Microsoft Launches Arrows, Its Android App Launcher -

Microsoft’s radical Android launcher “Arrow” now public - SlashGear. It would not take much to make an "all Microsoft" Android phone. #

Report: Google to Combine Android and Chrome OS - I think Google is going to screw the pooch with this move. Chrome OS has been growing in acceptance, particularly in the education market, because of its low support requirements. Android is a heavier operating system than Chrome meaning it is going to require more support. I also find Android to be more buggy than Chrome OS. Dumping Chrome OS could mean Google loses the education market. #

Turtl: A totally private personal database and note taking app. Following because I support the idea of a fully secure note taking application that encrypts your data before uploading to the server on the Internet. From what I can tell it is an open source project being written by one person who appears to be heads down on an Android version. The application does not have a way to export notes that you put in to it, so for now I don't consider it "production" but very much worth following. #

BLU launches a phone with a 7 inch screen, $199 price tag - Liliputing. At what screen size do we stop calling these devices phones and just call them tablets with a built-in phone?#

Droid Turbo 2 ShatterShield display technology explained. Get ready for more Verizon Droid commercials. I wonder if the touchscreen on the Turbo 2 is as responsive as other smartphones?#

New River4 site: – Andy Sylvester's Web.#

Mary Jo Foley: Microsoft Surface Book review I like reading more "real life" type reviews like Mary Jo's. My conclusion from reading her review is that Mary Jo really wants a nice ultrabook.#

2015-16 MLB Free Agent Tracker - MLB Trade Rumors.#

The District Detroit Live Web Cam. The future home of the Detroit Red Wings.#

OneNote will soon recognize shapes as well as handwriting - Liliputing. Shape recognition is not new, my Newton Messagepad did that more than a decade ago. I am also not sure how useful it is.#

Make pit stops in navigation mode with Google Maps' update for Android My main gripe with the navigation software in my GMC Terrain is that whenever I stop while navigating, say at a rest area, the software completely loses track of the trip destination and I have to re-initiate navigation all over again. Some times it remembers, but usually it forgets, which is ridiculous. Frankly, I think all the auto companies ought to simply support CarPlay and Android Auto and leave the software development to the companies that know what they are doing. #

Fossil Q Connected Wearables Launched This watch looks pretty nice, although I haven't seen any specs that indicate its size. Fossil has been one of the "traditional" watch makers that has dabbled with smartwatches in the past, being one of the original Microsoft SPOT watch partners. Fossil and others seemed to take a "wait and see" approach this time around, and my guess is the Apple Watch compelled them to get back in the market. #

HTC's One A9 is a $399 iPhone running Android 6.0. The A9 is probably the best small-screen (5-inch) Android phone to be announced and the only thing that would make me hesitant about buying it is the small battery. My Moto X has taught me that battery life is one of the most important aspects of smartphones, and I am not sure a 2150 mAh battery would cut it for me. Another thing about the A9 is that it feels like a "hail mary" to me for HTC, if they can't sell a phone that looks like an iPhone and only costs $400, they might not be able sell any phone. #

Android Guys recently reviewed a car auxiliary input Bluetooth adapter with Google Now integration. After reading the review, I ordered the iClever Himbox HB-01 Bluetooth adapter from Amazon, and I have been happy with it. I've been using it in our HHR with the unit mounted at the center of the dash between the air vents and the mic is picking up my voice without my having to shout. Audio streaming is very solid with no interference. A really nice touch is that the power cable has a standard USB connection, which connects to the car adapter but can also connect to a regular USB power adapter for use in house. I got it on sale for 60% off, but I think the regular $30 price is pretty affordable.#

Most of the technology press sites got Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P units last Friday and many published either full reviews or "here is what they are like after three days" reviews, which one can take with a grain of salt given how short of time they have had the devices. With one exception, though. Ron Amadeo's review on Ars Technica is content rich making me think he pretty much worked on it not stop from the moment he received the review units. By the way, if you haven't read Ron's review of Android 6.0, do yourself a favor and read it. #

All of the reviews of Android 6.0, Marshmallow, that I have read are pretty consistent about Google Now on Tap. Just as I wrote about the other day, Now On Tap is pretty hit-and-miss. I am really liking Doze, which is doing a good job extending battery life on my Nexus 9. I've been in the habit of recharging the Nexus 9 every night, but now I can leave it sit overnight and not worry about excessive battery drain. #

Doze will make a big difference for tablets, but I am wondering about how much it will help phones that are constantly on the move. It appears Doze uses the motion sensors to determine if the device is not moving, and if not, shuts down background apps, but I wonder if it can be that smart about a phone in my pocket. Android needs an "in the pocket" sensor or a "screen is covered up" sensor that tells Doze to kick on. #

All these Nexus 6p reviews have me eagerly waiting on the shipment of the 6P that I ordered. My guess is they will start shipping next week given that the 5X started shipping yesterday. #

The Verge: "Up at the top of the app drawer are four app suggestions that are often spot-on." Are those suggestions or the last used apps, because I am pretty sure they are the last used apps. #

Nexus on Twitter: "Get a #Nexus5X 16GB phone for $15.79/mo when you buy through #ProjectFi Is this new? I don't recall hearing that you can buy a Nexus phone on installments via ProjectFi. The downside is that you have to go with the ProjectFi service whereas the Apple installment plan works for any iPhone.#

I recently got frustrated with how my Nexus 9 was performing: running slow and spontaneously rebooting, so I decided to do a factory reset. I am slowly re-installing apps and trying to limit them to only the ones that I use. Right now the Nexus 9 is running very nicely and I don't know if that is due to Android 6 or running fewer apps. I do think that installing too many apps can really bog down Android due to all the notifications. My Moto X is a hot mess right now, but I am trying to hold on with it as it is until the Nexus 6P arrives.#

One of the big new features of Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) is Google Now On Tap, which is an extension of Google Now to Android apps. How Google Now On Tap works is that you tap-and-hold the Home button, Google does an image search based on what is on the screen, and provides relevant information. I am having marginal success with Google Now On Tap running on my Nexus 9.#

A simple use case is scanning email message I receive in confirmation for online webinars to simplify adding the webinar to my calendar. If you have ever attended a webinar you know the email message contains the webinar topic, date and time of the webinar, and a URL to the link you click to join the webinar at the appropriate time. #

The use case is so common I would think Google would have it optimized, but I have inconsistent results. While it correctly provides an option to create a Calendar event, it doesn't provide enough help in populating the information for the event. For example, it ever finds the subject of the webinar, even when it is in the subject line of the email message, and I find it odd that Now On Tap seems to not determine that what is displayed on the screen is an email. #

At least some times Now On Tap finds the date and time of the webinar and does populate that information correctly, but again, I find this to be hit and miss. Hopefully Now On Tap becomes more useful over time. #

Steve Goodman: Go Cubs Go#


Legend has it that Babe Ruth called a home run he hit at Wrigley Field. Earlier this season Cubs broadcaster Len Kasper likened Kyle Schwarber to Babe Ruth, and took heat for it. Last night Schwarber blasted a home run out of Wrigley, and according to the press conference told Dexter Fowler that he was going to hit a home run off this guy. #


Kyle Schwarber home run lands on video board; Chicago Cubs to keep it there.#

Speaking of Len Kasper, it turns out that last August he was very prophetic about Jorge Soler. Cardinals fans are going to be having nightmares of Soler all winter. #BetterGetUsedToHim#

Looking at the Nexus 6P accessories and noting that it needs a car charger. Perhaps third party chargers will work? #

What I am most happy about after the Microsoft event is that the new Surface Tablet Pen will work with the Surface 3. I hope it doesn't cost too much. #

I am thinking that a wired connection to the Microsoft Display Dock is going to be a deal breaker for Continuum. On the griping hand, my experience with Miracast tells me that wireless display tech doesn't seem to have the right performance. Although, Google Chromecast seems to do the job, I wish there was a way to send an entire computer display to a Chromecast like you can with Android. #

A closer look at Microsoft's new Surface Book laptop. I wonder whether the gap that Surface Book has when closed will be a problem?#

Google released Android 6, Marshmallow yesterday, so now I am waiting for it to be pushed to my Nexus 9. I am hoping it is more stable on the Nexus 9 than Lollipop, and I am also looking forward to seeing what Doze mode does for battery life.#

Click to expand my notes below.#


In a few minutes Microsoft will begin their event in New York, during which I am expecting they will announce a new Surface Pro and two new Lumia phones.#

The Twitter hash tag is #Windows10devices#


It appears that Microsoft is having some challenges with their live stream. Lots of bufferring.#

This event is one of Steve Job's legacies on the tech industry. Notice the common structure across Apple, Google, and Microsoft events?#


Mixed Reality Gaming on Hololens#

Project X-Ray#

Holograms that you can hold. Incorporates images and 3D objects within the room that you are in. #

Some debate about whether what we saw in the video is what is actually seen in the "goggles." #

Taking applications for Hololens dev kit, 1Q2016, costs $3000. #


Pushed fitness features.#

Curves around the list. Has Gorilla 3 glass. Built-in GPS, UV monitor. #

Cortana integration. #

Integration with Microsoft Health (big data) for data analysis. #

Pre-order today for $249#


950 and 950 XL#

The 950 will cost $549 and and the XL will cost $649. There will also be a low-end model, the 550, that will cost $139.#

Liquid cooling? #

OLED screens#


Microsoft display dock looks like a hockey puck#


Microsoft claims Surface created the 2-in-1. #

Acknowledges that their competitors have validated the Surface.#

12.3 inch screen. 267 PPI#

PixelSense: Pen and Touch chipset. The Pen now has an eraser. #

Pen magnetically attaches to the Surface. #

Interchangeable pen tips: specific feel to the type of writing. Writing, draw, etc...#

Max 16 GB RAM, 1 TB of storage. 8.4 mm thin. #

Type cover has a larger touchpad and the keys have a little more space between them. #

Fingerprint reader. #

Available 10/26, starts at $899#

Surface Book laptop#

Dynamic fulcrum hing, looks like will provide unlimited number of positions#

The screen detaches from the base and flips back. #

13.5 inch screen, 6 million pixels. #

Glass trackpad with 5 points of touch#

12 hours of batter life#

The Surface dock works with the Surface Book, along with the Surface Pro 4 and 3#

Available October 26, starts at $1499#

The GPU is in the base. #

Supports the Surface Pen, my guess is that you will have to buy the Pen separately. #

CEO Wrap-up#

Build devices to create "magical experiences." Microsoft in the experience business. #

Plan to invent new personal computers and new personal computing.#

Building the most productive phones on the planet. Continuum emphasizes the idea that the phone is your only computing device. One issue I see with Continuum is that it requires you to plug in a cable to the phone, and I am not sure that is something people want; need to get this connection wireless.#

Empower every person on the planet to achieve more. We make things that help you make things. This is Microsoft's statement of why they exist. #

My reactions#

It is going to come down to quality. Will that hing on the Surface Book hold up over time? Is Windows 10 going to keep running as we have come to expect from a tablet OS, or will there continue to be crashes (BSOD) for which Windows is known? #

Microsoft now has a full range of devices, from the wrist with Band, to the pocket with Lumia, to your arms with Surface, and your lap with Surface Book. Once Hololens ships, Microsoft will also have a device for your eyes. In short, rather than moving away from Ballmer's devices vision for Microsoft, Nadella has filled out/completed the devices vision. #

The pricing might be problematic for the Lumias, I think they should have pushed to get the price of the 950 below $500. Will the 550 work with the display dock to support Continuum. #

The high price of the Lumia means that Microsoft has to convince users that they want Continuum. Another approach is to provide it on low cost devices, get people to buy the device because of the features you get for the low cost, and discover that Continuum enables the phone to be their only computing device from the desk to the pocket. #

Microsoft Band.#

Microsoft Lumia 950 - Smartphones - Microsoft - USA.#

Microsoft Lumia 950 XL - Smartphones - Microsoft - USA.#

Microsoft Display Dock - Microsoft - USA.#

Surface Pro 4 – Power Through Your Day.#

Surface Tablet Pen - Write, draw, or mark-up documents digitally.#

Surface Book - The ultimate laptop.#

Philips Hue now responds to your Siri commands. I wonder if you aren't going to use HomeKit, is there any reason to get the new Hue bridge? #

Amazon Fire review - CNET. CNET very politely says that this tablet sucks. #

Chromecast 2 has a CPU that's 2.5x faster than the original - Liliputing.#

I am fairly certain that the 2-in-1 devices we see today are a consequence of Windows 8, which is an operating system with two user modes. Windows 8's two modes didn't translate well to one-mode personal computers, be they desktops, notebooks, or tablets, but make sense in a device with multiple modes. #

I think ASUS was one of the first companies to sell 2-in-1s, followed closely be the likes of Lenovo and HP, until it was embraced by Microsoft when it released the Surface Pro. The big two, Apple and Google, have recently got on board with the iPad Pro and the Pixel C, although neither company calls these devices 2-in-1s. In my opinion, these companies strongly promoting a keyboard accessory effectively makes these devices 2-in-1s. #

These recent announcements put Apple and Google in the follower position to Microsoft's lead in the real personal computer dance. (How many articles about the iPad Pro and the Pixel compare the device to the Surface Pro?) Further, fate might be turning the table for Microsoft as Apple and Google are now trying to move their mobile operating systems, which were originally designed for smartphones, to the productivity space in which Windows reigns. #

Windows 10 works better for 2-in-1s because it was designed from the beginning for productivity due to its windows user interface. Split screens, easy app switching, and mice are not add-ons as they are for iOS and Android. In fact, Android still doesn't natively provide any type of dual-screen functionality and neither iOS nor Android devices come with mice or touchpads. #

Reports are that the tablet market is stagnating, which is driving Apple and Google to add new functionality such as the "2-in-1" mode, to their tablet solutions. Part of the problem may be that Steve Job's claim that tablets (he was speaking specifically about the iPad) are the new personal computer is proving to be true and with that comes longer refresh cycles. For many people, the iPad they bought last year is still good and will be good enough next year, which does not bode well for Apple. #

If people truly adopt tablets, particularly 2-in-1s, as their personal computer, then they are going to use them as more than content devices, and that provides an opportunity for Windows and Microsoft. It is critical that Microsoft continues improving on Surface and Windows 10 so that it provides the reliability of the mobile operating systems along with the traditional productivity capabilities of Windows.#

David Ruddock of Android Police thinks the Pixel C is a bad idea. While I think I agree with the basic premise of this article, I am not on board with most of the points being made. #

The writer basically says the Pixel C will fail because Android is not optimized for productivity, but that depends on one's requirements and everyone's is slightly different. For example, I am the type of person who uses desktop Windows applications full screen, or maximized. I think that the Microsoft Office mobile apps work very well on Android and I can be pretty productive with them.#

Further, the writer claims that Android is simply not good for tablets. I don't think Android's UI is any worse on tablets than iOS. While my opinion is that Microsoft's Surface may be the best for productivity on 10.1" and larger tablets, that has more to do with app support and screen orientation than the UI. #

Where I do think Google has a problem that may affect the Pixel C is with Android's performance on the Nvidia processor. If my personal experience with the Nexus 9 is any indication, Android has some real problems with the Nvidia. My Nexus 9 seems to need to be rebooted every day to clear up whatever memory jankyness is going on. Spontaneous freezes, reboots, and general weirdness remain despite Android 5.1.1 that Google claims fixes these problems. #

One of the fundamental differences between tablet and smartphone operating systems and desktop operating systems is reliability. We expect the OS on our smart devices to just run non-stop for days if not weeks with no problems, while we accept having to reboot desktop OSes daily. #

Android's quality seems to be increasingly worse with each new release, and nobody seems to be writing much about the issue. Does Android's UI impede productivity and therefore doom the Pixel C to failure? Perhaps. Does a buggy Android that locks up unexpectedly, slows down or spontaneously reboots doom the Pixel C? Definitely. #

© 2015 Frank McPherson.
Last update: Fri, Oct 30, 2015 at 1:32 PM.
Still diggin!