January 5th, 2012
Google is the father of Android operating system and unlike Apple they decided to stick to making solid software independent from hardware. Android is not a phone but really an advanced computer system to smarten any device with an on and off switch, phones, appliances, car media systems, televisions, watches…All those OS (operating system) implementation are actively being researched in Mountain View facility by remarkable engineers.
Andy Rubin – Mr Android- created the Nexus series. Nexus phones are especially designed to match Android operating system with most adequate hardware. First gPhone was made by HTC, sold exclusively via Google.com under the overblown Nexus One name, fully unlocked. Google managed to piss off everyone in the process: manufacturers (why pick HTC), carriers (why no deal a la Apple) and consumers who expected subsidized phones and live support (not Google’s strongest point).
But Google is too big to fail. Too smart to be impressed. They learned from their mistakes, they poured more gazillions of dollars, invaded every space left open by Apple and Nokia, making Android the dominating platform as we speak. Apple fanboys will argue about revenues, look and feel but it doesn’t really matter. The simple fact that there is an actual argument is a victory for Google.
Google Phone Nexus phone was manufactured by Samsung under the name Nexus S. Launch was simultaneous in the US with T-Mobile and UK with Vodafone. All carriers distributed new Nexus phone. It became an immediate success thanks to its amazing Amoled screen, SIP/Voip capabilities, NFC chip, 1Ghz cpu, true multitasking – all those things still absent from iPhone.
While Apple had 3 iterations of their phone since June 2007 with 1st generation (iPhone 2G), 2nd generation (iPhone 3G and 3Gs) and 3rd generation (iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S), Android jumped 7 major upgrades (from Cupcake to Ice Cream Sandwich) since March 2010. Progress of Android is incredible for a large corporation going through extensive Q&A before release.
It brings us to a short review of latest Galaxy Nexus phone. I’m using a GSM version (not the Verizon LTE). Note this GSM is a penta-band which means it operates identically on both AT&T and T-Mobile 3g/4g network. It will provide HSPDA on any GSM network. Amazing.
Phone is running latest ICS (Ice Cream Sandwich) 4.0.3, rooted, non branded and factory unlocked.
In hand phone feels large but not thick and holds pretty well. Case is all plastic, not very elegant. Thin sporting a large, vivid 4.65-inch screen.
Face unlock will certainly be standard in smartphones a year from today. It works well, and in case it doesn’t you can use PIN login.
Once unlocked i was amazed by transition speed between screens. Android always struggled at it while 3rd party launchers offered good alternatives. I guess Google looked into those apps and patched their OS on ICS.
Another standout for Nexus and ICS is the notification system. Apple recently introduced notification drawer which often overlaps native applications. On Android each notification can be dismissed with a single swipe to the side or can be batch cleared with a simple touch.
Now diving into built-in apps we discover a brand new stock browser offering realtime sync feature between Nexus and Chrome browser, fullscreen view, “request desktop site” which you can click if you want to see the full desktop version of a site and incognito mode (browser doesn’t keep browsing history).
A redesigned Gmail app adding an action bar allowing almost any operation, and best of all you can now store up to 30 days of your emails for offline viewing. Very handy during long flights.
Among cool gimmicks, you also find a panorama mode in camera settings, time-lapse video recording, magazine UI mode in gallery and DUC – Data Usage Control to monitor your data usage according to your billing cycle and Android beam which is like Bump app on iPhone but uses NFC technology.
NFC (Near-Field Communications) is a technology that establishes radio communication with each NFC enable device by bringing them into close proximity. Practically NFC can be used in contactless payment systems, you load a virtual card with prepaid credit and you can make payments using your phone. How does it work? Simple, bring your phone near the credit card terminal, a popup appears on your phone prompting for a PIN code. Enter your custom PIN and bing you just made a purchase. You don’t have to show your credit card to teller, no need to put your PIN in front of a waiting line, no phishing, no skimming, no identity theft. You lose your phone, still fine unless you have a post-it glued in the back with your pin-code.
Verizon has blocked Google Wallet on CDMA version. My GSM factory unlocked device is working fine with Google Wallet. Only thing wrong with this technology is the non awareness of cashiers. I paid using my phone at local CVS and it created a real drama. They had to call store manager, who then called CVS HQ to find out what this NFC thing was all about.
One important thing to know about Galaxy Nexus is NFC is integrated into the battery. Be very careful when buying an extra or extended battery to use exclusively Samsung batteries. Forget about eBay knockoffs.
Battery life wise I’m holding a full day with standard 1750mAh but arguably I’m not running the LTE version which apparently drains much more power. In case you need more you can upgrade to a second battery or the 2100mAh extended one. An option iPhone users don’t have.
There are few differences between LTE and GSM version. GSM is 10grams lighter and about half a cm thiner. LTE carries 32Gb while EU version is only 16Gb. LTE stock battery is 1850mAh vs 1750mAh for GSM.
Bottom line Galaxy Nexus is a true innovative device adding much more features than any other phone. Google Voice, Google Talk, Google + and Google Search are so deeply integrated into Android that it’s make usability a bliss.
What Google wants, Google gets and unless Apple pulls a rabbit out the hat quickly…
Tags: android, andy rubin, Apple, galaxy nexus, google, ice cream sandwich, iPhone, nexus one, review
Posted in android, Apple, Gmail, google, iPhone, Technology, Telecom | 14 Comments »
January 3rd, 2012
Most of my non american friends keep asking me how to bypass roaming charges when visiting the US.
Couple of years ago, it was very hard to find decent voice/data prepaid in North America but things have changed. Changed a lot.
Here is a list of Prepaid services I know of (feel free to point out new providers).
You can chose from $40 for unlimited voice/text/MMS to $60 for unlimited voice/text/MMS/data. They are my favorite as they are working in any AT&T locked devices (such as iPhones) and provide 3G/4G on AT&T bandwidth. No ID required. Free SIM. And cherry on the cake, you have $10 of FREE international calls anywhere in the world.
Any H2O Unlimited Plans include FREE $10 Int’l Calling to over 100+ countries. At 3.5cts/min to France that’s over 5 HOURS of free talk time from you cell to France. If you need more you can just add $10 and keep calling the world.
H2O also offers prepaid broadband at 4G speed for $50/month UNLIMITED (yes no cap) no contract nothing.
Pros: AT&T Network, coverage, speed, pricing, Broadband plan
Cons: Very few point of sales, top-up can complicated without a US credit card, hard to find top-up cards, expensive international rates after free $10
Simple Mobile is a H2O copycat but based on T-Mobile network (US smallest carrier). They are excellent for short visits as they offer a 15 days unlimited voice/text for $25 (no data).
Here is a list of existing Simple Mobile plan:
$25 Unlimited 15 Day Talk & Text
$40 Unlimited Talk, Text & Web
$40 Unlimited Talk, Text & Web + $10 Unlimited ILD
$60 Unlimited Talk, Text & High Speed Web
$60 Unlimited Talk, Text & High Speed Web + $10 Unlimited ILD
Simple Mobile also offers BlackBerry PREPAID plan. Just slide your SIM, sync your device with your BlackBerry ID and you’ve got your own BBM running for free in the US on 4G speed and unlimited international long distance calls.
$50 Unlimited Blackberry Talk, Text & Web
$50 Unlimited BlackBerry Talk, Text & Web + $10 Unlimited ILD
$60 Unlimited BlackBerry Talk, Text & High Speed Web
$60 Unlimited BlackBerry Talk, Text & High Speed Web + $10 Unlimited ILD
I highly recommend Simple Mobile for their incredible selection of prepaid service. They are innovative in this space, aggressive and there is actually real people handling customer support.
Pros: good customer service, easy top-up, short stay plans, blackberry plans, 4G speed, full website management, lowest international rates I’ve seen in prepaid mobile.
Cons: poor broadband, limited coverage (T-Mobile), their plans can be confusing sometimes.
Personally I don’t like CDMA as I need to use my own phone when travelling. Buying a new phone, transferring contacts, messages, bookmarks, and emails is not an option. But you might want to consider them as an option if all you want is a cheap voice/text plan for your visits in the US. Coverage is really average.
T-Mobile Prepaid http://prepaid-phones.t-mobile.com/ too many options, they always try to upsell more expensive features.
AT&T Prepaid http://www.wireless.att.com/cell-phone-service/go-phones/ same as the above.
According to BusinessWeek China Telecom is preparing a major offensive in prepaid telecom offers. First they are said to start with an MVNO but should soon work on their own infrastructure.
Bottom line there are plenty of options for tourists or business people to use a phone on US soil without spending more than $50 for all-you-can-eat talk, text and web plans. Think about it if you are coming to Las Vegas for CES.
Tags: china telecom, h2o, mvno, roaming, simplemobile, Telecom, us mvno
Posted in android, Blackberry, iPhone, Technology, Telecom, Travel | 5 Comments »
December 6th, 2010
Everywhere I go, everywhere I read, eat, train or work, Wikileaks is the center of most conversation.
The world is divided in those who believe Wikileaks is a public service aiming for more transparency and those who believe Wikileaks is a dangerous anarchist movement.
I support the latter and will explain why.
Liberty, democracy, journalism vs privacy, diplomacy, and equilibrium.
Unfortunately it’s not that simple. Let’s rewind time. Wikileaks stole classified information from US Intelligence by hacking into access-restricted computers or calling for US employees to steal files. This action by itself is definitely a crime. And no one can contest that so far.
I find it amazing some seem surprised US is running a diplomatic ballet. They do LIKE ALL OTHER COUNTRIES ON THIS PLANET.
It would be childish to think other democracies are not using the exact same modus operandi. Collecting and reporting info is the oldest form of Intelligence countries have put together way back in the days of Romans, Egyptians and Greeks.
Wikileaks targets specifically the United States of America.
Why? I think we should legitimately ask ourselves this question.
In a quest for ‘open transparency’ wouldn’t it be fair to get classified cables from all the parties involved?
But Wikileaks is obviously not interested in stealing German, Russian, Chinese or Iranian classified information. In fact Wikileaks has never unveiled any ‘secrets’ about any other country but US.
Their tweets are clearly showing their motivation:
Actually the whole stream is anti-American. How pleasant for the free world…
Like other terrorists, Wikileaks is relying on US infrastructure to relay their heinous message- Amazon, Paypal, EyeDNS. Here comes Dumb and Dumber screaming for boycott against those companies who stopped providing support to Wikileaks. Pathetic…
“Obama and Clinton must resign”. Maybe they should; but not for any of those ‘embarrassing’ cables. Just because they failed to protect sensitive information from going public.
Martin Varsavsky wrote a short piece on how Wikileaks has taught us a lesson. If it’s private – keep it private. I cannot agree more. Countries will increase their level of security and the whole Wikileaks plan for transparency goes flushed down the drain. Bravo.
What’s Wikileaks next target? Take a wild guess? Bank of America. Yes, another stolen hard-drive (thank God it’s not an iPhone- Jobs would have sent Apple Police) from a high ranked executive-which violates, corporate and personal privacy, bank secrecy and 100’s of common laws. Oh, and yet another American symbol. But that is for the greater good argues the hypocrite humanitarian.
No one was hurt.
Julian Assange claims no one was hurt in the process. Is this his perspective? Your perspective? Or the perspective of thousands of diplomats, ambassadors and consuls around the planet being “invited” to provide explanations and apologies?
If I post a picture of you naked it won’t kill you. It won’t hurt me either but will it hurt you?
All other countries are picking whatever they need from Wikileaks to serve their local political careers.
Segolene Royal likes the way Sarkozy is painted by US diplomats.
Antonio Di Pietro enjoys every word describing Silvio Berlusconi.
Censorship of the uncensored documents.
Only a small portion of documents has been published. Why not all? What is the logic of sorting messages when you claim transparency? Is Wikileaks releasing documents in filtered manners? Is there a negotiation behind the scenes on the release of those documents?
We know absolutely nothing about Wikileaks, their founders and the organization. And yet, every frustrated anti-American is ready to embrace their cause to Satanize a great country.
Here in America, we have this thing called the First Amendment, which allows people to express what they think in political and social speech.
It doesn’t mean you can steal classified information, publish it, and then hide yourself behind a convenient Amendment of a Constitution you are not part of.
You should know US administration is the only one to declassify Diplomatic Cables on regular basis as stated in The Freedom Of Information Act [PDF] . You can also find the archives online here from Georges Washington University.
Time will tell if Wikileaks intentions are nobles or not. But I strongly believe Wikileaks is conveniently irresponsible and damaging to the World.
Let’s hear your opinion.
Tags: 1st amendment, cables, clinton, diplomatic, freedom, julian assange, obama, wikileaks
Posted in Economy, Election, Legal, Politics, Uncategorized, World | 8 Comments »
October 24th, 2010
I was lucky to be seated on the perfect side of the plane with my point and shoot camera within reach. The image is a bit shaky, backlight disturbing for a couple of minutes but overall, a great view over NYC.
Few minutes of post-editing on iMovie (yes- I’m learning) and below the result.
Tags: american airlines, manhattan, nyc
Posted in Art, New-York, Photography, Travel, USA, Video | No Comments »
October 14th, 2010
In case you live under a rock, a short recap of “the lost iPhone” saga.
6 months ago Gawker Media admitted that it paid $5,000 to get their hands on a prototype of a fourth-generation iPhone for its gadget blog, Gizmodo. Seller of the device told the editors of Gizmodo and other technology blogs that he “found” it unattended in a bar.
I’m not trying to debate if buying a lost or stolen phone is legal or not. This is for the big guys. My opinion on the subject is that as long as Gizmodo did not pay to get the phone stolen in the first place, it sounds legitimate to publish the info (although I think it’s wrong). In comparison Techcrunch did post stolen Twitter documents aka Twittergate [documents stolen from Twitter’s servers- not lost, or found. Stolen…and the thief is actually behind bars in France for hacking.] and I was shocked. Maybe my expectations for TechCrunch ethics are higher than for Gizmodo.
There was a before April 2010 and an after. Gizmodo was the underdog gadget blog, TechCrunch the REAL valley mag (no reference to Valleywag – a Gawker zine) and Mashable the gossip tech people magazine.
What happened next? Gizmodo boomed with 4M unique (up to 5M in April, more than TechCrunch and Mashable altogether).
Gizmodo got more publicity for this stunt then any PR could dream of.
Mainstream media started leaking the info on national networks and traffic picked up almost instantly.
Oddly they didn’t ‘take’ any customers readers from their competitors; on the contrary they brought nearly 3 Million fresh souls into the game.
Was it worth it? Hell yeah. And for everyone! Do I approve? No, but I’ve proven wrong many times.
Now that 6 months have passed I see no downside for Gizmodo.
Apple screwed this one up pretty badly. Losing a prototype in a bar was epic. Denying and covering up the mess was like pouring oil on fire. Finally sending the Feds after Gizmodo made Jason Chen look like Robin Hood and Steve Jobs an arrogant little rich kid going after his lost toy. Last but not least, Gizmodo is banned to any Apple event. No biggie there.
Don’t they have teams full of damage control experts in Cupertino? PR moguls?
Apple is a marketing raw model for tens of thousands of entrepreneurs. Where did it go wrong? Why such a drama?
A simple “Yes this is one prototype of a phone we might or might not decide to launch. It’s just that – a prototype. We would appreciate a prompt return of the device in our lab.” would have sufficed to kill the story.
Was the all thing staged to get more publicity?
Obviously a phone was lost and Apple’s execs were all over the case. But Jobs is smart enough to make the best of any given situation- so yes, it’s possible that they played it all along to get more coverage for the launch of the iPhone 4.
Arrington said he would have not paid for the phone. Not so sure he’d say that again today.
TechCrunch is by far my favorite source of information. I can’t read Gizmodo – too inquireresq- and Mashable is full of buttons and boxes which makes the content completely unattractive.
I’m glad Mike sold TechCrunch to AOL. Hope they make good use of his baby.
So, do you think it’s legit to pay for exclusivity?
Tags: arrington, gawker, gizmodo, jason chen, jobs, lost iphone, mashable, TechCrunch, twittergate
Posted in Apple, iPhone, TechCrunch, Technology | 1 Comment »
October 10th, 2010
A year ago I would have been harsh on a new Windows Phone OS. I was harsh in this post.
In April 2010 I saw a very early stage Windows Phone 7 prototype and I said to myself “the whole idea sounded bad, now it looks terrible”.
Microsoft challenge was to start from a blank page. Forget Windows Mobile, WinCE and even Windows to re-create a different user experience based on what was learned from iPhone and Android.
The very first device Microsoft handed out to me for testing purposes was a huge brick, barely functional. My partner Pierre-Olivier Carles needed a phone for a few days and I decided to let him try ‘the phone of the future”. Let’s keep it nice and just say he wasn’t convinced
In the meantime, Apple and Google were upgrading and updating their OS considerably adding speech to text, turn by turn navigation, better applications, new features…I was even more perplex on Microsoft’s strategy.
I was wrong. Wrong to under-estimate the power of a world leader in Operating Systems, best software company of all times.
Few days ago as part of our Device Agreement we received a pre-production unit which has nothing to do with anything you have seen before. It’s snappy, reactive, user friendly, reliable, well presented and integrates the best of Microsoft.
I’m not sure if Microsoft will grab the smartphone market. But they did a wonderful job in a short period of time under huge competitive pressure.
95% or so of computer owners are using Windows, 99.99% of all users are using Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), and 90% of the enterprise world is running Exchange mail server. Well if you are one of those users, this phone is for you.
Native integration of Office Suite makes DataWiz/DocumentsToGo looking almost ridiculous. Outlook native integration with Exchange will ease the life of millions of users.
Admittedly I’m not one of those. But let’s not ignore the vast majority of users because we live in a bubble where Apple rules.
Apple and Google have almost zero experience in gaming unlike Microsoft Xbox solid success. WP7 fully uses Xbox Live so players can stay connected to their favorite games. Gaming + Enterprise might be the winning combination.
I’m not sure how much money Microsoft is investing to conquer the phone segment but last Thursday I was face to face with Steve Ballmer and I felt an incredible energy around Windows Phone 7. It’s not a side project – with all the risks attached. Microsoft will use all of its influence to convince manufacturers, distributors, publishers, and users that Windows Phone 7 is a winner.
I have a feeling that Microsoft is going after Google and too bad if Apple is on the way.
Below a short video of a pre-production unit. What do you think?