The New Wave of Vaporware

Last week I got a new development device, a Galaxy Nexus, mainly for Android development since I bricked my old Galaxy S. Sooner or later I would try to install my favorite alpha mobile OS: Firefox OS. I really wanted to try Firefox OS because of how they want HTML5 to be the primary (and unique) way to build applications, but since I NEVER run anything on emulators, I was waiting until I had a device that was compatible.

So I went to their docs to get started on how to flash their OS into my Galaxy Nexus. The first thing that I see is that they don’t provide binaries, that’s not good, but I can compile it myself, no big deal. So I started following their Building/Installation entries, installed all the prerequisites, pulled the code from their repo and ran the configure command to prepare the repo. Then I realized it was downloading the Android source code, which is fucking huge and takes an eternity to download, at this point I realized things weren’t going to be good.

For some reason they weren’t using Google’s servers to get Android’s code, but instead the shitty Linaro ones, I was getting a extremely unreliable, 60kb/s download, it was a hell. After 4 hours trying to get all the code it started failing bad and then it wouldn’t download the rest anymore, so I went to their IRC channel hoping to get some help, but couldn’t get much of it, but what was interesting from the conversation in the IRC is that their primary development target isn’t phones, but the shitty emulator.

I can rant about emulator and all that crap for days here, but I prefer not to. So, dear Mozilla, if you want developers to really care about the awesome product that you’re building, you should first give us a fast and easy way to install it on our devices.

If you look closer at all these 5th place mobile OSes (Ubuntu Touch, Firefox OS, and Tizen) you’ll realize one major thing: It looks like they’ll never ship (yeah Tizen, you’re the worst at the time), they just appear to be a bunch of vaporware.

I really love to see all these emerging technologies and have fun with development stuff, but if I can’t install it, I’ll just loose my interest and never look back. I think I’ll never try Firefox OS again, it was a great experiment, but if you focus on crap emulators I won’t support your platform.

Getting Rid Of Physical Buttons: The Right Way

Three days ago a friend, which is a regular user, asked me about my opinion on the “new button-less phone that was just released”, he was talking about the Sony Xperia Z. First I explained him that those kinds of phones (button-less) existed for a long time before the Sony one, then I gave him a long explanation why I think the Android way of getting rid of buttons was just wrong.

If you really want to get rid of the physical buttons you shouldn’t replace them with virtual ones, since I still loose part of my screen to that piece of the past, so don’t get rid of them, I prefer to have something more “natural” than just an abstraction of it.

To get rid of the physical buttons in the right way you should first of all replace their place with pixels (shocking!), so I can see more content. After that you replace the button actions to be triggered by something that won’t take more screen space, for example gestures.

A clear example where a company made the transition perfectly is RIM, they came from a OS that was completely driven by physical buttons (BBOS) and went to a fully gesture driven OS (PlayBook OS and BB10). Another great example of how to use gestures is the awesome Ubuntu Phone which in my opinion is one of the best implementations I ever seen.

So, if you want to replace the buttons you shouldn’t just virtualize them, but really replace them with something different.

I Don’t Want an iPad Running Android

The tablet market went crazy since the launch of the original iPad. A lot of tablets running Android came to the market between 2010 and this year, I bought the original iPad, the original Galaxy Tab and recently I got a ASUS Eee Pad Slider. That’s the main reason I’m writing this. All the 10” tablets that went on the market, running Android, since the original iPad were just mere copies of Apple’s concept, just a big version of the phone, but running a tablet-optimized OS.

The beauty of Android is that it started as a mobile OS project that OEMs and developers could change, improve and was possible to run on any kind of hardware. Android tablets are just like iPads, but without tablet-optimized apps, and most of them aren’t running Ice Cream Sandwich, which is a lot more stable and better than Honeycomb. So what can make a Android tablet differ from an iPad? The answer is hardware.

The only reason why I bought the Eee Pad Slider was the keyboard so I won’t have to carry a tablet and a keyboard dock with it, otherwise I would just buy the keyboard dock for my iPad. So OEMs should rethink about their tablets and start to differentiate on the hardware, that’s the only way to attract people to buy Android tablets instead of iPads.


This article was written on the Eee Pad Slider.