Guy Kawasaki on Android

Use the best tool is probably the best “tech-philosophy” out there. I think a good deal of company managers forget that most people think like that and assume that consumers are some sort of “herd” you possess and that won’t go away, no matter what stupid decisions you make to screw them over.

I do disagree on Guy on his opinions on widgets and the rest of Android all-over-the-wall approach though. But i strongly feel that it’s basically a matter of personal preferences and focus, not exactly what’s better technological wise. I’m a strong minimalist / just want it to work effectively /no fuss kind of guy when it relates to my phone.

I will rather have a simple cheap phone that does what a phone should do really well than have a crappy cheap Android phone that might be a reasonable pocket computer but a lousy phone. I love general purpose “full computers” but for some items i just want them to work really, really well. No fuss! My brief experiences with iOS were perfect on that matter. My experiences with Android were everything but that.

I have no doubt that my “first” smartphone will be an Android, though. iPhone’s current prices are absurdly expensive for my very slim wallet, and even though i had some hopes for WebOS and Windows Phone 7 (and even Blackberry) they all managed to drop the ball one way or another, (( considering my ideal of a phone )) which is a damn shame. However every time i open up my browser on my carrier’s available smartphones, i never find a single phone that i simultaneously really want or can afford. Maybe Blackberry with its recent skydiving prices and it’s new BB10 OS will do that i strongly doubt it.

PS: For any marketing department out there that somehow want to influence “all of the 20 daily readers” this website has, i’m perfectly happy to receive a free sampling of your smartphone line for analysis! (wink wink)


As to the iPhone 5, the build quality I’ve seen is top-notch (both black and white alike), and after the first few minutes of thinking “boy, this thing doesn’t really fit in my hand”, that feeling tuned out. Still, while grabbing it off a desk to test a few things I kept finding it subtly off — like an unshaven Buddhist monk.

Truth be told that I’ve handled a number of “larger” phones recently, and those felt odder — unshaven Buddhist monk wearing fuchsia robes kind of odd, just about — and I dislike anything that won’t fit into a trouser pocket and stay there.

The Tao of Mac

Haven’t seen one in real life yet, but seriously i hate what i have read and seen about it. Apple seems to have forgot a simple truth in what regards to customers. Don’t force annoying changes in to stuff if there isn’t a clear benefit worthy of the hassle.

We changed the screen size (annoyed the developers), the actual physical proportions (annoyed the customers and case makers) & the connector (royally annoyed anyone that already had some hardware prepared for the old 30 pin connector), all this for getting a ligher “tv remote” shaped phone. Which is like 30 grams lighter or something. Hurray.

Doesn’t make sense. I would buy an “old” iPhone 4 or 4S instead of a iPhonr 5 any day. Too much drawbacks, not enough advantages.

Readdle turns 5

For all of you iOS device owners out there, Readdle, maker of iOS productivity apps, turns 5 years today and they’re celebrating with a big discounted promotion. Check what they have to offer.

Music for my ears

Meanwhile on the Net, people strongly discuss the behaviour of the iPhone mute switch. Because apparently there can be only one option in a 600€ phone. Pressing for a default or holding the switch for a second and then selecting a profile from a selection or customizing your own seems to be too cumbersome.


A rant about fins. And humps.

“When the iPhone 3GS debuted in 2009, critics were similarly unimpressed. Maybe that has something to do with the name. Many people expected Apple to announce a completely redesigned iPhone 5. iPhone 4S sounds much more like a facelift of a current product — which is fair because that’s what it is.”

Five reasons people are calling the iPhone 4S a dud –


Let’s start this rant by reflecting a bit about the nice folks who use words as their tool of trade and yet manage to use them the most incorrect way possible.

Dear CNN:

A facelift, as the word itself implies, is a change in the “face”, and by this we mean the outside, the appearance, the non-fundamental. It came to be known from the automotive industry where roughly at the middle of the expected lifecycle of a car you would change some minor aspects of what the customer saw. And by this we mean both the car body design – such as the headlights design, the bonnet (( hood in the american english )) or simply a pair of new fins – or the interior – the fabric pattern, some new auto-radio or just some differently positioned buttons.

The “inside” of a car, the thing that actually makes a car would remain essentially untouched. And by this we mean the engine, the chassis, the suspension, the electrical components, all of the things that are highly complex to design, test, produce and put together. You see, designing and producing a car takes some hundreds of million dollars just to get the first unit out of the factory, so you don’t want to keep doing that every two years because you would be bankrupt before your second model even got out of the paper.

On the other hand most of the consumers like shinny new things (as you apparently) so a balance must be obtained. And that balance is the “facelift”. You, the consumer, get an almost-new shinny exterior and some minor nuisances corrected; We, the car manufacturer, get to keep the parts that takes the paycheck of every idiotic CNN journalist (for life) combined to produce.

Now compare this to the “dud” iPhone 4S that you call a facelift. The appearance of the previous model? Check. The inside of the previous model? No. See any contradiction here?

It’s the same old phone!

There was some disappointment among the tech “pundit” blogosphere and news sites regarding the iPhone 4S. Apparently it’s not new enough. OK. Walk with me through the changes:

  • What the iPhone 4S has new:
    • new system-on-chip: new dual-core processor and graphics;
    • twice the RAM memory of iPhone 4;
    • new antenna design;
    • new antenna chip with dual GSM/CDMA and other communication management goodies;
    • new camera sensor, lens system and other weird optical stuff;
    • a additional module ISP in the processor for face recognition and other image processing algorithms;
    • 1080p video with image stabilization;
    • probably a new battery – the specs have changed a bit so, additionally to the new hardware and power management, a battery with some sort of modification is likely.
    • Siri – the personal assistant – which unlike iOS 5 you can’t get in any other previous iPhone.
  • What the i4S Phone shares with the previous iPhone 4:
    • The glass and screen on the front;
    • The glass on the back
    • Maybe the sound control buttons;
    • Oh! And the dock connector.

Yep. It’s just the same old iPhone. No difference whatsoever… (face-palm)

You just get 3 or 4 parts that come from the previous generation – because it lowers the cost of manufacturing it to something like a quarter of the price of a totally redesigned case not to mention the ability to produce large numbers of it in almost no-time – but yes, “it’s just the same old iPhone”, just a “minor facelift”

Don’t let that glimpse of Reality and facts get in the way of your complaints of course. How more blind and futile can you get? If it doesn’t have something shinny and new i don’t want it! Even if it is a totally new beast where it counts…

We want fins. And humps.

Most of the techno-pundits apparently want something with a bigger screen (because bigger is better!) and with the so called “teardrop design”. What’s the teardrop design you ask? Well, it’s a great innovation from the Apple rumor mill that no one actually has seen but it sports a *aircraft wing” profile, with one end thicker than the other. Which makes a “lot of sense” in a device that is supposed to be hold either in profile or portrait, and you can turn it in any direction…

You see, this will mean that: first, you will have a thicker object to hold on one hand than on the other; and second, that that thicker part can either be on your right hand or your left, depending how you turned it. Which i seriously doubt is currently on anyone’s mind when they use any iOS device. But apparently it would be a really great innovation and no new iPhone is complete without it. I guess you can easily find some Samsung Android replica phone with it in no time.

Does it make any ergonomic, economic and design sense? Absolutely none whatsoever. But do the so called “tech experts” want one and complain loudly because they weren’t given one?? Absolutely. Because we all want a hump on our iPhone. It makes all the difference. You will never know when you’ll cross the Sahara desert and it might come in handy.

You also know what “we” want in the new iPhone 5? Fins. Yeah, Fins. Because they really look cool. And we don’t really need anything remotely similar to logic and good design. And it worked so great in the past. And if doesn’t carry fins, then: I. Don’t. Want. It. Even if it is finally called the iPhone 5. Because that’s all that matter. The @€£‰‰§ number on the model name.

The quest

I’ve been looking around these last two weeks for a new mobile phone, to replace my old one who had a unfortunately screen collapse. And it’s been a very elucidative experience.

For once, i looked on the iPhone obviously, but my previous idea still holds. It’s very nice. Well built. And i wouldn’t mind at all of having one. But no way that i will spend almost 500€ to have one! That’s basically half of my monthly PhD Governmental Scholarship! And if i actually had that much money laying around, do i really need this phone?

It’s always a good idea to clarify what you need, what you want and what you would like to have. It’s also very useful to clarify what you really don’t want or what is a deal breaker. I usually just start looking around, with illusions of grandness until i realize the dark dark world, and reposition my expectations to a better level of adequacy. And this means avoiding 500€ phones and start looking at those under 150€, preferably 100€. I refuse to give more than this for a phone. (My relatives and friends would gladly explain to you that i have serious issues with the omnipresence of phones and their control over our lives…)

So i decided what I really really demanded for my new phone:

  • Ability to synchronize contacts and Calendar with my Mac. (iSync or other). I’m tired of loosing contacts, having multiple versions of it on the computer and phone and backups, and copying them by hand when i change phones. (which happened just a couple of times but even so…)
  • Ability to charge through a USB port. As i explained before, i find the idea of carrying around a phone charger something completely absurd and anachronistic.

Then i found out what i would like to have from a phone:

  • Easy, functional email ability, a la Blackberry.
  • Wifi, for the email functionality. I don’t want to spend money on a data plan when i have wifi all around me.
  • Some Application ability, so that i can install some sort of WordPress blogging application and blog ideas and photos from my phone. (Granted this can be done from email, but i would prefer a isolated application).

And, then  what i would like to have but wouldn’t spent more than and additional 25€ to get:

  • Some useful browsing ability, that isn’t terribly handicapped like the blackberry, or the regular “feature phones”.

Armed with these solid, thought up requirements, i started looking the online stores of  my  carrier and other specialized sellers.  And it’s been a blast…


First: As i stated before, Nokia have stranded themselves in the XX Century. Their phones are now subpar on OS technology,  subpar on hardware features and I won’t even begin to mention the decline in build quality that’s been noticed in the last years.

Second: Blackberrys are a no go also. I’ve looked them again and discovered that you actually don’t need a Blackberry data plan to use them as smart phones, but just the alternative email application on the Blackberry App Store is another 25€, adding to the phone price. Just turned red on my book.

Third: Android phones, although much inline with the pricing i want, seem to combine the mess of  the non-polished non-user friendly Linux Distros (which are unfortunately the vast majority of the Linux distros out there) with the “crapware experience” you get when you buy a Windows laptop utterly messed up by its maker with “free software demos”. (kind of a Sony Vaio, but even worse)

The phone that first caught my eye, a rebranded ZTE Blade ((Also known as Orange San Francisco)) as Sapo A5, has an Android market & a Carrier Market. A Gmail Maps & a carrier maps &  a GPS program with some more maps. An animated background screen showing battery info, which i’m sure will help allot the battery life, in conjunction  with a animated weather widgets.  At least, this is what i’ve seen on its pictures , as the first batch sold was quickly withdrawn from the market with several manufacturer defects. I’ve also seen other phones but they are the same stuff, but with different carrier apps. They have so many duplicate apps and other random stuff i can’t identify in the app screen, that it is perfectly possible that a brand new phone on the shop has 3 “screens” full of app icons. It took me a couple of minutes just to find the SMS app.

Then i started looking around in forums, always a good source of “Common Joe” experience, and went to my favorite portuguese speaking forum. And then i really really noticed the difference between iOS and Android. In the iOS sub-forum, you have a couple of active threads, with topic subjects on some slight user difficulties, useful tips, and some discussions regarding pricing and purchasing options. On the Android sub-forum, you have topic threads of over 200 pages just for each single cell phone model and brand, discussions on tens of modified roms as the carrier or maker never updates soon enough, modified applications, several ways of installing and several third parties applications that do something as simple 3G data measure, tons of “rooting your android phone” tutorials, background screen and widget customization and “let’s turn your cell phone in a carnival fair” contests, and above all else, endless errors and app crash complaints. Oh, and battery consumption in less than a day too. Just what i wanted. A phone that would make me be his servant.

So, I’m back at square one. Need to buy a cell phone and feel “orphan”. What i want  seemed simple for me. A not very pricey phone, which would let me play around a bit, and install some apps of my choosing (you heard that Steve? MY CHOOSING!) and worked without any hiccups. It didn’t have to be a top of the line phone, neither having tons of disk space and processing power. Just enough to browse a couple of simple websites, consult my email and consult some news sites apps. In a way, a slightly evolved and “liberated” Blackberry.

If nothing else appears i will eventually end up with an Android phone, even if only convinced by its price. But i long to hear what HP has done with it’s WebOS system and can’t wait for the 9th. Maybe they have a significant third way for the market.

Oh, and i also looked up Windows Phone 7, as i actually liked the metro user interface i’ve seen on pictures, but they cost the same or more than an iPhone. And an iPhone can sync properly with a Mac without extra applications or cost.

Blackberry vs iPhone

After a two month iPhone trial using Good Technology’s secure email app, Deutsche Bank Equity Research reports an “overwhelmingly positive” experience that left it waving goodbye to RIM’s BlackBerry.”In aggregate, we found the iPhone UI was very usable and the touch-less vs. physical keyboard debate is a function of personal preference and perhaps ‘fatness of fingers’. Versus the Blackberry trackball, the iPhone interface is vastly superior is terms of speed and accessibility and prioritizing key emails and we view the Blackberry trackball as archaic and cumbersome.”

From the Deutsche Bank analysis.

My thoughts exactly. I have acess to a Blackberry Curve 8520 and a iPod Touch with iOS 4.2.1, and they couldn’t be any more different. If I ever decide to drop a couple of hundred euros per a smarphone, which is by itself a bit of madness, it definitely won’t be an blackberry. It’s unusable to verge of madness. I keep finding myself trying to interact with the screen with my fingers, just to remember that i either have to go in to a endless text sub-menu or use the damn optical trackball, dragging the pointer all across the screen in a time wasting experience. And the keyboard, although not unusable isn’t an easy experience either.

And the annoyance of having to spend another 200€ per year on the blackberry service in order to get my email is insane. I spend my day surrounded by Wi-Fi networks. I don’t really need the email everywhere at anytime. I just would like to access every now and then outside my home. But that’s why i share my network through Fon!

Why would i spend over 200€ per the entry model plus another 200€/year for the service? For that amount i can easily buy the entry iPhone! (in Portuguese prices at least) And just pay the standard pay-as-you-go phone call service if that is all I require from my provider. The rest i can handle through wifi.