DroidCon London 2014

This week I attended DroidCon London 2014 conference representing my employer, Skyscanner.
The event was extremely informative and entertaining. Day 1 was mostly BarCamp format. Later in the afternoon there was a DemoCamp event where I demoed the Skyscanner Hotels app for Android on stage and then the closing talk in the auditorium was delivered by Chet Haase of Google.

Day 2 was opened by Chet Haase who showcased what is new in Android 5.0 Lollipop, and then a series of more structured and formal talks.
My key takeaways from the conference can be summarised here:
  • Intel are throwing a the kitchen sink at Android and working very closely with Google and OEMs. Devices running on Intel should get prompt updates to new versions of Android as Intel will be updating drivers within 30 days of Google releasing the OS source code. 
  • Companies large and small throughout Europe are conceptualising and developing apps and services and ensuring their presence on the Android platform is significant.
  • Testing and test methodologies, particularly with regards to automation, are of great interest and concern to the Android developer community.
  • Android 5.0 Lollipop is going to sweep through the world like wildfire and Material Design, Google's new design language, is going to be adopted widely even on older (4.0.+) versions of the OS.
I really enjoyed my time at DroidCon London 2014, and interacted with some of the top people involved in the mobile industry. Thanks to everyone who participated and organised, it was an extremely enjoyable experience. I hope to attend again next year.

OnePlus One

Today my OnePlus One arrived. The expectation was enormous, and it hasn't disappointed me.
My OnePlus One (CM11 Flux Theme)
The OnePlus One unboxing was fun and showed how much design went into the packaging (unlike the Samsung Galaxy S5 one). The overall feel of the device, with its sandstone texture is lovely. The multiple OTA update experience was less pleasant, but the final result I am happy with.
I think I'll keep the CyanogenMod 11S ROM on it for now with the Flux Theme applied. I hope to get the AOSP ROM on it at some point to see how it fares compared to my Nexus 5.
My OnePlus One with its lovely black sandstone finish.
I don't currently have any invites to give out, but I'll be happy to share when I do.
Feel free to leave comments and/or questions, I'll be happy to answer any questions you may have in the Google Plus comments.

Motorola Moto E

This is my personal review of the Motorola Moto E, the budget Android smartphone which is taking the world by storm at the moment.
For those of you who follow me on Twitter and Google Plus, from November 2013 until April 2014 will have been a bit of a Blur of the hashtag #MotoG (Android skin pun intended). I really liked the device and used it as my main smartphone, flanked by the Nexus 5 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. When my Samsung S5 came along, I passed the Moto G on to a friend who was in need of a basic smartphone and who is now delighted with it and living the Android dream.
Over the last six months at least a dozen of my friends and relatives have been advised by me to get a Moto G (and they did). The Moto G is great device which packs an impressive amount of bang per monetary unit. With the Moto E Motorola are looking to wrap up the budget segment of the smartphone market using a similar recipe to the one which made the Moto G a success.
The Moto E is currently Motorola's budget handset offering, sitting below the Moto G in Lenovorola's product portfolio. For £80 (~$125) you get what would have been a 3G flagship specs a few years ago:
  • 4.3" qHD 540x960 display
  • Dual-core Snapdragon processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 5 megapixel camera (with no flash)
  • 4GB built in storage (expandable with up to 32GB MicroSD)
  • Android 4.4.2, with guaranteed timely upgrade to the next major release of Android
Value for money, the Moto E delivers an excellent proposition: good performance, almost on a par with current flagship devices like the Samsung S5, for a fraction of the price. I must say, in some situations I think it actually outperforms many of the market heavy hitters. As a bonus, you get a smartphone which is also splash and dust resistant which can be particularly useful in Scotland.

The Moto E runs an almost stock version of Android 4.4.2 KitKat at the moment, with very few very minor extras which are unobtrusive and actually useful (like Motorola Assist). In my day to day use, I haven't suffered from any issues with the software or apps I usually use. If anything the stock Android experience makes me more likely to reach for the Moto E than the Samsung Galaxy S5. 
Pocket Casts, Google Play Music All Access, Audible, Gmail, Twitter, Google Plus and Hangouts are the apps I use the most and the Moto E runs them flawlessly. As long as you remember to change the settings in the media heavy apps to use the MicroSD there seem to be no storage issues either.
The Moto E has a 4.3" qHD (540x960) screen which is bright and clear. Use in direct sunlight, although not really an issue here in Scotland, is excellent. The auto brightness settings haven't created any annoyances for me and watching video on the screen is great.
The thing difficult to describe and that you won't see on a spec sheet is the feel of the handset in the hand. Just like the Moto G, the curved soft touch plastic back is really pleasant to hold, and sits in the hand very comfortably. This SKU of the Moto E, from Tesco Mobile, comes with an extra red shell in the box. Accessorising has never been easier!
The 5 megapixel camera on the back of the Moto E was a huge let down. No flash, slow and sometimes unresponsive I didn't like it. There is another disappointment in the camera department too: no front facing camera means making Google Hangouts or Skype calls with face to face video is impossible. I suppose some trade off had to be made to bring down the price of what is a great handset overall for the price. Or was it all a cunning ploy by Motorola to try and curb the number of selfies on the internet?
Sample: weak camera doesn't perform very well
Battery life on the Moto E is great. The 1980 mAh battery lasts me more than a day in heavy use, even on days when I play Threes and Voxel Rush a lot. If I used the phone less, it would probably quite happily last a couple of days in between charges.

The Moto E is a great device, which delivers a great smartphone experience for an affordable price. The weak points are definitely the camera and the lack of a front facing camera, but in every other department the device excels within its category. Considering that the Moto E is up against the Samsung Galaxy Fame and the Nokia Lumia 520 in the same price range, I think Motorola have a clear winner in their product portfolio.

A word of warning if you are considering buying a Moto E: the standard retail box does not have a mains charger, just a micro usb cable.

Feel free to leave comments and/or questions below, thanks!

How To Have the KitKat Launcher On The Galaxy Nexus

Google have announced that the Galaxy Nexus won't be getting Android 4.4 KitKat. The teardown of the Nexus 5 factory image gives us the bits we need to have some of the KitKat tastiness on the Samsung made Galaxy Nexus. This quick tutorial gives you the new Google Play Services, Google Search, and the Google Launcher. I am not to be held responsible for any damage to your phone, you, the space-time continuum or anything else. I would like to add that I am not responsible for the lack of recent Rachel Stevens albums either.
You can have this KitKat crumb, but not the whole thing.
You will need to download and install the new Google Play Services first. You can download it from here.

Next, download and install the new Google Search (Now). It is available from here.

Finally, download and install the new Launcher. You can get that here.

Once you have done that, press the home button and then select the blue Launcher icon and select "Always".

That should be it! Enjoy the KitKat crumb while the newer Nexus devices get the full chocolatey experience.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to pop them below.

Enjoy the bigger icons and app drawer!

Archos Gamepad

I've had a soft spot for Archos since my first proper Android tablet computer, the Archos 80 G9. Since the release of that device in 2010 the market has changed drastically. Archos used to rule the sub £200 segment of the market with devices of questionable build quality and software support. Now the French company is in a very crowded market where even Google compete on price with the excellent Nexus 7 (2012) and the Nexus 7 (2013). This month I spent my pocket money on an Archos Gamepad, so lets see what £104 of your hard earned cash gets you.

Archos realise that the market segment they used to rule in Europe and the USA with their inexpensive and relatively good value for money tablets has changed and they now have to differentiate their products. With the Gamepad they have done just that by adding hardware gaming controls to a basic seven inch tablet.

The tech specs are as follows:

Display: 7" 1024x600 capacitive (5 point multitouch)
Processor: dual-core ARM Cortex A9 running at 1.6GHz
GPU: Quad Core Mali 400 MP
Storage: 8GB expandable with up to 64GB MicroSD
Camera: Front facing only
OS: Android 4.1 JellyBean with full access to Google Play Store

On paper the tech specs look good and as well as the usual Android software sets with full access to the Google Play Store Archos include their own media player software (which is excellent) and Gamepad mapping tool. The good news is that it is practically stock Android with no Archos XperiaWizSense.

The screen seems to be a standard LCD unit very similar to the one seen on other first generation Android Honeycomb (3.0) tablets or the current crop of low end Android ICS or JellyBean devices. At 1024x600 it is relatively nice and sharp but the pixel density enthusiast in me does not rejoice. Colours and brightness on the screen are passable, and there is definitely a bit of a contrast ratio issue which seems to be out of control when you change brightness levels. Viewing angles on the screen are barely acceptable, if just one person is using the device once their line of sight goes off a perpendicular trajectory to the screen things go all funky and almost flip to negative.

In terms of gaming hardware you get "Gaming Wings" on each narrow side of the device in landscape orientation. These have a analogue joysticks on each side, directional buttons, action buttons and trigger buttons (on the top edge of the device). These controls are great for gaming and can be easily customised to any game or emulator running on the Android OS. The "Gaming Wings" also house the front facing stereo speakers, which for a device in that price range are better than average.

The front facing camera does the job it has to for video calling using Google Hangouts or Skype, but the lack of camera on the back means you can't show off your foot on the bus and are mostly limited to selfies to upload to your favourite social networks. Not so good if your main occupation is uploading pictures of cats to the internet.

Android 4.1 runs the show, and keeps the Archos Gamepad mostly smooth and responsive throughout the device. I am impressed with the Archos button mapping tool. As with most other Android devices there are plenty of cool games in the Play Store, but the main reason I purchased the device was to play classic video games in an emulator. The gaming controls were the main selling point to me and I was pleasantly impressed by how the buttons were already mapped to my favourite emulator's on-screen buttons.

Playing Nintendo 64, Playstation One, [etc. etc.] games is not that straightforward, but once you get the knack and use the right emulator things get real fun. Native Android games such as my favourite, Carmageddon, are fantastic too.

Battery life is acceptable on a device of low price point but if used with full screen brightness and emulator gaming, don't expect to get more than 3 hours gaming from a charge. In "normal" tablet use, when not gaming, the Archos gamepad gets a respectable 6 hours battery life. The only problem is that it is not suited for normal tablet use in portrait mode since the "Game Wings" get in the way.

The excellent Archos Music and Archos Video apps support the majority of file types and codecs and come preinstalled on the device. I'm particularly impressed by the Archos Video application which can play back HD video streams form my UPnP server through my WiFi home network. It's a shame the low quality screen affects how you view the content. I've noticed that is quite difficult for two people to watch a video at a same time because of the poor viewing angles.

Here's my conclusion: if you can put up with the pants screen and the short battery life and want a gaming device to run emulators on as well and have expandable memory, the Archos Gamepad is the device for you. If on the other hand you want to use the device as a "normal" tablet maybe look at getting Archos' other devices which can be less expensive and offer a slightly better experience. In my dream world Google (or Archos) would release a gaming edition of the Nexus 7 (2013) with Archos' form factor and then I would be hooked.

The Archos Gamepad is available at time of posting for £104 from Tesco Direct and in larger Tesco stores. It is also available from a variety of other online and bricks and mortar retailers.

As usual, feel free to leave comments and/or questions below.

Ubuntu Edge

Yesterday Canonical, the commercial entity which backs Ubuntu, launched their Indiegogo fixed funding campaign to raise $32m for the Ubuntu Edge project.
Shiny Ubuntu/Android smartphone. Want!
The Ubuntu Edge is going to be a dual boot smartphone running my favourite OSs Ubuntu and Android, with what looks like beautiful and powerful hardware. Initial specs are of a device with 4GB RAM and a 128GB SSD. The device will be able to be connected to a keyboard/mouse/monitor and run a full desktop environment as well as deliver a powerful smartphone experience.

The Indiegogo fixed funding campaign kicked off yesterday and a day in has already passed 10% of the total goal. I dilly dallied too long and seem to have missed out on the $600 option to get the device in May of next year for a discounted price. I will be making a token $20 contribution and will wait until the device is available through traditional commercial channels to get one.
The idea of a smartphone that acts as a more traditional computer when docked is not new, Ubuntu for Android has been pushing the idea for a while now. I like the idea, almost as much as the Chromebook/Chromebox one.

The smartphone/tablet/desktop computing world is going to be very different this time next year, lets see what Google, Mozilla, Samsung as well as Canonical get up to before then.

As usual, feel free to leave comments and/or questions below.

Source:  Indiegogo

I've reached Level 4 on Ingress!

For those of you who didn't know, I've been playing Ingress for a few weeks now. Ingress is an augmented reality massively multiplayer online game for Android smartphones. Today I reached level 4!
I have chosen to side with the Enlightened faction (green) in the game and have been a bit demoralised in the past month to see the Resistance faction gain more and  more of a Mind Unit advantage over the Enlightened. Today I was doing my bit to bolster the Enlightened presence in Edinburgh, Scotland and managed to take a few portals.
Deep in Resistance territory...
To celebrate and to warm up, I'm now sitting in the Waterstones Cafe on Princes Street sipping a white hot chocolate and writing this post. While I type I'm getting GMail notifications on my Chromebook to let me know that my entities are being taken down by GelatinousBlob, I'll need to head out back into the field soon.
If you are in Edinburgh and part of the Enlightened faction feel free to message me in the faction chat and we can see if we can strategize a tactic for turning Edinburgh green.

Jelly Bean on the Huawei G300

I've had a Huawei G300 since May 2012. I've recommended the handset to friends and family because it is excellent value for money and has a pretty good spec sheet. Since mid December 2012 I have been using Dazzozo's excellent CyanogenMod 10 port as the operating system on the device. While not perfect, it has been good enough to use the G300 as my Ingress device (yes, a device just for Ingress).

This morning I installed the January 14th update for CM10 by Dazzozo and was surprised by how much smoother and more responsive the G300 now is. In just one month there seems to have been a massive improvement. The MoDaCo community has come up with a masterpiece again.

If you have a Huawei G300 and want to take Jelly Bean for a spin, I recommend using this ROM. Thanks to Dazzozo and everyone involved in the development of this CyanogenMod ROM. Check it out here.

Google Background Images Are Going Away

I'm saddened to find out that Google Background Images is being killed. One of my favourite features of Google is that I can set the background image to my homepage. This helps me know which GMail or Google Apps account I'm signed into.
My current Google homepage with Wobbles on it.
Oh well, I wonder what Google have planned for the homepage if Background Images is being killed. Maybe a homepage like Yahoo's?
The popup announcement.
Here is a quote of the announcement:
Background images are going away on November 16, 2012
Thank you for using background images. As we build a more streamlined Google Search page for everyone, we’ll no longer be able to support customization with background images. So you will no longer be able to see your background pictures starting November 16, 2012.
Click Remove to stop using a background image now. Your current background image and Picasa web albums will still be available to you.
I'll miss seeing Wobbles (@fatoldgingercat) on my Google homepage. Oh well, I hope something good  is in store for us...

Android 4.1.2

Over the last week I have updated both my Nexus 7 and my Galaxy Nexus to Android 4.1.2 (Jelly Bean).
Landscape mode on the Android 4.1.2 Nexus 7
Both on the Nexus 7 and on the Galaxy Nexus I have noticed improvements on screen responsiveness, fluidity of UI animations and a slightly faster performance when dealing with location based services.
On the Nexus 7, there is a new landscape mode for the homescreen, which makes things easier when the tablet is in a case in landscape mode.

It will be interesting to see how things change when Google announce Android 4.2 (Key Lime Pie). Maybe they will do it on Monday 29th October...

Nexus 7 Review: No More Manbags

It has been two weeks since I took delivery of my Nexus 7 tablet, so I now give you my review of the device.
My Nexus 7 with my Galaxy Nexus
Before I start, here's the background that influences my subjective view of Google's Jelly Bean running 7" tablet: I'm an Android fanboy and have been since 2007. I love tinkering with Android devices, much in the same way as I do with Linux on laptops, netbooks, nettops and desktops. My main device is a Galaxy Nexus, which has a pure Google Android experience, and no custom ROM. Since October last year I have also been using an Android tablet, an Archos 80 G9. While not as shiny as other tablets at the time, price and specifications were the main reason I chose the 80 G9. Very few customisations by Archos on Honeycomb meant that the 80 G9 had as close to a pure Android experience as possible, and that also made it fast for Archos to push the Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) update.

While a hardcore Android/Linux nerd, I'm also a bit of a closet Windows Phone user. I enjoy Metro UI and like the service tie ins with Xbox Live. The Nokia Lumia 710 I'm using is a good piece of hardware, and just like my Android devices has replaceable batteries (unlike the Lumia 800). Windows Phone is different from Android, and I can see how it is less suited to the tinkerer than any Android phone, but is a very pleasant smartphone experience. I have to admit, at the moment I'm a bit of a BiOS smartphone user. (Just to make it clear, I don't partake in any of the Apple iOS tomfoolery, that's just not to my liking.)

So, back to the Nexus 7 review. After Google IO (end of June), I placed a pre-order for the Nexus 7 (the 16GB model priced at £199 in the UK) on the website. At the time I had to choose between the direct Google channel and third party retailers. I ended up choosing, because of their excellent service in the past. was also a reasonable choice because they have had a good relationship with ASUS for years (ASUS is the company that manufactures the Nexus 7). As a result, on the morning of Friday 13th 2012, I had a knock on the door from Parcelforce and came into posession of a Google Nexus 7 tablet. (It was a lucky date for me!)

For those of you just wanting to get the specifications and then jump to the conclusion, here are the specs:

7” 1280x800 HD display (216 ppi)
Back-lit IPS display
Scratch-resistant Corning glass
1.2MP front-facing camera

198.5 x 120 x 10.45mm
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
8 GB internal storage (actual formatted capacity will be less)
Micro USB
4325 mAh (Up to 8 hours of active use)
Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean)
Quad-core Tegra 3 processor
NFC (Android Beam)

The Nexus 7 is a 7" Nexus tablet running Jelly Bean (Android 4.1). A Nexus device is made by a third party manufacturer (in this case ASUS) for Google, who have close input on device design and specifications. Google use Nexus devices to showcase/ship the latest version of Android and also jolt the rest of the market into upping their game.
My Archos 80 G9 next to my Nexus 7
The 7" form factor may seem strange to those who are used to larger tablets but after using it for a while I understood that it made more sense. The Nexus 7 is well built and feels solid to hold, and the rubbery back makes it feel less likely to slip out of your hand than other similar devices. I love the fact that it fits perfectly in a jacket pocket, eliminating the need for a man bag for me. The Archos 80 G9 has an 8" 4:3 screen, so won't fit into the same pocket. Another advantage of the 7" form factor is that when typing holding the Nexus 7 in portrait orientation, two thumb typing is pleasantly simple.
No more man bag for me
The screen is an LCD IPS backlit one, this means that it has in plane switching technology, which gives you great viewing angles. Colours on the screen are good and the high number of dots per inch (216) means images on the screen are nice and crisp. While not the best LCD display I've seen, in a sub £200 device it is phenomenal.
A phenomenal screen for a sub £200 device.
The Nexus 7 has a front facing 1.2 MP camera, which is great for videocalling. I've used it with both Google talk and Skype and the only complaints about image quality were probably due to a slow internet connection. Again, the 7" form factor of the Nexus 7 is great for long video calls. Whereas with larger/heavier tablet computers hands/arms get tired after a while, with the Nexus 7 I haven't had this issue, and I do tend to do a lot of video calls on it. Unlike other tablets on the market at the moment, the Nexus 7 doesn't have a camera on the rear, so you won't lose any street-cred using it to take pictures at parties. There is actually no software on the stock Android Jelly Bean shipped with the Nexus 7 to use the camera as a camera. Thankfully Paul O'Brien from has a solution for this if you really want that feature.
Jelly Bean, Android 4.1, is the operating system running on the Nexus 7. Coupled with Nvidia's Tegra 3 chipset and 12 core GPU the device is buttery to use. Google had people working on the UI smoothness and responsiveness and the differences from ICS (4.0), while not immediately apparent, are enormous. The user interface paradigm remains the same as on Ice Cream Sandwich, with a few subtle improvements such as icon and widget automatic rearrangement. The notification system has been augmented from ICS and made more expansive with snapshots and previews. I like this notification system improvement, especially because it includes Google Now notifications.

Google Now is a new way for interacting with Google services. A sort of predictive search, it presents you with information before you start searching for it. When I'm at work for example, Google Now will give me bus timetables and an estimated time for me travelling home, and a weather forecast. Presented as cards, the Google Now screen can be pulled up as an offscreen gesture swiping upwards from the bottom. This is a very WebOS like gesture, I wonder how much of Matias Duarte's input there was for this... You can find out  more about Google Now here.
The Nexus 7 is an NFC device, which means that it can be used to share/use information shared via near field communication technology. Often if I get an email recommending a Youtube video, and I just tap my phone with the open link to my Nexus 7 and boom, the video opens up on my Nexus 7. Lovely but limited feature at the moment, as time goes by it will be a standard on many devices.

On the Nexus 7 you have access to the Play Store. Any applications/services you have purchased from the Play Store previously are available to you on the Nexus 7, provided the application/service is compatible. Most of my favourite apps work just fine on the Nexus 7, but some don't. Flickr for example does not work on the Nexus 7 yet, but I'm sure it's just a question of time before it does. Google state that for a limited time Nexus 7 buyers get £15 of Play Store credit. £15 credit with the £159 (8GB) and £199 (16GB) price tags just makes the value proposition of the Nexus 7 go up.
The Nexus 7 has WiFi, Bluetooth and NFC connectivity. There is no 3G (cellular) option, but tethering to a smartphone is easy peasy. I tether with both my Galaxy Nexus and Nokia Lumia 710 without problem.

Battery life on the Nexus 7 is excellent. I've used my device regularly both at home and at work and never had a problem with the battery running low. I usually charge the Nexus 7 overnight if needed, but usually it lasts me at least a couple of days. The Nexus 7 has a beefed up USB charger which juices up the device through the MicroUSB port. Sadly some existing MicroUSB chargers for phones and/or Kindles do not work with the Nexus 7.

OK, for those of you who skipped to the conclusion from the specifications, you can start reading again.
Overall the Nexus 7 is a fantastic device. Form factor and excellent operating system make it a delight to use. Google's services run impeccably on the device, as you would expect them to. For under £200 there isn't anything on the market that can offer you as good value for money, and the £15 Google Play Store credit is just the cherry on the icing. I love my Nexus 7, and know it will be an amazing success for Google, ASUS and the retailers selling the device.

As usual, feel free to leave comments and/or questions below. Bear in mind this review is my personal view on the Nexus 7 and that as I stated at the beginning I'm pretty biased because I'm an android fanboy.

Picnik Shutdown Getting Closer

The announced shutdown of Picnik, scheduled for April 19th 2012 is getting closer. Picnik is/was an online photo editing and publishing tool. Usable through a browser, Picnik had both a free and a premium paid for offering. In 2010 Picnik became part of Google.

This morning I received an email from Picnik reminding me of the imminent shutdown date and giving me advice on how to export my images and content.

Here's the message:
Important Picnik Announcement 

As we announced earlier this year, we will be closing Picnik on April 19th, 2012, and we want to make sure you have the information and support you need.
For more details on our shut down, or recommended alternatives to Picnik, please see answers to frequently asked questions.
Refund update for Picnik Premium
We have submitted all refunds for processing. For the few who have not received their refund, please do the following:
  • Confirm you have not mistaken your refund for a new Picnik charge
  • Contact the original financial institution you used to purchase your Picnik Premium membership to confirm they have received the refund notification
  • If these steps don't resolve your issue, contact us by logging into your account and clicking Help.  Please contact us prior to our April 19th closure.
Picnik Premium
Picnik Premium will continue to be free for everyone until our closing date. So please keep creating!
Grabbing your photos
If you would like to remove your images from Picnik, please use Picnik Takeout to easily download your photos to your desktop in convenient zip files. You may request downloads as many times as you like until our closing date of April 19, 2012. If you choose to zip up now, you can still use Picnik and remove any new edits though April 19th. Make sure you can open your downloaded zip files. If you have any problems, please contact
Thank you,
Team Picnik
The Picnik website also doesn't let you miss the fact that the service is shutting down soon. Here's how it looks:
Difficult to not get the message.
I had used Picnik for a while after discovering the service on the Chrome Web Store. Nowadays many of the features in Picnik are offered as part of the photo service Picasa/Google Plus Photos. Hopefully all the rest of the features will be rolled over, then it will make sense to kill off the extra (little known by the general public) brand.

As usual, fell free to leave comments and/or questions below.

Farewell Google Wave!

This morning I received a sad email from Google which outlined the closure dates for Google Wave.

Waves will all be switched to read-only on January 31st 2012. Wave services from Google will be switched off on April 30th 2012.

Here's the complete email I received:

Dear Wavers,
More than a year ago, we announced that Google Wave would no longer be developed as a separate product. At the time, we committed to maintaining the site at least through to the end of 2010. Today, we are sharing the specific dates for ending this maintenance period and shutting down Wave. As of January 31, 2012, all waves will be read-only, and the Wave service will be turned off on April 30, 2012. You will be able to continue exporting individual waves using the existing PDF export feature until the Google Wave service is turned off. We encourage you to export any important data before April 30, 2012.
If you would like to continue using Wave, there are a number of open source projects, including Apache Wave. There is also an open source project calledWalkaround that includes an experimental feature that lets you import all your Waves from Google. This feature will also work until the Wave service is turned off on April 30, 2012.
For more details, please see our help center.
Yours sincerely,
The Wave Team
It is sad for me to see the service Wave off into the sunset (pun intended). I'm sure Gina Trapani, author of the now freely available book The Complete Guide To Google Wave, has already come to terms with this.

Farewell Google Wave, best of luck in your new incarnation as Apache Wave.

You can still read Gina Trapani and Adam Pash's The Complete Guide To Google Wave here.

As usual, feel free to leave comments and/or questions below.

Google Music! Indies Rejoice!

Today Google held their November 16th Event in LA. It was all about Music and I'll try and summarise what was announced.

Google Music, the cloud storage and playback service for... wait for it: is now open to all in the USA and free to its users. There is a new Android application which ties into the Android market and allows easy shopping and purchasing of tracks. Once a music track has been purchased it is available to stream, play and store on Android devices, and also to be streamed through a web browser. (there is an up to limit of 20000 tracks) There is also the option to share your music with friends on Google Plus.
I popped onto my Google Music Beta account during the announcement and saw a few changes. Firstly the main logo has changed from "Google Music Beta" to "Google Music". Secondly in the top right hand corner there is a new "SHOP" button. The "SHOP" button leads to a dead link. (This may be because I am accessing Google Music from the UK, where the service is not officially supported)
The other big news for the whole music industry is what Google Music offers to independent artists. As well as launching with content form Universal, EMI, Sony Music, and many independent labels, Google offers a direct distribution platform to artists. Independent artists therefore have direct access to audience therough the Artist Hub. Jump for it young unsigned musicians!

Indies, rejoice!

As usual, feel free to leave comments and/or questions below!

Ice Cream Sandwich Released [:-)], MoDaCo Down [:-(]!

As reported on The Verge, the Android Open Source code to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich has been released! This means that anyone can start playing about with the open source code and using it in custom ROMs and ripping out some of the Ice Cream Sandwich goodness, if they wish to...
Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich Has Been Released!

My first reaction when reading the news was "Quick! I need to get over to and see if any of the clever people have ported Android 4.0 to the ZTE Skate/Orange Monte Carlo/BAP!". Sadly at the time of posting is down. Hopefully it will be back up soon and porting will be underway.
MoDaCo Down! :-(
On Twitter I noticed a couple of interesting tweets from CyanogenMod, the leader/bacon lover of CyanogenMod fame: the first tweet reads as follows: "..and we're off. check back in 2 months :) #cm9 #ics" This means that the CyanogenMod community has already started working on CyanogenMod version 9 based on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. They may have it ready in a couple of months. Why not check the ETA with them... (that's just a joke. The first rule of CyanogenMod is to never ask for ETAs).

The second tweet "We're still going to get CM7.2 out the door while CM9 is being worked on." means that the  current version of CyanogenMod is not deprecated, there will still be one last hurrah for the Android 2.3.x Gingerbread based ROM.

[UPDATE] MoDaCo is back up and running. When I got back from work everything was where/how it was supposed to be.

As usual, feel free to leave comments and/or questions. Enjoy Android 4.0 if/when you get a taste of it!

HTC Wildfire S - Inexpensive Sense [Review]

I've been using the HTC Wildfire S as my main phone for most of the last few months. The small smartphone is HTC's follow up to the incredibly successful Wildfire, and the improvements on its predecessor are impressive. Android Gingerbread and HTC Sense are a delight in this small package.

It is difficult to review the Wildfire S and ignore its predecessor, the original Wildfire. Compared to the original HTC Wildfire, the HTC Wildfire S is smaller, has shed the optical trackball and gained a slightly faster processor, a higher resolution screen and a bit of polish. The Wildfire S feels good to hold, and I like the semi rubberised back, it gives you a sense of confidence while holding the phone.

The 5 Megapixel camera is as good as, if not better than the original Wildfire's for still images. As a former HTC Desire user it is a small step down, but in the sub £200 handset market segment I think it is second to none. On the downside the video recording is not great. Resolution of videos maxes out at 640x480 resolution, probably due to the slow chipset on the device. It would have been nice to have 720p recording.
An example of picture taken with the Wildfire S
HTC Sense on top of Android Gingerbread (2.3) maximises the possible efficiencies that can be obtained with the 600 MHz processor while still delivering plenty of HTC's eye candy UI. I hate to imagine how clunky Sense would be like on top of Android FroYo (2.2) or Eclair (2.1)... As a Vanilla Android UI user (even on the HTC Desire) HTC Sense (version 2.1 on the Wildfire S) takes a little bit of getting used to. For someone who hasn't used Android before it would be easy to get used to and simple to live with.

Battery life is pretty good with the standard battery that comes with the device. Due to the fact that I am a "Power User" of Android devices, I invested in a high capacity extra battery for the Wildfire S so that I could get through overnight trips and holidays. It is fairly easy to find reasonably priced extra batteries for less than £10 on eBay. I also picked up a cheap screen protector and gel case for less than £5.

Internal storage on the Wildfire S is fairly limited (512MB), but thanks to the version of Android it is running (2.3 Gingerbread) it is pretty easy to transfer your extra applications to the memory card (through Settings => Applications => Manage Applications). The Wildfire S also comes with a 2GB MicroSD card and will accept larger capacity ones up to 32GB.

Angry Birds (the Litmus test of smartphones nowadays...) runs smoothly and looks great on the 320x480 display. Multitouch and responsiveness are excellent.
If you like tinkering with Android smartphones and loading custom ROMs, the HTC Wildfire S may not be for you. HTC have made it incredibly difficult to root the device and change the bootloader. I hope the clever crowd at MoDaCo and XDA Developers manage to get the device rooted and get CyanogenMod running on it one day.

The Wildfire S is an exellent value for money smartphone that will no doubt be very successful. It may not be for the ROM hackers and uber geeks, but it is the sort of smartphone the average smartphone user will find simple and useful and probably get a couple of years use out of without being too frustrated.

As usual, feel free to leave comments and/or questions either here or on the MoDaCo forum here.

Three UK To Sell Galaxy Nexus

I just read on the Official Three UK Blog that 3 UK will be selling the Galaxy Nexus, the Google phone running Android Ice Cream Sandwich!
Good times! My favourite network stocking what may well be my next favourite phone!

You can read the full post here.

As usual, feel free to leave comments and/or questions below or on Three's Blog.

Android Ice Cream Sandwich [4.0]

Sticking to Google's tradition of naming versions of the Android OS after tasty desserts, Android 4.0 was officially unveiled today and it is called Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS for short).

As written on the Official Google Blog:

"With Ice Cream Sandwich, our mission was to build a mobile OS that works on both phones and tablets, and to make the power of Android enticing and intuitive. We created a new font that’s optimized for HD displays and eliminated all hardware buttons in favor of adaptable software buttons. We also dramatically improved the keyboard, made notifications more interactive and created resizable widgets."

ICS will be the default OS on the new Google Galaxy Nexus smartphone, and Google also announced that the ICS OS should run on any device that runs Gingerbread (Android 2.3). I'm looking forward to seeing what the vibrant communities at MoDaCo and XDA Developers come up with for handsets such as the HTC Desire, the ZTE Skate and the Samsung Galaxy Pro...

As usual, feel free to leave comments and/or questions below. I would also advise popping into the MoDaCo Android forums and seeing what will be brewed up in the Android kitchens there...

How I'm Transferring Music To My Honeycomb Tablet [Linux]

In Linux some devices just don't work as they are designed to on other operating systems. I experienced one of these situations last week when an Archos 80 G9 was delivered to me and I was wanting to transfer some music over to it. I could have used a network share, but I still like being able to plug things in to my ageing Linux laptop and drag and drop files over.
The Archos 80 G9

On the specifications of The Archos 80 G9, in the system requirements for Linux it mentions "MTP Tool". A quick Google search and a Wikipedia click later I had learnt that MTP stands for Media Transfer Protocol, and is an extra series of packages that allow your favourite Linux distro to recognise and read/write to external media player devices. In the Synaptic Package Manager I found a useful package called gMTP. It works great on my Lubuntu machine.
Using the application is easy peasy, it is simply a drag and drop experience. While I type this post, I'm transferring my Jennifer Paige discography over to my Honeycomb tablet in the background...
Thanks to Darran Kartaschew and all those who worked on and made gMTP available.

As usual, feel free to leave comments and/or questions below.

Social Networks Change Faster Due To Competition

Google Plus is now in Beta, which means anyone can sign up and start using Google's social network. Just go to and you should see the Doodle promoting Google Plus.
The Google doodle promoting Google Plus Beta

Once you are on Google Plus you get all the excellent features the new social network offers.
Google Plus Homepage
Facebook has just revamped and reorganised its homepage and layout. Many commentators on the interwebs claim that this is a knee-jerk reaction to Google Plus. This concept is pretty plausible and I'm inclined to go with it considering how many new "features" Facebook has rolled out since Google Plus's launch into field trial status. (excuse the pun, it was just too easy!)
The New Facebook Homepage and StatusNet have had a major upgrade since the weekend too! There were massive changes to the UI, to the APIs and social network. As well as updating your status, you can now post bookmarks, events, polls or questions. It's pretty sleek and an impressive step forward. Well done to Evan Prodromu and everyone involved in the upgrade.
The New Identica Homepage
Twitter hasn't changed much in the last few months. Twitter's users are still getting used to all the "new" fancy UI and features so it may be a while before they change anything.
Twitter's "New" Hompepage
Meanwhile more and more interweb users have never heard of or have forgotten about Myspace, Bebo and Friendster. I believe that Apple's social network is some sort of secret society that even Apple Fanboys and Fangirls have never heard of. Ping?!
Ping. It's a bit like a Secret Society.
As usual, feel free to leave comments and/or questions below. If you "liked" this blog post, why not "+1" it? (yes I do find it funny)