Google Owns My Soul

For years I’ve been giving Google unfettered access to my email and my search history without giving it much thought. And over the course of the past couple years, I’ve continually kept giving them more and more access… That brings us to today, when I finally came to the realization that Google really does own my soul. That is assuming my soul is comprised of personal information, browsing habits, etc.

Let me break it down for you:

  • Each morning at 5am my company website sends an updated list of products that we have in stock to Google Base to get listed in Google Shopping.  Google now knows what products my company likes to carry as well as how quickly we sell said products.
  • My company uses Google Analytics, not only to track our corporate website, but our clients websites as well. Google now has access to very detailed information about how popular my websites are and  just who’s visiting them.
  • The afore mentioned company also uses Google Places to attempt to draw in new business. This one isn’t that big of a deal, since it doesn’t really increase Google’s access to information about my company. I’m just trying to be thorough.
  • Each of my sites generates a Google SiteMap.  Making it even easier for Google to catalog every little page on my websites, even some that I may have forgotten about.
  • All my websites that run advertisements run Google AdSense. Now I rely on Google to get paid.
  • I use Gmail for my personal email. Google gets to scan through my entire life and contextually provide ads to me. Yay?
  • I also use Google Apps for my business. Which includes the occasional Google Doc upload of a spreadsheet or presentation. Potentially giving Google access to sensitive company information. As well as Google Calendar, which lets them know where I’ll be and when I’ll be there.
  • Several of my ventures use Google Voice numbers for texting and calling. Google has access to an archive of my text messages and voicemails.
  • When I subscribe to an RSS feed I do it through Google Reader, so that my RSS feed reader on my laptop, desktop, phone, and iPad all get the same feed. Guess what? Google gets some solid feedback on what kind of blogs/articles I read.
  • If I record and upload a video it usually goes to YouTube, I also watch movie trailers and the like on YouTube. All the sudden Google knows whether or not I watched Rebecca Black’s “Friday” music video, and if so, if I watched the whole thing.
  • I often use Google Maps to get directions. Now Google knows where I’m planning on visiting, which new restaurant I’m likely eating at, and where my Uncle Phil’s house is.
  • Did I mention that I have an Android phone? Making it even easier for me to continue to use Google products in my day to day life. If I use the Barcode Scanner app to check the price of something, Google instantly knows what I’m out shopping for.
  • And last, but not least, I use Google for 99% of my internet searches. If Google didn’t already know what things I’m interested in, they do now.
  • Oh, and I use Google Chrome to do all my web browsing.

Don’t worry, there’s still more I can do to give away my life to Google. For example, I could start using Google Latitude, or start accepting Google Checkout on my company’s store, maybe use Picasa to start sharing family photos. Or actually update that Google Buzz account of mine… nah, that’ll never happen.

[Note: I’m sure I’m using even more Google services and not realizing it, so I may update this list at a later date]

Five Things iOS Could Learn from Android

Previously I featured a list of five things Android could learn from iOS, to be fair and balanced, here’s my list of five things iOS could learn from Android.
Again, this is a randomly ordered list.

1. Notifications. iOS has a terrible notification system, they could learn a lot from Android on this one.

2. Toggles. Quick toggles for turning Wifi, Bluetooth, and GPS on and off without having to opening the settings. How hard is that?

3. Widgets. For the love of all things pure and holy, please add some widgets! At least to the home screen.

4. Cloud syncing. Sure a MobileMe account let’s you sync your Calendar/Contacts/etc, but $99 a year is a joke. Go free, or go home.

5. App store queuing. I buy an app on iOS and it takes me out of the app store and to one of my homescreens, I want to buy another app I have to go back into the app store. Huh?

Five Things Android Could Learn from iOS

These aren’t ordered in any particular manor, just a random list of five things that iOS does better than Android 2.2.

1. Style. Android is nice looking, but a little utilitarian in places. Whereas iOS is sleek and stylish to the very end.

2. App badges. Androids task bar notifications are great, but badges are handy for those lower priority apps, not to mention inbox counts.

3. Centralized settings.  I really like the fact that iOS lets app developers include a settings page inside of Settings.app.

4. Parental controls. Android seems to be lacking even basic options for parental controls.

5. Remote wipe. Yes,  they have APIs to enable applications to do this, but let’s see a native app ship with the OS.

Top 5 Android Apps – Part 2 – Stock Replacements

Continuing on with my “Top 5” series, I’m going to discuss my top 5 favorite “stock replacement” apps.  These are applications that provide similar functionality to standard Android apps included on every phone, but in my opinion, are better than the standard app.  These apps may have additional customization features, or just plain work better than what Android came with.

  1. ADW.Launcher (Free) – I’ve written about this app before, but I can’t recommend it (or its competing app LauncherPro) enough.  Both apps provide so much more than the stock launchers for Android do.  HTC users with Sense UI may not need the change, but if you’re not running Sense, you should be running one of these.  I personally prefer ADW.Launcher right now thanks to the addition of themes.  There are many themes in the Android Market that range from free to a couple dollars, and can change the look of your setup drastically.  ADW also has many customization options that allow you to setup your home screens anyway you please.  If you’re a widget fan, LauncherPro Plus may be a great choice for you.  The developer has added a great widget set to his launcher.  Regardless of which you choose, I highly encourage you to try out one or both of these.  You’ll be glad you did.
  2. WidgetLocker Lockscreen ($1.99) – If you’ve ever wished you could put something on your lock screen besides the clock, you really should try WidgetLocker.  WidgetLocker allows you to add widgets and application shortcuts right on your lock screen.  He’s also added custom slider options, so you can move the sliders around, add multiple ones to perform different functions, or remove them altogether!  My screenshot shows how I like mine, but you can go wild with it!
  3. Beautiful Widgets (~$2.05) – If you’ve got an Android phone, this is a must-have application.  The developer started with the idea of re-creating the HTC clock widget for non-HTC devices, but he’s gone way beyond that now.  The main widget shows you the current date/time and weather for your location.  There are over 100 themes to change how it looks, and many customization options beyond that as well.  My favorite feature is the ability to launch any application by clicking on the clock, calendar, and weather sections.  If you like live wallpapers, he’s even created a live wallpaper that shows you the current weather.  Included with the main widget are several other widgets for your phone that allow you to toggle wifi, bluetooth, ring volume, etc.  I keep mine on my WidgetLocker Lockscreen so it’s there every time I wake up my phone.
  4. Handcent SMS (free) – I use Handcent primarily for the pop-up notification of incoming texts.  Beyond that, though, Handcent can do a lot more.  From that pop-up, you can type (or talk) a quick response without having to open up the full conversation.  When you do open up the full app, you can customize just about everything, from the theme of the app to individual ringtones for each person.  I’m amazed that this app is free – he could probably sell it for $5-10 and rack up a ton of sales.
  5. SwitchPro Widget ($0.99) – The Power Control widget is nice – allowing you to control Wifi, bluetooth, etc., but it’s not very customizable.  This is where SwitchPro Widget comes in.  It provides all of the capability of the Power Control widget, but is much more flexible.  Only want a couple buttons? You can create a 1×1 widget with 1-2 buttons.  Want a lot? You can add up to 7 buttons to a 1×4 widget.  SwitchPro also provides more options for what you can control.  It adds things like a flashlight, auto rotation lock, screen timeout, and more.  You can also customize the color of the icons and the background, so if you’ve got a theme, it’s much easier to make this fit. 

While the stock Android system is pretty good, its real power lies in the ability for apps to customize and even outright replace the stock applications.  Android is very flexible in allowing users to change default applications – even without root access that everyone can “create” a phone experience that fits their needs.  I’d love to see some comments about your favorite stock replacement apps. 

Next week I’ll touch on my top 5 favorite “unknown” applications – applications that aren’t famous apps like Beautiful Widgets or Handcent SMS.

Mobile Browser Shootout

Everyone is entitled to their own favorite smartphone, but I think we all can agree that some phones just do certain things better. Today, let’s take a quick look at how various mobile browsers fair in the Acid3 test.

Default browsers for the platforms:

Android 2.2

93/100
No screenshot, because I haven’t rooted my Droid X yet. I know, I know, I fail at life…

webOS 1.4.2

92/100

webOS_1.4.2_acid3.png

webOS 2.0 (developer beta)

91/100
Wait… the performance of the browser actually went down with a new build of the OS?

webOS_2.0_acid3.png

iOS (tested 3.1.3 through 4.2)

100/100

Third-party browsers:

Skyfire 2.3 Beta (Android)

93/100

Opera Mini 5.1.21126 (Android)

97/100

Opera Mini 5.0.019802 (iOS)

97/100