Google Now, Part II

I can’t believe it was 2 whole years ago that I gave Google Now an honest try. I thought I’d try it again and see if there was any improvements to the service. So far, it doesn’t look like there were many.

What’s helpful:

  • I like getting driving directions with traffic conditions for upcoming appointments in my calendar. This of course required me to add in addresses to everything in the calendar that required traveling.
    • I do sometimes want to get somewhere a few minutes early, so this also required me to update events to build in a few minutes of slack time for a more helpful “leave by x time” prompt.
  • I like the weather reports.
  • I like the stock prices from my Google Finance portfolio.
  • The “ok Google” command to navigate somewhere is better than fumbling around.
  • I like seeing package tracking from e-mail confirmations in Gmail.

What’s ‘meh:

  • Sports scores and upcoming games.

What could be helpful, but isn’t:

  • I like that it has commute time from home to work and work to home, but  like I wrote about in the past, I rarely go straight home or to work. Rather I might drop off or pick up my son from daycare. They should have “routes” built in. Perhaps ask a question “are you going straight to work to day?” then give the travel time, etc. Otherwise let me choose a route with stops, then give the traffic details and estimated times.

What’s confusing:

  • I get what they are trying to do with “where I parked.” Perhaps it’s my behavior to make numerous stops here and there throughout a day that the pin is often time where I had parked 2-3 stops ago.

What’s bad:

  • Cuts battery life in nearly half.

What’s Useless:

  • Totally random nearby places.
    • Might be useful if on vacation or a business trip, but no thank you I don’t need to see the deli that I already know is around the corner from my house.
    • What pops up is so random too, perhaps ask me what I’m interesting in finding out about (e.g. Sushi, Indian restaurants, etc.)
  • Maybe it’s a symptom of living in a suburb, but nearby events is also a huge disappointment.
  • It could be useful for finding hidden gems I guess, but I’m getting Friday’s and Chili’s type of suggestions.

What it needs:

  1. Typical Google having more and more overlapping but not synchronized services… Google Now needs to tie together/sync/reconcile to dos and reminders from Google Tasks, Google Inbox, Google Keep. Then get those reminders into Google Now.
  2. More routes and destinations other than home and work.

Android’s backwards “ok/cancel” dialog is killing me.

Total first world problem here.

I don’t know what genius at Google decided to reverse the positive/negative dialog you get when performing actions on Android. For all 20+ years of my computer usage, the left is “yes” the right is “no.”

I can’t count how many times I accidentally uninstalled a program, deleted a file, etc. because of this idiotic change. WTF!

CHANGE IT BACK GOOGLE! The arrogance kills me.

Categorized as android

T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy S 4G Finally got Gingerbread

It’s no surprise as karma has gotten me several times following blog post from me… As it turns out Gingerbread was officially released THE SAME DAY I decided to no longer wait anymore and root my phone. Wait… Is that karma, irony, coincidence?  Whatever it is, it happened.

So I upgraded my phone to Gingerbread yesterday with my fingers crossed that the rooting wouldn’t mess up the update. It didn’t thankfully. But it did unroot the phone, which I rooted back again pretty quickly.

Nothing new really wows me. Some minor improvements here and there, but nothing major. But it’s good to have the latest (or close to latest) version of Android.

I did notice that the upgrade did remove DoubleTwist, which was the bloatware that drove me over the edge in deciding to root my phone.

Categorized as android

Finally Rooted My Phone

I finally found some time to root my phone. I’ve written about the frustration with bloatware in the past. The reason why I held out so long is because I was anticipating the Android Gingerbread upgrade. But the longer I waited, the longer it is apparent that T-Mobile/Samsung/Google wasn’t issuing the upgrade for my phone. Rooting sometimes interferes with OS upgrades… OS wise, I’m happy with my current version of Android anyway.

Anyway, it was pretty simple with SuperOneClick. No issues so far. I also got Titanium Backup and “froze” the offending bloatware. Again, so far so good. If the phone continues to  run without any hiccups, I’m going to uninstall all of the bloatware, not just freeze it. At least they are no longer running in the background and causing app default prompts anymore. I’m also going to keep an eye on performance and battery life. I’m sure there will be some improvement on both fronts.

Samsung Galaxy S 4G Review, Part III

This is follow up to Part 1, Part 2, and some venting.

It’s safe to say I’ll never buy a Samsung device ever again. I’m also never going to buy a subsidized phone from T-Mobile again. I’d rather spend the money and get a “un-handcuffed” device. I like T-Mobile’s service, but not the useless crapware they force on the phone.

I’m not sure who is to blame (Samsung or T-Mobile), but here are my frustrations with the phone:

  1. GPS isn’t accurate. It’s ok for driving navigation, but horrible for apps like CardioTrainer. I’m not alone as I read others complaining too.
  2. I hate both Samsung’s keyboard and Swype, which are both pre-installed on the phone. Why they don’t offer the default Android keyboard in addition to those is puzzling. I actually despise Samsung’s keyboard. There are so many issues to list I’m not going to bother. I had to install (and pay for!!!) another keyboard app. I would have been happy (and $1.99 richer) if they just left the damn default Android keyboard on it to begin with. Companies (Samsung or T-Mobile) who do things like this because they think they know what’s better for their customers make me sick.
  3. The bloat/crapware is on my nerves. There is one app (doubletwist) that continuously turns itself on. Welp, I can’t turn it off or uninstall it because some friggin genius at Samsung or T-Mobile forced it on the phone for me. On top of that, like I wrote before, 10% of the storage space is used up by apps I don’t want.
  4. My wife has the same phone, so it’s not isolated… We must reboot our phones occasionally after going from WiFi to network because the network doesn’t get picked back up.
  5. The battery usage report always lists only cell standby and display. It never reports any apps that may be using battery. Don’t know if this is due to meddling by Samsung or T-Mobile or a bug with Android.
  6. I hate the music player. I liked it on my G1. I think this is another area either Samsung or T-Mobile screwed with the default Android player. It also randomly pauses at times.
  7. I hate the swipe actions to answer calls or to unlock the phone.
  8. It has no LED indicator light to tell me if there are e-mails, texts, missed calls, etc. Luckily there is an app NoLED that is a decent substitute, but there should be no need.

That’s all I can think of for now. It’s enough to leave a bad taste in my mouth and to avoid Samsung and to be careful with T-Mobile crapware in the future.