Android Wear: LG G Watch – Day 1

gwatchSo, I have an Android Wear device. More specifically the LG G Watch – the reason we went with this over the others is purely fiscal – it was £100.

So, what have I found on the first day of use? Is it as amazing as I’d hoped? Is it a gadget to bring Sci-Fi comms units one step closer to reality? Or is it something Dick Tracy would have discarded in favour of his wrist radio?

Pros

  • Notifications for SMS, Hangouts, Mail and Calendar are amazing.
  • The screen is nice and easy to read in all light conditions.
  • It’s more comfortable on a bigger wrist (such as mine) than I thought it would be.
  • The vibration notifications are apparent, but not as overly strong as I feared. Discreet!
  • The set up was unbelievably simple.
  • It charges fast on the supplied unit
  • Voice recognition and dictation is surprisingly good. It even gave me a delightful Wikipedia article on ‘Bollocks’ when I poured coffee on my hand mid demonstration.

Cons

  • To be effective, you have to fully enable all features on your phone. Location services being a big one.
  • This enabling of features caused my battery to go from 100% to 22% in under two hours of light use. This could well be a bug or a fault with my phone, but it only started when Android Wear was installed.
  • The battery life of the watch itself isn’t two days, as I’ve heard thrown around. At 18 hours of use, we’re at 33%. That’s not going to last 48 hours.
  • You’ll really need two charging cradles if you plan to use this at home and the office.
  • The home screen could do with some tweaks – it’s just not effective enough to allow changes to the settings or apps.
  • More watch faces that haven’t been designed in what looks like MS paint please.
  • A few more ‘disconnections’ than I’d like, given that my phone never left my pocket.

So, all in all, I’m enjoying it and I hope that the battery issue (both my Nexus 5 and the LG G Watch) is one I can solve with some fiddling and investigation. As with most technologies, I have to adapt to it to a certain degree, although talking into a watch will always make me feel like budget Dick Tracy, only fatter and without a yellow flasher’s mac.

 

We’ll see how we faired after  a week then.

Shamu aka Nexus X (or Nexus 6 too, if you prefer)

Exciting news for fans of the Nexus line of Google Android devices, it looks like the Nexus X is nearly upon us.google-nexus-6

Yet more details have been emerging about what the device will have to offer and as it stands it looks to be mightly impressive, although a bit of expensive than the impressive launch Nexus 5.

So, the Motorla Shamu (as it is known at present) looks to feature:

  • Android L (5.0)
  • 2.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor
  • 3GB RAM
  • 5.9″ 2560 x 1440 QHD display
  • Qualcomm Adreno 420 GPU
  • 12-megapixel rear camera that will be capable of recording 4K UHD video

Which all shapes up to make a tasty looking bundle. The price? Well, if the leaked price from Zuaba is to be believed, it’s £349/$579, popping it in a slightly higher bracket than the Nexus 5, but still well below iPhone prices.

The beefed up stats look like they justify the price increase nicely, so I’ll eagerly be awaiting the first reviews of the unit before jumping in myself.

 

 

 

Android users can now run Firefox OS apps (all six of them)

 

Open Web Apps

Mozilla’s Firefox OS is based on Gecko — the same core rendering engine that its desktop and mobile Firefox web browsers use. This unified framework goes to the essence of what Firefox and Mozilla are about. Mozilla sees the future of apps and browsing as two sides of the same coin. To push its vision for “Open Web Apps,” Mozilla has rolled out v29 of Firefox for Android, which enables you to download and install Firefox OS marketplace apps on your Android device with no additional configuration.

With the new support for Android, all you need to do is install the updated Firefox browser from Google Play — attempting to grab anything from the FF marketplace with Chrome results in an error. The apps will go through the standard Android installation dialog (packaged as an APK), and even show up in the app drawer. They open like normal apps, but all the rendering is done through Firefox’s Gecko engine. As for usability and performance, web-based apps like this have definitely come a long way over the years. They work, but the design language is much less refined.

So, go ahead, have some fun!

Mobilizing Google Slides – or rather, not.

I was particulary excited to see the release of the Google Sildes App for Android the other week. It timed nicely with a trial I’m running with suppling our senior sales staff with Nexus 440x330-nexus-angle110 tablets for field presentations, rather than their clunky (although modern) laptops. As our sales staff are fully ‘Google’ (we use Drive and Apps for all of their collateral, documents and email), it seemed a far more sensible choice to go for the Nexus than iPads, as each account is already there, as are the documents, chat and email.  Also, I really don’t fancy running corporate iTunes accounts.

Before the release of the Slides app, our staff were creating their presentations, then saving them locally to the Nexus from the Drive menu. This was allowing them to present the presentation from PDF format, using Quickoffice, in case their client had no wifi connection. The issue here is that all of their funky transitions and animations were now flattened into the PDF – ‘Less flashy, less cashy’ was a delightful term I’d heard bandied around. Sales pitches love an animation.

Naturally, with the Slides app, we got a bit excited over the prospect of streamlining the whole ordeal. We’d hoped the process would now be:

  1. Create presentation on Laptop in Slides, in Drive
  2. Open in app, on Nexus
  3. Save it to device
  4. Present from in the app, even if there is no wifi.
  5. Make massive sale.
  6. Have party.

So, it comes as somewhat of a surprise to discover that you cannot present in the app if you’re offline. Sure, you can create, edit and muck around with it – but present it? No way! You instead get a wonderful ‘Presentation mode is unavailable Offline’ message. No matter how many times you hammer the present button, it resists your endeavours to get it to use the local copy you just saved RIGHT THERE.

We were so surprised that we assumed we were somehow being stupid – as all the release material states you *can* present offline. We must have made a mistake, surely? So, I have a quick search for anyone else suffering this issue. Nope. No one. Lots of people announcing how awesome the app is, but no one suffering our issue. In fact, it loosk like everyone is talking about using the app… without actually using it.

In our desperation and between bouts of thumping the Nexus against our foreheads, we decided to ask someone who should know. Our Google supplier. Google expert suppliers to the rescue then, surely? Well, no. They’d also not tried it and seemed somewhat surprised when they too encountered the infuriating message. They’ve promised to get back to us as it makes as little sense to them as it does to us.

We’re continuing to hammer away, hoping that this is caused by some weird setting in the Google Apps admin panel, but as it stands, it actually looks like the biggest feature of the Google Slides App for us, is in fact, a dud.

I would say it’s a poor show but I can’t tell, as the show is offline and unavailable.