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 AndroidHeadlines.com

We've gotten a few e-mails asking why our stories no longer are available on AndroidHeadlines.com. 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'.
 

Reader comments

From the Editor's Desk: Privacy, Google Play, Nexus tablets and more

34 Comments

I wouldn't put that wimax speedtest up against anything other then a 2g phone. I never got good speeds with it here in DC. Plain old AT&T 3G used to kick it's butt. Verizon LTE still smoked them all.

The worst I've ever gotten is 4mpbs download. I can easily get 6 to 8mpbs and I've seen as high as 10mbps or so. So I would put a Wimax speedtest up against most any connection. I do know that my 4g connection in Nashville beats any 3g connection and any 4g save for LTE, especially AT&T's "fake 4g".

I dunno, move to Nashville, TN maybe?

Women are allowed to own I-Phones, as for men, if you enjoy a company telling you who, what or when you can do anything on that phone well, then you my friend are not a man. Get a phone that has balls, get yourself something with some real juice, get yourself an Android with power and punch. My LTE powered Android monster is getting over 20 MB download and over 6 MB up, my battery lasts almost 2 days and throw in free tethering and you have no one telling me what I can or can not do. I have root.

Care to elaborate as to why you believe the opinion to which you have called idiotic is in fact in your opinion idiotic?

Even though iDevices has jailbreaking, it still can't match the end user's ability to customize an android with out need for root.

Yet it's not like every man would love the customization and the power of root. I personally love rooting, but I know there are lots out there who like the "walled garden" of Apple.
People have freedom, man. They can use whatever phone they want.

Well, In most of the country you can't get "4G" anyway.
Not to mention I am getting pretty tired of this "We have 4G" nonsense. Do you have 100 MBit? No, then you don't have 4G. Just because the US carriers have decided to call their slightly upgraded systems 4G doesn't make it so.

Here is an idea. Install true 4G towers and backbones all over the US. When you have at least 60% of the county covered, do a nationwide rollout and make everyone happy. Until then most of us just have 3G+.

The powers that be happened to have decided to call VZW's LTE 4G, Wimax, and even everybody's HSPA+ can all be called 4G. Just so you know. Do I agree with it? No, but obviously VZW (and now AT&T in like 5 cities) is the only one that comes close. Stupid people don't know though. My G2x gets "4G" but I don't go around thinking that OR telling people I have a 4G phone. I just say how fast my speeds are and leave it at that.

I agree. In most cases on this sight people seem like they wanted to have faster speeds on their phones just so they can brag that their phone downloads faster than anyone else, it is just a pissing contest. whooo caaares???!!! As long as i can stream music and video without it being choppy, which i can in most cases, than i don't give a rat's A what speeds i am getting... i have seen my friend, who owns a Galaxy Nexus on VZW, get over 40 Mbps down. what does this person do with the phone? go on FB, read articles, stream music, play games. you can do that just fine with 2 Mbps. streaming video and downloading games is the only reason you would need more bandwidth.

The irony is that, if you use a GSM iPhone in any other country, you'll often see speeds that would (just barely) fit in the Sprint and Verizon definitions of 4G: I've seen 5.8Mbps from an iPhone 4S. Still not in the 20Mbps league I've seen of some LTE-based Android phones at their best, but it's as fast as an HSPA+ Galaxy Nexus (which should theoretically be faster) on the same network.

Of course, the difference is that the iPhone's battery capacity won't disappear before your very eyes like with most early LTE phones (RAZR MAXX excepted). I really hope for everyone's sake that second-gen chipsets are as good as 3G is now.

I still remember laughing when you were doing a comparison video of something and your wife's iPhone. You were doing a browser test and noticed androidcentral was not in the history. Ah my wife doesn't know anything about my work but it was still funny. Keep up the great work Phil!

Sadly. I think I would get pimped slap from a boss with my lte speeds. Just took two tests. One was 6.09 down and .88 up. Then 4.07 down and 2.75 up. Gotta love Verizon extended lte. Lebanon Pa.

There absolutely needs to be a Nexus tablet. Think back to the announcement of the Nexus One. It was a watershed moment for Android not only because the phone was an excellent product, but also because it established a paradigm for OEM's to follow. It gave Android a direction. And for as much as the Nexus One sales model was mocked, when you say "Nexus phone" now, the Android community, if not the tech world, knows exactly what that means.

It isn't about specs or hardware. You can only shout "four cores" so many times before I hit the snooze bar. It's about giving Android tablets a center from which to radiate. Which tablets have unmolested ICS at the moment? The original Xoom is the only one I can think of off the top of my head. That's bad.

Frankly, if I knew for dead certain that a Nexus tablet was coming out soon and that it met or exceeded what the iPad is, I wouldn't be tempted by the new iPad threeve HD at all.

There already was a Nexus tablet, the Xoom WiFi. 100% stock Android. Unlockable. Google reference design. First 3.0 tablet. Second 4.0 tablet.

>"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."

And yet, I have my own Email service where nobody else can read my Email. And I run one at work where nobody outside the company can.

>"Same of a credit card anywhere."

At least they don't get a itemized list of exactly WHAT I buy. Google would if I used their "wallet" or "NFC" stuff. And yet many people are ready to give up cash or demand it go away in the name of security.

>"Or your medical information at a doctor's office."

And yet there used to be a time, not that long ago, you could talk to your doctor and give him information and know it was not entered into a computer and instantly accessible to other doctors, other associated practices, and insurance companies and who knows who else.

Technology is a wonderful thing, but the way it is being used is very much eroding privacy, and therefore freedom. It is a huge problem of our time and is getting much, much worse. I am not saying I have any solution, but just because we have already lost privacy, that isn't an excuse to just not care anymore.

*hands him a roll of tin foil* You are going to need more layers for the upcoming Google thought recording device.

Seriously. You are a technophobe. Just because your data is being recorded doesn't mean everyone is using it in nefarious ways. Try not to think too hard over the idea that if you have a credit card your transactions are being stored on a computer somewhere, and is shared with companies that calculate your credit score. Or that you are being recorded, on average, by 3 or more video cameras per day in some form or another.

Paranoids like you make me laugh. Not because you are paranoid, but because for all your complaining you don't realize how much additional personal details are being swapped around the internet on a day to day basis without you even knowing. If you did you'd probably move to the backwaters of Virginia.

I am not a technophobe. My whole life revolves around technology. I use it every day and I understand it far better than you apparently think. In fact, your comment makes me believe it is *you* that have no understanding of just how much information is being collected, stored, aggregated, leaked, and shared out there and just how much damage can be done.

One who is NOT concerned about privacy and security in this information age is just ignorant or foolish.... or maybe both.

LMAO, flip a table! I would totally do that too. I just taught an English class here in Korea and they asked me what cell phone I had. When I told them it was a Samsung Galaxy SII they all oohed and ahhed! It was so funny. I told them I loved Android and hated the Iphone and they all started laughing. There words, "iphone is trash".

It's quite humorous that the editor rails against 'faux 4G' yet believes he is using authentic 4G while all the while he has been using 'faux 4G' and is completely oblivious to that fact.

Perhaps Mr. Editor should read what 4G is as specified by the ITU, and not by Samsung, Verizon, etc Marketing

'True 4G' is supposed to support 1 gigabit speeds when stationary as well as 100Mbps peak mobile data rates, ultra-low latency and channels of up to 100MHz. No current 4G offering can claim that.

It's also supposed to unify wifi/wan/voice. Again, no one offers this.

It's for me to see an android authority site like this get completely duped by marketing campaigns by verizon, and then chastise the marketing efforts of AT&T who have duped his wife....and then read him make fun of her when he got duped first.

Sorry Sir, I mean no offense really. You weren't the first, and certainly be the last.

People need to stop Thinking carriers and OEMS are some kind of tech standard authority. They are not. They are a registrar of technology...a reseller. They don't set standards, although they do contribute to its progression.

I know darn well there's no one real definition. Which is why I don't care when someone tells me not to consider LTE and Wimax as real 4G. :p

"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."

Do you know something we don't?! D:

When I read that last comment, your answer to the wife, I had serious chuckle. If they ain't happy the our world becomes a shit storm,cheers man.

This Sprint customer told me today on the phone "The iPhone is an asshole!" hahah, I couldn't stop laughing...it still makes me laugh lol

I was messing with my Dad's Transformer over the weekend and had noticed that the icon had changed from Android Market to Google Play, had not gone through the TOS and the menu alerting to the change yet. So I ran over to my Dad, which was somewhat aware of the change due to my brothers and I's disdain over said change, and asked him to open up the market and download something. Now, my dad, is not a tech newbie and he does pretty well with these things. So while meddling around, he opened Amazon app store first by mistake and then nVidia Tegra zone before he got Google Play after several minutes and some mild frustration.

Pissed me off how they just shit on the user experience like that. They just make changes all willy nilly like that, I can't imagine what kind of rage there would be if Apple changed the name of iTunes to the "Apple slap happy store" either with or without people knowing about the change.

/rant

Look at Phil in that picture. He looks like John Belushi after he scarfed up the Jello in the movie Animal House. Hehheh!

OK, here is another of those reactions about privacy... ;-)

I am almost always grateful and appreciative of Phil Nickinson’s reporting talent and experience in putting Android information together in a helpful, useful way --except on the darn issue of privacy and personal security.

Privacy is a complex and involves equipment, applications, policies, and most of all people. It can’t be dismissed or resolved with simple aphorisms like:
- “there is no such thing as privacy,” or
- “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,”or
- “You’d have to be Amish.”
(all of which were in the podcast or above commentary).

The on-line world is faster, less controlled and delivers more far-reaching effects than any previous environment we have known in our history. Today’s online privacy and personal security problems, mistakes, fraud (and even unforeseen second-order effects from a new application or social community networks) could be instantly catastrophic for individual users, or even for society writ large.

Millions of smart phone users are putting more and more of their lives into cyberspace and privacy and personal security for them are changing, but privacy and personal security will not disappear.

Because of this, consumers need informed reporting that points out the issues, promotes understanding and stimulates discussion and solutions. Consumers don’t need glib reports that simply bash some people for lacking technical knowledge or use the space to pound away on with: "you agreed to the ‘terms of use’ for your phone /app, so why the fuss?/‘game over,” themes.

In addition, Android and cyber privacy/ security issues are more complex than legacy privacy & security issues of brick-and-mortar banks or doctors’ offices that were mentioned in the above commentary. So, too, comparison with one’s desktop computer file system privacy practices (“used for years”) is a weak example for today’s hyper-connected environment.

Android Central reports on tons of great topics, and it certainly can’t make privacy a sole focus; but it would be valuable to read more privacy and personal security reports by Phil and Android Central. Especially if they were did not include an upfront or concluding bias, and helped to stimulate positive inquiry and dialogue. More reporting would be great, but not if it just delivers another “here is that privacy issue again, stand by for more uninformed chatter and much ado about nothing” report.

(By the way, (aside from the microphone feedback) I liked the latest podcast ;-) and thought that (for moments) Phil did a nice job of trying to broaden the scope of the privacy discussion. . .)

I have enjoyed your technical editorials for some time. I learn a lot from the factual material presented in your columns.

However, your attitude about security and privacy is, I'm afraid, motivated more by wishful thinking than any appreciation for reality. It would appear that your concern over possible slowdowns of our 'community' trump any privacy arguments, in your mind.

However, as is the case with most younger people, you exhibit a very shallow understanding of American history and philosophy, particularly around the right of privacy. (One has only to review what is laughingly called the 'curriculum' at any local highschool - that is, if one graduated before, say, 1970 - to see what I mean.)

Anyway, your 'logic' also defies common sense. You seem to defend Google's (and others') fundamentally illegal hijacking of personal data as OK, for two reasons (drawing also from your other comments):

1) 'Everybody Else Does It'. Really - even if true, this is hardly a defense; (seems to be a common 'defense' for a certain group of political cretins, too);

2) After all, Google has 'told us that they are not evil'.

Brother - this one is beneath comment.

How would you, and other equally uninformed 'no-sweat-oids' feel, if instead of Google and, say, Carrier IQ, it was DoD who was collecting every keystroke? What if DoD farms if out to the 'military industrial complex'? NOW how do you feel?

Because, my friend, you have already authorized Google, and many others, many times over, to use any data they gather, however surreptitiously, however without your knowledge or consent, to use that data *However they darn well please*. Your contract with them (as well as all of our Google contracts) permits them, for example, to sell/give that data to any government agency, or any other firm, based SOLELY on their desire or perceived 'need' to do so.

To defend this kind of activity by the extremely shallow arguments presented here - and by naive comments here - shows a degree of ignorance almost unbelievable - and certainly insurmountable by logical discussion.

marco321