The new YouTube app


As you may know, last month Apple stated that their license with Google to include the YouTube app pre-installed on iOS devices has ended. What does this mean for you? Well, if you have an iOS device, you can get the new YouTube app from the app store right now. After installing it, you’ll notice it’s slightly different to the Android app with the main feed – you can opt out of Google’s non-subscription based suggestions. That is, you can stick with just seeing uploads from people you subscribe to in your main stream, rather than also see what they comment on, what they rate, and what they add to playlists. Personally, I welcome ย this for two reasons; one being that with YouTube preloading on Android bumps subscribed uploads off the list in preference for newer activity which is just someone commenting on a video, and secondly, the entire activity list resulted in browsing through a lengthy stream of potentially uninteresting material.

The animations also feel a bit slicker than the Android ones in that it bounces a bit rather than just sliding to the side, resulting in the new iOS app feeling more polished and thought-out than the Android one.

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What I miss about Windows Phone 7


So, as those of you who may follow me on Twitter, you might have gathered that I now have the HTC One S, a month or two earlier than I said I’d move on from the Trophy. So, I’ve now been using the One S with Android 4.0.3 and Sense 4 for nearly a week, and am certainly missing several WP7 elements.
When I moved on from WinMo to WP7, I was missing a lot. No multitasking, no IRC app that worked properly, hardly any customizability. However, I adapted. I learnt to live with the closed ecosystem and the pitiful amount of non-expandable storage. In fact, I must take a minute here to thank Microsoft for preparing me for the One S’s limited amount of storage space, which, when using the same syncing ethos as I used with the Trophy, has made me think that there is ample storage space.
So, after that slight diversion, what do I miss about Windows Phone 7, or, what do I find annoying about Android?

1) Awful smiley keyboard. Look, I use smileys a lot, and I much prefer, for example, colon P, rather than colon dash P. On the Trophy, straight from the alphabetical keyboard screen, I could tap a smiley button and instantly add any of two pages of very diverse smiley choices that pandered to anybody’s tastes.

image

The first page of smileys on WP7. The button to the left of Space is there on the alphabetical keyboard to instantly get to smileys.

To type colon P on the One S with the Sense keyboard, I can do one of two things. 1, tap and hold the period key, then shift then P. Or 2, hit 12#, 1/2, ๐Ÿ˜›, ABC. Either way is long winded and rather stressful. Stressful in that typing a smiley should be a thoughtless task, a break from the mental exertion of typing and trying to get autocorrect to stay away from words it isn’t welcome to touch.

2) It isn’t friendly. WP7 was a very apologetic operating system, all the errors seemed sincere and as if they were to blame rather than the user. But that isn’t my main point here. When I got a text message, the Trophy would buzz and the screen would stay off. Then, when I took it out of my jacket’s top pocket, the screen would warmly turn on within a certain time frame and I could see the text. With the One S, as far as I have tried, it doesn’t do that. I liked that feature, it meant I could just lift the phone briefly out of my pocket, see the text, and let it drop back down into my pocket, without pressing a single button. Coincidentally, once again, WP7 providing a way of doing things with as little exertion as possible.

3) Live tiles. Now, I don’t miss this as much as some people may if they made the transition, but it was nice having tiles on the home screen automatically update. I had and have an unlimited data plan, so I am not at all bothered by the system fetching new data. The HTC people hub doesn’t seem to automatically update, which just adds.waiting time for the user.

There are other such minor things as the lack of a hardware shutter button, the space bar being far too keen to insert a . between words (the double tap space timing on iOS is perfect, the Sense one waits no time at all before inserting a period, and I’m a pretty fast typer). Also, the Sense app drawer is unbelievably unintuitive. I know I can order it by install date etc., but on iOS you customize the entire layout, and on WP7 you can jump to the letter in the alphabet. All in all, the shortcomings are bearable, though the lack of a fast smiley keyboard is infuriating. Congratulations Microsoft, in hindsight, you created a very friendly and usable OS. The dictionary may have got in the way all the time, but all in all, it was how a smartphone should be. Smart.

Please HTC, I’m begging you.


First off, happy new year. Secondly, long time no see. Sorry about that, but there hasn’t been much happening in the world of Apple. Next, apologies for the following post not being Apple-related, I just find it stress relieving to air views like these.

As you may have read before, my main mobile phone at the moment is an HTC 7 Trophy. Before that, I had an HTC Touch Pro2, and before that, a Qtek 9100 (effectively an HTC Wizard). I also have a 3rd generation iPod Touch running iOS 5.0.1.

Windows Mobile always did what I needed. Well, it did what I needed in its hey-day, but when the web became more social, I became more restricted. The Qtek was fine for IRC and the odd tweet from Opera Mini, but I wanted something a little less brick-like. After having several years of productive joy with a physical landscape keyboard, I knew there was no alternate. So, I went for the latest Windows Mobile phone by HTC that had a landscape keyboard. Now I was able to have a fair amount of storage (the Wizard’s miniSD card slot never seemed to work) and less of a brick in my pocket. I missed the presence of a tab key, but a five row keyboard and tilting springing screen was worth the sacrifice. Now, firstly, who at HTC thought this phone had adequate specs?? I know I’ve gone on about this before at great length, but SERIOUSLY?? If you can’t run TouchFlo 3D smoothly all the time, the phone doesn’t have good specs. Being one of the few who actually utilises WinMo to its full potential, I had to disable TouchFlo. I am not alone when I say that on boot, 48%+ of the RAM was in use; and it NEVER drops below that. So, it was a painfully sluggish device and for a 2009 phone, really didn’t cut it on the twitter etc. front.

Some of you may remember my initial hatred for Windows Phone 7 when Microsoft announced it. Well, there was no way in hell I was sailing over to the Android ship, and there was no better WinMo device. Well, the HD2 isn’t bad and I do really want one, but it wouldn’t be a large enough step forward. I decided to go a little different and go for a phone with no physical keyboard. I still regret that choice on a daily basis when, for example, I’m busy pressing enter rather than backspace or send. I have an unwritten list of about five things I would really like to see in WP7, which I doubt I’ll be seeing any time soon. I loved the openness and flexibility of Windows Mobile, and after years and years with WinMo (even before the Qtek) and a year of jail broken iOS, I didn’t quite feel like stepping into a world arguably more locked-down than iOS. However, I made the leap and I don’t fully regret it.
The Trophy is undeniably a lovely looking phone. It doesn’t have any naff silver stick-on grille or buttons where the icons get rubbed off. What it does have is a perfect hand-held size (and I mean PERFECT), nice weight to it, classy slim silver outline around the screen (not quite the bezel?) and a simple-yet-elegant feel to it, but beneath the battery cover conceals its bit of orange flair. Unfortunately, mine does have rather a bit of cosmetic damage as it was second hand, but nothing to stop functionality. Whoever it was at HTC who designed this phone deserves a huge reward, as this phone beats all the typical HTC mode of plastic/rubber/metal/easily-damaged.
I can’t take a good photo (typically blurred from slight motion) and does holding the focus button make a difference when recording a video, or is that just me thinking it does to pass the time while it automatically tries (and fails) to re-focus. So, the camera isn’t great (true, but the shutter button is perfect). As everyone else, I too keep accidentally touching the capacitive buttons, especially the search button. I don’t like being trapped in an operating system. Yes, it makes you feel like there’s less chance of it going wrong, but I like freedom. I liked being able to transfer a file onto the microSD card of the TP2 with any computer instantly. And then I’d be able to open the file, in whatever I like. On WP7? No. It would be nice if there was an expansion slot, as it’s a real pleasure to watch, say, a TV episode on the Trophy’s screen rather than the iPod, but 8GB vs 64GB? iPod wins hands down. Well, TCPMP never worked smoothly on the TP2 and putting videos on the Trophy makes iTunes seem like a breeze. WP7 is great at keeping me in touch, mostly, and is incredibly fluid at performing social sharing tasks. Exceedingly slick. When the Titan was announced, I thought “imagine TV shows on a screen that size…”. And I still held that longing desire for the Titan… until I used one. It’s beyond big. I knew it was big, but it’s not big, it’s huge.

Look, my sincerest apologies Microsoft, we’ve had a really good run for goodness knows how long, but you just didn’t quite keep up when Android appeared. You thought you had, but all you did was create a better version of iOS. I remember your USP for WP7, and how I loathed the adverts. Then I owned a WP7 device, and accepted just how slick it was. Then I updated to Mango, and saw that you had abandoned the unique slickness and were trying to head down the other path and catch up with iOS and Android. Fair enough,

“the public gets what the public wants.”

“But I want nothing this society’s got”

The phone I want doesn’t exist. The mobile OS I want has been murdered. And it was a homicide, not a suicide. I don’t want to ditch the Trophy, as while it doesn’t do all the job, what it does do it does perfectly. The iPod fills my media needs just about. But I do think that Android is on the horizon for me… I would say “okay, if not the Titan, then the Sensation XL”. Umm, it’s white. And slow. And a complete copy of the Titan. The Titan looks good in black, just like the Trophy. I really don’t want a white phone. You know what was a factor of me being put off the Titan? The phone right next to it was the XL. Same price, same physical features. I had known for a long time about how much of a copy it was, but seriously? I’m fairly sure HTC will have lost more than one potential Titan customer due to “well, the Android version is exactly the same, and Android can do more”. But HTC didn’t let the XL do more on the hardware side. On that front, the XL sucks, so that’s no contender either. And whilst I would be lost without my iPod, I really don’t see myself being able to cope with an iPhone. So, until July, I shall be sticking with the Trophy. Please HTC, have a GOOD Android phone out then. One that is genuinely good. Better than the Droid 4 (doesn’t take much effort beating), better than the Galaxy S II. Something genuinely brilliant. I want a good camera, a physical shutter button (two-stage like the Trophy), microUSB, a microSD slot, 1GB+ RAM, 1.5GHz+ single core/1GHz+ dual core (per-core clock speed, not total), lovely design (same colour scheme as the Trophy would be nice), and a large-but-not-as-large-as-the-Titan screen. I suppose a device that looks like the Trophy, perhaps a teeny bit bigger screen, 0.1/0.2 inches bigger perhaps? Do what you want with the four OS control buttons, as I can’t decide, but please make them look nice if they’re physical. Oh, and a directional pad of some sort would be fantastic ๐Ÿ˜€ Look, if you bring out a device like that, I’m fairly sure you’ll gain a LOT of fans. Everyone who cares about mobile phones has a phone like this on their mind, but to them and I it’s just a wild dream. Please make it a reality.

Apple suing Amazon


And this time, it’s for perfectly founded reasons (Apple suing people, not specifically Amazon in the past). Amazon are creating an ‘Appstore’ that will allow apps to be sold via Android. Apparently, these will be proper apps, not just ‘book stuff’.

Google gives Apple the finger – again


Apple was near to ruling the smartphone market. Then Google announce that they plan on launching a phone. Apple – hardware. Google – web search, platforms for others to use/build on. How could this new phone possibly fit Google’s markets? Well it did. People wanted to buy the ‘Google phone’ just as much as one would want to buy a signed Google t-shirt. A lot. As everyone knows, Apple was rather ‘annoyed’ by this, eventually suing HTC for rather petty, but nonetheless existent, patents. Then, a few years down the line, Apple releases the first big tablet. And wouldn’t you beleive it?! Suddenly, as if by magic, hundreds of other companies suddenly decide that there’s a market for tablets. Couldn’t they just give Apple credit when due? No. And what easier OS to put on a tablet? Google’s Android. But it looks like a phone OS, because it is. Guess what Google just announced! A tablet-specific version of Android, called ‘Honeycomb’.

Not as much hype?


From what it seems, there isn’t as much hype with Android updates as iOS updates. That said, I don’t have an Android phone, let alone an easily updatable one, but no one else seems to either.

When Apple releases an update, there is loads of hype. People staying up all night just to see if it’s released and updating the second it comes out. You will already know if your iDevice can support it and what features there are as Steve Jobs has already told you months ago in a keynote. You have probably been anticipating this release with bated breath.

With android, you know a release is just round the corner (normally) but you aren’t to excited with what it brings. The it’s released! Got a Nexus/Nexus S? You’re hopefully good to go. Got any other Android phone? I’m afraid you’ll have to wait a few months, and be wary, you may end up bricking your phone.

Sounds appealing, doesn’t it?