Phil and Mia

I think I've switched my nearly 7-year-old daughter from iOS to Android.

She came willingly, which was a bit of a surprise, and truth be told I don't think she's knows the difference between one platform and another. She just knows that she's got a cooler-looking phone, and that I've told her it'll be much easier for me to get new music on there for her. (And cheaper for me, thanks to Google Play All Access.)

Still, for as cool as I think it is to see her using this new phone like she did her old inactive iPhone 3G, I can't help but wonder if I've turned into that parent, who doesn't give a damn that their kid suddenly has leaped forward a couple generations in personal tech hardware, all before her 7th birthday. That this new phone is all of a year old, and any one of our Android Central readers would be happy to have it. That I've just spoiled the hell out of my kid — and that she doesn't even really know it — is not lost me. (To say nothing of giving her one of 10 coveted device slots for my Google Play Music account.)

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But the really scary thing is that unlike her old iPhone, I'm leaving this phone connected to the Internet. Again, that's mainly to make getting to Google Play Music All Access, and because occasionally there are some apps that love to crash on startup when they don't have an Internet connection. That's bad code, but whatever.

This is not unfettered access, though. I didn't just set my child loose on the Internet. This is a bit of an experiment as well.

A couple years ago HTC purchased Zoodles which basically is a gatekeeper kids app that keeps youngsters stuck in a kid-friendly silo. (It's still available as a stand-alone app.) I can control (among other things) what apps my daughter can use, and how long she can use the phone each day. (There are more granular controls like blocking specific sites, but we're not to that stage yet, and I'm not sure I want to be anyway.)

It takes a 4-digit PIN to get into the Kid Mode settings or to dump out of it and get back to the rest of the phone. I"m not naive enough to say it'll be foolproof, but for now it's working, and it's working pretty well. I don't have to deal with iTunes or actually purchase three Taylor Swift records, the majority of the games she played on the iPhone are on Android. 

It's not all skittles and beer — the Zoodles app is a little sluggish at times, and it behaves better on a fresh install and not on a phone that already has two other launchers installed on it. And a few of Mia's favorite games and educational apps are missing. 

But two days into this little experiment, I think we're both pretty happy with it. 

Thoughts on the Android 4.3 leak ...

So what appears to be a legit build of Android 4.3 for the Google Play edition Galaxy S4 leaked out. Alex Dobie did a great job Friday walking through what he found, and listing new features. More important, I think, is that he noted things like the background Wifi scanning without any undue alarm. It's there, clear as day, in the advanced Wifi settings, and I'm willing to bet you'll have the chance to toggle it on or off at setup anyway.

Never mind that Google announced this exact feature at Google I/O in May.

Feels like I've been saying this a few times now, but I have a feeling we'll see the official Android 4.3 announcement sooner rather than later. I just don't see it being released for the Google Play edition phones before the Nexus line.

Some folks are calling it a "minor" release or questioning whether it should be Android 4.2.3. I think that's selling it short, which is easy to do for under-the-hood improvements, but no less unfair.

Speaking of Google Play edition phones ...

We're well on our way for getting these written up, but the bottom line remains that the hardware is the hardware, they're running "stock" Android, and that experience is exactly what you think it is. 

Obviously the UIs and camera apps are night-and-day changes. And while I like having Photosphere back, I'm missing Zoes — particularly because they make it easy to do Auto Awesome gifs on Google+ — and Video Highlights on the HTC One, and I'm flat-out missing the great camera app itself on the Galaxy S4. You also lose burst mode on both phones — and, no, repeatedly pressing the shutter button isn't the same thing.

Trade-offs, ya know.

And speaking of Google+

It's two years old now, and I'm growing more and more impressed by it, especially is it morphs into the base for just about every Google product.

Especially impressive is how it's tied into music and movies. Apple's iTunes Ping failed. Twitter Music? Nope. But Google Play Music ties into Google+ in an easy and unobtrusive way.

A few other thoughts ...

  • Brilliant show of sportsmanship in the Stanley Cup Finals.
  • Never mind the book. Never mind all the articles about production woes. "World War Z" was a good, entertaining movie. OK, plane crash notwithstanding. Fitting that we're talking about kids today, as my wife and I loved the "I'm not a baby" line. Sounds just like our nearly-3-year-old.
  • "Under the Dome" looks like it has potential. Some interesting thoughts from Stephen King on the TV series diverging from the book.
  • So long, Google Reader. You'll be missed. Right now I'm using NewsBlur (and its Android app), with ReadKit on OSX.
  • And I'm back on the official Twitter app. I'm none too happy about that. But I need a Twitter app that works.

That's it for this week. Plenty more Google Play edition and probably Android 4.3 coming up this week. Stay tuned.