Monday, 26 May 2014

Why I switched from Samsung

My first android device was Samsung Galaxy Ace. Which was quite nice until I got to know that it won’t receive upgrades past Gingerbread. So, I bought a Galaxy SII. SII was an amazing phone. A great bump in performance and screen size for me after Galaxy Ace. Also SII had the sweet Ice Cream Sandwich. It also got updated to Jelly Bean (4.1.2). Then I made the switch to Galaxy SIII. Which at the time of my purchase still had the same software 4.1.2. Now, it didn’t feel like a huge upgrade in terms of how my phone looked. Except a couple of add-ons the software was similar. Then a 4.2.2 was leaked around the same time when Google released 4.3 and I updated to it, hoping it would bring some fresh change but it wasn’t much. And it had bugs too. I waited for the bugs to be fixed but then Samsung announced that they are skipping 4.2.2 for SIII and will directly update it to 4.3. I was kind of sad but it was good to know that it was getting updated to 4.3. Though when the actual update came out, this was around the time Google announced KitKat, it was again filled with bugs. Now, that wasn’t a leak that was the official update from Samsung and then they stopped the update temporarily to fix the bugs. They released one more 4.3 update after addressing those bugs from previous one but this one had more. And those never got addressed. Then Samsung announced that the international version of SIII, the one I had, will not receive upgrade to Android 4.4 as 1 GB RAM is not enough to run Samsung customizations smoothly. But the versions with 2GB RAM will receive the updates. Some people appreciated Samsung for actually working on to release an upgrade for a device that was out of the conventional upgrade period. But those people need to evaluate the facts that SIII was the company’s most successful phone. Also when you see the timeline of when the updates were released you realise that every update was released almost around 6 months of announcement from Google.

After being fed up with their update system I made the switch to Nexus 5. Even though I haven’t received any major updates, the vanilla android experience itself has been pretty great. And when I compared it to a GS5 running 4.4, I was even more happy. The time to time lag on S5 when switching between apps or the app opening speed or the lag when opening the recent app menu, they all just make me a little bit happier that I am not a Samsung customer anymore.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Snapchat 5.0 update review

Snapchat has been updated to 5.0 and the world has gone crazy. With this update it brings some drastic UI changes and some new features. I will be talking about both of them.

UI changes.
It starts from the icon. Though it might look the same at first but if you look closely the yellow is more bright and also the cut edges of the icon are very fine. Next thing you notice after opening the app is the camera app shutter button, new snap button, new stories butting and camera switch button have changed. The major one being the shutter button with a solid white ring around it.
When you switch right to stories and friends, everything is purple. Except that not much has changed. The settings button when you click on someone’s name is tweaked. And if you swipe more right, you see more purple. And the add button and the tick mark button are tweaked too.
When you click a snap and are about to send it, you see some more icons have been polished and changed. When you click next to send it, the other change you observe is, when you select one of your ‘best friends’ as a recipient it shows a yellow icon with a star instead of the normal blue tick.
Switching back left to your snaps screen, there is a new search button. A welcome addition and an updated ‘snapchat’ text on top left corner.  You don’t  see sent or delivered there but it’s visible when you click on someone’s name. Then there is the blue icon, let’s talk about  that in features. That’s all in the UI changes, which is quite a lot.

New Features.
Message chat and Live video chatting.

Swipe right on any person’s name to start a chat with them. The biggest difference between other messaging app and this is that, your chats disappear when you leave it. The only way to save chats is to either take a screen shot or tap on a particular message to save it. This does continue the snapchat tradition and also the basic concept of the app, in a way. Also, you can send images from gallery to the person in the private chat.

When you are on the chat screen, an icon on the right bottom corner, which is usually yellow, turns blue to notify you that the other user is online and reading your chats. And, then clicking the blue button starts a video call. For the call to take place you have to hold on the screen. Depending on if you are holding bottom half or top half, the front and the back camera are operating for the chat. If the other person is not doing the same you don’t see anything from them.  To make this feature more usable the app notifies you when the other person is typing by sending a notification so you can jump right in if you want to start a video chat.

Though the app was a bit buggy when it was updated at first to 5.0, it has been updated to 5.0.5 bringing in some bug fixes.  Overall, the update is really good and features are sometimes useful, though I prefer other apps for chats. I don’t much like so much purple in the app but the one feature I am missing the most is double to tap to reply. It was very convenient and useful, hope they bring it back.

Here is a link to the updated 5.0.5 apk.