For sometime now I have been carrying two smartphones with me, thanks to me being a Mobile Developer. Till yesterday there was a HTC Mozart(Windows Phone 7) and a Nexus One (Android Froyo), but today I had to swap my Nexus One for a iPhone 2G(iOS 3.1.3). While playing around with these phones, I realized both the iPhone and Mozart are first generation phones of their respective platforms. In that aspect, I have also used HTC Dream (G1, Android) for quite sometime. So the thought came to my mind, Amongst the 3 first generation phones, which is the best?
Images Search was the only thing for which I still preferred Google after I switched to Bing. The Bing's newer ending page of images irritates me. But from yesterday I am getting the new Google Images Search, which looks more or less like Bing! With one exception, even if you are searching images with "Moderate" Safe search filter, you occasionally get Explicit results in your 1st or 2nd page (there is no "Page" as such, but logically). This happened to me quite a few times today. Most of the images were explicit frontal nudity pictures. I was really shocked at this mega blunder by Google. My office mate also told me he found some explicit things in Youtube as well, that too unintentionally!Can't get a clue how Google got the fetish for porn! Before you come to conclusions here are a few search queries which yielded some skin for me."Windows 6.5 Beehive" http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&source=imghp&biw=1280&bih=673&q=windows+6.5+beehive&gbv=2&aq=o&aqi=g10&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=
- "Counter Icon" http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&source=imghp&biw=1280&bih=673&q=counter+icon&gbv=2&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=
Well, it has been a long time since I wrote. Mostly because I was busy with *other stuff* and also because I was smitten by micro-blogging [read twitter]. Now that I am back, I will start with the talk of the town, Android.
- Animations: Animations are smoother, and are more fluid. Like when you drag between home screens, you have a bouncing halt rather than a jerky switch.
- Applications menu: First they had the draggable applications menu, then the grid button, now they have the 3-icon set of Phone, Grid and Browser. And the applications screen is are bouncier and fast.
- Call Log: The call log is more organised. If same caller has multiple calls consecutively, they are made into an expandable groups, so you can seen more info. I liked it.
- Messages: The messages screen has been touched up a bit. Nothing special about it, but looks better.
- Android Market: This is big. Market has got lots of goodies. Now, you can set auto-update for any app, it downloads updates whenever available. Even better, you have update-all button to download all updates. Also there is a separate, comments tab for applications.
- Search Bar: Search bar is also enhanced with a drop down button, from which you can filter you search to Apps, Web, Contacts or All. I felt it was redundant though.
- Mail: This is a huge [I guess]. I don't remember being able to add multiple Google accounts to my phone before. Now, you can do that. You can add as many Google accounts you want into your GMail and sync the contacts etc.
- System speed: Though in general the system appeared faster, some places it lagged behind previous update. Like in the album application, the loading was pretty slow.
- Flash 10.1: This almost gave me a nightmare. I installed the firmware and went to every flash website I knew. None of them were loading. I checked the system settings. No mention of flash anywhere. I was bamboozled until I checked in the Android Market. You have to manually install the Flash plugin as an Application. And it is a beta. Nevertheless once I installed it I could check out all the flash websites and even games on browser. I checked the desktop version of youtube.com [though] the video playback was not very smooth. Had a low frame-rate playback.
- Applications: The manage applications screen also has minor make-ups. The biggest one being the ability to move installed applications to SD-Card to save space. But it was greyed out in my phone.
- Google Maps: looks faster in the new build. The tiles load very fast. So is the case with Google Earth.
2009 was definitely not the best year of my blogging. But was a very happening year in the tech arena. I have compiled my favourite top 10 tech events/products which caught my attention. The top 10 is ranked based on how big a hit (or flop) the product was or how much attention it gathered.
10. Windows Mobile 6.5/ Windows MarketPlace
Microsoft released the stopgap, not in the roadmap, version of Windows Mobile, to arrest their landslide in the Mobile market. With Blackberry, Android, iPhone and Palm Pre raising the bars, this was more of an act of desperation.
Though it had some positives, the launch was damp as not all the mobiles received upgrades to the new OS.
Again coming to Windows Marketplace, the situation was more or less the same. Only WM6.5 phones could use the Marketplace, and it is still not supported in most of the countries.
Verdict: Sloppy launch and post-launch and mediocre product pulled it down.
9. Internet Explorer 8
Another story plummeting market share. After 2 years in exile, Microsoft's Internet Explorer team released a much needed upgrade to Internet Explorer7. It boasted of standards compatibility, ease of use, tabs etc. Though it had a lot of positives and was the new generation browser, it was no match to the new breed of browsers like Firefox, Chrome, Opera etc. All it managed was captured a major chunk IE market share (market shared between previous versions of IE).
Verdict: Improved usability, compatibility and features. Sloppy handling of tabs and in general slower.
Status: Near flop.
8. iPhone 3GS
Apple fans got to see a few launches in 2009. Which included the new iPod Shuffle, Snow Leopard and the iPhone 3GS. Definitely iPhone launch was the biggest. Commercially the new iPhone was a success, with it selling over a million phones in a week. But, the phone was not a great overhaul for a tech enthusiast as it did not have major feature upgrades.
Verdict: The new upgrade was a nice crowd puller, but was not a major feature upgrade.
7. Chrome/ Chrome OS
The first stable (non-beta) Chrome browser was launched on December 2008. But it soon became the 3rd most used browser just behind IE and Firefox. Google was not content though, and went on to announce the web based Chrome OS. The announcement was initially met with mixed opinions, but the mounting concern of privacy and Eric Schmidt's controversial take on it has weakened the prospects.
Verdict: Still early to decide, but looks like a simple shell for basic users.
6. Ubuntu 9.10/9.04
As in the previous years, we saw two launches of Ubuntu in 2009, and each of them in entirely different scenarios. The first launch 9.04 received positive reviews. It was a major overhaul to the UI and driver compatibility. Ubuntu 9.04 equalled Windows in its ease of use and compatibility. Also, it had many takers as Vista was a pain in the arse for most of the Windows users.
But the latter version 9.10's launch was shadowed by the Windows7 and Snow Leopard. 9.10 did not have major features to offer, other than improvements to 9.04 and the Ubuntu Cloud.
Verdict: Ubuntu's credibility and market presence increased many folds in 2009 nearing to Linux is Ubuntu for Desktop users.
Status: Fair hit
5. Google Wave
One of the most hyped web application launches of 2009, and that too by Google. Launched after months of videos, tech presentations, blogs etc. The idea of Wave was welcomed by all and everybody was excited. But, the launch ended up damp. All that people had to say was, " I have 10 more invites, anybody want?"
Verdict: After the pre-launch hype, all Wave to create was a wave of unused invites.
4. Palm Pre.
Mobile phones were definitely the major news makers in 2009, and it was Palm's all-in bet. And luckily for them Pre and WebOS met with positive reviews and opinions. It sold over 10000 unit over the weekend of launch. Better Multi-tasking, soothing UI and nice browser helped it gain market share.
Verdict: Palm and Sprint had their best run with the Pre's launch though the sales dipped in the 4th Quarter.
Microsoft had a very good 2009. Bing was one of the reasons. After half a dozen companies trying to bring a search engine to push Google off the king's spot and failing, Microsoft was brave enough to give a fight. After the live.com debacle the second attempt Bing took off. Bing has already captured around 10% with an year of launch. And already Bing's homepage wallpapers is a phenomenon.
Verdict: Bing cached on the innovative search engine and UI and people wanting to try something other than Google.
2. Motorola Droid
Droid is to iPhone what Bing is to Google. Over a dozen of iPhone-killers have been announced since its launch but none caught on. Motorola had its last chance to revive itself with the Android phone. With some help from Google (exclusive Android 2.0 OS), some stunning hardware specs and AT&T poor show Droid became a runaway hit. Droid should have sold around a million handsets by now.
Verdict: Genuinely good phone with slick marketing helped Droid gather momentum and market share.
1. Windows 7
Though I listed my 9 major tech highlights of 2009, I will always remember 2009 as the year of Windows7. After the debacle of the decade, Windows Vista, Microsoft regrouped fast and brought out the best OS till date. It broke all the sales records, Amazon pre-orders surpassed Vista sales in 8 hours. Within days of launch it was sold out in many places. It even crossed the Snow Leopard market share in 2 weeks.
Apart from the sales statistics, the OS was genuinely fresh and friendly. In major benchmarks it beat Windows XP and Vista, and got mostly 9/10 in reviews. Microsoft worked more the stability and compatibility than on adding more and more features that does not work.
2009 will definitely be remembered as the year of Windows 7.
Verdict: One of the best desktop operating systems launched till date. Lived up to Microsoft's slogan for the OS "making your PC simple".
And that is it. Again, this is the top 10 highlights which would come to my mind when I say 2009. If you have a different list, I would be happy to hear about it.