Is Lollipop the Windows 8 of Android?

I got the Android 5.0 (Lollipop) update on Monday and I’ve been miserable ever since.  I’ve been an Android user for years, the first android phone I got was running android 2.0 and while it wasn’t the smoothest OS I was in love with it and have stayed with android since.  Up until Monday I was running KitKat 4.4.4 on my Nexus 5 and was totally happy, then I saw the update had been pushed to me and I was eager to install and did it right away.  Big mistake.
First I had to swipe up to get to my lock screen which annoyed me, but I thought I could just change that setting and make the lock screen be the first thing I see when I hit the power button.  Nope, you can not bypass this, even if you turn off the notifications all you see is a blank screen that you still have to swipe up to get to your lock screen.  I don’t understand why the Android team didn’t turn that off if you disable all notification, instead they decided it would be better to inconvenience people and give them an extra step to unlock their phone with no way to bypass this step.
So then I get my phone unlocked and I see the Material Design and the first thing I think is “this looks like a damn iPhone“, personally I think it’s ugly.  It’s flat, it lifeless, the icons now look more like paper cut-outs than then clean crisp icons from previous versions.  But thing flash up on the screen now instead of simply appearing, never mind that once the window has flashed up the icons are ugly.
Screenshot_2014-11-19-01-00-35  Screenshot_2014-11-19-00-58-32  Screenshot_2014-11-19-01-02-18
At this point I’m telling myself I’ll get used to this, I always have before.  So I continue to look around and I don’t like what I see.  First the keyboard (first image) is ugly and I found I made more mistakes when I typed on it, it’s amazing how changing the color from black to white and removing any separation between the keys can affect your typing.  I of course gave up on this new keyboard and went back to the old standard black keyboard which separation between the keys.  Now look at the calculator (middle image) that is just ugly, and once again they’ve removed any separation between the keys.  Also that teal bar on the side is horrible, it just screams at you and looks totally out of place in the app.  Plus there is the fact that once you do your calculation you have to long press delete to clear it, unlike in previous versions where when you tapped the delete button it cleared the screen.  Minor thing I know, but I use the calculator several times a day and this gets annoying.  Then I see my apps menu, so now instead of thumbnails I have cards, great.  Now I have a stack of cards to swipe away that ends in the center of the screen instead of a descending set of thumbnails that can be easily swiped away with my thumb.
Screenshot_2014-11-19-01-01-28                 Screenshot_2014-11-19-01-01-42
So by now you can tell I’m not liking Lollipop, but I figure I’ll use it for a few days and get accustomed to the new UI and everything will be alright, then I kept going.  Now when I swipe down I see this (first image), and yes it’s different and I prefer the previous pull down menu but this isn’t that bad, the flashlight is useless since I have and app that I don’t have to pull down to get to but whatever, I can live with this.  Then I see that when I long press the power button I no longer have to ability to set my phone to vibrate or silent and I no longer have the ability to put my phone in airplane mode.  Now I know I can just swipe down to set airplane mode, but the old way was quick and easy, why would they take this out?  Also there is no setting that I can find on the pull down menu to set my phone to silence or vibrate, so instead I now have to physically turn the volume down, then back up when I want the ringer back.
So I’m really not happy with Lollipop but once again I tell myself that I’ll adapt and everything will be fine.  Then apps start crashing, apps that were working just fine before the update are now crashing.  And I can understand when third party apps crash after a major update like this, but Gmail and Hangouts crashed!  These are the Google apps that should always work with Android, and yet their crashing too!  Something tells me the Android team spent more time worrying about how the icons looks and making sure that things flashed on screen with some animation than they did worrying about if the OS even worked.  I know Android always has it’s bugs, and I get that, but my Nexus 5 is almost unusable right now.  Just to send a text message I have to open Hangouts several times just to have it force close then reopen it and go though that process several times before it will stay open long enough for me to send a text.  And Gmail gives me a blank inbox for about 30 seconds then force closes all the time, some times it will let me see my email and work properly but most of the time it’s just the blank screen then force close.
So I for one do not like Lollipop and wish there was an easy, non techy, way to go back to KitKat.  That’s a feature Android should make, the wayback button “Don’t like this flavor of Android?  Hit the wayback button and remove the update and go back to your previous version”.  I’ve tried to do the whole bootloader thing and I have no idea what I’m doing, and I’m afraid of bricking my phone, so something like the wayback button would be nice, even if it had a time limit, say 7 days, I’d still like an easy way to go back to a stable version of Android.
In the end I just wish that the Android team had spent more time making sure Lollipop worked and less time time removing useful things, and making sure the animations flashed.

Google Wallet & Apple Pay vs. CurrentC

With the development of CurrentC in the wake of Apple Pay, I have to say this is a horrible PR move and CurrentC will be the Qwikster of the credit industry.  QR codes as payment systems were an interesting idea 4 years ago but now that we have NFC, QR code payment systems just don’t make sense.

So what is CurrentC?

CurrentC is a payment app developed by retailers to bypass the credit card companies and process your payments themselves while also collecting data on you using QR codes to process the payments instead of the magnetic strip on your credit card or the NFC chip in your phone.

Why do retailers use CurrentC instead of Google Wallet and Apple Pay?
Well for one the retailers were slow to adopt NFC payments and so they didn’t put things in place to have loyalty cards attached to your NFC wallet of choice, and now as a result they don’t have the ability to track you and gather information on everything you buy.  So a few years ago these retailers (see the list below) teamed up to create their own app for mobile payments instead of just going to Google and Apple and asking how can we work together to build a better payment system.
What should the retailers do now?

Well first drop CurrentC and beg the public for forgiveness.  Next allow NFC payments right away.  Then while customers are happy because they can use NFC payments, the retailers can be working with Google and Apple to insert loyalty cards into Google Wallet and Apple Pay thereby letting them get their precious tracking data on they consumers.
If these retailers don’t want to face an ever increasing backlash from consumers I suggest they give up on CurrentC and turn on NFC right away, but sadly I fear they will dig in and fight to use their own useless system while the retailers who allow and embrace NFC will flourish.

Google’s Project Zero

First of all if you haven’t heard about Project Zero click HERE to read about it.

Now that you’re up to date, I think this is a great idea. First of all having a group dedicated to finding the flaws in systems and getting them fixed before they cause trouble is a great idea, personally I think this should have been done years ago. Also I think that while it’s good that Google is funding this and keeping it in house, I would prefer if this were set up independent of any one company. I’d like to see this set up as a separate entity from any one company and have it funded by all the major tech giants, that way they have can say “we fund it, but we don’t run it exclusively”, then no one can feel like they are being targeted.

I do have to say I love the idea of hiring the best hackers and having them in a safe place to find the flaws, then having the legal backing of Google to release what they found. I would just prefer if it were independent and they had their own legal team, and all of it was funded by all the major tech companies. Think about it, no one is going to cry foul when something is found if everyone is funding this, and that clears up most of the potential legal headaches resulting in less money spent on a legal team. It’s a win win. But for now we just have to be happy that it’s being done at all, and at least it’s being done by Google who love them or hate them does seem to try to do the best thing s for the internet and it’s users.

What I want from the rumored Android TV

So with all the rumored talk about Android TV I thought I’d throw my thoughts and wishes out there for this new device.  Currently I use my PS3 for about 90% of my media consumption, I have a Roku as well but I prefer the PS3 it’s smoother, faster, and not only does it stream content but it can also play discs.  Now I know most of what I write here won’t be on the Android TV, but it would be nice to see these things in the future.  So let’s get to it!

First I’d like the Android TV to also be my cable box, have a hook up for a coax cable and let me channel surf through the box instead of the TV.  I’d also like to see an on screen channel guide that you can put your area code into then get your cable provider’s channel line up or if you select antenna since your a cord cutter it would adjust the line up accordingly.  This is all things you can currently do with the TV Guide app on your phone or tablet, I just want it on the TV.

Second I’d like to see a CAT5 hookup with an option to use WiFi as well.  I understand some people prefer WiFi hookups and some people have to have them, but I know if I can I want that CAT5 plugged right into the box for the best results possible.

Third I’d like to see the Android TV also be the universal remote, I have a Logitech Harmony remote and I really love it, having one remote for everything is great and having the remote app on my phone is a nice back up.  I know this was a feature of Google TV so if Android TV can pull it off more like Logitech this could be a really nice feature that could simplify everything for the user.

And forth I’d like to see a Blu ray player built in.  I know that this is a steaming box but that’s how I think of my PS3 and yet it’s also what I watch all my physical discs on too.  Yes 70-80% of my media consumption is from streaming but I still watch discs, and if the Android TV also let me play my DVDs & Blu rays I wouldn’t need any other box.  Of course there would have to be the steaming apps I want too, Netflix, YouTube, Amazon video, Crackle, even Hulu just to name the ones I use(d) (although I don’t have Hulu anymore, see why here, I may be forced to reactivate my subscription if I move in with my girlfriend).

So there you have it, my wishlist for the Android TV.  Do I think there is a snowballs chance in hell that it will have all this at launch?  Of course not, but Google can test Android TV, prove it’s a good product, get some market share, then release new versions or even let other manufactures release their own hardware with Android TV, though I have to say now that I’m only using Nexus hardware I would prefer to just have Google produce the best box possible and buy from them.

What I want from Google Hangouts

I like the fact that Google is trying to make a unified communication app, but right now it still isn’t what I need in every way.  At the moment I’m using a text messaging app called Handcent because it allows me many customization features that I use often.  One thing that I use is custom message tones for different people, I like this because I can know right away if someone important or not is sending me a text.  Second I have custom message notification icons, I have different colors for different people and again I can know just by looking at my phone (if I don’t hear the message tone) who it is that texted me and know if it’s important or not.

If Google were to give me those features in Hangouts I would use Hangouts as my default messaging app right away.  Also if when Google Voice is integrated into Hangouts I could send & receive text messages from my phone, tablet, or PC that would be great.  My only fear with integrating Google Voice into Google Hangouts is that I will loose all the great features that I get with Google Voice right now, please Google don’t screw up Voice, it’s my second number (and possibly my main number if you integrate everything correctly) and my voice-mail, please don’t mess this up guys!

Another feature I’d like to see is message encryption.  Take a look at an app called Threema, They’ve got end to end encryption and three levels of security, one dot means not secure, two dots is relatively secure based on your own contact list, and three dots is very secure and you’ve met in person and scanned each others QR Codes.  This would be a great feature Google Hangouts could offer, users could automatically have a two dot security level with other Google users in their contacts, or even people in their G+ circles.

So those are my requests for Google Hangouts, the main thing I want right away is customization, that would most likely make me switch to Hangouts as my main messaging app.  I still want end to end encryption, but I know that would take longer to implement.

Something is wrong with my Google account

Saturday Morning I was looking up a band called FireFlight and accidently typed FireFight, as soon as I saw the results I realized my mistake and corrected my spelling and went on with my day.  Then since I work at night I went to bed and got up in the afternoon and booted up my computer opened up Chrome and started surfing, then I did a Google search and as soon as the search results finished loading the results field went blank and FireFight was in the search box.  I took a screen shot after I tried to search for Yahoo, but I’ve searched for Google properties and this has happened, it happened no matter what I search for.

I’ve run a virus scan and maleware scan and I’m clean, I’ve gone into my Google accout and deleted the past seven days of cookies, cache, and history, I’ve tried using Firefox and signing into my account to see if it was just Chrome, I’ve tried using two other computers, and still nothing is working.  I think this a Google server site problem since I’ve done everything I can think of to fix this and nothing is working, and it’s happening on three diffrent computers and the only thing they have in common is me being signed into my Google account.  I do have a Google Apps account for my business and I signed into it and did several searches and had no problems, so this has to be an issue with Google.
Also it’s not just happening to serach results, and Google property I visit when I’m logged in to my personal Google account has FireFight take over the serach bar, and since every Google property has a search bar this makes everything a pain to use.  Can someone give me any idea of something I can do to make this stop without having to give up my account and start over?
Even though I don’t think it matters the three computers I used were two Windows Vista laptops, and an Ubuntu Laptop, all three up patched and up to date and running anti-virus and anti-maleware.

UPDATE 2:26 A.M. 4-14-2014
After some research I found a Reddit post on /r/Google that found that the problem was with the LastPass extension, I disabled the extension and the problem stopped, further reading revealed that by going into the LastPass extension preferences and un-checking “Automatically Fill Login Information” solved the problem.  Hopefully the LastPass will have a fix for this soon, but until they do I’ll just have to make do.  Also this is a problem with the Firefox extension since I was having the same issue when using Firefox.

Why I think Google should keep Motorola and more

It was recently announced that Google will sell Motorola Mobility to Lenovo for $2.91 billion and in my opinion this is a huge mistake, but first HERE is the story if you don’t know what I’m talking about.  Why do I think this is such a huge mistake?  I think Google needs to set a standard for Android and having their own hardware division lets them do that, with out a hardware division they have to rely on the hardware partners not to screw it up, and anyone who has had a Samsung device recently can tell you Samsung likes to put a lot of crapware on their Android devices.

First there could be one phone on the market that is always a pure Google Android experience and it could always be Motorola, this would set a standard to the the other manufactures, giving Android a more unified experience but still having options when it came to hardware.  If the manufactures would let Google and the other developers focus on the software and apps then they could focus on innovating when it came to the hardware.  The key to this is Google keeping Motorola but staying hands off from the company with only one rule “No crapware only a pure Google experience” and Google would have to give the same specs to everyone at the same time, they could never show any special treatment towards Motorola.  On the Play Store sell the Motorola as the Google Phone, and let Samsung, LG, and HTC take turns making the Nexus Phone.

I also think Google made a huge mistake dumping the Set-Top Box & Cable Modem division.  Think about it, Google TV could have been on these boxes that people are getting from their cable provider, the provider could say if you want a free Google TV just sign up for cable, and all Google had to do was clean up Google TV and make a few better apps.  As for the cable modems, make an Android based firmware for the modems and give it constant updates and make it the most secure modem out there.  Then I’d say make a Motorola router and do the same thing, give constant updates and make the most secure and trusted products on the market.

Then take the Nest and you’ve started the home integration, this could be just the first step into the home, after Nest move into appliances and security.  And with Google testing self driving cars I say buy an electric car company and make a Google Car.  And with Google Fiber you’ve got the pipes for your Motorola Modems and set-top boxes, then they should buy T-Mobile and integrate that with Google Fiber to offer a Google cellular service and then do a massive network expansion of smaller cellular antennas throughout the country letting them give the best coverage.

Now yes all this would take a long time, and it would be a “moonshot” but if anyone could do it I think Google could.  Now why would they want to do all this?  Signals.  Google loves signals, they could get even more data than they can now while at the same time do good, plus they can sell more targeted ads which would be nice, no ads would be great but they’ve got to make money and lets face it Google’s ads are the least annoying out there.

So there you have it, what I think Google should have done.  Call me crazy for wanting Google to have so much power but I truly think that Google would be the one company that would do it right.  And just to show I do have a bias towards Google, yes I am a Google fan boy.  What do you think?  Good idea? Bad idea? or just Meh…  Let me know in the comments.

Gmail Tabs and why they suck.

I’ve had the new Gmail tabs for a few days now and I’ve tried very hard to like it but I just couldn’t get how it was helping me.  I can’t figure out how this was going to make my life better, now instead of looking at my Inbox and seeing my email, I have to click on tabs to see all my email.  I have everything labeled and color coded with filters so all I have to do is look for green and I know it’s important, or yellow and I know it’s personal, and so on and so on, this tab thing is just stupid.

Don’t even get me started on the mobile app, at the very top I see the two tabs, I click on one of them it takes me to the messages in that tab, once I’m finished I hit “back” and if I wanted to get back to that tab I have to wait until another email comes into that tab, because I can not for the life of me figure out how to get back to a tab once I’ve backed out of it!  Maybe I’m just stupid, I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a genius, but I can figure this kind of thing out most of the time but this one has got me stumped.  Also I haven’t had a lot of time to sit down and dig into the mobile app, most of the time I spend emailing via mobile is when I’m working so I don’t have time to play with the app and figure out how to use it.

So what am I doing about all this?  Well I went into my Gmail settings and turned it off, and all I can do is hope that Google won’t make this mandatory.  Actually I hope they give it the old “Wave, Buzz, and Reader” off with it’s head that it so rightfully deserves.

I’ll be honest I have not been happy with any of the Gmail updates that have come out this year, but I really hate the mobile updates.  When I wake up I like to start my day by checking my email on my phone, it’s a routine I had gotten into.  Now I don’t even bother, now that I have to tap those letter boxes next to each message to be able to select multiple messages to mass delete I’m always frustrated because if I don’t tap the damn thing just right it will open the message instead of selecting it.  I want simple and easy to use check boxes, not this picture or letter boxes next to each message.  I love you Google but you’re really starting to piss me the fuck off.

Larry Page’s new Google is turning out to really suck, it’s like they are trying to fix what isn’t broken.  Here is a tip for everyone at Google, your users aren’t engineers, K.I.S.S. = Keep It Simple Stupid.

Are you fucking kidding me YouTube?

Ok so I watch a video from a guy named KipKay that I subscribe to and then I see links to other videos and one of them is for a homemade remote detonator, I think “ok this has to be bullshit” so I click on it and sure enough it’s real!  The video list next to the video is nothing but how to’s for wired, wireless, and cellphone detonators, homemade grenades, and the one that I can’t believe is “DIY IED”.  Now I’m a big believer in free speech but this goes a little far even for me.

By the way I will not post links to ANY of the videos, if you want to get yourself on a FBI watchlist you can search for them yourself.

Now am I wrong for thinking these videos shouldn’t be allowed?

Google Play to replace Android Market.

First of all here’s the story from Mashable.

Now I can understand wanting to come up with a more generalized storefront name to make people think of other things than just games, but this is a horrible name. When I think Android Market I think of a place I go to buy things, when I think Google Play I think a place to go and play games not buy things. If Google had rebanded the market Google Market than that would say what they want to say with Google Play, that you can buy something on the Google Market and use it across all out products be it phone, tablet, or computer. Google Play says WE HAVE GAMES!
Look at it from a business owners standpoint or just a high level managers standpoint, your thinking about dropping Blackberry and switching to either Apple, Android, or Windows. Ok now Apple isn’t compatible with all your Windows based business software so that’s not a good choice, Windows phone OS is built to work with Windows 8 and lets face it the company is more than likely upgrade to Windows 8 in the near future so a Windows phone is a good idea, now lets look at Android, ok Android has a lot of choice when it comes to phone models and carriers, plus they have lots of tablets and they are backed by Google which is good, but wait whats this? Google Play? So all that Google sells is games? Well I don’t want my employees just sitting around all day playing games, I want them working, I’m going with the Windows phone and the Windows MARKET!
When I think about what Google is doing I understand that they are just trying to sell to the teenage group, they have given up on the rest of the Android users and will now focus exclusively on the one sector that has no job and no income and will loose ground in market sales. I see Google Play becoming the Qwikster of Google and Android, and I think we all know how well that went for Netflix now don’t we.
Google if you feel you need to rebrand the Android Market then rebrand it the Google Market, this Google Play thing is just bad business.