Tag Archives: google

Pixel 8 Pro + Pixel Watch 2

My life with a smart watch started on the OG Pebble, then the steel Pebble 2 Color, then the Galaxy Watch3 (Titanium), and now I’m driving the Pixel Watch 2 because it came with the phone… In short, it isn’t very good. I know it went much farther than the OG Pixel Watch but it’s just not a great premise.

As a fitness gadget it is pretty good, but the Pixel Watch 2 fails kinda as a watch. It’s a tad on the small side in terms of circumference and display size. It’s not a phone companion and has a lot of on-device features that I don’t use or care much about. The health features are fine, but my needs are pretty basic and the only main thing the PW2 adds is more real-time measuring of my stats.

For utility, I only had it for a few days, so the jury is still out. Having WearOS support means I can probably get more use out of it via Maps or whatever, but is this at all on par with, say, Galaxy Watch5 or whatever new one to be released soon, especially when it has crown again…

It’s just really weird that when I upgraded to the latest and greatest WearOS watch, it felt like a big step backwards from a 3-years-old watch.

As for the Pixel 8 Pro, it’s just a better Pixel 7. The fancy AI features are in the Photo app and I don’t really think about them. I’m sure they’re useful when the time comes. The better hardware however really ties things together. Ditching the curved screen and having a much better screen than most Android phones go a long way. Slight changes to the dimensions and the screen don’t make the phone harder to use or easier to hold, or at least it’s not notable.

The regular Pixel 8 is a great time to get into the Pixel system, pretty confident that they have ironed out enough stuff by this point. It’s $700 now but it has also a great screen and it’s not as big as big phones can be. Wish it was just a tad smaller like the Galaxy S23 or something.

Meanwhile if anyone knows how to reverse/revert the direction on the Pixel Watch crown control please let me know.

PS. I do use the temp sensor, it works…or not. Wish the UX was easier.

Pixel 4 One-Month Look

The fourth Pixel that I own is a limited-edition Orange 4 with 128GB storage. I already managed to lightly scratch the display (probably because I put it and a lanyard in the same pocket without thinking). Other than that, it’s pretty nice. I’ve even gotten used to this Spigen case, which is the clear TPU one that is a little thicker than the one I rocked with the 3 (which was black).

I think the 4 remarkably similar to Pixel 3, with even better build quality. After using Pixels 1, 2, 3 and 4 each year, you can begin to tell the improvements. Pixel 2 was definitely kind of the odd child out versus the 1, which remains a solid phone if you can get it cheap (although the 3a probably is the better bet now). Pixel 2 was great more because of its crazy software. Pixel 3 was great because it is more like what Pixel 2 should have been–kind of like the 2 XL was for the 1. So Pixel 4 definitely feels more like a “S cycle” upgrade for the 3.

The 4 is great build-wise. Like this is close to Sammy quality. The display is Sammy quality in fact, and it’s got the 90Hz screen that almost got me to buy a OnePlus 7T. Actually without this I would not have bought the 4, at least as I tell myself. It does justify the price a bit.

The new speakers on the 4 sounds better than the 3, which sounds worse than the 2. The polish on 4 is better than the 3, which, in a way, is what makes 2 XL good. No screen gacha meant it is a phone people can recommend, other than the ludicrous price of $799 (or $899 in my case).

So in a lot of ways the 4 is really what things should have been a year ago. The more I think about stuff to write, the more I feel this is true.

I sold my Black 3 128GB for about $350, which reflects the deep discount I got from the Fi deal that were prevalent when the 3 came out. No such a thing came with 4 unless you sign up with Verizon or another contract-laden tier-1. I’m vaguely tempted actually. Sometimes I think the limited color actually would help the aftermarket price.

In the end, I think it’s still worth it, because the hardware is nice. It’s just not a huge jump. Losing full-size backup of Google Photo is a hit but not too bad of a hit. I would think during BF you can probably do enough of a deal to justify, should you fancy that.

As for the new features? 90Hz is as advertised, it is also not worth that much. You can tell, it is nicer, but it is also not a huge deal. Same with the astrophotography mode–you can make some great pics with it, but not really relevant for most people. The new swipe gesture takes getting used to, because more the lack of easy home screen access. The added memory makes the 4 actually practical versus the 3. Again, build quality type improvements in this phone makes the 4 actually a lot more desirable. Face unlock is overall better than fingerprint, but what Google really should have done is combine radar detect with accel method in the iPhone. As is, there are some edge cases where fingerprint is still better. If you use a pwd manager that supports face unlock (like lastpass) you can seamlessly access your app with face unlock.

It’s just that if you are not already doing the Pixel life the past years, there isn’t much candy on that stick to get you forward.

Replacing Google Reader

More about timing.

Here’s the thing; while the writing was on the wall, most people didn’t expect Google to ditch Reader 5 months from “now.” Now is now 4 months and three weeks on the proverbial rearview mirror. This means two things.

First, people who already run their own RSS clients and what not–Google Reader was great, but it didn’t do some things well, such as update on time. There are the tin-foil-hat guys who run their own RSS servers (or maybe they’re just super min-maxing nerds). There are also a variety of different companies serving the existing gap that GReader didn’t reach across, which is namely anything in the mobile space. Of course, there is the guys at The Old Reader who loves GRSI, like I do, that Goog axed unceremoniously. I still resent them for it today, to be perfectly honest.

Second, people who always wanted their own RSS clients but couldn’t launch because Google Reader was the de facto market king. It probably had 50%+ market share, and in the rare event that one of these 3rd party clients had a better UX and better feature set than GR, Google’s brand power and marketing meant these small guys had no chance in hell. Most of the time tho they didn’t have a better UX and/or better features–partly because there was little market opportunity, little incentives, to improve.

So when Google decided to shut Reader, the two groups of people sprang into action. Existing services had to scale to take in the refugees, and the second group now have incentive to play the game. This also means back in March, the landscape of your GR alternatives is very different than in mid June.

For one, Feedly Cloud now exists. And that’s what I’m moving to.

The Old Reader had bee my target of choice but I never really like it that much. Part of it had to do with performance, since it was reallllyyy swamped. Now it’s much better. Difference here being that Feedly does already support devices (although I use feed readers on my mobile devices like, one out of 300 days or something), and it sports a much better user experience (including additional views like the card one that I use for the image-heavy feeds). Feedly also doesn’t support all my feeds (Mandarake … fire hose feed doesn’t even load, but I can use figinstock if I had to), while TOR supports, well, GRSI-type deal. After a quick survey on twitter, more than half of my followers who responded went the way of Feedly anyway, so it is not a huge loss.

The funny thing is like, almost every guide about “life after Google Reader” fail to take into account this gap of 4.5 months or so, the development time for new jazz. Like the Digg reader (which looks like POS) and the AOL Reader (which might be slightly closer to what I’m looking for). Or the new Feedly Cloud reader.

Anyway, it’s not really time to worry about what works. It’s time to see what I can salvage from Google Reader in its final week. Farewell, friend and companion on the web!


Random Google Doodles

On Gingerbread and OS Frag

It’s easy to whine and cry about not having the latest and best Android OS on your smartphone. Google’s approach to their first-party wares is to service devs, which naturally meaning offering the newest thing on the block. It’s pretty awesome consumers can get to use them too, especially now that the Nexus S is slated for several carriers beyond the N1.

But what is the real incentive? People want the latest OS, it’s part of the shopping criteria. Naturally it becomes something of a marketing item. I mean, they can get away with sticking Froyo on a mid-range smartphone now. It’s like saying “oh hey it’s ok that my $400 15″ desktop replacement only runs Windows Vista but my $2000 Alienware runs Windows 7.” Makes no sense.

Of course the nature of RISC and platform specific platforms that are today’s smartphones means you can’t easily do this kind of PnP, but given how fast the ROM community work on the latest Android kernels, I find it a little incredulous. I understand that rolling out a kernel on this stuff, in carrier terms, is not trivial. But I also think people are being played for the Android Sweets upgrade game. I hope people realizes this.

Which is to say I doubt OS version frag is not likely going to be a problem now that we’ve hopped into the 2.1+ bucket. Device frag, though…I guess if you’re still rocking a G1, more power to you.

On privacy and security of personal data

So there’s that Google ad going around. Yea, it’s selling things that are precious. More so than phone hardware or computers, at least. But Goog makes its pay on ads, so ultimately they’re just selling us ads by leveraging all that user data.

If I’m going to make available my personal info (anonymized) for commercial purposes, I should get something in return? I guess at the very least I get better ads, and I think that’s a core goal of Google. But that’s more or less true for everyone doing the same thing. Compare them to Facebook though, Google seems just a safer, less prone-to-what-happened-to-Sony kind of alternative. Despite people still get their Gmail accounts compromised, at least I have a 2-step auth option, and with Android, a very powerful cloud personal computing environment that is basically free to use. Nobody is offering this, at least for free.

So, yeah, I get something for giving up privacy and personal info if I stick to El Goog. And from a trust/security perspective, they’re probably more secure than most! And more scrutinized than most. In light of the ongoing Sony PSN problem, I think it’s safe to say that security is probably a lot more important than the fact that they have your personal info to begin with. I mean, think about it, do I trust Facebook? Probably less than PSN…

You can see that ad here.


Lastly, I pick on FB only because I can’t think of any other honeypot for hackers that is going to ruin more lives. Short of high security/military kind of thing, which are probably a lot more secure on the basis of being less trusting and much more restricted.