Phil Nickinson

I'm supposed to take this more personally, I've been told. I'm supposed to hate Apple and what it's litigious self with every fiber of my being. I'm supposed to cry in my beer for Samsung, for HTC, for anyone who's ever had an injunction handed down. I'm suppose to hate the player, as well as the game.

That's just not me. I don't set my hair on fire, especially about things over which I have no control.

Here's what I do hate, in no particular order:

  • I hate that patent litigation has become the focus of the past several months. (It almost makes me long for the bad old, sky-is-falling days of Carrier IQ.)
  • I hate that instead of writing and talking about phones and tablets, we have to concentrate on lawsuits about phones and tablets.
  • I hate that it takes the focus away from the developers, without whom none of this would matter anyway.
  • Most of all, I hate that it's come this far.

That patents should be granted for software certainly should be debated. That patents are granted far too easily hardly is up for debate. Let's hope by this time next year we'll be talking about new and innovative products, and not this mess. I'm sick and tired of patents.

If you've yet to do so, check out the podcast I did with Rene Ritchie from on Saturday.

And now, for some more good (and bad) from the past week in Android.

Motorola does a good thing well

Kudos go out to Motorola. Within, oh, a half-hour of the manufacturer releasing its bootloader unlocking tool, I had the Sprint Photon Q opened up, the way God intended. We never thought we'd see the day.

This is the way it should be. It's not a overly difficult process. You need the Android SDK installed. And you need to be able to follow directions and copy and paste a few things. If you can do that, you can unlock the bootloader and easily flash a custom recovery and ROMs. It's tough enough so that you have to do a little homework if you're new to the game, but not so hard as to not make it worth your while.

Or, you can leave good enough alone. And Motorola's latest iteration of whatever the hell it's calling its UI these days isn't half bad. Don't like the way it looks but don't want to do any real hacking? Just install a third-party launcher.

Hate, the right way

It's been fun to watch the flame war that's engulfed the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1. You've probably seen Android Police's excellently titled review, calling the Note 10.1 an "Embarrassing, Lazy, Arrogant Money Grab." Hat's off to that headline, I suppose. It's also the sign of someone who really has no understanding of what goes into a designing, manufacturing and marketing a product, which is anything but arrogant, lazy and a money grab. This stuff ain't cheap to do. And it's not easy. And the people who do it works their asses off at it. But, hey, it's a great headline. And you know what? I don't disagree with a lot of their conclusions. But I also don't let tablets and phones offend me as much as this one apparently did them.

I think Anndrew Vacca got the good and the bad about right in our review. (And, no, I don't always agree with everything in all of our reviews. That's a great thing about having great writers who can have their own opinions.) The display resolution bugs me maybe more than Anndrew, and the picture-in-picture thing is gimmicky, at best, as are some of the other TouchWiz features. (But you know what? I also like that Samsung over-reaches a bit.) But something you have to remember is that the Note 10.1 isn't meant to take on the ASUS Transformer Infinity, or even the Nexus 7. It's meant to be an Android-based Wacom tablet. There's a big difference there.

If you really hate the Galaxy Note 10.1 -- if you really want to attack it with hate and bile -- here's what you do: Set the goddamn thing on fire1. Blow it to hell. Take it to the middle of a field and fire a friggin' TOW missile at it. Enough pillow talk. And then do it with every other device that doesn't live up to whatever misconceptions you'd had in the first place. You know, to be fair and all.

Here's the thing about extreme reviews, be they positive or negative: No device is ever as bad as a review states. And no device is ever as good. It's almost always somewhere in the middle. This is one of those times where the majority of our commenters got it right, I think. (And lord knows I don't always agree with our commenters.) If you want or need a tablet with a good Wacom stylus and some apps that actually take advantage of it, the Galaxy Note 10.1 is for you. If you want a traditional, top-tier Android tablet, there are other options. And Samsung (eventually) will put out something for that crowd again, too.

Oh, and we're not done with the Note 10.1 just yet. Stay tuned.

The HTC ThunderBolt rises from the ashes

I've used the HTC ThunderBolt more in the past week than I have in the past nine months. 

First, it was to fire it up so I could trade it in for a Verizon Galaxy S3. (Which I promptly put CyanogenMod 10 on. Lemme say this about that -- the dark theme of stock Jelly Bean (and ICS, I guess) looks sweet on that hardware. I recommend trying it if you can.

Then there's that Ice Cream Sandwich-based ROM that Team BAMF leaked out. You should seen me with that broken, beat and scarred phone, somewhere around midnight, waiting for that download to finish. We might have a smartphone boneyard around these parts, but we can still get a little excited seeing new life breathed into an old phone.

But I tell ya, that phone feels like it's from another life ago. If you're still using one and see me out and about, grab me. I'll buy you a beer.

That's it from me this week. Time to get back to work. To everyone in the path of what will soon enough be Hurricane Isaac, hunker down. If you're told to get out, get out. And I'll see ya on the other side.


Reader comments

From the Editor's Desk: Verdict fatigue; Motorola sends pigs into the air; how to really hate a device


Speaking of hate and fan-boys and all that, I recently purchased a LLOYD shirt from the store and realized that by this single purchase I have by accident labelled myself a fan-boy. Its great and all and I love it but I had to stop and think how much fun I would poke at a person walking down the street with a big apple logo on their t-shirt :)

Ah well that's the price I pay I don't really hate apple and tell my less technical friends to get iPhone instead (mostly so I don't have to be technical support) but you can pry my android from my cold dead hands :)

Ha I love when people like yourself think that people that use iPhones are " Less Technical". I've been a software engineer for 15 years now and have been an iPhone user since day one. Does that make me less technical?

Not at all its just less of a learning curve to use. And super smart people can still use limited stuff just as much as less technical people doesn't mean your less technical just the device your using

Android is more powerful but with that comes a extra layer of complexity and that's not for everyone.

I love how someone always pipes in to tell everyone how they're an exception to a generalization, as if their being an exception completely invalidates that same generalization.

I don't think the comment was intended to imply anyone was stupid. When my father was looking for a new phone about a year ago, he asked me "Android or iPhone". Now, even being an Android guy myself, I recommended he go with the iPhone. Not because he's stupid, or even not technical, but because I knew he would not want to invest the time to learn the phone (this is not a man who reads instruction manuals) and I know that the iPhone is simply more intuitive, largely because of the way they control the eco-system, and the OS is somewhat more simple.

It's much more about priorities, and intelligence. Truth be told, most Android people are all about choice. That's why we love Android. Any disdain for Apple is born more of the Apple fan-boys screaming about how Android sucks (and usually giving really stupid reasons) and Apple's seemingly endless law suit hypocrisy.

It's tiring, you know? All we really want is to play with our toys in peace :)

Phil, first of all, hats off to you and Rene for the balanced and "big picture" look at the Apple/Samsung case. Not quite what I was expecting, but that's good. I was expecting more beer-crying, and more Us vs. Them... which (thankfully) you didn't deliver on.

I'd still like to see more on what this means for hardware developers (and Android-based software) in the future, but I'm guessing that piece is probably a work in progress.

I always look forward to the "from the editor's desk" posts from you, Kevin, and Rene. It's a good way to keep on top of the smartphone world. (Blackberry was my first smartphone -- and as a Canadian, I still hope RIM pulls through. I'm currently on a Gnex, and my wife is rocking an iP4s because "android sucks" haha).

Anyway... yeah. That's about all. Keep up the great work Phil and everyone else here at AC!

I think why you are supposed to hate Apple is cuz you are "Editor in Chief" of best damn Android site in the world and people think that's what best sites do - hate their competitor sites even though it's not their their fight all to the core.

I'm happy that all the writers here are allowed to express their opinions and can disagree with each other while writing about it.Thumbs up!!

And keeps up these great posts. Draws me here(and many others I am sure) couple of times a day.

I'm honestly tired of all the lawsuits as well.
I can say without a doubt that trivial patents should be removed via the Jury Nullification process like all other laws that are stupid. It's not to say I'm against patents...just the ones that are stupid, but that means people have to be able to judge whether they're stupid.

The jury on Apple's case were hellbent on sending a message that copying is bad, but I seriously wonder whether they understand that they're the last line of defense against stupid/trivial patents. I would have liked to have seen their backgrounds/professions...

I am over all the lawsuit stuff. Does it matter, yes. But I want information about devices not a bunch of literature about patent laws. And people that get so upset about the release of a new product that doesn't live up to their expectations calm down..

OK, ok , fan boys, I got the gold coins, direct me to spend them on device to use for huge music storage that is superior to G/N playback.

Don't really like the pot shots taken in regards to other sites. I understand you may not like their writing for one reason or another, but I don't think that bashing someone else's writing really belongs here, much less from AC staff. To me it oozes of stroking your ego.

With a headline like Android Police used for that review, they are asking for "pot shots". Sure, it may be slightly distasteful. But at the same time I think they expect it when they try to start something like they did with that review.

yeh phil agreed, forget about the patent jibber jabber in which us consumers have no control.
Get bck to loving our devices of choice, whatever
they may be. For me android, but yeh making them work for our needs and enjoyment, whatever
that may be. Also helping a fellow tech lover in need as myself and keeping each other informed
on whats out here, old and new (i guess) :-).

nice pic. also, i have to disagree with you on the android police review. the note deserved to be ripped apart because it's built like a budget device but sold like a high end. it's insulting to the user when they expect us to eat this up simply because of the brand, so i can see why they were so offended, albeit a tad dramatic.

that being said, GO THUNDERBOLT! i can't believe how good this phone has become on Liquid's ICS rom... and can only get better from here.

Wait. You seriously bash the Note and then praise the Thunderbolt? Is this hypocritical, ironic, or humorous? I can't decide which.....

Nice sentiments Phil. I agree that the whole patent nonsense & Apple vs the world debate had gotten really poisonous. It so reminds me of the whole Apple vs Microsoft battle of the 80s-90s. This too shall pass folks. You can do nothing about it but sit & watch. Either win or lose, none of these companies are going away anytime soon. The market will be what it'll be & the courts & patents will settle down too. Buy what you want & enjoy.

Now for my 2 cents on the Note 10.1 & it's reviews...

I'll start by saying I really dislike Samsung's build quality. The materials they use have always felt cheap to me. At least their smartphones anyway. Their appliances for the home? Totally different story. Premium & 1st class all the way. They easily outclassed GE, Whirlpool, Frigidaire & the like. They cost more (import tariffs probably) but the warranties are better & you get what you pay for so there's that to consider. The Note 10.1 is a 1st gen attempt at something new. Like you said on last weeks podcast & again today, it was designed as a Wacom tablet with Android embedded in it. Not the other way around. I've fiddled around with it in Best Buy since I'm a graphic designer by trade & this tablet had a certain appeal to me. Now admittedly I can hardly use a Wacom attached to a pc. My hand & eyes don't do so well looking at one screen & offset drawing on a tablet. I'm old school mouse all the way. But put some native apps like Photoshop, Illustrator, & InDesign on here that aren't gimped or scaled down (highly unlikely) & the Note 10.1 could be a winner for the right user. And isn't that the point after all? If a device clearly isn't up your tree then don't buy it or use it.

Andrew is misspelled mid way through the article. Doesn't bother me, just thought you'd like to know. Thanks for all your work as of yet. Keep it coming.

I read Android Police's review on the Galaxy Note 10.1 and commented there that the reviewer might have gotten a bad unit. Seriously, don't expect tough metal build quality (Samsung = plastic) but an owner of a Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, I can tell you that it feels sturdy, plastic but sturdy and I can't believe a higher-end tablet like the Note 10.1 could feel cheaper. But seriously, when even the Cnet guy could give a more objective review of an Android tablet than AP, there is something seriously wrong there.

Phil I like ur site and write ups but taking a jab at a competitor site and specifically calling them out makes u sound like a prick bro. All I could think of while reading this was that u are coming across just like apple. What I mean is that the popular comment about apple not being able to innovate anymore thus trying to take down competitors is basically what u just did with android police. It came across that u couldn't think of a good topic to write on your own so you just decided to take a jab at an article on a competing site. Ur above that man. Don't stoop to apple's level.

How was it taking a jab at the other site? He was giving his opinion about the review and it was a good opinion. I agree with what Phil said. When I read the review on Android Police it just came off childlike.

I admit I have been an Apple fan for many years, I love the Mac. The iPhone was a mixed bag for me. I bought the first model and despite how pretty it looked, it was incomplete. I was still far more productive on my old BlackBerry in those days.

Fast forward to today, I still carry my Galaxy S2. I feel that it is a truly great phone. The display among many other things I can get done on it made it a perfect fit for me coming from a pile of BlackBerry phones.

When it came down to tablets, I loved the iPad and bought a 64GB iPad 2. Then another small rectangular device with rounded corners surprised me. Of all things, it was the BlackBerry PlayBook. It's build quality and amazing hardware / software combo was truly impressive to me. Packed with tons of other features and great cameras both front and rear all in a 7" tablet made it my daily driver. The wait for the 2.0 update made it truly a complete machine without needing a BlackBerry phone to use contacts and calendar features that were missing.

I also look at the iPhone and Android devices in the same way. Only Android moved along and grew much faster due to so many different companies pushing the limits of cutting edge technology. As a fan of gadgets, a android phone was the perfect match for me.

I like to make my phone truly mine and there's few left that really give you that freedom without voiding your warranty in the process.

I guess I'm a fanboy... Of choice.

I think Phil's main motivation may be to keep this an Android site and not turn it into an anti-Apple site. There's a big difference.

Look at iMore, it has turned into a pure fanboy site. They are CONSTANTLY writing sensationalistic articles about what the competition is up to and why it is so inferior. Much of what they write relating to Apple is nothing more than wild and often laughable speculation about Apple products and philosophies. Seriously, it's like they strive to be the stereotype. I expect that kind of thing in the comments. Not from the writers.

Sometimes I find it hard to believe that your sites are part of the same family. Many sites go down that path and it's a tempting one to take. Thank you Phil for not taking that path.

What can be patented – utility patents are provided for a new, nonobvious and useful:

Article of manufacture
Composition of matter
Improvement of any of the above
Note: In addition to utility patents, encompassing one of the categories above, patent protection is available for (1) ornamental design of an article of manufacture or (2) asexually reproduced plant varieties by design and plant patents.

What cannot be patented:

Laws of nature
Physical phenomena
Abstract ideas
Literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works (these can be Copyright protected). Go to the Copyright Office.
Inventions which are:
Not useful (such as perpetual motion machines); or
Offensive to public morality

Invention must also be:

Adequately described or enabled (for one of ordinary skill in the art to make and use the invention)
Claimed by the inventor in clear and definite terms

"Apple's suit claimed that Samsung had infringed upon multiple patents with its phones running Google's Android software, including scrolling, zooming and navigation features, as well as icon design and appearance."

ICONS AND APPEARANCE ARE ARTISTIC WORKS. And how can they be awarded anything for scrolling, zooming or navigation features when those are obvious ideas with touchscreen devices, and obviously not unique.