iPhone vs. Droid

November 24, 2009

I had an opportunity to play with the droid for a little while this weekend. Most of my observations are superficial and based on simplistic understanding of the device.

The Droid phone from Motorola is bulky. That’s understandable since it packs more battery and has a real keyboard, instead of the touch screen-based one that that the iPhone has. Unfortunately, Motorola could have done this more stylishly. The phone has a lot of sharp edges and didn’t feel gentle in my hands. It looked like a brick to me. Now I don’t mind the sharp edges. The Razor was a sharp looking phone with a lot of angular surfaces but it really looked like was something new and different. The Droid unfortunately reminds me of phones from the turn of the century.

Now as far as the software goes, I thought the UI was kind of clunky. The droid has a higher resolution screen, yet it fails to capitalize on it by using contrast and shades. In a way the UI reminded me a lot of Windows 3.1. Even the latest incarnation of Windows has adopted a color and contrast scheme that echoes OS X aesthetics. I suppose this is a reflection of Droid’s Android OS roots in Linux but even Linux has started to soften its tone.

Now lets come to the software. I’ve never been able to figure out the point of widgets on a phone. There is a limited screen space on a phone. Every app is friggin’ widget. What’s the point of an app that’s already smaller than a limited app on the phone.

The only thing that’s going for the Droid right now is its open development model and the Java programming language. The iPhone with its development tools limited to Macs only means that developers have to invest a lot more money to start developing for a iPhone. I think Droid and Android has some way to go before it can challenge the iPhone. What they probably have to do is to make sure that the Android experience does not splinter along handset manufacturing lines (like what happened to Windows Mobile) and keep  improving its looks.

A Tech Witchhunt??

February 13, 2007

First, Norway went after Apple for not allowing songs downloaded from iTunes, to be playable on the iPod only. Now, Belgium has decided that Goolge’s caching of information (that incidently is free) on the web is a violation of Belgian copyright. This is beginning to sound like a straightforward European governmental witch-hunt because they just can’t seem to make an alternative service. I used to think that the continuing European monopoly action against Microsoft was because Microsoft was guilty of monopolisitic practices, but now I suspect it was just because some beauracrat decided that lame legalism will constrain the competition.

Using Google Calculator

February 4, 2007

The largest factorial that can be caluclated using Google calculator is

170 ! = 7.25741562 × 10^306

Rich AJAX apps in Firefox 2.0 and IE7

January 13, 2007

In my opinion, I think Yahoo has so far the best email client among the three major web-based email providers (Yahoo! Mail, GMail, and Hotmail or Windows Live! Mail). The only problem that I have with that is that there is no mechanism for organizing emails as conversations (the only way of organizing mail in GMail). About Hotmail, the less said, the better. They should change their web-based user interface for Hotmail, to the one they use for Outlook, which is very, very nice.

However, I came across an interesting senario in Yahoo. If you right click on one of your mails, the browser’s context menu appears over the context menu of the email client. There is a clash between the browser’s context menu and the context menu for the AJAX application. Perhaps context menus in AJAX apps are not the right UI element. See the picture below for an example in Firefox.

Interestingly enough, this does’nt happen with IE7. See the figure below.


Safari does’nt support Yahoo’s AJAX version

New in Gmail: Delete All Spam

July 2, 2006

Gmail is rolling out a new link called “Delete all spam messages now” so you don’t have to repeatedly select all messages and delete them. Another new feature: “Empty trash”.

When Google first came out with GMail they touted their large email storage, as a reason why a typical user will never have to delete email. Today on their blog , they announced a new feature to easily delete spam and trash, by easily selecting all their emails. I guess, people do really need “delete” their email.

read more | digg story


March 27, 2006

So I decided to test drive the mapping service from Microsoft today.

The first thing I usually do is to directions for the unlikely senario that I have to drive from Miami to Seattle. The first time I tried it, I got the "server is busy. Please try again" message. That put a little damper of my opinion.

Then I decided, that I would do comparison of different routes that I take home to work. Now, most other mapping services like google's and yahoo!'s and Rand McNally's ask you for a start and end addresses, and then find "best" directions. These directions are often not the best if you have some local knowledge about shortcuts either from a person who lives there, of having been to the place, you have some vague memory of it.

Microsoft's offering on the other hand allows you to locate the locations you're interested in without specifying the address. All you have to do is point, right-click and select either "from" or "to". Now this allows a user to plan the route in stages, or if the user has some local knowledge, use it for route planning. I'm pretty sure Google, Yahoo! and RandMcNally must have thought about this, but they must have figured that most users would just want to input the start and end address and get the directions. The Microsoft user experience for me was pretty good, except for the the initial hiccup about the "server being busy…" but I dont think its going to go down well with users. At least I dont think they will use the service to its full potential.

The one other feature I was curious about was the "locate me" feature. I clicked on that, and a window opened up giving me three choices.

  • Install an ActiveX control.
  • Use an IP address
  • Cancel

I'm betting that most users are either going to skim down the text, see the cancel button and click on it, or alternatively, they're going to see ActiveX control click on the small "x" on the top-right corner. This is typical Microsoft UI.

All in all, my initial reaction is that its a great and feature-rich service. While it may win me over, I dont think it will over rank-and-file consumers, either because of the halo effect of google and yahoo! or they might not use it to its full abilities.

…I'll be writing more about this as I use the new services more.

Video Search

November 29, 2004

Interesting article on different approaches, that Microsoft, Yahoo, and Google are taking to index and search the multimedia content on the internet. I know of at least one project at Binghamton University that my adviser was working on image retrieval, but it was very hush hush, so no details were forthcoming.