From the Editor's Desk

Ah, Christmas Eve. The day we remind our kids that they still have to be good for at least one more day, and remind ourselves that a little extra patience probably wouldn't hurt anyone. Easier said than done, for sure. But it's more important than ever to take a step back, take a breath, and keep some perspective. 

In keeping with the spirit of things, here's my naughty and nice list. 

  • Hardware equilibrium: We're at a place and time in which the underlying technology of smartphones is fairly equal. It's not 100 percent apples to apples, but it's close enough for most folks. And that means it's up to the manufacturers to make the difference in tweaks and customizations. Some add functionality and eke out every last ounce of performance (Samsung). Others have the design chops but seem to struggle a little in the coding department (HTC). Either way, it's good for competition, and that's good for consumers. Samsung undoubtedly will improve the way its UI looks, and HTC will keep working out the bugs. [NICE]
  • Carriers and contracts: Still the scrooge of the U.S. smartphone business. But as long as as continue to put a low up-front cost ahead of long-term prospects, nothing's going to change. You wouldn't expect a $2,000 car to last as long -- or be as satisfactory -- as a $20,000 car. So why do we settle for two-year contracts with $50 smartphones, many of which were born into obsolescence? [NAUGHTY]
  • Tunnel vision: Focusing on specs while ignoring the forest for the trees. The inability to accept that Nexus devices will never have SD cards. Poo-pooing a phone before you've ever touched it. [NAUGHTY]
  • Readers helping readers: Nothing makes me happier than seeing new folk ask questions in our forums and getting helpful answers from the veterans. [FEELING GOOD]
  • Patents and stories about patents: Not unimportant, but they get folks riled up about things that are extremely complex, slow-moving and, ultimately, don't really matter to consumers. [PUT ME OUT OF MY MISERY]
  • Screwing with developers: Looking at you, Twitter. [STOP IT ALREADY]
  • Screwing with users: Looking at you, Facebook and Instagram. [FFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUU]
  • Smartphones instead of point-and-shoot cameras: Perhaps the single most important improvement, alongside faster data speeds. Our kids will wonder why so little of life was documented before 2010 or so. [INEVITABLY NICE]
  • Unplugging: On the other hand, it makes it that much nicer (and important) to turn off the phone every now and then. Put down the tablet. Read a book. Talk to someone. [MUST DO MORE OFTEN]
  • Super scary Android malware and viruses: Easy to avoid. Hard to convince mainstream publications that they're part of the problem. [FUD]
  • Updates that seem to downgrade your phone: This happens far too often. A software update should not make your device run worse. Ever. Remind me to roll back my Nexus 7 to Android 4.1.2. [WHOOPS]
  • Smartphones as digital wallets: Ahead of their time. But Verizon and Google going back and forth over competing standards isn't helping anyone. [GROW UP]

Hope everybody has a safe and happy holiday!

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Reader comments

From the Editor's Desk: Who's naughty, who's nice


Kids of today are loosing writing skills. Will kids of tomorrow loose talking skills? Good naughty and nice list!

I like that the specs all seem to be the same or close to it. Now manufacturers have to work on coding and their skins to differentiate and it seems in this department samsung is winning, hope others can catch up

Amen. Still wondering what the hell happened to my super-awesome Nexus 7, which is now merely a normal-awesome Nexus 7.

"Tunnel vision: Focusing on specs while ignoring the forest for the trees. The inability to accept that Nexus devices will never have SD cards. Poo-pooing a phone before you've ever touched it. [NAUGHTY]"

I agree with everything except this. You need coal in the stocking for this!:)For a lot of users, Specs are not the first and foremost thing users look at. We look at usability and longevity...which would be the forest for the trees analogy. People are flocking to the Nexus for one reason which would be the pure android experience because skins aren't for everyone. Not everyone wants to root either. The looks and specs are nice but be honest here, 16GB is a slap in the face. Cloud storage is well and good but c'mon, a lot of us don't want to automatically upload our pics to dropbox, Gdrive, or skydrive just to find out it's down for maintenance when we need it....or no signal to retrieve it. Not all of us have 4G or LTE. Not poo-pooing the Nexus at all...just poo-pooing Google for taking a step backwards.

Merry Christmas EVERYONE!!!!!

How so?

First off, I like specs as much as anyone, but it's not the "sole" reason I buy a phone. Second, I don't have to "accept" it because I just won't buy it. Third, I have "touched" a Nexus 4 in ways that would make grandma blush so I can call it like I see it in my own personal opinion. The phone isn't poo...just the lack of features and internal storage is.

I think flexible local storage will come back.. if not by another name than sd card. Productivity apps are improving, video editing, maybe there'll be some DVR for online tv channels.. I find it awesome that daroon player directly plays ripped dvd files.
Well, maybe I'm wrong, I just wouldn't say 'never' in either direction.

Merry christmas, fun article..

I also agree with everything but this. While a previous point stated that hardware is nearly identical, that is not true when manufacturers intentionally downgrade the specs. Nexus line and now HTC not including SD cards and removable batteries is a downgrade to me, and eliminates one of the biggest advantages of Android vs. iPhone. While SD may not be the same "quality" of storage, having it as an option is better than not, and for many, not including either of these is a deal-breaker.

Exactly! Especially when you DON"T have to insert an SD card if you don't want to! I prefer to do so. I also like removable batteries and not having to worry about plugs and chargers. That's why I will continue to buy a phone that can do both.

So how does it work that removable batteries eliminate the need for plugs and chargers? You must have an external charger for the batteries if you don't charge them through the phone, in which case you're still using a charger. There's no way to get around charging the battery/batteries one way or another.

And storage? Just give me 32 GB internal and I'll be happy.

You still have to charge them...of coarse. But when your on the go like I am, having an extra battery in my pocket eliminates the need to find a plug and wait for it to charge. Having a spare batt effectively doubles my capacity on the fly. Then when I get home...I put them on charge.

Key word "I'll". Guess what. You don't account for everyone. That is what has drawn people to Android. Its choice. By saying hey you don't need that feature. Well you are acting no better then Apple and their userbase.

[b]Tunnel vision[/b]

Please. I've never read such an arrogant statement. My phone is just as much a portable multimedia station as anything else. I have 64GB of movies and shows loaded on my phone ready to access whenever I want. Net access or no net access it doesn't matter, I have a solid collection of content no matter what I'm in the mood for. Sci Fi? Drama? Comedy? Action? Its right there ready to go.

By saying that people are ignoring the overall phone is a pretty bold statement when a single feature becomes a make or break feature for some people.

Honestly. Its a statement I would expect to find on an Apple website for missing a feature. small screen? Bah! Look at the rest of the phone! Its an iPhone!

Seriously I expect better from Android users.

I agree!

Calling us "naughty" is "naughty" within itself. I can "accept" the fact that Nexus devices will never have SD card support or removable batteries but I don't have to "accept" it and buy it just because of...I will continue to purchase a different brand that does support the features "I" want. I like having my stuff right there when I need it not having to depend on any factors (except charging if needed)to effectively use my phone in any capacity.

Personally, I haven't ignored the Nexus 4. It's an awesome phone with outstanding specs. It just doesn't cut the mustard for me to use with those features stripped out.

Thanks Phil, that's a great list very well put!

FWIW, really hated the v4.2x update to my Nexus 7. Followed Jerry's instructions (thank you Jerry!!!) and rooted my first Android device. Tried out Paranoid Android 2.54 (based on v4.12) and I'm thrilled with the results. The ability to set phone, phablet, or tablet mode for each individual application is exceptionally handy.