Fully assembled and ready to talk about a week of tech news, the Gurus gather to bring you a shot of entertainment with a side of facts. This week we’re talking Softbank buying Sprint, HTC leaving the tablet market, iPad Mini again, and much more! Enjoy the show!
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Like herpes, we are back! Except we don’t itch and your not afraid to show us to your lover. We hope. This week we talk about the gay Green Lantern, Windows 8 Release Client, All Things D interviews, taller iPhones and much more. Enjoy the show!
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With more and more people on the move, more and more web browsing is being done on the go. Every device has a built-in browser, but on all three major OSes, the browser just seems like it’s lacking something. With Yahoo! Axis (iPhone/iPad) Yahoo! hopes to make browsing a bit more intuitive and enjoyable, instead of just your run-of-the-mill searching. With a fancy GUI and a backend that stretches across mobile devices and pc and mac, does Yahoo! have what it takes to take over the mobile browsing market?
What is Axis?
Simply put, Axis is a mobile browser for iOS devices that attempts to turn search on its head. Instead of your standard “enter your search into the field” style browsing, Axis presents search results in real-time status, with predictive type and visual previews of each page. Before you’ve even entered a letter into the search field, Axis presents you with currently trending topics, previous searches, and anything you marked as “read later” so that you’re able to return to your article at a later time.
How does it work?
Instead of linear search results, pages are returned to the user in a slide-to-preview style stream. Unfortunately (and this applies moreso to iPhone devices) this preview method only allows you to see one page at a time and leaves you with no idea of further search results. I have to say, it’s not the most ideal way to search for things if you don’t know what you’re looking for and, unless you’re really interested in seeing a visual preview, you’re going to be hard-pressed to find anything past the first few results without really putting forth some effort. How Yahoo! managed to take something that should be simple and make it more difficult is bewildering, but it’s a bit of a failure to have to do any real, hardcore searching on the browser.
Where Axis does shine, however, are searches that are likely to be found on the first hit. A simple search of “The Gadget Gurus”, for instance, loads up a preview of thegadgetgurus.net and tapping on the preview will load up the page. Another nice feature of Axis is the ability to share your viewing via email and twitter, so that others can enjoy whatever it is you’re browsing. Pages can be “stuck” to the homepage for easy access any time you bring up the browser.
The best feature of Axis, however, is its integration across multiple methods of viewing. Want to start reading a page on your iPhone and continue it on your PC when you get home? Axis allows you to do that with relative ease. By simply selecting “continue from iPad”, you’re able to pick right up on your PC where you left off on your iPad.
There’s nothing to do to get the devices to sync, rather Axis does it on its own, as you browse. It’s actually quite ingenious and definitely the selling feature Yahoo! should be going after the most. Axis isn’t even a separate browser if you’re a current Chrome or Firefox user, instead existing as an installable extension to the browser.
While at first coming off a bit rocky, Axis seems like one of those apps that could end up being a lot more useful than I first suspected. I don’t necessarily need a new browser, but that’s not to say that I wouldn’t be open to trying something new. Truth be told, the built-in safari on iOS really sucks. It’s slow and not very feature-rich, so something like Axis is a breath of fresh air. Visually, Axis is a great app, with a presentation that you’d never expect from a browser. Functionally, there’s a little bit left to be desired, but once you get over that, it has a lot of neat features that lend to its usefulness. I don’t know that I’d recommend this browser to everyone, and I would be willing to bet that 9 out of 10 apple fanboys wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole, but for those readers who are willing to take a chance or two with a new method of looking for websites, Axis might just be up your alley and is definitely worth at least a look.
Guru Review Score:
Ease of Use: 7/10 (Thorough searches could be a little rough to achieve)
If anyone had asked if I could drop the data plan on my mobile phone a couple months ago, I would have thought they were high, if not insane. Dropping my data plan, have you lost your mind? Nevertheless, that is exactly what I did almost two months ago.
It all started about 2 weeks after I bought the new iPad, my Android phone broke. OK, I’ll admit it I was messing with it and I think I shorted out the connectors that enable it to read the SIM card. The death of my android phone was the catalyst. The truth was I hadn’t much bothered with my Android phone since the arrival of the new iPad. What can I say; it was gadget love at first touch. How I missed having an iPad. My iPad 2 was stolen the previous September. How I managed to hold out without buying another one for 6 months was simple enough: I didn’t have the money to replace it and by the time I would have the money for a new one, the new iPad was just around the corner.
It was two weeks after the new iPad arrived and I now owned a dead Android phone. Sure, I could have bought a new phone but, to be honest, Android had put a sour taste in my mouth. Despite wiping my Android device several times over the previous months it was lagging and generally being slow; in truth it reminded me a lot of Symbian (S60) in many ways. Symbian was a great smartphone platform in its prime: the Nokia N95 was king and I loved the king. Who knew I was Nokia’s beta tester (if Nokia Lumia 900 marketing is to believed)? Android and Symbian both work well after a fresh wipe: for a few months anyway. Having not used not much data those two weeks I began to tell myself that I don’t need a smartphone with my trusty iPad at my side.
In the weeks before the new iPad arrived I had made the decision if the iPad has LTE I might buy the 4G model. If on the other hand, the new iPad offers LTE and tethering, it is a done deal. I had purchased a Verizon MiFi almost a month before my previous iPad had been stolen, I could simply transfer service to the iPad. When it was announced the new iPad would have both LTE and tethering, it was a done deal!
It has now been nearly 2 months without a data plan on my mobile phone and I don’t miss it in the least. OK, maybe a little but I don’t feel like I need it or compelled to replace my broken Android phone with another smartphone. For those that are curious, I managed to acquire an unlocked Blackberry Bold 9700. There is no data plan on the phone, it isn’t setup for email nor are any applications installed. In fact I actually removed all the installed standard applications. I ended up with this phone because: it was free (it was about to be recycled at work) and it can store a huge amount of text messages; something few feature phones do well. I don’t use a lot of voice minutes. I do however; use a lot of text; which the Blackberry handles extremely well.
I have the 5GB data plan on Verizon and most months I use between 4 & 5 GB. The kids have also benefited from the iPad, even when they aren’t using it. Each of the kids have their own iPod Touch. I let them tether off the iPad when we’re out. A common phrase heard in the car, “Dad, can you turn the Internet on?” This Dad has certainly enjoyed the convenience of not carrying around and charging the MiFi. The MiFi, at best, had a run time of 4 hours. The iPad can go for quite a few hours more, not to mention I feel like it is a more useful tool when I don’t have to mess with the MiFi before going online away from home or free hotspots.
Arguably (one of) the toughest app on any device to get right is the application for Twitter. There are many reasons why it is so difficult to get it right: people being the biggest reason of all. Everyone uses Twitter in such a myriad of ways that it is difficult to find the client that suits how you use twitter. Speaking from experience I think I have downloaded nearly every notable Twitter client for the iPad and still I find them (the clients) lacking in one way or another.
Of all the Twitter clients I’ve tried Tweetbot is at the top of a very long list of Twitter clients. Tweetbot ranks among the top of all Twitter clients because it easy to use while still being robust enough to handle the most demanding of Twitter users. Among the more useful features are sliding a tweet right to view replies and sliding left for more detailed view of the tweet (scroll up for replies, if any exist). Most timelines include the ability to search the downloaded tweets (use search on the left navigation bar for a more powerful search).
What Tweetbot doesn’t do for you is make you fit into how the developer envisioned the application being used as the only way it can be used. Tweetbot offers quite a few options to help customize it to suit you. You can change the font size (tiny to huge), display name ( full name, user name or both), date format, navigation (hiding or displaying favorites, search, profile, lists, re-tweets and mute filters), streaming, quote format and much more.
Beyond the left and right sliding of tweets Tweetbot makes use of another gesture: triple tap. Triple tapping can cause one of the following user configurable actions: reply, re-tweet, favorite, translate, or view in Favstar. Translation occurs in the app in the form of a dialog box. In the few tweets I tried translating, it translated quick enough to be useful. Presumably translation translates tweets to the default language of the iPad, as this is one of the few features without any user customization. Given that the developer’s domain has DNS entries for Google Apps, translation is likely handled by Google. Having never heard of Favstar I found it to be an odd choice for the triple tap gesture however, users of the site might like it. Favstar allows users to get more detailed information about tweets; think analytics for tweets.
One feature I especially liked is the ability to import and export Twitter accounts into Twitter’s iOS application. This meant I didn’t have to re-type all my Twitter account information to start using Tweetbot. People with multiple Twitter accounts will particularly like the easy transition.
Tip: Leave your Twitter account setup in iOS and uninstall the Twitter app to retain Twitter integration in other applications yet save the space; this will also stop double data and Twitter polls from both Twitter applications.
Alerts in Tweetbot work as they should except for one simple oversight. Tweetbot doesn’t have the ability to run in the background and poll for new tweets in your Twitter stream. Tweetbot alerts for mentions and direct messages any time but the lack of background updating for Twitter stream as a whole feels like an oversight; for users that want or need such a feature. Tweetbot does allow for “streaming” of your Twitter stream but only when open and the active application.