Category: Opinion

The Bright Future That Awaits Chrome OS

I will start this post by being transparent:  I am a big fan of Chrome OS.  I more-or-less made the move to Chrome OS about this time last year and frankly, I haven’t looked back.  Yes I still have my corporate laptop that I use on occasion but the reality is, everything I need to do in my work life and my personal life I can do on Chrome.  So with that clear, I still stand by the title of this article:  The future is very bright from Chrome OS.

I believe this for several different reasons and all of them are intertwined to paint this bright future picture.  First is the rapidly maturing Operating System itself.  The Chrome OS of today, Build 53, is far superior in every way to the Chrome OS I started on last year, Chrome 48.  Second, is the era in which we live in.  We are, finally, approaching the post-PC world that Apple and others have been talking about since 2008.  But eight years on, we are actually there or darn close.  Third is adoption of Chrome OS as a platform in businesses and in education, the later of which was dominated by PCs, then by Apple and now nearly by Chrome OS.  Finally, there is the clear direction in which Google and the Chromium team within it are going to take the devices and platform in the future.  The Chromebook I’m tying this article on today (a HP Chromebook 11 G4) will be vastly overshadowed by what a device will look like this time next year or in 2018.  All of these things add up to a future that sees Chrome OS not only as a part of but a dominant player.  And the cool thing is, everyone reading this is on the cusp of it all.  We get to see it all unfold and that, speaking from experience as a Microsoftie during the Windows XP days, is a very cool thing to see.

Android Nougat Maintenance Releases A Shot Over Manufacture’s Bows

For those of us that love Android, yesterday a pretty rock solid day.  Android Nougat was released and devices that were a part of the beta program have already started seeing the final NRD90M build hit their devices (you can read my review to get all the details on Nougat).  One tidbit of news in all of the hubbub of the release was the announcement of regular maintenance releases for Nougat.  It was easy to miss as, as far as I am aware, it was only posted in the Android Developer Blog announcing the release.  That blog, unless you are developer, isn’t on everyone’s reading list understandably.  In that post from Dave Burke, he pointed out a small but important piece of information about Nougat.

We’re moving Nougat into a new regular maintenance schedule over the coming quarters. In fact, we’ve already started work on the first Nougat maintenance release, that will bring continued refinements and polish, and we’re planning to bring that to you this fall as a developer preview. Stay tuned!

This new maintenance schedule is independent of the monthly security updates.  This new maintenance schedule is all about bringing features, refinements and fixes to the platform.  It is also, in my opinion, a shot across the bow of manufactures who drag their feet in getting the .0 releases out.  Android is going to march forward and Google, more or less, is telling OEMs to get with the program.

Life on One Screen – Using Android With One Home Screen

Back at the end of June, I started an experiment on my Nexus 6P.  Like many of you, I have dozens of apps installed on my Android phone with the vast majority of them being accessed just a handful of times per week or month.  Yet, with those apps installed and with them organized on my various home screens, I still found myself doing a lot of swipes and taps to get to things.  Personally, I found that frustrating so I took a drastic step and eliminated all of my home screens except one.  Admittedly, the first couple of days were rough.  But as I got use to using the power that is in the Google Now Launcher, I can honestly say that life in one screen works for me.

But at the time I started this little experiment, it wasn’t just me who tried it.  Fellow tech enthusiast Kyle Reddoch (You can find him on Google+ and on Twitter) tried the experiment too.  During these last few weeks, while we’ve had plenty of Hangouts discussions, we’ve not talked about life on one screen until earlier this week.  The result?  Both of us don’t plan on going back to multiple screens any time soon.

I’ve outlined in this post the thought process behind this little experiment and how we went about it.   I’ll cover the tools we are using that have made this transition much easier than expected but frankly, it all comes down to the Google Now Launcher and our voices.  If there is one thing this experiment will teach you, it is the power of voice commands.

Today The Most Important Google I/O In Years Begins

As developer conferences go, Google I/O stands out for a lot of reasons.  Unlike Microsoft’s Build Conference or Apple’s WWDC, Google tends to bring to light countless projects each year, some of which never make it any further than I/O… but they get exposed.  The last few years, however, I/O has become synonymous with Android.  In 2014, we saw Android Lollipop.  In 2015 we saw Marshmallow.  Sure there were other things but fundamentally, that’s what remember these last two conferences launching.

Google I/O 2016 is going to be different.  Very different.  Starting today, we see the Mountain View company’s vision for the future.  Yes we will hear about Android N but it won’t be front-and-center.  It is, after all, already available in beta.  That vision is going to include a wide range of products, services and solutions, all of which will not only shape the future for Google but the future of everyone who touches their technologies.

The iPhone is Dead! Utter Bollocks…

Over the course of the last 3 weeks or so, really since the Apple earnings call, my Twitter and Google+ feed have been full of posts and articles on how the death of the iPhone, and by extension Apple, is near.  They point to the ever increasing growth of Android across the globe, the poor showing of Apple in their last quarter, the lackluster iPhone SE (which I reviewed for Gear Diary) and the rumors of what may well be a lackluster iPhone 7.  In a word, bollocks.

I’m an Android user.  I love Android.  I left iOS a couple of years ago for a reason.  I didn’t like the ecosystem, I found iOS buggy and limiting and ultimately, after a breach of their 2-factor authentication that left my devices locked forever, I had enough.  I have found a breath of fresh air in Android.  I enjoy the flexibility it offers both as a platform and in devices and while it is far from perfect, it gives me the things that I wanted.  But just because I’m an Android user doesn’t mean that I hate anything and everything iOS.  I have always advocated that users find the tool that works best for them.  If that is Android, great.  If that is an iPhone, great.  As long as it meets your needs, that’s ultimately the goal.  It is not a zero-sum game.

Google’s Perfect Timing With Android N

When Google unleashed the first technical preview of Android N on the world this week, nobody really saw it coming. In fact, talking to sources at Google, I’m not even sure most of the company knew. Sure the Android team did and like a few other critical teams but broadly?  I don’t think so.  Many Googlers I know were just as surprised as you or me.

For me though, the release of the preview could not have been timed more perfectly and the way they opened it up to anyone running a Nexus device will assure that this launch will likely be the most successful ever for an Android release.  It also moves up their release timeline to mid-year, something that will help year end holiday season sales of devices as N will be well established by then.  It is a stroke of genius by Google and should not be lost on anyone.

Don’t 1 Star An App Not Working in Android N

The news of the first beta of Android N being released yesterday has made the Android community a flurry of activity and with Google for the first time really making it easy for users to download it and install it on their Nexus devices, it means that a lot of people have installed it.  And by a lot I mean a lot.  My Google+ and Twitter feeds are full of people posting photos of their devices in various stages of being updated or N running on them.  Along with that has come a pile of posts of people not happy because their favorite app is not working.  I warned readers this would happen.  What was released yesterday was in every word beta and you could even make the argument that it is alpha code.

But whatever you do, don’t go to the Google Play Store and give a 1 star rating and bad review for an app not working in Android N.  That doesn’t help anyone, particularly the developers.

Do You Need An Android Tablet? Probably Not

It is a good time to be alive.  As an Android user, there are more phones and tablets within reach of many users than there ever has been before now.  These devices are increasingly growing in power and abilities and for most of us, they are an indispensable part of our everyday lives.  But as flagship devices have grown in size and power, they have started to intrude on the space once reserved for tablets and it is forcing some to consider the question, do I really need a tablet?  I have been asking this question for some months now and for me the answer is no.  Let me explain why.

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