BBM: A Conspiracy Theory

So BlackBerry stated they would be launching BBM on Android and iOS this past weekend, the official announcement was made months ago. As the hype was built, here in the Asia Pacific region specifically, BBM was the topic of discussion for the first time in a long time, reminiscing back to its former glory.

So they began the roll out slowly, confusingly however they started rolling it for iOS first, whereas they had announced that it would be coming for Android first. A couple of days before the rollout, the apk was leaked. Many people installed it but couldn’t get set up and connected, which changed this past weekend. Before it even launched on the Play Store, the apk was installed and activated on numerous devices, the number floating around is 1.1 million however it is not clear whether that was iOS and Android or just android. As time went on and people were clamoring away, posting their new PIN’s on any and every form of social media, BlackBerry dropped a bomb. They said they would be halting the roll out for the foreseeable future and would also be deactivating the accounts of those who signed up through the leaked apk.

Now here’s where my conspiracy theory comes into play. Take BlackBerry, a company that’s failing, dying. Soon enough they won’t even exist in the consumer world. Their former fame and glory now a shadow in the distance, fading away. Sunk-ed so low that they’re offering their only selling point to their competitors, for free. The picture that comes to your mind is of a BlackBerry, one that has not been picked and left to dry, withering on the vine, frail and wishing for death. But here’s where the twist comes in, the metaphorical rebirth. What if it was BlackBerry themselves who leaked the apk? It would make more sense would it not? A one last hurrah! Think about it, people were already forgetting about blackberry and preparing to throw their old blackberries away the minute they migrated over to BBM on their other, more loved platforms. So the minute BBM was on the Play Store and App Store all over the world that would be the last nail in the ill fated companies coffin. So they leaked the apk, gave people a small taste of what they wanted and got the world hungry and in a split second, took it away from them. Its a classic mind game and a good one at that. It’s been 3 days and my timeline is still cluttered with people asking what happened about bbm, how do you get bbm, etc. That’s the most anyone’s spoken about the company in a while. Now, people want it, they want it bad. Giving BlackBerry back a little control of the market they once dominated.

Now with this in no way am I saying “blackberry is back”, they’re still going to die soon and there’s no stopping that. This has merely prolonged the consumers acknowledgment of their existence. It is unclear what can become of this now, whether that was it and they just did it to do it and go out with a very minute bang, more of a pop! you could say. Or, did they do it so they could test the market and see how many people were actually interested in BBM, so that they could probably spin it off into a separate entity or even monetize it. What they do with it is up to them, all we can do is sit back and watch.

Android Phones: Overpowered or Compromised?

Take a good look at the android phones that are around today. Have you noticed that some of them tout so many features yet always have something very lackluster about them? I mean look at the so called ‘Flagship’ phones out there now, the Samsung Galaxy S4 has brilliant performance and a superb camera, in exchange of that they chose to neglect build quality and make it out of plastic, bad plastic. Now look at the Lumia 1020, the tank of a phone overcompensates widely in the camera department but the lack of app support in windows phone renders the phone to be in what I can only call exasperating. 

Now let’s take a look at the mid-range devices. The underdogs in my opinion. My favourite of which, the HTC One Mini. It has a great build quality, a good enough display and a mediocre camera. I know it is the same camera as the One but it’s not, it lacks OIS (optical image stabilization) which actually makes a huge deal. Had they ditched the HTC One and the HTC One mini and made just one phone in between with no real compromise or over compensation, it would have been the perfect phone for me. 

 

You may be thinking, what exactly am I talking about. Well here it is, why must manufacturers over-compensate so much on one aspect of the device that they have to skimp out on the other. Why must we have the highest end specs and power but still skimp out on build quality. Why must smaller phones lack the necessary features to making it a useable device. Why can’t we have just ONE product that doesn’t go overboard on any aspect and doesn’t skimp out on any as well? That would be the phone to get. 

Think about it. One of the hardest decisions you have to make when picking up a phone is to go High End Vs. Cheap Price, more simply it becomes Overpowered Vs. Underspecced. Is this a battle we have to face? I can honestly say I’ve had this fight for so long that I’m still stuck with my almost 2 Generation old Galaxy Nexus. There just hasn’t been a phone so far that sits perfectly in the middle of what I would call a perfect fit. I considered the HTC One Mini but the lack of OIS disappointed me, the Moto X seems promising but there aren’t any plans of it being made available internationally as yet and that AMOLED display is really putting me off. 

Maybe what I’ve said makes sense to you and you can relate to it. Maybe I’m just too hard to please. Either way, the decision regarding a new smartphone has to be made and each day the battle grows more infuriating, no thanks to the manufacturers and designers around the world. Oppo, let’s hope you’ve got something up your sleeve with the N1. 

 

Samsung Chromebook Hands-On!

Google is known for venturing into any and every tech related field they can, from the web to mobile to even food somehow. A couple of years back, they decided to one up they’re chrome browser and create Chrome OS, an operating system that was basically the browser. Fast forward some time, chrome os has become much more advanced than before all while sticking to it’s clear reasoning, to be a web based operating system, with everything moving to “the cloud,” why have a heavy, expensive Windows or Mac operating system acting as a middleman? Why not just have the browser be the OS? At it’s inception chrome wasn’t really much, it was missing quite a bit of it’s features and basically wasn’t that appealing. Now though, with the second generation of Chromebook laptops in our hands, there might just be a place in all our hearts for the Chrome OS.

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The first Samsung Chromebook that came out was more of a test, they wanted to see if there was a market for it and if they got any feedback. Sure enough, they got feedback. People spoke about how it was a good idea but it was too expensive for something that does so little, it was too clunky, battery life was poor, etc, So samsung took all those comments and made the Macbook Air  Samsung Chromebook 2.0. The new device featured a slim and trimmed down body, a much better display and keyboard, an ARM processor as opposed to an x86chip, which almost tripled the battery life, threw in 100GB of free Google Drive storage for a year and best of all? Priced it at $249. Ever since I heard that I’ve been dying to get my hands on the chromebook and finally, I did so here are my thoughts and opinions. This is not a full review as I did not spend enough time with it to review it in depth.

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As soon as I switched on the device I was impressed. I just had to sign into my google account and everything was there already, all my extensions and plugins and everything i needed. It was fast and smooth and had no issues opening up any webpages I threw at it, even the graphically intensive ones. I could even log into my plex web console and stream all my tv shows and movies from my PC, and that’s where the twist comes in.Although the chromebook is a great device. It’s most certainly not a desktop replacement. I could see myself giving up my tablet for this any day of the week. The addition of the keyboard plus the full interface desktop browser makes this device makes this more capable for productivity and other tasks as compared to a casual toy, which is how I look at tablets, well larger tablets. I have other opinions on tablets like the nexus 7 but I’ll save them for a later post.

So who do I think this is targeted at? The masses. Say you want to have a powerful desktop PC for all your gaming/editing needs but still need something to be able to take notes in class or in a meeting, that’s where the chromebook comes in. It is to the world what netbooks never where and in my opinion what the tablets tried to be, a robin to your batman. And with that I end this relatively short post, but feel free to bask in the beauty of the chromebook with the images below.

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Paranoid Android 3.60 (Hello HALO) Review

Some of you may have read my recent post about the time I’ve spent with my Galaxy Nexus. Ironically the day after I wrote that post (which was a couple of weeks before I had posted it) My phone stopped working. I mean completely, it refused to open the app drawer then when I tried rebooting it went into bootloop and ultimately crashed. That was the tipping point for me, I took it as a sign. My phone was screaming at me to go back to the old ways of root apps, sick customizations and custom rom’s. So what other choice did I have?

The first decision was, which ROM do I use? This was a relative no-brainer, Although I wanted to go with AOKP as I had used it briefly and loved it, all the hype right now seemed to be surrounding paranoid android and it’s “Hello HALO” feature. For those of you who are unaware of what HALO is, and no it’s not the game, it’s a sort of unified chathead, where all your notifiaction appears in a chathead like format. Before I give you my review, I would like to point out that I’ve been using Paranoid android for 26 days right now and my opinion stems from that time spent with it.

To be honest I was underwhelmed. I was expecting something that would blow my mind away, like AOKP and CM10.1 did. Cause they felt like stock android on steroids. Paranoid Android however felt like that one schizophrenic part of the android 4.2 system that was out of place from the rest. The whole time I used it the concept of the ugly duckling came to my mind. It’s pretty much the same as stock android on the inside, it has the same features, but it’s not pretty. I also ended up comparing Paranoid Android to your typical highschool douchebag. It’s trying to be something that it’s not. You get the feeling like you know he’s a good guy but he’s trying too hard to be something he’s not.

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In all actuality, my experience with PA wasn’t all that bad. I was just expecting something over the top and my expectations were set too high for it. That’s not to say there weren’t some parts of it that didn’t completely blow me away. For instance, the standby battery life was brilliant, simply outstanding. I have those days where I just don’t use my phone all that much, like when I’m really busy at work and have tons of meetings and deadlines. Usually by the time I reach my office (at 8:00am)  it’s at 84% and by 5:00pm it’s below 15%. Imagine my surprise when I pulled my phone out of my pocket at 5:30pm one day and see my battery at 78%? Even on the days that I use it moderately I end up leaving the office with 30-40% which isn’t really that great compared to other phones but compared to stock android it’s brilliant. As you can see from the screenshot of my battery information on the right (that small bump on the graph was when I was transferring music onto my phone) The kernel does a great job of managing power.

There are a few other things I liked about paranoid android. For example, I liked the fact that I can change the status bar colour and icon colour to match the app that I’m in, this actually helps in space perspective. For example, I made the colour of the status bar green in whatsapp and faded blue in instagram so that it made it seem like my screen was actually bigger, it’s a nifty trick. But you must also keep in mind that it took me ages to get the right colour combination. I also liked that the lag was noticeably less compared to stock android and that my battery didn’t heat up as much, but then again that’s the case on every other ROM.

Screenshot_2013-06-29-15-49-26  The main reason I wanted to try out PA was HALO, I love chatheads and I dreamed of the day where I would get whatsapp functionality for Whatsapp. It’s safe to say I was hugely disappointed. I understand that it’s in beta, that’s why I’m not going to say anything about the errors and the bugs. What annoyed me was the way it worked in general. When you click on the bubble your app opens, that’s obvious, what annoyed me was that when I clicked on it again, instead of closing the app back into the bubble, it just opens another window. That irked me more than you’d think. I hated having to open an app and hit the back button to close it, if I wanted to do that I would stick to android’s built in multitasking as it offers the same functionality. After a while what I realised was that HALO is basically offering me what I already have, but giving me less than 50% the screen real estate. This for me made the whole concept of HALO utterly redundant.

PIE control is another feature that PA touts around. In my experience with it it definitely looks cool but is really just a gimmick. It takes to long for it to pop out, just so we can go back or home. It looks really nice and makes you feel like you’re using a gadget out of minority report but at the end of the day for a power user like me it’s really more of a hassle then it is a feature to talk about. The extended desktop functionality is useful when I need extra real estate and know that I’ll be within that one app for a long Screenshot_2013-07-12-09-41-54time but otherwise is just problematic. One would think after reading what I just wrote that the simple solution would be to use PIE in conjunction with HALO but trust me, once you try it you’d see for yourself why it really does not work.

There are a couple of other gripes that I have with this ROM, such as the over exaggeration of colours, which makes you feel like you’ve dived into the deepest realm of the matrix and the fact that my cell reception has dropped intensely ever since I flashed PA but these are small things that I can live with. All in all Paranoid Android is fine if you’re on a device where you want the stock android experience but in my opinion the entire ROM itself is a gimmick and just doesn’t have what it takes to keep up with the better ROM’s available out there.

Disagree with my opinions or have something you need to add? Sound off in the comments below or shoot me an email at sohamthenerd@gmail.com

Until next time folks.

Windows Phone 8: View from the eyes of an Android Freak (Day 1)

The battle for the “Best Mobile OS” has been going on for quite a while now, with iOS and Android hogging the lead and leaving the others so far behind that they cant even begin to see the dust yet. There are many who have tried to challenge they’re dominance, others who are content with staying behind. One company that’s been battling endlessly with Apple and Google is Microsoft. Apple and Google started entering the smartphone market around the 2007-2008 time period and by 2009 they had revamped the entire concept of smartphones and touch screens. Microsoft on the other hand was still lacking in the mobile department, they were probably too preoccupied with the “Vista” problem. Microsoft’s mobile OS was  basically a smaller version of windows xp. It was hard to use, you couldn’t really figure out how to work it that well even if you were a huge geek and the worst thing was the resisitive touch screen, that was just terrible. Fast forward to October 2010, Microsoft announced a completely revamped ‘Windows Phone OS’ with a completely revamped “metro” interface and it was beautiful. I was lovestruck. Sadly though as with all new software, it had it’s issues. Jump forward to 2013. Microsoft’s been in the market for 3 years and they’ve had time to fix their issues. So is Windows Phone 8 a worthy competitor for the No. 1 spot?

 

My first day with windows phone 8 has been a blast. As with every new phone, I spent endless hours downloading new apps, customizing it (as much as windows phone would allow me to) and tinkering with it in every which way. I picked up the Lumia 520, which is the lowest end and ‘cheapest’ Windows Phone device in the market so obviously my expectations were low, surprisingly it blew me away. From the minute I turned it on the phone was fast, fluid and mellifluous. I really was not expecting such performance from such a low end device. Multitasking and opening apps were smooth, there was no input lag whatsoever.

The biggest Complaint people have about windows phone now days is that it’s app collection is terrible. On the contrary, I was able to find a replacement for my 5 most used apps quite quickly. Keep in mind I don’t use as many apps as I used to since I’ve been really tied down at work. My most used apps on my nexus are Falcon Pro, Instagram, Feedly, PocketCasts and Whatsapp. What I use on windows phone; Twitter, Instance (not that great but instagram should be coming soon), Nextgen reader, Podcast and Whatsapp. See, no trouble. One thing however is that some alternatives for free android apps were paid on windows phone. Just a small annoyance. My favourite thing about windows phone is the brilliant sync integration. I literally just had to sign in to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and immediately it started populating my entire device with my data. The photos app had my facebook photo’s, the people tile was an integrated feed of my facebook, twitter and linkedIn and the me tile had all my information already. Other than that you can even use facebook chat through the default messaging app, that’s brilliant!

One of the biggest gripes I’ve had however is that there’s no unified notification center, so I tend to miss a lot of notifications and only become aware of them when I scroll through and see the tile. That and the fact there are no quick toggles for settings like WiFi and bluetooth, altough I’m certain you can pin those settings to your start screen, you still have to open the app and switch the toggle.

Apart from that, I’m quite astonished. I’ve never been this satisfied with a phone of this pricepoint before. Devices at this price point have always irked me more than they have impressed me. Keep in mind I haven’t even had the phone for a full 24 hours yet and I plan on using the phone for at least two weeks or more before I give you my full and final opinion, which will most probably be in the form of a YouTube review so stay tuned folks and make sure to subscribe or keep coming back so that you don’t miss anything.

Thanks for reading!

 

Mobile operating system alternatives that stand a chance

How many of you out there are sick of the smartphone wars? You know the war of the mobile OS’, largely dominated by Android and iOS. The smartphone wars has chewed up and spit out lot’s of competition over the years, completely destroying some companies (Palm/Hp, Symbian) and some who just refuse to give up (RIM, Microsoft). There’s certainly no lack of choice when it comes to mobile OS preference, but what happens if you get bored with the so-called “Big 4”, wouldn’t you like more options? Well here’s a list of the mobile OS’s that I think may actually stand a chance.

MeeGo

You may have heard of MeeGo before, it’s the OS everyone claimed was doomed. Nokia released it on the N9 stating it was “Our first and last MeeGo phone”. It released to mixed emotions, some praised it for its great simplicity and multitasking where many thrashed the lack of apps and the Ovi Store. No one really paid much attention to MeeGo presuming it would be gone forever, but alas! A group of Nokia employee’s and MeeGo fanboys left Nokia to work on MeeGo and asked the great king Elop if they could have the necessary legal documents to pursue their dream, so with Nokia’s blessing they continue to develop MeeGo and offer it as a free, open operating system, and they all lived happily ever after. The End. (Notice how this story actually works as a fairy tale? that’s pretty neat!)

Mozilla Firefox OS

A Firefox, everyone’s backup browser. The way I see this is, Mozilla saw that google was making “Chrome OS” and they decided that they would do the same thing, but mobile! Firefox OS offers the same experience you get on the Firefox browser, plus a few more features. It’s a very simple operating system with all the basic features you’d expect out of a phone, it’s not really for people who do everything on their phone, it’s for people who do only the basics. App support isn’t that good but considering all the apps will be HTML5 based you should see a lot of web apps appear, they’re not as speedy as native apps but developers won’t mind making them as they’re easy to program and debug and will release them to have a larger market share/consumer base. There’s not much else to say about this other than what we know so far, so we’ll have to wait and see!

Open WebOS

WebOS was actually really promising before HP sent it packing. I always wanted to buy an HP Pre 3, at heart I might still be a webOS fanboy. If you’re like me, there’s hope my brethren! A while back HP released WebOS to the public (this allows anyone to work on the code) and some people got it running on the Galaxy Nexus! So you can say that I’m fascinated, and can’t wait for further development!

Ubuntu Phone

And here we have reached my favourite of the bunch, the ubuntu phone! I’m a huge fan of Ubuntu, I use it on my PC and laptop and have Xubuntu (forked Ubuntu with xfce) running on my laptop. I love the open-ness, the interface, Linux and everything about it. Ubuntu’s been great for me the past couple of years and I’m super stoked that it’s finally going to be arriving on the phone. It has a great new user interface and has support for native apps as well as HTML5 and, when you dock the device it has the capability to turn into a full-fledged ubuntu desktop. The only thing that would make this better is if you could dual-boot it with android and open webOS (high hopes).

There are a couple I didn’t go into detail with such as the Jolla Sailfish and Samsung’s Tizen, but these are the ones I felt would have the most potential to turn into your daily drivers. Sadly we now reach the end of this post, but fear not as there shall be more in the near future, for now you can keep in touch with my twitter @SnazzyHam, thanks for reading folks and as always, Stay Snazzy!

Best Looking phones (end of 2011 issue)

I’m not gonna lie, I’m a sucker for buying phones that don’t have the right specs, but look freakin awesome! So heres my list of the top 8 best looking phones, in ascending order.

8. Blackberry Curve 9360

7. HTC Sensation XE

6. Apple iPhone 4/4S

5. LG Optimus 3D

4. Samsung/Google Galaxy Nexus

3. Motorola Droid Razr

2.  Motorola Droid X2

1. Nokia Lumia 800 (The Dark Knight Rises Limited Edition Especially)