My Favourite Android Apps


Nexus 7 First Impressions

I picked up a Nexus 7 this weekend.

It is a nice device, at a good price.

My initial impressions are that Google has caught up and is now in the lead in some areas compared to Apple.

Some notable advantages:

– Multiple users per device are supported

– Gmail is a better email client then the iOS email client

– Google Wallet is as easy to use as iTunes for purchases and increasingly more convenient since iTunes purchasing has fragmented the experience relative to some content providers not being integrated, e.g. Kindle eBooks.

– Google Play store is much easier to browse, find and share things then iTunes (they have made huge improvements over the last year)

– Widgets

– Active wallpaper

– Folders that can be placed in the bottom navigation panel

– Google Maps is years ahead of the iOS Maps in terms of features, integration, accuracy, POI — by itself that feature makes Google the leader over Apple

– Google Search integration

– Google Now is very innovative and an advantage that Apple will be hard-pressed to compete with

– Notifications center is better then Apple – much easier to work with, better integration with apps


– Siri on Apple is currently DOA

– NFC on Google is currently DOA

Disadvantages relative to Apple:

– They took a step backward on the Nexus 7 by eliminating support for an SD card memory expansion

– No camera on back, only a screen-side camera

– Device security relative to malware

– Device quality is low, for instance the device has uneven frame height around the edges where the glass and the metal meet; plastic backing has a cheap and slippery feel to it

– Android apps are a crap-shoot on whether they work well or not in the screen size and resolution, some apps failed to download or install

– Android apps are still inconsistent in user experience in general

– Platform fragmentation

– Maximum screen brightness is lower then Apple devices – the device is difficult to view on bright light

– No Passbook feature


Dec 25 update after a few weeks with the Nexus 7

The Nexus 7 is fragile –  I accidentally dropped it onto a carpeted floor and it stopped working.  I pried off the back and found out that the battery connector to the circuit board had come partially off.  Unlike other connectors it had not been taped down or otherwise secured.  After reseating it the Nexus worked again.

Battery life is very mediocre – watching one 90 min movie pretty much kills the battery.

Maximum audio volume for the built-in speakers is very low compared to iPad devices.

I am more convinced then ever that Google has taken the lead.  I have not used my iPad since picking up the Nexus.

Emerging lifestyle devices for humans and pets

There is a quickly emerging set of companies focusing on mobile-enhanced lifestyle devices.  They let you monitor – heart rate, activity, sleep, walking distance, etc.

I don’t think these type of gadgets will become mainstream… but I can see evolved versions of these devices in the next 5 years emerge that are cheap and help people manage chronic health conditions.

Jawbone UP

Striiv Play




Nike+ Fuelband


Pets also have their own devices to help track their fitness and location…

Pet Tracker

iPhone, Samsung, Nokia, HTC – likes/dislikes

I’ve been playing with iPhone, Samsung, HTC and Nokia phones and was reflecting on what  I like/dislike about each:

Samsung Galaxy SIII:

+ great screen (bright, crisp)

+ very responsive

+ comfortable to hold (smooth edges, light)

+ great photo quality

+ microSD card support

+ replaceable battery

+ microUSB charger / sync cable

+ google goggles

– S-Voice

– screen is too wide to easily work with the apps – needs both hands to use the device

– Android OS and apps are not consistent in interaction behaviours

HTC One V:

+ great screen (bright, crisp)

+ can manipulate apps using one hand

+ microSD card support

+ microUSB charger / sync cable

– no replaceable battery

– poor photo quality

– laggy response on launching apps

– Android OS and apps are not consistent in interaction behaviours

– Android OS update to latest version not available

Nokia 900:

+ great screen (bright, crisp)

+ microUSB charger / sync cable

– no replaceable battery

– no microSD card support

– poor photo quality

– uncomfortable to hold (heavy, blocky edges)

– button placement on right side of device not only makes device uncomfortable to hold, but also makes for unintended button pushes

– screen is too wide to easily work with the apps – need both hands to use the device

– WP7 Metro interface is terrible (inconsistent, non-intuitive, clunky, spurious visual effects) – it felt antiquated rather then new

– Not upgradable to WP8

iPhone 4S:

+ great screen (bright, crisp)

+ very responsive

+ great photo quality (with HDR enabled)

+ OS and apps are consistent in interaction behaviours

+ can manipulate apps using one hand

+ iOS updates available to latest version


– no microSD card support

– no replaceable battery

– no microUSB charger / sync cable  (proprietary & expensive connector)


BlueStacks makes no sense to me

Bluestack is a company that supports android apps running on Windows and OSX.  They have raised over $14M in VC money so far.

The way it works:

You install their software on your PC.   You create a Bluestack cloud account.   You then install their Android app on your Android device and select the apps you want to sync to their cloud service in order for you to be able to run your apps (or rather a subset of your apps that are supported in the emulated environment) on your PC.

According to one recent investor, “Consumers are increasingly looking for computing experiences that enable them to access their apps across different platforms,” said VP of Qualcomm Ventures Nagraj Kashyap. “We believe BlueStacks is well-positioned to capitalize on the marriage of mobile and PC.”

As with most emulated environments, particularly those that involve graphics, the current Bluestack emulated environment leaves a lot to be desired relative to running Android apps with the same performance and fidelity.   Also interacting with touch-based apps on a mouse-based interface leaves a lot to be desired.

The investment premise that consumers “want this” type of experience does not resonate with me.

However, I guess time will tell….