Category Archives: android

Google Now, Part II

I can’t believe it was 2 whole years ago that I gave Google Now an honest try. I thought I’d try it again and see if there was any improvements to the service. So far, it doesn’t look like there were many.

What’s helpful:

  • I like getting driving directions with traffic conditions for upcoming appointments in my calendar. This of course required me to add in addresses to everything in the calendar that required traveling.
    • I do sometimes want to get somewhere a few minutes early, so this also required me to update events to build in a few minutes of slack time for a more helpful “leave by x time” prompt.
  • I like the weather reports.
  • I like the stock prices from my Google Finance portfolio.
  • The “ok Google” command to navigate somewhere is better than fumbling around.
  • I like seeing package tracking from e-mail confirmations in Gmail.

What’s ‘meh:

  • Sports scores and upcoming games.

What could be helpful, but isn’t:

  • I like that it has commute time from home to work and work to home, but  like I wrote about in the past, I rarely go straight home or to work. Rather I might drop off or pick up my son from daycare. They should have “routes” built in. Perhaps ask a question “are you going straight to work to day?” then give the travel time, etc. Otherwise let me choose a route with stops, then give the traffic details and estimated times.

What’s confusing:

  • I get what they are trying to do with “where I parked.” Perhaps it’s my behavior to make numerous stops here and there throughout a day that the pin is often time where I had parked 2-3 stops ago.

What’s bad:

  • Cuts battery life in nearly half.

What’s Useless:

  • Totally random nearby places.
    • Might be useful if on vacation or a business trip, but no thank you I don’t need to see the deli that I already know is around the corner from my house.
    • What pops up is so random too, perhaps ask me what I’m interesting in finding out about (e.g. Sushi, Indian restaurants, etc.)
  • Maybe it’s a symptom of living in a suburb, but nearby events is also a huge disappointment.
  • It could be useful for finding hidden gems I guess, but I’m getting Friday’s and Chili’s type of suggestions.

What it needs:

  1. Typical Google having more and more overlapping but not synchronized services… Google Now needs to tie together/sync/reconcile to dos and reminders from Google Tasks, Google Inbox, Google Keep. Then get those reminders into Google Now.
  2. More routes and destinations other than home and work.

Android’s backwards “ok/cancel” dialog is killing me.

Total first world problem here.

I don’t know what genius at Google decided to reverse the positive/negative dialog you get when performing actions on Android. For all 20+ years of my computer usage, the left is “yes” the right is “no.”

I can’t count how many times I accidentally uninstalled a program, deleted a file, etc. because of this idiotic change. WTF!

CHANGE IT BACK GOOGLE! The arrogance kills me.


T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy S 4G Finally got Gingerbread

It’s no surprise as karma has gotten me several times following blog post from me… As it turns out Gingerbread was officially released THE SAME DAY I decided to no longer wait anymore and root my phone. Wait… Is that karma, irony, coincidence?  Whatever it is, it happened.

So I upgraded my phone to Gingerbread yesterday with my fingers crossed that the rooting wouldn’t mess up the update. It didn’t thankfully. But it did unroot the phone, which I rooted back again pretty quickly.

Nothing new really wows me. Some minor improvements here and there, but nothing major. But it’s good to have the latest (or close to latest) version of Android.

I did notice that the upgrade did remove DoubleTwist, which was the bloatware that drove me over the edge in deciding to root my phone.

Finally Rooted My Phone

I finally found some time to root my phone. I’ve written about the frustration with bloatware in the past. The reason why I held out so long is because I was anticipating the Android Gingerbread upgrade. But the longer I waited, the longer it is apparent that T-Mobile/Samsung/Google wasn’t issuing the upgrade for my phone. Rooting sometimes interferes with OS upgrades… OS wise, I’m happy with my current version of Android anyway.

Anyway, it was pretty simple with SuperOneClick. No issues so far. I also got Titanium Backup and “froze” the offending bloatware. Again, so far so good. If the phone continues to  run without any hiccups, I’m going to uninstall all of the bloatware, not just freeze it. At least they are no longer running in the background and causing app default prompts anymore. I’m also going to keep an eye on performance and battery life. I’m sure there will be some improvement on both fronts.

Samsung Galaxy S 4G Review, Part III

This is follow up to Part 1, Part 2, and some venting.

It’s safe to say I’ll never buy a Samsung device ever again. I’m also never going to buy a subsidized phone from T-Mobile again. I’d rather spend the money and get a “un-handcuffed” device. I like T-Mobile’s service, but not the useless crapware they force on the phone.

I’m not sure who is to blame (Samsung or T-Mobile), but here are my frustrations with the phone:

  1. GPS isn’t accurate. It’s ok for driving navigation, but horrible for apps like CardioTrainer. I’m not alone as I read others complaining too.
  2. I hate both Samsung’s keyboard and Swype, which are both pre-installed on the phone. Why they don’t offer the default Android keyboard in addition to those is puzzling. I actually despise Samsung’s keyboard. There are so many issues to list I’m not going to bother. I had to install (and pay for!!!) another keyboard app. I would have been happy (and $1.99 richer) if they just left the damn default Android keyboard on it to begin with. Companies (Samsung or T-Mobile) who do things like this because they think they know what’s better for their customers make me sick.
  3. The bloat/crapware is on my nerves. There is one app (doubletwist) that continuously turns itself on. Welp, I can’t turn it off or uninstall it because some friggin genius at Samsung or T-Mobile forced it on the phone for me. On top of that, like I wrote before, 10% of the storage space is used up by apps I don’t want.
  4. My wife has the same phone, so it’s not isolated… We must reboot our phones occasionally after going from WiFi to network because the network doesn’t get picked back up.
  5. The battery usage report always lists only cell standby and display. It never reports any apps that may be using battery. Don’t know if this is due to meddling by Samsung or T-Mobile or a bug with Android.
  6. I hate the music player. I liked it on my G1. I think this is another area either Samsung or T-Mobile screwed with the default Android player. It also randomly pauses at times.
  7. I hate the swipe actions to answer calls or to unlock the phone.
  8. It has no LED indicator light to tell me if there are e-mails, texts, missed calls, etc. Luckily there is an app NoLED that is a decent substitute, but there should be no need.

That’s all I can think of for now. It’s enough to leave a bad taste in my mouth and to avoid Samsung and to be careful with T-Mobile crapware in the future.

10% of my phone’s storage is bloatware

Irremovable bloatware. I find this pretty offensive and will definitely be more careful next time around when buying a phone. Not only do they take up useful space (10% of it!), some also run in the background and use up the battery too. And they clog up the app tray with garbage. And they also trigger default app prompts at times, like Telenav vs. Google’s Navigate.

I do not want to root my phone to get this stuff off either. I shouldn’t have to. Computers have this kind of thing too, but at least you can uninstall it!!

Here are the biggest offenders:
Think Free Office – 9.18mb – I don’t use it, or want it.
Qik – 8.88mb – Cute, but I don’t want it.
Layar – 4.12mb – I don’t use it, or want it.
Amazon MP3 – 2.92mb – I have used it, but can do without it.
Slacker Radio – 2.64mb – I don’t use it, or want it.
TeleNav – 1.97mb – I don’t use it, or want it.
Double Twist – 1.97mb – I don’t use it, or want it.

News & Weather 0.90mb, Visual Voicemail 0.70mb, Media Hub 0.67mb, T-Mobile TV 0.34mb, and there are many more smaller ones too.

Read my Samsung Galaxy S 4G Reviews here:

Finally Settled on Some Task Apps

It took me a long time to find something that works for me to organize both my Google calendar(s) and a todo task list together on my Android phone. For the longest time I had set up a makeshift todo calendar in Google, but really the Google Calendar isn’t great at task based items.

I was always hesitant about using Google Tasks because of the lack of integration with Android’s native calendar. It made for 2 separate lists, which adds complexity and resistance.

With the help of 2 apps, I can now combine both calendar items and task items and view them together on one simple list.

The first app is GTasks by Dato. It’s a simple interface that integrates with Google Tasks. It makes for viewing, adding, and checking off new tasks very fast and easy.

The second app is Android Agenda Widget by Everybody All The Time. This hooks into both the Android calendar and GTasks and displays a complete list of items on one of my home screens. Both appointments and tasks display in one merged list for a very easy view of the day’s items. And each item can be clicked on and managed with only the one click. Very simple.

For the longest time, I kept a paper notepad with me at all times. It’s a good practice to carry a notepad for when it’s not possible to access the phone or computer. But I was finding that I didn’t efficiently get items off the paper list and into the calendar(s). And I was probably using it more because it was easier than entering something on my phone. But now with GTasks, it’s very easy (and faster) to enter the item right into the app on the phone. So now the paper notepad is just in case of an emergency (and not an extra step).

When I’m at the computer, everything is synced seamlessly. So there are no duplicate or conflicting lists to deal with.

There is one small thing. Google Tasks doesn’t allow for recurring tasks. I saw a feature request thread on their forum and they said that they are going to be working on it. Once that’s in place, my system is complete. Until them, recurring tasks/reminders still have to live in a Google calendar (not task list).

Samsung Galaxy S 4G Review, Part II

I had the phone for almost a week now. I wouldn’t say buyer’s remorse kicked in, but the things I mentioned in the previous post are holding true.

The lack of a LED indicator light stinks. It seems like such a minor feature to add. I wonder why they made a decision not to include one. The indicator is a feature of Android that they are ignoring.

The bloatware continues to stay on my nerves. Especially since they run in the background and use up memory. I want none of it. Not one of them I found helpful or I’ve found better apps in the marketplace already. Let the customer decide for crying out loud!!!

For the longest time I didn’t really understand the meme. The G1 used Android’s standard keyboard. It would suggest words, but not automatically change or insert any. The basic keyboard was brilliant in it’s simplicity. Therefore, I found nothing but a headache with both the Swipe and Samsung keyboards. Son of a @$!^#! I finally found that turning off almost all of the AI crap works best for me. I spent more time correcting the auto-corrections than doing anything else. Chalk this up to another instance of Samsung insisting on things rather than giving the customer the choice!!!

There is a bug with the browser bookmarks. If you import bookmarks with apps like GMarks, they don’t get added to the browser bookmarks tab, rather they are added to the “most visited” tab. I don’t know if this is another instance of Samsung monkeying around with the base Android browser or not, but apparently importing with GMarks is not an issue for other Android phones. The reason I suspect they did monkey around with something is because the bookmarks preloaded on the phone could not be deleted from the browser. I needed another bookmark manager app to delete the bookmarks that I DIDN’T WANT!!!

Another issue is with the music app. Again I don’t know if it’s another instance of Samsung monkeying around with the base Android app. But the music app is inaccessible to other apps like CardioTrainer. One of the beauties of Android is having apps work together harmoniously. Here I found two cases where they don’t at all.

Bottom line is create the hardware and leave the operating system alone. Offer your own enhancements via apps, but don’t force them on customers.

All of that said, I’m still happy with the phone’s performance and storage space. I can live with the above, but I expected more. I know what to look out for next time. Next time I might splurge and get the latest Google endorsed phone (e.g. Nexus)–with no third party monkeying.

Initial Samsung Galaxy S 4G Review

I finally decided that my 2+ year old G1 phone needed to be replaced. I loved that phone. It was simple usability wise and after the kinks were worked out of Android, it was very reliable. But as newer and more powerful apps came along, I spent too much time deciding which apps I want vs. ones I REALLY want as the internal app space wasn’t big enough.

I went to the T-Mobile store with 2 phones in mind; the G2 or the Motorola Cliq. I thought I needed a physical keyboard since my accuracy using the G1’s virtual keyboard was abysmal. I really didn’t like either the G2 or the Cliq’s physical keyboards.

So I played around with the Samsung Galaxy S 4G for a little bit. I had no trouble at all with the virtual keyboard. I guess the processing speed and the screen’s sensitivity made a real difference.

I dismissed the Cliq pretty quickly given that I didn’t like the keyboard at all and I didn’t like the way it flipped open either.

It came down to the Galaxy S vs. the G2. The G2 was $50 more and had a slightly smaller screen. So I decided on the Galaxy S.

I think I’m still in the happy stage of the purchase and buyer’s remorse hasn’t had a chance to creep in yet… So here is my initial review.


  • It’s incredibly fast. Not just the 4G speed, but fast in loading webpages, apps, etc. The sales guy said that 4G vs. 3G isn’t very noticeable, but I’d notice the processing speed. That much is very true.
  • It’s crisp and clear.
  • It has Android 2.2–which I think all other “pros” can be attributed to.
  • The keyboard is responsive and accurate.


  • No LED indicator light!! Had I known this before, this little detail might have been a deal-breaker. So I have to actively check the phone to see if I have new texts, e-mails, etc. whereas almost all other phones have a blinking LED light as an indicator.
  • To wake the phone up, you need to do 2 separate actions. First, hit the power button, then swipe the screen. I much preferred the G1 where you simply hit the menu button twice. I like to judge the usability on how easy it is to use and navigate the phone one handed. This complicates that a little. It can be done one handed, but awkwardly. Also the power button is on the side, so if you have the phone on a desk, it’s a little awkward to hit the button on the side, then swipe the screen (whereas the G1’s menu button was on the face of the phone for an easy 2x tap if it was on a desk). I remember I bought Keyguard Disabler a while back, so I had to go and install it on this phone.
  • You have to swipe the screen to answer a call. I much prefer a physical button.
  • It’s loaded with a ton of bloatware that can’t be uninstalled. I HATE this. Let me get rid of stuff I don’t want!!! To make it worse, these apps can’t be moved to the SD card (feature of Android 2.2).  And to make it even worse, they run in the background and pop back up even after killing them. Needless to say I’m looking in forums to see if anyone had any luck removing them (without any crazy hacking).
  • I don’t know if this is a feature of the phone or Android, but the auto-brightness feature was utterly useless and highly annoying. I had to shut that off. I don’t know what triggers it uses to brighten or dim, and I don’t think the programming did either. It was all very random.

By the looks of it, there seem to be a lot more cons than pros. But the speed, amount of space (internal and SD card), and Android 2.2 are keeping me happy at the moment. I haven’t been able to test other things out fully. I know the camera doesn’t have a flash, but I knew that I don’t really care. If I want to take better pics, I use a real camera.

More to come…

Kindle for Android

I downloaded the Kindle for Android a few weeks ago and am just now kicking the tires. I’ve ordered a book, and I’m about half way through.

I didn’t know what to expect regarding the ease of reading on the small G1 screen. I’m half-way through a light read, and the screen size is not an issue at all for me. Neither is the mechanics of the app.

There were some e-book readers on the market already, like Aldiko, but the book selection stunk. Kindle has a huge selection of books, and ordering (and getting them on the device) could not be any easier.

I give this one two thumbs up. I will definitely be reading more books on my G1.