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Android malware in the news

Nonsense. That’s to be expected.

Common sense. Surprising.

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Why people get Nexus phones: I rooted my MyTouch 4G after less than one day

Ditching the MyTouch 3G for the MyTouch 4G
My first smartphone was the second Android phone released—the original MyTouch 3G. Not the Fender. Not the 3.5mm headphone jack. The original. From the beginning, it was a pretty crappy phone. I mean it did basic smartphone things but the touch responsiveness was poor (you really had to press into the screen to get it to respond), and the 192 MB of RAM meant it took an extra couple of seconds to do anything. Angry Birds is basically unusable on that phone. So after a year and a half, I’ve been dying to upgrade.

For a while I was considering the MyTouch 4G, the Nexus S, and the (at the time upcoming) Samsung Galaxy S 4G. The Nexus S definitely appealed to me for being pure Google Android. No Zip Whiz bang my head non-Sense overlay. At the same time, it did, in fact, feel like cheap plastic. Its screen was a fingerprint magnet. And it was still 3G speeds, which is not that big a deal now, but as the T-Mobile network keeps growing, (what they call) 4G will be something I want to take advantage of. The Samsung Galaxy S 4G had potential but it also felt a bit light, and it had no flash on the camera and less internal storage than the original Samsung Vibrant.

I had heard quite a few bad things about the MyTouch 4G, too, though. It’s ugly. The speakerphone sucks. The battery life sucks. There’s too much bloatware and trialware. After futzing around, I finally went with the MyTouch 4G. Yes, I know there are crazy dual-core phones right around the corner, but Angry Birds was calling me, and I had to answer. Besides, the MyTouch has 768 MB of RAM. That’s four times what my old phone had.

HTC Sense on the MyTouch 4G: unbearable
I’d tried Swype before on the MyTouch 3G, and I was not enamored with it. It takes too long to drag my finger over every letter. I can use the Android regular autocomplete suggestions after two or three pecked letters, and it’s much faster and takes less concentration. I thought I could just select the regular Android keyboard instead of Swype. I thought Sense may be heavy but I can use ADW Launcher instead. I thought the bloatware is there but I can just not use it. I don’t need to actually remove it. I was wrong on all counts. The version of Android the MyTouch 4G comes with is terrible. I couldn’t stand it.

First of all, the choices of keyboard are Swype, Touch Input, and Dragon Dictation. If you change the keyboard from Swype to Touch Input, you don’t get the regular Android keyboard. Instead you get basically the same Swype keyboard but with no Swype. This keyboard is annoying because the autocomplete suggestions either are not there at all or are selected for you automatically. I don’t want the keyboard telling me which of the suggestions I want. They are suggestions only. I’ll decide for myself which suggestion is best. I tried to install the stock Android keyboard manually, but it would force close every time I tried to actually type something. After Googling, I found that force-close was a common problem.

ADW Launcher allowed my home screen to look relatively normal, but the app drawer and all the system settings interfaces still looked overly bubbly and cartoony.

And the bloatware was extremely excessive, to the point where I would have to basically have an iPhone-like home screen littered with all my app icons, since sifting through all the app icons in the drawer and skipping over the bloatware would take too much scrolling. Never mind that it was difficult to scroll left or right without accidentally activating one of the icons I was trying to scroll past.

Also, the so-called “Genius button” is basically useless and slow. I just wanted my normal search button back.

If I didn’t know anything about rooting, I’d have just returned the phone for a refund. This OS was godawful.

The rooting process: harder than before
When I rooted the MyTouch 3G, it was easy to find instructions that worked, and the instructions weren’t that intimidating. Not so this time. I spent a good chunk of the night and then the next morning doing trial and error and a lot of Google searching to figure out what really worked. The instructions on the Cyanogen wiki left me trying to adb and being told permission was denied. The Android SDK didn’t include adb at all initially. Some rooting instructions said to use Visionary to temproot. Others said specifically not to.

For the curious among you, here’s what actually worked for me. I’m using Ubuntu Linux, but similar instructions probably apply for Windows and Mac OS X.

Download the Android SDK and make sure adb is installed
Go to the Android SDK website and download the appropriate SDK. I’m using Ubuntu so I downloaded the Linux one. There is one for Windows and one for Mac. I also installed Java. Specifically, I installed the sun-java6-plugin package, but I’m not sure if one of its dependencies was all I needed.

Then I right-clicked the SDK download and selected Extract here. Using the terminal, I changed to the tools subdirectory and did ./android and chose to update all and that installed adb. Once I did that, I was able to ./adb whatever commands I needed.

Prepare your phone
Install Android Terminal Emulator, ROM Manager, and VISIONary.

Make sure USB debugging is on. Turn off the fastboot option in settings.

Download gfree and extract its contents into the android-sdk-***/platform-tools/ directory.

Doing the actual rooting
The full instructions (including a whole bunch of disclaimers and instructions for unrooting later) are on Xda Developers. Here are the highlights, though.

  1. Plug your phone into your computer.
  2. Using the Android SDK and adb, run the command
    adb push gfree /data/local

    (I had to actually run

    ./adb push gfree /data/local

    to get it to work).

  3. Unplug your phone.
  4. On your phone, run VISIONary to gain temporary root. To verify this worked, scroll through your list of apps. The SuperUser app should be in that list.
  5. On your phone, open the Android Terminal Emulator application and type
    su

    to get root privileges.

  6. After confirming root privileges is okay, type
    cd /data/local

    and then

    chmod 777 gfree

    and finally

    ./gfree -f
  7. After a bunch of terminal output, it should be done.
  8. Turn off your phone. Then while holding the volume down button, power up again. Double-check that s=off and the bootloader version is 0.86.0000. If so, it worked! You’re rooted.
  9. Reboot and run VISIONary with temporary root but check to set the system to r/w afterwards. If that works, then run VISIONary to set permanent root.

Install the Cyanogen rooted ROM

  1. Download the latest Cyanogen ROM (for me, that was Cyanogen 7.0.0 RC 1). Optionally, also download the corresponding Google proprietary apps. Put these in the top-level directory of your phone’s MicroSD card.
  2. Launch up the ROM Manager application.
  3. Click to install the ClockworkMod Recovery.
  4. Once that’s successfully installed, click to reboot into ClockworkMod Recovery.
  5. Once booted into recovery mode, select Wipe data/factory reset. Then select Wipe cache partition. Then Install zip from sdcard and select the Cyanogen ROM. Then Install zip from sdcard and select the Google Apps if you want them.
  6. Finally, select Reboot system now to boot into the Cyanogen rooted ROM.

Gingerbread is sweet
Now I get the appeal of the Nexus phones. Maybe the Nexus S doesn’t have cutting edge hardware specs. Maybe the plastic feels a little cheap. Maybe it’s tough to see the screen in the sunlight. Maybe it’s a fingerprint magnet. But the vanilla Android is much easier to use than HTC Sense + Swype + bloatware. I’ve got my normal keyboard back. I’ve got not too many extra applications. The “Genius button” has changed back to a normal search button.

Thank you, Cyanogen team! I donated to you only once, but I’ve gotten more than my money’s worth back.

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An unbiased view of Android vs. iPhone

A couple of years ago, I posted An unbiased view on Macs, because I couldn’t find anything even remotely resembling an unbiased view. I looked to see if there was an unbiased view of Android vs. iPhone, and I actually found one. It’s right here: Android vs. iPhone. It’s an extensive list, from a Mac developer who also happens to have a Nexus One, of pros and cons of Android, using iPhone as an opposing reference. I quite like the list. It really doesn’t reek of fanboyism. So if you’re interested in a comprehensive list of pros and cons, that’s the link you want.

I’m presenting it in a bit of a more personal view—why the iPhone appeals to me (why I love using my wife’s iPhone), and why I still use an Android phone.

First of all, I want to say that I think arguments fangirls and fanboys have about Android and iPhone are usually stupid. They tend to be arguments about which platform is “better” or which is more popular. The problem with “better” is that it is a vague and meaningless term that doesn’t help consumers make a choice. The bottom line is that neither the iPhone nor an Android phone will be the best smartphone product for everyone‘s mobile lifestyle. iPhone will be better for some. Android will be better for some. And some will find both equally good or equally useless.

So I’m more interested in the practical. What are the kinds of things that are important to you in making a smartphone purchase?

What I like about the iPhone
I know a lot of people who have iPhones. I’ve played with my friends’ iPhones. I’ve seen strangers use them on the bus. I’ve played with them in the Apple Store. I’ve “borrowed” my wife’s iPhone periodically. Here is what I can tell:

  • iPhones are sexy. The displays look good. The casing looks sleek. Even third-party apps generally tend to look better than their Android counterparts.
  • The interface is designed with touch in mind. That makes sense, since it is a touchscreen OS. One hard button takes you to the home screen if you press it once and then to search if you press it twice. Everything else is through the touchscreen. Android has too many hard buttons (Menu, Back, Search, Home, a trackball).
    Edit (March, 2012): I now own a Galaxy Nexus, which uses soft buttons for Recent Apps, Home, and Back. By default, there is a contextual Menu button and no more dedicated Search button. It looks as if Google is trying to move more in the direction of going fully touchscreen.
  • The touchscreen is very responsive (you’ll notice in a lot of YouTube videos comparing iPhones to Android phones that the reviewer often has to swipe or tap a couple of times for it to register on the Android phone). Pinch-to-zoom is a lot faster—there is no lag.
  • Multi-tasking is not a priority. Yes, I know some people view this is as a con against the iPhone, but I view it as a pro. I agree with Steve Jobs that performance and battery life matter more than multi-tasking. I really don’t use more than one app at a time anyway.
  • Here’s another one I like that I’ve heard many iPhone users complain about—notifications. I like that they just appear and then disappear. One thing I dislike about Android is that, to get rid of notifications, I have to swipe down the notification bar and then either click on the notification or click Clear to clear it. A notification should just notify me and then go away. I don’t need it lingering and requiring a lot of extra taps and swipes to remove.
    Edit (March, 2012): Since iOS 5, iPhones now use an Android-like notification in addition to the old notification system that pops up. This, for me, has now become a con for iPhone, since it essentially has the Android problem, making the interrupting notifications redundant… but still interrupting.
  • Updates come right away to all phones whose hardware can support the latest version. Don’t get me wrong—I definitely think criticisms of so-called Android fragmentation are exaggerated. Fragmentation doesn’t have much direct effect on the end user. But there is a real sense in which consumers just like to have the latest and greatest. If a new version comes out and Google says “Hey, it’s got this cool feature and that cool feature,” and you know your phone is powerful enough (enough processor speed, enough RAM) to support the update, it can be frustrating not to be able to install the update right away, and not everyone is geeky enough to risk a voided warranty to install a rooted rom (rooted roms can also be extremely buggy). With the iPhone, you just plug your phone into your computer, and iTunes will install the newest version of iOS as soon as it’s released.
    Edit (March, 2012): Google has three items in its “Nexus” line that get vanilla Android and over-the-air updates from Google in a timely fashion—the Nexus One, the Nexus S, and the Galaxy Nexus.
  • I may be the only Linux user who thinks so, but iTunes is a nice interface, and over the years it’s just gotten snappier in performance. I love the smart playlists and syncing capabilities. When it works, it works extremely well. Of course, I also know some iPhone users (particularly ones who have tried to use their iPhones with multiple computers) who have had a lot of bad experiences with iPhones and iTunes connectivity.
  • Even with the growth of Android as a platform over the past two years, sometimes there are apps available for the iPhone that are not available for Android. One that comes to mind is Netflix streaming. The iPhone has had this many months now (almost a year). Netflix just has murmurings about it possibly coming to Android “soon” and then for only select devices.
    Edit (June, 2011): Netflix now has streaming on just a handful of Android devices.
    Edit (March, 2012): Now almost all (maybe all?) Android phones on the market can play Netflix.

Why I’m sticking with Android
I don’t get fanboyism or fangirlism. How can you think one popular product is superior to another in every single way and not acknowledge that people have different needs and preferences? How can you not even acknowledge that almost everything (if not everything) in life has both pros and cons? Well, I’m definitely an Android user, but, as you can see, there’s a lot I admire about the iPhone.

Nevertheless, I won’t be switching to an iPhone any time soon. Here are some great things about Android that keep me there:

  • I love Google Voice, and its integration into Android is seamless. Back in 2009, they tried to submit an app to the iTunes App Store, and Apple rejected it (or just simply didn’t accept it, depending on what semantic backflips you want to employ). My guess is that Google then put zero effort into the iPhone Google Voice app for the next year and a half so that by the time it was released it was just garbage (I know because my wife tried it out on her iPhone). Maybe after a few updates Google Voice for the iPhone might be usable, but even then there are some levels of integration Apple simply will not allow. With Google Voice I get free, unlimited text messaging. I can block numbers. More importantly, I have one number I can give everyone, and it can ring my Android phone when I have my phone on, or it can ring my GMail account when I’m on the computer. Voicemail transcriptions are notoriously inaccurate (almost hilariously so), but they are still better than nothing.
    Edit (March, 2012): Google has since updated to the Google Voice iPhone app, and it’s now better, but it still doesn’t match the quality of the Android app and, without jailbreaking, cannot integrate fully with the iPhone.
  • On a related note, Android has the ability (and has had this since at least Android 1.5, Cupcake) to send certain numbers straight to voicemail. So even if people call my real cell phone number (not my Google Voice one) as a wrong number, I can just add them to my “wrong number” contact, and I’ll never have to hear the phone ring again when they call. If they call my Google Voice number as a wrong number, I can add them to “wrong number,” and they’ll simply be blocked—they won’t even have the opportunity to leave me a voicemail.
  • The keys on the iPhone keyboard are easier to peck at accurately, but I still prefer the Android keyboard for a couple of reasons. To sum up quickly, it’s the visual distinction between upper- and lower-case letters, as well as the autocomplete suggestions. You can read in more detail in my The Pros and Cons of the Android Keyboard entry.
    Edit (March, 2012): the Gingerbread (Android 2.3) keyboard is the best I’ve found so far (yes, I’ve tried Swype and all the Swype-like keyboards—no thanks), because of how many auto-suggest options it presents for words as you type. Unfortunately, the stock Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) keyboard regressed a bit (only three suggestions, and you have to long-press the middle suggestion to get more suggestions). Fortunately, you can still install the Gingerbread keyboard through the Android Market (now called Google Play).
  • Occasionally we’ll rent a ZipCar and drive around some place we’re unfamiliar with. Turn-by-turn GPS navigation is really helpful during those times, and that comes with Android for free… even though the voice is a little scary. My wife and I call her the dominatrix.
  • I don’t think it matters that the iTunes App Store has more applications than the Android Market has. Most of the important ones are present in both stores. More importantly, Google can’t tell you what not to install. Even if an app is rejected by the Android Market (which is rare), you can still choose to override that and install apps outside the Android Market (you get a big warning that is a security risk, of course). Now with the new web Market, you can install apps on your device remotely using your computer. Google also allows you to install various web browsers and email clients. There are no restrictions on apps with a claim that they duplicate core functionality of Android.
    Edit (March, 2012): Apple is now allowing for other web browsers like Dolphin, Opera, and Skyfire, but you can’t set your default web browser to anything other than Safari without jailbreaking.
  • In theory, at least, Android can use Flash in its web browsers. You have to have Android 2.2 or higher, though, and your phone has to have hardware that supports it. The ability to play Flash is never a con. Even if you don’t like Flash, you don’t have to use it, and as far as I can tell it is just Flash on demand anyway (you have to manually decide to play Flash to get it to play).
    Edit (March, 2012): Adobe is going to stop developing Flash for Android in the future

So should you get an iPhone or an Android phone?
Well, I don’t know who you are, but I will tell you that the iPhone world and the Android world are very much eco-systems.

If you want the best experience from an iPhone, you should have an iTunes account and use iTunes to manage your music. It’d be nice to have a Mac with Mail and iCal as your main email client and calendar, respectively, and to use iPhoto to manage your photos. Your music, mail, address book, and photos will sync up when you plug in your iPhone.

If you want the best experience from an Android phone, you should have a Google account and use it for GMail, Contacts, Google Voice, and Calendar. You shouldn’t mind dragging and dropping music files to removable storage (even from iTunes) instead of having things automatically sync. Ideally, you should actually prefer dragging and dropping to iTunes syncing.
Edit (March, 2012): I have found an amazing pay-for app in Google Play called iSyncr. If you’re really conflicted about wanting an Android phone but “needing” iTunes, iSyncr is worth the investment.

Since I use Windows, Mac, and Ubuntu all regularly, drag-and-drop (as opposed to iTunes syncing) is ideal for me. I know that isn’t the case for everybody. And since I use three different operating systems, it’s nice to sync to “the cloud” my emails, contacts, and calendar, instead of to a single computer.

It’s certainly possible (and I know people who do it) to use an iPhone with a Windows computer and a GMail account. I just don’t think you’re getting the most out of it by doing so. Likewise, a hardcore Mac-Safari-iCal-Mail-MobileMe user who has no GMail account could use an Android phone but would also not get the most out of the phone by doing so.

I hope this has been helpful in some way. As always, use what’s best for you. There is no empirical “best” for everybody.

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Does Android “fragmentation” actually affect end users?

Ever since 2009, I’ve been hearing a lot in tech blog posts and the media about “Android fragmentation.” No actual Android user I know in real life has complained about it, though. I’ve also noticed that criticisms about so-called Android fragmentation tend to be quite vague.

From Android fragmentation is real:

For Joe Average, this created an ultra-confusing marketplace where operating system versions changed every few months. It also meant that compatibility issues were inevitable.

What compatibility issues? Examples?

From Ask Maggie: On waiting for a Verizon iPhone 5:

But one of the problems that Android has is that it’s very fragmented. Even at the smartphone level, different devices run different versions of the Android OS and that means that not every app runs every device.

What apps? Examples?

On my MyTouch 3G (the original), I’ve used just about every version of Android there is. 1.5, 1.6, 2.0, 2.1, 2.2. Some rooted. Some OTA from T-Mobile. I’ve experienced no problems as an end user in terms of applications having compatibility issues. Some of the more graphics-intensive apps don’t run well on my 528 MHz processor with 192 MB of RAM, but that’s regardless of what version of Android I have—my phone just isn’t that powerful, so Angry Birds will just not run well on it. That has nothing to do with “fragmentation.”

Some people who want to make a big deal about Android fragmentation will point to an interview with one of the Angry Birds makers (Peter Veterbacka) in which he says

Android is growing, but it’s also growing complexity at the same time. Device fragmentation not the issue, but rather the fragmentation of the ecosystem. So many different shops, so many different models. The carriers messing with the experience again. Open but not really open, a very Google centric ecosystem.

but they seem to ignore that when asked directly about Android fragmentation being an issue, he says

Fragmentation on the device side is not a huge problem, but Steve is absolutely right when he says that there are more challenges for developers when working with Android. But that’s fine, developers will figure out how to work any given ecosystem and as long as it doesn’t cause physical pain, it’s ok;-) Nobody else will be able to build what Apple has built, there just isn’t that kind of market power out there.

That doesn’t mean that model is superior, it’s just important to understand that Apple is Apple and Google is Google. Different. And developers need to understand that. Different business models for different ecosystems. And wouldn’t forget about Nokia and MeeGo either, new leadership always tends to shake things up and create opportunity. And HP-Palm. And RIM. And even Microsoft. It’s a fragmented world.

If you actually own and use an Android device as your primary phone, how (with specific examples) have you found so-called “fragmentation” affecting you? Which applications do not work on your version of Android that would work on another version? Why do you think people don’t make as big a deal about “Windows fragmentation” (Windows 98, 2000, XP, Vista, 7) or “Mac fragmentation” (Panther, Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard)? Am I crazy for thinking Android fragmentation is a non-issue?

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Android users actually want Netflix streaming, I guess

Hilarious. Netflix just announced today on their Facebook page that Windows 7 Mobile has Netflix streaming. Out of the first 260 comments, 185 are angry Android users wondering where the Android Netflix streaming app is. I’m not angry, but I’m also curious as to why it’s taking Netflix so long to get one out.

Jeremy Collins WHEN WILL ANDROID USERS BE ABLE TO DO THIS???!!!
Gina Diamond Quesada aww man that’s cool! What about an android app for us customers Netflix?! That would be AWESOME!
Sean Salm What about droid phones?
Manvir Sinbad Singh wtf. how do they already have a windows 7 app but not an android app
Mike Parson What about Android?!
Chris J. Stone Wait, what happened to Android?
Josh Bailey How about us Android users, we’re still waiting.
Josiah Black Amen..lets see a droid APP!
David Bland I also would LOVE for you to show us Android owners some LOVE!
Andrew Jesse Windows Phone 7, really?! Come on Netflix, I know Microsoft probably offered you a good penny to suport them, but really, what’s going to get you more money? Windows Phone 7, or Android, iPhone and Blackberry? I’d say the last three. So make an Android app. soon! Please! Windows Phone 7 lost their chance in the smartphone game, the leaders are already in place, there is no fourth place. :-D
Grégory Kendall Great, how about Android now? pleeease
Katie Marie Pollard What?? Windows Mobile 7 before Android???!!! Stop ignoring Android Netflix!!!!!
Frederick Pou Will you guys have the app for droid??
Tina Chambers Still waiting for Droid here too…
Steven Dobbs Who in their right mind gives a damn about windows 7 mobile?
Stephen Dix NO ANDROID? PARTY FOUL!!! WinP7 is gonna suck for the next 18 months anyway. Way waste your dev time?
Michele Pipoly Klein um…and where is my Android app?? Get with the program Netflix. I don’t know anyone with a Windows 7 phone. It is either Android, Blackberry, or iPhone these days.
Carl Parrish I was going to say how did they get one before Android, but I see enough other people have brought that up.
Shannon Buckles Philippus PLEASE give DROID users some love!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Jesus Gonzales Get it for Android!!!!!!!!!
Kollin Leisinger Flixdroid? ;) Netflix on Android!?! I have been waiting for this FOREVER! C’mon!
Cindy Dvorak Jacobson No doubt!!!!! PLEASE get that Droid app out soon. What a slap in the face that the Windows 7 is available. NOT COOL
Rich Coan Droid
Sean Salm this is bullshit, im pissed off. I want an android app available for download TODAY!
Josh Schmidt Ummmmm. Cough Cough! Android! Cough! Sheesh. Get your priorities straight!
Tom Scholfield Where the heck is Android?
Matthew Dake Got an Android-based smartphone? Bad News — you can now instantly watch a latecomer that will most likely be DOA get an app before a well established mobile OS. Just need to keep checking in vain by going to the Android Market. Also, suck my gnards.
Elietia Mackey what about ANDROID!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! >.<
Katie Marie Pollard Look at all these comments for Android. Get a clue Netflix!!!
Genna Mickey i bet netflix can’t stream on verizon droids because of the presence of stupid Blockbuster
Geoff Paulin When will there be one for Android?
Oz De Leon Bring it for the Droid!!!!!
Hilary Goodrich Reilly ummm… android!?!?
Chris Thom Hey, how about Android!
Gesse Calvaire Who cares about windows 7 where’s the android app?
James Hayes ?*ahem* Android?
Devin Andelin Yeah, because WP7 is totally used by more users than Android and is SOOOO much easier to program for. Wooowww.
Joey Fletcher Still waiting on app for Android here too!
Richard Keller There are hardly any Win7 phones. Why on earth would you make an app for them before Android with all its phones?
Mendy Brackett Blakeman DROID!!!
James Sadler WTF…Where is the android app?
Chris Metcalf i want to watch on my evo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Joseph Logan When is the android app coming???
Lindsay Meyers Come on, Android it already.
Kelley Bowler I don’t even use Android, and I think this is bullshit. Windows? Really? Forget that!
Mario Sellitti WHERE is the ANDROID app???
Elocin Ruomyes Where the fuk is the android app!
Matt Thomas Where’s our android app!!!!
Mohsin Siddiqi I really believe this is the joke of the CENTURY.. windows 7 gets it first before Andriod.. Netflix what you for drinks dis Halloween? whatever it was dont ever drink it again.. PURE BULLSHIT!!
Mike Bro What bout’ Droid?
Katy Bednarowski Another vote for Droid market. Plz.
Lisabeth Clark Can we please get an app for Android? I’d love to watch Netflix on my Samsung Epic!
Paula Schroeter add me to the masses wanting an app for DROID!
Jane Allyson- D’Arienzo android android android android android android android android android android android android android android android android
David Ondic Jr Whats so special about Windows that Adroid can’t do? Bunch of crap.
Laura O’Reilly DROOOOOOOOOIIIIIIIIIIDDDDDDDD!
Taylon Sandlin yes, android please
John Basile Now put it on Android!
Jacqueline Wagner We really need an Android App. Windows Mobile phones blooow!!
Rob Lee How about the app for Android users? Any word on that?
Josh Rimokh Come on Netflix let’s see some Android support already!!!
Andy Brown WTF? Windows 7 before Android? C’mon.
Raymond Johnson Yeah that’s smart, lets just disregard arguably one of the more popular operating systems…Android. Get on the ball and get droid users (me) a netflix app so I can stream from my phone to. This should have been completed a loooong time ago…
Mike Alonso Ya seriously how is it windows 7 just came out and barely has any phones out and android users are STILL waitin even after iphone has come out. Step it up netflix! Android is takin over!
Jeff Hoagland Android support, CMON!!!!!!!!!
Alberto Aguirre No love for Android? Netflix on my EVO would be awesome, and enabling hdmi output would be even more spectacular.
Matt McCarter Where’s the Android app????
Shawn Kelly When’s the app for Android coming?
Conley Tyler Android Please!
Joey Larrinaga still no android app. haven’t you learned your lesson by now netflix?
Paul Sauseda yawn!!! ANDROID PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sara Abrahamson Schmachtenberger Android please!
Joe Stam Android?!
Daniel Damitz Android please;-)
Kris Linville A N D R O I D !!!
Roxanna Monday Jarrett Android please!!!!!!!!!
Timothy Farzalo ANDROID ANYBODY?
M Ke’Ola Macagba hook up BlackBerry and Doid platform cell phones!
Emily Maddox Android please! I think more people have Android phones than windows! Please Netflix. Us Android owners love Netflix too!
Gabriel Sanchez what about Samsung galaxy S phones???
Ryan Snook Android
Ralph L Angelo Jr How about an app for the android line???
Carter McGowen ANDROID
Dave Libby D R O I D ???? Come on man !
Jesse Pollock What the fuck ??? Where is the Android app ??? Only the largest and fastest growing cellphone app in the world
Jeff Bray Android app, please!!!
Sarah Hixon Please make it so Android can watch Netflix. I am so mad that boyfriend gets to watch my Netflix on his iPhone. So not fair!! :-D
Bryan A Castillo Netflix hates Android apparently. And that makes me sad.
Paul Tucker Android
Mario Sellitti Seriously, ease of development aside, it’s a real disappointment that there has been no Android streaming app yet, and WM7 which JUST CAME OUT already has it. Android users may be showing their displeasure with their wallets if this is not soon corrected.
Linde Wyser android….puhhhhhhllllllllleeeeeeeeeaaassssssssssse?
Sam ‘Sam’ Sheehy The Google TV Logitech Revue runs android and launched with Netflix. If Netflix is already running on an android platform how fucking hard is it to release a mobile client?
Sal Carollo r u kiddin’ Windows 7? , Android!!!!!!!!!!
Joel Richford DROID APP PLEASE!!!!!!! Sorry but I couldn’t help myself…DO IT!!!!!
Paul Lucien Where is the android app??
Paulina Quezada Android android android please!
Aaron Bratton I have to throw in on the Android request here. Seriously folks, get with the times!
Tom Burns Please, ANDROID!
Edward R. Bittner where’s my andriod app?
????? Diaz SO U GUY DID A WINDOWS MOBILE APP THAT HAS LIKE 3 PEOPLE IN THE WORLD INSTEAD OF ANDROID? WTF NETFLIX>
David Ondic Jr Explain to me why my Droid X with 720p screen and 1gig processor cant play your fancy little app Netflix.
Raymond Johnson I feel like Bart Simpson asking the mail lady for his spy camera, “Where’s my Android app?, Where’s my Android app?, Where’s my Android App?” lmao
Christopher Gerber Android
Adrian Clarke No love for android huh
Shawn Shelton Streaming Android App are what the masses are calling for! C’mon there are other streaming technologies other than silverlight.
Robert C. McKofke and where is the Android app???
Alan Davison If the other requests didn’t get you attention.. I will throw it out once more. ANDROID!!!!
Rick Emmel Why is android last?
Patrick Maddox Droid? Really Netflix? iPhone, got it, understood. But Windows Phone next? Really?!
Rico Joseph Android version please!!!!!!!!
Andre Dragon Android!
Matthew Kowalski About time for the xbox search… and Android needs to be able to stream movies
Paul Sauseda YAWWWN!!!!! ANDROID!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Daniel Alan Rollins Damn. If this doesn’t come out on droid I’m gonna switch to win
Matthew Feriani ANDROID…NUMBER 1 OS RIGHT NOW AND STILL NO NETFLIX…
Marco A Sandoval Android! When?
Tim Treacy This SUCKS! What about Andriod? Who the hell has a windows phone? FFS.
Shawn Latham Android already, I love netflix, but when you all do stupid stuff like support win 7 before supporting android, it really makes me wonder. My droid X even has a blockbuster app on it… Please Please PLEASE Bring android already.
Steven Croft Netflix streaming app for android!!!!!!!
Frank Guhlin Android please?
Sabrina Hemken Make one for my Android!!!! Why Windows 7 ????
Dave Libby I just canceled my Netflix until I can watch it on my DROID…. get with the program…. (or get the program with us, rather)
Brian Blankenship Great move for xbox…now just to get the app for android.
Eric Jan why Windows 7 phone? no one is going to buy that!!! get a Android app!!!
Steve Jeremiah Windows 7 gets this before Android? WTF?
Chrislyn Gebert Seriously…windows 7 gets it?!?!?!?! NOW ANDROID!!!!!!
Rich Cote Like everyone else has said…where the hell is the Android app?
Jason Ramos U can make an app for an unproven platform but not for Android which is 2nd after the iPhone? Are u fuckin serious? FAIL
Sean Humphrey So, I’m jumping on the bandwagon – You’ve ALREADY got a Windows Phone 7 app out – and that’s been available for like a week? Android still doesn’t have one? That’s pretty lame, guys.
Lauren Cone Android App!!!! We need one :)
Eric LaRose Android please.
David Noll Where is the Android app for netflix users??
LisaAnn Howland Young DROIDX app for watching linked to my account please!
Casey Shea Another one for android, the way more popular os
Austin Kienzle WTF Netflix!? Where’s my Android app already!?!?!
Rachel Henry Whats the hold up with an Android app? You guys have been working on it forever… and money or not there are a hell of a lot more Android users than Windows 7 users. Hell I’d pay for the app if I had to, just bring it out already… neglecting arguably the fastest growing smart phone OS loses you major cool points.
Sarah Randle Can we expect something similar for android soon? Oh please oh please oh please? :)
Marcelo Hernandez Say it ain’t so. Still no love for Android. I’m switching phones this week so ya’ll hurry up.
Steve Swingler Android marketshare is increasing. Micro$oft is decreasing. Netflix, you need to be smarter about who you are making deal$ with.
Adam Bonner Aaaaannndroiiiiiddddd!!!!!! JUST adding to the consensus
Craig Holden ?1 more vote for android
Richard J Smith I am just saying…ANDROID!!!! I pay for Netflix already. Why not Android?
Lindie Gardner Here here!! Android!!!
Landon M Poague Android support?
Darren Williams Where is the android app
Marquetta Ourand Android, please.
Michael W Allen Windows 7 over Android? Good choice LOL…what a joke
Sean Edds Netflix have something against Google? As a subscriber I say “All, or nothing Netflix!!!” We pad your pockets, not Windows, Apple or Google for that matter….
Julian Cleland LOL Android, best OS, possibly fastest phone. Can do pretty much anything, doesn’t need jail-broken or all that crap either. I had a windows 7 phone. They suck
Bryan Watson ANDRIOD!
Jason Thompson Congrats to the people with windows 7! Us android users are totally jealous!!
Aaron Weyhrich WTF!!!!!!!???????
Who gives a crap about Windows Mobile Phone 7????
WTF!!!!!
What about Android!!!!
Matthew Hotchkiss Hey NetFlix! Today the Android O/S just took over at a 44% market share over Apple and Blackberry. The windows 7 mobile O/S does not even make the list. What is your beef with GOOGLE. Get your act together and release the Android App!
Julian Barnett who cares about WM7, where’s the android app?
Chad Chamberlain Windows 7 phones are out? What about an Android client?
Ryan Parker Need that for Droid phones!
John Seagondollar Android rules!! I would hate to cancel netflix over an app!!!
Seth Turner Where are your priorities? Androids user base is HUGE compared to WinMo 7! I think you’re mis-allocating your resources, I should punish you with by withholding funds!
Monica Simmerman ANDROID!!!
Joe Raimondo ANDROID PLEASE!
Jeffrey Smith When will it come out for the HTC Evo/Android market?
Akinwale Lakeru I love you guys….I really do. But you pretty much know the deal…get Netflix on Android. You guys are doing a great job of staying ahead of the curve. Don’t let that slip now.
Jeremy Abney Want it for android
Levin Manabat I’m still waiting for a Android App!!! Seriously, there are a lot better phone on Android than Window 7 at the moment!!!!!!
Jeffery Ball Android
Charles Reeves Where is DROID app? Guess I need to locate a NETFLIX replacement.
Denny Brooks No android app yet…..WTF Netflix people……hello….anyone home?
Tom Madden have had droid for a year..waiting..windows 7 how long
..come on…wake up!!
Jay Nestle ANDROID…???
Jason Comeau ANDROID?
Pete Dunlop Amazing how quickly Netflix comes to the aid of Microsoft and leaves all the Droid users high and dry. Comical. Pathetic. I can say that. I have an iPhone.
Eric Kinch Could we get a droid app too?
Christina Graham Another vote for android! Really, come on!
Nick Keserich I’m not really sure why Android users have been waiting so long. FFS you put an app on an iPad before you put it on the droid or eris… those have been out well long enough, and with a large enough userbase, to justify having an app already. What a joke.
Rev. James El-ahrairah Endicott Blockbuster has an android app, why don’t you?
Timothy Haines Aw what about android?
Masra Clamoungou Wii needs a search and android needs an app.
Mark Peterson what the hell, get on the ball, android………….
Patrick Lopez Android or nothing!
Scott Eisert Android!
Joshua Knott ANDROID!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

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The Pros and Cons of the Android Keyboard

This is a kind of follow-up piece to Lukas Mathis’s Virtual Keyboards on iPhone and Android from a year ago, comparing the virtual keyboards on the iPhone 3GS and the HTC Magic. I bought the Magic (in America called the MyTouch 3G) around that time and everything Mathis said about the keyboard was absolutely true then.

I’m now running Froyo (Android 2.2) on my MyTouch 3G, and it’s pretty neat to see how Google has improved the keyboard a bit in the past year.

On the surface, of course, it doesn’t look as though much has changed:


You’ve got the regular keyboard (same size as it was in 2.1, 2.0, 1.6, and 1.5).

One thing that has changed is the replacement of the comma with a microphone symbol, allowing you to speak in text instead of typing it. At first, I was annoyed by this change, since I often use commas in text messages or emails (and I rarely use speech-to-text). As I’ll explain later, though, Google makes up for that replacement in a different way.


You have it in all caps.

(By the way, something Mathis doesn’t mention—generally speaking, I think he has an even-handed approach to the comparison, but this is where his iPhone bias comes out—is the fact that the Android keyboard makes it visually apparent with each letter on the keyboard whether you are typing in capital or lowercase letters. On the iPhone, the letters appear uppercase even if you are typing in lowercase.) Whoops! Thanks for the correction, Mr. Mathis. I somehow missed that mention in the footnote of your post.


Then you have the caps lock.


The numbers and punctuation.


And the weird alternate symbols.


As Mathis rightly points out, the major strength of the Android keyboard is the autocomplete, as it makes multiple suggestions as you type.

I actually don’t know if this feature was in earlier versions of Android, but in 2.2 if you type im without the apostrophe, one of the first suggestions will be I’m, and if you type simply i and then put in a space afterwards (indicating it’s only one word), your I will automatically be capitalized.


What’s even better, though—and I’m pretty sure this is a recent change in Android—is how the autocomplete recognizes the limitations of the Android keyboard size-wise and makes suggestions accordingly.

The Android keyboard (at least in portrait mode) is definitely smaller than the iPhone keyboard. It is harder to press the right key unless you are concentrating really hard on a particular key or unless you have really tiny fingertips.

Here you can see an example. The g and h keys are quite close together and easy to accidentally hit if you’re trying to type the other key. So here I have begun typing the word going, but instead of hitting goi I actually typed hoi, and Android is smart enough to suggest going.

This is quite huge, actually.

When typing on a physical keyboard, the user’s focus is on the actual text that appears on the screen, not on the keyboard. There is no need to look at the keyboard. The keys don’t move, and the physical features of the keyboard ensure that her hands stay in place, too. The same is not true for virtual keyboards.

Obviously, there is still nothing to anchor your hand to, but after doing quite a bit of typing on Android 2.2, I have to say Google has gotten me quite close to the physical keyboard approach. I don’t look as much at the letters I’m typing as I look at the autocomplete. I usually start typing only one to three letters (and not even carefully) and then select the autocomplete that has the word I was intending to type.


So, yes, as I mentioned before, I was saddened by the comma disappearing from the bottom of the keyboard. Google has made up for it a little by having punctuation autocompletes for every time you finish a word. So you have the option to keep typing another word… or to put in a comma or exclamation point (or something else).


And even though autocomplete of a word will automatically put a space after the word, if you select a punctuation autocomplete right afterwards, Android will delete the space, put in the punctuation mark, and then add a space afterwards.

This kind of “smart” keyboard makes it so I can type almost about half as fast on my Android keyboard as I would on a regular keyboard (which isn’t bad for a touchscreen keyboard).

The unfortunate thing about this implementation, though, is that it isn’t at all intuitive. A lot of this new functionality I discovered by accident. Nothing in the keyboard advertises the fact that if you type a word incorrectly Android will be smart enough to guess what you were typing. Nothing indicates that Android will automatically delete extraneous spaces before inserting your requested punctuation. I actually, for quite a while, would type i, hit the ?123 button to get the apostrophe, and then hit ABC to get back to letters in order to type I’m, not realizing that if I simply typed im, Android would suggest I’m to me as an autocomplete. Very handy, extremely smart—not at all intuitive, though.


As smart as Google has improved Android’s keyboard to be, it’s still got a ways to go. For example, as you can see in this screenshot, not every text entry box has that smart autocomplete. You can enable the Google search suggestions, but even that won’t account for misspellings. You’d have to actually search for the misspelled search, have Google say Did you mean…? and then click the proper search link.

The multi-touch still isn’t implemented the way it is on the iPhone (whereby you can hold down shift and then the letter to capitalize one letter, instead of pressing shift, letting go, and then pressing the letter). You also cannot hold down the switch-to-second-keyboard button and then drag your finger to the number or punctuation mark while basically staying on the main keyboard. And there are some times when the trackball is handy, but it’s just inelegant compared to the magnifying glass on the iPhone to get between letters.

Of course, you could argue that you will make fewer typing mistakes and have to go back edit if the autocomplete is as smart as Android’s is now. Same deal for punctuation marks (since they are now part of the autocomplete and not requiring a switch to the secondary keyboard most of the time).


Just as a random aside, if you’re not in a loud area, and you’re able to speak clearly, the speech-to-text function does work quite well most of the time (if only it could do so for Google Voice transcriptions, too, but that’s another story).

So the bottom line on the Android keyboard is that it’s really smart in a completely counterintuitive way. Once you figure out how to use it, though, it’s golden.

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Annoying Android usability issue – Gmail with multiple accounts

I love my Android phone. It’s a lot of fun, and I think Google has done a lot of good things with the Android platform. There are still some major usability issues, though, that I hope Google will iron out in Android 3.0 (Gingerbread).

Here’s one, for example:
Issue 1664: Gmail should allow choosing the From: address on an account that has multiple addresses
Send As Feature in Gmail

For years, I’ve been using Thunderbird as my email client. I used it on Windows. Then I used it on Ubuntu. Then I used it on Mac OS X. Recently, inspired by my move to an Android phone, I decided to go as Google as possible. Google Voice. Google Docs. Google Maps. Google Reader. Gmail. There were some things that took adjusting to in Gmail (conversations instead of messages, anyone?), but I didn’t miss Thunderbird as much as I thought I would. Google gives you nigh-unlimited email storage (I don’t see meeting the 7 GB limit any time soon the way my emails are going), and the interface is simple and quick, and easy to use. More importantly, I can aggregate with Gmail a bunch of email accounts into one, just as I would with a traditional desktop email client (like Thunderbird, Mail, Eudora, or Outlook).

In the regular Gmail web interface, you can choose which of these accounts is the default email address (meaning if you compose a new message, that message will have the from: address be that email address unless you choose otherwise), and you can also choose to have all replies sent from the email the original message was sent to. That means if someone sends an email to my church account and I hit Reply, the reply will appear to come from my church account; and if someone sends an email to my home account and I hit Reply, the reply will appear to come from my home account.

Pretty nifty feature to have. Too bad it’s missing from Android’s Gmail app. In the Android Gmail app, if you compose a new message, it will always come from your Gmail email address, regardless of what your setting is on the web client. And if you reply to a message, it will also come from your Gmail address. That makes it pretty much useless to me in terms of writing emails, seeing as how I use my Gmail account to aggregrate other email accounts, and I basically never want emails to appear to come from my Gmail account.

Fortunately, there’s a workaround, but it’s not pretty. The workaround is not to use the Gmail app. Just use the Gmail web interface in your favorite Android browser (Browser, Opera, xScope, Dolphin, etc.). If you use the mobile version (which is the default) of the web client, you won’t actually get to see your from: address, but it’ll still operate the way it’s supposed to (I tested it on both a reply and a new email). You can switch to the desktop (or “classic”) mode of the web client if you actually want to see the from: address.

Now, Google, how difficult would it really be to fix this problem?

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You mean products fail for other reasons?

If you read recent press coverage of Google’s Nexus One, it all seems to make sense. Phones weren’t going to sell well being sold only online without a chance for people to try them in person in a brick-and-mortar store. There wasn’t an advertising campaign for it. Very few articles or blogs about the end of Nexus One seem to think there was a problem at all with the phone itself. No one says the phone wasn’t ready for consumers or that it was too difficult to use.

Yet two years ago when Asus was just starting to be successful with the Eee PC netbook (which came preinstalled with a version of Linux, which Microsoft had to stop right away by resurrecting XP for the first of many times to come), that’s what a lot of the press coverage assumed. Geez. I mean, a lack of advertising campaign or in-person models to try out in the store couldn’t have anything to do with Linux netbooks not selling. It must be that Linux is too hard to use. It must be that Linux isn’t ready for consumers. It must really be that consumers just prefer Windows when given the choice.

Well, there is some truth to that in that the Linux distro Asus chose to put on the Eee PC was essentially crippled (not at all like Ubuntu, PCLinuxOS, Fedora, Debian, OpenSuSE, or any of the other popular distros of the time). It wasn’t even vanilla Xandros. It was a custom Xandros that could be customized only through pasting cryptic commands in the terminal.

Nevertheless, if they’d marketed it correctly, Linux could have been a success. The problem with Linux on “the desktop” (or the laptop or netbook) is the myth of meritocracy. You don’t win by being the best. You win by marketing.

Think about it.

When the iPad was announced, critics focused on the features it didn’t have (no webcam, no Flash, no USB ports), but Apple with its clever marketing department convinced the hoards that the device was magic, so the hoards bought it. If a Linux tablet had been released without Flash, people would have just laughed and said “This is the reason Linux will never succeed—they need to realize the masses use Flash.” But Apple releases a tablet and all of a sudden people are actually saying Flash isn’t necessary. HTML5 is suddenly the wave of the future. Apps for websites are suddenly better than just going to the websites themselves.

I also see a lot of Linux poo-pooers claim Linux doesn’t have any apps, and that Windows users have certain killer apps they need, and that’s why Linux won’t succeed. Well, when Android first started, it had very few apps. In fact, for the end of 2008 and all through 2009, iPhone fanatics kept pointing out how many hundreds of thousands of apps the iTunes App Store had compared to the few thousand Android had. Well, Android now has almost 100,000 apps. If this pace continues, the iTunes App Store and Android Market will probably have the same number of apps by this time next year. The Linux desktop (as opposed to server or embedded) has been around since… the late 90s? Android has been around since 2008. The Linux desktop isn’t mainstream but Android is.

What should we learn from all this? Marketing matters. Being able to test a physical product out yourself matters. Dell selling badly marketed (or even anti-marketed) Ubuntu models on its website isn’t going to sell Ubuntu preinstalled in great numbers, nor are relatively obscure vendors like System76 or ZaReason without a proper store front or brand name recognition.

I would love it if all the bugs in Ubuntu (or some other popular Linux distro) could be fixed. I would love it if some more attention would be paid to ease of use or to making more applications available in the software repositories. I would love that. But that won’t fix Bug #1. If Linux wants to make a dent in the desktop/laptop/netbook world, it needs to give up the idea of being good enough and start embracing the idea of crafting, shipping, and marketing a product—yes, one people can try out in a brick-and-mortar store. In other words, what I said two years ago is still true.

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Living the Apple and Google life

Ever since Apple rejected the Google Voice application for the iPhone last year, the tech press has tried to play up a corporate rivalry between Apple and Google. Will people pick Android or iPhone? Will Apple make Bing the default search engine on the iPad? Will Google start making touchscreen tablets to “kill” the iPad? I’m sure Eric Schmidt and Steve Jobs don’t get along as much as they used to, and Apple and Google certainly have experienced some overlap in terms of competing markets and target audiences. Nevertheless, for a lot of everyday consumers, the Apple/Google dynamic is more of a hybrid synthesis than a divided pledge to one or the other.

Here are a few examples:

  • Me: As some of my Ubuntu-using readers are dismayed about, I recently switched my primary operating system to Mac OS X on a Macbook Pro (still using Ubuntu on the netbook, still will keep updating Ubuntu tutorials). At the same time, I have an Android phone, and I will not be giving it up for an iPhone until Steve Jobs says (in all sincerity, not as a joke) “I love Google Voice and I think it’s the app everyone should install on the iPhone!” To make the most of my Android experience, I use GMail also, even to check my non-GMail accounts (via POP3). And, of course, I use Google as my main search engine.
  • My wife: She’s an Apple user through and through. She uses a Mac at work, and she uses a Mac at home. She has an iPhone. She uses Mail, not Thunderbird or GMail. Safari (not Chrome) is her main web browser. At the same time, she has a Nook (Android-based) e-reader, and Google is still her main search engine.
  • My pastor: Even this Apple hipster recently traded up his iPhone for an Android phone (albeit an iPhone clone), but he plans to get an iPad to keep up his “street cred.”
  • My sister-in-law: She uses a Mac Mini with iTunes and has an iPod, but she also has an Android phone and a GMail and Google Voice account.
  • My boss: She uses Google for just about everything. It’s her search engine. GMail is her email. She just got started with Google Voice the other day. She uses Picasa to organize her photos. But she’s an iPhone user.

In fact, I would say, at least among my social circle, the last example is the most typical. Yes, I know a lot of iPhone users. Before they had iPhones, they had iPods. Some of them still use iPods separately from their iPhones. But Google is the main search engine. GMail is the email. Google Voice is starting to catch on. Even if you don’t have an Android phone, there may be other Android devices (like a Nook) that you pick up. Even if you love Google, you may still have an iPhone.

Who’s going to win? Apple or Google? I say both will win. In some ways, both have already won.

P.S. I do know a couple of iPhone users interested in Google Voice. Anyone with a non-jailbroken iPhone who’s been using the two together for a while willing to share the experience of using the Google Voice mobile page in Safari? Pros and cons?

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Where are dedicated eReaders headed?

For a long time I was skeptical of the whole eReader phenomenon. I like my books. I like flipping through the pages quickly, taking one book at a time to the couch, to bed, to the bath, to the airport. Bent pages and ratty covers aren’t pretty to look at, but they still leave the book usable and lendable. Well, recently my wife got a Nook, and she is just glued to that thing. She is a voracious reader and has just been reading book after book (either for free or for purchase) on that thing day and night. Even though there are some refinements that could come to the Nook’s interface, she still loves that thing. The good thing is that Barnes & Noble actually seems committed to improving the Nook. It’s received four updates since its launch back in December, and every update has improved it considerably (usually the performance in terms of turning pages, but also some other features).

The other day, I had the opportunity to read a book on her Nook, and it was quite a pleasurable experience. It was a lot better than I thought it would be. I know she prefers clicking the hard button on the side to turn pages. I found I liked turning pages by lightly flicking to the right or left on the touchscreen (after it has dimmed—before it dims, a touch will select a menu item). Even though the Kindle gets a lot more press, the Nook looks a lot better (my wife had some random person on the bus ask her if the Nook was an Apple product) and it supports the ePub format.

What will happen with dedicated eReaders, though? My guess is, unfortunately, they will remain a relatively niche product. I don’t think there is a huge percentage of the populace who reads a novel a day. I think most people read only a little bit at a time. So the eye strain issue of a backlit screen is moot. I don’t agree with people who say “Lots of people stare at backlit screens at work all the time and don’t have eye strain.” I actually know quite a lot of people who do have eye strain from staring at laptop screens. In any case, a lot of laptop users at work are using their laptops to do various small tasks instead of just staring at it reading one long manuscript. And, really, that is how most people will be reading eBooks—a few pages at a time on an iPhone, an Android phone, or an iPad or other touchscreen tablet.

The bright colors and touchscreen appeal will definitely beat out the pragmatic eInk technology on dedicated eReaders… at least for most people. I think my wife can read sometimes two or three novels a day. For her, eInk makes a lot of sense. I don’t read nearly as much as she does, but I think eInk may make sense for me, too.

Tell you what, though—if they can make an eInk screen that is in full color and touchscreen enabled, that would kick some serious electronic book butt.