Google Android 4.1 Jelly Bean Review

Google just announced their newest version of Android 4.1 – codenamed “Jelly Bean”.  This is not as feature packed as many previous releases, but it’s certainly not any less significant – it’s much more than just a decimal – in fact this is one of the most important releases ever for a number of reasons. The main one I can see being “Project Butter” – making Android “Smooth as Butter” – it’s now super fast and responsive throughout the entire OS – something people had previously criticised Android compared to iOS. So, now Apple Fanboys have almost nothing in their Arsenal to throw at Android. So along with that and some small but really impressive feature updates, along with “Google Now” – Google’s “Siri Killer – this really is a formidable force.

Check out this video for a good overview of all the new features:

The biggest new feature release is the update to Google Voice – aka the “Siri Killer”. Initially I was skeptical that google could beat siri on its first release, but check out this video to see just how good it is:

Google Voice certainly seems to be a LOT faster. Now Siri’s new release can do a  few things that Google can’t like launching apps etc – however speed is massively important as if it’s even a bit laggy you’re just not going to use it. Considering it’s their first proper release its very very impressive. It even fully works offline!

Some articles worth reading:

Time – Android’s most important update yet
Engadget – What’s new in Android 4.1
Forbes – What Android’s Jelly Bean Does To Advance Mobile

Android is now steadily pulling away from Apple more and more in the mobile OS race. What is really needed to solidify this win is a decent marketing campaign. 98% of people are plastered with Apple’s incredible marketing yet know little of what Android is – and so do not know there is a far better alternative to Apple when it comes to smartphones.

In typical Apple fashion, yesterday they were granted an injunction to stop Google’s Nexus phone from selling. It cost them $96 Million to achieve this. I really wish Apple would stop acting like a pissy little child and focus on innovation, instead of spending all their time & energy suing people.


So, Tablet Computers. iPad’s & Android’s wtf?

When the sneak peak of the iPad came out about a year ago now, it really did not excite me. The concept was good because we all can imagine the potential of handheld tablet computers, but Apple (unsurprisingly) were a bit light on the features and heavy on the price. I certainly was not adding one to my wish list – but I was definitely interested to follow the market. A few months later I got my hands on one for a proper play with it, and wow, I was very impressed. This thing is slick – like really cool. I was very surprised by how much I like it – and so many of the apps were absolutely captivating and very impressive to use. Also as a business productivity tool its amazing. However the price was still extortionate – starting at €499 for the basic 8GB & wifi – going all the way up to a crazy €799 for 64GB with 3G. So, it was stilll a pass for my shopping list, but i was excited to see what the competitors would come out with. And it didn’t take long….

There have been a multitude of new tablets released onto the market like the Samsung Galazy Tab, the Dell Streak, the Archos 101 – all varying in sizes and capabilities – but all these, not being apple, run Google’s mobile operating System called “Android”. However because the market is still quite imature – none of them aren’t exactly cheap for something you may only use as an occasional toy – surfing the web on the couch instead of on the PC – or keeping you amused on trains & planes. Thankfully, it did not take long for a whole host of Chinese versions to hit the market. Like a lot of these Chinese imatations, most of them are rubbish…. Apart from one…

Zenithink ZT-180

The Zenihink ZT-180 looks just like an iPad with a 10″ screen – although it has a slightly more widescreen format screen. It has a pretty fast processor, 256mb and 4gb of internal storage – but unlike the iPad this is easily expandable by up to 32GB with a Micro SD card. it has Wifi and a full accelerometer as well which is great for games. Also unlike the iPad it has a full size USB port which for me is a massive plus! It runs Android 2.1 but can be upgraded to 2.2 Froyo. The battery like is not going to be as good as the iPad’s but from waht I hear you can get about 4-6 hours depending on usage. Some stat’s say more but many say less.  It does not have 3G but I’d be unlikely to even get an iPad with 3G due to excessive data charges in Ireland (it’s cheap in the UK). With a small Hack you can get loads of apps from the Android Market – and this upgrade improves battery life too apparently.

But the best thing about this, is the cost. I just bought this lovely little unit for a total price of €134 including express delivery via DHL – a tiny fraction of what you would have to pay for n iPad. Ok now its definitely not going to be quite as Good as an iPad – however it does have some advantages like USB & SD etc – however the iPad does have a nicer Capacitive screen – but overall its a great value package.

Buy from Here using 5% discount code: 15450

Why Android kicks the iPhone’s Ass

When the iPhone4 was announced, I was pretty excited and I was definitely going to buy one. I am definitely not a Mac Fanboy – but when I got an iphone about 2 years ago – I totally fell in love with it. However, right before I was about to pick one up, I saw this video – and suddenly my interest changed. If you don’t know, Android is an operating systems for mobile devices made by Google. Amazingly there are more Android smartphones in America than iPhones, but it has not kicked off in Europe so much for some reason. It’s 100% open source meaning anyone can get the source code and change the way anything works to the way they like it. This means no ‘having to do something one way’ like the way Windows and Mac OS work. There are also lots of good phones, HTC being the main manufacturer. The “Google Phone” that came out a while ago was made by HTC branded the Nexus One by Google. I bought the HTC Desire which is more or less the same phone with a few updates.

So, the main differences: The HTC Desire has 4 buttons at the bottom. I LOVE this. Apple sometimes try to over-simplify things – and always touching can be annouying. The Home button always bring you to your main home screen, the Menu button is a menu for whatever screen/app you are in – same for search, its specific to what you are doing, and then there is a back button (which is nice but sometimes its easier to swipe back than reach down and press the back button – but again this is changable). It’s also lighter and has a nice feel to it in your hand. The screen is absolutely superb too.

The Desktop / Homepage: On iPhone you just have a few pages with icond on them. BOOOORRRINNGG. On Android you have a “Desktop” with Widgets. I have a weather widget, a time/alarm widget. A search box that give you both phone and web search results. I have a strip of icons that with one click turn on or off your wireless/bluetooth/data/gps etc – which on ipohe you have to go into 3 or 4 menu levels. You have a total of 7 screen that can have anything on them. Facebook, Twitter, Gmail – basically anything! Instead of having to click back and forward between 7 screen, pinching the screen will bring thumbnails of the 7 screens and click one one to zoom back in. You can also change the background photo or have “Live Wallpapers” which are cool animations that change depending on e.g the time of day or weather, or it can even be a map of where you are at any time!

Click for bigger version

Integration: Google is not just available as apps etc, it is fully integrated into the whole OS. You contacts can sync with your gmail account. Also facebook & Twitter if you want – when you look at your list of contacts/phone numbers – it automatically pulls in the persons photo from Facebook if you are friends with them. It will also pull down their updated contact details if they have it on facebook!

Notification: Whatever it is, all notifications are in the one place. If you get email, texts, updates, downloads, etc – you get an icon at the info bar at the top of the screen. Touching this bar and dragging it down, give you full details of this and you can clickc to jump into each one!

The Keyboard: The keyboard is way better. You can touch and go to any point, not just the end of a word. Holding on one letter for a second give you a second option, like a number, question mark or exclamation point etc. The predictive Text is also way better, giving you several options of what you might be trying to type, not just guessing one which the iPhone does.

Change the OS: Since Android is Open Souce, there are several different versions/flavours of it available to download and put on – basically they are all changed in certain ways so find the one that suits your needs best and use that one! Some are very simple and made for speed and battery life, some have loads of extra programs and features!

Other Random Stuff: It is FAST!!! Like properly fast. the 1Ghz Snapdragon processor is amazing. Android also has a massive range of phones available in different formats. With iPhone you can only choose hard drive space. It has REAL multitasking. And its easy to kill background apps in one go. The Android market is better. Not as many apps but its more open. You can take off the back cover and change the battery (a huge plus – since the battery is not great) – and also it has a removable SD Card for your apps and data. It also works like a big USB key as you can store anything on it when you connect it to a computer. Also, the cable to connect it is simply “Micro USB” which is the de-facto standard for all phones going forward (a new agreement from all the phone manufacturers – except apple funnily enough – groan). You don’t need iTunes although it will work with it if you want. Android supports Google Voice and Voice Actions so you can navigate your phone, call people, send texts, update twitter and facebook, all through voice recognition!!!

iPad / Tablet PC’s: Just like the iOS on the iPad – Android works on other mobile devices like tablets. iPad is obviously the first one that has become massively popular, but in the next 6 months a huge amount of manufacturers are going to come out with their own versions of the iPad – but they will be running Android! I can pretty much guarantee that these devices will be better – way more features for a lot less money than the iPad. They will have USB posts, Cameras front and back, Multitasking, Removable SD Cards, File Transfer, Flash, HDMI, GPS. All the things the iPad does not have (on purpose BTW, apple do this so that they can bring out versions 2, 3 and 4 over the next few years to keep demand/desire high for their newest line of products – knowing that a large percentage of their Fanboy customer base will buy each one – groan…)

So, in conclusion, I am so so glad I did not get an iPhone 4. Don’t get me wrong, the iPhone 4 is a great piece of kit, and for some users it might even be the better choice – its better at being a phone + an iPod for example. If you have an interest in technology and enjoy the techy/nerdy part of it, the Desire is 100% definitely the way to go. But even if you are not, this is a really fantastic phone for everyone. Mainly though, is the fact that Android has come from nothing to a real game changer and challenger to the iPhone in a very short space of time – it’s just so much more open and versitile. So, give it another year or so of innovation, plus another few new phones to be released, and I don’t think iPhone is going to have a chance…

Here are a few video’s worth watching:
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Top 10 Essential Google Chrome Extensions

Chrome Extensions

If you are not using Google Chrome yet – I highly advice you download it right now, and make it your primary Browser. I’m absolutely loving Chrome, especially since they brought extensions into the game. The quality of the Extensions in Chrome are simply fantastic, here are my recommendation for the Top 10 Must have’s – some are just simple little usability boots, but others will transform the way you use a browser!

LastPass: This is simply incredible. Install this on any browser, on any computer, and it stores all your passwords securely, in the cloud! It literally means that the next time you put in your password to login to a website, last pass will pick it up and you will never have to enter it again! Simply magic!

Picnick Image Editor: We all need to quickly edit an image from time to time, be it simply resizing the photo or cropping the dimensions, or maybe something a little more complex even. Picnick brilliant integrates into Chrome and with one click you can be editing any image on a web page and then save to file or upload to even save to Flickr etc – absolutely invaluable

nullNew Tab To Tasks: I LOVE this one. If you use Google Tasks – you’ll know its a brilliantly simple way to keep a to do list which is in your gmail and you can get it on your iPhone etc. Although if like me you do not actually make the effort to look at it enough, here is the answer: This extension integrates Google Tasks into any new Tab, so this way you cannot help but see your tasks more, so you’ll get more of them done and also put more in too! I feel more productive already!

Google Mail Checker Plus: This one beats the pants off the standard Gmail Checker which is one of the most popular Chrome Extensions. It’s an in-line popup showing you your mails without loading up gmail in a new window, but also lets you delete, Archive, Mark as Read or Spam any mail with one click. Super Efficiency!

Google Mini Maps: This extensions lets you open up a mini map window on top of your current tab to find something on a map without loading Google Maps in a new tab. it’s Lightning quick too. Stay tuned to this one for some nice updates too.

AniWeather: A lovely little weather forecast extension that gives you a nice little popup with all the info you want, highly customisable. Also pops up a tiny reminder of the weather in the bottom corner whenever you start the browser :-)

AdBlock: This version of AdBlock for Chrome does a great job of blocking those pesky ads we all hate on certain sites.

IE Tab: As fantastic as chrome is, sometimes certain sites just don’t work properly, usually due to developers not updating their work to the latest standards. I hate having to revert back to IE – but thankfully this extension displays any page/site using the IE Engine, so you’ve now got the best of both worlds!

Smooth Gestures: A brilliant “Mouse Gestures” extension for Chrome that left you do things like navigate back and forward between pages by just using your mouse. Absolutely essential.

SlideShow: Lastly one of the best, more impressive and also useful extensions I found. This turns any page with images or a gallery – into a beautifil fullscreen slideshow. Works great with Facebook, Flickr, Google Images and many more.

Google Launch an Operating System: Chrome OS

Google Chrome OS

I’ve been waiting for this to happen for years – but they have now finally announced that Goggle will release “Chrome OS” – an Open Source Operating System. I remember thinking years ago how it would make a lot of sense for Google to do this, yes ok, they have Android the Mobile OS but its not the same. They needed something to Rival windows, and now that they have done it, Micro$oft should be shaking in their boots.

Right on the heels of their newest release, Windows 7, Google are going to release a totally open source browser, Chrome OS. It will be very simple, a Chrome browser sitting on a Linus Kernel – and mainly aimed at netbooks – the fastest growing sector of the PC Hardware market. In their blog post: – they say it will be live from next year, and I’m sure a massive developer community will grow from it, thanks to it being open source.

“Speed, simplicity and security are the key aspects of Google Chrome OS. We’re designing the OS to be fast and lightweight, to start up and get you onto the web in a few seconds. The user interface is minimal to stay out of your way, and most of the user experience takes place on the web. And as we did for the Google Chrome (Google Chrome) browser, we are going back to the basics and completely redesigning the underlying security architecture of the OS so that users don’t have to deal with viruses, malware and security updates. It should just work.”

Linux distros like ubuntu have been around for a while but my guess is that Chrome OS will gain a large following a lot more quickly than they did – for obvious reasons.

I can’t wait to see how this pans out.

Gmail Task list on your iPhone!

A while back I was excited to write about how Google added a task list into Gmail. Like most people I always have a to do list of random things I need to remember, unfortunately I pretty much use my head for these things, which we all know is not 100% reliable. I always wanted a decent task list that was ‘just there’ – already built in to something I use all the time – so Gmail was the perfect place to put it.

So I’ve been using it for a while, and its good, but lets face it still isn’t always with you. Until now. Now google have developed a iPhone app for the task list, which syncs up perfectly. This is great. Now any little things I need to remember or do, I can add them easily here and they are always in sight and in mind.

I can feel myself getting a whole lot more productive already!

Check out the video here:

The Battle of Google Vs Wikipedia

A few months ago Google announced on their blog, their newest venture entitled “Google Knowledge” or “Knol” for short. Basically they are going to create something quite similar to Wikipedia, but it will differ because each knol article will be written by a single author, and other users can edit it only with permission from the author. Readers may rate or comment on the articles. There can also be multiple articles for the same topic, each written by a different author.


In response to this, it seems that today Wikipedia’s founder Jimmy Wales has launched a search engine that takes a leaf out of the Wikipedia book. It’s called Wikia. The site still has an index of the web like Google, but the idea behind this is that they take from the expertise and knowledge of the Wikia community, to give you better and more relative search results. I’ve always thought that somehting like this would be a good idea. I’m sick of search results being the battle of who’s designers are better at SEO – rather than which sites are going to give you the information you need.