Yahoo among bidders for Hulu, as report says employees head for exits http://www.theverge.com/2013/5/24/4363204/yahoo-among-bidders-for-hulu-as-reports-say-employees-heading-for
By now you have probably heard that Google has pulled the plug on Google Reader. As a devoted Googleite I obviously found this news disconcerting and The Verge and Bloomberg Businessweek both have good articles discussing why this is a big deal.
The Bloomberg Businessweek article dances around a far bigger issue than the mere death of an RSS reader. As noted in The Verge article, Google Reader was not an elegant RSS solution. The real value in Google Reader was serving as the hub of the RSS App universe. There are currently plenty of passable alternatives to Google Reader and there will surely be newcomers tossing their hat in the ring to replace Google Reader. In short, we’ll get over the loss of Google Reader and a suitable replacement will emerge.
The bigger issue for me, as a power Google user, is the scaling down of services offered by Google. Part of the reason why I am such a devoted Google user is due to the synergy and ubiquity of its products. I like that I can log into my Android phone and all of my “stuff” is immediately accessible. Google Products may not always offer the prettiest user experience or the most elegant solutions, but I like having everything in one place, ruled by one account. I also like that by providing access to this account, it gives me immediate access to many apps without having to spend too long setting them up.
So the concern, for me, is what’s next? What will be the next product that Google kills? Some may say that I am being dramatic, but Google now has a history of killing off products. In the past, it had been fringey products like Wave or Buzz or superfluous products like Notebook. But killing Google Reader is a much bigger deal.
A couple of years ago, Google had me excited to work off of the cloud. Visions of Chromebooks were dancing in my head. However, with the death of Google Reader, for the first time I find myself questioning how much I should trust Google with all of my “stuff.” For the first time my trust and faith in Google has been shaken, and that is something that should concern Google.
So we finally got a chance to see the long awaited Firefox OS debuted and the results are meh. As the linked to Verge piece hints, this wasn’t unexpected.
Initial reviews aside, I’m more interested in the ideas raised in Ina Fried’s post at AllThingsD:
First off, carriers love anything that threatens to lessen the power of Apple and Android. It’s why they always express hope and optimism for any new release of Windows or BlackBerry and have for years.
“Duopolies are not beneficial for any industry,” Telefonica CEO Cesar Alierta said onstage at Mozilla’s press conference on Sunday.
Before I continue, I cannot help but post this gem, which puts forth the same point, albeit hilariously:
“I think there is room for all of them,” Bernabè said in a brief interview at the Mozilla event. “The only thing we don’t want is to have two monopolies (emphasis mine) dominating the market.”
I am absolutely on board with this. I always root for Windows, Blackberry, (Palm), and now Firefox, because I think competition is great for consumers. It means competitive pricing and better products. With the rise of the app, we don’t have to worry as much about ecosystem choice; apps like WhatsApp, or even WordsWithFriends, will be able to work cross platform. So yes, let’s hope the upstarts can carve out some market share to keep pushing Apple and Android, or better yet, innovate up to, and beyond, that level.
However, something jumped out at me that didn’t strike me as a great thing:
Secondly, Firefox is open. Carriers can do whatever they want, from running their own apps and services to branding and anything else.
Ugh. I hate letting carriers do whatever they want. I don’t think I have ever found a carrier app/service or piece of crap bloatware app useful. This is actually the reason why carriers love anything that threatens Apple or Android: it’s because carriers can’t control these two behemoths (moreso when it comes to Apple) and carriers hate not being in control. Diluting the two giants of the mobile industry’s power among Windows, Blackberry, and Firefox would present an opportunity for the carriers to seize back some control.
I wish I could say that I’m hopeful that carriers (and OEMs) learn to get out of the way and just let the software providers put out killer OS’s. Unfortunately, this has not been the case. Although, the tablet market may provide a glimmer of hope.
Again, I think of the way my nephew uses the computer. He wants to use a computer to do something, whether it’s look at pictures of animals (he’s a fan of rhinos and dogs) or watch videos on YouTube. And while he’s doing those things he’s poking the screen, expecting an image to expand or a video to stop or start upon meeting his fingertip. This is the way he interacts with almost every other screen he’s come across, and so he carries the expectation to the ‘puter.
So much to like about Nathaniel Mott’s post at Pando Daily. I love his anecdote of his 3 year old nephew playing with the new Chromebook Pixel, and what I love even more is his point about how huge advancements in tech have previously been mocked.
I think it’s an inevitability that laptops are headed towards a hybrid touch-keyboard experience. I don’t know if the path to all touch will happen within this, or even the next, generation; I’m just way more productive on a laptop. But again, that’s me being confined by my own experiences to date. Future generations won’t be weaned on the same tech as me.
There will be innovation. We likely won’t see it coming. We will likely snark on it.
In this photo series of models and their mothers, photographer Howard Schatz captures the origins of beauty and how certain features translate between generations.
(via NYTimes Facebook Page)
Fun breakdown by Tim Bray, who uses his own criteria for recommending in which ecosystem to plant your flag if you’re upgrading to a smartphone.
The One is a top-notch, beautifully designed handset packed with the best specs and a ton of compelling features. It also runs a unique, fresh take on Google’s Android operating system. And it’s available in exactly the same configuration across the three major U.S. carriers. This is the phone that could close the gap between HTC’s flagship and those from Apple and Samsung.
I don’t see it mentioned in the review, but based on the photo, it looks like the display is full bleed, which is pretty cool for a smartphone, if that is in fact the case. I’m a bit HTC averse because I own the Thunderbolt, which, while somewhat overly maligned, is nevertheless, a disappointment. HTC would really have to have something special for me to give them another chance and not purchase a Samsung or whoever releases the next Nexus phone.
I did, however, find this to be pretty cool:
The touchscreen dominates the front of the One, with aluminum capping each end. Rows of pinholes are machined into each strip of aluminum, serving as pathways for sound coming from a set of dual front-facing speakers. Every phone speaker we’ve ever heard has sounded like hell. While the One won’t replace your Jambox or Pill anytime soon, its onboard speakers sound immensely better than anything we’ve heard from a phone.
The dual front-facing speakers idea is pretty brilliant from a design perspective. The review doesn’t indicate sound quality being that much better, but this seems to, at the least, be a notable evolutionary idea for smartphones.
As you’re swiping across your phone’s display, SwiftKey guesses what you’re typing. Those guesses change as you type more letters; when you see the word you want, just lift your finger. Or, keep swiping the letters of that word and then swipe down to the spacebar for a space, then start a new word — SwiftKey calls this feature Flow. If you’re not into gesture typing, simply type as normal. The app still throws out predictions.
I’ve used SwiftKey for about a year now and it is awesome. It really makes typing on a touchscreen much faster and more enjoyable. I recently had the update pushed to my phone, but I declined to switch to the new swiping keyboard because I wasn’t sure how great it would work, plus I am very happy with the way their traditional keyboard works. But now that I know you can still type as normal on Flow, I think I may give it a whirl. I’ll post my thoughts after a few days of testing it.