Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Android Browser Wars (Part 1) 2011

Browsers. They are an essential part of the smartphone experience. You primarily use it to browse webpages and frankly you do it quite frequently on a smartphone. Therefore it is crucial to have a pleasant browsing experience.

The beauty of Android is that the user gets to choose which browser to use, most of them free to download on the Market. However there're literally tens of browsers out there. Some of them are awesome, some of them not so.

So let's address the Browser Wars of June 2011.

I'll be dividing the browsers into 3 groups: stock, Whatevs and Awesome.

Since I do not have a spare HTC phone to test out the stock HTC browser, nor A samsung, so I'll only be testing one stock browser which is the Android 2.3 stock browser.

I will take the stock browser as the benchmark.

The stock browser handles mobile sites quite well. Scrolling is smooth on mobile sites.

The stock browser handles full sites quite well. Scrolling and pinch zooming is ok, but becomes unbearable on heavy sites (one example that I love is PhoneDog.com)

As for text selection, it treats itself as an entity of the Android experience, requiring no extra input to select text, just like in messaging.

One thing I won't like about the stock browser is that it doesn't have an exit button to give proper closure. One would have to keep tapping the back button to exit the browser. Or a workaround that I use which is closing the lone tab.

The performance of the stock browser is just ok. It fails to open phonedog.com and engadget.com in separate tabs.

For a benchmark, I will give the stock browser a ceremonial 5 out of 10. I will grade other browsers as whether they are better or worse then the stock browser. The degree of better-ness or worse-ness if dependent on the score. 10 = Awesome, 1 = Kill me.

This concludes part 1 of this address. Stay tuned for Part 2!

Please tell me what you think! See you next time!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Qualitative effects of Overclocking your Android [Browsing and Emulators]

 What is the evidence of your device performing better after overclocking? Normally people compare performance via a benchmark rating, eg Quadrant or SmartBench. However these number don't always translate very well into end results. How is a 500 point difference on Quadrant Standard going to make your phone different?

My investigation on the matter will be based around 2 elements that I find demonstrate the effects very well. It's the browsing experience and emulators.

The video illustrates my investigation.

Please tell me what you think! See you next time!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Text input in Android 2.3 Gingerbread

In Android 2.3, the keyboard was completely revamped. I will detail the Android 2.3 keyboard the best I can in this post.

First, let's take a look at the Froyo keyboard.

And the new Gingerbread keyboard:

Off the bat you can see that the colour scheme is different. The new keyboard has a higher contrast between the keys and the background. The new keys are also shorter in height so as to create more space between keys.

Taking a look at the number keyboard:

And the alternative symbold keyboard:

Android 2.3 also brings a sub-menu feature, where holding down the period button brings up a sub-menu, and you navigate the orange box around to select the symbol, all without lifting the finger:
The comma key holds a submenu to access the keyboard settings directly.

In certain places where the keyboard thinks chatting is of high priority, the return key will change into the emoticon sub-menu key:

Besides, in Android 2.3, cursor navigation has been improved by means of a tab thingy that the user can move around to place the cursor. The user drags the tab around. In the picture below, the cursor is at "brow|n" (The cursor blinks and the screen capture failed to capture it).

There's also an easier way to select text. In messages, you double tap a word to bring up the text selection bracket:
You can of course move the brackets around to select text. In messages you are only allowed to move the bracket in front to the front, and the back bracket to the back. This restriction is lifted when selecting text in other applications.

The text selection bracket is extended to the stock browser (and any other browser that supports it):
To bring it up, tap and hold on a word and it will appear. As mentioned earlier, the "front to front, back to back" restriction is not applied here. The front bracket can be moved to behind the back bracket and vice versa.

To copy the selected text, you just tap on it once:

The Android 2.3 keyboard supports multitouch input. This means that the user can hold down the uppercase key like the 'shift' key in normal keyboards to input uppercase letters. Releasing the uppercase key returns the input to lowercase. This allows the user to input uppercase letters without double tapping the uppercase key:
In this diagram, the uppercase key was held while the 'B' key was tapped.

Taking a look into the settings:

Overall I felt that the Android 2.3 keyboard is a pleasure to use. The spell check in it is the best among all the other keyboards I have tried.

Please tell me what you think! See you next time!

Motorola Xoom Hands On at IOI Mall SenQ

In this video I document my hands on experience of the Motorola Xoom

Made a short video about the text input functionality as well.

Please tell me what you think! See you next time!

1080p, 720p and 480p video playing capability of HTC Desire Z, with and without OC.

In this video I investigate the ability of the HTC Desire Z (with a screen resolution of 480 X 800) to play HD videos, specifically from 480p to 1080p. I then investigate whether overclocking brings any improvements to the rendering.

Please tell me what you think! See you next time!

Flash content on Android, Flash 10.2 vs desktop Chrome Browser

In this video I compare the performance of Flash content on Android versus one on the desktop Chrome browser.

Please tell me what you think! See you next time!

Flashing A custom ROM

In this video I demonstrate how to flash a custom ROM, in this case CyanogenMod nightly #42.

Basically there are a few things to remember:
1) Make sure the file is not currupted.
2) If the dev asks you to wipe, you wipe.
3) Always reboot after the first boot.
4) If there's a problem after booting up, reboot.
5) If problem persists, factory reset.
6) If problem persists, wipe and reflash.
7) If problem persists, revert to previous build and consult forums.

Please tell me what you think! See you next time!

Demo of the HTC Desire Z Hinge (Unmodified)

This is an old video I made earlier for forummers over at LYN to show then the hinge of the Desire Z.

Please tell me what you think! See you next time!


*insert obligatory first post here*

lol. I've been making youtube videos of various stuff focused on my phone. I am currently (as of time of posting) using an HTC Desire Z, running CyanogenMod 7.0.2. I'm expecting 7.1 to be out very soon so I hope to dump as much content from it before I wipe it for a clean 7.1 install.

One reason I'm doing these videos is to improve my speaking skills.

Another reason is I was looking for distractions from the prep work for my finals. Ironically this blog is made after my last paper had concluded.

Anyway, I guess I better let my content talk. Totally appreciate any comments.