The Galaxy Nexus and Android 4.0: A Short Comment

Early today, at 9:00 am Hongkong time, the postponed Launch of the Samsung made Google Galaxy Nexus superphone, which is a awesome flagship device for the Android platform, featuring a 4.65 inch curved touchscreen which offers you an amazing real 720p resolution (not much less than the resolution your cheap 15.6” notebook offers). Inside, there is a TI OMAP 4460 dual core chip running at 1.2 GHz powering the slab device to likely pretty amazing speeds – on the outside, there are no more capacitive buttons, strongly reminding of the Homeycomb tablets out there.

The real innovation IMHO happened on the software side of things. Android 4.0 apparently solves at least some of the usability issues that have been annoying me for a while, to just mention one thing: multitasking seems to be hugely improved.

You may argue that Googles designers mostly just ripped of webOS and Nokia’s Swipe UI, and in some certain ways, there are certain resemblances of what we’ve seen on the aforementioned platforms before, but all together, Google reiterated on that, and while they brought in gestures, they did it in a way that really fits into what Android has been like before in order not to scare away existing Android users.

Well, maybe it’s not all that overwhelming as I think now, writing this article during my lunch break after having had a look at’s coverage of this event – so you better have a look at what these people wrote, photographed and filmed for us all, before I am going to extend this article in the evening (European time).


HP kills “Palm” brand, presents S, M, L sized webOS 2.0 devices

HP held a great announcement event yesterday, which was all about webOS, the mobile OS running atop a linux kernel, which I find quite likable, even though parts of it aren’t open source. The UX is just great, webOS offers the user true multi tasking – it’s not only the cpu which runs multiple processes or tasks, webOS offers a great way to switch tasks really simple and fast – Android really can’t compete on that front, and iOS either.

Let’s start with the smallest newcomer (and thus Pixi (Plus) successor), the HP Veer, which, while still featuring the same 2.6” 320×400 screen now looks like a down-sized Pre, making it form factor wise a 15mm thick credit card. Most importantly the internals have been bumped up – while storage is still the same as with the Pixi Plus before, HP cramped some more horsepower into the little thing, making it a real smartphone: The SoC bump (QC MSM 7230 vs. QC MSM 7225) doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a real 800MHz second generation Snapdragon with Adreno 205 graphics and thus a huge improvement, RAM is said to be similar to the Pre2 – it should be around 512 MB which should be enough for serious multitasking – if only your hands are small enough to feel comfortable with this 5MP camera ;-).

Moving on to M size, aka Pre3, which will be available in an EVDO/CDMA flavour (Veer HS(D)PA/GSM only).
As the M indicates, this thing is bigger, and it is bigger than the earlier Pre devices, as the 3.6” sized WVGA (as opposed to 3.1” HVGA before) indicates. Looking at the internals, RAM is said to remain about the same – but it’s now a Snapdragon inside (before TI OMAP 3 3430/3630) – the model number is 8655 (EVDO/CDMA) respectively 8255 (HSPA/GSM) here – and that means 2nd gen Snapdragon here, too – but this time clocked at 1.4GHz. The camera remains at 5MP, but gains autofocus and HD Video recording – and there will be a secondary, front facing camera for video telephony) While the Veer is said to be out in spring, the other webOS 2.2 running portrait slider, the Pre3, will be out in summer – which makes sense, as the first webOS 2.0 device, the Pre2, is available in the US on Verizon from today on.

The tablet device (aka L sized according to HP (I believe it’s 9.7” screen makes this rather XL or even XXL) is much like the iPad – with better specs: about a gigabyte of Ram, a dual core Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU sounds like quite some horsepower, and it’s got some more fascinating features like a camera – the screen is just plain XGA (if iPad2 will have the rumored 2048×1536 pixel “Retina” screen, this will .um.. suck – as both will be out in summer). The name is pretty generic, it’s Touchpad, overall this is a tablet running webOS in its third mayor iteration (no gesture area, btw), which might turn out nice if HP manages to communicate the advantage of their solution – I will just mention the great synchronization with webOS phones here (I am typing this on my G1 and don’ t feel like looking up buzzwords).

All devices feature the same design language which surfaced first with the Pixi and its flat surface and was since refined with the Pre2. And there is on point, that I do not like too much about all of them, and which is really bad on the Pre3 and the Touchpad, considering that these are HPs top notch products: Storage. 8 GB or 16GB on the Pre3, which most likely doesn’t, just like its predecessors, feature a microSD slot really sounds like a bad joke – 16GB / 32 GB would have been much more adequate. It’s the same for the Touchpad, 32GB/64GB would have been appreciated. Please HP, if possible, fix this before you really ramp up production.

Having mentioned that HP plans to bring webOS to PCs, too (As a layer on top of Windows? As an Instant On System? They didn’t say.), these are some nice new things, and HP really seems to be devoted to push webOS – which is great, if only they keep the platform as slick as it is and don’t mess it up.

And guess what: They kinda mess it up: J. Rubinstein stated that the promised webOS 2.0 update for legacy webOS devices won’t happen – the community seems to be upset. HP says that it the Hardware wasn’t good enough to run webOS – while the webOS 2.0 might really stink on a Pixi, it most certainly wouldn’t on a Pre Plus. Probably this is the time to port Android to the Pre(+)… it should run just fine.

On Tablets – or the DA

While I have been focussing on mobile, exspecially pocketable computing during the last years, watching what was happening in the wide range from smartphones to subnotebooks, i almost ignored tablets.
Lately tablets have become popular again, at least I feel like that. While TabletPCs only attracted a few and convertibles always were to bulky or expensive in comparison to classical laptops for the most of us, we are facing an armada of new tablets. Ok, most of them are rumors, and others won´ t make it to market – but some will; Apple is said to work on a tablet device, Microsoft might be, many MIDs are using a small tablet like form factor, PixelQi stated that they work on a tablet as well. And I have to mention the CrunchPAD.

Time for my personal tablet vision!

As always, what I will try to point out is inspired by my personal needs. And my personal needs are inspired by what I do. So what do I do? I listen to lots of lectures at university, taking notes on blank or dotted paper. Lots of notes. About 50 – 100 pages a week or so. As you may imagine piles of paper clutter my room. And to be frank: I hate that.

I have been trying many things during the last years, like doing my writings on a netbook or using my cellphones microphone to record the lectures. In fact, I got back to paper, as it works best for me – it is just more convenient to draw and underline important things, to make annotations…

But then there are these piles of paper, again. I learned how to order them, but it takes time, lots of time. And time is money.

Tablets. Most of them seem to be aimed at internet use, and yes, unless you want to write texts and just like to surf around, they may be quite handy at that task – but rethink: Tablets are relatively thin. There are such things as digitizers. Wouldn´ t a tablet and a digitizer make a nice pen and paper replacement? I suppose so.

Hardware. Well, tablets like I would like to see them, don´ t have to be more performant than your workstation is. Of course not – something between the application performance of a high end smarthone and a CULV powered subnotebook should be just fine (sounds like ARM Cortex A8..) ; battery life (preferably all day (8 hours +))and size (thickness (not more than 2 centimeters) is more important than performance on these. Screen. Well, I always liked the OLPCs screen technology, and as PixelQi even managed to improve that, this would be the favourite choice. Touch, of course. Preferably multi touch. And a digitizer, to have a pen.
Screen size? Well, i am not sure – something between 7 (nice to carry) and 12 inch (more size for drawings). And the rest? Wireless connectivity is a must, USB (OTG) always nice, (µ)SD great for storage, a microphone, loudspeaker, integrated microphone/headphone jack, a video port for presentations.

Software. I don´ t really care about the software (though i prefer free software), as long as there is a mode to use it as pen and paper as easy and distraction free as possible.
Then, of course, this “paper mode” should have features like handwriting recognition – well, this sentence is about to become too long, so I´ ll try to list things up:
– archive, calendar-sensitive (e.g. attribute the note to a certain meeting)
– tagging by underlining
– ablility to show pdf (or other docs in the “background” (annotation mode)
Of course there are other nice to haves I would like to see, e.g. Text To Speech and Voice Recognition – to make the lack of a keyboard less of a problem, to make this device a real productive one. Collaboration features, of course…

That´ s why I would call it DA (Digital Assistant) ;)

BTW: There is one product announced today that at least comes close (speaking of hardware), a 10.4” tablet by MOTO.