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Droid vs iPhone 3GS

I picked up a Droid on Friday. Here is how it compares to the iPhone 3GS (in my opinion).

Droid Wins: Network
The iPhone is on AT&T. In my experience, AT&T drops calls at 2 places in my commute to work. Verizon has those locations covered. [Note: AT&T wins on one count, here. AT&T allows simultaneous data usage and phone calling when in 3G. Verizon halts data usage when you are on the phone.]

Droid Wins: Podcasts
The iPhone’s built-in podcast functionality is painful (many clicks) for downloading new episodes. And if you DON’T use the built-in tools, you can’t listen to those podcasts when you are doing something else. On the Droid, you can use DoggCatcher to download several new podcast episodes at once and listen to them while using other apps on the device.

Droid Wins: Navigation
Though the iPhone has several very nice options for voice navigation, the Android 2.0 solution available on the Droid is very, very good and it is free.

Droid Wins: Customizability
I won’t get into this. The iPhone allows for no customizability where the Droid is awash in this kind of stuff.

Droid Wins: App Switching
Even if you disregard the multitasking advantage of Android, you’ve got to love the shortcut of holding down the home button to see the 6 most recent apps used. (Thanks Josh and Dave!!)

Droid (probably) Wins: Flash
Until all video sharing sites have non-Flash versions, Flash will be important to me. It seems clear that the iPhone will not have it any time soon, but it looks like Android will have it in the next several months.

iPhone Wins: Games
I don’t do a ton of gaming anymore, but I love Dark Harvest and Flight Control on the iPhone. The Droid is WAY behind on selection and quality of games.

iPhone Wins: Twitter
I can name half a dozen iPhone Twitter apps that destroy all of the Android Twitter apps. I do think, though, that this is one area where Android will catch up rapidly.

iPhone Wins: Video
Buying video, downloading video, playing video. The Droid didn’t even try to touch the iPhone on these counts.

iPhone Wins: Photo Library Browsing
The Droid needs a solution here. Maybe some Picasa integration?

iPhone Wins: Interface
Multitouch in the built in apps, particularly the browser and maps, is missing in the Droid. Also, apps are generally cleaner and easier to use on the iPhone.

Tied: Music,Battery,Email,Browser,Keyboard,Camera,Customer Service,Screen
As far as I’m concerned, the iPhone and Droid are tied on music playback, battery life, calendar, email, and browser. I’ll call the camera a tie, too, since they both have drawbacks (Droid has lower color-quality images; iPhone has no flash). I’ll call keyboard a tie since the iPhone’s software keyboard is better, but the Droid has an OK physical keyboard when you’d rather not give up the screen real estate. Customer service is another tie. I’ve had great experiences with Verizon employees and Apple employees alike. Screen: The Droid has a better screen, but the iPhone uses its better.

Not Counted: App Store Freedom, Expandable Storage, Dev Experience
I’m not counting app store freedom. I think Google’s approach is the right one, but Apple’s policies haven’t stopped tons of gems coming through. On storage: though the Droid has expandable storage, apps often use it by default to store data, blocking its usefulness. As for the Developer Experience – Android is easier to get started with and you can do more with the device, but the iPhone provides more UI glitz and its libraries are great for graphics and media.

Conclusion
I’ll keep both a few days longer, but I do have to cancel one before this time next week.

Other opinions:
My favorite: Ihnatko’s
Open Platform Perspective: Winer
Overall: Gartenberg

Python + OS X + Arduino + BlinkM

I have a bunch of BlinkMs and an Arduino from an old project and I spent some time with them this weekend. This time, I used Python on a Mac to connect. I learned a little in the process, so I thought I’d share.

1. I used darwinports‘ Python2.4 and the pyserial library.
2. On the Arduino, I flashed the BlinkMCommunicator code available here.
3. When writing to the BlinkM’s eeprom, you need to pause briefly before sending another command.
4. The attached code uses decode(“hex”). I’ll explain that design choice later.
5. The code assumes you have 3 BlinkM’s hooked up to the Arduino with their addresses set as 1, 2 and 3.

import serial
import time

def toBlinkM (ser, command):
	print ">\t Sending "+command
	ser.write(command.decode("hex"))
	print ">\t\t Sent "+command
	
def setBlinkMToPlaySimpleScript (ser, address, color1, color2, color3, color4, duration, fadespeed):
	# example: write line 0 of script 0 on BlinkM 1
	# 	01	Start code
	#	01	BlinkM address
	#	08	bytes to send
	#	00	bytes to receive
	#	57	command: write line
	#	00	script number	
	#	00	line number
	#	20	duration
	#	63	fade
	#	20	R
	#	20	G
	#	00	B
	
	print ("> Playing Simple Script on "+address)

	toBlinkM(ser, "01"+address+"0800570000"+duration+"63"+color1)
	time.sleep (.2)
	toBlinkM(ser, "01"+address+"0800570001"+duration+"63"+color2)
	time.sleep (.2)
	toBlinkM(ser, "01"+address+"0800570002"+duration+"63"+color3)
	time.sleep (.2)
	toBlinkM(ser, "01"+address+"0800570003"+duration+"63"+color4)
	time.sleep (.2)
	# last line: play script 0 1 time
	toBlinkM(ser, "01"+address+"0800570004"+"00"+"70"+"000100")
	time.sleep (.2)
	
	# set script id 0 to a len. of 5, 1 repeats 
	toBlinkM(ser, "01"+address+"04004C000501")
	time.sleep (.2)
	
	# set fade speed
	toBlinkM(ser, "01"+address+"020066"+fadespeed)
	time.sleep (.2)

	# play script id 0 
	toBlinkM(ser, "01"+address+"040070008000")
	time.sleep (.2)

			
ser = serial.Serial('/dev/tty.usbserial-A4001lcU',19200, timeout=1)

counter = 0

print "> Waiting for Arduino."

while 1:
	serialline = ser.readline()
	if (serialline):
		print serialline.strip()
	if ('ready' in serialline):
		break

print "> Arduino ready."

# tell #1 to stop animating
toBlinkM(ser, "010101006f")

# tell #1 to show only green and red at 1 bright
toBlinkM(ser, "0101040063010100")

# tell #2 to stop animating
toBlinkM(ser, "010201006f")

# tell #2 to show only blue and green at 1 bright
toBlinkM(ser, "0102040063000101")

# tell #3 to stop animating
toBlinkM(ser, "010301006f")

# tell #3 to show only red at 3 bright
toBlinkM(ser, "0103040063030000")

time.sleep (10)

setBlinkMToPlaySimpleScript(ser,"01","404040","FF0000","0000FF","FF0000","05","10")
setBlinkMToPlaySimpleScript(ser,"02","400000","FF0000","800000","FF0000","05","10")
setBlinkMToPlaySimpleScript(ser,"03","000000","FF0000","000000","FF0000","20","10")

Touch Book Impressions

The Touch Book looks very cool. I’ve been waiting for a netbook with a detachable keyboard and here it is! It even has 2 internal usb ports! Still: I’m not sure if it’s right for me. I would prefer a faster CPU, even if it meant lower battery life.

If that magnet mount is strong enough for mounting to a metal plate on my dashboard, though…

Palm Pre FAQ

Gizmodo has an up-to-date Palm Pre FAQ.

Meanwhile:
PreCentral.net has rapid fire coverage specific to the device.
PrePoint is adding historical context, comparing the new OS to ACCESS and pointing to some of the things we DON’T know about the Pre.
Pre Community is discussing both the business and technical aspects of the Pre.
PalmPreView dug up more hints from the past about the Pre.
I expect that the official Palm Developer Blog will ramp up coverage quickly, too.

palmpre

MacWorld 2009 Wish List

TUAW asks what I want to see at MacWorld. Check out their predictions. Here is my wish list in order. First is what I want most.

1. A Car PC experience for an Apple product. Voice navigation, Text-to-Speech for email and news, Voice Recorder, Traffic. App Store. This could be related to the rumored Tablet or maybe just a new interface for the iPhone…

2. 6″-9″ device. This should incorporate learnings from the iPhone, NetBooks and Mobile Internet Devices.

3. iPhone: Hulu and Netflix streaming.

4. iPhone: Background downloading of Podcasts, Twitter and Google Reader. If I understand correctly, the promised “push” functionality will be insufficient for these applications, but I’d love to be proven wrong.

5. iPhone: Copy/Paste

6. iPhone: Better calendar integration with Exchange.

7. iPhone: Email more than one photo at a time.

I’m not really in the market for an Apple TV or a Mac Mini, but there are definitely changes they could make to those devices that would make them hard to resist. The Apple Home Server product rumor is also interesting, but I’d be in wait and see mode. Especially after experiencing the flakiness of the Time Capsule product first hand this year.

GOOG 411 for Addresses in the Apple Carputer

In the upcoming Apple Carputer / Car PC, I hope the gps guidance system is as easy to use for finding addresses as Goog411 is for finding phone numbers.

Maybe if I keep talking about it as if it’s definitely going to be released, It will actually happen.

More on the Apple Carputer

Oppenheimer said: “We are working to develop new products that contain technologies that our competition will not be able to match. I cannot discuss these new products, but we are very confident in our product pipeline.”

I think that Apple can beat the competition so well because a) it builds the hardware and the software, b) it’s OS (OS X) has an unprecedented level of scalability in footprint, UI stretchability and power usage, c) the developer community supporting Apple is notoriously agile and loyal.

Yes, the tablet that people have been predicting for years will be fantastic when it arrives and I’ll certainly buy one, but the carputer could also be a huge win. Podcasts, Tivo for your radio, better and more integrated (with your macbook, phone and web) navigation, voice notes, etc… would be a good start. Wait ’till the App Store comes, though!!