that you might not root for a male character.”
So the only way Crystal Dynamics feels they can create a likeable, vunerable leading lady is by having her face enemies who want to force themselves on her, all while she moans and grunts in a suggestive manner?
Is it possible for games to tackle subjects such as rape in a tasteful and respectful manner? Of course. But, judging by the tactless and somewhat creepy comments by Mr. Rosenberg, I doubt Tomb Raider will be the game to do so.
(Via Allistair Pinsof with Destructoid)
Kim Yoo-chul, with the Korea Times:
Samsung Electronics is expected to make a foray into the social network service (SNS) market early next year by introducing a Facebook-like service, according to Samsung officials, Tuesday…
…Internally, the company calls the project Samsung Facebook.
A reported mockup of the “new” network’s logo can be found here.
(via Tom Warren with The Verge)
It’s a pity Richard Stallman is such a boor because he’s actually right about some things: if we aren’t vigilant, the general public will have its legal right to build and run arbitrary software on hardware they own eroded to the point where it’s impossible to do so legally.
I believe this is the thinking behind the EFF’s proposed “bill of rights” for mobile computer users: nobody wants or needs to log in to the root prompt on their iPad on a daily basis but it’s incredibly important it remains possible and legal to do so.
Atkins brings up a good point here. While it may be easy to dismiss Stallman, Doctorow, and other open-source evangelists as zealots with an axe to grind against Apple and iOS, there is a kernel of truth to their claims that the freedom we currently enjoy with our computers is in danger. The failure of SOPA has done little to stilt the the MPAA in its crusade against legitimate customers in the name of anti-piracy, and that’s just one front of many where special interests threaten the rights of technology users.
While I believe that the EFF has unfairly characterized iOS as a “crystal prison”, Apple could open up its mobile platform in a manner that doesn’t betray its strengths in security and stability. One idea that’s commonly discussed is the implantation an “advanced” user level, which would allow for the installation of applications outside of the App Store. Such a feature would placate both users who desire more freedom from their iPhone’s software and the average user who simply want an awesome but well behaved phone. I think Apple has achieved this middle-ground with its Gatekeeper function in Mountain Lion, so it wouldn’t shock me in the least to see a similar feature eventually make its way in a future version of iOS.
(Via Daring Fireball)
Now, I know the work of mapping related companies Apple bought in the last few years and wrote about it two years ago in Apple, Google and the map wars. But I have no idea whether Apple will in fact offer a map product next week or how good it may be. It looks like Google thinks Apple will and it may be good enough to resort to FUD. That’s good enough for me.
Google’s transformation into Microsoft 2.0 continues.
It’s great to see Kontra updating his blog again, as his commentaries are easily some of the smartest pieces of tech writing on the web.
Ellis Hamburger with The Verge:
Instapaper for Android launches today for $2.99 on smartphones and tablets, and you can find it in the Google Play Store and soon in the Amazon App Store and Nook Store. What makes the app launch so significant is that aside from Instagram and Flipboard, Instapaper might just be the next-most-desired (and elusive) Android app ever. The excitement surrounding a possible Instapaper Android app has not been just because people wanted the app itself, but also because creator Arment often publicly expressed distaste for building on Android — almost out of principle.
Color me surprised. The app looks pretty damn good, retaining the same basic experience as the iOS app while adhering to traditional Android design cues.
Judging by the crop of commenters complaining about the app’s $2.99 pricing or its “feature deficiency” in comparison to competitors, Marco faces an uphill battle if he intends to make his Android business as profitable as his iOS one.
(Via Shawn Blanc)
Ki Mae Heussner, with GigaOm:
When AdKeeper launched as a virtual ad-clipping service last February, the big question was: will people actually want to save online ads? More than one year later, the company still says the answer is “yes.” But they’re finding that consumer behavior isn’t changing as fast as they’d hoped. So while they wait for the industry to catch up with their vision (or scramble frantically to convince people the service is worth their time, depending on your point of view), they’ve decided to spread some of the $40 million they’ve raised on other ways of connecting consumers and brands.
Wow, I had no idea this service even existed.
Given the popularity of ad-stripping services like Instapaper, Pocket, or even Apple’s Reader function baked into Safari, I believe consumers are much more interested in connecting with content, not brands.
(Via The Brooks Review)