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Technology

Google antitrust suit… does it matter?

I use DuckDuckGo for search most of the time, Dropbox for my cloud storage, and I’ve recently moved to Microsoft Edge for my web browser. There are choices out there if you’re willing to look and switch.

I also use Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Photos, Google Maps, and an Android phone. But I use them because I prefer them to Apple’s offering. As much as possible I maintain my personal data in such a way that would facilitate my moving platforms should something more desirable pop up.

But, two major players in technology seems to be the equilibrium. AT&T or Verizon in cell service. Windows or Mac for computers. Android or iOS for phones and portable devices. It would be great if there was a third player in the phone market because Android just isn’t doing it for me anymore. Apple is a non-starter because of the enormous lock-in when you start to use their devices.

Google search started sucking years ago. When they started incorporating your Google account and your location into the searches they stopped giving more generalized results. The idea was to push you towards results in which company’s purchased ads. Once I noticed the results were not as relevant to my search I started using Bing. But, Bing was terrible for a general web search. It was good for photo and video search however and I do use Bing for that over any other search engine.

DuckDuckGo has been my go to search engine now for at least the last few years. They don’t use anything from me personally to give me search results so there is no filter bubble effect. I just get the raw search and I can more easily find what I’m looking for.

The Chrome browser has been a dog for a long time now. It’s become what it originally replaced, Microsoft Internet Explorer. Chrome is now a bloated heavy browser that isn’t fast and takes up huge amounts of resources. I moved to the Brave browser for a time and then to Firefox but found them both to be unpolished. When Microsoft rejiggered their browser and built one off Chromium (the same engine Chrome is based on) I gave it a try and found it to be very pleasant and fast. It’s missing a couple of minor things but by and large it is a great lightweight web browser.

People can get off of Google if they want. You just have to be open to new things. You should always think of data as your own and use services that prioritize that. You should also use the belt and suspenders approach to your personal media. Photos, videos, and music are no good to you locked into one service or company. Not only is it difficult to stop using those services but it is difficult to get your data out when you have terabytes sitting on some cloud server somewhere.

Hard disks are cheap. Get a desktop computer and keep a copy of all your stuff there. That way when you want to move you are free to do what you want. You don’t need the government using their heavy hand when you can take actions on your own.

Categories
Technology

Apple just eviscerated the competition

I predict there will be no Pixel 6. What is the point? Google obviously is bored with being in the phone hardware business and has chosen to not compete.

Just a few years ago Google and the Pixel line of phones were superior in photography and did so at a reasonable price. Now, they’ve pushed out the Pixel 5, a ho-hum attempt at best, which really doesn’t improve upon anything previous in the line of phones. The improvements are so minor that they should have just stopped at the Pixel 4.

Apple, in the meantime, just announced the iPhone 12 line with a knock it out of the park still photography and video camera system. If it lives up to what they described yesterday it will rival most of the entry level mirrorless dedicated cameras. There’s no need for me to go into all the details. Just watch their announcement video.

And if there was any doubt, no, I will not be buying an iPhone. The cost of getting stuck in their ecosystem is not worth my conversion to their platform. But, if I was a professional videographer or photographer there is not question it would be my phone of choice.

Categories
Technology

Pixel phones have jumped the shark

Google has released a phone that seems to increasingly be designed by committee in some misguided effort to hit some sweet spot of a middle of the road consumer. The new phone uses an old chip that is a non-starter and the camera is no longer top of the heap. I skipped the Pixel 4 because it was over priced and the design was a bit of a disaster.

I have a Pixel 3 and while it still works it is getting a little long in the tooth. It was the last decent Phone that Google released. Even though the Pixel 3 was over priced the specs and the quality of the device still competed with other flagship devices.

I would like to get a new phone because I upgraded to Android 11 and performance on the Pixel 3 is beginning to suffer. It crashes a little more than before, apps freeze a little more than before, and from time to time there is a noticeable lag when using apps.

Why do I bother upgrading the OS? Mainly to stay up to date with security. There haven’t been any new features in Android over the past several iterations that have changed the way I use the phone or improved the experience. In fact, they’ve removed some features that I used all the time. The one that sticks out the most is burst mode in the camera app. I used it all the time but Google removed it in a camera update to Android 10 because it is trying to copy the iPhone’s Live Photos. If I wanted that feature I would have bought an iPhone.

Where do I go from here? Samsung? They’re flagship is over priced and if I move to a mid-range device the camera is not as good as what I have now. Apple? God no. I refuse to get trapped in their ecosystem. It’s like quicksand that once you get in you can’t get out. Do I stay with my Pixel 3? Probably for as long as it works but I’m not sure how useable it’s going to be in the coming months as software updates continue to cause the phone to lag.

Here’s what I want. And, it’s what I believe most Pixel users want.

  • A great camera
    • High resolution front facing camera
    • Wide angle lens in addition to the main lens on the back
    • Good video
    • Option to use external microphones
  • A fast processor
    • Apps run better
    • Can be used more as a portable computer
    • Future proofs for at least 2 years
  • A finger print reader on the back or under the glass
    • You can unlock your phone without looking at it
    • Faster and less annoying than face unlock
  • A modern design (small bezels and a hole punch rather than chins to support cameras and speakers

That’s it. The rest is gravy. The phone and messaging functions are secondary.