Tag Archives: google

Google Maps Navigation

Google Navigation on AndroidGoogle Maps Navigation: A Free, Ass-Kicking, Turn-by-Turn Mobile App – Google maps navigation – Gizmodo

If Google sells this in the App Store for zero dollars, those millions of bucks Apple makes off of GPS app sales will likely disappear. It’s not for us to worry about until there’s no more GPS competition except Google, and we’re dependent on their pace of progress, but no competition is a bad thing. And it’s a little strange that Google’s search money is going to pay for a free map app that is competitive with stuff that costs $100 a year from full-time GPS makers like TomTom. Unfair is the word that comes to mind. But I can’t say I don’t want this app.

Agreed, on all counts. I wonder if Apple will try to play any differently with this than with other navigation apps since this is Google; does that make it any more “confusingly similar” to the iPhone’s Maps app (driven by Google Maps)? I think not, but I also wouldn’t be confused by a mobile Firefox (Fennec) or Google Voice.

It’s easy to see Google’s (and their users’) advantage in entering a competitive market this way, but yeah, I wouldn’t want to be their competitors either.

It does scare me how much data Google now owns, more in how they ditched their licensors so they could do something like this. But I want this app too. ;)

A new phone: Terrible timing?

So my AT&T contract is up this month and I’m considering all my options for my next PDA. My BlackBerry has been slowly dying on me, and I’ve not been happy with it.


It’s probably no surprise that I’m a big fan of Android—it is produced by Google—so ideally I’d get an Android device next.

However, I’m not terribly inclined to switch to T-Mobile; their network is smaller and not as robust in all locations. And the G1 leaves a lot to be desired, so I’d rather wait for the next iteration. But how long will that be? Hard to say, though they may have a new, awesome device soon, so it may be worth waiting.

I had also mentioned that AT&T would likely be producing Android devices, but that dynamic seems to have changed somewhat: I suppose because of their ties with Apple and the iPhone, they’re not keen to produce any competing devices currently. And I can understand that, though it’s unfortunate.

It does seem like I’d be joining an active community though. :)


An iPhone would be a solid choice, and I certainly think the devices deserves (most of) the acclaim it’s been getting, but I’m not switching from one proprietary mobile device to another. Even if it is Apple. I’m also not impressed with the inability to run background applications, and while jailbreaking the phone would open up a lot of extra functionality, I’m not inclined to do that. I don’t want to support Apple by buying their device if I don’t actually support how they design their software.


So my two choices feel like this: Get an iPhone (and possibly jailbreak it) or switch to T-Mobile if/when they release a second (slicker-than-G1) device.

Are there other choices? Which do you think I should do?

Google’s Open Source Patches to Wine

Daring Fireball Linked List: Google’s Open Source Patches to Wine

This idea deserves a full essay, but for now, consider: In the same way that Apple took Mac OS X and Cocoa and shrunk them to serve as a handheld device OS, I think Google could take Android and grow it to serve as a PC OS. Wine would be to Android what Classic was to Mac OS X.

The big win is saying “screw you” to KDE and Gnome and all those crap Linux interfaces and APIs. Start over with something new, cohesive, better, and, most of all, which is not, conceptually, a watered down clone of Windows.

I’m really not sure where Gruber is going with this. Google seems to like Wine for various reasons (mainly Picasa), but I don’t really understand how it could vault Android into desktop fame. It seems Wine is a “watered down clone” of Windows (its internals, anyway) and I don’t really see much future in it.

Obviously Gruber and I disagree on the various successes of the “open-source desktop” mission, but I don’t think Wine is the way to success.

John, I await your full essay; perhaps I misunderstand?

Android has arrived

Android Makes its Debut in T-Mobile G1

The device won’t have an impressive design and it won’t be as easy to use as an iPhone, but it will certainly be able to run a lot of interesting applications.

Android’s first iteration, released last week, is certainly less of a watershed than Apple’s iPhone debut, but then again Google has been very open about their project. While Apple has built a reputation on carefully constructed excitement about the unveiling of their new projects, Google was very upfront about Android and the Open Handset Alliance—to the point of attracting doubts of the project’s fruition.

You can read the reviews of T-Mobile’s/HTC’s G1 elsewhere; after a week there are plenty of good ones (and I haven’t held one myself). But here are a few of my initial impressions of Google’s Android project itself.

I saw the Android coming five years ago... and approved.
I saw the Android coming five years ago... and approved.

I mentioned that Android’s default synchronization with Google applications is pretty slick, and definitely a way to get out of the gate quickly. However, I’m not sure if that’s only for the G1 or if Android will include that in every iteration. (I only really wonder because it’s not available in the emulator yet.)

It will be interesting to see how the Applications fare; Apple has proved that there is a business here, and they have a jump start on their App Store. While Apple has attracted a lot of developers, they have their own problems keeping their trust at the moment, and certainly for myself I’m more motivated to write for a multi-process, open-source operating system where my application will definitely be available for users. I’m encouraged that there have already been some interesting applications rolling out.

Speaking of development, it is very promising to see that the Android team has released an emulator for all major operating systems. Apple’s developer program seems robust, but I don’t plan on switching to OS X anytime soon. (Then again, I’d rather avoid Java, but that’s not a dealbreaker for me.)

The Android is certainly the biggest competitor to the iPhone thus far, but it’s certainly not just trying to imitate the superficial qualities (like, say, the LG Dare); it seems to have slightly different motivations that have shaped the project thus far. Either way, competition is a good thing.

It seems likely that AT&T will be producing Android phones but even if so, the question is when. I’m imminently looking for a new phone, so the sooner the better; I have no plans to switch to T-Mobile and I would really appreciate the ability to give each one of these platforms an even chance. :)

Photo websites: That settles it!

Google Photos Blog: Announcing Picasa 3.0 and a new version of Picasa Web Albums!

With Picasa’s announcement of the updated Web Albums site, I’ve settled on it for my own photography needs. Their “name tags” feature is incredibly well-done, I can arbitrarily tag my photos additionally, and they’ve added other compelling features that have sold me on it.

Previously, I had been using Flickr. By the time I joined, it seemed to be the premier community for photographers, and it offered the most features I wanted: licensing photos, tagging, flexible management of albums/sets, RSS feeds for nearly everything, and super-cool mash-ups with other sites.

Separately, a lot of people have been using Facebook for photos (at least those of people-based events and such), namely because their person tagging is very good: boxes around faces and notifications of tagged photos. (Flickr has tagging, and you can separately add boxed notes to photos, but it has no way to connect that directly with people.) While not a photography website per se, it is certainly a great way to share photos easily.

Picasa Web Albums has been a nice project, and I had used it occasionally, but not very often. The interface hasn’t been the best, it felt very closed off from any sort of community, and it seemed to be wedded to the application Picasa (which has a pretty shoddy track record on Linux). I can (and do) manage my photos quite well via F-Spot, but there was a lot I couldn’t do without Picasa (the application).

But in one fell swoop, they’ve knocked down the competition. The name tags feature is so nice, it’s actually fun to use; in about an hour I tagged about 700 photos with my existing Gmail contacts. I’ve also tagged my photos with some other keywords, in case you really want to see what photos of roller coasters I’ve taken. :) Lastly, I can release my photos with Creative Commons licenses, so neat things can happen.

The sum of these features is what drives Picasa’s new Explore page. You can see popular tags, locations, and featured photos. There’s even a (mediocre) game where you guess the locations of photos.

All in all, Google has a good product and it breeds good competition in the photo website space. You can see my photos on my Picasa profile.

(PS: If it seems like I’m talking slow, that’s because I’m sapping my bandwidth uploading four albums at a time. ;) )

Do I have a non-coding life? Apparently, because I haven’t updated in a while….

So I’ve been repeatedly impressed with Google lately. I mean, many people know that “to google” has been a verb for a while, since it’s kind of the de facto way to search the Internet. But also, I’ve been using their email service, which is really awesome in all respects. Turns out Blogger (what you’re seeing now) is run by Google, and it’s good too. Then there are a handful of ways that Google has been supporting open-source software and projects: their Summer of Code, their APIs, and the fact that they give their developers one day off per week to work on a project of their own choosing. Very cool. I read in a tech magazine that Microsoft’s big competitor at the moment is Google. (Of course, that makes MS very uncomfortable.) Well, stick it to ’em, Google!

So I made another big update to Pygmy this week. Formatting of the metadata is possible now; I simply exposed the user to what I’ve been using to format it all along. For example, “artist – title” will be replaced per-song, and


will show the artist in bold text and the title in small text on a new line. Only problem is that GTK+ has a longstanding bug with wrapping labels, so a long format won’t wrap to multiple lines.

Next up: optional tags, so if you have “date” in the format and it’s not in the file, it won’t show up (nor will the space you put before it to separate it from the title).