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A few months ago, during the Google I/O conference, Google peeled the wrapper off their Google Music service and made it available – as a beta – for US users. At the time, Google Music was limited to uploading your music collection to the cloud, and then streaming it to other devices.

Earlier this week, the “beta” tag was removed from Google Music and the product has been expanded to include, most importantly, a Music Store and tight integration with Google+. (more…)

A recent article on described how Apple is, in a nutshell, trying to crush Google’s ever-increasing presence in the smartphone and tablet market due to Android’s huge increase in market share over the past few years. Have a read of it (after you’ve read my thoughts, of course); it makes for good reading.

However this article made me a little angry. Now before I get ranting, I am, by no stretch of the imagination, a hater of Apple products – I own a MacBook and an iPad and I love them both. However, what I am not in love with is Apple’s corporate philosophy and the way the entire company appears to be run. It seems that Apple can’t stand anything to be better than its products, and takes every step possible to stop a rival company bringing out something new and better. (more…)

You’ve probably heard by now that Adobe will no longer support Flash Player for mobile devices. (If you hadn’t, check out James Cull’s recent post for the details.)

It was only in last year’s Google I/O keynote that Vic Gundotra said Android was committed to having “the world’s most comprehensive browser”, and noted, “it turns out that, on the Internet, people use Flash“. You’ve probably seen adverts for Android handsets and tablets that mention “the full web”. Flash Player has been one of Android’s checklist selling points… but was it deserved?

I’ve been disappointed with Flash Player on mobile. It runs at a fine speed, but sites often don’t optimise for it; even when trying to watch a simple video, I’ll find that it’s jerky, or that the video can’t be made full screen, or that there’s some other problem that makes the overall experience frustrating. I won’t miss that – at least not on my handset (tablets are a different matter).

I know people have strong opinions about Flash anyway, and would like to see it die out on desktops, too; Steve Jobs’s Thoughts on Flash, with its lies and half-truths, helped to fuel that fire. HTML5 is being hailed as the One True Answer to developing browser-based apps, and it’s true that it has amazing capabilities, and will soon be able to do everything that we currently use Flash for.

But Flash isn’t just a tool for streaming videos and the reason for countless annoying banner ads: Flash does what HTML can do, before HTML can do it. YouTube exists because Flash Player allowed cross-browser streaming video, and it’s only now, six years later, that plugin-free HTML is reaching the same capabilities. In the mean time, Flash has moved on, now focusing on 3D and games, and we’ll have to wait a while longer for HTML to catch up.

So, like I said, for practical purposes I won’t miss Flash Player on my handset. But looking at the broader picture, I feel it’s a great shame that we’ll be restricted to HTML alone on our mobiles and tablets.

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As Android is doing so well, I thought it was time to put a spanner in the works.

You see, yesterday I was thinking about my phone: an HTC Desire, rooted and running Cyanogenmod 7.1., set up exactly how I like it. With a beautiful wallpaper, and the shortcuts I use most often all on one homescreen, I’ve tweaked my phone down to the minutest detail. But for what benefit? Sure I love doing it, but is it necessary? (more…)

November 9th was a difficult day for Android users round the world. Adobe announced, in a major turn of events, that they will no longer be developing Flash Player for the Android and Blackberry mobile platforms, instead concentrating on alternative media technology such as HTML 5. Android users had to slink away with their tails between their legs, mainly from the surge of smugness coming from users of Apple devices, who were all bursting to say, “Told you so!”.

When I got my first phone with a data-plan, about four years ago, I used every online feature I could: watching videos, checking Facebook, reading news, keeping up with RSS and so on. (Amazing how tame that list sounds when you consider what phones do now.) I also had all my email accounts set to check for new messages every thirty minutes, during the daytime, and notify me upon any arrivals.

Since then, instant email notifications have become ubiquitous – no need for the app to manually check the inbox every X minutes – and I’ve gained a couple of new accounts. For a long time, I had all my accounts set to alert me as soon as a new email came in, because it felt like the natural thing to do. But one day, my phone broke, and I was without email notifications for a little while.

Wow, that felt liberating.

I’ve since realised that there’s no need for me to be instantly up-to-date with every single note that hits my inbox. What’s more, the constant dings of notifications are a huge drain on my productivity. Oh sure, it feels like I’m only losing 30 seconds to check what’s been sent, but it so often leads to 30 minutes of writing replies, chasing up old emails, heading over to news sites… and even on the occasions where it does only take a moment, that’s still enough to break me out of flow.

As if those reasons weren’t enough, I found that, being self-employed, having these emails on all day long made me feel like I was at work all day long. That’s perhaps a useful mindset when starting a business, but it’ll drive you crazy after a while.

The only exceptions I’ll allow myself to make are in emergency situations, like when gearing up for a big launch, or attempting to fix a high-priority bug, or waiting for confirmation of something very important. Otherwise, work emails stay on the computer.

How about you?

Over the past few months, Google has been steadily pushing out a major update to the Market, the content management system on Android phones. The update brought not only a brand spanking new interface but also book and movie rentals (in the US only, though) and a greater focus on featured content. (more…)

Whether you follow mobile technology occasionally or you are obsessed with checking the latest news every couple of hours, one fact should be quite obvious to you: premium Android devices come and go as fast as the Formula 1 cars on a straight line.

One day, it’s the HTC Incredible S, the next it’s the LG Optimus 2X, then it’s the Samsung Galaxy S2, HTC Sensation XL, Motorola Droid RAZR, and Samsung Galaxy Nexus. It seems as if every month – sometimes even every couple of weeks – there is a hot new device to feast your eyes on. But is this is a great opportunity for the customer, or a major drawback? (more…)

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