Did Windows Phone 8 Fix What I Felt Was Missing in Windows Phone 7?

Editorial,Posts,Technology 2 January 2013 | 4 Comments

My current/new phone is the one pictured above, the HTC 8X.

Remember the post I wrote on what the Windows Phone platform was missing back in July? If not, you can check it out here. Did Microsoft add the functionality? In short, yes, no, somewhat, somewhat, no.

1. APN Access.

This was fixed. I could not be happier about this one. I am on a carrier in Canada that does not have a decent Windows Phone device, I am talking about you Koodo, so it was always a pain as I could never send MMS as I had no way to add the APN. I am happy to say Windows Phone 8 has added full APN access, a feature that was well overdue.

2. Auto Rotate.

Honestly, can we just have this Microsoft? A system wide switch/toggle to disable auto rotate across all applications. UC Browser for example, has an option to disable this and it is one of the main reasons I use it over Internet Explorer. There are a lot of applications on Windows Phone that simply do not rotate into landscape and for this, I am thankful. However, some do and I wish to be allowed to turn that off for apps where the developer has not added an in-app option.

3. Browsing.

Yes, IE10 does a much better job. The browsing experience on the site for tankless water heaters has been much improved and some websites that used to render awkwardly, no longer do. With that said, it does not compare with the stock experience on Android (Chrome) or the browser on iOS. Some websites still have issues. I just want to see browsers that are not based on IE on the Windows Phone platform. As I said before in the other article, something WebKit based or Gecko.

4. Multi Tasking.

Many apps do take advantage of this but there are many apps that do not.  It is annoying to see apps resume incorrectly or simply reload. Microsoft needs to provide some sort of an incentive, just as they need to do to get the applications that Windows Phone is missing onto the platform.

5. Zune.

Okay, well, this is a confusing one. Zune has been killed and they have Xbox Music and Xbox branded options now. This is all fine and well as there are options for those with Xboxs, Windows Phone, Windows tablets as well as Windows 8 devices. However, this is still not what is needed. I want to use this on my Linux machine as well as my Android phones. I am not paying for a service I can’t use across all of my devices. A side note in regards to the Zune desktop application no longer exists for WP8 devices, which was a little annoying since I own both WP8 and WP7 phones so I need both the Zune and the Windows Phone Sync programs installed.

My five main issues with Windows Phone have only partially been resolved. My new issues with the platform? I’ll have an article about that up soon.

Tagged in , , , , , , , , , , ,

HTC Deserves Some of What Samsung Has

Editorial,Posts,Technology 9 October 2012 | 0 Comments

The Galaxy S, the Galaxy S2 and the Galaxy S3. Each time Samsung releases their flagship device, they will eventually announce that they have sold a record number of devices. Samsung topples other Android handset manufacturers when it comes to sales. Due to their success with the Galaxy line, the last two Nexus devices were created by Samsung. They are the number one Android handset manufacturer shipping 50.2 million smartphones in Q2 this year, 50.5 million depending on who you talk to. HTC? They shipped 8.8 million. HTC has had a 57.8 net profit drop since Q2 of 2011. They have had yet another 50% net profit drop this quarter (Q3) since Q2.

Why is this? Does HTC really deserve to be doing so much worse compared to Samsung?

I have used and owned many Samsung Android phones. From the i9000 to the Galaxy S3. Often, owning their flagship device for the time but you know each one has never felt as good as say the HTC counterpart. Sure, specification wise they were either on top or at least up there with the best but the way the phones actually feel as in the materials, hardware design and anything to give the phone a quality appearance feel as though they were an afterthought. The Galaxy S3 feels just as poorly and cheaply made as the original Galaxy S i9000 in most ways, not all though some things have improved. Software wise, TouchWiz has never compared to say HTC Sense though in the defence of Samsung, not many skins have actually added or bettered the stock Android experience. In fact, the Galaxy S3 is the first device I have actually found things to like about TouchWiz and one of those is the Smart Actions/Motion, for example if I am texting someone and then bring the phone to my ear it will call them.

The point being that nothing is ever built as well or seem like it is a high quality device like it does with HTC devices. The GS3 isn’t a bad smartphone, it’s great and is a fantastic competitor to the HTC One X.

It just doesn’t look or feel like it. Now, the home button does feel much more solid on the GS3 compared to the older Galaxy i9000, I do have to give them credit when credit is due. With that said, have you ever tried to take the back cover off of a GS3? If you haven’t had this opportunity, know that you have to be careful, my back cover was about to break in half; you have to be gentle, this is not a high end device.

Oh wait…

It is the most expensive Android device on the market currently and the HTC One V feels better built. Yet the One V currently sells at Koodo for $150 off contract, that is slightly less than the GS3 is on a three year term of $159.99. Off term, it is a $659.99 device. The HTC One X, the direct competitor to the Galaxy SIII, sells for $574.99 at Rogers and it feels like it should cost that much. The One X feels high end, in fact every phone in their One series does. Even the One V, which specification wise, most certainly is not.

So the question is: Why is HTC not doing nearly as well if Samsung devices seem unable to compare build quality wise to HTC?

Well, I don’t have an answer for this. People that I talk to that have say a Samsung Galaxy SIII don’t hate it or anything but they don’t seem to love it as much as people that have a recent HTC phone like the One X. Maybe Samsung puts more marketing behind their phones or maybe it is the type of marketing, currently that means poking at Apple. Maybe it is something else entirely. I see no reason why HTC couldn’t be where Samsung is in terms of how many devices they are shipping or profits. Actually, in terms of just about everything.

If I was buying a phone right now, I would certainly have to think about which phone I would prefer but ultimately and after a quick thought, the choice would easily be the HTC One X. The microSD slot and removable back cover would be the reasons swaying me towards the Galaxy SIII but if I were to choose the Galaxy SIII, it certainly wouldn’t be for design or build quality.

I would like to end this post with: I like Samsung. I am not bashing Samsung. They make some fantastic devices. I do believe some of their devices could be of a higher hardware quality but I believe this for other manufacturers, not just Samsung and I am sure even in some cases HTC. The focus of this post is HTC deserves more, Samsung just happens to be a good comparison for them to see build quality differences.

Tagged in , , , , , , ,

What the Windows Phone Platform is Still Missing

Editorial,Posts,Technology 3 July 2012 | 3 Comments

I want to start this off by saying I really like Windows Phone. It is a fantastic OS visually, functionally and is very quick/responsive. However, there are some serious issues that hinder my usage. It is missing some features/things that should be standard. Now, I am not complaining about Windows Phone 8 not coming to older devices, this is understandable and probably won’t happen again in the near future. Nor am I complaining about the “lack of apps”, this situation is getting better and was never a serious issue to begin with. Microsoft needs to know that there are much more pressing issues to be worked out.

1. APN Access.
I don’t know if Microsoft feels that a user doesn’t need full access to some APNs like users of Android devices do but users do need this. Some carriers have more than a couple of lines for their APNs. For example, I’m on Koodo and there are lots of sections that I have to enter things into that simply don’t exist in the Windows Phone “Add APN” option. I need to enter this APN if I want to use MMS; if I am using Windows Phone, then it is impossible to send MMS on Koodo. Sure, the Mango release made things in this respect a little better but it is not enough. We don’t need full APN access today, it should have been there yesterday.

2. Auto Rotate.
When I go to bed, my phone is often one of the last things I look at or if I can’t sleep, I might grab my phone. Unfortunately, on Windows Phone, if I am laying down, especially on my side, this auto rotate feature comes into play. It becomes not so great when in bed or even, surprise, some people just don’t like when their phone auto rotates. Auto rotate can be great when I am showing someone a video or photos. For whatever reason the user has, an option to disable auto rotate should exist. Windows Phone has been around for a while now and upon initial release this was at least closer to excusable but certainly not almost two years later.

3. Browsing.
Microsoft, let’s talk for a moment. I’m not an expert on what the reasoning is behind the lack of alternative browsers on Windows Phone but I believe it has something to do with you not allowing native code. Once again, whatever the reason, the current browsing experience is ridiculously horrid. On some sites, fonts don’t even render correctly and by no means is IE fast. I want to cry each time I need to do something in the browser. Two choices here: Internet Explorer should either be heavily improved, whether this what IE10 on WP8 will be, I don’t know or you need to allow WebKit/other based browsers onto your platform.

4. Multi Tasking.
Now, this one is better then when Mango first came out but a lot of apps still don’t take advantage of this and simply restart when one switches back to them from another app. Some will argue this is the fault of the developers and not Microsoft but it is their job to keep developers on track so that they have great apps for their platform. The only thing for Microsoft to do is either get their developers on board or just hope that everyone will eventually make their applications work with the multi tasking. They have waited and as I said, it has gotten much better for many applications.

5. Zune.
Microsoft, you haven’t done anything with Zune in terms of the music service in a long time. It had potential but not having it on any new Zune devices other than phones and the lack of making it cross-platform has all but killed the service. Nobody can actually recommend a Zune subscription when Rdio and other alternatives are all available on multiple platforms, have more content to offer and have, overall, greater functionality. Either kill off Zune entirely or actually do something with it, because you could; some people really loved Zune.

Those are my five main issues with Windows Phone. I do hope Microsoft takes action in regards to some, if not all of these things.

Tagged in , , , , , , , , ,

The Nexus Dream & How Dreams Turn into Nightmares

Editorial,Posts,Technology 27 January 2012 | 0 Comments

The Nexus One. A phone free of carrier ties. A device that wouldn’t need those subsidies from contracts because Google would provide them and therefore the phone could be sold unlocked for a low and reasonable price. Google will deem it a superphone because it is one that stands out from other Android devices due to the high specifications and for running the latest, stock version of Android.

This all sounded great. Though as we know, the Nexus One was a flop for the most part. It turns out the carriers were not fans of this plan and since Google does not run their own wireless network, their hands were tied.

The Nexus One ended up being sold on the fourth tier carrier in the US, T-Mobile, for $529 unlocked. This was a far cry from the $100 unlocked price they had in their sites at the start. Other models were in the works for AT&T, Verizon and Sprint as well. The AT&T model eventually arrived, just much after the T-Mobile version had. By this time, phones with higher specifications were coming out and the Nexus One was not as enticing as it once was. The Verizon and Sprint versions never happened either. In fact, on Verizon, you were told to just to get the HTC Incredible. Getting the device in Canada was even more expensive as it was in a couple other places as well.

The Nexus dream is dying and it has barely begun.

Now, fast forward to December 16, 2010 which was the release date of the Nexus S, just in the United States. Canada had to wait until April 7, 2011. By waiting this long, better devices were already starting to trickle out or at least teased. On April 28th, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc & Play were released on Rogers. That same month, Samsung was teasing the Galaxy SII, advertisement below. It isn’t that the Nexus S was a bad smartphone but it was not released at a time where it would be a great choice with better devices were coming out.

Now, I know I said above that is wasn’t a bad device but it certainly was not impressing as the Nexus One originally had. The Nexus S supported NFC but that meant it made other sacrifices such as the lack of an external SD card slot. Phones that were being released around this time were offering 720p video recording. The Nexus S, surprisingly, did not. Then unlike the Nexus One, the Nexus S felt cheap due to the plastic construction.
There was never a time where it was the top choice for a new smartphone.

Now, we’ll fast forward again to around present day, the Galaxy Nexus.
Remember the dream Google had for the Nexus One? That has been forgotten.

Bell receives a one month exclusive on the Galaxy Nexus.
It gets worse though, the off contract price is non-existent. On Bell, which is who you have to be on if you want the Galaxy Nexus, it is $159.99 on a three year term “when activating a minimum voice and data plan combination or Smartphone plan of $50 per month or greater”. There is no option to simply buy the device. There is not an option to buy it directly from Google. In the United States though, there is an option to buy it off contract, directly from Samsung/Best Buy.

The price? $799.99. The unlocked/off contract price of the Nexus One doesn’t seem so outrageous now.

Sure, the Nexus line still runs the latest, stock version of Android but is that all the Nexus line means now? Google is not even offering Android 4.0 to the Nexus One. It no longer means a flagship phone or not being tied to a carrier. It means the latest version of Android, well, for two of three devices.

I think it is time for Google to rethink what the Nexus line of devices mean as it is a sad thing to watch as the Nexus dream turns into a nightmare.

Tagged in , , , , , , , , , , ,

New webOS Owner & The Failure of HP

Editorial,Posts 19 August 2011 | 1 Comment

One year and four months after the purchase of Palm by HP, they are discontinuing operations for webOS devices. HP says this is because they have not met financial targets.

As a side note here, I am not sure what HP was expecting. They did nothing with the platform. They made the TouchPad hardware and said “tablet market, we made a tablet. There was no real marketing effort or innovation on the part of HP. They did no real work to help them sell devices, whether it be the Veer or the TouchPad. HP couldn’t possibly have expected anything more than what has happened.

Originally, I was intrigued to see HP get into this market until I realized that things weren’t going the way they should have been. The Pre 3 was taking far to long to be released and the TouchPad was a lackluster offering, hardware wise of course. Now the next question is, what does HP do now?

Does it license out webOS to other hardware companies? No, there is not a hardware company out there that would create hardware, which would take time, for an operating system that has no strong developer backing and that has essentially failed, twice.

Does it open source webOS? WebOS has one of the best communities around and they deserve this. Though I doubt HP will do this, however this would be the best way for webOS to continue and for HP to be loved by the strong homebrew community that webOS has, like webOS Internals.

Does it sell Palm/webOS to another company? Yes, I think this is the best option for HP unless it has something planned that we have yet to hear about. But what company would want it? Though not the fault of webOS, it has basically failed two times already. However, many companies would still love to buy Palm but for the patents. I do hope that Palm is sold, or at least webOS, to a manufacturer who wants to actually create a home for webOS in this competitive market.

This is why I think Samsung is the best option. They have attempted to have their own mobile OS before with Bada and it was not exactly a success. They are one of the, if not the, largest mobile component manufacturer and have at least some experience developing mobile operating systems. If not Samsung then LG would be my second guess.

Whatever the outcome, as long as webOS survives this ordeal, I’ll be okay with it.

Tagged in , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Phone Manufacturers, You Can Differentiate on Industrial Design

Editorial,Posts 15 August 2011 | 0 Comments

I am not sure whether to file this under editorial or rant. Whichever it should go under, the phone manufacturers out there need to read this.

You, the manufacturers, are not being innovative anymore. Devices look like the ones seen in the last quarter. A great example is Samsung, they rehash the same model for almost all of their most recent devices. Whether it is the Focus, Galaxy S II, Infuse or any of the Galaxy S models. LG? I can barely tell the difference between the Optimus 2X and the Optimus Black. HTC is not being quietly brilliant, just quiet in terms of launching unique devices. The industrial design of these phones is not changing.

This is one area where Nokia shines and it is the one thing I will say one thing for them, their phones, they stand out. No, this is not because Symbian is lagging behind the competition and unable to compete with any modern smartphone OS. Instead, because the phone’s hardware looks different than their other phones. Have a look at the Nokia N8 or the X7 (photo below), you are not going to mistake it for any other device.

Also did you notice that I didn’t mention Motorola above? This is because Motorola, for the majority of their devices, still gets it; they are an old hardware company. Have a look at the Motorola Flipout, they only made this design once for two different form factors, the other one being the Charm.

It seems that the current consensus among manufacturers is that software is their only way to differentiate their devices from the competition. For phones running Android, they throw custom skins on top; whether it be the one of the better ones (HTC Sense) or be it one of the worst (MotoBlur). On Windows Phone, as they were unable to modify the software interface, these manufacturers were lost. Samsung released only a single device while LG managed to release two. HTC is comfortable to releasing multiple phones, they did, unfortunately they all look the same. HTC Mozart looks just like the HD7, Trophy, 7 Pro (plus keyboard, which is very reminiscent of the keyboard on the Desire Z, which also looks like the HTC Arrive) and the Surround (with the addition of a slide out speaker, which one of the few unique things they have done recently).

I remember when the HTC began releasing the Hero, what a unique looking device. The unusual rectangular slanting of the base, white models used Teflon to help prevent dirt, a speaker grill covered with a stylish mesh and all the while maintaining a solid build quality. The device was not without flaws but at least it was differentiated in design.

Now, instead of that, we get the same rehashed device every refresh. With that said, I love the companies I listed above but they seem to be in a rut. Kudos is given from me to those manufacturers that are changing their designs. To those who are not, it is time to step up and try something new.

Tagged in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Terminal Standard, What Is It?

Posts 13 August 2011 | 0 Comments

TerminalStandard is a site that I have had up on the web for some time now but it has for the most part laid dormant; waiting patiently for the creator, myself, to provide content.

Well, that time has come. TerminalStandard will become my technology and personal blog. Now, don’t go thinking that this is a blog where I write about how my day was. As I write the word personal, I think about all the other blogs using that term. It isn’t what I mean.  I mean that the blog is run solely by me and it will be focusing on technology.

Now, as you may or may not know, I also run Gadgico and Drinkico. Gadgico will remain live but content is not likely to posted as regularly as I would like until I have some other writers/bloggers to help me run the site. I still plan on having it in the future and have very high hopes for it. Drinkico is my foray into the world of energy drink and other beverage reviews on the web. It is being run by myself as well as a few friends.

If you wish to write for either of the sites above, I have no objections. However, with that said, I would like it if you could attempt to maintain a professional style while writing for either of the above sites. It would be volunteer writing/blogging unless the sites turn a profit, in which case you would be paid based on incoming revenue. You can contact me, here comes the list, here:

Email

Contact Form

Twitter

Now then, back to Terminal Standard. I plan to post my editorials, reviews and important technology news here, I will be trying to do editorials once a week if time permits. If I post something to Gadgico that would fit here or vice-versa (post to Terminal Standard that would fit on Gadgico), I will likely cross-post between the two.

So I will be putting a focus on this blog and Drinkico. Once these two are solid, I will put the spotlight and my focus back on Gadgico.

I think that is all I have to say about this for now.

Thanks for reading!

Tagged in , , ,

Mango Update Concept, Looks Good

Posts 11 April 2011 | 0 Comments

This is a user interface concept by Jozef Kocur of his own J&K Designs. It integrates Aero, a control bar and multi-tasking (different from what we have seen in Mango).

I like the ideas of having Aero integration and even more so the Control Bar.

Let me know what you think in the comments.

From J&K Designs:
Control Bar:
The Control Bar brings quick notifications, Zune’s control, and the system control buttons to the top of your screen. To open the Control Bar simply press the Home button twice quickly. This opens the Control Bar, which primarily shows the system control buttons. Just slide to the left to launch Zune’s control buttons, or to the right to show latest system notifications. In the notifications area you can also scroll down to show more notifications.

Aero Integration:
The idea of Aero Integration to WP7 has been stuck in my head since May 2010. In June 2010 I created the first concept of WP7 showing the semi-transparent tiles with own background on the home screen. I liked it; I thought it looked much better than original WP7’s UI. In the last couple of months I have learned a lot. I realized that the WP7’s user interface does not need to have semi-transparent effects to be beautiful.  However, the integration of the Aero could be one of the things that customers would appreciate. After publishing that concept I found out that people liked it. Many people want to have a chance to personalize their home screens.

Via: WPSauce
Source: Jozef Kocur

Tagged in , , , , ,

Story of Linux, 20 Years of Linux

Posts,Technology 9 April 2011 | 0 Comments

From Gadgico: The year 2011 is the 20th anniversary of the first Linux kernel release from Linus Torvalds. Flash forward 20 years and the Linux kernel combined with the GNU tools and a whole host of software has been developed into an operating system that runs on a lot of things we use everyday. Check out the video above, while it is accurate it does add humour where Richard Stallman is portrayed as a religious figure.

Source: The Linux Foundation

Tagged in , , ,

YFrog Site Redesign

Posts,Technology 5 April 2011 | 0 Comments

I am loving the redesign of YFrog, it looks so much better now. It makes me want to actually use YFrog. It appears though that their mobile page is broken, perhaps the link changed? Any ideas?

I also got this error (shown above) and the site seems slower overall but it is a good trade off.

Let me know what you think in the comments below after the jump.

Tagged in , , , , ,