Google Wear – What’s on sale in the UK?

googleWearSo, in recent days both the LG G Watch and the Samsung Gear Live have gone on sale in the uk at Google Play. Both are the first wave of devices using Android Wear – Google’s foray into the smartwatch market – and to be honest, they all look pretty nifty!

Given that I normally struggle to choose yoghurt flavours, how can I decide on which device to buy?  What staggering differences are there between them? Well, first impressions say that actually, there’s not that much between them at all. They both run the identicle, vanilla Android Wear experience, they look *kinda* similar and they both last about a day on battery (although the G Watch has a slightly more powerful battery and can manage 1.5 days at a stretch). That makes choosing between them a lot harder – Let’s try to break down some stats and see what comes out on top

LG G Watch

  • £159.99
  • Processor: CPU 1.2 GHz
  • Memory: 4 GB internal storage with 512 MB RAM
  • Display: 1.65” IPS LCD
  • Battery: 400 mAh
  • Weight: 63 g
  • Dimensions: 37.9 x 46.5 x 9.95 mm

Pros: Slightly cheaper, Slightly better battery life, Slight bigger screen, nicer charging cradle than the Gear Live, comes in two colour schemes

Cons: Screen suffers ever-so-slightly in bright conditions from banding.

Samsung Gear Live

  • £169.99
  • Processor: CPU 1.2 GHz
  • Memory: 4 GB internal storage with 512 MB RAM
  • Display: 1.63” 320 x 320 SuperAMOLED (278 ppi)
  • Battery: 300 mAh
  • Weight: 59 g
  • Dimensions: 37.9 x 56.4 x 8.9 mm

Pros: Beautiful screen

Cons: None.

So. Both devices are incredibly close in terms of performance and all of the pros and cons are so tiny, it really makes hardly any difference. Even battery life isn’t a factor because both devices are designed to be charged overnight on their cradles and once you’re into that habit, the extra oomph from the G Watch won’t figure in at all.

I would honestly base my decision on the most basic factor – which one you prefer the look of. Both devices can swap out their standard straps for any 22mm strap on the market, so each one is customisable to a certain degree.  I think with that in mind, I’ll be looking to snap up a nice custom band for an LG G Watch in the very near future!



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.






Pixel art – Making a sprite into a lump of plastic

pixel_artWith a little one of the way and being a massive geek, the wife and I decided that the little one’s room should have a bit of geeky decoration.

What could be more geeky than 2D 16-Bit (and some 8-bit) sprites made from beads? I still love my 16-bit and 8-bit consoles, and the characters from the games I loved so dearly obviously have a special place in my heart. So, given that I’d seen pictures of these creations all over the web recently and being the kind of person that likes to have a go and making anything I can, we gave it a shot.

Firstly, let me say – this is easy. In terms of arts and crafts, this is one of the most simple things you can do.  Secondly, it’s cheap. For example:

Equipment needed

  • Pot of Hama (or equivelent) beads. 10,000 for £5 here. However the colours are very basic. I’d recommend getting some other shades too direct from the supplier, if you plan to do anything with the correct colour palette.
  • 4 peg boards. £5.50 for 4.
  • Ironing paper. £2 for 15 sheets.
  • An iron. You should own one of these unless you like creased clothing. If you don’t own one, grab one for £5 from Amazon you lazy wretch.

That’s enough beads, boards and paper for you to make 30+ of the white and green mushrooms above. That’s all for less than £15.

Then it’s just a matter of finding a sprite you wish to recreate, mapping it to a grid to save you going insane, and pegging it out line by line. Once you’re done, cover the beads with the ironing paper and smoosh with a hot iron until the paper is trasnparent. Then your beads are melted and can be safely pulled from the peg board and paper.

The Link sprite above (which is woefully colour matched due to a bead crisis) took around 10 minutes from start to finish. I could have even melted the beads more to remove the ‘holes’, however that was a first attempt. We’ll see what we can do with some practice.

So, give it a shot, it’s a particulary relaxing pass time and allows you to harness that inner geek!