Apps that I like to see made…

Using android for more than a year has left me a so called “app-maniac”. I like got around 300 apps in the phone and I check out apps almost daily! Surely android has etched a space in my life and I’m making it count too! (hopefully with me making new apps).

And there are times, when I am trying out apps, that I yearn for apps to made or wish the current apps be better. It certainly is a long list, but in this post I like to point out few which I feel would a make a real impact on the lives of not only android, but all mobile users.

Color app

I used to follow this app when it was released, but the idea of starting another relationship in a new social environment deterred me off. But until recently I stumbled upon this article which talks about integrating this app with Facebook. Then I started dreaming about it!

Ok, basically this app will let any user take a snapshot of wherever they are, like say you are in front of the Eifel tower, and you let friends check it out instantly. It’s as if friends can “visit” your place by seeing the pics you snapped at that moment! How cool is that! I’m totally gonna use this app! (more)

Infinity Blade on Android

Oh, it’s a lovely game. The graphics was awesome, and the game thrilling as ever. When will I ever get to see it running on my Galaxy S. And not only this, why aren’t there many great looking graphics games on android. Sure Angry Birds, Cut the rope and others have been ported to android, but come on games in iOS look far more polished – try Fruit Slice on both and see the difference!

Facebook new app with Timeline

Facebook’s new features are good, if not great. The profile cover feature is really awesome and has set apart from many of the social networking (though I’ve a nagging feeling there is reminiscence of Orkut in it’s UI). Now how would this transcend to the mobile front will be exciting to see.

Google Talk Video

Oh come on, when would it come? I’ve been waiting for this since a year, and now with hangout being a real cool feature of Google+, I just want it on my Galaxy S! Buhahahahaah… Please Sammy and Google, listen to me and will you oh so send that update already to the Indian galaxy S users!?!!?

Drums

I’m a big fan of the Drums app in iOS. It’s so slick and so addictive. Why can’t they port it over to android?? There are many Drums apps in the android market, but none are even close to the trademark Drums app in iOS. I sometimes used to head to the Apple store just to play with this app on iPad!

Similarly there are many instruments that I’d like to see on the android market (which are already there in the iTunes marketplace) (Tabla for example?)

VLC

I just can’t fathom why VLC has not been ported to android. It’s already been released (and rejected, so I’ve heard) in the iOS and android being open source should also get a version of the VLC. Is it the fragmentation that has made VLC shy getting into the android market. Right now it’s available in the pre-alpha stage (which is not official) but hopefully get to see it very soon.

Flourish of iOS on Android

Yeah, this is not an app. But this is something I’ve been a bit disappointed on Google when they announced many a iteration of the Android. iOS is famously known for the way everything carried out with a nice flourish. Yeah, Galaxy S2 might be the answer (faster processor, greater RAM) but the iPhones were never that strong on the hardware front and yet bring that beautiful flourish to everything in iOS. Maybe I’m asking too much but why not!?

 

Ok, that’s all I got to say about it for a while now. I most likely would keep updating this post whenever I get my yearnings for anything in android or mobile space. Until then do enjoy Pixlr-o-matic. A truly beautiful app!

My new Schwinn Sporterra Sport!

Well actually, as it turns out, it´s not exactly new. It´s the older version of the Sporterra Sport from the Schwinn stables (guess it´s the 2010) but anyway who cares, right? I just got this awesome awesome bike! And believe me, it´s the best bike I have ridden on and my friends will testify that!

Ok enough of the praises. Let me get to how I got this bike to my rented apartments. It was that Sunday morning when I got up and decided that I just have to get myself a bike. Not a motor-bike, but the good old bi-cycle. As mentioned in the previous posts, I love cycling. Anyways I headed out to one BSA Go store near Tirupati Temple in T.Nagar. The owner confessed that he doesn’t have too many of the good quality (and slightly pricey, by Indian standards) bikes, but he has certain Schwinn models that he had promised via phone was available on display. So went up and checked out the Sporterra Sport. The dazzling red bike was there and it looked good. Took it out for a test ride and it was a dream! I bought it straightaway!

And yeah, I rode this bike from the store to my place, that according to Google Maps was approx 25km journey. I never rode so long in one go before, so felt it could be a daunting task. But an hour later I loved it! Cycling through the busy roads, through crowded bus stops at night was a real experience for me and I realized how much I am gonna love riding on this bike! The gear shift was smooth (rapid-triggers) and how easy was to maneuver it through the bustling roads. It was so enthralling that I couldn’t wait for the morning the next day to ride to my office. The first morning I rode the 10km (train from Perungalathur to Kattangalathur and then ride to Mahindra City) and felt so refreshed after that. The next morning  I decided to cover the full distance (that’s 25.4km!) and boy it was fun!

And then came Sunday, when I decided to ride to the East Coast Road. I never knew how far was it from my place, but determined to go there. I took the route to kelambakkam from Vandulur, and the road was deserted but not smooth. After an hour, I reached the ECR. I checked out for a beach front and rode myself to a presumably private beach called Olive beach. Boy was it a paradise and felt so much accomplished with the journey. One problem was that I never thought about the return journey. And that was a real tough one! I was so tired and drained (physically and mentally, hey the Sun was beating down on me!) that I couldn’t ride anymore 5-7km from Vandalur! I hitch-hiked in a auto truck and then rode home. Total distance covered (by bike) that day – 60km! I never got to do that after. 🙂

Well, it didn’t mean the end of my cycling as many friends of mine predicted. I rode at the least 2 times a week to and from my office. But few things I realized when riding for such long distances.

  • Good sleep – Realized lack of sleep has hampered my ability to ride long-distances (partly the reason why I did not ride for last 2 weeks.. 😦 ). Need 8 hours of it.
  • Physical preparation – Good warm-up exercises a must before starting out a ride.
  • Energy – Need to have something before starting a ride (and during the ride too) to keep myself from over-exhaustion. I take 2 bananas on Dad’s suggestion before starting out for the ride.
  • Mental preparation – All the above are required to keep focus on the ride, as riding through the GST road is a pretty risky affair. Lack of concentration could mean disastrous.
  • Equipment – Though I never had real problems during the rides, I realized tools like pump, screw drivers, spare tubes etc are important to fix problems like punctured tires. Though I wore only in one ride, helmets are important (Hmmm, that helmet doesn’t fit me well.. :-/ )

Yeah, as I mentioned, it’s been 2 full weeks since I rode. Not that I am put off from cycling (actually it’s quite the contrary, 😀 ) but that work is getting into me. Finding the balance is the key here, as there are many factors I’ve to take into consideration with. The heat of Chennai has forced me to ride very early in the morning and waking up early has been the biggest problem. Maybe I’ve to ease down a bit and go slow on riding long distances. After all, I never would have thought of myself covering ~400km in the first month!

As for ride plans, there are many. I would want to achieve riding upto Pondycherry (or Puducherry) from Chennai. And I would want to ride in and around Mysore, Bangalore (lovely places aren’t they?). My ultimate aim would be ride through the pristine Western Ghats. I dream of going through the Ghat roads, riding through evergreen forests on either sides, chirping of the birds and gliding through the mists. Oh I oh so want to go through these beautiful places one day. Hey I’m gonna do that, and I make sure it’s on this blog! So long folks, and btw you can check out pics of my rides so far below(Which I’ll be uploading soon). Happy riding!

 

Cycles in India – Refresh

Yup, I have written that post[0] long back. Yup, I was naive. I was dreadfully noob-ish. Come on, how can you get more stupid than me for not even googling out on this topic!? Shame on me!

As it turns out, there are hardcore cyclists in India[1]. And there are far more brands[2][3] then I could possibly imagine. I am glad to know that cycling craze is spreading like wild fire all over the country (though among a billion people, this wild fire might look like a fire on a match stick, 🙂 ).  When I was thinking like a 20-30km max for a good long ride, there are people who regularly travel for 100km! Oh I was overjoyed hearing that. And now I know it, I want to be a part of this fire of passion for cycling!

It´s still early days for me. The max I might have traveled on a bike (not a motor bike, :p) was 10km. It was back in those school days, when I was crazy about cycles like Hero X-treme, Hercules Top Gear (which served me for over 10 years!). The best part of cycling is that I could go almost anywhere possible and that I could enjoy the scenery around and that I did this without any fuel except water into my body. Those days I used to dream myself biking around the pristine forests of Western Ghats, seeing the clouds skim over the beautiful green hills, watching the dew drops fall from the leaves of the evergreen trees, listen to sound of peacocks with sounds of joy for the rain bearing clouds coming to greet the hills. Enough said, I just wanna be there, and now I know that there are people like me already doing it! Oh God, I am such a lazy idiot! Continue reading

The next leap of technology.

A few days ago, HP announced the tablet version of the WebOS – the TouchPad. WebOS is a great operating system for the mobile. Since the takeover of the Palm company, HP has wasted no time to put the acquired resources to place. Across the Atlantic ocean, Nokia has announced the partnership with Microsoft to ship Windows Phone 7 in the Nokia phones. Though a lot to be done, WP7 is a great OS in the making. Back to North America, Honeycomb was well received for being a great android OS for the tablet version, and many indications point to the fact that these slick features would be made available to the smartphones also. And iOS, as always, is the undisputed king of mobile operating systems around.

Now what’s common among all these operating systems and others I’m yet to mention? The user experience. Every manufacturer, be it the computers, smartphones, tablets etc know that usability has become the primary criteria for their successful business ventures. A good example is the Symbian platform. Even though it is a good OS, symbian failed in the category of user experience. The latest updates have failed to address this matter. As a result, their numbers among the hands of the users are declining drastically, and so is their desperate steps to join hands with Microsoft. RIM realized this fact too well, and has come up with Playbook that has the potential of a great device with a smart OS. Thus, there’s a general shift towards making the products more user-friendly than adding features.

But this trend has a side-effect. There would come a day when all the smartphone or computer operating systems would be equal in terms of user experience. And there is, I believe, a limit to how much more user-friendly a device can be made. Also as is evident in the present competition, the difference in features among the competing devices would be negligible. At that time, it would be a matter if taste of the users. That might lead to even-ing out of the competition, leading to lesser profit generation, finally ending up with lack of willingness among the producers to make these devices.

Or it could be that some new innovation can up the ante for any company. I believe that right now companies should look to look for new ideas, out of the box, that could spice up their devices and thus bring about change in the technological landscape. There are many examples in the past which validates this point. Take for instance the iPhone, which brought in a whole new way of how people see and use the touch phones. Apple also brought in the PC – personal computing revolution, which changed the entire world. Google and facebook has changed the way people use the Internet.

But the current trend is to copy what others started and add on some new features. Android, at it’s infancy, was very similar to iOS. And then it was made possible to make it available to a whole variety of the masses and thus gaining wider acceptance. Sony are using the android platform to push their PlayStation engine into the phones. Microsoft has made a brave effort to provide a different user interface for the smartphones, but still has lots to do to catch up. Nokia-Intel’s Meego project is on very similar lines as that if the android. There are many others to indicate that real innovation is stagnant, and all these companies are trying to do is make their product more attractive.

I guess we should now be looking at various ways technology can leap forward. Maybe there would be a time when people would be groping in air instead of on the touch screens. There maybe a time when the devices can do things just as we think about it by reading our mind. Maybe a combination of the technology used in Kinect, Pranav Mistry’s Sixth sense, and a mind reading technology could the hit the shelves of mobile stores one day. Maybe afterall we would be interacting the way the guys at Microsoft dreamt of, in their video of the world in 2019. Whatever it maybe, the times ahead may or may not be awesome, but I personally would look towards Apple for the next leap of technology. 🙂

Galaxy S update woes

Samsung announced that they had achieved the goal of selling 10 million Galaxy S before the end of 2010. It itself is a great achievement considering it faces stiff competition from iPhone and the myriad android devices around. But Samsung has failed in achieving one other thing – android updates.

With android being upgraded many a time in a year, it is a challenge for Samsung to provide the required update after applying their skin over the vanilla version.  Apple can do this very easily as they have only few types of devices to update, and the software through which they stream the update is great. Samsung, on the other hand, have got many different versions of Galaxy Ss to cater to, let alone the other android devices they sell. And their software is pretty unheard of (kies). Their biggest challenge is to stream the update to many galaxy Ss around the world. Moreover, every time they stream an update, the update would be plagued with many bugs. It gives an impression that they are under-staffed.

But HTC, as is reported, are doing a fine job in update streaming. So why not Samsung? I got the upgrade to froyo a month ago on my galaxy S. And now I regret doing it. It’s buggier than the previous eclair update. I have been experiencing many lags and reboots for the past month. And I’m eagerly waiting for the 2.2.1 froyo update for my phone, which from the things as it seems, will take ages. At this rate I really wonder when the Galaxy Ss around are going to taste gingerbread.

I guess the only way around is for Samsung to start giving vanilla updates to the galaxy s, as it seems integrating samsung’s layer over the android is taking a lot of time. Otherwise there would be 10million frustrated galaxy s users. 🙂

Firefox goes mobile!

Just a couple of days back I noticed a tweet in the twitter list of the availability of Firefox for Android and Maemo in its beta. I was excited that finally Firefox is available to the mobile community, not that it is the first time. It has been available for the Maemo users for quite some time. But it’s the android version that is exciting. The number of android users has been growing phenomenally, a reminiscent of the way Google came into the Internet. And the prospect of a super-cool browser like firefox being packaged for the android is very exciting. Sure people would argue the need of another browser when the stock one is doing a great job. But as Matt Brubeck elucidates, it would be nice if users are provided the choice and suit their needs.

The beta version of Firefox for mobile, aka Fennec, is now available here. Here I like to highlight some of the strong points what it offers and also the shortcoming and what they can do in the future versions.

The design is great. The idea was to give the entire screen for browsing. This is a feature of the android stock browser too. But what is not there in the latter is the easy availability of the other features. You swipe to the right and you get the left sidebar showing the open tabs and new tab button. It even has the option to recover the previously closed tabs. Handy isn’t it?

Then you swipe to the left and you get the right sidebar. It has a bookmark button, back and forward buttons, and the button to open the preferences. Now bookmarking is as easy as a swipe and a click. The preferences is also very neat showing all the normal browsing features, downloads and add-ons. Even the back and next buttons is something new to the mobile browser area, which very few browsers provide with such ease.

Lastly you swipe to get the top bar, also called the awesomebar, which when on click reveals the awesome screen. What the guys over at Mozilla have done is to make your browsing experience as close as it is on the desktop. It shows the home page, bookmarked pages, history, and also the pages visited in the desktop (comes when you give the Firefox sync details, more to follow).

With this, every feature is within a few touches. This eliminates the need to use the non-screen buttons, something I find it taxing while using other browsers. Moreover there is Firefox sync, a new feature added to the latest iteration of the desktop version of firefox. This allows you to access all the bookmarks, history, even automate the process of logging in to frequent sites as it even syncs the passwords (don’t worry, Mozilla is doing everything to keep your data confidential). Another big feature is the add-ons, which the stock browser doesn’t have. Yes it can make firefox sluggish, but add-ons gives one the freedom to do more than just browse pages. It’s something Firefox is very popular for, and Mozilla has added the very same to the mobile version too.

This is a beta version, so one can expect some flaws, right? Well, the fact that mobile firefox does not use WebKit, instead uses its own javascript engine has made this version very sluggish. Even on the Galaxy S, it takes a lot of time to get a page to load. However the performance is bound to improve in the course of time, guys over at Mozilla are working hard on it. They will also look to bring down the size of the installation file, which is currently at 11.8mb. The next beta is expected to showcase the new theme for the android version, so things are looking pretty bright here!

Another thing I like to point out is the Firefox sync. Personally I don’t like the idea of having to enter 2 passwords (actually one is a password, the other is a secret phrase). Someone like me who have a bad habit of forgetting passwords will have a hard time to remember these. I already had to change the secret phrase umpteenth time! I guess it would be ideal to give a choice for the users to link it with other accounts like Google or others, or this. That way it would be convenient for the users to use this features, especially ones like me.

In the end though, Mozilla has brought in a wonderful product, something every mobile user would cherish. Many things can happen in the happen in the future. I would like to see is multi-finger gesture other than the pinch-zoom (Oh did I not say that this has pinch zoom too?), like two finger swipe to reveal the sidebars instead of multiple swipes while browsing a large page (maybe even an expose-style to reveal the tabs open?). Also one can be happy with a loading bar that would appear on the awesomebar itself instead of just the usual loading circle (even the download notification can do with a little more notification). Anyways, with performance improvements, smaller installation size and a new theme, Firefox mobile will be a formidable entry into the mobile browsers arena.

India and Mohali

After another bountiful of laughs watching Russell Peters deliver his lines, I decided to nap off the afternoon. And then my mind drifted to the match next day that is to be held at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru. This drift of thoughts took me to the stunning victory of India the previous match, which took the Aussies breath away. Evidently there must have been a lot of thoughts out in the blog space here, but I just couldn’t resist jotting my points of view here. And the following paragraphs, I would discuss some genteel moments of the match. Sure it’s not going to be another view point, just jotting down of thoughts that flow through my mind.

This test match was played on Mohali which has grown to be the strongest bastion of Indian cricket. Since the Windies trumped the Indians in 1994, no one was able to break the superiority Indians had on this ground. The last time Aussies were here in 2008, they were handed one of the biggest defeats in their cricketing history, a defeat by more than 300 runs! 10 years ago people would hardly fathom the idea that Indians could inflict such defeat on the baggy greens! This time though, it’s not going to be the usual kind of pitch the Indians would have preferred. Heavy rains have dampened the pitch so much that even the curator was nervous that the pitch could sustain the 5 days of intense battle between the 2 teams. It reminded me of that forgettable test match at Mumbai between these two not so long ago.

Eventually though the pitch played a crucial role in culturing one of the best test matches in recent history! As one of the commentators put it aptly, it was a tug-of-war kind of game, with neither team holding the advantage outright. Everybody played a part in it to spoon in the spice. However, few players did matter the most in this test match, that would proceed now…… Continue reading