Phil Nickinson

It was a question I knew I'd get this week. Wasn't sure when, and I wasn't exactly sure what the ramifications would be. 

"I have 4G now?!?!?!"

That was a text from my wife, two days after I updated her iPhone 4S to iOS 5.1. (Yes, the wife of the greatest Android blog on the planet uses an iPhone 4S. She can use any damn phone she wants. She's my hot wife.)

A funny thing happened last week after the iOS updated -- folks started to care about something we've been railing against for a year or so now -- AT&T's faux-gee 4G. This hardly is a new phenomenon; we've had "4G" (as in HSPA+ with enhanced backhaul) Android phones on AT&T for some time now, and we've got the first true (and, actually only) 4G phones on any network, be it Sprint, Verizon or AT&T, thanks to Wimax and LTE. (Unless you want to count the HTC Max 4G.)

So if you've got a friend with an iPhone, pat them on the back and congratulate them on getting 4G. Then run a speed test with your LTE or Wimax phone, flip a table and walk away.

As for my wife's question? I'm a grown man. I told her the truth. 

"Sure you do, Baby."

Pissed off about privacy

There's an interesting reaction anytime you talk about privacy and technology. It's far more divisive than it probably should be. What it comes down to for me, I believe, is this: You need to be able to trust your app developers, and you need to be able to trust the OS developers. But at the same time, you're going to have to give up some privacy to be able to use services. That's just the way it is. It's the way it's been for years and years.

Why is that so hard to swallow?

And we're not just talking Google. When you use anyone's e-mail service, you should assume someone there can read your e-mails. When you go to the bank (some of us still do that from time to time) you trust that the teller doesn't write down your information. Same of a credit card anywhere. Or your medical information at a doctor's office. There's a whole lot of trust involved, and there are backstops and a great deal of oversight so that you can trust these services without thinking about it. Should operating systems and apps have oversight? Certainly. But I'm not sure it's the government's place.

There are going to be the occasional flaws in Android, just as there are in every other operating system. What bothers me is the finger pointing that goes on anytime one is exposed. That's as much a flaw in journalism as it is anything else. "Chrome browser hacked on Day 1," were half the headlines coming out of Pwn2Own. A few sites followed up with the story that Chrome was patched and the $60,000 reward given out within 48 hours. And it was just the first of several payouts. How's that for service? Read out the Chrome Releases Blog for more details. It's worth checking out, even if you don't understand a lot of it. (I'm raising my hand in that group.)

We had a pretty good privacy and security discussion on this in our most recent podcast. Check it out.

Android's identity crisis?

So the Android Market is no more, replaced by Google Play.

I'm not completely sold on the "Google Play" name. But then again, it doesn't matter what I think of the name. It's not like Google's going to change it because I, or you, or anyone else doesn't like it after the fact. 

It's pretty awkward trying to tell someone where to go to download an app. "Hey, get it from Google Play." Where? "Google Play." There are apps in Google Play? "Yep. In the apps section." What happened to the Android Market? "Sigh."

I do have some real concerns about the change in visual branding -- the Android green and Bugroid logo have become instantly recognizable. And now?

That said, I also believe this is true: Google's not just going to change the branding to Google Play and leave it at that. This is just the first step in something much bigger, and Google traditionally has had greater patience than you or I. Google also has a willingness to change ("pivot" is the word the kids use today) should things not work. So while change can be tough, let's not freak out just yet. 

A Google-branded tablet?

In case you couldn't tell, I'm also not sold on the idea of an idea of some Google "Nexus" tablet. The general consensus is that anything Nexus is "better" than something not Nexus. But what, exactly, would Google be bringing to the table here? ASUS already has showed us a $250 quad-core tablet, and manufacturers have (for better or worse) mostly left the Android tablet experience relatively unadulterated.

What services would a Nexus tablet have that you can't already get in any of the (ridiculously large) number tablets available today? And in the case of Ice Cream Sandwich, ASUS has proven that an OEM can push out a major update in a timely fashion. Chances are there are forces at work there we're not privy to, but I don't care about that. It's the end result that was important.

Or, it's possible Google's got something new up its sleeve.

Why we're no longer on

We've gotten a few e-mails asking why our stories no longer are available on The short answer is we asked for our feed to be removed. Since launching on Sept. 4, 2008, Android Central has had but a single goal: To be the No. 1 site for the best Android news, reviews, opinions and accessories. Period. We've got the hardest-working team of Android writers in the business who showcase their work on this site every day. And while we can appreciate the goal of aggregation, it's against our policy to allow a site to scrape our RSS feeds. Re-reporting using actual writers is one thing, scraping is another.

Additionally, I learned that Android Headlines uses Smartphones Experts as its accessories store provider. (That's the sort of distance we have between us and the business end of things, in case you're curious -- I maybe could name three other sites that use SPE stores.) To comply with our scraping policy, and so that there can be no concerns of double-dipping with them having an affiliate store, I requested that our feed be removed.

Not that there's a dearth of ways to get your Android Central fix. Between the blog, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Google Currents, you've got to work to miss us.

Other odds and ends ...

  • If you haven't checked out HTC's new community blog, I highly recommend you do so. A bunch of old-school mobile names are popping up there, and it's really cool to see a manufacturer do this sort of thing without it being an awkward marketing job. 
  • That new iPad ... Holy cow, that's a lot of pixels. And I've got no doubt that it's buttery smooth in the graphics department, but good on NVIDIA for reminding everybody that benchmarks are a funny business (which is why we don't distract you with them in our reviews) and that a slide deck is just a slide deck.
  • Got our press notification for the Google IO developer conference (moved to late June this year). Starting to get very, very excited for this one. I've got a good feeling.
  • But first, we've got CTIA in New Orleans in early May. I've got a good feeling about it, too, especially if you're on a CDMA carrier. But, yeah. That's still a couple months away, and the clock's tickin'.