Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Pixel Suggestions

So I've been playing with my new toy, the Chromebook Pixel. Everyone knows ChromeOS as the OS which is only a browser, but it is surprisingly capable. Of course, everything which works in Chrome, works well on the Pixel. This includes many Chrome apps, a few of which Google suggests upon the first use. (Hint to Google: Fix all those broken links!)

As a developer though, I spend most of my time either in a browser or in a shell. And on my laptops, most of the shell time is spent in ssh. ChromeOS works reasonably well for this. There are two apps I want to highlight for users like me. There are Chrome apps for secure shell and VNC. So far, I have been able to live completely inside ChromeOS without resorting to developer mode. I will blog more tips as I find them.

I've found myself recommending the Pixel quite a bit. The free Drive storage offer is worth more than the cost of the machine. And ChromeOS can be replaced with your favorite Linux distribution. The screen is great, with more pixels per inch than Apple's "retina" MacBooks, and with a better aspect ratio too! A better machine, with Drive storage, without the Apple tax, and without OS/X's many flaws (window management???)... How could you pass it up?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Google I/O 2013: Part 1

Google I/O is over, and it was awesome! I've been too busy to summarize it, so I'll post in chunks. This is the first part. A lot of this has already been covered in the tech media, but this is my take.

Devices: There was little news on the device front. The rumored new Nexus 4 LTE and Nexus 7 refresh did not materialize. But, a pure Android version of the Samsung Galaxy S4 was announced. It will be sold on the Play store for $649 and is expected on June 26. And a white Nexus 4 made an appearance. It will be sold on the Play store for $299 and is expected on June 10 with Android 4.3.

Android: The rumored Android 4.3 was nowhere to be seen! Although we can infer some of the improvements scheduled for 4.3, this was a deliberate omission. It was Google's way of saying they don't need a new Android version to deliver improvements and new APIs. Considering the constant talk of fragmentation and handset makers struggling to keep up with upgrades, this is an interesting shift in policy.

Instead, the majority of platform updates were bundled into a library, Google Play Services, which is available on Android devices back to Android 2.2 and which auto-updates just like the Play Store. The functionality in Play Services includes a battery-friendly location provider, geofencing, activity recognition, cross-device notification syncing, Google+ cross-platform single sign-on, the Maps API, Cloud Messaging, and multiplayer gaming functionality.

The gaming functionality will also be available on iOS.