Android hemroids

I am a genuine late adopter of modern technology. I do see a lot of it coming from miles away tho, and try to get in touch with it before it arrives. Read up on it, let it sink into my stubborn brain cells.
And so I fell in love with Android long time before it was found on any commercial device. As a programmer I immediately fell for it’s architecture, it’s intents, it’s openness.
While waiting for the baby to mature, I read up on the first user experiences and decided to wait a year more, before trying it out myself. Being very fond of my iPhone User eXperience, and a Linux user, I was very reluctant to try another open source OS.

So I finally decided in 2010 to buy the Goog’s Nexus One, and treat myself to a whole different mobile experience. No cruft, straight up android from the core.
Nice new features, integrated messaging and notifications, free navigation, supported rooting, a dream come true from a programmer’s perspective!

But then the wet cement started coming up through the cracks, reminding me of the slow, shaky and ever evolving Linux OS’s. Why would it be different with Android? Marketing? A larger user base? Of course not. The foundation is the same. Openness breeds variety, and the lack of control allows buggy software. It just kills the user experience when there is no senior top of the pyramid overlooking a coherent interface to it’s OS, but also it’s ever growing list of apps.
Android’s choice to let performance measures come from the community itself, rather than exert dominant control over such an important aspect, resulted in an unresponsive and sluggish device. Trying and uninstalling many task killer and performance apps trained me to keep it into shape somewhat, but how cumbersome!
But the most irritating to me was the fact that the Android market became the waste bucket of successful iPhone apps, with even the largest web services out there offering alpha software. Not only were most of them very buggy, but it seemed that the android user base was treated like the linux user base, expected to not care about user experience, but openness and features only.

And that is what made me sell the device after 2 months of trying very hard to make the device perform acceptably, and go back to my good ol’ iPhone 3Gs.
So I decided to give Android more time to mature, and hoped the inevitable growth of it’s user base would demand top notch user experience. Boy was I wrong.

2 years after my first encounter I now own a quad core Asus eee prime monster tablet running the latest ice cream sandwich, holding more power than necessary for a smooth user experience. Or so I thought.
ICS 4.0.3 is still not controlling performance and has apps running wild, interfering with my user experience.
The apps I use most, such as Facebook, Spotify and Twitter, are all cream of the crap. Offering the same crappy UI and limited functionality like years before. But I can’t really blame app developers for not wanting to support an OS that does not deliver the same functionality on the multitude of devices churned out every day. I do have to see that as a given from now on I guess.

What was I thinking? I should have realized that the same lack of control over performance and apps, and also the increasing complexity of hardware support are truly hindering front of the line, top notch mobile device experiences.
Apple has been criticized by that same android community for exerting this kind of control, and app manufacturers have been honed for only supporting Apple’s stable unified hardware approach. But being an open source advocate, I am also a power user in need of a user experience allowing my quick and intuitive workflow. My day to day operations are not to be hindered by sluggy OS’s and unusable apps.
There is no choice for me but to go back to Apple’s stable, and ride their willing and able iron horse, taking me into the camps of the fronteers, letting me indulge in their nourishing stream of app cream.

1995 is here!

Did you read my previous post? 1995 is here. Well, almost. I can now listen to or view any track, video or stream I want, since I have added dTunes and PwnPlayer to my iPhone. They rock!

dTunes is an alternative to iTunes. It doesn’t support podcast downloading/viewing (iTunes does that well and for free anyway), but does offer:

  • torrent downloading with a webinterface defaulting to thepiratebay.org website;
  • a SeeqPod interface enabling almost all of their online functionality such as:
    • searching/discovering/browsing music/video:
    • downloading/streaming music or video files;
    • browsing my Podlists (SeeqPod’s online playlists). Problem is that it wont let me start playback of a playlist, nor let me create new Podlists. So I am left to downloading/streaming one track at a time. (And that suxx, so where’s the SeeqPod app?)
  • a TinyTube interface (providing PDA-screen optimized video’s from well known 3rd parties);
  • shake and play: turn the feature on and shake yer iPhone to let it play shuffled songs 🙂

How kool is that? But like I said, one problem is that it won’t allow me to create podlists , so I am tempted into downloading tracks for later organising (which I am trying to avoid). However, at other times you are likely to rip your own or somebody else’s cd’s. So you are bound to collect media files sooner or later anyway. And for that we have the PwnPlayer, which is an alternative to the original ‘iPod’ player. It does everything the iPod player does, plus:

  • filesystem browsing and playing;
  • on the fly playlist creation.

One problem with the PwnPlayer is that it’s not so easy to sync it with desktop music apps like RhythmBox. (I think there are ways, but it involves hacking xml files on yer iPhone.) I use AirSharing to move files to its public folder on its webdav server, and created a symlink to that AirSharing folder in my ~/Library/Music folder. I also created a link there to the downloads folder that dTunes uses: ~/Media/Downloads. So now I can listen to and organise my incoming files from within PwnPlayer (or MobileFinder for more file management options).

iPhone home

I finally managed to go to a Belgian store and got me the last simlock free 16G black iPhone (of that particular week). Went home, tried to jailbreak it first over VMware, which fortunately told me in a rather early stage that it wouldn’t work. But then it dawned on me that I still had a dualboot XP setup (doh!), and JB’d that sucker in a whiffy.
WHY, oh WHY didn’t I get me one SOONER? With the port of apt-get in the form of Cydia, it’s just like my Ubuntu! I’m in heaven, going through all those repositories offering me all da goodiez from open source geekdom. But wait, there’s so much more. After viewing some apps in uncle Stevies appstore, I googled around a bit for some easier handling of my insta-app needs. And thats when I found that little gem called Installous. It can install ipa files, which are basically user created archives of an installed app, which can be created with Crackulous. Just go to http://appulo.us, and you can see what people are sharing. It’s actually a better experience than the AppStore itself in my opinion. My mobile life will never be the same.

I have created a special iPhone apps page where I am listing and reviewing my favourite apps. If you haven’t JB’d your iPhone yet, I suggest you do that asap :p

Did I already say I am in heaven? I can play LastFM without even a bit of lag, and the same goes for any stream over 3G, even on the highway! Some of the time I listen to dubstep.fm on ShoutCast, but I mostly crank it up for my favorite number 1 stream from InterGalacticFM 🙂 Finally, no more downloading music! Which is what I hoped for back in 1995, when I stopped buying plastic media and started downloading over dial-in….what a way to come :]

Waited too long :(

My bad. I waited too long for my HTC Tytn 2 to arrive on my doorstep. I waited for 2 months, because everything went wrong with the company I bought it from. (So don’t buy from bestelmaar.nl, since these girls don’t bother to give any feedback if something goes wrong with your order.) Anyway, I am kinda fooked for 2 reasons:

  • I just read that the new iPhone will be coming out in NL on the 11th of July, and I was actually waiting for that. One solace: I wouldn’t be able to use a new iPhone with my brand new Vodafone internet contract anyway. I will have to wait for somebody to crack the new iPhone wide open. Only then will I buy one. (Of course that won’t take too long :p)
  • HTC just released their Touch Pro, which looks and performs (with its Qualcomm® MSM7201A™ 528 MHz processor) way better than my Tytn 2 🙁

But that won’t bother me at all, since I can trade my hardware with less tech savvy users at eBay anytime ofcourse. Should I do just that, and already trade my pimped Tytn 2 for that Pro? Hmmmm…nah, I guess I can wait for the iPhone. In the mean time I will keep you informed on the goodies for my Tytn 2 in my favorite PocketPC apps section.

Looking Good, Feeling Fresh

Yesss! I managed to put some time and effort into this blog and made it to my liking. Finally!

There are still some things I have to put up with for now, like the Flickr photo plugin behaving badly. It won’t consistently work with the lightbox module. If you click on one of my random pix it takes you to an HTML version of the gallery. Hmmm, time to override/add some event handlers then.

What constantly needs updating, are my favorite apps and open source section. Go check em out! I even made special sections for my apps:

I’ll try to keep them as updated as possible 🙂