Galaxy Note With Ice Cream Sandwich 3

Android 4.0 is of course an OS designed to work equally well on phones and tablets, and one of the chief features of the Note is its huge, tablet-like screen. So let’s have a look at the advantages of holding your phone sideways.

For a start, landscape mode is a great fit for a GPS device that has Google Street View!

This brings a whole new meaning to the term SatNav.

The included calendar app, S Planner, looks particularly fine on its side.

As does the updated Gmail client. Missing from the inbox view are buttons to scroll through mail. After a confounded moment, you realise that this is now done by swiping. Which is nice. The look is cleaner now. Especially when you choose to write a new mail…

How’s that for stripped down?

But making fullest use of gestures is the beta of Chrome for Mobile. It may not be quite stable yet (the main reason this post is late…) but even allowing for that it’s still better than any other mobile browser around. It’s in the “deck of cards” view that gestures really come into their own. You can use two thumbs to leaf through the page previews, a far faster way to find what you want than clicking on tabs.

I’m beginning to wonder if this really is the best mobile browser interface after all – and not the best interface of any browser, ever.


Google Reacts To Pseudonym Anger

Google's homepage in 1998
Simpler Times

Vic Gundotra, Google’s senior VP of social stuff, described closing the Google+ accounts of pseudonym users as: “like when a restaurant doesn’t allow people who aren’t wearing shirts to enter.”

I respectfully suggest that it’s a little more like throwing them out of your restaurant, and then burning their houses down. Google deny that they will close down your Google Profile solely for infringement of the no-pseudonyms rule, calling it a “myth”, but it does seem they single out obvious pseudonyms for closer examination and can shut them down for other, unspecified reasons. GrrlScientist, whom I quoted yesterday, only regained access to Docs, Gmail etc. at Google’s pleasure and upon giving them her personal phone number. And no, they still won’t let her use Google+, and they still haven’t told her why.

However they have listened to the outrage, reacted quickly, and promised some improvements (same source):

– Giving these users a warning and a chance to correct their name in advance of any suspension. (Of course whenever we review a profile, if we determine that the account is violating other policies like spam or abuse we’ll suspend the account immediately.)

– At time of this notice, a clear indication of how the user can edit their name to conform to our community standards

– Better expectation setting as to next steps and timeframes for users that are engaged in this process.

Maybe they know what they mean by the last one, I have no idea. However, the others are at least an improvement. If it’s not churlish of me though, I do think that not confiscating what you might rightfully consider your private property without prior notice is the very least they can do.

This is something Google really need to get straight, fast. How can their Docs be considered a rival to Microsoft’s Office if they have some ownership rights over anything you create with them? Imagine how quickly Microsoft’s business would cease to exist if they zapped documents made with pirated copies of Office. It’s unthinkable. Just as what Google did was unthinkable – until they did it. If documents aren’t sacrosanct, the whole Docs-Chrome-Cloud business model evaporates.

Maybe this is the time to consider Diaspora again?


First Impressions of Google+

After using Google+ for a couple of days, it becomes clear that this is far more than a mere carbon copy of Facebook.

It also rips off Twitter, not to mention Diaspora.

To put it more positively, Google have clearly looked long and hard at what social networking does and why it caught on in the way it did. They’ve attempted to combine the best features of both Facebook and Twitter into one product.

The base is very much like an improved version of Facebook with a more open, airy look and no hint of anything that might be construed as fine print.

The differences begin with how people connect. While Facebook is all about equal two-way relationships confirmed by both parties, in Google+ you can follow anyone and read what they share – as long that is as they’re sharing it with the public. In this way it is almost exactly like Twitter.

From there though the user has the option of allowing you into a more intimate ‘Circle’. This is exactly the same idea as ‘Aspects’ in Diaspora. You can make separate circles for work colleagues, family, clients, etc. So you can decide exactly who gets to see the picture of you drinking beer, and who gets to see the picture of you drinking beer, naked, with your swastika tattoo showing.

Complicated? Well, any social networking system is. Even something as apparently straightforward as Twitter quickly gets confusing in use, as you try to figure out the consequences of one ill-judged tweet being retweeted by two or three people. (One interesting aspect of Google+ is that you can mark things as non-shareable, which is very reassuring.) It is however a fundamentally more simple model than that of Facebook.

Does it add anything new to social networking? Facebook and Twitter are distinctly different, and it would be nice to see a third innovative approach. But while it may be a little to early to say – both the others developed in unpredicted ways and Google+ may yet – it really doesn’t seem to. Quite clearly, Google+ is just the main features of Facebook and Twitter combined and cleaned up.

Which is not, to my mind, a good thing. With Google’s wealth and resources behind it, (not to mention the fact that it integrates right in with your Google search results, your Gmail, etc.), it’s really possible that Google+ will take over the markets that these upstarts created. Rather than adding to the possibilities of social networking therefore it may actually reduce them, in the process giving even greater dominance of the Internet to the company that already bestrides it like a colossus.

But even if comes about such dominance is still a long way off, and for now I like the interface and the control, and I like the fact that Facebook has a competitor. I therefore wish Google+ good fortune and success. Just, you know, not too much good fortune and success.

If you’d like an invite to join Google+, or are already there and would like to follow me on it, my address is:

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